Nickname of some of the gangs of thieves that crowded around the border regions of the Republic, the Southern (Austrian) Netherlands—now Belgium—and the German Empire. Especially during 1730–1775, many bands were active, some of which seem to have been organized as a kind of secret society. Many of their members were more or less respectable citizens in daily life. As a detailed study by the anthropologist Anton Blok has shown, the judicial authorities were unable to wipe out most of the gangs until the last decades of the 18th century.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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