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Highwayman Alfred Exner

Some truth, some legend. The Silver Mountain Janosik.

The most famous dangerous criminal kept in the Donjon’s dungeon was certainly the highwayman Alfred Exner, who around 1800 robbed the wealthy and shared the loot with the poor. Tall, about two meters tall, with superhuman strength, cunning and extremely brave, he was the terror of local manors, palaces, merchants following the trade routes, and he also robbed rich peasants. He also robbed rich peasants, while the poor hid him during numerous “robber hunts” organized by local authorities. Together with his gang he found shelter in the mountains. Just like Janosik from Sowiogórsko. Eventually, he was captured by soldiers from the Silver Mountains garrison. Handcuffed, he was placed in a closely guarded dungeon. It would seem that in such conditions here he will await the court and the execution of the sentence. It was impossible to escape from here. And yet. After a six-month stay in the fortress, he succeeded. There are many versions of his escape, some of them are already legendary. According to one, the guards entered the cell and found it empty, because the strongman Exner, having broken the chains, tore out the floorboards and made his way to the room below, from where it was easier to escape unnoticed. This legend, due to the construction of the rooms in the Donjon, will be put between fairy tales. The second account seems more probable. The scenery is similar. The cell was guarded, the prisoner in chains, chained to the wall. However, he managed to break the chain, knocked out, perhaps only widened, an existing hole in the wall, through which he got out and escaped. What hell the guards had to go through after that, we will probably never know.

The life of a highwayman does not usually last long. Although he managed to gather his band again, moved to the south and continued robbing the rich, he was caught again and imprisoned in the Kłodzko fortress. From there, too, the lucky man escaped. The third slip-up resulted in imprisonment in another fortress – and that was Świdnica. As a repeat offender, mocking the capabilities of the local authorities, he was a closely guarded prisoner. It was no use anyway. He escaped. He gathered a band again and continued to spread panic among the rich, this time living in the Legnica area. In 1805, during an attack on a mill in Twardocice, he met a stronger opponent than himself and died after being stabbed during the struggle.

The project “Revitalization for cultural and educational purposes of degraded and inaccessible parts of the Silver Mountain Fortress Historical Monument” is implemented within the framework of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.

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