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Andreas Hofer

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Andreas Hofer
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Andreas Hofer

Andreas Hofer (November 22, 1767 - February 20 1810) was a Tyrolean innkeeper and patriot. He was the leader of a rebellion against Napoleon's forces.

Andreas Hofer was born 1767 in St. Leonhard, Tyrol. His father was an innkeeper of Sandwirt inn and Andreas followed his footsteps when he inherited the establishment. He also traded wine and horses in northern Italy and learned the language. He married Anna Ladurner. In 1791 he was elected into the Tyrolean Landtag.

In the war of the Third Coalition against the French he became a sharpshooter and later a militia captain. When Tyrol was transferred from Austria to Bavaria in the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805, Hofer became a leader of the anti-Bavarian movement.

In January 1809, he was part of a delegation to Vienna where Emperor Francis II of Austria gave nominal support of a possible uprising. In April 9, 1809 Tyrolese rebellion begun. In April 11 his troops defeated a Bavarian force in Sterzing which lead to the occupation of Innsbruck. Hofer became a leader of a militia contingent of his valley and the most prominent rebel leader.

Hope of successful rebellion waned when Napoleon defeated the Austrian forces of Archduke Charles. Bavarians reoccupied Innsbruck, but when Napoleon's troops left, rebellion flared again. In Iselberg on May 25 and May 29 Hofer's troops again defeated the Bavarians and drove them out of the country. Hofer took Innsbruck May 30.

In May 29 Hofer also received a letter from Emperor Francis where he promised not to sign any peace treaty that would include giving up Tyrol. An Austrian intendant came to rule Tyrol and Hofer returned to his home.

Napoleon defeated Austrian troops in the Battle of Wagram in July 6. On July 12 the armistice in Znaim ceded Tyrol to Bavaria again. Napoleon sent 40,000 French and Bavarian troops to take over Tyrol and they reoccupied Innsbruck.

After little hesitation, Hofer joined the battle again. The French promised a reward for his head. In August 13-14, his Tyrolese militia defeated the French troops of Marshal Lefebvre on Bergisel in a 12-hour battle. Yet again he took Innsbruck.

Hofer became the overcommander and for two months ruled the land from Hofburg in the name of the Emperor of Austria. On September 29 he received a medal from the emperor and another promise that Austria would not abandon Tyrol.

Hofer's hopes were dashed again on October 14 when the Treaty of Schönbrunn yet again ceded Tyrol to Bavaria. Promised amnesty, Hofer and his followers laid down their weapons.

On November 12, Hofer received false reports of Austrian victories and tried to summon his troops again. This time there was little following and French troops easily demolished his troops. Hofer had to hide in the mountains in the Passeier valley and the French announced a reward of 1500 guilders for his head. His neighbor Josef Raffl betrayed him and revealed his hiding place to the authorities, and Hofer was captured by Italian troops on January 2, 1810. He was sent to Mantua in chains to face a court martial. Raffl was later found lynched.

Reportedly Napoleon had given an order to "give him a fair trial and then shoot him" (although he later claimed to Prince Metternich that Hofer was executed against his wishes). Andreas Hofer was executed by a firing squad on February 20, 1810. He refused a blindfold.

Hofer became a martyr in Germany and Austria and a rallying point against the power of Napoleon.

In 1823, Hofer's remains were moved from Mantua to Innsbruck, and in 1834, his tomb was decorated with a marble statue. In 1818, his family was given a patent of nobility by the emperor of Austria. In 1893, his bronze statue was placed at Bergisel (Innsbruck). There is an annual open-air play in Meran based on his deeds.de:Andreas Hofer nl:Andreas Hofer

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