The era of the Grand Tour was rife with banditry; and yet the rite of passage remained popular amongst the aristocracy.

What reported methods did nobles use to either evade banditry or mitigate the outcome?

Popular route for 18th century English nobles: enter image description here Source: Indiana University

Example of rural banditry: enter image description here Source: William Powell Frith's 1860 painting of 17th century highwayman Claude Duvall

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    @Lohoris The Grand Tour as commonly understood was a rite of passage of young nobles from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century. Whilst the term has been co-opted for European travel before and after this period, the rise of rail, steamboats and an affluent middle class reduced the cachet of this rite of passage by the mid to late 19th century. Nov 7, 2014 at 20:13
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    @Lohoris Pity. Decent maps of the Grand Tour are hard to find. If you can't trust museum curators - who can you trust? Seems they overlaid the route on top of an anachronistic map. Nov 7, 2014 at 22:00
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    What evidence is there that the assertion of "rife with banditry" is true and that these scions were immune to it any more than anyone else?
    – Oldcat
    Nov 19, 2014 at 22:37
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    The Italian scenes from The Count of Monte Christo come to mind. Nov 20, 2014 at 7:29
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    My girlfriend the professional historian answered immediately and confidently, "by bringing thugs of their own."
    – MCW
    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:59

2 Answers 2


The nobility was the estate of warriors, "those who fight". This tradition hadn't vanished at that time yet. These grand touring nobles knew how to fight, had companions who knew how to fight, and they were escorted by bodyguards who REALLY knew how to fight.

The grand tours were regarded as part of the military education of French young nobles around the 16th and 17th centuries, for example. I read an account of this in the book "Warrior Pursuits: Noble and civil conflict in early modern France". Other Western European countries with traditions of chivalry wouldn't be very different.

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    Do you have evidence for these claims? Another point: the Grand Tour is a distinctive term for long tours by young English nobles on the Continent. Nov 22, 2014 at 8:59
  • This is a little bit past the nobles' sons as 'warrior knights' period and more like Mister Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. The culture they soaked up was hardly military.
    – Oldcat
    Dec 3, 2014 at 1:35

Not a lot of information on the dangers of the Grand Tour. I did find this:

A Tourist would not carry much money due to the risk of highway robbers so letters of credit from their London banks were presented at the major cities of the Grand Tour. Many Tourists spent a great deal of money abroad and due to these expenditures outside of England, some English politicians were very much against the institution of the Grand Tour.


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