Hofer - Miniaturesandhistory

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The many miniatures of Andreas Hofer
There are many miniatures of ‘the great’ leaders Especially Napoleon but also Julius Caesar and more illustrious (especially) men. But also a less well-known person as Andreas Hofer, can often be found as miniature. Who was this Andreas Hofer?

Hofer was born in St. Leonhard in Tirol in 1767. He inherits the family-inn from his father. In addition to being an innkeeper, he also developed into a successful merchant in wine and horses. The region in which he grew up was traditional and the residents were loyal to the Austrian emperor and catholic church. They had little to do with all kinds of revolutionary ideas that also became more popular in the cities of Austria. But in the end, Tirol did not escape the consequences of the French revolution. Several wars between Austria and France followed and Hofer was active as a sniper. The Tyrolean 'Schutzen', mostly farmers, were notorious for their accuracy. In 1805, after several Austrian defeats, Tirol became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria, a loyal ally of Napoleon. And Tirol was  given the 'revolutionary ideals'. Especially the anti-ecclesiastical measures were very unpopular. However, it was impossible for the Tyroleans to revolt without permission from the Austrian Emperor. A delegation, of which Hofer was also a member, travelled to Vienna in early 1809 and the Emperor agreed with  an uprising in Tirol.
In April 1809 Austria declared war on France and this was also the signal for the Tyroleans to start their revolt. Austria invaded Bavaria, but after some successes they had to withdraw their troops. After several defeats, Napoleon even entered Vienna in May of that year.

Victim of politics
While Austria was being defeated, the Tyroleans continued the uprising. There were several leaders, but especially Hofer emerged as the leading figure. After many fights, now also with French auxiliaries, the Tyroleans managed to take Innsbruck. Hofer settled in the Hofburg for a few months and as a reward he received from the emperor a golden necklace which from that moment he will always wear. What Hofer does not know is that the Emperor already signed a peace treaty with Napoleon that same month of October. From that moment on, Hofer no longer fights in the name of his monarch. He is a rebel.
Now that Austria withdraws as a fighting party, the Tyroleans can no longer maintain. They retreat to the mountains but can no longer successfully resist the French. There are large-scale executions of insurgents (who are no in the eyes of the French no prisoners of war anymore) and in November this eventually leads to the flight of Hofer. Meanwhile, Napoleon negotiates a marriage of his with the daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph, Marie-Louise.

The end
In January 1810, after betrayal, Hofer was captured by some French soldiers and taken to Mantua in present-day Italy. For the local French commanders a difficult dilemma arises: is this a commander of a defeated army or a rebel leader? In addition, a number of French generals also feel sympathy in the sense that the French soldiers captured by the units of Hofer were generally treated correctly. Napoleon himself has less scruples and on 11 February he gives the order from Paris that Hofer should receive a short trial and then immediately be executed. So it happened. The trial takes place on February 19, and one day later the execution takes place. The Austrian Emperor does a half-hearted attempt to save Hofer and orders his Minister Metternich to aks Napoleon amnesty for Hofer. If this request reaches Paris, Hofer has already been executed. A few months later Napoleon marries the daughter of the Austrian emperor.
Folk hero and miniature
The Habsburgs certainly want to forget Hofer the first few years. The Tyrolean however, and also a part of the Austrian population certainly not. The stories and legends around Hofer arise soon after his death. In 1823 his remains were secretly removed from his tomb in Mantua by Tyrolean officers and soldiers and transferred to Bolzano in South Tyrol. The Austrian Emperor personally orders the punishments for these 'tomb violators'. But the hero stories can no longer be stopped, and more than ten years later Hofer gets his reburial and statue in Innsbruck. Hofer is then folk hero number 1 in Tirol. A status that he has to this day.
It is in the middle of the 19th century that the wider distribution of (flat) tin miniatures starts in Austria and southern Germany. And a figure of a folk hero can then quickly lead to sales successes. From that period on, many Andreas Hofer miniatures are made, especially in the German-speaking areas. And that continues to this day, with as most recently a series of resin figures in scale 1/72 of the company Munich miniatures from Germany. Figures that were rewarded in 2016 with a prestigious international toy prize. Hofer therefore remains interesting enough for producers to put on the market as a miniature.
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