Andreas Hofer


Andreas Hofer, an Austrian innkeeper and patriot, led a rebellion against Napoleon’s troops. He fought for Austria against the French in the War of the Third Coalition before leading the revolt that would eventually result in his capture and execution. He is considered a martyr in Austria, and his actions served as a rallying point again the French Emperor.

Hofer was born in the county of Tyrol and followed his father’s footsteps in becoming innkeeper of the Sandhof hotel. He was elected into the Landtag—the county’s parliament—in 1791, and he served during the War of the Third Coalition as a sharpshooter and later a militia captain. After Tyrol was removed from Austrian dominion and transferred to Bavaria, an ally of France, Hofer led an anti-Bavarian movement and appealed to the Austrian Emperor for support in a potential uprising. With the king’s assurances, Hofer began traveling the country and organizing secret meetings to plan an insurrection.

The rebellion began in 1809, when rebels, alerted by sawdust floating in the river, surprised a troop of French infantrymen that were passing through. They continued the revolt during the next few nights, capturing several important cities. Napoleon won a victory against the Austrians and the Tyrolean forces retreated to the mountains, but they returned days later and soundly defeated the Bavarians, driving them out of the country. Tyrol was again ceded to Bavaria, but Hofer’s men and the Austrian army allied to retake the main city. Hofer named himself Imperial Commandant of the Tyrol under the Austrian Emperor, and in return the Emperor sent him a medal and promises of further assistance. When a treaty ceded Tyrol to Bavaria a third time, Hofer retreated to his hometown. He attempted one last uprising but was defeated by the French. Escaping to the mountains, he hid in a small hut but was found out when his neighbor, greedy for the price on Hofer’s head, betrayed him to French authorities. Hofer was captured and court-martialed. According to Napoleon’s orders, he was executed by a firing squad.

Key events during the life of Andreas Hofer:

Elected into the Tyrolean Landtag
Tyrol was transferred to Bavarian control, Hofer became leader of anti-Bavarian movement
Went to Emperor Francis II for support in a future uprising
Tyrol Rebellion
Executed by firing squad

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Under the Heel of Napoleon  in  The History of Germany  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Patriots of the Tyrol  in  Historical Tales: German  by  Charles Morris
Peasant Hero of Tyrol  in  Brave Men and Brave Deeds  by  M. B. Synge
Peasant Hero of Tyrol  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

Uprising of the Tyrolese in 1809
 in Greatest Nations - Germany

The last day of Andreas Hofer
 in Historical Tales: German

The Sawdust is floating down the river
 in Brave Men and Brave Deeds

Short Biography
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Francis II Emperor of Austria during the Napoleonic Wars. Dissolved the Holy Roman Empire but became the first Emperor of Austria.