This dissertation focuses on the transition of the character of the brigand to literary protagonist over the course of the 18th and 19th century. As a result of the performative act of execution, the brigand is fictionalized and henceforth part of the literary system. The public and highly staged execution marks not only the transition from life to death, but also from reality to fiction. The brigand, who at the end of his life has to play the role of the repentant sinner, becomes, due to the public and highly staged spectacle, a subject of interest for the populace, who wants to know more about the person executed. Numerous at first factual and then fictional works are published in order to satisfy the public?s curiosity and sensationalism. As a consequence, various stylizations and romantic transfigurations are willfully exploited by other systems, such as religion, politics, and education, thus functionalizing the bandit outside the literary system. Simultaneously, as a result of societal changes, the literary system becomes increasingly autonomous and is no longer functionalized by other systems. The brigand is no longer factual, but fictional and even fictitious. As the literary system passes finally into self-reference, the brigand becomes a fully literarized phenomenon. The close relation between social and literary evolution is demonstrated taking recourse to Niklas Luhmann?s social theory. This study is framed by an analysis of the historical context in order to be able to trace the brigand?s journey from a factual and factual-fictionalized to a literarized figure, utilizing prose works by Nodier, Defoe, Swift, Ainsworth, Abel, Schiller, and Zschokke, as well as anonymous works. Finally, a preview of the brigand?s role in 20th-century literary works is provided. With the birth of crime fiction, the brigand does not disappear; rather, he survives in popular literature, children?s literature, and film.