The brigands are not only Slovak particularity


Terchová became known in Slovakia especially for the distinctive folk culture, folklore und countryside. However, it has to be stressed that the village became famous above all by its former native Juro Jánošík. The son of simple peasants was actively involved in the fight against social injustice and against the waywardness of feudal lords that put him on the pedestal of the folk Slovak heroes.

It was the year 1688. After the first born daughter a son was born to the family of Ann and Martin Jánošík living under the peak of Pupov. He was named Juraj. After him three other sons were born to the couple. Juraj was christened in the church in Varín. We know very little about his childhood. The history mentions him as a young man prepared to rise up in revolt against the injustice commited on helpless people.

The most famous of all brigands

Jánošík used to return to his home village during the period of his acting as a brigand. Many Terchovians were accused of helping the brigands in connection with the court trial and the death of Jánošík. The days in the 17th and 18th century when Janosik was living were really rough. The Austrian-Hungary empire was exhausted by the permanent wars against the Turks, devastated, destroyed, the nobility rose up against the ruling Habsburg house, the lords striving to maintain the power ower the cotters were mercilessly pushing up the rent, the occupational duties... The cotters were writing petitions, complaints, they ran away from the ground. There was sometimes an armed revolt undertaken.

One of the forms of fighting against the social situation was acting as a brigand. The brigands expanded mainly in the Karpaty mountains. But the brigands are not Slovak particularity, they acted beyond our borders as well. So was a brigand called Procpak in Poland, Ondráš in Tešín, Dovbuš in Ukraine, Ketara in Bukovina, by Lemkks there were two brigands known - Barnas and Podgorný. There were a lot of brigands in Slovakia: Jakub Surovec acted in the area of the river Hron, Orava und in Liptov, Michal Vdovec in Gemer and Rajnoha in the western Slovakia. But only Juro Jánošík became the most famous of all the brigands. He is known in the whole Slovakia, in Moravia, in Silesia, in Poland and also in Ukraine.

" For such bad influences...

he is to be hung on hook "

He started as a brigand on 29 of september 1711, on the feast of St. Michael, when he was admitted to a brigand group by the captain Tomáš Uhorčík according to the brigands' customs. After a short time Uhorčík got married and settled down in the village of Klenovec, called by his code name Martin Mravec. In 1712 Juro Jánošík was arrested in Hrachov. He was released after a short time. However in the beginning of 1713 he was caught in Klenovec together with Martin Mravec - Uhorčík and imprisoned in (Liptovský) Svätý Mikuláš. That was the place he deceased - on the 18 of March in 1713 he was put to death by hanging on a hook.

Jánošík was accused of many offences. The main point of the accusation was the unexplained murder of the priest from Domaniža (nowdays the district of Považská Bystrica). Through his barrister Baltazár Palugyai, Jánošík rejected determinedly his own presence and responsibility. Dispite of the fact the dreaded brigand was sentenced to a mild and then to a brute torment. Directly after the torturous interrogation the court passed this judgement: „ Since the accused Juro Jánošík rejected God's commands and also the regional law, he has become a brigand two years ago and has made himself a leader of the brigands, with his journeymen he was depriving the people of their property, wo, as it is clear from his own declaration he and his journeymen overshot and godlessly killed the priest from Domaniža. He commited other bad deeds too. For such bad influences and wrongdoing against the orders the hook is to be threaded through his left side and he should be hung as an example for further criminals.„

From the possible forms of the execution of brigands the most painful one was selected. A man who was executed in this way was dieing in horrible torture because of heart failure and bleeding.

Jánošík - inspiration of the national culture

Although the appearance of Juraj Jánošík did not contribute to improving of the cotter's conditions, it had enormous effect on the minds of people. A normal cottar from Terchová was brave enough to rise up in revolt aginst the lords! And he payed for it with his life! It was a heroism. He became a legend already during his lifetime, while he embodied the desires of people.

The historical personality of Juraj Jánošík became the foundation of the Carpathian brigands tradition, which core is just the Jánošík' one. The tradition was formed in the 18 century in the peasants' environment. There are miscellanous folktales, legends, songs, where the main hero was Juro Jánošík. Nowdays so-called brigand's dance belongs to the folklorism as well. It is known in Detva, Orava, Spiš and in the north-east Slovakia. It is considered to be the precursor of current vigorous Slovak folk dance called " odzemok."

The brigand's theme got into the folk theatre as well, especially to the Bethlehem plays. The figures of the walachs are coinciding just with the brigands. We can find the Jánošík's motives in the adages, sayings and in the vigorous plays of children as well.

Juraj also revived in the screen

Approximately in the half of the 19 century the young generation approached to this more traditional line and through this Jánošík's theme became a national one. It wasn't only " possession" of one social class any more, but started to belong to all Slovaks.

We can find the first proofs of spreading the tradition in literature. The generation around Štúr was stressing more the mythological elements then the realistic ones from Jánošík's life. So the brigand gains a magic belt and shepherd's crook from fairies what makes him unbeatable. This idealized picture is fading away later on - the positive attitude to the hero is dissapearing (still ge was a brigand, who stole and robbed).

On the turn of 19 and 20 century, the first dramatical plays about Jánošík were written. The drama Jánošík (1910) from a Czech Jiří Mahen wan a great popularity. In 1954 Ján Cykker composed opera Jánošík. This theme was also processed in the puppetry in the Christmas cycle. With improving of the audio-visual technology many films about the famous native from Terchová have been produced. In 1921 the Czech Teodor Pištek acted as Jánošík. In the thirties the Slovak Paľo Bielik played the part of Jánošík directed by Martin Frič. In the sixties Bielik directed his film Jánošík. In 1975 Martin Ťapák produced the popular film Pacho, hybský zbojník in accordance with the short story by Peter Jaroš. One year later the animated brigand Jurko was created by Viktor Kubala. The latest version of Jánošík from the well-known producer Rudolf Biermann hasn't been finishedyet. (ed. note).

We can find the proofs of the existence of Jánošík's tradition in the fine art too. The motive of Jánošík and brigands finds use in the folk production, on woodcuttings, glass paintings, oil paintings, pottery, pistons...Jánošík as a theme was processed by many artists e. g. -Šmíd, Ružička, Salzman, Benický, Kameník, Benka and others.


. POVAŽSKÉ MÚZEUM V TERCHOVEJ - vysunutá expozícia, JÁNOŠÍK A TERCHOVÁ - stála expozícia. TERCHOVSKÝ BETLEHEM. Zdroj: www.terchova.sk .

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