Life and Legend of Juro Jánošík,
Who Became an Outlaw.
Juro Jánošík was a folk
hero. He and his band of men robbed the rich and gave to the poor. His legend
lives on in stories, songs, poems, woodcarvings and even in embroideries. He
became a symbol of courage, bravery, tenacity and the desire for human
justice. He is the Slovak Robin Hood.
Juro Jánošík's father,
Martin Jánošík lived with his wife and three children in Terchová where Juro
was born in 1688. Their lives were toil and tribulation, struggling as best they
could through poverty and misery; they sowed the fields and brought in the
harvest. Things were difficult but life in other domains was even harder.
With a change in the
landlords, a different order began. The tithes were soon raised from one
thirtieth to one tenth. Taxes were increased threefold, and people were obliged
to work on the landlord‘s fields from dawn to dusk five days a week,
leaving only two days for their own plots.
Realizing this was no life for
a human being, Martin left the village going to a place where he could
completely vanish from the landlord’s overseers.
A little meadow, beneath Púpov
hill and high above the village was a perfect spot. The sun shone all day
and a spring of crystal clear water ran through the meadow. It was especially
good for grazing sheep and cows. Martin secretly built a wooden cottage there
and waited until the snow thawed to move. Martin labored from dawn to dusk
struggling with the soil and forest but built a small farmstead and took care of
Since he disappeared from the
village, all of the landlord’s men were searching for him. They announced if
he did not return he would be severely punished when caught.
One day, news came that an
uprising against the Emperor had started. All the working people joined in.
Martin was too old to help but Juro who was already in his twenties was anxious
to participate. He was eager to fight to his last breath so that the serfs could
live as human beings at last. When the recruiters came to Terchová, Juro
signed up for seven years and marched off with them along the Váh River toward
Juro fought with this Kuruc
Army and just as the serfs were on the verge of winning their battle for a
better life, the Emperor bribed the Kuruc generals. The generals called for a retreat
and while the army retreated they were unexpectedly ambushed by the Emperor’s
troops. The generals had run away. Later the Kuruc army regrouped. Again when
the battle was begun the Kuruc commanders betrayed their forces. The Kurucs fled
Juro Jánošík headed back home
to Terchová. When he arrived at a nearby village, he heard crying and
bells ringing. Thinking the town was invaded by the Emperor’s troops, he
rushed to find out what happen. To his terrible surprise, he found that his
Mother and Father were being buried. He ran to the church where he learned that
the landlord’s men had discovered the place where his father was living. His
father could not run away because Juro’s mother was very ill. They seized his
father and the punishment for not working for the landlord was one hundred
strokes of the stick while being tied to the rack. Martin died after the
fiftieth stroke. On the same day his wife died at the cottage.
Juro’s first thought was
revenge, but no, he said revenge resolves nothing. The world must be different,
fair and just; but how, where and with whom could he continue this struggle. He
did not know the answer but felt he could find the answer in the mountains. This
begins his life as an outlaw.