Juraj Jánošík is the ultimate Slovak hero. No folklore would be complete without an honest bandit that took from the rich and gave to the poor. Slovak version of the more famous Robin Hood, Janosik is a symbol of defiance.
Juraj was born around 1688 in northern Slovakia to the family of a serf. A civil war between the Habsburgs, rulers of Austria, and the Hungarian nobility, increasing taxes and tough life marked his era. Daily injustices against the poor were the norm, the ravages of the war and few opportunities to earn a living in the mountainous north pushed many men to become outlaws. Janosik was one of them.
He became the leader of the outlaw gang that stole weapons, jewels, and money from merchants and traders on the roads of northern Slovakia.
The life of an outlaw was short. Juraj was only active for two years before he was captured in 1713. He was accused of murder and robbery and executed in a gruesome way. He was executed in Liptovský Mikuláš by being hanged on a metal hook that pierced through his ribs – by hanging on his own rib. The tragic death of the young man gave birth to a legend.
Was Jánošík a criminal or a symbol of class struggle? Did he merely rob the rich or did he defy the oppressive regime?