The history of Liptov County on the anniversary of the Jánošík’s baptism!

In today’s TripTip we are going back in time to have a look at something from the history. As you may already know, we are going to look at the history of Liptov and Liptovský Mikuláš! Together we will go through many different nooks of the city, we will have a look at the place where Jánošík was judged. Also we will recall that Slovak nation had to ask for many of its privilege the Diet of Hungary as well as the emperor. And last but not least, we will have a look at how Aurel Stodola constructed his steam turbine and tell you more about picturesque region under the Tatras! So make yourself comfortable and get inspired by our TripTip!

After a complete confusion of our senses during a visit of the breathtaking Ilusia Gallery, as well as a relaxing coffee break in the CaffeIN café and a meal at Restart Burger, we wanted to learn more about the local history and culture.

We already had an opportunity to live history of the region on our way to the Ilusia Gallery, when we passed the classicist building on our left. This building looked like it was a cut-out of the American White House. We assumed it was a bank, town hall or different office, but as we got closer, we were surprised to find out it was a synagogue. This religious building was built in the 19th century on the place of an old synagogue and was used until World War II.

History of the town in the heart of Liptov

But let’s go even deeper into hisotry. Liptovský Mikuláš is, at least in the way how it was created, very remarkable city. A small church, built in Romanesque style, used to stand in the place of the present town and was surrounded by several houses. The first written mention of this town dates back to 1286, that means the time when the small church we mentioned already stood there. The church was consecrated to St. Nicholas after whom the city was named Liptovský st. Mikuláš. This temple is a proud landmark of the city, standing on the edge of Liberation Square (SK: Námestie osloboditeľov), which forms the historic center.

This small square, full of various restaurants and cafes, breathes with history. In addition to several museums and a medieval church, there is also a stunning county house building. In 1677 the town became the residence of the Liptov Stool. The town has gained in importance and yet such an important center must be managed from some magnificent building. That is why in 1712 a county house was purchased, the residence of Liptov County and later a county. By its status, the city has gained many privileges, which include, for example, trials where even death sentences could be handed down! Among others, the Jánošík’s death sentence as well.

Our footsteps after a tasty lunch lined the route to the Janko Kráľ Museum, located in an old burgher house, remembering the Kingdom of Hungary. Coincidentally, the museum is located next to the restaurant, so it was not such a long route. However, we will not talk only about this romantic poet, but also about many other things. TripTeam visited the most important expositions!

The best-known Slovak brigand

After a warm welcome, the guide took us to an exhibition focused on the most famous and legendary person in our history. You already know that we are talking about brigand from Terchová, Juraj Jánošík. Juro Jánošík was born at the beginning of 1688 and about 331 years ago, on 25 January 1688, he was baptized in the Varín Church by the local priest Michal Smutek. And this is how this important moment is recorded in the Varín’s register:

“On the 25th of this month, I baptized a child born to Martin Jánošík and Anna Cesneková, who is given the name Juraj. Baptism parents were Jakub Meriad and Barbora Krištofiková from Terchová”

During Jánošík’s life, Kingdom of Hungary was part of the Habsburg monarchy. Austrian rulers – Habsburgs – settled on the Hungarian throne. Besides, the Ottoman Empire threatened the country from the south, many serfs lived there, and people could only recognize official faith. Many Hungarians did not like such a situation, so the Habsburg uprising was led from time to time. Like Rákoczi’s, which broke out in 1703. Even Jánošík did not like being serf. So he as a 19-year-old, was in 1707 recruited into the rebel army. After the defeat of the rebels in the battle of Trenčín, his work as a rebel ended. And later he became an imperial soldier, not very voluntarily. He served as a guard at the Bytča Castle.

Captain of brigands

As an imperial soldier, he became friend with the imprisoned brigand captain – Tomáš Uhorčík. This friendship did’t last long, because Juraj’s parents came to pay for him, so he did’t have to be in the military service anymore. He had to go back home and leave his friend. This shows us that Jánošík does not come from so poor family background, when his parents were able to pay for him like this. As a “civilian” in his hometown Terchová, he was visited by an unexpected guest – old friend Uhorčík. Uhorčík saw in Jánošík a fearless young man who also had command skills, although he was young. Uhorčík convinced him and on September 29, 1711 – the day of st. Michael, he took an oath. Here you can see the oath, thanks to the preserved case files:

“I swear to the eternal God, the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary and all the saints of God, that I will not betray, deceive and abandon my comrades in either happiness or distress. God help me!”

Before the winter in 1711, Jánošík became a captain of brigands so Uhorčík took a break and got married. Jánošík was chosen for a captain and was knighted by captain’s axe called valaška. Apparently it is the one that has survived to this day and is located in the Bratislava Castle and in the future TripyTipy will surely have a look at it! As a brigand Jánošík was active, he looted in many stools in Slovakia, but he also “visited” Silesia. Thanks to this he was nicknamed the Carpathian brigand. But whether he was looting to take from the rich and give to the poor, or just wanted to financially improve or even organize a new anti-Habsburg uprising, today we can not say for sure. What we know is that he didn’t make a good choice about other brigands in his group. Two of them probably shot Domanižan pastor, who died in result. Jánošík wasn’t probably there, when this happened, but he was the one to get the death penalty.

Capturing of Juraj Jánošík

Today we can say that the seasons, when brigands were active, were the summer and autumn and they spent the winter relaxing. Even Jánošík spent the winter at the turn of 1712 and 1713 with his old friend Uhorčík. It became fatal to him. 30 beadles from Liptov under the leadership of thane Andreánsky, surrounded Uhorčík’s house and captured Jánošík and Uhorčík himself. They both were brought to Liptov and courted there. And tortured as well.

1713 was for the town a year of prosperity. The new stool house which was purchased, became also a court building. An interesting fact is that it was purchased only one year before Jánošík’s court trial. It is very probable that this famous Slovak brigand was judged there. The court room is located in the Janko Kráľ Museum and just when you get in, you feel like you went 3 centuries back in time. You can also try to sit in the place of the judge in the period clothing. And of course we had to try it as well! Except the furniture, which is not authentic, we can find in the room also terrifying hook. Very similar to one which the Carpathian brigand was hanged on.

When you’ve baked me, eat me too!

Jánošík was judged alltogether for 12 crimes, including the murder of the Domanižan pastor. He also had to be heard and hearing at the turn of the 17th and 18th century can be considered a synonym with the word torture. Well, not exactly. At first, the brigand captain accepted a voluntary statement. He answered all the questions, but in many ways he misguided and tried to protect his group as well as former friends. However, in order to verify that his statements are true, the court first ordered light and then heavy torture. This requires a torture chamber. However, it has not  been preserved and we do not know where exactly it was located. Despite that you can get a good picture of it if you visit Jánošík’s torture chamber at the Janko Kráľ Museum. You will see torture equipment, period-looking objects as well as court protocols from Juraj Jánošík’s court

Jánošík was able to withstand the torture and answered only 7 questions in a relatively indirect way. His stamina was admirable as he also had to go through heavy torture, which usually brought people to the brink of his strength and life. When he was brought to justice after torture on March 17, 1713, his advocate demanded Jánošík’s release and removal of his bonds because he did not touch anyone’s life and his age should be taken into account. Unfortunately, the court’s verdict was as follows:

Poneváč predepsaný (obžalovaný) Juro Janošak zavrhujúce prikázaní jak božské, tak též zákon krajinský predo dvema roky dal sa na zbojstvo a vúdcem aneb hajtmanem takovým se učinil, který s tými tovariši svými na cestách zastavujúce lidí o statek (pripravili), áno jako se z jeho vlastného vyznání zdá, jeho tovariši, kde on též bol prítomný, pána pátera z Domaniže prestrelili a bezbožne zamordovali. Taktéž i jinších jako jest predepsané, zlých skutkov se dopustil. Protož pro takové zlé účinky a prikázaním prestúpení má být na hák na levém boku prehnatý a tak na príklad jinších takových zločincov má být zavesený.“ (working on translation)

Hanging on the hook was considered the worst way of death. Criminals were executed on the gallows outside the city, and the executioner was careful not to hit criminal’s vital organs while punishing him. The criminal could be dying for 3 days as a warning to all others who would decide to put on brigand paths. Jánošík, due to his condition after heavy torture, apparently did not last a day. And so at the young age of 25, the life of the Carpathian brigand, Juraj Jánošík, ended. His “valaška” is now in the Bratislava Castle and Jánošík’s hat was inherited from Liptov rulers after their death. Every ruler got it together with the county archive and so it’s preserved until today. At present, you can find it in the museum in Ružomberok, where we will also have a look. However, some original historical documents were lost sometime in the 19th century. Fortunately, their description was preserved, the authenticity of which was verified in 1844 and which was most likely rewritten by Janko Kráľ. But you can read more about it in the next article.

TripyTipy – Jánošík’s torture chamber

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