|Juraj Jánošík by Władysław Skoczylas. The inscription reads: "The name of Janosik will never die".|
We have met English highwaymen in the past and today we travel to Slovakia to remember the final day of a man who has become a legendary figure in his homeland and surrounding countries.
Like our own Robin Hood, legends tell that Jánošík robbed from the rich and gave his takings to the poor. In the years since his death he has become a familiar figure in the cultural life of Slovakia as a symbol of strength against oppression, but in his lifetime, Jánošík was known a highwayman who met a gruesome fate.
In March 1713 Jánošík was visiting a lady friend in a pub owned by landlord, Tomáš Uhorčík, but unbeknownst to the wanted man, local forces had been tipped off and were already on their way to detain him. When Jánošík realised that arrest was imminent he tried to flee and his escape was foiled not by weapons or force, but by an old lady who threw a plate of peas onto the pub floor, causing the outlaw to slip and fall. Captured and restrained, he was imprisoned in the town of Liptovský Svätý Mikuláš to await trial.
Jánošík came before the courts on 16th March 1713 and on 17th was sentenced to death. Although the date of his execution was not written, it was usual for the sentence to be carried out immediately and for Jánošík, the means of death were particularly gruesome.
He had already endured torture whilst imprisoned and now he was to face a final, terrible end on the scaffold. Rather than a noose a hook awaited Jánošík and he was hung from it by his ribcage and left there to die. Legend claims that the highwayman danced a jig before leaping onto the hook himself but whether he jumped or was set there by guards, Jánošík ended his days in agony.