Life and Legend of Juro Jánošík,

Where did he get his strength and how could he lift a wooden building?


Since when was Jánošík so strong? From the day he was born.

The fairy’s and the old woman’s gifts only served to consolidate his strength.

After he was born, when the neighbors saw him for the first time, they agreed that the child must have descended from the race of giants who had lived in the Slovak mountains centuries before. Such children born in those days were a reminder of the past, and when they grew up they could perform exceptional feats. Juro of the Jánošíks would surely be the same, they predicted.

When his hair started to grow, they said to his parents, “Don’t cut his hair, only braid it, enormous strength is hidden in those braids.” Later, this was proven to be true many times.

Juro* Jánošík’s mother fed him well and when he was twelve her son was the strongest and tallest of all the boys from all the hamlets in the region.

One day seven boys set upon him all at once and could not get the better of him. However, Juro Jánošík never picked fights but stood up for the weaker boys when he could. But indeed, other boys his age often deserved to have him teach them a lesson. štefan Ondruš for example…

One day Štefan saw a whistle Jánošík had carved from a spring willow, and it caught his fancy from the first sound. As soon as he heard him play, his heart was filled with joy. “If I could carve such a whistle I would play a tune too,” he thought. “But I am not able to, I have tried more than once. And to trade for something? What can I offer to Jurko*?” he could not stop thinking about the whistle and could not sleep. His eyes almost popped out when Jánošík played it.

One day, he decided, he would watch for his opportunity and steal the whistle from Jánošík. When Jánošík went out the next day to bring back a stray cow. Štefan quickly grabbed the whistle out of his linen bag and hid it under a nearby tree stump. Jurko came back, wanting to cheer up his friend and himself, but the whistle was not there.

“Where is my whistle?”

“I don’t know!”

“I put it into my bag a moment ago and there is no one here but you.”

“Jurko, I really don’t know,” štefan lied.

“Don’t lie to me, štefan! Tell me where the whistle is!”

But štefan Ondruš did not confess. His friend could seize him with those strong arms of his and break his bones, he could shake his soul out of him, but he would not say.

Jurko Jánošík decided to take a different approach.

He felt the boy must confess of his own accord. He should understand that he had harmed someone. He must regret and make amends for his error, and then he would never lie or steal anymore.

“Look! There!” Jánošík called out unexpectedly and pointed at the sky.

štefan looked up to see something and, at the same moment, Jurko grabbed štefan’s hat. Then he leapt to the nearby hay shed and “slap”, put the hat underneath it.

“My hat!” štefan screamed.

“MY whistle!” Jurko replied.

“My parents will skin me alive when I come back without my hat.”

“And my heart will break if I don’t play my whistle.”

“I don’t have it!”

“Neither do I have your hat. You can see, can’t you?” Jurko showed him his empty hands.

The cows had to be brought back for milking again. So the two boys separated, running to opposite sides of the pasture, and each one was left with his own thoughts.

“A whistle is a really nice thing, but I can’t go home without my hat. My folks bought it for me not long ago and paid one whole gold piece.” štefan completed his thinking and made his decision. He went slowly to the other side of the pasture where his friend was sitting.

Juro only smiled and did not say a word. He waited patiently; being sure that štefan would come. “Jurko, about that whistle…” The strong young man did not say a word, even then.

“I’ll give it back to you and… Jurko I promise I will never do anything like that again.”

That was what Jánošík wanted to hear. At once he leapt to the corner of the hayloft, lifted it up a bit, took out the hat and put it on his friend’s head. The other boy ran over to the tree stump under which the whistle lay.

That same evening at home, štefan Ondruš spoke about the young Jánošík’s show of strength. The next day the whole community knew about it, and the third day the people down in the village as well knew that Jánošík does not have to strain much to lift a hay loft by one corner. But the reason why Jánošík had done so, that reason, štefan Ondruš never ever mentioned.

Juro Jánošík also remained silent. Each time he was asked about it, he only smiled. It was as if he already had a notion at the time that his strength was predestined to do other feats.

*Juro and Jurko are diminutive forms (nicknames) of Juraj


A book, Jánošík, Jánošík... written by Anton Marec, translated into English by Tatiana Strnadová and John Doyle and published in 1995 by Matica Slovenská, contains 33 tales of this famous outlaw captain. The information in this book was used to create this story. Check in the future for other stories.