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Janosik - The Polish Robin Hood

Juro (George) Janosik was a robber, who with a group of friends, plundered, robbed, and burned the houses of the rich. And was said to operate on those on both sides of the Tatra Mountains, Polish and Slovak, and hide out in the forests at the foot of the Tatra mountains. However, according to legend he never harmed the poor in any way; on the contrary, he gave them money and gifts. Hence, the story circulated that Janosik robbed the rich to feed the poor, and the comparison with Robin Hood. Folk tales present Janosik as a hero who had supernatural powers; a magical resistance to arrows, bullets and wounds achieved with the help of a herb he carried in his pocket, an ability to move from one place to another quicker than any other human being; and was able to leave the impression of his palm in a slab of stone. 

One of the many legends surrounding Janosik claims that his powers were given to him by three witches whom he had met when he was young. Once, seeing his extraordinary courage, they decided to make him the most famous robber in all of history, and they gave him three magical objects: an alpenstock, a shirt, and a belt. Janosik always had the three gifts of the witches with him, and, for this reason, he escaped all traps. However, he was betrayed by a girl whom he often visited, and was captured. She was tempted by a promised reward. She craftily destroyed the gifts of the three witches and then denounced the helpless Janosik to the soldiers.

Many folk tales exist in Poland and Slovakia concerning Janosik and several films have been made about his life. As with Robin Hood, no-one can be certain which of the many stories about Janosik have any basis in fact.

Some films about Janosik include:

  • Janosík (1935) – a black and white Slovak film
  • Janosík I (1962) and Janosík II (1963) - a popular Slovakian action film 
  • Janosik (1974) – Polish film
  • Janosik (1975) – Polish TV series, a long running Polish TV series.

 

 

 

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