The actual future highwayman Juraj Jánošík was born shortly before his baptism on January 25, 1688. His parents were Martin Jánošík and Anna Čišníková from Terchová. His godparents were Jakub Merjad and Barbara Krištofíková. His first name, (“George” in English) has been a very common name all over Europe and his last name is still common around his birthplace.
Jánošík was born and most certainly grew up in the village of Terchová (Tyerhova) in the Habsburg monarchy’s Kingdom of Hungary area, (present-day Žilina District in northwestern Slovakia). He fought with the Kuruc insurgents when he was fifteen. After the lost Battle of Trenčín, Jánošík was recruited by the Habsburg army.2 In autumn, 1710, as a young prison guard in Bytča (Nagybiccse), he helped the imprisoned Tomáš Uhorčík escape.3 They created a forest robber group and Jánošík became the leader at the age of 23, after Uhorčík left the group to settle in Klenovec.4 The group was active mostly in northwestern Kingdom of Hungary (today’s Slovakia), around the Váh (Vág) river between Važec (Vázsec) and Východná (Vichodna),5 but the territory of their activity extended also to other parts of today’s Slovakia, as well as to Poland and Moravia.2 Most of their victims were rich merchants. Under Jánošík’s leadership, the group was exceptionally chivalrous: They did not kill any of the robbed victims and even helped an accidentally injured priest.5 They are also said to share their loot with the poor and this part of the legend may be based on the facts too.5
Jánošík was captured in the fall of 1712 and detained at the Mansion of Hrachov, but was released soon afterwards.6 He was captured again in spring of 1713, in the Uhorčík’s residence in Klenovec (Klenóc).17 Uhorčík lived there under the false name Martin Mravec at that time. According to a widespread legend, he was caught in a pub run by Tomáš Uhorčík, after slipping on spilled peas, thrown in his way by a treacherous old lady. Jánošík was imprisoned and tried in Liptovský Svätý Mikuláš (Liptószentmiklós, present Liptovský Mikuláš).
His trial took place on March 16 and March 17, 1713 when he was sentenced to death. The date of his execution was not recorded, but it was customary to carry it out as soon as the trial was over. The manner of his execution, not in public awareness until the early 19th century, became part of his modern legend. A hook was pierced through his left side and he was left dangling on the gallows to die. This brutal way of execution was reserved for leaders of robber bands.5 However, sources diverge about the way of his execution, and it is also possible, that Jánošík was hanged.1 A legend says that he refused the grace offered in exchange for enlisting soldiers of his abilities with the words: “If you have baked me so you should also eat me!” and jumped on the hook.8