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Janosik’s Leap

Punkt na szlaku: On the ruffians’ paths

In the Pieniny Mountains, in the Dunajec River Gorge there is a strait where the river bed is 12 meters wide and 8 meters deep. This is the Skok Janosika, as here he leaped over Dunajec when he was running away from the pursuit. Raftsmen indicate also the trace of the mountain axe in the rock as the evidence of unusual strength of harnaś. read more

In the Pieniny mountains, in the famous Dunajec River Gorge there is a strait between Facimiech walls called also Ruffians’ Rocks (pl. Zbójeckie Skały) (668 m AMSL– peak in the Three Crowns Massif) (pl. Masyw Trzech Koron) in the part of the mountains called Pieniny Właściwe-Golica Group. The riverbed here is only 12 meters wide and the depth of the rapidity is 8 meters. Raftsmen used to call this place lij, for the water which is overflowing there; it is also known as Na Głębokie.

According to the legend it is called Janosik’s Leap (pl. Skok Janosika), as here Janosik leaped over the Dunajec River when he was running away from the pursuit from the Nidzice castle’s dungeon. On the promontory, on the left side of the river, raftsmen show the trace of an axe in the rock as the evidence of unusual strength of harnaś; even the rock could not withstand it. On the Polski Spisz, this unusual exploit sometimes is inscribed into the local ruffian Gałajda – semi legendary man. This ruffian after reaching the other side of the river allegedly took his trousers down and in an insulting manner he mooned the minions of the law. The same thing was done by a ruffian from the company of Sebastian Bury from Rajcza in Beskid Żywiecki but while running away from pursuit and after reaching the other side of the river Soła, which was sedulously noted down in the court acts of the city of Żywiec in 1630.

In the legends from the Carpathian Mountains the motif of foot (and also hand) imprinted in a stone is quite frequent and, apart from ruffians harnaś (e.g. Baczyński, Ondraszek, Proćpak from Kamesznicy, Dobosz) it is connected to the Mother of God and saints (mainly the queen Jadwiga, Kinga, Świerad, Wojciech). It is also present in other regions of Poland.

The feat of a long jump, according to the tradition, was an element of an “exam” every candidate for a ruffian was subject to. He should prove unusual physical skill, courage, cleverness, perfect mastery of arms. Legends in whole Carpathian Mountains describe such feats.

Jerzy Janosik (Slovakian Juraj Jánošík), favourite hero of legends, songs and stories from the region of Podhale, Spisz, Orava, Pieniny, was a real person. In fact he was not any outstanding man in the whole population of ruffians from the Carpathian Mountains. He was active for as short period as two years: since September 1711, to March 1713.

He was born in Terechowa village (Slovakian Terchová) in Slovakia, on the 25th of January, 1688. He was captured at the beginning of March, 1713, in Klenowiec (Slovakian Klenovec), a village located in the central Slovakia, in the region of Weporskie Góry (Slovakian Veporské vrchy). The sentence – hanging on a hook by a rib was performed on the 17th or 18th of March of the same year in Liptowski Mikułasz (Slovakian Liptovský Svätý Mikuláš). Janosik’s testimony in his process survived to the present day. Moreover, he is mentioned in materials from the process of other harnaś Tomasz Uhorczyk (Slovakian Tomáš Uhorčík, also called Martin Mravec), present in the book of criminal cases of the Liptowski Committee from 1710-1717. Presently it is in the Oblast Archives in Bratislava.

Among more prominent feats of the ruffian there was the attack on a magnate Jan Radwański travelling with his retinue (including among others the landholder Ladislav Zmeškal and baron Pavol Révay) going to Turkey to the funeral of Stefan Petrycy, the general of kuruc, and robbing the widow of a dignitary of Caesar, countess von Schardon, going from Lewocz (Slovakian Levoča), to Liptów (Slovakian Liptov). The Liptów’s authorities were obliged to pay her a high compensation as it was their duty to secure high roads adequately. This event became the direct cause of increasing government actions aiming at ruffians and capturing Janosik as a result.

In reality, he has never crossed the Tatra Mountains ridge and he was never present on their northern side. However, legends join many places with him also on the Polish Podkarpacie, especially at Podtatrze. Apart from Podhale and Orava, Janosik is the character of Spisz and Pieniny legends.

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