IN 2013, Slovakia celebrated the 325 years since its national hero, the legendary outlaw Juraj Jánošík, was born, and 300 years since he was executed. Every Slovak knows the story of the bandit from Terchová, who, according to legend, made his name stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

A record showing that someone named Juraj Jánošík was baptised on January 25, 1688, can be found in the registry in Varín, the TASR newswire wrote, although his exact date of birth is unknown. As a young man from an agrarian family, Jánošík joined the revolutionary army of nobleman František Rákoczi and later ended up in the emperor’s regular army. After his father paid for his release, Jánošík returned home and embarked on a life of banditry, eventually becoming known as the Slovak version of Robin Hood and a symbol of struggle against oppression. At 25 he was caught – allegedly because he was betrayed – tortured and sentenced to death in Liptovský Mikuláš on March 17, 1713, by hanging from a hook.

Jánošík has since become a national folk hero. In a poll conducted by the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) in 2011, Jánošík ranked among the 10 most important sources of national pride in Slovakia.

Several groups commemorated the anniversary. The series of events culminated on November 4 with a national conference called Banditry in Slovakia. Renowned experts from several fields addressed the phenomenon of banditry in a historical, judicial and literary context.

Banditry was a natural response of the poorest groups of feudal subjects, head of the Liptov branch of the State Archives Peter Vítek said at the conference, which took place amid other Jánošík-related events in Liptovský Mikuláš. The folk tradition preserved the names of several national heroes, and banditry has since become a popular theme in folk myths and legends, as well as in fiction and films, Vítek said. At the conference, the Jánošík memorial board was installed on the façade of the feudal-era regional office, which currently houses the Janko Kráľ Museum. The accused Jánošík spent his final days in this building before his execution, according to some sources.