None better than Miroslav Krleža (the famous Croatian writer) has described, in only few words, all of the sufferings endured by the peasant serfs under the severe rule of their feudal lords:
Karv, ta slana kmetska,
stubičanska karv, ta čarna, čerlena,
vonjhava gosta karv,
zakaj curi ta gluha, masna, slepa,
strahotno mlačna karv?
Kmična, gliboka, čemerna, kam, zakaj kaple kri?
Balade Petrice Kerempuha – Na mukah
Ambroz Matija Gubec is a famous historic figure holding a particular spot in history as a Croatian peasant and the leader of the Peasants' Revolt in Croatia and Slovenia. Prior to the well-known Peasants' Revolt, Gubec worked as a serf at the estate of the infamous Franjo Tahi.
The Peasants' Revolt took place in 1573 when the peasants decided to stop paying their dues to the lords where, consequently, one of the lords sent the armed mercenaries whom the peasants readily met for a battle. However, the Croatian Parliament reacted by declaring the peasants traitors, to which they responded with the general uprising against their feudal lords.
The peasants elected Matija Gubec as the leader of the revolt who, along with his closest associates and friends - Ilija Gregorić, Andrija Pasanec, Nikola Pozebec, Vinko Lepoić, and others – rose the peasants to a rebellion the night of 18th to 19th of January 1573.
In a very short time period, Gubec proved himself as a true leader - never giving up and inspiring many men to join him with his attitudes and behaviour. On February 9th 1573, he led the peasants into the crucial battle against the nobility near Stubičke Toplice. Unfortunately, the peasants were defeated and Gubec, as their leader, was taken to Zagreb, where he was punished for urging the peasants into the rebellion. To set an example for others, he was publicly tortured and executed on February 15th at St. Mark’s Square. According to the legend, he was forced to wear a red-hot iron crown and subsequently quartered.
Upon the sad ending of the Peasants' Revolt, Gubec has entered into legends as a great leader.
Did you know?!
- Matija Gubec has remained until today the greatest national hero in Croatia
- Numerous Art and Culture Associations are named after him.
- The most common street name in Croatia is the Street of Matija Gubec.
- August Šenoa wrote a historical novel The Peasants' Revolt with Matija Gubec as a leading character.
- A film, The Peasants' Revolt 1573, was written and directed by Vatroslav Mimica.
- Ivica Krajač, Karlo Metikoš, and Miljenko Prohaska are the authors of the first Croatian rock opera Gubec-beg.
- Antun Augustinčić is the author of a 6.5 m high monument to Matija Gubec located in Gornja Stubica.
If you are planning a visit to the homeland of Matija Gubec, we urge you to see:
- The event staging the Peasants' Revolt, which takes place at the beginning of every February in Donja Stubica.
- The Peasants' Revolt Museum, Gornja Stubica.
- The Birth House of Matija Gubec, Hižakovec, Donja Stubica.
- The monument to Matija Gubec, Gornja Stubica.
- Gubec Linden Tree, Gornja Stubica.
- The Living Archive of the Gubec Linden Tree, Hižakovec, Donja Stubica.