King Matjaž

King Matjaž/Mátyás (Slovene: Kralj Matjaž, Hungarian: Mátyás király, Croatian: Kralj Matijaš) is a legendary king in Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and in some other countries, based on pre-Christian traditions of Carantania[1] and in course of centuries gradually linked to a real-life king, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, who lived in the second half of the 15th century.[2][dead link] He has also been linked to the leader of the peasant's army that fought against the Turks in the Battle of Kokovo in July 1478.[3] A number of folk poems and stories about King Matjaž are known, the earliest ones originating in the western Slovene area of Tolmin from the 16th century.[4] He is mainly represented as the king who is just and a defender of his people, and the bringer of the golden age of prosperity.[1] It has been assumed that the legend was the basis for the name of the 1573 peasants' revolt leader Matija Gubec, actually named Ambrož Gubec.[5][6]

1877 beehive panel painting of King Matjaž
Matthias Corvinus, about fifty years old (contemporary sculpture from Buda Castle)

Content of the poems and storiesEdit

The folk poems tell about King Matjaž's fights with the Turks, about the kidnapping of his wife Alenčica, or his rescue from the Turkish jail. The stories about King Matjaž are arrangements of the poems or may have a different content. In this case, they tell about the King's rebellion against God and about his army, buried under a mountain.[4]

Traditions and memorialsEdit

The traditions related to the King Matjaž have a significant role in the Slovenian Carinthia, particularly the Črna Valley, where a competition in building snow castles as well as visual art and literary writing related to King Matjaž takes place every January since 1993. This is related to a story, according to which King Matjaž sleeps in the Peca Mountain above the valley.[4] In the vicinity of the Peca hut,[4] there is a bronze sculpture of King Matjaž in the beginning of an abandoned pit.[7] It was designed by the sculptor and mountaineer Marjan Keršič in 1958,[8] put to bronze by the sculptor France Rotar, and placed in the cave in 1962.[9]

In the mid-1990s, King Matjaž has been depicted on the King of Diamonds card of the Slovene Tarock.[10] The depiction was based on a study led by the ethnologist Janez Bogataj, and the card was drawn by the academy-trained painter and illustrator Matjaž Schmidt.[11]

In the year 2006 Slovenian country musician Milan Pečovnik - Pidži spotted the image of King Matjaž carved into the rocks of mount Peca.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b Čeferin, Aleksandra (28 April 2008). "King Matjaž". Slovenian Language and Cultural Resources. Institute for Slovenian Studies of Victoria. Archived from the original on 13 March 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  2. ^ Šmitek, Zmago. "Kralj Matjaž: mavrični sij ljudskega junaka" [King Matjaž: The Iridescent Lustre of a Folk Hero] (PDF). Acta Histriae (in Slovenian, Italian, and English). 17 (1–2): 132.
  3. ^ Kralj, Drago (1 July 2009). "Nesrečni kralj Matjaž" [Unhappy King Matjaž]. Gore-ljudje (in Slovenian).
  4. ^ a b c d Kropej, Monika (2010). "Gradovi kralja Matjaža" [King Matjaž's Castles] (PDF). Živa kulturna dediščina Slovenije [Live Cultural Heritage of Slovenia] (in Slovenian). Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  5. ^ "Matija Gubec - Gubec Bey". Peasants' Revolt Museum. 2003. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  6. ^ Grafenauer, Bogo. Reisp, Branko (1973). "Kmečki punti na Slovenskem: razprave in katalog dokumentov" [Peasant Revolts in the Slovene Lands: Exhibitions and a Catalogue of Documents]. Situla Razprave Narodnega Muzeja Slovenije (in Slovenian): 27. ISSN 0583-4554. COBISS 3731969.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Krkine planinske poti: Peca" [Krka's Mountain Paths]. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Peca - Matjaževa jama" [Peca: Matjaž Cave]. Registry of Immovable Cultural Heritage (in Slovenian). Ministry of Culture, Slovenia. Archived from the original on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Zgodovina" [History 1958-1969]. Planinsko društvo Mežica [Mežica Mountaineering Club]. p. 4. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Predstavitev" [Presentation]. Slovenski tarok [Slovene Tarock] (in Slovenian). Eurotrade Commerce, d. o. o. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Zgodovina" [History]. Slovenski tarok [Slovene Tarock] (in Slovenian). Eurotrade Commerce, d. o. o. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  12. ^ Renčelj Marko (23 August 2006). "Bo kralj Matjaž nova atrakcija koroškega turizma?" (in Slovenian). Večer. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Kralj Matjaž se je prikazal" (in Slovenian). 18 October 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2015.

External linksEdit