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Slovak Peasant Revolt

Slovak Peasant Revolt in Hont County the first and the most radical anti-feudal activity of Slovak national and revolutionary movement in the spring of 1848. The revolt broke out spontaneously under the influence of the revolutionary events in Pest and Vienna due to the revolutionary agitation of the poet Janko Krai'. Krai' spread the twelve Pest articles and encouraged the local inhabitants in the spirit of his vision of "pure democracy", new freedom, civil and human equality and the brotherhood of the nations. The revolt was precipitated by the March Laws, which only reassured the abolition of the serfs' manorial duties while neglecting the fact the villages of middle Hont areas were inhabited mostly by curial serfs and navvy workers whose duties were not eliminated by these laws. Disappointment increased when three officials of the county delivered their speech on March 27 at a meeting in the village Dolné Pribelovce. They officially announced to the people that land would not be distributed and the most of them would continue to function in the status of serfs. Moreover, the peasants were stirred by the haughty behavior of unpopular officials, known to be advocates of preservation of serfdom. In response to the speech the local teacher Jan Rotarides delivered the twelve Pest articles and read revolutionary verses of his friend Janko Krai'. He stressed that passing new laws was more an reflection of the noblemen's fears than a reflection of their desire to satisfy the people. He called on all peasants to refuse to fulfill their duties as serfs. In the name of all gathered he read the demands that required abolition of serfdom, ending vineyard tithes, and the distribution of forests and pastures to the peasants without compensation. Moreover they demanded cessation of Magyarization in the Protestant church and in the schools. The noblemen were called on to speak Slovak and Slovak should be taught in primary schools. The indignation of the gathering finally burst into open revolt led by Jan Rotarides and Janko Krai'. The center of revolt was in the village of Dolné Prˇbelovce, and it spread to the neighboring five villages. Peasants were armed with scythes, pitchforks and flails. They burned manorial records, while threatening landlords with bells and fires. Before this riot could receive a more organized form and a more precise program to spread to further areas and villages, it was suppressed by the military, including the dragoon regiment of emperor Francis Joseph. Ten of the organizers and participants in the "communistic" mutiny were arrested. Seven peasants and the Protestant priest Dobrek were set free in August, while J. Krai' and J.Rotarides continued to be imprisoned in shackles in the town of Cahy and later in Buden. J. Krai' was released by the emperor's soldiers in January 1849, but Rotarides remained in prison until October 1849 when he was set free in a seriously damaged physical and mental condition. The revolt tried to solve basic social, political and national problems by radical means. The revolt, although without contacts with Slovak patriots in other regions, strengthened their self consciousness and enthusiasm.
Dusan Skvarna


Spira, György: "Stretnutie Jana Rotaridesa s revoluciou a kontrarevoluciou" Historicky Casopis Bratislava, V (1988), 733-759.

Golan, Karol "Janko Krai' ako politicky radikal" Politika (Bratislava) 1940.

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