The Great Peasant Revolt of 1573

The peasant revolt of 1573 was a revolt against the unbearable living conditions of the dependent peasants. The revolt broke out on the estate of Franjo Tahy, affecting Hrvatsko Zagorje and a part of Slovenia, and affected a number of peasant revolts in our area over the next few centuries. According to its organization, it was the most serious revolt of the peasants in Croatian and Slovenian history in order to abolish the political power of the nobility and feudal levies. In the 16th century, the position of the peasants deteriorated due to the increase in natural benefits and their suppression from the trade in agricultural products. The nobility, on which the royal government relied in the fight against the Turks, enjoyed great benefits and all political rights. The disenfranchised peasantry bore all the tax burdens, the state and the church, and especially the heavy urbarial levies of the nobles. Also it was most exposed to the devastation and plunder of the Turks.

The cause of the riot was the brutal behavior of the lord Franjo Tahy. With the purchase, he became the owner of Statenberg near Ptuj and part of the manor of Susedgrad and Donja Stubica. He sought to expand his property to the detriment of his co-owners, the Hoenning family and the Gregorians, who therefore waged an armed struggle against him (between 1565 and 1572) and involved their serfs in it. Tahy subsequently seduced even greater terror and claims from the peasants on his estates. The serfs filed lawsuits three times complaining to the king about Tahi. Since they did not find his understanding, they decided to organize an armed resistance.

Tombstone of Franjo Tahy

In the middle of 1572, a secret Peasant Alliance was founded on the Stubica manor, which was to prepare an uprising in Hrvatsko Zagorje, Posavina, Styria and Carniola (modern Slovenia). The leaders of the revolt were Ambroz (Matija) Gubec, Ivan Pasanec and Ivan Mogaić, and the military command would be left to Ilija Gregorić, an experienced soldier from the wars against the Ottomans.

The difficult position of the serfs in the neighboring areas, allowed the fight against the Tahy to turn into an uprising against the landlords in general. The plan was to seize Donja Stubica, Susedgrad, Brdovec and Cesargrad in the first raid, arm themselves, and then spread the revolt to the whole of Zagorje, the area of ​​Mokrice, Samobor, Okić and Jastrebarsko. It was agreed that peasants from the area of ​​Kostanjevica, Krško and Novo Mesto would join the rebellion on the Slovenian side. The rebels expected that the Uskoks from Žumberak would join them. Since the Uskoks were able to raise several hundred horsemen who the insurgents themselves did not have, they joined the uprising, it was of crucial importance. The majority of Zagorje rebels were to remain in the central part around Donja Stubica, spread the uprising to other parts and defend the hotbed of the rebellion from the nobility and possible Turkish incursions. In the second stage of the uprising, all three groups were to attack Zagreb and occupy it. Then a peasant-imperial government would be formed to govern the rebel areas.

As early as the summer of 1572, the serfs captured Susedgrad, Donja Stubica, Legrad, expelled the Tahy family, and at the end of the same year conquered Statenberg. Seeing the serf movement endangering their own interests, on January 18, 1573, the Croatian Parliament declared the rebels traitors. The rebel leadership responded by calling for a general popular uprising. The uprising began on January 29, 1573 with the attack and conquest of Cesargrad. They were immediately joined by insurgent detachments from Susedgrad and Stubica, and soon by Slovene serfs.

The peasant movement spread like wildfire, and the revolt affected as many as 60 manors in Croatia and Slovenia. The insurgents were divided into three groups. The first, under the command of Ilija Gregorić, operated in Slovenian territory, the second, under the command of Ivan Pasanec, in the area between the Sava and the Kupa rivers, and the third group under the command of Matija Gubec, in Hrvatsko Zagorje.

Between January 29 and February 2, 1573, Gubec set out from Donja Stubica for Zabok with a part of the insurgents and managed to conquer the fortified manor of Šimun Keglević, Šabac near Krapina. On February 3, Gregorić captured Brežice with 2,600 rebels, followed by Krško. There he decided to wait for the Uskoks to join him but they decided to side with the king. On February 5, 1573, the captain of the Uskoks of Žumberak with about 500 soldiers and Uskoks occupied Krško. About 300 peasants died or drowned in the Sava. The rest of the peasant army fled. A day later, Gašpar Alapić defeated the peasant army near Kerestinec, and then the insurgent detachments in Planina, Jurklošter and Jastrebarsko were defeated. On February 7, 1573, Ban Drašković gathered an army in Zagreb to attack the insurgents in Zagorje. The very next day, Ilija Gregorić’s army was severely defeated in the battle of Sempeter.

Now the entire feudal army (about 5,000 infantry and armored cavalry) under the leadership of Gašpar Alapić could march on Stubica. The decisive battle took place on February 9, 1573 near Stubičke Toplice. In snowy conditions, about 6,000 rebellious and poorly armed peasants resisted a much better-equipped adversary. The battle lasted about 4 hours, and was decided by the feudal cavalry. A large number of peasants were killed in the battle, including Ivan Mogaić, one of the leaders of the uprising, and many were captured.

The statue of Ambroz (Matija) Gubec in Stubica

After the battle of Stubičke Toplice in the rebel places, revenge was carried out on the peasants who were killed and maimed. After the battle, Ambroz (Matija) Gubec was captured and taken to Zagreb, where he was executed a few days later. A glowing crown was placed on his head as the “king of the peasants”, and after that he was quartered.

Published by borisbirosevic

Hi! My name is Boris Birošević. I live in Zagreb, Croatia. My father studied history so he passed the love for it on me from my youth ages. He always told me interesting stories from history. I loved listening to him and I was always attracted to that, for me, unexplored and mystical world. I read all six books “History of the Croats” by Vjekoslav Klaić during my elementary school. During high school, I was (I could say) the best in history in my generation, and I further expanded my knowledge in college because we had a lot of history-related subjects. By the way, I have a master of journalism degree. I have been studying and dealing with history for 25 years, on a daily basis. I have a broad and deep knowledge of Croatian, European and worldwide history. My goal is to transfer my knowledge to others in an interesting and even so objective way. On my website and blog, I will try to bring details from Croatian history closer to foreigners because it is still unknown to many and difficult to access. I will also cover some topics that are close and related to Croatian history in a certain way (Western Balkans, Slavs, Austria-Hungary, etc.) I hope that on my page everyone will find something for himself. For me, history is not a job but a calling… Join me on my website "HISTORY OF CROATIA and related history"...

2 thoughts on “The Great Peasant Revolt of 1573

  1. Thank you for this history.
    My grandmother Ella Simrak was from Zumberak. Selo Simrak. Close to Jastrebasko.
    She immigrated to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Married Janko Crljanica who worked in the Clairton Coke Works Steel mill.

    The oldest retold story she told me was as a child she and her siblings would play with her grandfather’s hand. A Turkish cannon ball shot injury tore open all the skin on his fingers. They wrapped cloth around it and the fingers all healed together as one. As kids they would try to pull the fingers apart.

    Keep up the good work.


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