Matija Gubec (Hungarian: Gubecz Máté) (ca. 1548 – 15 February 1573?), with his real name Ambroz Gubec (or Gobec), was a Croatian revolutionary, best known as a leader of the Croatian-Slovenian peasant revolt. He was part of the court of three people that governed the rebels.
The name Matija first appears in the work of the Hungarian historian Miklós Istvánffy in 1622. Probably Istvánffy attributed this name to him after the good King Matija, and later the two, and the peasant king, György Dózsa (leader of the Hungarian peasant revolt in 1514), merged in folk traditions.
Before the revolt, Gubec was a serf on the estate of the landowner Ferenc Tahy. When the revolt erupted, the peasants elected him to be one of the leaders, and renowned for his personal qualities, he became the most influential leader of the rebellion. During his brief tenure he showed ability as a capable administrator and inspiring leader that would later create a legend. He earned the nickname Gubec Beg.
Matija Gubec led the peasant army during its last stand at the Battle of Stubičko Polje on 9 February 1573. Before the battle he made a speech trying to convince the men that only victory could bring them freedom, while the defeat would bring more misery. After the defeat he was captured and taken to Zagreb. On 15 February he was publicly tortured, being forced to wear a red-hot iron crown, cruelly dragged along the streets of the city, pinched with red-hot iron pincers, and was subsequently quartered.
While Matija Gubec's cause was defeated, his legacy continued to be preserved in local folklore throughout the centuries. In the 20th century, Josip Broz Tito and the Yugoslav Partisans embraced his cause as their own. During World War II, a Croatian and Slovenian brigade were named after him. He is also depicted as the protagonist of Gubec-beg (1975), the first Croatian rock opera. A museum of Croatian-Slovenian peasant revolt led by him is founded in Oršić Castle in Gornja Stubica, near the place of his last battle.
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