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Matija Gubec

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Matija Gubec
Matija Gubec statue in Podsused, Croatia.
Ambroz Gubec

c. 1548
DiedFebruary 15, 1573(1573-02-15) (aged 24–25)
Zagreb, Kingdom of Croatia
(now Zagreb, Croatia)
Known forCroatian–Slovene peasant revolt
Matija Gubec statue in the large 1573 Peasants' Revolt monument in Gornja Stubica made in 1973 by Antun Augustinčić, a prominent Croatian sculptor

Matija Gubec (Croatian pronunciation: [mǎtija gǔːbets], Hungarian: Gubecz Máté) (c. 1548 – 15 February 1573),[2] also known as Ambroz Gubec (or Gobec),[3] was a Croatian revolutionary, and a leader of the Croatian–Slovene Peasant Revolt of 1573.[4] He was part of the court of three people that governed the rebels.[5]


The name Matija first appears in the work of the Hungarian historian Miklós Istvánffy in 1622.[2] Probably Istvánffy attributed this name to him after the good King Matija,[6][7] and later the two, and the peasant king, György Dózsa (leader of the Hungarian peasant revolt in 1514), merged in folk traditions.[3]

Before the revolt, Gubec was a serf on the estate of the landowner Ferenc Tahy.[8] 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.[8] 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.[8]

Matija Gubec led the poorly armed peasant army during its last stand at the Battle of Stubičko Polje on 9 February 1573 facing an army of the nobility led by bishop governor Juraj Drašković. 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, under specific orders of bishop Drašković,[9] he was publicly tortured and 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.[10]


A representation of the execution of Matija Gubec in front of St. Mark's Church in Zagreb, by Oton Iveković

While Matija Gubec's cause was defeated, his legacy continued to be preserved in local folklore throughout the centuries. In the 20th century, the Croatian Peasant Party, and later Josip Broz Tito and the Yugoslav Partisans, embraced his cause as their own.[11] During the Spanish Civil War, Yugoslav leftists who served in the pro-Republican International Brigades named their force the Grupo Matija Gubec. During World War II, a Croatian and Slovenian brigade were named after him.[8] He is also depicted as the protagonist of Gubec-beg (1975), the first Croatian rock opera.[12] 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.

In 2008, a total of 362 streets in Croatia were named after Matija Gubec, making him the most common person eponym of streets in the country.[13]


  1. ^ "Gubec, Matija". Hrvatska enciklopedija, mrežno izdanje (in Croatian). Leksikografski zavod Miroslav Krleža. 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2024.
  2. ^ a b Švab, Mladen, ed. (1983–2009). "Gubec, Matija Ambroz". Hrvatski biografski leksikon [Croatian Biographical Lexicon]. Lexicographical Institute of Miroslav Krleža.
  3. ^ a b D. Birnbaum, Marianna (1986). Humanists in a shattered world: Croatian and Hungarian Latinity in the sixteenth century. Slavica Publishers. p. 39. ISBN 9780893571559.
  4. ^ Gaži, Stephen. A history of Croatia. Philosophical Library, 1973. p99.
  5. ^ Mal, Josip (2009). "Gregorič, Alojzij". In Vide Ogrin, Petra (ed.). Slovenski biografski leksikon (in Slovenian). ISBN 9788671310468. OCLC 479727275.
  6. ^ "Matija Gubec - Gubec Bey". Peasants' Revolt Museum. 2003. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b c d Vojna enciklopedija (in Serbo-Croatian). Belgrade: Redaction of Vojna enciklopedija. 1972. pp. book 3, p 347.
  9. ^ Dedijer, V. (2018). Tito. Eschenburg Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-78912-538-2. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  10. ^ Oto Lothar et al. The land between: a history of Slovenia. Frankfurt: Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2008. p214.
  11. ^ "Ambroz Gubec nije raščetvoren". Portal Novosti (in Croatian). 6 June 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Gubec-beg". komedija.hr (in Croatian). Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  13. ^ Letica, Slaven (29 November 2008). Bach, Nenad (ed.). "If Streets Could Talk. Kad bi ulice imale dar govora". Croatian World Network. ISSN 1847-3911. Retrieved 2014-12-31.