Legends about the Bandit Kovářík

Date of Publication:

2017-12-15

Abstract:

The article follows a narrative tradition concerning the bandit Jan Vojta, alias Kovářík (ca. 1744 – 1803). There is evidence, collected in the first half of the 20th century, which mentions the existence of a vivid and extensive oral tradition surrounding this noble robber. Folklorists, however, did not pay attention to this phenomenon. The author of this article has managed to collect surviving fragments of this tradition in the field in central-eastern Bohemia. An interesting fact is that Kovářík is one of the few bandits in Bohemia who fit the definition of social banditry proposed by English historian Eric Hobsbawm. The tradition surrounding him even shows some features which are atypical for Bohemian bandits, and which show him to be more similar to Slovakian and East-Moravian (social) bandits. These include motifs such as the theft of cattle, cooperation with a reeve and participation in a peasant uprising. These findings could serve as inspiration for further historiographic research into this figure.

Keywords:

legends;bandits;social banditry;Jan Vojta Kovářík

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