Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

Janko Krai'

Janko Krai', (1822-1876), Slovak poet of Romanticism, son of a butcher, studied at the Evangelical lyceum in Bratislava, and afterwards worked in the law office of Boleslav Vrchovsky in Pest. There Krai' met the Slovak and Hungarian radical democrats, Stefan Daxner, Jan Francisci, Mor Jokai and Alexander Petöfi. Krai's revolutionary lyrics were inspired by Petöfi, Byron, and the utopian socialists.

A participant in March revolt of 1848 in Pest, he urged democracy, the end of noble privileges, the distribution of the land without compensation, the guarantee of the civil rights, and the equality of nations. Hoping to arouse the Slovaks, in late March, he and Jana Rotarides led the unsuccessful peasant revolt in Hont county. After their defeat and imprisonment, Krai' wrote poems full of deep humanism, most of which were lost. Accused of mutiny and treason, they were transported to Pest before Christmas. Early in the year 1849 Janko Krai' and other Slovak political prisoners were released by the emperor's troops after an intervention of the Croatian ban Jelacic. In his birth town of Liptovsky Sväty Mikulas, Krai' commanded the national guard and influenced local public administration. Mistrusting the emperor's policies, he urged Slovak leaders, including Stur to reconcile their differences with Hungarians. He agreed to negotiate with Kossuth in Debrecen. The new royal commissioner of the Liptov county, appointed by Prince Windischgrätz, imprisoned Krai' at the end of March, but Slovak patriots forced his release. Krai' went to Vienna to inform the Slovak representatives of the dismal conditions in Slovakia and the oppression of the people by the conservatives and by the Kossuthian noblemen. The summer months he spent in retreat with his friend in Hulin on Moravia, and he contributed to the Moravian newspapers. In September, he joined as a volunteer to lead an expedition in central Slovakia.

After the revolution he held positions in lower courts and in the state administration. In 1867, he was dismissed as a result of Austro-Hungarian compromise. Krai' recorded the events of 1848- 1849 in his poetry. In the end, he died forgotten in poverty.
Dusan Skvarna


Fried, Istvan Janko Krai és Petöfi Sandor. Budapest: Irodalmi Szemle, 1973.

Pisit, Milan Janko Krai'. Zivot a dielo. Bratislava, 1957.

Slovensky biograficky slovnik Martin ,1989, III, 232-234.

Slovník slovensksch spisovateiov Bratislava 1984, II, 331-334.

Spira, Gy örgy: "Stretnutie Jana Rotaridesa s revolúciou a kontrarevoluciou" Historicky casopis Bratislava,1988 V, 733-759.

Vongrej, Pavol Syn sveta Bratislava 1989.

Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

JGC revised this file ( on October 20, 2004.

Please E-mail comments or suggestions to

© 1999, 2004 James Chastain.