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kralj matjaz legendaMany legends about king Matjaž survived and they tell tales of him and his life. In the Mežiška valley the most common story is the following:

Once upon a time, very long ago the Slovene lands were ruled by a rich and just king named Matjaž. He was the leaf of our mountain. Peace and happiness ruled the land. But form the east came a tribe of horrible Turks and the attacked the land.

In an unequal fight Matjaž and his army fought, but soldiers fell one after the other until only a few men were defending the land by the side of their king. When the king realized that the Turks are too strong he fled into the mountain with his men. And because he was a good king and a just ruler he was not killed because the mountain opened up for him and took him. There he now sleeps at a table with his sol - diers and when his beard will circle the table nine times the Slovene king will awake and come to save his people oppressed by foreigners.

Other stories about king Matjaž:

The story tells the legend of king Matjaž who is summoned to fight the Turks on the morning after his wedding night. So the king has to leave his new wife home alone and go into battle. To give her some protection he leaves her with his horse Svit who can think and talk like a human. If anything were to happen to the queen the horse could come and tell the king. Later the Turks come and the Sultan chooses Alenka to be his wife. So the king must go and rescue her. He disguises himself as a Turk and mixes with their army. Because he is incredibly brave the Sultan allows him a dance with his wife. Alenčica recognizes him by the wedding ring he is wearing on his hand. So he manages to kidnap her. On the way back they are almost stopped by floodwaters which they cannot cross with the horse. Their love trapped in the ring helps them and the water parts. They arrive home safely.

The legend of king Matjaž talks of a man whose true name was Matija Korvin and he ruled the Slovene lands in the time of Karantania. Matjaž was a good king and day and night poor people turned to him for help and protection. He had golden coins made and during his rule Koroška was going through golden times. But other rulers envied him because of his might the joined their armies against him.

With only one hundred surviving heroes he had to hide in a cave under Peca. The cave opened for him and hid him from his enemies. In the cave Matjaž sat behind a table and the others sat on the floor next to him and the fell asleep. Legend tells that when his beard will circle the table nine times he well awake. At that moment a lime tree will grow outside his cave in the winter. It will blossom from midnight to 1a.m. and then it will die. At that moment king Matjaž and his men will come from the cave and he will defeat and stop all his enemies, rid the world of injustice and rule over the Slovene people once again. That is when the golden times will once again come to Koroška.

(K. Brenk, Babica pripoveduje (Grandma tells), Slovene folk fairytales, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana 1992)