Among the rural population in 17th, 18th and 19th centuries a myth
about the devil represented by the dormouse shepherd was widespread.
The Devil, the dormouse shepherd, clicked, whistled and made a
hullabaloo while chasing dormice through the woods.Valvasor was the
first to describe dormouse hunting in his great work in 1689, still
believing the devil was herding dormice. Even after Steinberg, Hacquet
and Kordesh had found an explanation for the myth, that the clicking,
whistling and hullabalooing was produced by an owl, even in 1840 the
original myth was still deeply held by simple people (KORDESCH, 1840).
The myth was the basis for the novel of Josip Jurcic, An Autumn
Night Among the Slovenian Dormouse Hunters, published in 1865. It
is interesting that the story was still alive after the second world
war in the forests of Kocevsko. It is fascinating that even today the
myth not only functions as a part of the collective memory of dormouse
hunters but is also a typical and very popular Slovenian myth.
The above text is taken from:
Peršič, M.: Dormouse hunting as part of Slovene national identity.
Nat. Croat., Vol. 7, No. 3., 199-211, Zagreb, 1998.
ISSN 1330-0520 / UDK 599.323.2:591.61'611(497.4)
Nat. Croat., Vol. 7, No. 3., 199-211, Zagreb, 1998. Hrvatski
prirodoslovni muzej, Demetrova 1, Zagreb, Croatia
- Vampire of Kringa
"In 1672 there dwelt in the market town of Kring, in the
Archduchy of Krain, a man named George Grando, who died, and was
buried by Father George, a monk of St. Paul, who, on returning to the
widow's house, saw Grando sitting behind the door. The monk and the
neighbours fled. Soon stories began to circulate of a dark figure
being seen to go about the streets by night, stopping now and then to
tap at the door of a house, but never to wait for an answer. In a
little while people began to die mysteriously in Kring, and it was
noticed that the deaths occurred in the houses at which the spectred
figure had tapped its signal. The widow Grando also complained that
she was tormented by the spirit of her husband, who night after night
threw her into a deep sleep with the object of sucking her blood. The
Supan, or chief magistrate, of Kring decided to take the usual steps
to ascertain whether Grando was a vampire. He called together some of
the neighbours, fortified them with a plentyful supply of spirituous
liquor, and they sallied off with torches and a crucifix.
grave was opened, and the body was found to be perfectly sound and not
decomposed, the mouth being opened with a pleasant smile, and there
was rosy flush on the cheeks. The whole party were seized with terror
and hurried back to Kring, with the exception of the Supan. The second
visit was made in company with a priest, and the party also took a
heavy stick of hawthorn sharpened to a point. The grave and body were
found to be exactly as they had been left. The priest kneeled down
solemnly and held the crucifix aloft: "O vampire, look at this," he
said; "here is Jesus Christ who loosed us from the pains of hell and
died for us upon the tree !"
He went on to address the corpse, when
it was seen that great tears were rolling down the vampire's cheeks. A
hawthorn stake was brought forward, and as often as they strove to
drive it through the body the sharpened wood rebounded, and it was not
until one of the number sprang into the grave and cut off the
vampire's head that the evil spirit departed with a loud shriek and a
contortion of the limbs."
Giure Grando, il vampiro di Corridico
- Lippizan horse
In 1681, almost a century after Lipica's foundation, historian Johann
Weichard Freiherr von Valvasor wrote: "Among other things, he (Charles
II) founded a stud farm on the Karst in the village of Lipica in 1580,
where the best horses are bred and brought to the imperial court. They
are the most excellent and most robust horses you can find. They go
and graze on hard rocks, where only very little grass grows." The
tough, fast Karst horse that was famous in the Roman Empire, and the
noble Spanish Genett had evolved into a top quality baroque horse.
- Postojna / Postumia cave
The first explorer of caves in
Slovenia, Johann Weichard Valvasor, in his Glory of the Duchy of
Carniola of 1689 lists 70 caves. It was sheer curiosity that first
prompted Valvasor into exploring caves, while later he focused on
their hydrological features and the composition of stalactites.
Another fact that testifies to the long tradition of spelaeology in
Slovenia is that one of the country's most beautiful caves, Vilenica,
was opened for sightseeing as early as the 17th century. Research
continued in the 20th century and as a result, a register of caves was
composed. His description of this contains a strong element of
fantasy and contained a terrifying description of a cave of
immeasurable depths and monstrous shapes. Valvasor is reputed to have
brought several foreign acquaintances to Postojna to show them the
cave. He considered Postojna Cave to be the largest and longest but at
the same time the grimmest of all the caves he had seen.
17th century description of a skier from Bloke is the oldest written
record of skiing in Central Europe. J.W. Valvasor described Slovenians
skiing in 1689 in his book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola.
Cyrilic and Glagolitic Script
"The Peasants of Upper Carniola know of a rare invention of
the sort I had never seen anywhere else: in wintertime, when the snow
is plentiful, they descend into the valley with incredible speed. For
that purpose they take two strips of wood, each a quarter of an inch
thick, half a foot wide, and some five feet long. At the front the
wooden strips are bent upward; in the middle there are leather straps
to put the feet into. One such strip of wood is strapped under each
foot. On top of this, the peasants take a stout cudgel into their
hands push it under their armpit, bend backward, and use it as if it
were some sort of a rudder to slide off, or even fly down the steepest
slopes ... no less swift than those who use skates in Holland to glide
In the chapter Carniolan and Slavic language, Valvasor writes
about the origin of the Slavic peoples and the extent and spread of
“Slavic” language, which in his time was ”spoken from Venice in the
west to Sweden in the north, Constantinople in the south and Moscow in
He identifies two scripts used by Slavs, Cyrillic and
Glagolitic and provides a table of both scripts, with examples of
Slovenian words in Latin script illustrating each letter.
While the table is very clear and well executed, Valvasor is less
clear on the origin of the Glagolitic script, ascribing it to St.
Hieronimus. He is much clearer when it comes to discussing the extent
of its use. He tells us that it is firmly entrenched in Croatia and
Dalmatia, that the Missals in Glagolitic script are printed in Rome
and the language of the church offices is Slavic.
Carniola, according to Valvasor, both the Glagolitic script and
“Carniolan” or “Slavic” language are still used “in many places”. This
may mean either the 17th century spoken Slovenian or Old Church Slavic,
the language of the religious texts as translated by Constantine and his
disciples, or probably both. Valvasor further tells us, that the
Glagolitic script is no longer as widespread as it used to be, since
the “learned Lutheran preacher Primozz Trubar invented the writing of
Carniolan or Slavic language with Latin letters” (1551 A.D). He adds
that Croats and Dalmatians are also increasingly using the Latin script.
information from Valvasor who is the main 17th century source for
Slovenian territories, on matters which were generally of little concern
to historians, and a valuable insight into historical process which
caused the appearance of Glagolitic script and later its decline.