According to folklore, Mijat lost his parents early, while still in the cradle, and was raised by his paternal uncle Niko. Mijat had two brothers and two sisters according to the legend. He lived in Gornji Brišnik, and later on moved to live in Donji Brišnik.
When Mijat grew up, he left his uncle, and entered the service of Kopčić Bey, where he tended to the sheep until he was twenty. At twenty, he was so strong, that he had no match in wrestling or throwing a stone, or any other competition throughout the Duvno area.
Once, an Arab arrived to Duvno, set up a tent on a meadow and challenged Kopčić Bey to a duel. This Arab oppressed the local people so that they had to bring him anything he asked for. When Mijat arrived home in the evening, he found the Bey in low spirits and when he found out the reason, Mijat laughed and offered to replace the Bey, while the Bey started blessing him in the morning, Mijat got ready and went to search for his opponent. The Arab was in the habit of throwing a foul-smelling fire on his opponents, and then proceeding to kill them. Mijat crossed himself, prayed for God’s help and charged his opponent. The Arab threw fire at Mijat, but Mijat grabbed him, threw him on the ground, and killed him with his own sabre. Kopčić Bey’s fondness of Mijat grew even greater, and he gave him a meadow called Jabuka as a gift. According to the legend, this duel took place at the Duvanjsko Plain, near the Drina stream, at the meadows called Crvenićka uža.
Mijat Tomić becomes a haiduk
Reasons that led Mijat Tomić to become a haiduk, according to the legend recorded by Rubić, and described in some songs, are related to Mijat’s role as the standard-bearer at the Kopčić Bey’ wedding. Legend has it that before the wedding dinner, Kopčić’s wedding party organised a competition in throwing stone off the shoulder and other games, and Tomić topped the other competitors. The Turks did not like this and decided to assassinate him. Mijat figured out what was coming his way and when the wedding dinner began, he fled the house, although they called after him to return. His uncle had died already. He dared not go home, fearing the Turks, and fled to the Vran Mountain.
One song, recorded in the Petrovo Plain, says that Mijat was wrongfully accused and unfairly fined and sentenced to a beating, and subsequently ran off to become a haiduk.
According to a 1642 record from Dubrovnik, Mijat Tomić became a haiduk because of the oppression of the then commissioner of the Bey ruling over Herzegovina, however, the document does not provide any details on the commissioner’s name or Mijat’s flight.
According to the folklore, Mijat’s flight to the Vran Mountain soon became a well-known fact in the Duvno area, and around 60 fellows joined Mijat. The famous song about Mijat was also made.
When Mijat realised how big his company has grown and became aware of the difficulties ahead of them, in order to test their courage, he skinned a live he-goat, which screamed in pain. When asked why he was doing this, Mijat answered: “Those of you of my company unable to bear this, to be skinned alive by the enemy, cannot be in my company.” The next day, only half of his 60-strong company remained.
Large number of folk songs composing the Mijat’s series, mentions his company of 33, several mention a 30-strong company, while the song Mijat Tomić betrayed by his friend, and lost his life, mentions 40 members of his company. Some of the things mentioned in the folk songs have been confirmed in records, that number included.
With all of this in mind, we can conclude that Mijat Tomić was born in early 17th century in the village of Brišnik near Duvno, and was killed in 1656, certainly between 1656 and 1659, having been betrayed by Ilija Bobovac from Doljani near Jablanica, whose three children he sponsored (people who told me the legend say he was an Orthodox), during the rule of Seidin Pasha. The assassin was Hadžizukić’s slave (Arab) or azap (gendarme).
Songs about Mijat Tomić had been recorded in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, Slavonia, and a dozen of them were printed in the 8th edition of Croatian Folk Songs.
DEATH OF MIJAT TOMIĆ
There are 28 songs that speak about the death of Mijat Tomić. Nineteen say that Mijat was betrayed by his friend whose children Mijat sponsored, Ilija Bobovac, and killed by an Arab. Mijat’s nephew Marijan tried to carry the wounded Mijat to the Vran Mountain, but Mijat succumbed below the Sovićka vrata location. Legend has it that the grave of haiduk Mijat Tomić is located there, in the Pošćeci field. According to legends and songs, little Marijan succeeded in avenging Mijat by killing the Arab in the Duvno parish, in Jankovac.