Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Birthday: February 14, 1368
Emperors & Kings
Died At Age: 69
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Sigismundo
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Nuremberg, Germany
Famous as: King of Hungary
Spouse/Ex-: Barbara of Cilli, Mary, Queen of Hungary
father: Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
mother: Elizabeth of Pomerania
siblings: Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia
children: Elizabeth of Luxembourg, N. of Luxemburg, Prince of Hungary
Died on: December 9, 1437
place of death: Znojmo, Czechia
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, was the last male member of the House of Luxembourg. Born as the second surviving son of Charles IV, the King of Bohemia, he was betrothed to Maria of Anjou, the daughter of King Louis of Hungary and Poland at the age of six. At the age of eleven, he was sent to the Hungarian court to be raised in the Hungarian tradition. Although he was declared successor by King Louis, he had to struggle before he got Mary’s hand and became her co-ruler. However, his initial reign was not at all peaceful; he had to face attacks from Naples for nine long years and lost control over his realm after being defeated by Turks at the Battle of Nicopolis. Later on, he recouped his throne and was recognized as the King of Hungary and Croatia in 1387, as the King of Germany in 1411, and King of Bohemia in 1419 and as Holy Roman Emperor in 1433. He died in 1437 at the age of 69.
Childhood & Early Life
Sigismund of Luxembourg was born on 15 February 1368, in Nuremberg, an important town under the Holy Roman Empire. His father, Charles IV, was the King of Bohemia and also the Holy Roman Emperor. His mother, Elizabeth of Pomerania, was his father’s fourth and final wife.
Born second of his parents’ eight children, he had three surviving siblings. While Anne of Bohemia was elder to him, his younger surviving siblings were John of Görlitz and Margaret of Bohemia.
From his father’s previous marriages, he had four surviving siblings. They were Margaret of Bohemia, Catherine of Bohemia, Elisabeth of Bohemia and Wenceslaus.
In 1374, six years old Sigismund was betrothed to Maria of Anjou, the daughter of Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland. At that time, Maria, better known as Mary, was just three.
His father, King Charles IV, died in 1378. Thereafter, his eldest half-brother, Wenceslaus, inherited the crown of Bohemia as Wenceslaus I and Sigismund was named Margrave of Brandenburg, which until then was held by Wenceslaus.
Around 1379, Sigismund was sent to Hungary, where he had his principal education, learning Hungarian, French, German, Italian and Latin. Very soon, he became devoted to his adoptive country and King Louis named him his successor.
In 1381, Sigismund was sent to Poland to be acquainted with the country. Sometime thereafter, he received Neumark from King Wenceslaus I, which made communication between Brandenburg and Poland easier.
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Struggle for His Rights
On 10 September 1382, King Louis of Hungary and Poland died. On 17 September, his eleven years old daughter, Mary, was hurriedly crowned as the Queen of Hungary while her mother, Elizabeth of Bosnia, assumed her regency. When Sigismund asked for Mary’s hand, Elizabeth refused.
In August 1385, Sigismund invaded Upper Hungary and forced Elizabeth to give Mary in marriage to him. But by then, Charles III of Naples, who had been invited by Hungarian nobles to become their King, was on his way to Zagreb, forcing Sigismund to flee to Wenceslaus’ court.
On 31 December 1385, Charles III of Naples ascended the Hungarian throne while Mary and Elizabeth continued to live in the royal palace, helping Elizabeth to engineer his murder on 7 February, 1386. By 14 February, Queen Mary regained her throne.
In April, 1386, King Wenceslaus, along with a huge army, accompanied Sigismund in an invasion of Hungary. It resulted in the Treaty of Győr, which recognized Sigismund as Mary’s future co-ruler. However, he was not coroneted until 1387.
King of Hungary & Croatia
In July 1386, Elizabeth and Mary were kidnapped by Croatian nobleman, John Horvat, follower of Charles III of Naples, and kept imprisoned at Novigrad Castle. In the absence of the Queen, the barons of the realm convoked a Diet and elected Sigismund as the regent.
On 31 March 1387, after it was decided that a kingdom could no longer remain without an effective ruler, Sigismund was crowned as the King of Hungary, while the crown of Poland went to Mary’s sister. By June, Sigismund managed to have his wife rescued. His mother-in-law had by then been killed.
Sigismund’s reign as the King of Hungary was not at all peaceful. For the next nine years, his throne was seriously challenged by Naples, causing in depletion of his funds and properties.
In September 1396, Sigismund led a combined force of eight Christian states against Ottoman Empire, who had by then extended their realm to the bank of River Danube. The two armies met at the Battle of Nicopolis, in which the crusaders were badly defeated and Sigismund narrowly escaped capture.
After Nicopolis, Sigismund lost control over his kingdom and turned his attention to Germany. In 1400, he helped an uprising against his half-brother, Wenceslaus I, and took control of Bohemia. The Crown of Germany went to Rupert of the Palatinate.
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In 1403, Sigismund was recalled to Hungary, ruling over the kingdom till his death in 1437. Meanwhile, he reinstated Wenceslas as the King of Bohemia and managed to extend his control over Croatia and Serbia.
King of Germany & Bohemia
In 1411, on the death of King Rupert, Sigismund became the King of Germany (formally the King of Romans). From 1412 to 1423) He spent the following eleven years (1412 to 1423), fighting the Venetians in Italy. He also persuaded John XXIII, one of the three popes, to call a church council to settle the western schism.
As the imperial protector of the church, he took a leading part in the deliberations of the council (1414-1418). However, he failed to protect John Hus, a theologian who was burnt to death in spite of his promise of safe passage.
In 1419, on the death of Wenceslas, Sigismund became the King of Bohemia, with his sister-in-law, Queen Sophie (Sofia of Bavaria), remaining the de-facto ruler. Shifting his alliance from the French to the English was another important event of this era
Although the kingship of Germany and Bohemia theoretically made Sigismund the most powerful person of the Christian world, all was not well. The Hussites continued to wage wars and his absence from the capital encouraged princes to form the Union of Bingen, which also undermined his authority.
In 1428, he led another unsuccessful crusade against the Turks, who had by then resumed their invasion. In spite of his failure, he was crowned King of Italy in 1431 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1433
Family & Personal Life
In October 1385, Sigismund married Maria of Anjou, the daughter of King Louis of Hungary and Poland. Also known as Mary, she was officially her husband’s co-ruler. She died at childbirth as an aftermath of being thrown off from her horse in 1395. The child died soon after.
In December 1405, he married Barbara of Cilli, the daughter of Herman II, Count of Celje. From this union, he had a daughter named Elizabeth of Luxembourg, who later became the queen consort of Germany, Hungary and Bohemia.
On 9 December 1437, Sigismund died at Znojmo in Moravia (today Czech Republic). He was buried, as per his wish, at Nagyvárad, Hungary (today Romania) beside the tomb of the king Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary.