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Sigismund (sĭjˈĭsmənd, sĭgˈ–), 1368–1437, Holy Roman emperor (1433–37), German king (1410–37), king of Hungary (1387–1437) and of Bohemia (1419–37), elector of Brandenburg (1376–1415), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.

Accession to the Hungarian Throne

Through his marriage to Mary, who became queen of Hungary in 1382, Sigismund acceded to the Hungarian throne. However, dynastic conflicts there prevented his coronation until 1387. In the interim Mary was deposed, and Charles II (Charles III, king of Naples) became king (1385). Following Charles's death (1386) Mary was restored, and Sigismund came to power. During this period the Ottomans (Turks) were advancing in Europe, and in 1395 they invaded Hungary. Sigismund led a general European crusade against them but was crushingly defeated in 1396 by Sultan Beyazid I at Nikopol. Sigismund's absence and the death of Mary (1395) had weakened his hold on the Hungarian throne. In 1403 he put down a revolt in Hungary in support of Lancelot of Naples, the son of Charles II.

German King and Holy Roman Emperor

After the death of the German king and uncrowned Holy Roman Emperor Rupert in 1410, both Sigismund and his cousin, Jobst of Moravia, claimed victory in the imperial elections. Since Sigismund's half-brother Wenceslaus, who had been deposed from the German throne in 1400, had never waived his title, there were, for a time, three rulers of Germany. The death of Jobst (1411) and the withdrawal of Wenceslaus left Sigismund sole king and Holy Roman emperor-elect.

One of Sigismund's first tasks was to end the Great Schism in the church. He persuaded John XXIII (see Cossa, Baldassare), the strongest of the three schismatic popes, to summon a council at Konstanz (or Constance, see Constance, Council of). After three years of deliberation by the council, the schism was ended (1417). John Huss, the Czech religious reformer, had attended the council with Sigismund's guarantee of safe conduct, but, nevertheless, the council began heresy proceedings against him and condemned him to death. Sigismund signed his death sentence.

The burning of Huss hastened the Reformation in Bohemia and earned Sigismund the lasting hatred of the Czechs. When Sigismund succeeded to the Bohemian throne on his brother Wenceslaus's death (1419), he was bitterly opposed. To secure an army against the rebellious Bohemians, Sigismund convinced Pope Martin V to proclaim (Mar., 1420) a crusade against the Hussites. He had himself crowned king of Bohemia at Prague but was defeated by the Hussites under John Zizka and withdrew. In 1421 a Czech assembly declared him deposed, and shortly afterward the Hussites began their incursions into Germany (see Hussite Wars). Renewed attacks by the Turks occupied Sigismund in Hungary, while in Germany and Bohemia the Hussites continued to be victorious, defeating a new crusade (1431) against them.

Negotiations to heal the breach in the church were held at the Council of Basel (see Basel, Council of) and resulted in compromise with the drafting of the Compactata. The religious agreement opened the way to Sigismund's acceptance as king by the Bohemians in 1436. Shortly afterward, Sigismund died.


Sigismund was the last emperor of the Luxemburg dynasty. He arranged for the succession to his titles by his son-in-law, Albert of Austria (later King Albert II). Sigismund had earlier transferred Brandenburg to Frederick of Hohenzollern (Frederick I of Brandenburg) as a reward for his support in Sigismund's election as emperor.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in Polish, Zygmunt), in the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:

Sigismund I the Old. Born Jan. 1, 1467; died Apr. 1, 1548. King of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania from 1506.

Under Sigismund I, Poland’s position in the West was weakened by the expansion to the East during the period 1507–37 (with some interruptions). In 1515, Sigismund concluded an agreement with the Hapsburgs that paved the way for the transfer of Bohemia and Hungary from the Jagiellonian family to the Hapsburgs. During the period 1519–21 he was involved in a struggle with the Teutonic Order; he subsequently permitted the master of the order to transform the lands of the order into the secular Duchy of Prussia, with the status of a Polish vassal. During Sigismund’s reign, Mazovia was annexed by Poland (1526).

Sigismund II Augustus. Born July 1, 1520, in Kraków; died July 7, 1572, in Knyszyn. King of Poland (crowned 1530) and grand duke of Lithuania from 1548; the last member of the Jagiellonian dynasty.

During the reign of Sigismund II, the crown lands that had been distributed to the magnates after 1504 were returned to the king. In 1564, Sigismund allowed the Jesuits into Poland, which marked the beginning of the Catholic reaction. The king took an active part in the struggle over the Baltic region during the Livonian War of 1558–83 and played an important role in the conclusion of the Union of Lublin in 1569.

Sigismund III Vasa. Born June 20, 1566, at the castle of Gripsholm, in Sweden; died Apr. 30, 1632, in Warsaw. King of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania from 1587.

Schooled by the Jesuits, Sigismund III aided in the establishment of the Catholic reaction in Poland. During the years 1592–99, he was also king of Sweden, where he strove to restore Catholicism; he was deposed by a national uprising, led by Duke Charles. Attempting to regain the Swedish throne, Sigismund waged a series of unsuccessful wars against Sweden during the years 1600–11, 1617–20, and 1621–29. From 1618 to 1620 he aided the Hapsburgs in their struggle against insurgent Bohemia. With the aid of the Brest Union of 1596, Sigismund sought to achieve the polonization of the Ukraine and Byelorussia. In 1604–05 he supported the First False Dmitrii, and in 1609, laying siege to Smolensk, he openly intervened in Russia; this intervention ended in defeat (seeDEULINO TRUCE OF 1618).


Gołebiowski, E. Zygmunt August: Zywot ostatniego z jagiellonów, 2nd ed. Warsaw, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1368--1437, king of Hungary (1387--1437) and of Bohemia (1419--37); Holy Roman Emperor (1411--37). He helped to end the Great Schism in the Church; implicated in the death of Huss
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