Sigismund (HRR)

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Emperor Sigismund, Portrait of a Bohemian Master (Prague?) (1436/37), previously assigned to Antonio Pisanello (1433)

Sigismund of Luxembourg (born February 15, 1368 in Nuremberg , † December 9, 1437 in Znojmo , Moravia ), also Siegmund ( Czech Zikmund Lucemburský , Croatian Žigmund Luksemburški , Hungarian Luxemburgi Zsigmond ), came from the house of the Luxembourgers . He was Elector of Brandenburg from 1378 to 1388 and from 1411 to 1415, King of Hungary and Croatia since 1387 (see Croatia in personal union with Hungary ), Roman-German King since 1411, King of Bohemia since 1419 and Roman-German Emperor of 1433 until his death.

During his reign fell the Council of Constance (1414-1418), on which he was able to overcome the schism in the church , but triggered the Hussite Wars (1419-1436). At the council , Sigismund Friedrich von Hohenzollern enfeoffed the Mark Brandenburg and then sold his hereditary electoral dignity to Friedrich. Sigismund thus set an essential course for the rise of the House of Hohenzollern in Brandenburg-Prussia and beyond.


Youth and obtaining the Hungarian royal crown

Sigismund was the son of Emperor Charles IV and half-brother of Wenceslas of Luxemburg : Wenzel was from Karl’s third marriage to Anna von Schweidnitz . Sigismund, on the other hand, was born to Karl's fourth wife, Elisabeth of Pomerania . He was considered highly educated, spoke several languages ​​(including German, Latin, Italian and French) and was - unlike his father Karl - a fun-loving person who also enjoyed the tournament. As early as 1378 he received the Mark Brandenburg , which Wenzel had previously owned, and in 1379 with the death of Otto of Bavaria the associated electoral dignity .

He acquired the Hungarian crown in 1387 by marrying Maria of Hungary , but he needed the help of his brother Wenceslaus to assert himself against the powerful Hungarian nobility and the inheritance claims of the House of Anjou (Naples). On August 31, 1387, Sigismund's coronation took place in Stuhlweissenburg . On June 4, 1387, his troops under the Palatine Nikolaus von Gara were able to free Queen Maria, who had been held in Novigrad by the magnates Horvath. Sigismund came to meet his wife in Agram ( Zagreb ) and was now accepted as king by the majority of the estates.

In 1388 Sigismund pledged the Mark Brandenburg to cover his military expenditures in Hungary, and gave it in 1417 after he had the mark in 1411 to the burgrave Friedrich VI. as "security" for 150,000 borrowed gold guilders, finally with land and cure to the Hohenzollern as a fief. 1390-1391 hit troops under Gara new rebellions in Croatia down and threw attacks of Bosnians under Tvrtko I. back. In defensive battles against the Turks , Sigismund called on the European knighthood to help. Above all, the French and Burgundians followed the call and claimed leadership. The united Christian army suffered a terrible defeat on September 25-28, 1396 in the battle of Nicopolis . Sigismund escaped captivity only with the help of Venetian ships that brought him back to Dalmatia via Constantinople and Rhodes. As a result of this defeat, the Hungarian military system was reorganized from 1397. In order to get new financial resources, he curtailed church rights and thereby attracted opposition from the Hungarian clergy.

Deposition and restoration

Without the knowledge of the Hungarian estates, Sigismund concluded a mutual inheritance contract with his cousin Margrave Jobst of Moravia in the spring of 1401 . On April 28th, he was imprisoned by the rebellious estates under the leadership of Archbishop Johann Kanizsay von Gran and Prior Emerich Bebek von Vrana at the Ofen Castle. The palatine Nicholas of Gara took over his eighteen-week guard at Siklós Castle . Jobst of Moravia immediately organized an army in agreement with Duke Albrecht IV of Austria to free Sigismund. They advanced between the Waag and the Danube and retook Tyrnau , Frauenmarkt and Pressburg . Parts of the Hungarian estates wanted to see Wladislaw of Poland as the new king, but the divided majority under Stibor von Stiborzice and the supporters of the Restoration of the House of Anjou refused to agree. After the dream of electing a national king had failed, Stibor got his former comrades in arms Johannes von Maroth , Nikolaus Frangipan and the Count of Cilli to support the re-establishment of Sigismund. Hermann II von Cilli finally persuaded his son-in-law Nikolaus von Gara to also turn around and release the king. At the Landtag zu Papa on October 27, 1401, Sigismund was officially reinstated in the old rights to the throne. On March 6, 1402, Sigismund, accompanied by Hermann von Cillis, surprisingly had his unpopular brother King Wenzel arrested on the Prague Hradschin , on June 2 the prisoner was transferred to Schaunberg Castle near Eferding . Duke Albrecht IV of Austria took over his honor until Wenzel managed to escape from Vienna and return to Prague in November 1403. Sigismund had already persuaded his brother Wenzel after the rebellion of the opposing king Ruprecht of the Palatinate to renounce his rights to the throne in his favor and was given sufficient freedom of movement. On August 18, 1402, Sigismund also renewed the building that his father Charles IV . desired union of the heirs of Luxembourg and Austria and therefore transferred his inheritance rights to his brother-in-law Albrecht IV in the event of his childless death. On August 5, 1403, with the support of Pope Boniface IX. King Ladislaus of Naples in Zara, insisted on the old claims of his house Anjou and immediately let Archbishop Kanizsay crown himself the counter-king. The brother of the Palatine, Johann von Gara , and Stibor von Stiborzice then united with Sigismund's contingent near Pressburg and recaptured Papa-Minkas and Althofen. Sigismund had successfully repelled the invasion of the King of Naples. King Ladislaus then withdrew to Dalmatia, but later brought Bosnia on his side. Meanwhile, Gran was besieged in vain , the prince-primate of Hungary continued to assert himself against Sigismund. At the Reichstag von Ofen in 1403 Sigismund amnestied his political opponents and restored inner peace.

In 1404 Albrecht IV died of dysentery at the age of 27 . His successor Albrecht V was only seven years old, so his uncle, Duke Wilhelm , took over the guardianship. After Duke Wilhelm was also married to Johanna, the sister of Ladislaus, the King of Naples, and was also in league with the re-established King Wenceslaus of Bohemia, the stability that Sigismund had worked hard for was again called into question. In order to get the support of the powerful Gara clan, Sigismund married the count's daughter Barbara von Cilli . The daughter from this marriage was Elisabeth von Luxemburg . In order to strengthen the permanently unfortified southern border, Sigismund led a strong army against Bosnia in 1407, which had fallen back to Ladislaus of Naples, and submitted it to his suzerainty. The northern part was annexed to the Banat of MACSO, the western part fell to Croatia, whose Ban was appointed Hermann of Cilli. The eastern part of Bosnia was left to Prince Stefan Lazarević of Serbia for his neutrality. For the time being, Dalmatia remained devoted to King Ladislaus and was later lost to the Republic of Venice . In order to further consolidate his power, Sigismund created the Dragon Order in 1408 , to which Germans were also occasionally accepted. Promoted by the king, the immigrant Germans took on a leading role in the country and formed a strong pillar of his government.

Politics in the Empire

Emperor Sigismund on a non-contemporary painting by Albrecht Dürer

After the death of King Ruprecht of the Palatinate on May 18, 1410, Sigismund was one of the two candidates for his successor alongside Jobst of Moravia . The election of the king a few months later resulted in a narrow victory for Jobst: three electors (Trier, Pfalz and Brandenburg) voted for Sigismund on September 20, the other four voted for his cousin on October 1. However, since Jobst died on January 18, 1411 under unexplained circumstances, Sigismund was elected king on July 21 of that year. However, due to the politics of his father Charles IV, he lacked the necessary domestic power in the Reich to be able to pursue Reich politics successfully; besides, Sigismund's financial situation was always very tense. The biggest problem at that time was the schism in the church, the western schism . Sigismund's greatest achievement was the restoration of the unity of the Roman Church at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). In doing so, he benefited from the fact that his kingship was relatively consolidated, while the papacy continually lost power and prestige. Sigismund proceeded diplomatically skillfully and got in touch with the European rulers in numerous individual negotiations. However, his attempt at reforming the empire could not be implemented on all points. The so-called Reformatio Sigismundi , however, was only an anonymous writing that referred to Sigismund. In 1414 Sigismund issued a letter of protection for the Heilbronn Jews .

The Council of Constance

Emperor Sigismund (woodcut, 1536)

The unrest and theological disputes in Bohemia also preoccupied the Council of Constance , which met from November 1414 . The task was to free the country from the charge of heresy . Sigismund assured the Prague preacher Jan Hus safe conduct and promised him a letter of safe conduct . But Hus already set out beforehand to present his views to the council. He reached Constance on November 3rd , where he first preached for three weeks in a hostel, but was then arrested. When Sigismund arrived on December 24, 1414, he was angry about the breach of safe conduct, but did nothing to free Hus. Finally, the spiritual council participants declared Sigismund's promise null and void, since Hus did not want to withdraw his views and therefore the secular order was no longer responsible for him, but ecclesiastical law. Sigismund did not contradict, because since he wanted to inherit the Bohemian crown from his brother Wenceslaus, it was very important to him to rehabilitate the reputation of Bohemia as orthodox.

The trial and condemnation of Hus were finally carried out by members of the Curia without direct papal participation, since Pope Gregory XII. had abdicated during the council and Pope John XXIII. had been discontinued shortly before. On July 6, 1415, Hus was sentenced to death by fire as a heretic and burned at the stake. The Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, the Bishop of Lodi, the Bishop of Concordia and the Archbishop of Milan were involved in the ecclesiastical guilty verdict.

On April 30, 1415, Sigismund pledged the Margraviate of Brandenburg to Burgrave Friedrich for 400,000 guilders.

On November 3, 1415, King Henry V of England accepted him into the Order of the Garter ; his solemn investiture took place in May 1416.

The Hussite Wars

In Bohemia, the Constance judgment and the burning of the reformer Hus led to popular uprisings. In the summer of 1419 the conflict came to a head, to which King Wenceslas had also contributed as a rule that was felt to be more and more tyrannical. At the end of July 1419 the Hussites succeeded in taking Prague into their hands. Wenceslas fled, but died on August 16 of the same year. The Hussites did not want to recognize his brother Sigismund as the new king because he had not kept his promise for Hus at the council. In the days after Wenceslas's death, the Hussite masses in Prague forcibly forced or destroyed and burned churches and monasteries to Holy Communion . The uprising lasted for several weeks. In December 1419 a Catholic unit near Pilsen suffered its first defeat against a small Hussite contingent.

Pope Martin V's crusade bull of March 1420 turned the uprising into war. At the end of March, just a few days after the bull was issued, Catholic troops in South Bohemia attacked Hussite troops near Sudoměř in vain . The Hussites used the tactic of the wagon castle they had developed successfully for the first time. This defeat established the military fame of the Hussite leader Jan Žižka . In June 1420 royal troops moved to the Prague Castle, the Hradschin, but the attempt to conquer the city was repulsed by the Hussites on July 14th in the battle of St. Vitus Hill in Prague. Nevertheless, Sigismund was able to be crowned King of Bohemia on July 28, 1420 in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague .

Sigismund called for a crusade against the rebellious Hussites, but this quickly took the form of a protracted small war and could only be ended in 1436. His most loyal ally in this war was the Duke of Austria, Albrecht V , who was later chosen as his successor. On November 1, 1420, the Hussites defeated the royal troops in the battle on Mount Witkow (Ziskaberg), but they did not succeed in conquering the other Prague castle, Vyschehrad . On September 28, 1421, Sigismund came to an agreement with Albrecht in Preßburg on the conditions under which he should receive Sigismund's minor daughter, Princess Elisabeth, as his wife. For the cession of Moravia, which took place on October 4, 1423, to the Duke, Albrecht V had to bear the burden of the Hussite War almost alone . New mercenary troops, which Sigismund used against the Hussites in 1422, were also defeated in the battle of Deutsch-Brod. The Hussites under Žižka led a tough regiment that led to the death and expulsion of many Germans from Bohemia, among other things.

In the spring of 1423 serious differences arose between the various Hussite currents. In June there was a temporary settlement between the parties in Konopischt . After the Utraquists' peace negotiations in Prague with Sigismund had failed in October 1423, the inner-Hussite conflict broke out again.

In particular to counter the temporary neglect of the empire in the face of the danger of the Hussites, the Binger Kurverein of the six electors was formed in 1424 , who demanded a greater say in imperial politics. After Sigismund succeeded in getting Frederick I of Saxony on his side, the alliance effectively collapsed.

In June 1424 Žižka again had the upper hand against the Prague in the battle of Maleschau . The focus of the fighting now shifted to Moravia . While Duke Albrecht of Austria tried to get control of the country from the south in July, a devastating Hussite attack began from the west. Habsburg-Catholic-minded cities were captured and razed to the ground. After Žižka's death, Andreas Prokop took over the leadership of the Hussites in October 1424 and they remained victorious. In 1425 the Hussites advanced into Silesia for the first time , otherwise the fighting, which was fought with great cruelty by both sides, was largely limited to Moravian-Bohemian territory until autumn 1425.

In November 1425, Hussite armies again advanced to Lower Austria to distract Duke Albrecht, who operated in Moravia with varying degrees of success, also to reduce the burden on his own country and to take booty. Numerous monasteries and cities were looted. To set up a new crusade against the Hussites, the Reichstag in Frankfurt under King Sigismund decided on December 2, 1427 a tax, also known as the Hussite pfennig. The Hussites under Andreas Prokop then attacked Catholic bastions. In 1428 Lower Austria and parts of Silesia were devastated, and in 1429 Lusatia as well. The Hussite procession of 1430 already affected the provinces of Silesia, Brandenburg, Upper Palatinate and Upper Franconia, and that of 1431 again Brandenburg and western Slovakia. Even a resolution to fight the Hussites at the Reichstag in Nuremberg in 1431 could not change the fortunes of war.

The crusade under Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini ended on August 14, 1431 with an embarrassing defeat in the battle of Taus . The emperor then looked for a negotiated solution. Meanwhile, the most extensive operations of the Hussites followed in 1432/34, leading to Upper Silesia and western Slovakia in the east, and to Lusatia and Lower Silesia in the north. Another advance from March 18 to May 5, 1432 again affected Brandenburg and the westernmost parts of Silesia.

Since the royal and papal troops were denied victory against the Hussites, apart from a few successful battles, negotiations with them took place between 1431 and 1433. Although Elector Friedrich II of Saxony had already concluded a separate peace with the Hussites on August 23, 1432, for two years, the war did not end everywhere until 1436. At the Basel Council, the Hussites were granted some concessions with the Prague compacts . On September 21, 1433, a partial contingent of the Hussite siege army that had penetrated the Upper Palatinate in order to capture troop supplies there was defeated by the much smaller army of Count Palatine Johann von Pfalz-Neumarkt .

During the Council of Basel , the moderate Hussite wing of the Utraquists or Calixtines returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church and even allied themselves with the imperial troops against the radical Taborites. These were finally defeated on May 30, 1434 in the Battle of Lipan . On September 23, 1434, the Hussites suffered another heavy defeat in the Second Battle of Brüx against Catholic troops under Friedrich II of Saxony and Heinrich von Schwarzburg. This essentially ended the Hussite Wars in Bohemia. On July 5, 1436, the Bohemians had to recognize the compacts of the Council of Basel and Emperor Sigismund as King of Bohemia in the Diet of Jihlava .

The last few years

Emperor Sigismund on the Bödinger foundation picture from 1621

In the empire, Sigismund came across the opposition, especially from the Rhenish electors, who were on the side of the German monastic state and therefore suspicious of his benevolent policy towards Poland-Lithuania . The campaign begun by Duke Ernst von Bayern-München on behalf of Sigismund in 1430 for the inauguration of the Lithuanian Duke Vytautas was thwarted by his death.

Sigismund's diplomatic talent was particularly evident during his Italian campaign, which began in 1431, when he sought and mostly found his advantage in the complex network of alliances. On the one hand, he wanted to weaken the power of the Republic of Venice through an alliance with the northern Italian cities , on the other hand, he wanted to improve his tense relations with the Holy See and win over Pope Eugene IV for the decisions of the Council of Basel . Immediately after the defeat of the Crusaders in the Battle of Taus , Sigismund and several hundreds of Hungarians began his march to Rome.

Duke Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan was quickly won; under his protection Sigismund received the worthless Lombard royal crown on November 25, 1431. In December 1431 Sigismund reached a formal alliance with Amadeus VIII , the Duke of Savoy and the Marquis of Montferrat against Venice. Via Piacenza and Parma he went to Siena , where the troops of the Republic of Florence locked him up for ten months between July 1432 and May 1433. Only the fate of his Chancellor Kaspar Schlick saved Sigismund from diplomatic defeat. After Sigismund had recognized the importance of the Apostolic See and committed himself to the eradication of the Bohemian heresy, the Pope consecrated him emperor on May 31, 1433 in Rome and put on Sigismund the desired crown. In the Peace of Ferrara on April 7, 1434, the Emperor and Pope finally settled their differences; Venice, Milan and Florence joined this balance.

After the end of the seventeen years of cruel religious war against the Hussites, the emperor and his wife made a solemn entry into Prague on August 23, 1436. Even during his reign there was speculation about Sigismund's successor. He himself favored his son-in-law Albrecht , Duke of Austria. The aristocratic Catholics and the moderate Utraquists as well as some royal cities supported him in this . His wife Barbara von Cilli with her followers under the leadership of Hynek Ptáček von Pirkstein , on the other hand, preferred the Polish King Wladyslaw and secretly deposed Sigismund. In Prague, the sick emperor found out about the betrayal in good time and ordered the entire court to leave immediately in order to prevent the planned coup d'état by meeting Albrecht V in good time. In his last hour and in the face of death, the emperor was still lifted to the throne in full regalia. Sigismund died on December 9, 1437 in Znojmo (German Znaim ) and was buried in the cathedral of Großwardein (Roman. Oradea , Hungarian Nagyvárad), which today belongs to Romania. With Sigismund, who is considered a great reformer of the empire and the church, the Luxembourg dynasty ended in the male branch.

After his death there were open arguments. The end of the House of Luxembourg saw the overstrain of its powers in order to be able to safely control a Central-Eastern European system of rule. Nevertheless, this idea was later taken up by the Habsburgs and implemented with the Danube monarchy . The opinion of contemporaries about Emperor Sigismund was divided. After his death, he was accused, among other things, of having unnecessarily waged wars against the interests of his subjects and all too carelessly risking his property and property.

family tree

Heinrich VII.
Roman-German Emperor
Margaret of Brabant
Wenceslas II.
King v. Bohemia and Poland
Guta von Habsburg
Wartislaw IV.
Duke of Pomerania
Elisabeth von Schweidnitz
Casimir III
King of Poland
Anna of Lithuania
John of Luxembourg,
King of Bohemia
Elisabeth of Bohemia
Bogislaw V.
Duke of Pomerania
Elisabeth of Poland
Charles IV.
Roman-German Emperor
Elisabeth of Pomerania


Sigismund manuscript

The Kaiser Sigismund's book by Eberhard Windeck , which has been handed down in three manuscripts, tells of the life and work of the emperor . The richly illustrated late medieval Sigismund manuscript (C) from Diebold Lauber's workshop was created between 1445 and 1450. The most spectacular events are described in 174 illustrations, intrigues and battles, poisonous murders and the burning of Jan Hus , who was executed at the stake in 1415 without objection from the later emperor. The manuscript also contains the three oldest depictions of Joan of Arc . After having been lost for 50 years, the manuscript was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2009 with an estimated value of 1.5 million euros. The manuscript still has 306 leaves. It was formerly privately owned in Ireland and originally part of the Phillippica Library, Cheltenham, Cod. 10381.


Eugen Börmel created a statue of Sigismund with the two busts of Lippold von Bredows and Bernd Rykes as secondary characters for Siegesallee in Berlin. It was unveiled as Monument Group 14 on May 6, 1900 and is now located in the Spandau Citadel .


Web links

Commons : Sigismund  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Sigismund von Luxemburg  - Sources and full texts


  1. ^ Max Döllner : History of the development of the city of Neustadt an der Aisch until 1933. Ph. CW Schmidt, Neustadt ad Aisch 1950. (New edition 1978 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Ph. CW Schmidt Neustadt an der Aisch publishing house 1828-1978. ) P. 299.
  2. ^ Bernhard Glasauer: Duke Heinrich XVI. (1393 - 1450) the empire of Bavaria-Landshut. Territorial politics between dynasty and empire. Munich 2009, p. 139.
  3. ^ William Arthur Shaw: The Knights of England. Volume 1, Sherratt and Hughes, London 1906, p. 9.
  4. Gerhard Hartmann , Karl Schnith (ed.): The emperors. 1200 years of European history. Marixverlag, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-86539-074-9 , p. 455.
  5. ^ Franz Theuer : Der Raub der Stephanskrone, Edition Roetzer, Eisenstadt 1994, p. 52 f.
  6. Spamers Weltgeschichte Volume IV., Leipzig 1897, p. 421
  7. Konstantin Moritz Langmaier: The Sermo de Rixis Nicholas Petschacher (died around 1445.). A historical testimony from the environment of King Albrecht II. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 72 (2016), pp. 593–605.
  8. Kaiser under the hammer . In: Der Spiegel . No. 28, 2009, ISSN  0038-7452 , p. 113.
  9. Entry in the manuscript census ; Joachim Schneider: Memory of the rulers in text and pictures. On the special features of the recovered illustrated copy of Eberhard Windecke's Sigmund book. In: Imre Takács (ed.): Sigismundus rex et imperator. Art and culture at the time of Sigismund of Luxembourg 1387–1437. Mainz 2006, pp. 433-437.
predecessor Office successor
Jobst from Moravia Roman-German King
from 1433 Emperor
Albrecht II.
Charles II King of Hungary and Croatia
Albrecht I.
Wenceslas IV King of Bohemia
Albrecht I.
Wenceslaus I. Elector of Brandenburg
Jobst from Moravia
Jobst from Moravia Elector of Brandenburg
Friedrich I.