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SIGISMUND (1368-1437)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 67 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIGISMUND (1368-1437), Roman emperor and king of Hungary and Bohemia, was a son of the emperor Charles IV. and Elizabeth, daughter of Bogislaus V., duke of Pomerania. He was born on the 15th of February 1368, and in 1374 was betrothed to Maria, the eldest daughter of Louis the Great, king of Poland and Hungary. Having become margrave of Brandenburg on his f.ither's death in 1378, he was educated at the Hungarian court as king of Hungary that he had succeeded in establishing his authority and in doing anything for the order and good government of the land. Entrusting the government of Bohemia to Sophia, the widow of Wenceslaus, he hastened into Hungary; but the Bohemians, who distrusted him as the betrayer of Huss, were soon in arms; and the flame was fanned when Sigismund declared his intention of prosecuting the war against heretics who were also communists. Three campaigns against the Ilussites ended in disaster; the Turks were again attacking Hungary; and the king, unable to obtain support from the German princes, was powerless in Bohemia. His attempts at the diet of Nuremberg in 1422 to raise a mercenary army were foiled by the resistance of the towns; and in 1424 the electors, among whom was Sigismund's former ally, Frederick I. of Hohenzollern, margrave of Brandenburg, sought to strengthen their own authority at the expense of the king. Although the scheme failed, the danger to Germany from the Hussites led to fresh proposals, the result of which was that Sigismund was virtually deprived of the leadership of the war and the headship of Germany. In 1431 he went to Milan where on the 25th of November he received the Lombard crown; after which he remained for some time at Siena, negotiating for his coronation as emperor and for the recognition of the Council of Basel by Pope Eugenius IV. He was crowned emperor at Rome on the 31st of May 1433, and after obtaining his demands from the pope returned to Bohemia, where he was recognized as king in 1436, though his power was little more than nominal. On the 9th of December 1437 he died at Znaim, and was buried at Grosswardein. By his second wife, Barbara of Cilli, he left an only daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Albert V., duke of Austria, afterwards the German king Albert II., whom he named as his successor. As he left no sons the house of Luxemburg became extinct on his death. Sigismund was brave and handsome, courtly in his bearing, eloquent in his speech, but licentious in his manners. He was an accomplished knight and is said to have known seven languages. He was also one of the most far-seeing statesmen of his day, and steadily endeavoured to bring about the expulsion of the Turks from Europe by uniting Christendom against them. As king of Hungary he approved himself a born political reformer, and the military measures which he adopted in that country enabled the kingdom to hold its own against the Turks for nearly a hundred years. His sense of justice and honour was slight; but as regards the death of Huss he had to choose between condoning the act and allowing the council to break up without result. He cannot be entirely blamed for the misfortunes of Germany during his reign, for he showed a willingness to attempt reform; but he was easily discouraged, and was hampered on all sides by poverty, which often compelled him to resort to the meanest expedients for raising money.
End of Article: SIGISMUND (1368-1437)
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