The New International Encyclopædia/Sigismund
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SIGISMUND, sĭj'ĭs-mŭnd, Ger. pron. zḗ'gḗs-mụnt (c.l368-1437). Holy Roman Emperor from 1411 to 1437. He was the second son of the Emperor Charles IV., whom he succeeded in 1378 in the Margraviate of Brandenburg. In 1379 he became affianced to Mary, heiress of Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland, and in 1387 succeeded to the Hungarian crown. In 1396 he undertook a crusade against the Turks supported by a large force of French and German knights, but at Nicopolis, September 28th, he suffered an overwhelming defeat at the hands of Bajazet I. In 1401 a formidable uprising drove him from the throne, but he was restored with the aid of hired troops and seems henceforth to have ruled with wisdom and moderation in internal affairs. He waged a long succession of wars in order to extend the power of Hungary over Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Servia, but, although success at first attended his efforts, the Hungarian arms were kept in check by the Venetians and Turks. He was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1411 and was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1414. He now appears in his most celebrated rôle as the author and protector of the Council of Constance and the guiding spirit in its deliberations. He brought about the deposition of Pope John XXIII., and showed himself zealous in the course of thorough ecclesiastical reform. Much obloquy, however, has attached to him for his desertion of John Huss (q.v.), whom he granted a safe conduct for the purpose of attending the council and then allowed to be burnt at the stake. In 1419, on the death of his brother Wenceslas, the succession to the crown of Bohemia, fell to Sigismund. But the Hussites (q.v.) were already in arms, and the country became the theatre of a long and bloody conflict, in which the forces of Sigismund and the crusading armies of Germany met with terrible defeats. It was not until 1436 that Sigismund was recognized as King of Bohemia. He visited Italy in 1431 and 1433, receiving the Lombard crown at Milan and the Imperial crown at Rome. He died at Znaim, December 9, 1437, the last of the House of Luxemburg. Gifted in mind and body, kindly in action, and sincerely concerned for the welfare of the Empire, Sigismund encountered repeated failure on account of the very defects of an amiable and pleasure-loving disposition. Consult: Aschbach, Geschichte Kaiser Siegmunds (Hamburg, 1838-45); Creighton, History of the Papacy (London, 1894).