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Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor

Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor (August 1 1368 - 1437)

The fourth and last German Emperor and Bohemian king of the Luxembourg dynasty, Sigismund, second son of the Emperor Charles IV, was born in 1368 in Nuremberg.

Through his marriage to Mary, queen (1382-1385 and 1386-1395) of Hungary, Sigismund became the country's king in 1386 despite opposition among the nobility. In 1396 he organised a crusade to repel the Ottoman Turks, who were threatening Hungary from the south, but the Christian forces were routed at Nicopolis (now Nikopol, Bulgaria).

In 1410 he was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, though his title was not universally recognised until a year later. He was margrave of Brandenburg in 1378-1388 and again from 1411 until 1415, when he granted the territory to Frederick I, Margrave of Brandenburg, burgrave of Nuremberg, making the Hohenzollern family one of the most important in Germany.

It was as king of Bohemia from 1419 in succession to his elder half-brother Wenceslaus IV that Sigismund faced the greatest challenge of his reign. Accused of complicity in the burning of the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus by the Catholic Church leadership in Constance (1415), Sigismund was ejected by the Hussite forces on his attempt to take over the country (1420). A bitter conflict (the Hussite Wars) continued for 15 years, extending across Bohemia's borders. Only in 1437, the year of his death, Sigismund was accepted by the major Czech factions.

Sigismund had no children by Mary of Hungary. After her death he married Barbara of Cilly, by whom he had a single daughter, Elizabeth (1409-1442). Elizabeth married Albert II, Holy Roman Emperor, who was eventually to succeed his father-in-law as King of Hungary and Bohemia, and as German King.

Names in other languages: German:Sigismund, Hungarian:Zsigmond, Czech:Zikmund, Slovak and Croatian:Žigmund

Preceded by:
Ruprecht III Wittelsbach
List of German Kings and Emperors Succeeded by:
Albert II, Holy Roman Emperor