SIGISMUND (1362-1437), German emperor, was born on 14th February 1362. After the death of his father, the emperor Charles IV., he received the margraviate of Brandenburg ; and his betrothal with Mary, the daughter and heiress of Louis of Poland and Hungary, gave him a right to look forward to the succession in these two countries. But in 1383, when Louis died, the Poles chose Hedwig, Mary's sister, as their queen ; and Sigismund was unable to marry Mary and to secure the crown of Hungary until 1387, as her rights had been seized by Charles of Durazzo, and after his death she had been made prisoner by the ban of Croatia. Sigismund was soon involved in a war with the Turks, and in order to obtain the means of carrying on the struggle he gave Brandenburg in pledge to his cousin Jobst of Moravia. Defeated at Nicopolis in 1396, Sigismund fled to Greece ; and in his absence his wife died. When he returned to Hungary the people rose against him, made him prisoner, and gave the crown to Ladislaus of Naples. Sigismund escaped, and having sold the Altmark, which he had inherited from his brother John, he was able to collect an army and to crush the Hungarian rebellion. Meanwhile his brother Wenceslaus, king of the Romans, had been deposed, and Rupert of the Palatinate was chosen as his successor. In 1410 Rupert died, and Sigismund and Jobst of Moravia were both elected to the crown. Jobst died in the following year, and then Sigismund was universally recognized as king. One of the chief events of his reign was the assembling of the council of Constance, which met for the purpose of bringing the great schism in the church to an end. Sigismund marred his services in connexion with the council by assenting to the burning of John Hus, to whom he had granted a safe conduct. For this treachery he had to pay a heavy penalty, for it led indirectly to the Husite War, which raged for about sixteen years. In 1435 peace was restored, and Sigismund obtained possession of Bohemia. In 1415 he gave Brandenburg, which had been restored to him after Jobst's death, in fief to Frederick, burgrave of Nuremberg ; and in 1423, in reward for services rendered in the Husite War, Frederick, margrave of Meissen, received the duchy of Saxony with the electoral dignity. Sigismund was crowned emperor in 1433, having obtained the Italian crown two years before. He died at Znaim in Moravia on 9th December 1437. He possessed considerable intellectual ability, but he never did full justice to his powers, - being recklessly extravagant and of a wayward and impulsive temper.
See Aschbach, Gesehichte Kaiser Sigismund's (1833-45); Schroller, Die Wahl Sigismarui's Gum romiseh,en KOnig (1875); Bezold, KUnig Sigmund tout die Beichskriege gegen die Husiten (1872-77); Kerlcr, Deutsche Beichstagsakten unter Kaiser Sigmund (1878).