Sigismund, Archduke of Austria

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Sigismund of Austria, Duke, then Archduke of Further Austria (October 26, 1427 – March 4, 1496) was a Habsburg archduke of Austria and ruler of Tirol from 1446 to 1490.

Sigismund (or Siegmund, sometimes also spelled Sigmund) was born in Innsbruck; his parents were Frederick IV, Duke of Austria and Anna of Brunswick. He was a first cousin of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, who served as regent until 1446.


Life and career

In 1446, upon the end of the regency of Frederick III, he acceded to rulership over Tirol and (other) Further Austria Vorderösterreich, which included the Sundgau in the Alsace, the Breisgau, and some possessions in Swabia. In 1449, he married Princess Eleanor of Scotland, the daughter of James I, King of Scots.

For much of his reign, Sigismund was engaged in disputes with Nicholas of Cusa, then bishop of Brixen, for the control of the Eisack, Pustertal and Inn valleys. In 1460, when he had Nicholas imprisoned, he was excommunicated by Pope Pius II. The bishop fled to Todi, but died before the archduke surrendered in order to receive the papal pardon.

In 1469, he sold his lands on the Rhine and in the Alsace to Charles, Duke of Burgundy. Sources are unclear whether he sold them due to his debts he had accumulated owing to his luxury lifestyle or just "rented" them because he wanted to have them protected better against the expansion of the Old Swiss Confederacy. In any case, he bought back these possessions in 1474, and together with the Swiss (with whom he had concluded a peace treaty in Konstanz) and the Alsatian cities, he sided against Charles in the Battle of Héricourt.

In 1477, Frederick III made him archduke. Three years later, Eleanor died, and 1484, Sigismund married the 16-year-old Katharina of Saxony, daughter of Albert, Duke of Saxony. He had no offspring from either marriage.

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