He was the last member of the Louxembourg dynasty to rule the Czechs. A very controversial character, sly as a fox, power thirsty, he stopped at nothing to get his way. Some historians say, that he was frustrated to be in the shadow of his older brother, Czech king Wenceslas IV, who was an alcoholic and a miserable ruler. Sigmund, on the other hand, was a devout Catholic, a clever politician and repeated his father’s success at becoming king and later Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately, the religiously divided country and economical recess made his rise to power very hard and his reign short and unstable.
Sigmund couldn’t take the Czech Kingdom while his brother was alive. Instead, he invaded Hungary in 1385 and claimed the crown. As King of Hungary, he organized an unsuccessful crusade against the Turks who were attacking the Mediterranean. During his reign in Hungary, he plotted against Wenceslas many times and even had him imprisoned for a year in Vienna.
Wenceslas died in 1420 and Sigmund was crowned Czech King at the Prague Castle. The Czech nobles who were mostly on the side of Hussites didn’t agree with this. Wenceslas IV was rather tolerant towards the new religious wave, but Sigmund was well-known for his militant Catholicism. In Hungary he supported the political power of Church and individual clericals had more authority than the nobles or Sigmund himself.
The new king was desperate for support. His first impulse was to fight the Hussites and so he organized five crusades with the Pope’s support. His soldiers were bravos who couldn’t compete with politically and religiously radical Czech warriors. This was the main reason why crusaders lost to poorly equipped, but well-trained and convinced Hussites.
The final break came when Hussites divided into two wings. Those less radical formed a coalition with Sigmund and that was the end of the revolution. In 1436, Sigmund was finally confirmed Czech king by the Hussites. This was only because he legitimized their religion and rituals. His dream came true, but it didn’t last for long. Only a year after he was accepted as king, he died in Znojmo – a town near today’s Slovakian borders, where he chose to settle.
Sigmund of Louxembourg never particularly liked Prague, he called it the nest of evil. After the war, Prague was a rarity in Europe, for it was at the time religiously united. For centuries to come, Czech Kingdom was perceived as the land of heretics.