Sigismund III of Poland

Zygmunt III Waza
Zygmunt III Waza
Reign in Poland From September 18, 1587
until April 19, 1632
Reign in Sweden From November 17, 1592
until July 24, 1599
Elected in Poland On September 18 1587 in Wola, today suburb of
Warsaw, Poland
Coronation in Poland On December 27 1587
in the Wawel Cathedral,
Krakˇw, Poland
Coronation in Sweden On February 19, 1594
Royal motto "Pro jure et populo"
("For justice and the people")
Royal House Vasa
Parents John III
Katarzyna Jagiellonka
Consorts Anna Habsburzanka
Constance of Austria
Children with Anna Habsburzanka
Anna Maria
Władysław IV Waza
with Constance of Austria
Jan Kazimierz
Jan II Kazimierz Waza
Jan Albert
Karol Ferdynant
Aleksander Karol
Anna Konstancja
Anna Katarzyna Konstancja
Date of Birth June 20, 1566
Place of Birth Gripsholm Palace, Sudermannia, Sweden
Date of Death April 19, 1632
Place of Death Warsaw, Poland
Place of Burial Wawel, Sigismund Chapel,
Krakˇw, Poland.
buried on February 4, 1633

King Sigismund III of Poland, Sigismund of Sweden (June 20, 1566 O.S.April 19, 1632), was the son of King John III of Sweden (15371592), of the House of Vasa, and his first wife Catherine Jagellonica of Poland (15261583). He ruled in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where he was known as Zygmunt III Waza, from 1587 to 1632 and in Sweden, where he was known as Sigismund Vasa, from 1592 until he was deposed in 1599. Since he was elected to the Polish throne he wanted to create a personal union between the Commonwealth and Sweden. After he was deposed from the Swedish throne he concentrated on attempts to reclaim the Swedish crown. His reign started a series of wars between the Commonwealth and Sweden lasting until 1660s.


Royal titles

  • Royal titles in Latin: Sigismundus Tertius Dei gratia rex PoloniŠ, magnus dux LithuaniŠ, RussiŠ, PrussiŠ, MasoviŠ, SamogitiŠ, LivoniŠque, necnon Suecorum, Gothorum Vandalorumque hŠreditarius rex

Sigismund Waza-Jagellon (1566-1632) was elected King of Poland and reigned 1587-1632. By paternal inheritance, he succeeded 1592 as King of Sweden and was regarded as having abdicated 1599 and finally deposed 1604. He was a heir to the title King of Jerusalem.


He was born at Gripsholm during his parents' imprisonment by King Eric XIV. Although Sweden was protestant, Sigismund was raised as a catholic. This fact combined with the troublesome personal union would later strike back at his attempts to find support in Sweden.

His mother, Katarzyna Jagiellonka, was the daughter of Sigismund I the Elder and his wife Bona Sforza. The Jagiellon dynasty had held the crown of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth since the first ruler Wladislaus II had received it via his wife Jadwiga in 1386. Sigismund was elected king of the Polish-Lithianian Commnwealth in August 1587. In his pacta conventa he accepted a reduction of monarch power in favour of the Sejm (Commonwealth parliament).

In 1592 he married the Austrian archduchess Anna Habsburzanka and after his father's death the same year, he received permission from Sejm to accept the Swedish throne. After Sigismund promised to uphold Swedish Lutheranism he was crowned king of Sweden in 1594. He tried to rule Sweden from Poland leaving Sweden under control of a regent, his paternal uncle, Duke Charles.

Charles soon took full control of Sweden and rebelled against Sigismund, ostensibly due to fears that Sigismund might re-Catholicize Sweden. In 1598 Sigismund tried to defeat him with a mixed army from Sweden and Poland but was defeated in the battle of Stňngebro. Sigismund was restrained from ruling Sweden from abroad, but nevertheless returns to Poland, so in 1599 he was deposed. The kingship was ultimately ceded to Charles. Sigismund however did not relinquish his claims to the Swedish throne and his subsequent foreign policy was aimed at regaining the Swedish crown, which led to very harsh relations and several wars between the two countries, to end only after the Great Northern War.

After his wife Anna died in 1598 he married her sister Constance of Austria in 1605.

It was under Sigismund's rule that Warsaw was created Polish capital, in 1609. He died at the age of 65 in the royal castle in Warsaw.

The royal family

Sigismund married twice. Firstly, on May 31, 1592, to Anna Habsburzanka (15731598), daughter of Archduke Charles II of Austria (15401590) and his wife Maria Anna of Bavaria (15511608). They had five children:

  1. Anna Maria (15931600)
  2. Katharina (15941594)
  3. Vladislaus (15951648), (reigned 16321648 as Władysław IV Waza of Poland)
  4. Katharina (15961597)
  5. Kristofer (15981598)

And secondly, on December 11, 1605, to his first wife's sister, Constance of Austria (15881631). They had seven children:

  1. Johan Kasimir (16071608)
  2. John Casimir (16091672), (reigned 16481668 as John Casimir II Vasa of Poland)
  3. Johan Albert (16121634)
  4. Karol Ferdynant (16131655)
  5. Alexander Karl (16141634)
  6. Anna Konstantia (16161616)
  7. Anna Katharina Konstanze (16191651)

Sigismund politics

Many historians believe that Sigismund viewed Poland only as a tool that would allow him to eventually regain the throne of Sweden. To this end he tried to strengthen his royal power and allied himself with Habsburgs and Counter-Reformation forces. Those politics were opposed by many from Polish nobility (the szlachta), most notably the chancellor Jan Zamojski. This led to a semi-legal rebellion against the king (rokosz), known as rokosz of Zebrzydowski (16061608), which was a response to Sigismund attempt to introduce majority voting in place of unanimity in the Sejm. Eventually Sigismund loyalist forces were victorious, but the rebels were unpunished. Partially in order to pacify the restless szlachta, Sigismund supported war with Muscovy (the Dimitriads, 16081618). Although Commonwealth forces were almost constantly shuffled between wars in the East (with Muscovy), north (with Sweden) and South (with Ottomans - the Polish-Ottoman wars), Sigisumund took advantage of Russia civil war (the Time of Troubles and secured temporary territorial gains for the Commonwealth.

While Sigismund never managed to regain the Swedish throne, his politics of personal ambition did succeed in provoking a long series of conflicts between the Commonwealth and Sweden and Muscovy. While the Commonwealth Sejm managed to thwart many ambitious (and dangerous) offensive plans of Sigismund (and later of his son, Wladislaw), the Vasa dynasty nonetheless succeeded in partially drawing the Commonwealth into the Thirty Years War. This sensless conflict with Sweden, combined with wars against Ottomans and Muscovy eventually culminated well after Sigismund's death in the series of events known as the Deluge, which ended the Golden Age of the Commonwealth.

Preceded by:
King of Poland
Succeeded by:
Wladyslaw IV
Preceded by:
John III
King of Sweden
Succeeded by:
Charles Albert, Duke of Vńrmland and S÷dermanland

Template:End box

Template:Kings and Dukes of Poland

See also

de:Sigismund III. Vasa et:Zygmunt III fi:Sigismund III Vaasa sv:Sigismund pl:Zygmunt III Waza


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