Sigismund returned to a still wildly unstable Hungary in 1401, having largely failed as a Crusader. The Hungarian nobles, after his return, declared their loyalty not to Sigismund, but to Ladislaus of Naples, a distant relative of the late King Louis I of Hungary. That same year, Sigismund took part in an uprising against his own brother, Wenceslas IV, who was imprisoned (Sigismund himself was imprisoned by the Hungarians in 1401, as well as being deposed twice). With Wenceslas in prison, Sigismund took over ruling Bohemia, finally releasing his brother in 1403. With so much going on abroad, Sigismund had to appoint a chief administrator, or Palatine, who would rule the country during his frequent absences.
Sigismund managed to find time to remarry in 1406. His new wife was Barbara of Celje, the cousin of his first wife, Mary of Hungary. Celje is a Slovenian city that, at the time, was the center of the Duchy of Styria, which encompassed parts of modern-day Austria and Slovenia.
Sigismund had claimed the Hungarian throne through his marriage to Mary of Hungary. Another claimant to the throne was Ladislaus of Naples. In 1397, two years after Mary’s death, Sigismund set about conquering Croatia (part of the Hungarian lands) in a particularly grisly fashion. He was aware that the Croatian ban (nobleman) Stjepan Lacković and his followers were supporters of Ladislaus, and he decided to rid himself of the entire group.
Sigismund called a sabor (assembly) in the city of Križevci, promising not to take revenge against the supporters of Ladislaus. The sabor was held in a church, and, as Sigismund knew well, the law stipulated that no one could enter the sabor bearing arms. Lacković and the others, unarmed, were greeted with a heavily armed Sigismund and his men. After picking a fight, the king and his soldiers slaughtered Lacković and his entire party. When word of Sigismund’s actions got out, a number of enraged Croats rushed to do battle. Sigismund promptly fled to Germany, then donated the lands that had belonged to the late Lacković to his own supporters. Now, Sigismund faced even more uprisings, as well as a fear of reprisals from those loyal to Lacković. This instability led to yet another invasion of the area by Sigismund in 1408, during which approximately 200 noble families were slaughtered by Sigismund’s army.
Sigismund’s first son, born prematurely when Mary of Hungary suffered a riding accident that killed her, died in the first few hours of life. His second marriage resulted in one daughter, Elizabeth of Luxembourg. She was born on October 7, 1409. Sigmund’s second wife, Barbara, was unable to have any more children. Though Sigismund had many affairs resulting in more offspring, Elizabeth was his only surviving legitimate heir.
In 1410, King Rupert of Germany died, and the throne was eagerly sought after. Sigismund’s own half-brother, Wenceslas, claimed the throne, but Sigismund had better luck. On September 10, he was elected King of Germany by three electors; however, on October 1, Jobst of Moravia (Sigismund’s cousin) gained the votes of the other four electors to beat out Sigismund. Jobst only held the throne for a few months before dying on January 18, 1411, and Sigismund succeeded in gaining the throne. He was elected on July 21, 1411, and was crowned at Aachen on November 8, 1414. Some think that he poisoned Jobst to get him out of the way.
To be continued…