Sigismund Bathory - Encyclopedia

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SIGISMUND BATHORY (ZSIGMOND), (1572-1613), prince of Transylvania, was the son of Christopher, prince of Transylvania, and Elizabeth Bocskay, and nephew of the great Stephen Bathory. He was elected prince in his father's lifetime, but being quite young at his father's death (1581), the government was entrusted to a regency. In 1588 he attained his majority, and, following the advice of his favourite councillor Alfonso Carillo, departed from the traditional policy of Transylvania in its best days (when friendly relations with the Porte were maintained as a matter of course, in order to counterpoise the ever hostile influence of the house of Habsburg), and joined the league of Christian princes against the Turk. The obvious danger of such a course caused no small anxiety in the principality, and the diet of Torda even went so far as to demand a fresh coronation oath from Sigismund, and, on his refusal to render it, threatened him with deposition. Ultimately Báthory got the better of his opponents, and executed all whom he got into his hands (1595). Nevertheless, if anybody could have successfully carried out an anti-Turkish policy, it was certainly Báthory. He had inherited the military genius of his uncle, and his victories astonished contemporary Europe. In 1595 he subdued Walachia and annihilated the army of Sinan Pasha at Giurgevo (October 28th). The turning-point of his career was his separation from his wife, the archduchess Christina of Austria, in 1599, an event followed by his own abdication the same year, in order that he might take orders. It was on this occasion that he offered the throne of Transylvania to the emperor Rudolph II., in exchange for the duchy of Oppeln. In 1600, however, at the head of an army of Poles and Cossacks, he attempted to recover his throne, but was routed by Michael, voivode of Moldavia, at Suceava. In February 1601 the diet of Klausenburg reinstated him, but again he was driven out by Michael, never to return. He died at Prague in 1613. Báthory's indisputable genius must have been warped by a strain of madness. His incalculableness, his savage cruelty (like most of the princes of his house he was a fanatical Catholic and persecutor) and his perpetual restlessness point plainly enough to a disordered mind.

See Ignaz Acsady, History of the Hungarian State (Hung.) vol. ii., (Budapest, 1904). (R. N. B.)

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