Historical Figures

Elizabeth of Habsburg (1526-1545)

Elizabeth of Habsburżanka

Elizabeth of Habsburg (1526-1545) - daughter of Archduke Ferdinand I, wife of Zygmunt August. Elżbieta was the eldest daughter of Ferdinand I Habsburg and Anna Jagiellon. From birth, she was planned to marry the Polish prince, Zygmunt August. The first marriage contract was signed when the girl was 4 years old. Elżbieta received a thorough education, but she did not know the Polish language. The solemn engagement of Jagiellon and the Habsburgian woman (through intermediaries) took place in 1536, when the future bride was 10 years old. She saw Zygmunt August for the first time only 7 years later. The future queen arrived in Krakow on April 21, 1543, and two weeks later the wedding and coronation took place.

Getting married was for Elżbieta the beginning of a series of humiliations and harassments, behind which stood her mother-in-law - Bona Sforza. The entire retinue of the young queen was celebrated, and the mother of Sigismund Augustus began to manage her fraughters. The king found his wife repulsive, which was said to be rooted in Elizabeth's epilepsy on her wedding night. Before the wedding, the Jagiellonians had no idea about the disease that made the birth of the heir to the throne practically impossible. The husband and mother-in-law humiliated Elizabeth at every step. Bona was even suspected of intending to poison her. When the plague broke out in the capital, Zygmunt August practically abandoned his wife to illness and his mother. He left for Vilnius, where he got into an affair with Barbara Radziwiłłówna.

Elizabeth's father, knowing about his daughter's misfortune, made the payment of the dowry dependent on whether the spouses would live together (the young people did not see each other for many weeks). Eventually, the queen left with Zygmunt August for Lithuania, and the local climate made her health deteriorate greatly. When the king left Krakow in 1545 to receive his wife's dowry, Elizabeth died. She was buried in the chapel of St. Kazimierz in the Vilnius cathedral.