Elisabeth of Habsburg

Elisabeth of Habsburg

Birth
Death 30 Aug 1505 (aged 67–68)
Burial Kraków, Miasto Kraków, Małopolskie, Poland
Memorial ID 34905680 · View Source
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Royalty. She was the wife of King Casimir IV of Poland and thus Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania. Orphaned at an early age, she spent her childhood in the court of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III of the House of Habsburg, her second cousin once removed. As one of the three surviving grandchildren of Emperor Sigismund, she had a strong claim to the kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia. Her parents were King Albert II and Elisabeth of Luxembourg. Her father was crowned king of Hungary on January 1, 1438, was unanimously elected king of Germany on March 18th, and, despite opposition, actually crowned king of Bohemia on June 29th in the same year. He did stabilize these countries with arbitration and not by waging war. The next year, during a campaign against the Turks, he was killed. The House of Habsburg was a house of Inner Austria; hence her title before her marriage was Elisabeth of Habsburg or Austria. Besides her, an older sister Ann and her mother pregnant with a brother Ladislaus were left by King Albert’s death; her mother died less than three years later leaving her children in the care Emperor Frederick III. A treaty, which was arranged by her mother, had been sign in July 1450 for her to marry Emperor Frederick III’s nephew, Fredrick, but he died in December 1451. A second arranged marriage was to Charles the Bold of Burgundy, a French line of House of Valois, but he demanded almost twice the account for her dowry; these negotiations fell through. Her February 10, 1454 marriage to Casimir Jagiellonian was a political one on his part; they were distant cousins through Emperor Sigismund’s wife, Elisabeth’s line. This union between her Habsburg line and the Jagiellons was a happy one. On her wedding day, she did not receive her promised dowry from Emperor Frederick III; by 1472, Elisabeth had received two-thirds of her dowry with the remaining third given to her oldest son Wladyslaw after he was king of Bohemia in 1471. She became to be known as “Mother Jagiellon” for the thirteen children born between 1456 and 1483. Through the diligence of her husband King Casimir IV, these children impacted the thrones of Eastern Europe in the years to come: The first son Wladyslaw became King of Bohemia in 1471 and Hungary in 1490; three of her sons were her husband’s successors as King of Poland, John I Albert, Alexander I, Sigmund I the Old; Alexander and Sigmund were also the Grand Duke of Lithuania; five of her daughters became wives of German princes; a son became Saint Casimir, and another son, Frederick, became a Roman Catholic Archbishop. Two daughters named Elisabeth did not reach adulthood; one was born in 1472 and lived for eight years and the other born in 1465 living for less than a year. Casimir and Elisabeth were known throughout the courts of Europe for generations. When Casimir died, she hired an artist to create a tomb with recumbent effigy; art historians believe that the artist was Veit Stoss. She and her two young daughters were entombed there. In 1973 after a team of twelve scientists was given permission by the Roman Catholic Church to disturb her final resting place, her tomb was opened in the month of April on Friday 13th for the purpose of restoration. Inside the tomb they found a wooden coffin that was heavily rotted containing what was left of a decayed corpse. Within days, four of the scientist died and after a couple of weeks, ten had died with the remaining two seriously ill. After examination of the coffin, it was found to be overgrown with a powerful aflatoxin fungus that was deadly when it had contact with the skin or inhaled. At this time, the forensic study of Elisabeth’s remains proved that, as a young woman, she had spinal tuberculosis, or Pott’s Disease, leaving her spine and skull bones grossly deformed. She could not hold her head up-right with a severe curvature of the spine that had to be painful, yet she was healthy enough to bore thirteen children and traveled about the countryside with her husband. It was documented that her prospective husband was reluctant to marry her because of her lack of beauty, yet the amount of her dowry, which he did not receive in a timely matter, and the prospect of obtaining Hungary and Bohemia outweigh that fact.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Created by: Lutetia
  • Added: 16 Mar 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 34905680
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Elisabeth of Habsburg (1437–30 Aug 1505), Find a Grave Memorial no. 34905680, citing Wawel Cathedral, Kraków, Miasto Kraków, Małopolskie, Poland ; Maintained by Lutetia (contributor 46580078) .