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Sigismund of Burgundy

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Sigismund of Burgundy

For other nobles of the same name, please see Sigismund
Saint Sigismund of Burgundy
Died AD 524
Venerated in Orthodox Church Roman Catholic Church
Feast 1 May
Patronage Czech Republic
Herma of Saint Sigismund in Płock

Sigismund (died 524) was king of the Burgundians from 516 to his death. He was the son of king Gundobad, whom he succeeded in 516. Sigismund and his brother Godomar were defeated in battle by Clovis' sons and Godomar fled. Sigismund was taken by Chlodomer, King of Orléans, where he was kept as a prisoner. Later he, his wife and children were executed. Godomar then rallied the Burgundian army and won back his kingdom. Meanwhile, Chlodomer ordered the death of Sigismund and marched with his brother Theuderic I, King of Metz, on Burgundy in 524.


  • Life 1
  • Veneration 2
  • Family and Issue 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Sigismund was a student of Avitus of Vienne, the Catholic bishop of Vienne who converted Sigismund from the Arian faith of his Burgundian forebears.[1] Sigismund was inspired to found a monastery dedicated to Saint Maurice at Agaune in Valais in 515.[2] The following year he became king of the Burgundians. Sigismund's son opposed him in 517, and insulted his new wife, so Sigismund had him strangled. Then, overcome with remorse, Sigismund retreated to the monastery that he had founded.

In 523, Clotilde, daughter of Chilperic II of Burgundy who had been slain by Sigismund's father Gundobad in 493, took revenge for the murder of her father, when she incited her sons against Sigismund, and provoked the Burgundian War, which led to Sigismund's deposition and imprisonment, and his assassination the following year. In 523, the Kingdom of the Burgundians was invaded by the four Frankish kings, Chlodomer, Childebert I, Clotaire I and Theuderic I, children of Frankish king Clovis I and Sigismund's second cousins by Clotilde. Sigismund and his brother Godomar led the Burgundian defence but lost the battle. Godomar fled while Sigismund put on a monk's habit and hid in a cell near his abbey. He was captured by Chlodomer, king of Aurelianum (modern Orléans), taken prisoner, beheaded and his body thrown in a well.[3] Sigismund's wife and children were also put to death.[3] Sigismund was succeeded on the throne by his brother Godomar. Godomar then rallied the Burgundian army and called for aid from his ally, the Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great.[4] Godomar regained his territory. However, the garrison the Franks had left behind were massacred.

Chlodomer went on the offensive again but was killed at the Battle of Vézeronce, which took place on 25 June 524, reportedly at the hands of Godomar.


In 535, Sigismund's remains were recovered from the well at Coulmiers and buried in the monastery at Agaune.[3] Eventually Sigismund was canonized. Correspondence has survived between Sigismund and Avitus, who was a poet and one of the last masters of the classical arts.

In 1366, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, transferred Sigismund's relics to Prague,[5] hence he has become a patron saint of the Czech Republic.

The emperor gave the saint's name to one of his son, the later King Sigismund of Hungary (who also became decades later King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor). In 1424, Sigismund of Hungary constructed a church in the honor of Saint Sigismund in the City of Buda.[6] In 1424 King Sigismund took the reliques of Saint Sigismund from Prague and sent them to the Hungarian city of Varad, so they could be protected from the Hussites.[7]

Family and Issue

He married in 494 Ostrogotha,[8] the illegitimate daughter of Theoderic the Great and a concubine, as a part of Theoderic's negotiation for an alliance with Sigismund and the Burgundians. They had the following issue:

  • Sigeric (494/95 – 517), murdered by his own father.
  • Suavegotha (495/96 – ?), married to Theuderic I, son of Clovis I.
  • NN daughter.
Preceded by
King of Burgundy
Succeeded by


  1. ^ John Bagnell Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the death of Justianian, Vol. I, (Dover Publications, 1958), 463.
  2. ^ Perennial Prayer at Agaune, Barbara H. Rosewein, Monks and Nuns, Saints and Outcasts, ed. Lester K. Little, Sharon A. Farmer and Barbara H Rosenwein, (Cornell University Press, 2000), 39-40.
  3. ^ a b c Gábor Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses: Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe, (Cambridge University Press, 2000), 67-68.
  4. ^ According to Herwig Wolfram, History of the Goths, in 494 Sigismund married Ostrogotha, the illegitimate daughter of Theoderic the Great and a concubine, as a part of Theoderic's negotiation for an alliance.
  5. ^ Don C Skemer, Binding Words: Textual amulets in the Middle Ages, (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 254.
  6. ^ Raphael Patai, The” Jews of Hungary: History, Culture, Psychology, (Wayne State University Press, 1996), 74.
  7. ^ Sz. Jónás Ilona: Barbár királyok, Zsigmond. Kossuth Könyvkiadó, 1994.
  8. ^ Herwig Wolfram, History of the Goths, (University of California Press, 1988), 311.


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  • Saints and Blessed Page

External links

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