Sigismund II Augustus facts for kids

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Toruń - Zygmunt August
Sigismund II Augustus

Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) was a Polish king, the last member of the Jagiellon dynasty. He was also the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1548 to 1572.


Sigismund II Augustus was born in Cracow on 1 August 1520. He was the only son (he had sisters) of king Sigismund I the Old and his wife, Italian princess Bona Sforza. His great grandfather was Wladislaw II Jagiello, the founder of the dynasty. Sigismund II Augustus was crowned as a child on 20 February 1530 when his father was still alive (in Latin vivente rege). From 1544 he ruled in Lithuania. He was married three times but remained childless. He died on 7 July 1572 in Knyszyn. He was a Roman Catholic, but was known for his tolerance for Protestants.

Wawel heads Cracow
Wooden heads at the Wawel castle in Cracow

When king Sigismund II Augustus received diplomats or made important decisions, he did so in the Audience hall in the royal castle. This room was also called "Under the Heads" for the carved heads set in the ceiling. One of these was a woman's head. The legend says whenever he would make a decision she would speak in Latin (using rhyme and alliteration): Rex Auguste, iudica iuste ("King August, judge justly"). He followed her advice but after that her mouth was covered with a ribbon so she would never again interfere in royal decisions.

Other sources

  • Stanisław Cynarski, Zygmunt August, Ossolineum, Wrocław 1988 (in Polish).

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