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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order by Ian Cowburn “We are as ignorant of the meaning of dragons, as we are of the meaning of the universe.” Jorge Luis Borges The Order of the Dragon (German "Drachenorden" and Latin "Societatis draconistrarum") was ostensibly an institution similar to other chivalric orders of the time, modelled on the Order of St George of Serbia created by the king of Hungary, Charles Robert of Anjou (1308-1342) in 1318, whose statute from 1326 requires “the protection of the king from any danger or plot against him”. It was also modelled on the Order of the Lizard of Royal (Polish) Prussia (1397) created by the Jagellon King Ladislas, who had but recently converted from paganism. The Dragon Court was created on 12th December 1408 by the king of Hungary, Sigmund of Luxemburg (before he was elected Holy Roman Emperor) and his second queen Barbara of Cille. Outwardly, its aim was that of “gaining protection for the royal family”.
The initial badge of the order
This order has been the subject of much discussion, some of an extremely outlandish nature, whether concerning its true purpose, or whether it was an esoteric vehicle and has accumulated much legendary baggage. We may conveniently examine the order, first politically and then esoterically, so that we might gain some clearer idea of its true nature and objectives. Biography of Sigmund
Sigmund of Luxemburg (born Prague 28th June, 1368 – died Znaim December 9th, 1437, buried in the Cathedral of Grosswardein) was Holy Roman Emperor for four years from 1433 until 1437. He was also one of the longest ruling Kings of Hungary, reigning for fifty years from 1386 to 1437. Like most other rulers of his time, he held a number of other titles: Margrave of Brandenburg after his father (1378-1395 and 1411-1415); Margrave of Neumark and Lausitz 1396-1402; elected King of the Romans 14th September 1410, crowned at Aachen 8th November 1414 and recognised as Echevin of the Sainte-Vehme; succeeded as King of Bohemia after his brother 28th July 1410, crowned at Prague 27th July 1420; on the same day, succeeded as Duke of Luxemburg and Count of Chiny after his uncle; crowned King of Italy with the Iron Crown of Lombardy at Milan, 25th November 1431 and crowned Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation at Rome 31st Sigmund of Luxemburg, Echevin of the Sainte Vehme and Grand May 1433. Master of the Order of the Dragon
Born in Nuremberg, Sigmund was a son of the Emperor and king of Bohemia, Charles IV, the “Priest-King” of Luxemburg and Elizabeth of Pomerania. In 1374 he was betrothed to Mary, eldest surviving daughter of King Louis I the Great of Anjou, King of Hungary and Poland, who intended Mary to succeed him in the kingdom of Poland with her future husband, as was the custom of the time. Sent to the Angevin court in Hungary, Sigmund entirely assimilated his adopted country’s heritage.
This order has been the subject of much discussion, some of an extremely outlandish nature, whether concerning its true purpose, or whether it was an esoteric vehicle and has accumulated much legendary baggage.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) In 1381, he was sent to Cracow by his eldest brother and guardian, king Wenzel IV of Bohemia, to learn Polish and to become acquainted with the land and its people. King Wenzel also gave him the land of Neumark to facilitate communication between Brandenburg and Poland. Because of his taste for intrigue, Sigmund was expelled from Poland, which was then given to Mary's younger sister Saint Jadwiga of Poland, who had married the pagan Jageilo of Lithuania. When an opposing candidate for the Hungarian throne appeared, Sigmund fled, leaving his wife Mary and her mother, widow of King Louis, Elisabeth of Bosnia (Elizabeta Kotromanic) at the mercy of conspirators. Years of civil war followed. At the death of her father in 1382, his betrothed, Mary, became Queen of Hungary in her own right, and Sigmund married her in 1385. She was, however, captured in 1386 (the result of a plan laid by Sigmund himself) by the rebellious Horvath family. His mother-inlaw, Elizabeth of Bosnia, who was captured at the same time, was strangled by Sigmund's men in January 1387. Mary was rescued with the aid of the Venetians in June 1387 and she never forgave him for the death of her mother; subsequently they lived separate lives and had separate households. She died in 1395 in a suspicious horse accident whilst pregnant.
At the death of her father in 1382, his betrothed, Mary, became Queen of Hungary in her own right, and Sigmund married her in 1385. She was, however, captured in 1386 (the result of a plan laid by Sigmund himself).
In the meantime, Sigmund arranged his own coronation as king of Hungary on 31 March 1387 and, having raised money by pledging Brandenburg to his cousin Jobst, Margrave of Moravia (1388), he was engaged for the next nine years in a ceaseless struggle for the possession of this unstable throne. The powerful Garay family was with him but in the southern provinces between the Save and the Drave, the Horvaths with the support of the Bosnian king Stjepan Tvrtko I, self-proclaimed King of Croatia 1390-1 and Mary's maternal uncle, proclaimed as their king Ladislas of Anjou, king of Naples, son of the murdered Hungarian king, Charles II of Anjou and brother of Louis. Not until 1395 did Miklos Garay succeed in suppressing the Horvaths. In 1389 Sigmund had been obliged to defend the boundaries of his kingdom against the Turks, as in this year Sultan Murad I had overthrown the Serbs in the battle of Kosovo (Plain of the Blackbirds). In 1396 he led the combined armies of Christendom against them, as they had extended their dominion to the banks of the Danube. This crusade preached by Pope Boniface IX attracted nobles who flocked to the royal standard and were reinforced by volunteers from most of Europe, the most important contingent being that of the French led by John, duke of Nevers, son of Philip II, duke of Burgundy. Sigmund set out with 90,000 men and a flotilla of 70 galleys and camped before the fortress of Nicopolis. Sultan Bayezid I (son of Murad) raised his siege of Constantinople and, at the head of 140,000 men, completely defeated the Christian forces there, between 25th and 28th September 1396.
Sigmund now aimed to secure the succession in Germany and Bohemia and was recognized by his childless step-brother, Wenzel IV, as vicar-general of the Empire. He was unable to support Wenzel when he was deposed at Oberlahnstein in 1400 and Rupert III, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, was elected German king in his stead.
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued)
Europe c. 1400
During these years he was also involved in a second war with Ladislas of Naples; on his return to Hungary in 1401 he was imprisoned and twice deposed. This struggle in its turn led to a war with the Republic of Venice, as Ladislas before departing to his own land, had sold the Dalmatian cities to the Venetians for 100,000 ducats. In 1401 Sigmund assisted a rising against Wenzel, during the course of which the German and Bohemian king was made a prisoner and Sigmund ruled Bohemia for nineteen months. He released Wenzel in 1403. In about 1406 he married his first wife Mary's cousin Barbara of Cille, born 1392, died 1451 (of which more later) – nicknamed the "Messalina of Germany" because she was accused of adultery and intrigue – daughter of Hermann II of Ortenburg-Cille, Count of Krain (the modern Slovenia) and his wife Anna, Countess of (Ungern-) Sternberg. Hermann's mother Katarina Kotromanic and Mary's mother Queen Elizabeta were sisters. Barbara’s sister Anna was the second wife of Ladislas Jageilo, the new King of Poland. Through her father, Barbara could trace her descent not only to the Styrian lords of Cille and the Kotromanic of Bosnia but also to the Nemanjic kings of Serbia and to King Stephen V of Hungary. Sigmund personally led an army of almost 50,000 "crusaders" against the Croats and Bosnians, which culminated in 1408 with the Battle of Dobor and a massacre of about 200 noble families, many of them victors of numerous battles against the Ottomans. He conceived the Order of the Dragon after this victory, although it was formally announced only in 1418.
Sigmund personally led an army of almost 50,000 "crusaders" against the Croats and Bosnians, which culminated in 1408 with the Battle of Dobor .
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) After the death of German king Rupert in 1410, Sigmund – ignoring the claims of his stepbrother Wenzel – was elected as successor by three of the electors on 10th September 1410 but he was opposed by his cousin Jobst of Moravia, who had been elected by four electors in a different election on 1st October. Jobst's death 18th January, 1411 removed this conflict and Sigmund was again elected King on 21st July 1411. His coronation was deferred until 8th November 1414, when it took place at Aix-la-Chapelle.
Sigmund also granted control of the Margravate of Brandenburg to Frederick I of Hohenzollern, Burggrave of Nuremberg to which he added the electoral dignity and the office of imperial high chancellor. This event made the Hohenzollern family one of the most important in Germany and would lead to the establishment of Prussia.
On a number of occasions, and in 1410 in particular, Sigmund allied himself with the Teutonic Knights of Prussia and the Baltic states against the recently converted Jagellons, Ladislas of Poland and Vytovtas of Lithuania. However, he was opposed by most of the noblemen led by his (and Ladislas’) father-in-law Hermann II of Cille, and was restrained from participating in the alliance of twenty-two western rulers (including the Pope) against Poland in the decisive Battle of Tannenberg in July of that year. It may be mentioned here that most of the Polish kings are Sigmund was prevented from attacking known to have been interested in one or another of the Poles at Tannenberg by Hermann of Cille the hermetic sciences. For example, Ladislaus II (1434 -1444) practiced crystallomancy and his manuscript handbook of it is preserved in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The last king of the Jagellon dynasty, Sigmund August, was noted for his interest in alchemy and magic. He had one of the greatest libraries in Europe, a major part of which was connected with hermetica. In his will he ordered that some cases of books and manuscripts should be burnt after his death, which was duly carried out. In 1412-23 Sigmund campaigned against the Venetians in Italy. The king took advantage of the difficulties of Antipope John XXIII to obtain a promise that a council should be called to Constance in 1414 to settle the Western Schism. He took a leading part in the deliberations of this assembly and during the sessions made a journey through France, the Netherlands, England and Burgundy in an attempt to secure the abdication of the three rival popes. On the occasion of this voyage he obtained the relics of St. Maurice of Agaune, the patron saint of Burgundy, for his Hungarian kingdom (see below). The council ended in 1418, solving the Schism and – of great consequence to Sigmund's future career – having the Czech religious reformer, Jan Hus, burned at the stake for heresy in July 1415. The complicity of Sigmund in the death of Hus is a matter of controversy. He had granted him a safe-conduct and protested against his imprisonment; and the reformer was burned during his absence. It was also at this Council that a cardinal ventured to correct Sigmund’s Latin (he had construed the word schisma as feminine rather than neuter). To this Sigmund famously replied: “Ego sum rex Romanus et super grammaticam“ ("I am the King of the Romans and am superior to rules of grammar"). At the time of the Turkish advance, Henry of Bolingbroke, the future King Henry IV of England, had come to investigate the possibilities of a war of defence and had an interview with King Sigmund. Sigmund, after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, went to England with his Hungarian noblemen and a large escort. Henry lavishly entertained the Emperor and had him enrolled in the Order of the Garter. Sigmund in turn inducted Henry into the Order of the Dragon. He left England four months later, having signed the Treaty of Canterbury, acknowledging English claims to France.
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) Sigmund also granted control of the Margravate of Brandenburg (which he had received back after Jobst's death) to Frederick I of Hohenzollern, Burggrave of Nuremberg (1415) to which he added the electoral dignity and the office of imperial high chancellor. This event made the Hohenzollern family one of the most important in Germany and would lead to the establishment of Prussia. In 1419 the death of Wenzel IV left Sigmund titular king of Bohemia but he had to wait for seventeen years before the Czechs would acknowledge him. Entrusting the government of Bohemia to Sophia of Bavaria, Wenzelâ€™s widow, he returned to Hungary. The Bohemians, who distrusted him as the betrayer of Hus, were soon in arms and the flame was fanned when Sigmund declared his intention of prosecuting the war against heretics. The king sought to re-establish order by severer measures but, as this method failed, Pope Martin V at Sigmund's request proclaimed another crusade. Three campaigns against the Hussites ended in disaster. Ziska's peasant Hussite army was victorious on 1st November 1420, at Vysegrad and also on 8th January 1422, at Deutsch Brod. The king, unable to obtain support from the German princes, was powerless in Bohemia. His attempts at the diet of Nuremberg in 1422 to raise a mercenary army were foiled by the resistance of the towns and in 1424 the electors, among whom was Sigmund's former ally, Frederick I of Hohenzollern, Jan Hus sought to strengthen their own authority at the expense of the c. 1372- 6th July1414 king. Although the scheme failed, the danger to Germany from the Hussites led to the Union of Bingen, which virtually deprived Sigmund of the leadership of the war and the headship of Germany. In 1431 he went to Milan where on 25th November he received the Iron Crown, after which he remained for some time at Siena, negotiating for his coronation as Emperor by Pope Eugenius IV, who also officially approved the statutes of the Dragon Order. He was crowned at Rome on 31st May 1433, and after obtaining his demands from the Pope returned to Bohemia, where he was recognized as king in 1436, though his power was little more than nominal. Quarrels between the moderate Calixtines and the radical Taborites helped along the negotiations with the Hussites. By the so-called Compact of Prague the council brought the Hussite movement back to lines compatible with the authority of the Church. The only concession was the granting of the cup (calixtus) to lay communion. At the Diet of Iglau in 1436, Sigmund was finally acknowledged as ruler of Bohemia. He died in December 1437 at Znaim and was buried in Grosswardein cathedral. By his second wife, Barbara of Cille, he left an only daughter, Elisabeth, who was married to Albrecht V of Habsburg, archduke of Austria (later German king as Albrecht II) whom Sigmund named as his successor. As he left no sons, the senior house of Luxembourg became extinct on his death.
The Public Face of the Order of the Dragon In the fourteenth century, many kings founded their own orders of knights to support their thrones. A famous example is the Order of the Garter in England, to which we shall return. Unlike the military orders of the Templars, the Teutonic Knights, or the Hospitallers of St John, these orders were secular in nature.
He died in December 1437 at Znaim and was buried in Grosswardein cathedral. By his second wife, Barbara of Cille, he left an only daughter, Elisabeth. As he left no sons, the senior house of Luxembourg became extinct on his death.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) After his decisive victory in Bosnia in 1408, Sigmund and his second wife Barbara of Cille decided to found their own order. It was highly unusual at that time to have a woman as co-founder of any such body. Also unusual is that she personally took an active part in its ceremonies and meetings. However, in this context it is now generally recognised that the Middle Ages ended during the fourteenth century and are separated from the modern period by two centuries of transition which correspond to the flowering of the Renaissance and of its political and cultural conceptions. This is particularly evident in the history of east central Europe, where the congressional, family pact-oriented system of the Luxemburgs and Jagellons set the pattern of these two hundred years. The Angevin root of both families’ inheritance shaped this system. According to the Order’s statute, elaborated by the chancellor of the Hungarian court, Eberhard, Bishop of Oradea (which survives in a copy dated 1707 at Budapest University and was published in a Hungarian edition in 1841), the Order of the Dragon required its initiates to defend the Cross and to do battle against its enemies, principally the Turks and Hussites symbolised by the ancient Dragons (Draconis tortuosi), with the help of St. George, as well as protecting Sigmund and the other members from their enemies. On 13th December 1418, after the Council of Constance and ten years after the first creation, the charter for the Order was publicly announced. The original Order comprised twentyfour members of the nobility, who we shall examine shortly. Immediately after being established in 1408, it also served as a model for the creation in 1409 of the Spanish order of Calatrava. Bogomils, like the Waldensians, Hussites and Lollards, deemphasized the role of the priests and church riches and ceremonial and instead put emphasis on living a life of moral rectitude.
As an example of the bond of mutual defence anticipated among the members of the Dragon Order, in 1412 the Duke of Spalato, Hrovje Vukcic of Bosnia requested aid from Barbara of Cille specifically on the basis of his membership in the Dragon Order. He petitioned her, “Advertat Serenitas Vestra quomodo ego existo in Societate Dracorum.” However, the Turks overwhelmed Bosnia by 1413 and Bosnia ceased to be under Hungarian authority. From that time forward the Bosnians, who were persecuted as Bogomil or Patarene heretics by both the Orthodox Serbs and Croatian Catholics, readily converted in large numbers to Islam, a religion that seemed closer to their own. Bogomils, like the Waldensians, Hussites and Lollards, de-emphasized the role of the priests and church riches and ceremonial and instead put emphasis on living a life of moral rectitude. We may again cite Count Hrovje Vukcic, who also described the order as a "pagan rite", to which we shall return. So the order can not always be viewed as the fighter of heresy that is generally adopted. In 1431, before leaving for Italy, Sigmund summoned to his birthplace, the city of Nuremberg, a number of princes and vassals that he considered useful for alliances. These were also initiated into the Order of the Dragon, as a second circle. One of these was Wlad Basarab (father of Wlad the Impaler), a claimant for the principality of Walachia (now part of modern Romania), who was at the time serving in Szegesvar/Schassburg as frontier commander guarding the mountain passes into Transylvania from Walachia from enemy incursions, as the Teutonic Knights had done earlier. Whilst at Nuremberg, Wlad also received Sigmund's pledge to support his claim to the throne of Walachia. The Order of the Dragon adopted as its symbol in 1408 the image of a circular dragon with its tail coiled around its neck. On its back, from the base of its neck to its tail, was the red cross of St George on the background of a silver field. With the expansion of the order, other symbols were adopted, all variations on the theme of dragon and cross. For example, one class of the order used a dragon being strangled with a cross draped across its back; another presents a cross perpendicular to a coiled-up dragon with the inscriptions, vertically "O quam misericors est Deus" ("Oh, how merciful God is") and horizontally
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) "Justus et pacens" ("Justifiably and peacefully"). Other emblems of the order included a necklace and a seal, each with a variant form of the dragon motif. More on these symbols later. This circular dragon, strangled by its own tail, is represented on the coat-of-arms of many noble families of the Hungarian kingdom, the descendants of knights who were part of the order during the reign of Sigmund. In Transylvania, it also appears in the coats-ofarms of the families Bathory, Bocskay, Bethlen, Szathmary, Rakoczy and others, even though the order had lost its importance after the death of Sigmund in 1437 and apparently disappeared with the demise of the members who had been admitted by him. The Order was recently “revived by Imperial Decree of His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Karl Friedrich of Hohenzollern, claimant to the imperial throne of Germany, in His formal capacity as the de jure Holy Roman Emperor Charles VIII, on the 1st of August, 2001. His Imperial Highness formally assumed the position of Sovereign Grand Master of The Order of the Defeated Dragon and Supreme Dragon Knight Universal”.
Members of the Order The original members of the order were the twenty-one barons who signed its charter in 1408, plus Sigmund himself, his second wife Barbara and daughter Elizabeth, although some say 24 members plus the two women. Several online or printed sources give lists of these members but all are incomplete and do not tally exactly – the lists are given as “selected” or “some of”. Some give a list of “Grand Masters”, with Sigmund as the Second. Here is a consolidated, enumerated list of the known, or published, first group of the members of 1408, with some notes: Sigmund of Luxembourg, (2nd Grand Master), d. 1437 Barbara of Cille, his wife, d 1451 (?, see below) Elizabeth of Luxemburg, his daughter, d 1442 Despot Stefan Lazarevic of Zeta (Montenegro), surviving member of the Order of St George (1st Grand Master), (c. 1370-1427); married 1405 Helena Gattiluso of the Latin Principality of Lesbos. His sister Helena married Nicholas Garay. 5. Hermann II of Ortenburg-Cille, Count of Krain, father of Barbara, d. 1435 6. Archduke Ernest of Habsburg-Styria, d. 1424. He married Cymburga of Mazovia. 7. Christopher III, Duke of Bavaria and King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden d. 1448 8. King Ladislas I Jageilo of Poland d. 1444 9. Grand Prince Vitovtas of Lithuania, cousin of Ladislas d. 1430 10. Pipo of Ozora , Ban of Severin, d. 1426 11. Jacob I Lackffy, Voivode of Transylvania (1409-1416) 12. Albrecht II of Habsburg (3rd Grand Master), d. 1439 13. Nicholas II Garay (1367-1433) Ban of Soli (modern Tuzla), Slavonia, The "tengri" Croatia and Dalmatia. He also ruled the Srem, Bacska, Banat and Baranya regions. He was married firstly to Helena Lazarevic, sister of symbol of the pagan Prince Lazar of Zeta and then to Anna of Cille. His sister Dorothea Lithuanian married Nicholas Frankepan, also Ban of Croatia and Dalmatia. branch of the 1. 2. 3. 4.
The original members of the order were the twenty-one barons who signed its charter in 1408, plus Sigmund himself, his second wife Barbara and daughter Elizabeth.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) 14. Stibor of Stibericz, Master of the Court, Count of Nyitra, administrator of the Archdiocese of Esztergom and the bishopric of Eger (1405), Voivode of Transylvania 1395-1401, 1409-1414. 15. Hrvoje Vukcic of Bosnia, Duke of Dolnji-Kraji, Ban of Dalmatia and Croatia, Duke of Split, d.1416 ; married Jelena Nelipic. No other names can be found in available references. It will be noticed that several of the first, “inner”, group were dead before the second induction of 1431. I propose the following as highly likely to have been also members of the Order. 16. Jobst of Moravia d. 1438 17. Przemysl of Troppau d. 1433 18. Johan II the Iron of Silesia – Jagerndorff, d. 1424 19. Nicholas Frankepan, Count of Veglia, Ban of Croatia and Dalmatia, d.1432 ; married Dorothea Garay, his aunt by marriage was Catherine Carrara, daughter of Francesco, Duke of Padua 20. Henry V of England d. 1422
Which still leaves us with at least two members non-identified ; the princes of Mecklenburg-Wendland must surely be likely candidates.
Listed inductees from the second group of 1431, creating a two-class system (with few being inducted into the superior, Inner Court one):
It will be noticed that several of the first, “inner”, group were dead before the second induction of 1431.
Ladislas II of Habsburg, King of Bohemia and Hungary d. 1447 King Alfonso V of Aragon and Sicily (enemy of Sigmund’s enemy Ladislas of Anjou-Naples) d. 1458 James II de la Cerda of Urgel, inheritor of the “parallel” de la Cerda line, d. 1437 John the False, Grand Master of the Order of Avis, King of Portugal, brother in law of Henry V of England, d. 1433 Beatrice de Souza, his illegitimate daughter by Maria Telles, a Sepharadic sorceress, d. 1439 ; the Portuguese “Barbara of Cille” ; she married Thomas FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, perhaps another candidate, brother in law of the Thomas de Mowbray mentioned below. Eric-Bogislav of Pomerania, the famous “Pirate – King” of the North, d. 1459 Francis II of Carrara, Podestà of Padua, brother in law of Miklos Garay, inheritor of the Ghibelline della Scalas Francesco Barbaro (1398–1454), an important Venetian humanist Oswald von Wolkenstein, the last of the Minnesangers (born 1376 or 1377 in Schöneck Castle in Pustertal, South Tyrol ; died 2nd August 1445 in Merano) “Thomas” de Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk (Note : this is incorrect, in 1431 the Duke of Norfolk was John V de Mowbray, 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1424-32, 5th Earl of Nottingham 1405, and not Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, 2nd Earl of Nottingham (1365-1399 – dukedom forfeit 1399), married to Elisabeth of Arundel, or Thomas de Mowbray, 4th Earl of Nottingham (1385-1405).
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) John Hunyadi, Voivode of Transylvania 1441-1448 and regent of Hungary (4th Grand Master) d. 1456 Wlad II Dracul, Voivode of Transylvania 1431, Prince of Walachia 1436-46 Wlad III the Impaler (Vlad “Tepes” or Vlad Dracula), son of Wlad II, Prince of Walachia 1448-76. Here are some names from later ages mentioned in one source, where obviously there is a will to make the order appear as continuing after Sigmund: Ivan III "The Great", Grand Duke of Russia, 1462-1505 (“High Protector of the Order”) Andrew Bathory (Grand Master), Cardinal-Bishop of Ermelland in Polish Prussia 1589-99, Prince of Transylvania 1593-1604 Gabriel Bethlen (Grand Master), Prince of Transylvania 1610-29 Jan Sobieski, King of Poland, 1674-96 (Grand Master) Prince Dmitri Cantemir, Despot of Moldavia 1693-1711, (Grand Master), died in prison in Russia 1723 Peter the Great , Tzar of Russia 1691-1725, (Grand Master), whose second wife, the Empress Catherine I, was Marta Skavonskaya, another Jewish sorceress. Some Lesser-Known Members
Pipo of Ozora (Filippo Scolari, Lo Scolari or Pippo Spano in Italian, Philip Madzharin, Philip the Magyar in Bulgarian epic songs ; 1369-December 1426), son of a poor Florentine merchant, was one of Sigmund’s most successful generals, confidants and strategists. First mentioned in 1382, he entered the service of Sigmund's treasury and was awarded the castle of Simonsthurn. Further services to the Crown, such as providing resources to fight the Ottomans, led to his appointment as administrator of all gold mines in the kingdom. Present in Bosnia, during the Hungarian nobles' rebellion and Bosnian invasion, Pipo subdued the main leaders of the revolt. He took part in the Crusade of September 1396 at Nicopolis and, unlike most on the Christian side, managed to flee after the deFilippo Scolari feat with the king and some nobles who sailed away up the Danube. He married Barbara, daughter and heir of Andrew of Ozora, in 1398. While in Vienna, he was made Count of Temesvár. In this capacity, he initiated the building of the Hungarian border castle system to contain Ottoman aggression ; he also confronted the Serbian and Bosnian armies of Tvrtko II that had been besieging Sebenico, gaining back parts of Bosnia.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) In 1408, Pipo became Ban of Severin and member of the Order of the Dragon, by that time, he had become powerful wealthy. In 1410, Sigismund sent him to persuade the Italian city-states to cut off their links with Naples: he travelled in great pomp to his native Florence, then to Ferrara to meet Niccolò III of Este. In August, he was received by the Pisan Antipope John XXIII. In September in Venice, Pipo is said to have backed a conspiracy. As part of the anti-Venetian campaign of 1411, Lo Scolari entered Friuli at the head of an army, conquered Aquileia and in December, he took Udine and several fortresses in Romagna, then Vittorio Veneto – capturing a high official from the Barbarigo family. In January 1412, the renewed attack ensured Pipo a supply of high-ranking Venetian prisoners, whom he ordered mutilated to avenge a Hungarian killed by the enemy. He suffered minor defeats against the Malatesta armies and the war remained undecided well into 1413. Pipo intended to besiege Padua in January but he couldn't maintain his army on the spot and moved towards the Brenta, in Cartigliano and Marostica, leading an unsuccessful attack on Vicenza. Further failures provoked his retreat to Friuli and then to Hungary, in February. This outcome made Venetian accounts imply a settlement with the Most Serene Republic and even the mythical execution of Pipo as revenge on the part of the King (he supposedly had molten gold poured down his throat). Pipo took part in the proceedings of the Council of Constance, where Sigmund charged him with guarding John XXIII – however the Antipope managed to flee. In 1415, he witnessed Jan Hus' execution in Constance. He fought the Turks again in 1417 in Walachia, in 1418 near Belgrade and in 1419 in Bosnia ; Sigmund awarded him Orsova. He was called to Bohemia, where he tusselled with the Hussite insurrection from 1420, being severely beaten by Jan Zizka at Deutsch Brod in January 1422. The rumour that Pipo had been killed in Bohemia led to an Ottoman attack in Walachia against his protegé Prince Dan II. Prompted by requests from Stefan Lazarevic, he moved into Serbia and won a large-scale battle. However, he also suffered a stroke and remained impaired, being carried away to Peterwardein. He was buried in Stuhlweissenburg, by the tombs of the Hungarian Kings. His funeral was attended by Sigmund himself. Oswald of Wolkenstein (born 1376 or 1377 in Schöneck Castle in the Pustertal, Tyrol ; died 2nd August 1445 in Merano) was one of the last of the troubadours (minnesänger), a composer and diplomat. In the latter capacity he travelled through all of Europe, even to Georgia. He was one of the most important composers of the early German Renaissance ; there are three main themes in his work : voyages, God and brothels. Oswald spent his youth in the Trostburg, today still an imposing castle near Waldbruck, south of Brixen. Walter von der Vogelweide, the most famous minnesanger, is said to have lived nearby. Oswald von Wolkenstein lost one eye during a carnival at the Trostburg. War service took him to France, Spain, Italy
Oswald of Wolkenstein
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) and even as far as the Nordic and Slavic countries and to Asia. About 1400 he returned home because of his father's death. The three brothers Mickel, Oswald and Lienhardt shared the inheritance in 1407 and from then on Oswald tried to extend his own domains, mainly by force and at the expense of others. From 1415 he was in the service of Sigmund, who took him to the Council of Constance (where he played an important part) and on various diplomatic missions. Between 1421 and 1427 he was involved in a series of bitter quarrels with other landowners -- his wild and lawless behaviour led to his being twice arrested and imprisoned. From 1430 to 1432 he was again involved with politics and attended the Council of Basle, thereafter he retired to his estates and gave up writing music and poetry. He was buried in the monastery of Neustift (north of Brixen) to which he gave considerable support during his lifetime. Francesco Barbaro (1398â€“1454) was a humanist in Venice of noble family. He was the son of Candiano Barbaro and a student at the University of Padua. Early in his career, he translated Greek texts into Latin. He was elected to the Venetian Senate in 1419 and wrote De re uxoria, inspired from ancient Latin and Greek works. The family's country home, Villa Barbaro, was dedicated to him by Daniele Barbaro and Marcantonio Barbaro. While governor of the city of Brescia, he attained a great reputation in his defence of the city against the forces of the Duke of Milan. He later served as ambassador to Milan and Mantua, eventually becoming ambassador to Sigmund who inducted him into the Order of the Dragon in 1431, while also bestowing on him the right to use the double-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire. He is buried in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. Stibor of Stiboricz was an aristocrat of Polish origin, a close friend of King Sigmund of Hungary who appointed him to several offices during his reign. Stibor was the Voivode of Transylvania (1395-1401, 1409-1414). He descended from a noble family whose possessions were located around Bromberg in Greater Poland. He arrived in Hungary during the reign of King Louis I, who was also King of Poland (1370-1382). Following the king's death, the Dowager Queen Elisabeth, who governed the two kingdoms in the name of his daughters, made Stibor the governor of Cujavia in Poland in 1383. Around this time, Stibor became the close friend of Sigmund of Brandenburg (the future king and emperor), the fiancĂŠ of Queen Mary of Hungary. Sigmund appointed Stibor as his Master of the Court and, following his coronation in 1387, he entrusted Stibor with the government of Galicia and granted him the ius indigenatus (the right to hold offices) and the Counties of Pressburg, Trentsin and Nitra. He led the negotiations with the Teutonic Knights who bought the Neumark (in the Margraviate of Brandenburg) from King Sigmund in 1402. In the first months of 1403, some nobles, lead by the Archbishop John Kanizsai, offered the crown to King Ladislas of Naples against Sigmund. Stibor recruited mercenaries, invaded the north-western parts of the kingom and defeated the rebels' troops. The parties made an agreement under which the rebels accepted the king's rule and they were granted a royal pardon (29 October 1403). Shortly afterwards, the king appointed him to govern the possessions of the Archdiocese of Esztergom and the Diocese of Eger (1405). In 1407, he fought in Bosnia and was among the first members of the Order of the Dragon. In May 1410, King Sigmund entrusted him and the Palatine Nicholas I Garay to mediate
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) between the Teutonic Knights and King Ladislas II of Poland. When the negotiations failed and the war broke out, Stibor lead the Hungarian armies against Poland but his troops had to retreat. At the end of 1411, he was one of the leaders of King Sigmund's troops fighting against Venice in Friuli.
The Signs and Symbols of the Order The symbol of the pioneer Order of St George of Serbia was a red cross on a silver field with a black mantle. Sigmund and Barbara’s Order of the Dragon adopted as its symbol in 1408 the image of a circular dragon with its tail coiled around its neck. On its back, from the base of its neck to its tail, was the red cross of St George on the same silver field. This represented the destruction of the order's enemies symbolized by the ancient dragon (Draconis Tortuosi) killed by St. George. This original insignia was used along with a black mantle bearing a red cross design on the centre, back and front, while a gold dragon brooch was worn upon braid on the left shoulder. The nobles were explicitly required to “wear and bear the sign or image An example of of the dragon curled up in the form of a circle” resting on the red the cape insignia. cross, “just in the same way that those who fight under the banner
of the glorious martyr St. George are accustomed to wear a red cross on a white field”. Over the five millenia of the dragon's existence in art, its visual appearance has transformed greatly. Even within the order it was depicted differently.
The dragon is an old Scythian symbol for the 'Opposer' or 'Other God'. The patriarch's staff of the Armenian Church has two dragon heads for its top, going back to the first patriarch. Armenia is filled with "Dragon Stones", large pillars with a dragon skin carved on them. According to the medieval encyclopaedist, Isidore of Seville, the "serpens" is a dragon that lives on land. In early heraldry the dragon is depicted as a serpent with the wings of a swan. Over the five millenia of the dragon's existence in art, its visual appearance has transformed greatly. Even within the order it was depicted differently. Sometimes it was represented having the head of a vulture, other times with the body of a snake and finally, a bat-winged creature. Its strength was believed to be in its head and tail and from the fifth century, dragons became known as symbols for the Demon. Therefore, the order's emblem of the dragon strangling itself was interpreted as the defeat of evil, usually with the emblem having three twists of its tail around the neck – a reference to Christianity's Trinity of God. The dragon of the order was apparently not seen as an evil element during the fifteenth century but a positive symbol of knighthood. The dragon choking itself with its own tail, which in heraldry and iconography represented the defeated Demon, apparently becomes the common symbol for eternity, the Ourobouros, the dragon devouring its own tail in the pattern of eternal return. With the expansion of the order in 1431, other symbols were adopted, all variations on the theme of the dragon and the cross. The first class of the Order used the strangled dragon with the cross draped across its back, which from the late fifteenth century bore many family coats-of-arms, another class presents a cross perpendicular to a coiled-up dragon with the inscriptions "O quam misericors est Deus" (vertical) and "Justus et pacens" (horizontal). Other emblems of the order included a necklace and The smaller badge for the a seal, each with a variant form of the dragon motif. necklace or sash.
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) Some members wore their emblem on a sash, as depicted in the 1432 portrait of Oswald von Wolkenstein. High-ranking members also wore a necklace of two gold chains joined by another symbol of the order, a Hungarian cross above the coiled dragon. This medallion was buried with the member at death. These members also had a seal depicting a dragon with a huge body, canted wings, only two feet, a free tail and a small Greek cross on the chest. Sigmund himself introduced this seal in 1433, one of the last seals he had made as a Roman-German Emperor. A complex system of coloured robes and secret insignia was instituted for members. For example, sometimes a green robe (symbolising the dragon) was to be worn over a red robe (symbolising the blood of martyrs). While costumes and rites varied according to custom and the calendar, the dragon symbol remained constant. The order's official dress was a black cape over a red garment to be worn only on Fridays or during the commemoration of the Passion. The order adopted the traditional three-tier degree system to which Sigmund appended three separate representations of the Ouroboros emblem for the distinct ranks of the Court. King Sigmund bestowed upon Wlad, prince of Walachia, official membership in the Inner Court of the order. Wlad was the possessor of the Order necklace, the Hungarian double cross, instead of the Latin cross, the dragon is illustrated on the reverse of the six silver and bronze coins that were minted by Wlad at Sighisoara in Transylvania and is similar to the dragon in Paolo Uccello’s painting of St. George and the dragon and the coat-of-arms from the bishop’s palace built by Wlad at Curtea de Arges. He adopted the dragon from the seal as his personal coat-of-arms, carved from stone, representing the victorious dragon attacking a lion, illustrating Psalm 90: "You will step on lions and on vipers and walk over lion cubs and snakes". This same image was carved on the pediment of the Villa Barbaro, two sets of figures walking over dragon-headed snakes.
Sigmund and Burgundy; the Legend of the Forest The Duchy of Luxemburg, home of Sigmund’s family, was in the heart of the Ar-Duenna, or Forest of Diana, nowadays the Ardenne. He himself was named after Sigmund of Cleves, the mythological Germanic hero. The traditions of Old Burgundy tell us of the first Sigmund and his wife Siglind and their son Sigfried, of the Ring tales. The Burgunder were a sub-group of the Goths, who left Skaney for the island that bears their name in the Baltic today (Burgundarholm = Bornholm) around 200 CE, at about the same time as the Langobards and the Engeln crossed into Slesvig-Holstein. The Burgundar (the name means “dwellers in the fortified places”) moved south to the coast of Pomerania with the Vandals, another Gothic sub-group, and gradually “sought Odinn” through the Harzwald to settle in what is now Franconia around 350 CE. Their first recognised “kriegsfuhrer” (leader in war) was Chilpica (died 407) who was recognised by the fading Roman authority on the Rhine as “Rex” of Worms. This incipient foederatus state quickly allied itself with the neighbouring princelets feeding from the corpse of Rome; his son Gondahar (died 436) married a woman of the Ripware (“riverbank dweller”) Franks; his grandsons Gondieuch (converted to Arianism) and Chilperic (a Frankish name) were assimilated into the empty shell of Roman administration by being recognised by Syagrius, the Arthur-type figure of northern Gaul, as, respectively, Magister Militum (= Marshall of the Army) and Patricius (= Army Commander), in the face of the threat from Attila (the “Etzel” of the Nibelungenlied). They lost out, however, and fled to the other side of the Limes, where their (first) Kingdom of Burgundy fell to Frankish (and Catholic) imperialism in 532.
The order adopted the traditional threetier degree system to which Sigmund appended three separate representations of the Ouroboros emblem for the distinct ranks of the Court.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) Chilpica’s daughter Hild married Sigfried, or at least a Sigfried, son of someone known to the chroniclers (notably Gregory of Tours) as Sigmund of Xanten. Xanten was a Roman garrison town near to present-day Cleves, just on the Dutch border with Germany on the Rhine. To call him thus is immediately to identify him with a German who has already taken up a foederatus contract with Rome and is garrisoning the Rhine, by this time in more or less total autonomy. In later local tradition, the line of the Wildgrafen of Cleves is said to descend from him, as is the line that produced Reginar of the Long Neck (ultimately Dukes of Lorraine). These territories are immediately adjacent to Luxemburg. What distinguishes these families is this: thick bristly hairs along the spine, just like a Wild Boar – the very same animal that is the totem of the Ardenne forest. Henry VIII Tudor’s fifth wife, Anne of Cleves, purportedly carried this hairy spine, which is one reason she got sent back (and not executed, being from the Outland). The boar is sacred to Ar-Duenna or Diana. This link is identical with the association between the World Tree as the Elf Princess of the Pleiades and Samael the Serpent or Dragon who embraces her. Essentially the symbols of the Boar and the Dragon are interchangeable, especially as the Ardenne is also the home of the Wouivre, or Green Serpent…. The Egregore of the Dragon proceeds from the Old Pole, the Red Star of Astarot (the “Tail of the Dragon”), via the House of Rurik and the Varangs, to the de Hauteville Normans of Sicily and the Angevin heritage of Hungary, where it joins with the Boar heritage of the Ardenne in the person of Sigmund.
The Esoteric Root of the Dragon Order The founding myth of Hungary relates that Erzindur of the Onungar chased the White Hart of the Forest over the Carpathians into Transylvania (the Erd-Elv) and married the Elf Daughter of the Land. The Stag of the World Egg raises the axis of the World Tree, the Wouivre, the Green Serpent… In a reflection of many other Eurasian founding myths, the Essence of the Daughter of the Land was mingled with the mortar that built the first Heim-Ring. This figure of the Daughter of the Land is related to “She whose embrace is death (= passage)”: in Transylvania she is the Stregoi (compare with the An example of the Scythian rootstregha, originally from Styria…), in Greece she is the Lamia ; in Persia, Arabia and Israel she is Lilith, legend of the Draco. and she is 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', of Keats' poem of the same name. The Tengri cult of Siberia and the Altai names her “Umai”, the Ice Princess radiating the “spark of life”, incarnate in the chief wife or dowager mother of the Khagan: for Sigmund she is Barbara of Cille, who we shall come to shortly. The swan-winged Stregoi of the Balkans represent both Valkyrie and Werewolf. Elf maidens portrayed as swans on the waters of starlight-bathed lakes who enthrall the onlooker and “captivate” his soul forever: he becomes “Yfverboren”, born (again) of the Elf, after the fashion of the Dakinis, who ravish the chakras, or Sekhmet, who “radiates” between the horns of the White Hart. One remembers the portrayal of the Dragon as swanwinged on some of the seals of the Order. The Egregore of the Dragon proceeds from the Old Pole, the Red Star of Astarot (the “Tail of the Dragon”), via the House of Rurik and the Varangs, to the de Hauteville Normans of Sicily and the Angevin heritage of Hungary, where it joins with the Boar heritage of the Ardenne in the person of Sigmund.
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) He was undoubtedly aware of this when he brought the relics of St. Maurice of Agaune to Hungary in 1414; named from the Old Burgunder Sigmund and inheritor of the Luxemburg tradition, he would know that St Maurice was not only the patron of the Welf, or Guelf (=”Wolf”) armies (as a soldier of the Theban legion, the sacred battalion of Dionysus), but also of the Burgundian metal workers (in Hebrew, Burgundy is the “land of metalworking”). We should also remember the green colour of the Dragon, as in the cape, and that Elias Artist is the “Green King”, like el-Khidr and that the Elf of the High Places rules the Cabiri, the metal-workers, whose runes echo the architecture of the forest …. “draw sounds, and speak them back”. The radiant heart of the Ark of the Covenant is also a Green Serpent… We approach here the “soul” of alchemy…. The World Tree of the Varangers is coiled about at its base by the serpent-dragon. At its roots there is a pool, in which lives the Salmon of Knowledge. This is the Elf Maiden, the ritual quarry of the Wild Hunt and thus "the fish of the pool", we are put in mind of the Zerubabbel grade of the Royal Arch: “wine, women, or kings: which is the greatest?”. Sabine of Steinbach, daughter of the Grand Master of the Stonemasons, carved the statues of the Cathedral of Strassburg. Historically, the winged Orobouros with a pendant cross was the symbol of Innana, or Venus. The grove of the Swan Maidens is the lair of the Repha'im or Rapha Elohim, named after Raphael who corresponds to the Atu “Aeon”. We are reminded that when the Grail appears as a 'stone', as in the works of the minnesänger Wolfram von Eschenbach, it is presented on a green silk cloth, which reasserts the link between the stone and the emerald of Venus. The colour green in alchemy is the Benedicta Viriditas, the colour of the Holy Spirit or Sophia, the wisdom gained by the hero who, on completing the "quest for the Grail", is awarded the Green Cloak or Greenmantle, that is he “becomes” Elias Artist, or el Khidr, or St. George…. The water in which the swan maidens swim is the "sea of Binah" and they are thus the daughters of understanding, seven in number and thus represent the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas who were pursued by Orion in an ancient form of the Wild Hunt. The Yfverboren of Transylvania were the result of the mating between the queen of the mountain elfs and the king Erzindur of the Kurgans, come from the plains.
The Order of the Garter In England, during the 1300s this maiden was to be found as the 'Fair Maid of Kent', the Countess of Salisbury who, at a ball in Calais was said to have let slip her garter, which King Edward III retrieved hastily and, lifting it into the air, pronounced "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense" ("shame upon him who thinks evil upon it”). Why would the King threaten the assembly in connection with their possible attitude towards an item of women's dress? There would be no point unless the item had a dangerous connotation attached to it... The garter was a lace belt worn around the top of the left thigh, a representation of the serpent eating its own tail. The garter was a symbol of the Orobourus, the serpent who, in consuming itself, has become a Dragon. The subsequent founding of the Order of the Garter by Edward III, to be followed in 1397 by the re-emergence of the Dragon Court under King Sigmund, had both orders using the Orobourus as their emblems.
The subsequent founding of the Order of the Garter by Edward III, to be followed in 1397 by the reemergence of the Dragon Court under King Sigmund, had both orders using the Orobourus as their emblems.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued)
A Ritual Exercise for the Dragon Court One may use the framework we have been exploring for several distinct ritual purposes. One could imagine that the stated objective, “defense of the King’s person”, could well fit with the Hall of Ma’at, where the egregore HRU would be the King. One could also explore the presence of Barbara of Cille, her daughter Elisabeth, or that of Beatrice de Souza, in what was traditionally an exclusively male domain. Here is an exercise in Forest Lore involving the members of the order, as is appropriate to the Burgundian avatar that presided over Sigmund. The magic of Abramelin was discovered in Venice, so let us take that place as the centre of our Grove, and identify it with Elias, elKhidr, St. George. This is highly appropriate, as Venetian legend has it that el-Khidr, in the guise of a wearied aristocrat clad in green velvet, crosses Venice at midnight, to refresh the city’s pact with the sea by St Mark’s.
Sigmund, AltBurgunder, ArDuennis, Yfverboren
Around this centre, we may trace segments of a circle, or a table, or a forest clearing, to the number of twelve; remember, 24 initial members, so perhaps, “double, white-black” representation? In any case, these twelve “significators”, depending on their geographical position, may then assume the traditional symbolic qualities of these positions. We may also identify them with forest essences, according to their attributes. Proceeding from the North, here is the Grove Arrangement of the Dragon Court: The magic of Abramelin was discovered in Venice, so let us take that place as the centre of our Grove, and identify it with Elias, el-Khidr, St. George.
Christopher of Denmark, Eric-Bogislaw of Pomerania: the pine tree, the Red Star, the Ship of the White Ice NNE: Ladislas Jageilo, Vytovtas of Lithuania: the birch tree, the Green Mantle of the Forest NEE: Andrew Bathory, Gabriel Bethlen of Transylvania/Erd-Elv: the rowan ash, the Yellow Plains of the Wolf of Tengri E: Pipo of Ozora, Jakob Lackffi of Transylvania/Banat: the willow tree, the Gold of the Grass-Green hills SEE: Stephen Lazarevic, Stephen Nemanja of Diocleja: the chestnut tree, the Brown Double Eagle SSE: Hermann of Cille, Vuksic of Bosnia: the yew tree, the Black Stone S: Ernest and Albrecht of Habsburg: the larch tree, the Russet Flame of the Habsburg Lady SSW: Alfonso of Aragon, James of La Cerda: the acacia tree, the Sea Blue of the Key of Ormus SWW: John of Aviz, Beatrice de Souza: the cypress tree, the Dark Blue of the Tomar Lance W: Sigmund of Luxemburg, Barbara of Cille: the oak tree, the Grey Smoke of the Chard Coal Burners, the Sword of St. Maurice NWW: Henry V of England, Thomas de Mowbray: the elm tree, the Red Ragged Staff of Arden NNW: Oswald of Wolkenstein, Elizabeth of Luxemburg: the lime tree, the Emerald Green of the Cup in the Swan Labyrinth
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued)
Barbara of Cille, Sigmund’s Black Queen
Barbara of Cille (c. 1390/1395-11th July 1451) was known as the Messalina of Germany. We have seen above that she was the daughter of Herman II, Count of Cille and his wife Anna, Countess of (Ungern-) Sternberg.
Barbara gave birth to a daughter, Elisabeth, Sigmund's only surviving issue and heiress, who married Albrecht of Habsburg, Archduke of Austria. She is one of the ancestresses of modern European royal families, her blood flowing in the veins of most of today's dynasties. Barbara's father Hermann II, as the father-in-law of both feuding Sigmund and Jageilo, played a crucial role before the Battle of Tannenberg by helping to prevent Sigmund, who was in alliance with the Barbara of Cille Teutonic Knights, from attacking Jagieilo. Jageilo and his Lithuanian and Varangian allies defeated the Teutonic Knights, who led the armies provided by 22 western states, including the Pope. Barbara was the object of Sigmund’s involvement with the magic of Abramelin the mage, published in various editions since Samuel Mathers. It was based upon a manuscript with the title:
"The Sacred Magic that God gave to Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon and to other prophets, which taught the Real Divine Science, given from Abraham, son of Simon, to his son Lamech, translated from the Hebrew in Venice, in 1458". The book describes a magical ceremony by which it is said to be possible to force the soul of a dying person to re-enter the body. The author, Abraham, who claims to have received his instructions from Abramelin the Magician, first stresses the fact that such an operation should never be carried out for frivolous purposes, but may only be used if there is no other option, after which he casually remarks: "I have only done this twice in
my whole life, for the Duke of Saxony, and for a lady who was much beloved by the emperor Sigmund." We learn that the book is based on a manuscript that is supposed to be kept in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris. This manuscript is said to have been copied from an older manuscript that can (or could) be found in the Marciana Library in Venice. The original author is reputed to have been the famous cabalist Eléazar ben Judah of Worms, who is said to have lived from around 1165 to about 1230. As mentioned above, Abraham confesses to have performed this necromantic rite to "restore a semblance of life" in a “lady that was much loved by the Emperor Sigmund”. The French editor of the book, Robert Ambelain, postulates this woman to be Barbara of Cille, who is commonly held to have died in Graz, Styria, in 1451. There is another reference to this. In a book in French called "Le Culte du Vampire aujourd'hui", by Jean-Paul Bourre, there is a chapter called "La vallée des immortels". This describes how the author and his friend Nathalie travelled to Transylvania in order to perform a necromantic ceremony through which they claim to have raised the "undead" Barbara of Cille…..
Barbara was the object of Sigmund’s involvement with the magic of Abramelin the mage, published in various editions since Samuel Mathers.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) As to Barbara, most sources agree that she was born some time around 1390 and she is generally said to have died, not in Graz as Robert Ambelain has it, but in Melnik, in Bohemia, on 11th July 1451. It could, however, be that Ambelain refers to her "first death". These dates fit with the publication date of the Abramelin book. The puzzling feature is that Barbara of Cille did not apparently die until 1451. The Emperor Sigmund died in 1437. This would mean that Abraham's necromantic ceremony must have taken place in or before 1437, which would imply (supposing that the dates are correct) that the “undead” Barbara must have lived at least 14 years after her "first death". Abraham refers to his accomplishment as "restoring a semblance of life". There is a work in Italian which extensively covers Barbara of Cille’s story, by Franco Pezzini :"Cercando Carmilla - la leggenda della donna vampira". The latest, definitive version of the Abramelin work is called "Buch Abramelin" published in 2001 by Editions Araki in Leipzig. Its author, George Dehn, has compared all the different Abramelin manuscripts that he could find. Some sources would indicate that Abraham was indeed known to Sigmund and was rewarded for "special services" to the Emperor. Barbara goes by the name of "Crna Kraljica" or the "Black Queen" in her own country of Cille and has locally the reputation of having been an alchemist and sorceress. The latest, definitive version of the Abramelin work is called "Buch Abramelin" published in 2001 by Editions Araki in Leipzig. Its author, George Dehn, has compared all the different Abramelin manuscripts that he could find.
A note by Peter Haining in his work The Dracula Centenary Book reads as follows: “Upper Styria, 1451. At Graz in the mountainous regions of Upper Styria, now a province of Austria, lived Barbara of Cille, a beautiful woman much loved by Sigmund of Hungary. When close to death, she was apparently saved by the use of a secret ritual devised by Abramelin the Mage, but as result was condemned forever. The woman was the inspiration for Carmilla, the masterpiece about a female vampire by the Irish author, Joseph Sheridan, LeFanu”. During the spring of the year 1414 Barbara was at the coronation of her husband Sigmund as Holy Roman Emperor. She then journeyed to Constance to take part in the Council held there, along with many others we have mentioned above. Aeneas Silvio Piccolomini accused Bar- bara Aeneas Silvio Piccolomini accused Babara of adultery in his De viris illustribus and the historian Widemann names the knight Johann von Wallenrode as her illicit lover. When Sigismund returned to Prague on 28th August 1437, the Hussites were causing immense political problems for him, as we have seen. Unfortunately he became ill and died in December of that year. His heir, the Hapsburg Archduke of Austria, Albrecht, who feared the power of Barbara, captured her and transferred her to Pressburg Barbara and Sigmund at the (today Bratislava in Slovakia). In retaliation Barbara shifted Council of Constance to active support of the Hussites, especially their aspirations for independence. George of Podiebrad emerged as the champion of the Hussite cause and was subsequently condemned by Pope Pius II. Barbara worked behind the scenes to support Podiebrad and oppose Albrecht the Hapsburg from seizing the throne.
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) Albrecht faced an infamous peasant uprising in Transylvania in 1437, which he brutally smashed but there were smouldering Hussite rebels still in Bohemia and large opposition to his reign by Hungarian magnates. However, he died of dysentery in Vienna two years later, on 17th October 1439. Albrecht’s widow, Elizabeth of Luxemburg, daughter of Barbara who was still alive, fought for power. Her relative Ulric, head of the Cilli clan and son-in-law to the despot of Serbia, George Brankovic, gave ardent support. Elizabeth let it be known that Albrecht had already impregnated her with a child but there were those who doubted her claim. On 23rd February 1440 the child was born and was given the appropriate name Ladislas Postumus, since he was born after his father’s death. Barbara of Cilli continued to support the right of Ladislas to rule over both Hungary and Bohemia. However, she lost to the Hapsburgs in her bid to set up a separate Hungarian-Polish state free of Hapsburg control. She lived the last ten years of her life in virtual exile at Melnik in Bohemia under the protection of George of Podiebrad. When she died (for the second time?) in 1451, Podiebrad had her body taken from Melnik to Prague for solemn interment with the kings of Bohemia within the fortress of the St. Wenzel Church in Prague, in the St Vitus Dom chapel. However, in the West she had already acquired an unsavoury reputation, which led to her being branded as a kind of lesbian vampire due to Hapsburg-inspired attempts to besmirch her name. Elizabeth of Luxemburg
But during a time when royalty in Europe could barely sign their names, Barbara knew German, Hungarian, Slovene, Czech, Latin and some Polish. She lived in the manner of the coming Italian Renaissance with emphasis upon individual freedom. In fact, she appears to have been an early example of an emancipated woman, who frightened her male contemporaries and led to her nefarious reputation as a lesbian vampire.
A Note on the Teutonic Knights The Teutonic Knights adopted as patron Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and also honoured Saint George, the patron of chivalry and knighthood. The Order’s properties extended from Styria, through Thuringia, Hesse, Franconia, Bavaria and the Tyrol, with houses in Prague and Vienna. There were also outposts in the Eastern Latin Empire, notably in Greece and in Transylvania. The order’s estates ultimately extended as far as the Netherlands in the north west of the Empire, south west to France, Switzerland, further south in Spain and Sicily and east to Prussia and Livonia. Sicily had been ruled by Saracens until the arrival of the Norman conquerors under the de Hauteville family but the collapse of this dynasty led to their replacement by the German Hohenstaufens. The first Teutonic hospital, of Saint Thomas, was confirmed by the Emperor Henry VI in 1197 and, in the same year, the Emperor and Empress granted the knights their request for possession of the Church of Santa Trinità in Palermo. The Teutonic knights first established themselves in eastern Europe after King Andrew of Hungary invited the knights to establish themselves in Transylvania. The warlike Cumans, who were also plaguing the Byzantine Empire to the south, were a constant threat and the Hungarians hoped that the knights would provide a buttress against their attacks. Bran Castle (German: Turzburg; Hungarian: Turcsvar) in the immediate vicinity of Braşov (also known as Kronstadt, Krunen or Brassó) in Romania, is nowadays a national monument and landmark.
Barbara lived in the manner of the coming Italian Renaissance with emphasis upon individual freedom. She appears to have been an early example of an emancipated woman, who frightened her male contemporaries and led to her nefarious reputation as a lesbian vampire.
Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) Commonly known as Dracula's Castle, Bran Castle was originally built as a stronghold by the Teutonic Knights in 1212. The first documentary attestation of Bran Castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary on 19th November 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt, or Krunen as they called it, the privilege of building the citadel. In 1217 Pope Honorius III proclaimed a crusade against the Baltic pagans. Duke Conrad of Mazovia had been invaded by them and, desperate for assistance, asked the Teutonic knights to come to his aid. He promised them possession of Culm and Dobrzyn, which they accepted with the provision that the knights could retain any Baltic territories that the order captured. The Emperor's grant of Princely rank in the "Golden Bull" of Rimini offered the knights sovereignty of any lands they captured as immediate fiefs of the Empire. The campaign to exterminate the pagan tribes of Prussia lasted only fifty years, the consolidation of their power in northeastern Europe lasted for one hundred and sixty years before the Jagiellons began to repulse them. This crusading enterprise succeeded only at a terrible cost, above all to the native pagan populations.
In 1217 Pope Honorius III proclaimed a crusade against the Baltic pagans. ... This crusading enterprise succeeded only at a terrible cost, above all to the native pagan populations.
The amalgamation with the Knights of the Sword (or Knights of Christ as they were sometimes called) in 1237 proved of considerable value. The Knights of the Sword were a smaller but very powerful military brotherhood based in Livonia. They had originally Hermann v. Salza, 4th Grand Master of the been subject to the authority of the Archbishop of Riga but, with Teutonic Knights (1209the capture of Curland, Livonia and Estonia, which they ruled as 1239) in order regalia. sovereign states, they were effectively independent. The disastrous nd defeat they suffered at the Battle of Sauler on 22 September 1236, when they lost about one third of their knights, including their Master, left them in an uncertain situation. The solution, union with the Teutonic Order, ensured their survival and henceforth they had the status of a semi-autonomous province. The new Master of Livonia, a senior Teutonic Commander, now became a provincial Master in the Teutonic Order and the knights of the combined body adopted the Teutonic insignia. The earliest Livonian knights had come mostly from south Germany but after joining with the Teutonic Order, the Livonian knights increasingly came from areas in which the Teutonic knights had a substantial presence, principally Westphalia, where the Sainte Vehme had been established in reaction to the breakdown of Imperial power. In 1291, following the loss of Acre and the fall of the Latin Kingdom, the knights retreated first to Cyprus and then to Venice, where they recruited a group of Italian knights at their commandery of Santa TrinitĂ . Following the union of Lithuania and Poland, the Teutonic knights soon forfeited the support of the Church and neighbouring Princes. Conflicts with the Archbishop of Riga had bedevilled relations with the Church over the previous half-century, these divisions were accentuated with the order's crusading mission reduced to ensuring the conversion of the pagan populations under their rule. The conversion of Lithuania's rulers gained the latter the support of the Papacy, who ordered the knights to reach a settlement. The order now ruled a vast area but was resented by much of the native population and feared by its neighbours. The Lithuanians and Poles prepared to renew the struggle. Despite attempted interventions by the Luxemburg Kings of Bohemia and Hungary, Jageilo and Vytovtas were able to amass a vast force of about 160,000 men. These included Russians, Samogitians and
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Sigmund of Luxemburg and the Court of the Dragon Order (continued) Hungarian, Silesian and Bohemian mercenaries along with the forces of the Duke of Mecklenburg and the Pomeranian Dukes. The knights, on the other hand, with only 83,000 men were outnumbered two to one. Despite this handicap, the outcome of the engagement at what is known as the battle of Tannenberg on 15th July 1410 was by no means certain. Early in the conflict the knights made great advances, destroying the right wing of the Lithuanian forces but they were gradually beaten back. When the Grand Master, Ulric von Jungingen, was killed in the centre of the melée, the fight was lost. In addition to their leader, they lost two hundred knights and forty thousand soldiers including the Grand Commander, Conrad von Liechtenstein, the Marshal, Friedrich von Wallenrode and many commanders and officers, while the Poles lost sixty thousand dead. The Order might have been destroyed entirely had it not been for the Commander of Schwetz, Heinrich Reuss von Plauen, who had been charged with the defence of Pomerania and now moved rapidly to bolster the defences at Marienburg. He was quickly elected Vice-Grand Master and, thanks to his preparations, the fortress was saved. Plauen was now elected Grand Master and, at the Isle of Thorn, concluded a treaty with the King of Poland on 1st February 1411, ratified by Papal Bull a year later. Finally, by the treaty of Thorn of 19th October 1466 between the order and Poland, the knights agreed to surrender Culm, their first Prussian possession, along with Ermelland, Pomerelia (including Danzig) and the order's headquarters at the fortress of Marienburg (now Malbork in Poland). Although they retained some sixty towns and fortresses, the Grand Master had to recognize the Polish King as his feudal overlord and do homage therefore, although the Emperor, nominal overlord of Prussia and superior of the Grand Master as a Prince of the Empire, was not consulted. In return the Grand Master was recognized as a Prince and councillor of the Crown of Poland. The Grand Master acknowledged Papal authority in spiritual matters but by promising that no part of the treaty could be annulled by the Pope he was in breach of canon law as the superior of a religious order and therefore subject to the Holy See. The knights’ power was now fatally compromised and disappeared forever when the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Albert of Hohenzollern, turned protestant in 1525 and secularised Prussia; in 1567, the Sword Brothers followed suit when their last Grand Master, Gottfried Kettler, did the same and became Duke of Curland (now part of the modern Baltic state of Latvia). Copyright © 2008 Ian Cowburn Bibliography Constantin Rezachevici, "From the Order of the Dragon to Dracula." Journal of Dracula Studies (Number 1, 1999), pp 3-7. Anon. “The Dragon Sovereignty.” The Imperial and Royal Dragon Court and Order, 1996. Haining, Peter. The Dracula Centenary Book. London: Souvenir Press, 1987. Nethercot, Arthur, “Coleridge’s ‘Christabel’ and Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’.” Modern Philology 47 (August 1949): 32-38. Piccolomini, Aeneas Silvius. Opera Omnia. Basil, 1551. 81-143. Russell, Sharon. “The Influence of Dracula on the Lesbian Vampire Film.” Journal of Dracula Studies 1 (1999): 23-32.
The knights’ power was fatally compromised and disappeared forever when the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Albert of Hohenzollern, turned protestant in 1525 and secularised Prussia.
A description of this little-known Order, and how to eploit its resources