John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg

John Sigismund, Margrave of Brandenburg ( born November 8, 1572 Hall, † December 23 1619jul / January 2 1620greg in Berlin.. ) From the House of Hohenzollern was 1608-1619 Elector of Brandenburg; Administrator of the Duchy of Prussia, with which he was invested in 1612.


Johann Sigismund was the eldest son of the administrator of Magdeburg, Joachim Frederick of Brandenburg, and his wife Catherine of Brandenburg- Kuestrin. He grew up under the significant influence of his grandfather, the Elector Johann Georg on. At whose court he received an aligned on Lutheran confessional religious education.

In 1588 he left temporarily the castle of his parents in Wolmirstedt and accompanied his younger brother to Strasbourg to emphasize, along with several other high Empire nobles whose claims on the local cathedral chapter. After a brief grand tour, he returned in 1589 after Wolmirstedt back.

After his marriage he lived with his wife Anna of Prussia in Zechlin, from where he repeatedly moved with his family to his mother Maria Leonora of Prussia to Königsberg to hunt there.

With the beginning of his reign in Brandenburg in 1608, the succession in the Lower Rhine in 1609 and the tough negotiations with Poland over the Duchy of Prussia increasing his personal weaknesses became apparent: he was decision reluctantly, pulled over again for weeks and months on end to hunt and play cards in the woods Prussia back, the government gave governors and was easily influenced by people around him. His initially quite happy marriage was shattered, where he was brought by his energetic wife as possible out of the way.

1616 suffered the elector a stroke from which his health no longer should recover. In 1619 he handed over the affairs of state before his death to his eldest son, the Elector Georg Wilhelm.

Acquisition of the Duchy of Prussia

Like his father Joachim Friedrich Johann Sigismund also acquired the tutelage of his father, Duke Albrecht of Prussia and thus the Administration in the Kingdom of Poland related Duchy of Prussia. Only after major money payments and considerable concessions for Catholics in Königsberg was King Sigismund III. of Poland in 1612 ready to transfer him the duchy as a Polish fief.

Claims to Jülich -Cleves -Berg

After the extinction of Cleves Duke house in January 1609 Johann Sigismund stood as guardian of his wife Anna of Prussia claim to the sole heir to the United Duchies of Jülich -Cleves -Berg.

Against his will, joined his brother Ernst, whom he had sent as governor to the Lower Rhine, in June 1609 a contract with Wolfgang Wilhelm of Pfalz- Neuburg, who also brought an inheritance claims, a joint government in the disputed areas.

After the failure of an attack Brandenburg soldiers to Dusseldorf for the displacement of Wolfgang Wilhelm and the invasion of a Spanish army under Ambrosius Spinola it came in 1614 to the Treaty of Xanten in which Johann Sigismund time being the sole government was awarded the Duchy of Cleves and in the counties of Mark and Ravensberg.

Since the Emperor hereditary claims of Brandenburg and Palatinate - Neuburg's not recognized, was the leadership of the title of "Duke in Jülich, Cleves and Berg" by Johann Sigismund on imperial level is not legally permissible. On diets therefore Brandenburg was also to no vote in Prince College for the Duchy of Cleves.

Conversion to Calvinism

On Christmas Day 1613 (25 December 1613jul. / January 4 1614greg. ) Johann Sigismund appeared in the Berlin Cathedral from the Lutheran to the Reformed confession about an event that is one of the most important of the Brandenburg-Prussian history. Previous studies were based on a political or religious motivation of the elector. Taking into account regional historical studies and recent findings on the " Second Reformation " and the personality of John Sigismund go, recent research on the assumption that this conversion was a result of the action of a group of people on the electors. The Calvinist Action Party in the west of the kingdom undertook with the help of a " personal bridge " (Gerhard Oestreich ), which included mainly councils (including Adam Gans Edler Putlitzstrasse ), preacher and Hofmeister, multiply and ultimately successful attempt also Brandenburg in the network of around 1600 emerging " Protestant internationalism" (Heinz Schilling ) to integrate, where she first took effect on the brothers Ernst and Johann Georg of Brandenburg and his son Georg Wilhelm.

In 1614, written by his court preacher Martin Füssel font " Confessio Sigismundi " (also called " Marchia " ), he allowed, however, his country's children, do not understand this crossing, and thus established an exception to the of 1555 provided for in the Peace of Augsburg formula cuius regio eius religio. Because of the very strong opposition of the Brandenburg clergy, the population remained almost entirely Lutheran. The dynasty, however, insisted that the ruling class ( high officials and officers ) went over to Calvinism. We therefore speak in Brandenburg by a " Hofcalvinismus " ..

Monument in the Siegesallee

For the former Berlin Victory Avenue of sculptor Peter Breuer designed the monument group 23 with a still picture John Sigismund as the main character, which was unveiled on 30 August 1901. As secondary characters the statue busts of the upper Burggrafen Fabian von Dohna and the Privy Council and the Provincial Governor Thomas were assigned by the Knesebeckstraße, who had sought to strike a balance between Lutherans and Calvinists. The main character shown with a calm, serious face and solid stance emphasizes the firm attitude of John Sigismund in matters of faith. The plump figure in Spanish- Dutch costume with wide baggy trousers featured contemporary critics as " Falstafffigur ". The still image is received, however, has a abgeplatztes face and other significant damage. It has been suspended since May 2009 in the Spandau Citadel.


1594 married Johann Sigismund of Prussia Anna (* 1576, † 1625), the eldest daughter of Duke Albrecht Friedrich of Prussia and his wife Marie Eleonore von Jülich -Cleves -Berg. With her he had eight children:

  • Georg Wilhelm (1595-1640), Elector and Margrave of Brandenburg
  • Anna Sophia (1598-1659)
  • Marie Eleonore (1599-1655)
  • Catherine (1602-1644)
  • Joachim Sigismund (1603-1625)
  • Agnes (1606-1607)
  • Johann Friedrich (1607-1608)
  • Christian Albrecht (* / † 1609)