Hedwig Jagiellon, Electress of Brandenburg

Hedwig Jagiellon
Electress consort of Brandenburg
Tenure 1535–1571
Born 15 March 1513
Died 7 February 1573(1573-02-07) (aged 59)
Spouse Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg
Elisabeth Magdalena, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Sigismund, Bishop of Magdeburg
Hedwig, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Sophia, Countess of Rosenberg
House House of Jagiellon (by birth)
House of Hohenzollern (by marriage)
Father Sigismund I the Old
Mother Barbara Zápolya

Hedwig Jagiellon (Lithuanian: Jadvyga Jogailaitė, Polish: Jadwiga Jagiellonka, German: Hedwig Jagiellonica; 15 March 1513 – 7 February 1573) was a member of the Polish Jagiellon dynasty and an Electress of Brandenburg.

Early life and proposals

Hedwig was born on March 15, 1513 in Poznań. She was the eldest daughter of King Sigismund I the Old of Poland and his first wife, Hungarian Countess Barbara Zápolya, sister of the later King John I of Hungary. Her only full sibling, Anna, died at age 5. Her father remarried and had six children with his second wife. Although she grew up with her half brothers and sisters, she had personal tutors, and in the court she received the nickname of "reginula".[1]

Hedwig was described by Olaus Magnus, who met her in 1528, as a "very beautiful, wise maiden [...] finer than all the riches I have just mentioned, and worthy of a glorious realm."[2]

Her hand was first sought by King Gustav I of Sweden, who was determined to make her his first queen. In 1526, Johannes Magnus was sent to Poland by the King of Sweden to negotiate the marriage. Despite the suitor's decision to moderate the religious reforms in his kingdom, Hedwig's father declined Gustav's offer after hearing about Gustav's ill relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, and the opportunity to become Queen of Sweden perished (only to be presented later to Hedwig's half-sister Catherine).[3][4]


The next suitor was from Brandenburg. The intensely Catholic Georg von Blumenthal, Bishop of Lebus, was sent to negotiate the marriage. On 29 August or 1 September 1535 Hedwig married Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg. The wedding was held in Kraków. As the Jagiellon dynasty was Catholic, Joachim II promised Sigismund he would not make Hedwig change her religion and gave her as a dower the county of Ruppin as well as the cities Alt Ruppin and Neuruppin. The marriage contract, signed on 21 March 1535, stipulated that Hedwig would be allowed to bring a Polish priest with her and always be free in the exercise of Catholic prayers.[5]

The marriage did not satisfy Hedwig's mother-in-law, Elizabeth of Denmark, a devout Protestant, for Catholic services were held for Hedwig in her private chapel. The Dowager Electress was also unhappy because Hedwig could not speak German.[6]

After breaking her thigh and hurting her back in the collapse of a floor at a hunting lodge, Hedwig spent the last 22 years of her life crippled. The accident signified the collapse of her marriage, which was already damaged by differences in religion and language. Hedwig was replaced by her husband's mistress, Anna Sydow, whom Joachim treated as his wife and who was recognized publicly.[6]

Hedwig died in Neuruppin on 7 February 1573, two years after her husband.

She is one of the characters on the famous painting by Jan Matejko, Prussian Homage.


Hedwig and Joachim had six children:



  1. Dr. Veress, Endre (1901). Izabella kiralyne. Budapest. Magyar Tudomanyos Akademia.
  2. Magnus, Olaus (1998). Foote, P. G., ed. A Description of the Northern Peoples. Translated by P. Fisher; H. Higgens. London: The Hakluyt Society. p. 660. ISBN 0-904180-58-1.
  3. Roberts, Michael (1986). The Early Vasas: a History of Sweden 1523–1611. CUP Archive. p. 93. ISBN 0-521-31182-9. Retrieved August 31, 2009.
  4. Deppermann, Klaus; Drewery, Benjamin (1987). Melchior Hoffman: social unrest and apocalyptic visions in the Age of Reformation. T. & T. Clark. p. 90. ISBN 0-567-09338-7. Retrieved August 31, 2009.
  5. Fay, Sidney Bradshaw (October 1916 – July 1917). "The Hohenzollern Household and Administration in the Sixteenth Century". Smith College Studies in History. Smith College. 2: 20. Retrieved August 31, 2009.
  6. 1 2 Chadwick, Owen (2003). The Early Reformation on the Continent. Oxford University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-19-926578-X. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
Hedwig Jagiellon, Electress of Brandenburg
Born: March 15 1513 Died: 7 February 1573
German nobility
Title last held by
Elizabeth of Denmark
Electress consort of Brandenburg
August 29/September 1, 1535 – January 3, 1571
Succeeded by
Sabina of Brandenburg-Ansbach
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