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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Sigismundus, Saint

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Sigismundus, St., martyr, 5th king of the Burgundians (516–524), brought up under the influence of Avitus, the orthodox archbp. of Vienne, who succeeded in winning him, with two of his children, from the Arianism of his nation and family (Avitus, Epp. 27, 29, Migne, Patr. Lat. lix. 243, 246; Agobardus, adv. Leg. Gund. xiii. Patr. Lat. civ. 124), and sought to lead his inclinations towards the Roman empire (see Mascou, Annotation ii., where the passages are collected, and Fauriel, Hist. de la Gaule Mérid. ii. 100). He married Ostrogotha, the daughter of Theodoric the Ostrogothic king of Italy (Jornandes in Bouquet, ii. 28). While his father was still living, Sigismund was invested with regal dignity and held his court at Geneva (Avit. Epp. 29, 30; Greg. Tur. Epitom. xxxiv.). In 515 he founded or ( Hist. litt. de la France , iii. 89, 91) refounded the monastery of St. Maurice at Agaunum, where tradition placed the martyrdom of the Legio Thebaea (Marius Avent. Chronicon, Patr. Lat. lxxii. 796). In 516 he succeeded his father (Marius, ib. ), and in 517 convened a council, under the presidency of Avitus, at Epaunum (supposed to be the present Iene on the Rhone; "Epaon," D. C. A. ; Hist. litt. iii. 9). If the extent of his dominion may be inferred from the sees of the bishops present, Burgundy then included, besides the later duchy and county, Dauphiny and Savoy, the city and dominion of Lyons and the Valais, besides a part of the present Switzerland (Mascou, xi. 10, 31). In 523 Clodomir, Clotaire, and Childebert, three of the four sons of Clovis, stirred up by their mother the widowed Clotilda, invaded Burgundy. Sigismund was defeated and fled to St. Maurice, where he was betrayed by his own subjects to Clodomir and carried prisoner in the garb of a monk to Orleans. Shortly afterwards, with his wife and two children, he was murdered at the neighbouring village of Coulmiers, by being cast alive, as was said, into a well (Marius, ib. ; Greg. Tur. iii. 6). His brother, Godemar, succeeded him as 6th and last king of the Burgundians.

Sigismund was well-intentioned but weak. He apparently yielded too much to the influence of Roman ideas and habits for the king of a barbarian people, neighboured on one side by the powerful Ostrogothic monarchy and on others by the fiercely aggressive Franks. His partisanship for the orthodox faith, while it harmed him with his subjects, was not thorough-going enough to win the clergy from their leaning towards the Franks (see Fauriel, ii. 100 sqq.).

[S.A.B.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Sigismundus, Saint'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/s/sigismundus-saint.html. 1911.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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