Erzherzog Sigismund

Erzherzog Sigismund Leopold Rainer Maria Ambrosius Valentin was born as the third son of Erzherzog Rainer Josef and Elisabeth von Savoyen-Carignan on the 7th of January 1826 at Milan. From his earliest childhood Erzherzog Sigismund suffered from poor health which often interrupted his education and further career. As the son of the vice king of Lombardy-Venetia he was made Oberstinhaber of the 45th Venetian infantry regiment, which was garrisoned at Verona during this time in 1847. Formed in 1816 this Italian infantry regiment would be recruited from Galicia after the loss of northern Italy in 1866. During the rebellion of 1848/49 the young archduke was attached to the headquarters of Fieldmarschall Radetzky as an Oberst and later Generalmajor without any further military education! He received the knights crosses of the Russian Orders of St. Andreas and the Order of the White Eagle and finally the 1st class of the Russian Order of St. Anna.  After the war he was attached as a brigadier to the 9th army corps at Semlin. On the 19th of May 1852 he was honored with the Russian Order of St. Alexander-Newsky followed by his admission to the Order of the Golden Fleece on the 7th of December of the same year. In 1856, just at his 30th birthday, he received his promotion to Feldmarschall-Leutnant and was further attached to the headquarters of the 6th army corps at Graz but it seems that he actually never performed any duty there.

The circumstances with his poor health caused him to effectively withdraw from public and military life and to lead a quiet and retired existence at Schloß Gmünd in Lower Austria. Erzherzog Sigismund never married and the only passion and interest of his life was the wonderful palm glasshouse at Schloß Gmünd. Only on the occasion of the world exposition in Vienna did he leave his cosy castle home and travel to the capital where he received the Order of Annunziata from the King of Italy in October 1873. Erzherzog Sigismund died on the15th of December 1891 at his castle and was buried at the local cemetery at Gmünd.

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