Sigismund II Augustus was born in 1520 and crowned at age 10 in 1530, while his father Sigismund I the Old was still alive.

Could someone explain me the reason for this coronation?

Sigismund II August took the throne after Sigismund I the Old died, but he was crowned vivente rege as a king of Poland in 1530 (unfortunately not mentioned in English Wiki, but is in Polish Wiki). My research gave me nothing but this date and unconvincing explanation, that it was because his mother wanted to give him a proper education

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    Cieszę się, że pan chcesz wziąć udział. However, people exepect you to do a little research (such as checking Wikipedia) before coming here, and then, report what you've found so it's not all done over again. The help center has a lot of good advice for asking questions.
    – Spencer
    Jul 6, 2018 at 13:24
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    For example, the English language Wikipedia article on Sigismund II says he took the throne in 1648 when his father died, not in 1630 as you claim. If you have something to support the claim, it might make finding an answer worth the trouble.
    – Spencer
    Jul 6, 2018 at 13:44
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    @Spencer Thank you for your support :) It's true, that Sigismund II August took the throne after Sigismund I the Old died, but he was coronated vivente rege as a king of Poland in 1530 (unfortunately not mentioned in english Wiki, but is in polish Wiki). My research gave me nothing but this date and unconvincing explanation, that it was because his mother wanted to give him a proper education. Jul 6, 2018 at 14:05
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    Hi Jaroslaw, it's best to edit clarifications of the question into the question itself rather than reply in comments.
    – AllInOne
    Jul 6, 2018 at 14:44
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    Jaroslaw, Lars Bosteen has a pretty good answer and you may want to mark it as "the" answer. Going forward, you might have better luck with your research if you do a little more digging. Following the Wikipedia links to vivente rege and then to Wolna Elekcja might have given you the answer you need.
    – Spencer
    Jul 7, 2018 at 3:18

1 Answer 1


The practice of a king having his son crowned during his lifetime was not uncommon; two well-known examples are Henry the Young King, son of Henry II of England, and Philip II Augustus, son of Louis VII of France. This was usually done in an attempt to secure the throne for the monarch's chosen heir by reducing the chances of a contested succession.

In the case of Sigismund II Augustus, his father Sigismund I the Old (reigned 1504 to 1548) and his formidable Queen Bona Sforza had a particularly strong reason for having their son crowned early. Poland had a long tradition of the nobility electing the next king and, although they usually followed the hereditary principle, one of Sigismund I’s predecessors, Władysław III, had been elected to the throne against much opposition, despite being the eldest son of his predecessor.

This power to elect the king gave the nobility considerable leverage over the monarchy. According to the Wiki articles on the Jagiellonian dynasty and Bona Sforza, this power of the nobles was something which the Queen, in particular, saw as a threat to "her personal and dynastic interests". According to Jerzy J. Lersky in Historical Dictionary of Poland, Bona Sforza

had a great influence on the King and worked at strengthening the Polish royal power. She arranged the Royal election of their son, Zygmunt August, during the reign of his father and built a powerful Royal party.

The case of Sigismund II Augustus in 1530 was controversial as his parents had to persuade the nobles to break the rule of not electing a successor during a monarch’s lifetime (thus brining in Vivente rege). When Sigismund II died in 1572 without leaving an heir, the nobles adopted the Henrician Articles which, among other things, stated that the elected King’s children “had no right of inheritance with regard to the throne.”

The declaration as king (usually junior) of the heir apparent has occurred at various times in history. One example is Ptolemy II Philadelphus (died 246 BC), son of Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. The practice was common among the early Capetian kings of France:

They had their heirs crowned during their lifetime, so that there would not be even a momentary interregnum. Thus Louis VII, whose reign is usually dated in the history books to 1137 - 80, had actually been anointed in Rheims cathedral in 1131, during the lifetime of his father, Louis VI, and Louis VII’s own son, Philip Augustus, was crowned in 1179, the year before becoming sole king on the death of his father.

Source: Robert Bartlett, 'England under the Norman and Angevin kings, 1075-1225' (2000)

Other examples of Capetians crowned during the reigns of their fathers include Robert II, Henry I and Philip I. Interestingly, Louis VI had not been similarly crowned by his father and subsequently found his accession briefly contested by a half-brother.

Note: On education, the issue concerning 'proper education' which you mention in the question is indeed unconvincing. Rather, it was the nobles opposing the Queen who were blaming her for the bad education of her son. Thus, education seems not to be relevant here.

  • Interesting that they had a practice in Poland of not electing the new king during his predecessor's tenure. (I don't say "lifetime" since they presumably would not have waited for a king who had resigned to die.) The Holy Roman Empire developed the opposite custom, as the Electors found that they could leverage heavy concessions from the Emperor that way. Of course, many more people voted for the Polish monarch, which made bribing all of them somewhat less practical.
    – C Monsour
    Jul 7, 2018 at 3:42
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    Thank you for the explanation. It makes a way much more sense than the explanations that I've found. Sep 8, 2018 at 11:44

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