Elizabeth of Austria was born on 9 July 1526 as the eldest child of Anne of Bohemia and Hungary and Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. Her marriage to Sigismund II Augustus was already being discussed when she was just one year old, despite this, she was never taught Polish. The marriage contract was signed in 1530 with the marriage planned for 1533 when Elizabeth was 7. However, it was opposed by Sigismund’s mother Bona Sforza, and the marriage was delayed until 1543. Elizabeth left Vienna on 21 April 1543. She finally arrived on 5 May and was promptly married at the Wawel Cathedral, with celebrations lasting over two weeks.
The marriage was quite unhappy, and Sigismund continued to entertain mistresses. Her ambitions mother-in-law still disliked her. Elizabeth was perhaps not suited to such a public role as she was timid and meek. She began having epileptic seizures. Elizabeth and Sigismund were separated for a year while Sigismund was in Lithuania and Elizabeth visited cities in Poland. In the autumn of 1544 they met up again, but Sigismund soon continued his affair with Barbara Radziwiłł, who was destined to become his second wife. By April 1545 Elizabeth’s health had deteriorated quite a bit, and her seizures came frequently. Though Sigismund inquired about treatments for her, help would come too late. She died on 15 June 1545 completely worn out from the many seizures. She was buried on 24 July 1545 in Vilnius Cathedral.
It is a tragic end for a young girl, who never had the chance to shine as Queen.
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