Sigismund von Herberstein

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Sigismund von Herberstein in Russian dress Sigismund von Herberstein in russian dress1.jpg
Sigismund von Herberstein in Russian dress

Siegmund (Sigismund) Freiherr von Herberstein [1] (or Baron Sigismund von Herberstein), (23 August 1486 28 March 1566) was a Carniolan diplomat, writer, historian and member of the Holy Roman Empire Imperial Council. He was most noted for his extensive writing on the geography, history and customs of Russia and contributed greatly to early Western European knowledge of that area.

Carniola Historical region in Slovenia

Carniola was a historical region that comprised parts of present-day Slovenia. Although as a whole it does not exist anymore, Slovenes living within the former borders of the region still tend to identify with its traditional parts Upper Carniola, Lower Carniola, and to a lesser degree with Inner Carniola. In 1991, 47% of the population of Slovenia lived within the borders of the former Duchy of Carniola.

Holy Roman Empire varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by far or by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is the largest metropolitan area in Europe proper and one of the largest cities in the world; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

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Early life

Herberstein was born in 1486 in Vipava (German Wippach) in the Duchy of Carniola, now in Slovenia, then part of the Habsburg Monarchy. His parents were Leonhard von Herberstein and Barbara von Lueg, members of the prominent German-speaking family which had already resided in Herberstein Castle for nearly 200 years. Little is known of his early life apart from the fact that he became familiar with the Slovene language spoken in the region. This knowledge became significant later in his life.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Duchy of Carniola

The Duchy of Carniola was a State of the Holy Roman Empire, established under Habsburg rule on the territory of the former East Frankish March of Carniola in 1364. A hereditary land of the Habsburg Monarchy, it became a constituent land of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and part of the Kingdom of Illyria until 1849. A separate crown land from 1849, it was incorporated into the Cisleithanian territories of Austria-Hungary from 1867 until the state's dissolution in 1918. Its capital was Ljubljana.

Slovenia republic in Central Europe

Slovenia, officially the Republic of Slovenia, is a sovereign state located in southern Central Europe at a crossroads of important European cultural and trade routes. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the southwest. It covers 20,273 square kilometers (7,827 sq mi) and has a population of 2.07 million. One of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia is a parliamentary republic and a member of the United Nations, of the European Union, and of NATO. The capital and largest city is Ljubljana.

In 1499 he entered the University of Vienna to study philosophy and law. In 1506 he entered the army as an officer and served in a number of campaigns. In 1508 he was knighted by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, in person. In 1515 he entered the Imperial council, or Parliament, and began a long and illustrious diplomatic career.

University of Vienna public university located in Vienna, Austria

The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world. With its long and rich history, the University of Vienna has developed into one of the largest universities in Europe, and also one of the most renowned, especially in the Humanities. It is associated with 20 Nobel prize winners and has been the academic home to a large number of scholars of historical as well as of academic importance.

Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor

Maximilian I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death. He was never crowned by the Pope, as the journey to Rome was always too risky. He was instead proclaimed Emperor elect by Pope Julius II at Trent, thus breaking the long tradition of requiring a papal coronation for the adoption of the imperial title. Maximilian was the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal. He ruled jointly with his father for the last ten years of the latter's reign, from c. 1483 to his father's death in 1493.

Diplomatic career

Between 1515 and 1553, Herberstein carried out approximately 69 missions abroad, travelling throughout much of Europe, including Turkey. He was feted by the ruling Habsburgs and rewarded with titles and estates. He was twice sent to Russia as ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor, in 1517 to attempt to arrange a truce between Russia and Lithuania, and in 1526 to renew a treaty between the two signed in 1522. These extended visits (nine months in his 1517 visit) provided him with the opportunity to study a hitherto largely unknown Russian society.

Turkey Republic in Western Asia

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Ankara is its capital but Istanbul is the country's largest city. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.

Lithuania republic in Northeastern Europe

Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, along with Latvian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.

Writing on Russia

Engraving from the book Sigmund Herberstein. Ambassadors present gifts the Tsar of Muscovy Moscovia.png
Engraving from the book Sigmund Herberstein. Ambassadors present gifts the Tsar of Muscovy

Herberstein's knowledge of Slovene, acquired in his youth, allowed him to communicate freely with Russians, as Slovene and Russian both belong to the Slavic languages. He used this ability to question a variety of people in Russia on a wide range of topics. This gave him an insight into Russia and Russians unavailable to the few previous visitors to Russia.

Slovene language language spoken in Slovenia

Slovene or Slovenian belongs to the group of South Slavic languages. It is spoken by approximately 2.5 million speakers worldwide, the majority of whom live in Slovenia. It is the first language of about 2.1 million Slovenian people and is one of the 24 official and working languages of the European Union.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Slavic languages languages of the Slavic peoples

The Slavic languages are the Indo-European languages spoken by the Slavic peoples. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic, spoken during the Early Middle Ages, which in turn is thought to have descended from the earlier Proto-Balto-Slavic language, linking the Slavic languages to the Baltic languages in a Balto-Slavic group within the Indo-European family.

He probably wrote his first account of life in Russia between 1517 and 1527, but no copy of this survives. In 1526, he was asked to produce a formal report on his experiences in Russia, but this remained relatively unnoticed in the archives until he was able to find time to revise and expand it, which he possibly started in the 1530s.

The evidence suggests that Herberstein was an energetic and capable ethnographer. He investigated in depth both by questioning locals and by critically examining the scarce existing literature on Russia. The result was his major work, a book written in Latin titled Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii (literally Notes on Muscovite Affairs), published in 1549. This became the main early source of knowledge in Western Europe on Russia.

He was the first to record the spelling of tsar as czar (both spellings are meant to express the same pronunciation). Later, English and French began to move from the 'cz' spelling to the 'ts' spelling in the 19th century. [2]

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Vipava is a town in western Slovenia. It is the largest settlement and the seat of the Municipality of Vipava. Vipava is located near the numerous sources of the Vipava River, in the upper Vipava Valley, 102 metres (335 ft) above sea level. Historically, it used to be a part of the traditional region of Inner Carniola, but it is now generally regarded as part of the Slovenian Littoral.

Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor king of Bohemia and Hungary

Ferdinand I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1558, king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526, and king of Croatia from 1527 until his death in 1564. Before his accession, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs in the name of his elder brother, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Also, he often served as Charles' representative in Germany and developed useful relationships with German princes.

Bona Sforza Queen of Poland

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References

Footnotes

  1. Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron ). In Germany since 1919, it forms part of family names. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin .
  2. for the derivation of tsar and Herberstein's contribution of czar, see the Oxford English Dictionary , 2nd edition, entry on tsar.
  3. "A People Born to Slavery: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476-1748". getCITED. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-02-05.