Cymburgis of Masovia

Cymburgis of Masovia (German: Cimburgis von Masowien), (Lithuanian: Cimbarka Mazovietė), also Zimburgis or Cimburga (Polish: Cymbarka mazowiecka; 1394 or 1397 – 28 September 1429), a member of the Polish Piast dynasty, was Duchess of Austria from 1412 until 1424, by her marriage with the Habsburg duke Ernest the Iron. As the mother of later Emperor Frederick III, Cymburgis, after Gertrude of Hohenberg, became the second female ancestor of all later Habsburgs, as only her husband's Ernestine branch of the family survived in the male line.

Cymburgis of Masovia
Duchess of Austria
Cymbarka mazowiecka.jpg
Posthumous portrait by Anton Boys, c. 1580
Born1394 or 1397
Warsaw, Masovia
Died(1429-09-28)28 September 1429
Türnitz, Austria
BuriedLilienfeld Abbey
Noble familyPiast dynasty
Spouse(s)Ernest, Duke of Austria
IssueFrederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Albert VI, Archduke of Austria
Alexander of Austria
Rudolf of Austria
Catherine of Austria
Leopold of Austria
Anna of Austria
Ernest of Austria
FatherSiemowit IV, Duke of Masovia
MotherAlexandra of Lithuania


She was the second daughter of Duke Siemowit IV, a scion of the Masovian branch of the Piasts, and his consort Alexandra, a daughter of Grand Duke Algirdas of Lithuania from the dynasty of Gediminids and sister of King Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland.

The Brave Saviour, historical painting by Franz Geyling (1856)

Though his elder brother William's engagement with the Polish princess Jadwiga had mortifyingly failed, Duke Ernest the Iron, after the death of his first wife Margaret of Pomerania, proceeded to Kraków in disguise to court Cymburgis. According to legend, he stepped into her heart when he participated in a royal hunt and saved the princess from an attacking bear. Actually, her uncle King Władysław II, stuck in the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War and struggling with the Luxembourg king Sigismund of Hungary took the occasion to strengthen ties with the Habsburg dynasty and gave his consent.

The wedding took place on 25 January 1412 in Buda (German: Ofen), the residence of King Sigismund, where he mediated the peace negotiations between Poland and the Teutonic Order.[1] Though not approved by the Habsburg family, the marriage turned out to be a happy one. Upon the death of his brothers William and Leopold IV, Ernest became the sole ruler of the Inner Austrian territories, while his cousin Albert V ruled over the Duchy of Austria proper.

Although controversial, it has been claimed (since at least by Robert Burton in 1621[2]) that she brought the distinctive protruding lower lip (prognathism) into the family, a particular physical characteristic of most members of the family for many generations until the 18th century.[3] It can even be recognized in some of her distant descendants (though not as markedly) as King Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886–1941). However, already her husband's great-grandfather King Albert I or his uncle Duke Rudolf IV were presented in portraits with it, while Cymburgis' statue in the Innsbruck Hofkirche church does not show this feature.[4]

Statue of Cymburgis at the Innsbruck Hofkirche

Tradition has it that she was also known for her exceptional strength, which, for example, she showed by driving nails into the wall with her bare hands and cracking nuts between her fingers.[5] Cymburgis outlived her husband and died on a pilgrimage to Mariazell while staying at Türnitz (in present-day Lower Austria). She is buried at Lilienfeld Abbey.


Double portrait of Eleanor of Portugal and Cymburgis of Masovia (on the right) from the book Austriacae gentis imaginum,1573

During her marriage, Cymburgis bore her husband nine children, of whom only four survived infancy:[6][7][8][better source needed][9]



  1. ^ Urban, William (2003). Tannenberg and After. Chicago: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. p. 191. ISBN 0-929700-25-2.
  2. ^ Manfred Draudt, Société Française Shakespeare
  3. ^ London Science Museum Archived 18 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Hofkirche website Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich(German)
  6. ^ Complete Genealogy of the House of Habsburg Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  7. ^ Genealogical Database by Herbert Stoyan Archived 19 June 2014 at Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Cymbarka Pias". Retrieved 25 May 2019.[self-published source]
  9. ^ AUSTRIA in Charles Crawley: Medieval Lands Retrieved 18 June 2014.
Cymburgis of Masovia
Born: 1394/1397 Died: 28 September 1429
Royal titles
Preceded by Duchess consort of Austria
25 January 1412 – 10 June 1424
Succeeded by