Sibylle of Cleves

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Sibylle of Cleves
Lucas Cranach d.Ä. - Bildnis der Prinzessin Sibylle von Cleve (1526, Klassik Stiftung Weimar).jpg
Sibylle of Cleves at the time of her betrothal to Electoral Prince John Frederick, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526.
Born (1512-01-17)17 January 1512
Died 21 February 1554(1554-02-21) (aged 42)
Burial St. Peter und Paul, Weimar
Spouse Johann Friedrich I, Elector of Saxony
Issue Johann Friedrich II, Duke of Saxony
Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar
Prince John Ernest of Saxony
John Frederick III the Younger, Duke of Saxony
House La Marck
Father Johann III, Duke of Cleves
Mother Maria of Jülich-Berg

Sibylle of Cleves (German: Sibylle von Jülich-Kleve-Berg) (17 January 1512 – 21 February 1554) was Electress consort of Saxony.

Born in Düsseldorf,[1] she was the eldest daughter of Johann III of the House of La Marck, Duke of Jülich jure uxoris, Cleves, Berg jure uxoris, Count of Mark, also known as de la Marck and Ravensberg jure uxoris (often referred to as Duke of Cleves) who died in 1538, and his wife Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg (1491–1543). Her younger siblings were two sisters, Anna (later Queen of England) and Amalia, and a brother, Wilhelm, who became in Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, bearing the promising epithet "The Rich".


In September 1526, Sibylle was betrothed to Electoral Prince Johann Friedrich of Saxony in the Schloss Burg an der Wupper. After lengthy negotiations about the dowry, the lavish wedding ceremony, preceded by an elaborate procession, took place in Torgau on 9 February 1527. They had four sons:

After the death of his father in 1532, Johann Friedrich became Elector of Saxony and Sibylle the Electress consort.

The correspondence between Sibylle and her husband during his captivity as consequence of the Schmalkaldic War, showed a devoted and intimate couple. In the meanwhile, during the siege of Wittenberg, the Electress protected the city in her husband's absence. To save his wife and sons, and to prevent Wittenberg from being destroyed, Johann Friedrich conceded the Capitulation of Wittenberg, and resigned the government of his country in favour of Maurice of Saxony.

In 1552, after five years of captivity, the deposed Elector was finally reunited with his family. However, the reunion was short-lived: in 1554 both Sibylle and Johann Friedrich I died within a month of each other. They were buried in the City Church of Weimar.

Like her husband, Sibylle was a staunch supporter of the Reformation. The Thuringian reformer Justus Menius dedicated to her the mirrors for princes writing Oeconomia Christiana.

Portrait of Electoral Princess Sibylle of Saxony, by Lucas Cranach, 1531.


  1. ^ At the time, the area was in the Duchy of Berg.


  • Faith and Power: Saxony in Europe during the Reformation period, Dresden 2004, p. 149.
  • Joachim Bauer/Dagmar Blaha: The deaths of John Frederick and his wife Sibylle, in: Sächsische Heimatblätter 50 (2004), vol. I, pp. 78–84.
  • Carl August Hugo Burkhardt: Letters of Sybille of Jülich-Cleves-Berg to her husband John Frederick the Magnanimous, Elector of Saxony, in: Journal of the Berg Historical Society, vol. V, 1868, pp. 1–184.
  • Sylvia Weigelt: "The men pleasure and joy to be": women to Luther. Wartburg 2011.
  • Heinrich Theodor Flathe: Electress of Saxony, in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). vol. 34, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1892, p. 141.

External links[edit]

Sibylle of Cleves
Born: 17 January 1512 Died: 21 February 1554
Title last held by
Elisabeth of Bavaria
Electress of Saxony
16 August 1532 – 24 April 1547
Succeeded by
Agnes of Hesse