Rákóczi Zsigmond (1622-1652), the son of Prince Rákóczi György I

The younger son of the Transylvanian Prince Rákóczi György I. and Lorántffy Zsuzsanna, the younger brother of Prince Rákóczi György II. was born on July 14, 1622 in his parents’ castle in Sárospatak. He was the favorite child, more curious and friendly than his brother, and was liked by everyone. Like his brother, his parents gave him an excellent education and, unlike other aristocratic children, he attended the public school in Sárospatak.
The COA of the Rákóczi family
Then, in 1630, the life of the family changed dramatically. Their father became the prince of Transylvania, so they moved to Gyulafehérvár. Here the Rákóczi boys continued their studies privately. While György was being prepared to rule, Zsigmond’s future role was not yet clear. His parents still imagined him to be in charge of the family estate.
Prince Rákóczi György I and his wife, Lorántffy Zsuzsanna
He was a talented and interested student, a favorite of Johann Friedrich Bisterfeld, and a beloved child of his mother Lorántffy Zsuzsanna. We know from his letters that he was mainly interested in philosophy, but he also took part in diplomatic negotiations on Bisterfeld’s side.
The COA of Transylvania
He was a very observant, broadly educated, interested, winning, pleasant conversationalist, a gentle, kind man. His father’s ambitions set him on a new path in life. It was to be expected that when he became lord of the vast Rákóczi estates, with his brother’s princedom behind him, he would become a dominant figure among the Estates of the Kingdom of Hungary. He might even have become a king.
Rákóczi Zsigmond’s letter to his brother, György
In 1644, Prince Rákókzi György I launched a campaign against the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary, Ferdinand III, and invaded northern Hungary. His younger brother accompanied him. From 1643 Rákóczi Zsigmond was the general of the Székelys of Transylvania. In the anti-Habsburg campaign of 1644, he commanded a contingent. From 1647 he was governor of the seven Hungarian counties annexed to Transylvania.
The family lands and campaigns of Prince Rákóczi György I of Transylvania
However, the Sublime Porte ordered the troops of Prince Rákóczi György back, fearing that the unification of Transylvania and the Kingdom of Hungary would lead to the separation of the principality from the alliance of the Ottoman Empire. This gave Rákóczi a new determination. By placing his youngest son on the throne after the death of the ailing Polish king, Ulászló IV, the forces of Transylvania and Poland could be united against the Habsburgs.
Kolozsvár (Cluj, Klausenburg) in 1617 Available:https://hungarianottomanwars.myspreadshop.com/all

He needed allies for his plan, so his envoy, Mednyánszky Jónás, traveled to the German Protestant princely court to find a suitable wife for Zsigmond, someone pleasant-looking, no older than 18, not flirtatious or pompous, but with a good dynastic background. In the end, they chose Henrietta Pfalzi, daughter of the short-lived Czech king Frederick Pfalzi, which made the Rákóczi family related to the English Stuart dynasty. Henrietta was not particularly beautiful and was over 18, but marriage to her had considerable foreign policy advantages. The rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia, Sweden, and the Netherlands were also related to the princess.

Princess Henrietta Maria, Princess Palatine, Princess of Siebenbürgen, Transylvania (1626-1651) by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656). 
1648-ban az események újabb fordulatot vettek. Meghalt I. Rákóczi György, trónját idősebb fia, II. György foglalta el. Anyja és öccse visszaköltözött Sárospatakra, ahol Zsigmond a magyar belpolitika egyik kulcsfigurája lett. Ugyanebben az évben hunyt el IV. Ulászló is, azonban trónját öccse, János Kázmér szerezte meg. Zsigmond lengyel királyságának terve így egyelőre lekerült a napirendről, de nem végleg. Nemhogy nem került parkolópályára az élete, hanem épp most kezdett érdekessé válni személye.
Prince Rákóczi György II
Among the nobility of the Kingdom of Hungary, a group began to form which saw the liberation of Hungary from the Turks in the election of a national king. In 1649, with his support, they elected Pálffy Pál as Palatine of Hungary, a step that the Palatine never forgot to Rákóczi Zsigmond. The electoral circle around him, to which the young Zrínyi Miklós (Nikola Zrinski) belonged, wanted to see Zsigmond on the Hungarian throne. However, for the time being, the negotiations were conducted in secret, as such a move could mean a treason trial for the lords involved.
Transylvania in 1662

The wedding of Rákóczi Zsigmond and Henrietta Pfalz took place on June 26, 1651 (the symbolic wedding took place in March at the castle of Crossen), officiated by Jan Amos Komensky, the famous Czech pedagogue and scholar Comenius. Zsigmond seemed to have taken a liking to his young wife, who spoke only German.

It seemed that an anti-Habsburg alliance could be revived only a few years after the Thirty Years’ War, and the younger Rákóczi would have played an important role in this, negotiating with the envoy of the Swedish Queen Krisztina in Sárospatak in the fall of 1651, and even Pálffy Pál, the Palatine, offered him his support.
However, a smallpox or dysentery epidemic in the country soon put the princess, who was unaccustomed to the local climate, to bed. On the morning of September 28, Henrietta died.
Prince Rákóczi Ferenc, the son of Rákóczi György II
Zsigmond, who was still considered the future king of the nation, did not survive his young wife for long. On February 4, 1652, he also died of smallpox.
With this tragedy, the hopeful young destiny of the king was broken in two. Zrínyi, who soon assumed the role of the leader of the opposition to the nobility, now began to look to the elder Rákóczi György.
The gold of Prince Rákóczi György I (1646)
In fact, Prince Rákóczi György II, whose family had also been infected with smallpox, which led the Transylvanian Estates to elect his son Ferenc as prince at the end of February, did his best to break out of his role as a small vassal of the Porte. His Polish claim to the throne, inherited from his father and brother, finally drove him to a fatal campaign that led to his death and the destruction of Transylvania.
Source: Szibler Gábor and the Hungarian Wikipedia
The Kingdom of Hungary, the Principality of Transylvania, and the Ottoman lands in 1626

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