Cicignon was born in Luxembourg to a noble family. He has left lasting traces in Trondheim through the town plan that carries his name.
Facts about his early life are scarce, but he started a military career at an early age. In 1657 he was in service for Denmark, and early in the 1660s was the Commander of Bergenhus Fortress. Later he was in more active combat service, and excelled due to his great bravery.
In the war against Sweden, however, he was made a scapegoat after a losing battle at Lund in December 1676, and the next year, in accordance with his own wishes, he was returned to Norway, this time to Fredrikstad in southern Norway. As in Bergen he devoted himself eagerly to developing the fortifications, and he eventually gained a reputation as planner of fortifications in towns. After the devastating town fire in Trondheim in 1681, he was assigned to make a reconstruction plan which would take fire prevention into consideration. The outcome of this was the town's familiar square layout with broad streets. Cicignon also wanted to include a number of strategic military constructions as part of the plan, and Kristiansten Fortress is the most visible result of this.
In recent times questions have been raised as to how reasonable it is to link the town plan from 1681 so completely to Cicignon’s name. At any rate it is now common to let him share some of the honour with quartermaster general Anthony Coucheron, who also worked on this assignment. Cicignon lived his last years in Fredrikstad. Here he made it big in properties and more speculative financial business, dying a rich man in 1696.
Recommended reading: 300 år med Cicignon [300 years with Cicignon]. Trondhjems Historiske Forening, 1981.
Johan Caspar Cicignon