German epic poem
(German: “Song of the Nibelungs”) Main
Middle High German epic poem written about 1200 by an unknown Austrian
from the Danube region. It is preserved in three main 13th-century
manuscripts, A (now in Munich), B (St. Gall), and C (Donaueschingen);
modern scholarship regards B as the most trustworthy. An early Middle
High German title of the work is Der Nibelunge Not (“The Nibelung
Distress”), from the last line of the poem. The superscription on one of
the manuscripts from the early 14th century is “The Book of Kriemhild.”
The story has a long history and, as a result, contains a number of
disparate elements. For example, the word Nibelung itself presents
difficulties. In the first part of the poem, it appears as the name of
Siegfried’s lands and peoples and his treasure, but, throughout the
second, it is an alternate name for the Burgundians.
The poem’s content falls into two parts. It begins with two cantos
(aventiuren) that introduce, respectively, Kriemhild, a Burgundian
princess of Worms, and Siegfried, a prince from the lower Rhine.
Siegfried is determined to woo Kriemhild despite his parents’ warning.
When he arrives in Worms, he is identified by Hagen, a henchman of
Kriemhild’s brother King Gunther. Hagen then recounts Siegfried’s former
heroic deeds, including the acquisition of a treasure. When war is
declared by the Danes and Saxons, Siegfried offers to lead the
Burgundians and distinguishes himself in battle. Upon his return, he
meets Kriemhild for the first time, and their affections develop during
his residence at court.
At this point a new element is introduced. News reaches the court
that a queen of outstanding strength and beauty may be won only by a man
capable of matching her athletic prowess. Gunther decides to woo
Brunhild with the aid of Siegfried, to whom he promises the hand of
Kriemhild if successful. Siegfried leads the expedition to Brunhild’s
abode, where he presents himself as Gunther’s vassal. In the ensuing
contests, Gunther goes through the motions of deeds actually performed
by Siegfried in a cloak of invisibility. When Brunhild is defeated, she
accepts Gunther as her husband. Siegfried and Kriemhild are then married
as promised, but Brunhild remains suspicious and dissatisfied. Soon the
two queens quarrel; Brunhild ridicules Kriemhild for marrying a vassal,
and Kriemhild reveals Siegfried’s and Gunther’s deception.
Now Hagen becomes a prominent figure as he sides with Brunhild and
takes the initiative in plotting vengeance. He wins Kriemhild’s
confidence and learns Siegfried’s one vulnerable spot and then strikes
the fatal blow.
During these events, Brunhild drops almost unnoticed out of the
story, and the death of Siegfried does not appear to be so much
vengeance on her part as an execution by Hagen, who is suspicious of
Siegfried’s growing power. Siegfried’s funeral is conducted with great
ceremony, and the grief-stricken Kriemhild remains at Worms, though for
a long time estranged from Gunther and Hagen. Later they are reconciled
in order to make use of Siegfried’s treasure, which is brought to Worms.
Kriemhild begins to distribute it, but Hagen, fearing that her influence
will grow, sinks the treasure in the Rhine.
The second part of the poem is much simpler in structure and deals
basically with the conflict between Hagen and Kriemhild and her
vengeance against the Burgundians. Etzel (Attila), king of the Huns,
asks the hand of Kriemhild, who accepts, seeing the possibilities of
vengeance in such a union. After many years, she persuades Etzel to
invite her brothers and Hagen to his court. Though Hagen is wary, they
all go to Etzel’s court, where general combat and complete carnage
ensues. Kriemhild has Gunther killed and then, with Siegfried’s sword,
she slays the bound and defenseless Hagen, who to the last has refused
to reveal where Siegfried’s treasure is hidden. Kriemhild in turn is
slain by a knight named Hildebrand, who is outraged at the atrocities
that she has just committed.
In the Nibelungenlied some elements of great antiquity are
discernible. The story of Brunhild appears in Old Norse literature. The
brief references to the heroic deeds of Siegfried allude to several
ancient stories, many of which are preserved in the Scandinavian Poetic
Edda (see Edda), Vǫlsunga saga, and Thidriks saga, in which Siegfried is
called Sigurd. The entire second part of the story, the fall of the
Burgundians, appears in an older Eddaic poem, Atlakvida (“Lay of Atli”;
see Atli, Lay of). Yet the Nibelungenlied does not appear to be a mere
joining of individual stories but, rather, an integration of component
elements into a meaningful whole.
It is the second part of the poem that suggests the title “The Book
of Kriemhild.” The destruction of the Burgundians (Nibelungen) is her
deliberate purpose. The climax of the first part, the death of her
husband, Siegfried, prepares the ground for the story of her vengeance.
Furthermore, Kriemhild is the first person introduced in the story,
which ends with her death; and all through the story predominating
attention is paid to Hagen. This concentration on Kriemhild and on the
enmity between her and Hagen would seem to suggest that it was the
poet’s intention to stress the theme of Kriemhild’s vengeance.
The Nibelungenlied was written at a time in medieval German
literature when the current emphasis was on the “courtly” virtues of
moderation and refinement of taste and behaviour. The Nibelungenlied,
with its displays of violent emotion and its uncompromising emphasis on
vengeance and honour, by contrast looks back to an earlier period and
bears the mark of a different origin—the heroic literature of the
Teutonic peoples at the time of their great migrations. The poem’s basic
subject matter also goes back to that period, for it is probable that
the story of the destruction of the Burgundians was originally inspired
by the overthrow of the Burgundian kingdom at Worms by the Huns in ad
437, and the story of Brunhild and Siegfried may have been inspired by
events in the history of the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks in about
ad 600. Much of the heroic quality of the original stories has remained
in the poem, particularly in the author’s conception of Hagen as the
relentless protector of King Gunther’s honour.
Probably no literary work has given more to Germanic arts than the
Nibelungenlied. Many variations and adaptations appeared in later
centuries. The most significant modern adaptation is Richard Wagner’s
famous opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (1853–74).
The Ring of the Nibelung illustrations by Arthur Rackham
Type of work: Saga
Type of plot: Heroic epic
Time of plot: The Germanic legend, with the Burgundian story
added from historical events of about 437
Locale: North Central Europe
First transcribed: c. 1200
Chief among the battle sagas of Germanic peoples, The
Nibelungenlied has merged and remerged with countless other legends and
myths. In it are echoes of the ancient worship of the pagan gods along
with elements of Christian ritual, as well as tales, like the battle of
Siegfried and the dragon, that go back to prehistoric myths. Even in the
modern era, the saga persists in poetry, music, and fiction.
Siegfried (seg'fred), a prince of Niderland whose heroic achievements
include the winning of the great treasure hoard of the Nibelung. Having
bathed in the blood of a dragon he slew, Siegfried is invulnerable
except for a spot between his shoulders where a linden leaf had fallen.
He goes to Burgundy and there wins Kriemhild as his wife. Later he is
treacherously killed by a Burgundian knight.
Kriemhild (krem'hild), the beautiful sister of the king of Burgundy. She
marries Siegfried, and is subsequently tricked into revealing the secret
of his vulnerability. After a long period of widowhood and mourning, she
becomes the wife of the king of the Huns. Still seeking vengeance for
Siegfried's death, she invites the whole Burgundian court to Hunland. In
the final bloody combat all the Bur-gundians are killed, and Kriemhild
herself is slain by her husband's order.
Gunther (goon'ter), king of Burgundy. He promises that Siegfried shall
marry Kriemhild in return for aiding him in winning Brunhild. With
Siegfried's aid. Gunther overcomes Brunhild in her required feats of
skill and strength. After the double wedding, Siegfried is again needed
to impersonate Gunther in subduing Brunhild, who has determined never to
let Gunther share her bed. Gunther is killed in the final blood bath in
Brunhild (broon'hild), the daughter of Wotan, won by Gunther with
Siegfried's help. Wishing to see Siegfried again, she plans a hunting
party to which he and Kriemhild are invited. A great rivalry develops
between the women; Kriemhild takes revenge by telling Brunhild the true
story of her wedding night. Though Gunther and Siegfried settle the
quarrel to their own satisfaction, it becomes a source of trouble among
Hagen (ha'gen), a retainer of the Burgundians and a crafty and
troublemaking knight. It is he who slays Siegfried. Hoping to get the
Nibelungen treasure, now Kriemhild's, for himself, he orders it dropped
into the Rhine. He is slain by Kriemhild herself and with him dies the
secret of the treasure's hiding place.
Gernot (gar'not) and Giselher (ge'se-ler), brothers of Kriemhild and
Gunther. Convinced by Hagen that Siegfried has stained the honor of
their house, they plot with Hagen to kill him. Later they fall victim to
Etzel (at'sal), also known as Attila, king of the Huns and Kriemhild's
Ortlieb (ort'leb), Kriemhild's small son. Etzel gives him to the
Burgundians as a hostage, and he is killed by Hagen when the fighting
Dank wart (dank'vart), the brother of Hagen. He too is killed in Hunland.
Sir Dietrich (det'rish), a knight who warns the Burgundians that
Kriemhild still plots vengeance. As a result, they refuse to give up
Sir Bloedel (blo'dal), a knight who comes to Dank-wart's quarters
demanding vengeance for Kriemhild. He is killed by Dankwart and thus the
final bloody combat begins.
Iring (I'ring), one of Kriemhild's heroes.
Hildebrand (hel'de-brand), a retainer of Etzel. At a sign from Etzel, he
ends Kriemhild's life.
Hunold (hoo'nold), a Burgundian hero.
Queen Uta (oo'ta), the mother of Kriemhild.
King Siegmund (seg'moond), the father of Siegfried.
Queen Sieglind (seg'lind), the mother of Siegfried.
Ludger lood'ger), king of the Saxons. After spending a year in the
Burgundian court, Siegfried aids Gunther in overcoming the Saxons. In
the celebrations that follow, Ludger sees Kriemhild for the first time.
Gelfrat (galf'rat), a Burgundian slain by Dankwart in a quarrel at the
start of the journey to Hunland. This and other evil omens are ignored.
Albric (al'brik), a dwarf from whom Siegfried won the cloak of
In Burgundy there lived a noble family which numbered three brothers and
a sister. The sons were Gunther, who wore the crown, Gernot, and
Giselher; the daughter was Kriemhild. About them was a splendid court of
powerful and righteous knights, including Hagen of Trony, his brother
Dankwart, and mighty Hunold. Kriemhild dreamed one night that she reared
a falcon which then was slain by two eagles. When she told her dream to
Queen Uta, her mother's interpretation was that Kriemhild should have a
noble husband but that unless God's protection followed him he might
Siegfried was born in Niderland, the son of King Sieg-mund and Queen
Sieglind. In his young manhood he heard of the beautiful Kriemhild, and,
although he had never seen her, he determined to have her for his wife.
Undeterred by reports of her fierce and warlike kinsmen, he made his
armor ready for his venture. Friends came from all parts of the country
to bid him farewell, and many of them accompanied him as retainers into
King Gunther's land. When he arrived at Gunther's court, Hagen, who knew
his fame, told the brothers the story of Siegfried's first success,
relating how Siegfried had killed great heroes and had won the hoard of
the Nibe-lung, a treasure of so much gold and jewels that five score
wagons could not carry all of it. He also told how Siegfried had won the
cloak of invisibility from the dwarf Albric and how Siegfried had become
invisible from having bathed in the blood of a dragon he had slain.
Gunther and his brothers admitted Siegfried to their hall after they had
heard of his exploits, and the hero stayed with them a year. In all that
time, however, he did not once see Kriemhild.
The Saxons led by King Ludger threatened to overcome the kingdom of the
Burgundians. Siegfried pledged to use his forces in overcoming the
Saxons, and in the battle he led his knights and Gunther's troops to a
great victory. In the following days there were great celebrations at
which Queen Uta and her daughter Kriemhild appeared in public. On one of
these occasions Siegfried and Kriemhild met and became betrothed.
King Gunther, wanting to marry Brunhild, Wotan's daughter, told
Siegfried that if he would help him win Brunhild then he might wed
Kriemhild. Gunther set out at the head of a great expedition, all of his
knights decked in costly garments in order to impress Brunhild. Her
choice for a husband, however, was not for a well-dressed prince but for
a hero. She declared that the man who would win her must surpass her in
feats of skill and strength. With Siegfried's aid Gunther overcame
Brunhild, and she agreed to go with Gunther as his wife.
Siegfried was sent on ahead to announce a great celebration in honor of
the coming marriage of Gunther to Brunhild. A double ceremony took
place, with Kriemhild becoming the bride of Siegfried at the same time.
At the wedding feast Brunhild burst into tears at the sight of Kriemhild
and Siegfried together. Gunther tried to explain away her unhappiness,
but once more, Gunther needed Siegfried's aid, for Brunhild had
determined never to let Gunther share her bed. Siegfried went to her
chamber and there overpowered her. Thinking she had been overcome by
Gunther, she was thus subdued to Gunther's wit and will.
Brunhild bore a son, who was named for Siegfried. As time passed she
wished once more to see Siegfried, who had returned with Kriemhild to
his own country. Therefore, she instructed Gunther to plan a great
hunting party to which Siegfried and Kriemhild should be invited.
At the meeting of the two royal families, there was great rivalry
between Brunhild and Kriemhild. They vied with each other by
overdressing their attendants and then argued as to the place each
should have in the royal procession. Finally, Kriemhild took revenge
when she told Brunhild the true story of her wedding night. Accusing
Brunhild of acting the part of a harlot, she said that Brunhild had
slept first with Siegfried, then with her husband, Gunther. For proof,
she displayed Brunhild's ring and girdle, both of which Siegfried had
won from Brunhild the night he had overcome her. Brunhild, furious and
desirous of revenge, sought out her husband and confronted him with the
story of her humiliation and betrayal.
Gunther and Siegfried soon settled to their own satisfaction the wanton
quarrel between the two women, but Hagen, the crafty one, stirred up
trouble among Gunther's brothers with his claim that Siegfried had
stained the honor of their house, and then plotted to trap Siegfried and
destroy him. When it was reported that the Saxons were to attack
Gunther's knights, Kriemhild unwittingly revealed Siegfried's one
vulnerable spot. While bathing in the dragon's blood, he had failed to
protect a portion of his body the size of a linden leaf because a leaf
had fallen down between his shoulders. The villainous Hagen asked her to
sew a token on the spot so that he could protect Siegfried during the
Hagen sent men to say that the Saxons had given up the attack. Then, the
fear of battle over, Gunther rode out to hunt with all of his knights.
There, deep in the forest, as Siegfried was bending over a spring to
drink, he was struck in the fatal spot by an arrow from Hagen's bow.
Before he died Siegfried cursed the Burgundians and their tribe forever.
Indifferent to the dying man's curse, Hagen carried home the body of the
He placed Siegfried's body in the path where Kriemhild would see it on
her way to church, but a chamberlain discovered the body before she
passed. Kriemhild knew instinctively whose hand had done the deed. A
thousand knights headed by Siegmund, his father, mourned the dead hero,
and everyone claimed vengeance. The widow gave vast sums of money to the
poor in honor of Siegfried. When Siegmund prepared to leave for
Niderland, he asked Kriemhild to go with him. She refused but allowed
him to take Siegfried's son with him. She was determined to stay with
the Burgundians. Queen Brunhild, however, offered no compassion. The
Nibelungen hoard was given to Kriemhild, for it was her wedding gift;
however, by order of Hagen, who planned to get possession of the
treasure, all of it was dropped to the bottom of the Rhine. In the years
that followed Kriemhild remained in mourning for Siegfried.
At last the mighty Etzel, king of the Huns, sought to marry Kriemhild.
After a long courtship he won Kriemhild and took her to his land to be
his wife. Etzel was rich and strong, and after her long years of
mourning, Kriemhild again occupied a position of power and honor. Now
she began to consider how she might avenge herself for the death of
Siegfried. Hoping to get Hagen in her power, she sent a messenger to her
brothers, saying that she longed to see all of them again.
When they received her message, the brothers and Hagen set out. Old
Queen Uta told them that in a dream she had seen a vision of dire
foreboding, but the Burgundians refused to heed her warning.
Furthermore, Hagen received a token from some mermaidens, who said none
of the knights would return from Hunland. He disregarded the prediction.
Then a quarrel broke out among the Burgundians, and Dankwart slew
Gelfrat. Three evil omens now attended the coming journey, but still the
brothers refused to turn back. At last the Burgundians came to Etzel's
Gunther and his brothers were put into separate apartments. Dankwart and
Hagen were sent to other quarters. Warned by Sir Dietrich that Kriemhild
still plotted vengeance for Siegfried's death, Hagen urged them all to
take precautions. When Kriemhild asked them to give her their weapons,
Hagen replied that it could not be. The Burgundians decided to post a
guard to prevent a surprise attack while they slept.
The court went to mass. At the services the Huns were displeased to see
that Gunther and his party jostled Queen Kriemhild.
In honor of the Burgundians, a great tournament was held for all the
knights. So bad was the feeling between the Burgundians and the Huns
that King Etzel was forced to intervene in order to keep the peace. To
appease the brothers, Etzel gave them Kriemhild's small son, Ortlieb, as
a hostage. Sir Bloedel, however, pressed into Dank-wart's quarters
demanding justice for Kriemhild.
In a few minutes he had aroused the anger of Dankwart, who rose from his
table and killed Bloedel. For this deed the angered Huns killed
Dankwart's retainers. Dankwart, at bay, ran to Hagen for help. Hagen,
knowing that he would not live to seek his vengeance on Kriemhild later,
slaughtered the little prince, Ortlieb. Then a mighty battle followed in
which Hagen and Gunther managed to kill most of their adversaries.
Kriemhild now urged her heroes to kill Hagen. The first to take up the
challenge was Iring. After he had wounded Hagen, he rushed back to
Kriemhild for praise. Hagen recovered quickly and sought Iring to kill
The battle continued, and many knights from both sides fell in the
bloody combat. Outnumbered, the Burgundians fell one by one. Kriemhild
herself slew Hagen, the last of the Burgundians to survive. He died
without revealing the location of the treasure.
King Etzel grieved to see so many brave knights killed. At a sign from
him, Hildebrand, one of his retainers, lifted his sword and ended the
life of Kriemhild as well.
So died the secret of the new hiding place of the Nibelungen treasure
The material which forms the subject matter of the Germanic heroic epics
is derived from historical events which became part of an oral tradition
and were passed down, sometimes for centuries, in the form of sagas,
before being established in written form. The historical events which
lie behind the Nibelung saga are to be found in the fifth and sixth
centuries, the period of the tribal wanderings at the end of the Roman
Empire. The Burgundians, under King Gundahari, whose capital was at
Worms, were in fact destroyed by the Huns in 437. The Siegfried figure
is probably of Merovingian origin and may derive from an intermarriage
between the Burgun-dian and Frankish royal houses. The record of these
events, mingled with purely legendary elements, is preserved in a number
of works: Besides The Nibelungenlied, the Scandinavian Poetic Edda
(ninth to twelfth centuries) is the most important. It was upon this
latter source rather than the Germanic version that Richard Wagner based
his four-part music drama, The Ring of the Nibelung (1876). There are
four main themes in the saga tradition: the adventures of the young
Siegfried, Siegfried's death, the destruction of the Burgundians, and
the death of Attila. These elements occurred as separate works in the
early stages of composition. In the present version of the saga composed
by an anonymous German author around the year 1200, the various elements
are woven together into a unified plot, linking the death of Siegfried
with the destruction of the Burgundians through the motive of revenge.
Traces of the older separate versions are evident, however, in such
inner inconsistencies as the transformation of the character of
Kriemhild, who appears initially as a model courtly figure but becomes
the bloodthirsty avenger of her husband's death in the second part. It
is a mark of the artistic talent of the anonymous author that he fuses
the core episodes with such care and achieves a plausible and
aesthetically satisfying work.
The Nibelungenlied is the product of the brilliant period of the
Hohenstaufen dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire, a time when the courtly
culture of Germany was at its height. The poet was probably of Austrian
origin: The importance of the splendid court at Vienna and the noble
figure of Bishop Pilgrim of Passau indicate that the poet may have
enjoyed the patronage of these courts. That the poet remains anonymous
is a tradition of the heroic epic form, evolving from the anonymous
court singer of the wandering Germanic tribes. Whereas the writers of
Arthurian epics and religious epics name themselves and often discuss
their work in a prologue, the composer of the heroic epic remains
outside his work, presenting his material more as history and without
the self-conscious comments and digressions found in works such as Par-zival
(c. 1200-1210) or Tristan and Isolde (c. 1210), both of whose poets name
themselves and go into some detail regarding their intentions and
artistic conceptions. The work, written in four-line stanzas, bears the
signs of its history of oral presentation—frequent repetition of rhyme
words, the use of formulaic descriptions and filler lines, and general
looseness of composition. The poem was not conceived as a written work
but represents a written record of an oral performance tradition. Even
after assuming written form, the work would be read aloud to an
audience, books being a scarce and expensive commodity in this period.
The purpose of the work, like that of courtly poetry in general, was to
mirror courtly society in its splendor, color, and activity and to
present within that framework images of an idealized world in which
larger-than-life figures act out the social rituals of the time and
provide for the audience models of courtly behavior, of honor,
fortitude, and noble bearing under great stress. Repeatedly in the work
one observes long passages devoted to description of the court
festivities—banquets, tournaments, processions—all filled with details
of clothing and jewelry, splendid utensils, and weapons. Questions of
etiquette and precedence provide some of the central conflicts of the
work, while the lyrical episodes of the love between Siegfried and
Kriemhild may be seen as an embodiment of the idealized conception of
love celebrated by the Minnesanger. Although the grim events of the old
dramatic saga material at times conflict with the more cultivated ideal
of the thirteenth century, the poet succeeds even here in transforming
the traditional material. Elements related to fairy-tale tradition—the
stories of Siegfried's youth, the battle with the dragon, the magic aura
surrounding Brunhild on her island—are largely suppressed.
The idealizing elements are developed, both in the first part, where
Siegfried and Kriemhild stand out brightly against the menacing forces
of the Burgundian court, especially Hagen, and in the second part,
where, despite the atmosphere of betrayal and carnage, the high points
are moments of fortitude and courage and the preservation of ethical
integrity. Rudiger, who finds himself torn between feudal loyalty to
King Etzel and his loyalty to and friendship with the Burgundians, to
one of whom his daughter is engaged, is one of the greatest of these
figures. The episode in which he finds himself obliged to fight against
the Burgundian Gernot, to whom he has given the sword which now will
kill him, is one of the most poignant scenes in the work.
The chain of crime and revenge finds cessation and resolution only in
the lament for the fallen warriors, and it is in this tragic sense of
the inevitable suffering that follows joy that the work preserves its
links to the ancient Germanic heroic outlook, establishing its
individuality against the more generally optimistic outlook of the
Arthurian sagas. Here the fatalistic confrontation with destructive
forces is opposed to the affirmation of order and the delight of life
typical of much literature of the Hohenstaufen period. It is the tension
between these two attitudes that provides much of the power of the work
and lifts it into the realm of universal validity.
Daniel B. Shumway
Illustrations by Arthur Rackham
THE NIBELUNGENLIED 
ADVENTURE I 
Full many a wonder is told us in stories old, of heroes worthy of
praise, of hardships dire, of joy and feasting, of the fighting of bold
warriors, of weeping and of wailing; now ye may hear wonders told.
In Burgundy there grew so noble a maid that in all the lands none
fairer might there be. Kriemhild  was she called; a comely woman she
became, for whose sake many a knight must needs lose his life. Well
worth the loving was this winsome maid. Bold knights strove for her,
none bare her hate. Her peerless body was beautiful beyond degree; the
courtly virtues of this maid of noble birth would have adorned many
another woman too.
Three kings, noble and puissant, did nurture her, Gunther  and
Gernot,  warriors worthy of praise, and Giselher,  the youth, a
chosen knight. This lady was their sister, the princes had her in their
care. The lordings were free in giving, of race high-born, passing bold
of strength were they, these chosen knights. Their realm hight Burgundy.
Great marvels they wrought hereafter in Etzel's  land. At Worms 
upon the Rhine they dwelt with all their power. Proud knights from out
their lands served them with honor, until their end was come. Thereafter
they died grievously, through the hate of two noble dames.
Their mother, a mighty queen, was called the Lady Uta,  their
father, Dankrat,  who left them the heritage after his life was
over; a mighty man of valor that he was, who won thereto in youth
worship full great. These kings, as I have said, were of high prowess.
To them owed allegiance the best of warriors, of whom tales were ever
told, strong and brave, fearless in the sharp strife. Hagen  there
was of Troneg, thereto his brother Dankwart,  the doughty; Ortwin of
Metz ; Gere  and Eckewart,  the margraves twain; Folker of
Alzei,  endued with fullness of strength. Rumolt  was master of
the kitchen, a chosen knight; the lords Sindolt and Hunolt, liegemen of
these three kings, had rule of the court and of its honors. Thereto had
they many a warrior whose name I cannot tell. Dankwart was marshal; his
nephew, Ortwin, seneschal unto the king; Sindolt was cupbearer, a chosen
knight; Hunolt served as chamberlain; well they wot how to fill these
lofty stations. Of the forces of the court and its far-reaching might,
of the high worship  and of the chivalry these lords did ply with
joy throughout their life, of this forsooth none might relate to you the
In the midst of these high honors Kriemhild dreamed a dream, of how
she trained a falcon, strong, fair, and wild, which, before her very
eyes, two eagles rent to pieces. No greater sorrow might chance to her
in all this world. This dream then she told to Uta her mother, who could
not unfold it to the dutiful maid in better wise than this: "The falcon
which thou trainest, that is a noble man, but thou must needs lose him
soon, unless so be that God preserve him."
"Why speakest thou to me of men, dear brother mine? I would fain ever
be without a warrior's love. So fair will I remain until my death, that
I shall never gain woe from love of man."
"Now forswear this not too roundly," spake the mother in reply. "If
ever thou shalt wax glad of heart in this world, that will chance
through the love of man. Passing fair wilt thou become, if God grant
thee a right worthy knight."
"I pray you leave this speech," spake she, "my lady. Full oft hath it
been seen in many a wife, how joy may at last end in sorrow. I shall
avoid them both, then can it ne'er go ill with me."
Thus in her heart Kriemhild forsware all love. Many a happy day
thereafter the maiden lived without that she wist any whom she would
care to love. In after days she became with worship a valiant here's
bride. He was the selfsame falcon which she beheld in her dream that her
mother unfolded to her. How sorely did she avenge this upon her nearest
kin, who slew him after! Through his dying alone there fell full many a
 "Nibelungenlied", the lay of the Nibelungs. The ordinary
etymology of this name is 'children of the mist' ("Nebelkinder", O.N.
"Niflungar"), and it is thought to have belonged originally to the
dwarfs. Piper, I, 50, interprets it as 'the sons of Nibul'; Boer, II,
198, considers "Hniflungar" to be the correct Norse form and interprets
it as 'the descendants of Hnaef' (O.E. "Hnaef", O.H.G. "Hnabi"), whose
death is related in the "Finnsaga".
 "Adventure" (M.H.G. "aventiure", from O.F. "aventure", Lat.
"adventura"). The word meant originally a happening, especially some
great event, then the report of such an event. Here it is used in the
sense of the different cantos or "fitts" of the poem, as in the "Gudrun"
and other M.H.G. epics. Among the courtly poets it also frequently
denotes the source, or is the personification of the muse of poetry.
 "Kriemhild" is the Upper German form of the Frankish "Grimhild".
In the MSS., the name generally appears with a further shifting as
"Chriemhilt", as if the initial consonant were Germanic "k". On the
various forms of the name, which have never yet been satisfactorily
explained, see Mullenhoff, ZsfdA. xii, 299, 413; xv, 313; and
Bohnenberger, PB. Beit. xxiv, 221-231.
 "Gunther" is the historical "Gundahari", king of the Burgundians
in the fifth century.
 "Gernot" was probably introduced by some minstrel in place of the
historical "Godomar", who appears in the Norse version as "Gutthormr",
though the names are not etymologically the same, as "Godomar" would be
"Guthmarr" in Old Norse.
 "Giselher" is the historical "Gislaharius". Although mentioned by
the "Lex Burgundionum" as one of the Burgundian kings, he does not
appear in the early Norse version, or in other poems dealing with these
persons, such as the "Waltharius", the "Rabenschlacht", the
"Rosengarten", etc., and was probably introduced at a late date into the
saga. Originally no role was ascribed to him, and not even his death is
told. He probably came from some independent source.
 "Etzel" is the German form for the historical "Attila" (Norse
"Atli"). A discussion of his connection with the saga will be found in
 "Worms" is the ancient "Borbetomagus", which in the first century
B.C. was the chief city of the German tribe of the "Vangioni". In the
fifth century it was the capital of the Burgundian kingdom, but was
destroyed by the Huns. The Merovingians rebuilt it, and in the seventh
century it became a bishopric where Charlemagne at times held his court.
It was later noted as the meeting-place of many imperial diets. It
remained a free city till 1801. In the "Thidreksaga" the name is
corrupted into "Wernize".
 "Uta" (M.H.G. "Uote"). The name means ancestress, and is
frequently used for the mother of heroes. The modern German form is
"Ute", but in order to insure its being pronounced with two syllables,
the form "Uta" was chosen.
 "Dankrat" (M.H.G. "Dancrat") appears as the father only in the
"Nibelungenlied" and poems dependent on it, e.g., the "Klage" and
"Biterolf", elsewhere as "Gibiche" (Norse "Giuki").
 "Hagen of Troneg". Troneg is probably a corruption of the name
of the Latin colony, "colonia Trajana", on the Lower Rhine, which as
early as the fifth century was written as "Troja", giving rise to the
legend that the Franks were descended from the ancient Trojans. "Troja"
was then further corrupted to "Tronje" and "Tronege". Hagen was
therefore originally a Frank and had no connection with the Burgundian
kings, as the lack of alliteration also goes to show. Boer thinks that
not Siegfried but Hagen originally lived at Xanten (see note 3 to
Adventure II), as this was often called Troja Francorum. When the Hagen
story was connected with the Burgundians and Hagen became either their
brother or their vassal, his home was transferred to Worms and Siegfried
was located at Xanten, as he had no especial localization. Thus
Siegfried is never called Siegfried of Troneg, as is Hagen. Other
attempts to explain Troneg will be found in Piper, I, 48.
 "Dankwart" is not an historical character nor one that belonged
to the early form of the legend. He may have come from another saga,
where he played the principal role as Droege (ZsfdA. 48, 499) thinks.
Boer considers him to be Hagen's double, invented to play a part that
would naturally fall to Hagen's share, were he not otherwise engaged at
the moment. In our poem he is called "Dancwart der snelle", a word that
has proved a stumbling-block to translators, because in modern German it
means 'speedy', 'swift'. Its original meaning was, however, 'brave',
'warlike', although the later meaning is already found in M.H.G. In all
such doubtful cases the older meaning has been preferred, unless the
context forbids, and the word 'doughty' has been chosen to translate it.
 "Ortwin of Metz" appears also in the "Eckenlied", "Waltharius",
and in "Biterolf". He is most likely a late introduction (but see Piper,
I, 44). Rieger thinks that he belonged to a wealthy family "De Metis".
Though the "i" is long in the original, and Simrock uses the form
"Ortewein" in his translation, the spelling with short "i" has been
chosen, as the lack of accent tends to shorten the vowel in such names.
 "Gere" is likewise a late introduction. He is perhaps the
historical Margrave Gere (965) of East Saxony, whom Otto the Great
appointed as a leader against the Slavs. See O. von Heinemann, "Markgraf
Gero", Braunschweig, 1860, and Piper, L 43.
 "Eckewart" is also a late accession. He is perhaps the
historical margrave of Meissen (1002), the first of the name. He, too,
won fame in battle against the Slavs.
 "Folker of Alzet" (M.H.G. "Volker von Alzeije"), the knightly
minstrel, is hardly an historical personage, in spite of the fact that
Alzey is a well-known town in Rhine Hesse on the Selz, eighteen miles
southwest of Mainz. The town has, to be sure, a violin in its coat of
arms, as also the noble family of the same name. It is most likely,
however, that this fact caused Folker to be connected with Alzei. In the
"Thidreksaga" Folker did not play the role of minstrel, and it is
probable that some minstrel reviser of our poem developed the character
and made it the personification of himself.
 "Rumolt", "Bindolt", and "Hunolt" have no historical basis and
merely help to swell the retinue of the Burgundians.
 "Worship". This word has been frequently used here in its older
meaning of 'worth', 'reverence', 'respect', to translate the M.H.G.
In the Netherlands there grew the child of a noble king (his father had
for name Siegemund,  his mother Siegelind),  in a mighty castle,
known far and wide, in the lowlands of the Rhine: Xanten,  men called
it. Of this hero I sing, how fair he grew. Free he was of every blemish.
Strong and famous he later became, this valiant man. Ho! What great
worship he won in this world! Siegfried hight this good and doughty
knight. Full many kingdoms did he put to the test through his warlike
mood. Through his strength of body he rode into many lands. Ho! What
bold warriors he after found in the Burgundian land! Mickle wonders
might one tell of Siegfried in his prime, in youthful days; what honors
he received and how fair of body he. The most stately women held him in
their love; with the zeal which was his due men trained him. But of
himself what virtues he attained! Truly his father's lands were honored,
that he was found in all things of such right lordly mind. Now was he
become of the age that he might ride to court. Gladly the people saw
him, many a maid wished that his desire might ever bear him hither. Enow
gazed on him with favor; of this the prince was well aware. Full seldom
was the youth allowed to ride without a guard of knights. Siegmund and
Siegelind bade deck him out in brave attire. The older knights who were
acquaint with courtly custom, had him in their care. Well therefore
might he win both folk and land.
Now he was of the strength that he bare weapons well. Whatever he
needed thereto, of this he had enow. With purpose he began to woo fair
ladies; these bold Siegfried courted well in proper wise. Then bade
Siegmund have cried to all his men, that he would hold a feasting with
his loving kindred. The tidings thereof men brought into the lands of
other kings. To the strangers and the home-folk he gave steeds and
armor. Wheresoever any was found who, because of his birth, should
become a knight, these noble youths were summoned to the land for the
feasting. Here with the youthful prince they gained the knightly sword.
Wonders might one tell of this great feast;
Siegmund and Siegelind wist well how to gain great worship with their
gifts, of which their hands dealt out great store. Wherefore one beheld
many strangers riding to their realm. Four hundred sword-thanes  were
to put on knightly garb with Siegfried. Many a fair maid was aught but
idle with the work, for he was beloved of them all. Many precious stones
the ladies inlaid on the gold, which together with the edging they would
work upon the dress of the proud young warriors, for this must needs be
The host bade make benches for the many valiant men, for the
midsummer festival,  at which Siegfried should gain the name of
knight. Then full many a noble knight and many a high-born squire did
hie them to the minster. Right were the elders in that they served the
young, as had been done to them afore. Pastimes they had and hope of
much good cheer. To the honor of God a mass was sung; then there rose
from the people full great a press, as the youths were made knights in
courtly wise, with such great honors as might not ever lightly be again.
Then they ran to where they found saddled many a steed. In Siegmund's
court the hurtling  waxed so fierce that both palace  and hall
were heard to ring; the high-mettled warriors clashed with mighty sound.
From young and old one heard many a shock, so that the splintering of
the shafts reechoed to the clouds. Truncheons  were seen flying out
before the palace from the hand of many a knight. This was done with
zeal. At length the host bade cease the tourney and the steeds were led
away. Upon the turf one saw all to-shivered  many a mighty buckler
and great store of precious stones from the bright spangles  of the
shields. Through the hurtling this did hap.
Then the guests of the host betook them to where men bade them sit.
With good cheer they refreshed them and with the very best of wine, of
which one bare frill plenty. To the strangers and the home-folk was
shown worship enow. Though much pastime they had throughout the day,
many of the strolling folk forsware all rest. They served for the
largess, which men found there richly, whereby Siegmund's whole land was
decked with praise. Then bade the king enfeoff Siegfried, the youth,
with land and castles, as he himself had done. Much his hand bestowed
upon the sword-companions. The journey liked them well, that to this
land they were come. The feasting lasted until the seventh day.
Siegelind, the noble queen, for the love of her son, dealt out ruddy
gold in time-honored wise. Full well she wot how to make him beloved of
the folk. Scarce could a poor man be found among the strolling mimes.
Steeds and raiment were scattered by their hand, as if they were to live
not one more day. I trow that never did serving folk use such great
bounty. With worshipful honors the company departed hence. Of the mighty
barons the tale doth tell that they desired the youth unto their lord,
but of this the stately knight, Sir Siegfried, listed naught. Forasmuch
as both Siegmund and Siegelind were still alive, the dear child of them
twain wished not to wear a crown, but fain would he become a lord
against all the deeds of force within his lands, whereof the bold and
daring knight was sore adread.
 "Siegmund" (M.H.G. "Sigemunt") was originally the hero of an
independent saga. See "Volsungasaga", chaps. 3-8.
 "Siegelind" (M.H.G. "Sigelint") is the correct name of
Siegfried's mother, as the alliteration shows. The Early Norse version
has "Hjordis", which has come from the "Helgi saga".
 "Xanten" (M.H.G. "Santen" from the Latin "ad sanctos") is at
present a town in the Rhenish Prussian district of Dusseldorf. It does
not now lie on the Rhine, but did in the Middle Ages.
 "Sword-thanes" (M.H.G. "swertdegene") were the young squires who
were to be made knights. It was the custom for a youthful prince to
receive the accolade with a number of others.
 "Midsummer festival". The M.H.G. "sunewende" means literally the
'sun's turning', i.e., the summer solstice. This was one of the great
Germanic festivals, which the church later turned into St. John's Eve.
The bonfires still burnt in Germany on this day are survivals of the old
 "Hurtling" translates here M.H.G. "buhurt", a word borrowed from
the French to denote a knightly sport in which many knights clashed
together. Hurtling was used in older English in the same significance.
 "Palace" (M.H.G. "palas", Lat. "palatium") is a large building
standing alone and largely used as a reception hall.
 "Truncheons" (M.H.G. "trunzune", O.F. "troncon", 'lance
splinters', 'fragments of spears'.
 "To-shivered", 'broken to pieces', in imitation of the older
English to-beat, to-break, etc.
 "Spangles" (M.H.G. "spangen"), strips of metal radiating from
the raised centre of the shield and often set, as here, with precious
How Siegfried Came to Worms.
It was seldom that sorrow of heart perturbed the prince. He heard tales
told of how there lived in Burgundy a comely maid, fashioned wondrous
fair, from whom he thereafter gained much of joy, but suffering, too.
Her beauty out of measure was known far and wide. So many a here heard
of her noble mind, that it alone brought many a guest  to Gunther's
land. But however many were seen wooing for her love, Kriemhild never
confessed within her heart that she listed any for a lover. He was still
a stranger to her, whose rule she later owned. Then did the son of
Siegelind aspire to lofty love; the wooing of all others was to his but
as the wind, for well he wot how to gain a lady fair. In later days the
noble Kriemhild became bold Siegfried's bride. Kinsmen and liegemen enow
advised him, since he would have hope of constant love, that he woo one
who was his peer. At this bold Siegfried spake: "Then will I choose
Kriemhild, the fair maid of Burgundy, for her beauty beyond measure.
This I know full well, never was emperor so mighty, and he would have a
wife, that it would not beseem him to love this noble queen."
Tidings of this reached Siegmund's ear; through the talk of the
courtiers he was made ware of the wish of his son. Full loth it was to
the king, that his child would woo the glorious maid. Siegelind heard it
too, the wife of the noble king. Greatly she feared for her child, for
full well she knew Gunther and his men. Therefore they sought to turn
the hero from this venture. Up spake then the daring Siegfried: "Dear
father mine, I would fain ever be without the love of noble dames, if I
may not woo her in whom my heart hath great delight; whatsoever any may
aver, it will avail but naught."
"And thou wilt not turn back," spake the king, "then am I in sooth
glad of thy will and will help thee bring it to pass, as best I may. Yet
hath this King Gunther full many a haughty man. If there were none else
but Hagen, the doughty knight, he can use such arrogance that I fear me
it will repent us sore, if we woo this high-born maid."
Then Siegfried made reply: "Wherefore need that hinder us? What I may
not obtain from them in friendly wise, that my hand and its strength can
gain. I trow that 1 can wrest from him both folk and land."
To this Prince Siegmund replied: "Thy speech liketh me not, for if
this tale were told upon the Rhine, then durst thou never ride unto that
land. Long time have Gunther and Gernot been known to me. By force may
none win the maid, of this have I been well assured; but wilt thou ride
with warriors unto this land, and we still have aught of friends, they
shall be summoned soon."
"It is not to my mind," spake again Siegfried, "that warriors should
follow me to the Rhine, as if for battle, that I constrain thereby the
noble maid. My single hand can win her well--with eleven  comrades I
will fare to Gunther's land; thereto shalt thou help me, Father
Siegmund." Then to his knights they gave for garments furs both gray and
Now his mother Siegelind also heard the tale. She began to make dole
for her loved child, whom she feared to lose through Gunther's men.
Sorely the noble queen gan weep. Lord Siegfried hied him straightway to
where he saw her; to his mother he spake in gentle wise: "Lady, ye must
not weep for me; naught have I to fear from all his fighting men. I pray
you, speed me on my journey to the Burgundian land, that I and my
warriors may have array such as proud heroes can wear with honor; for
this I will say you gramercy i' faith."
"Since naught will turn thee," spake then the Lady Siegelind, "so
will I speed thee on thy journey, mine only child, with the best of
weeds that ever knight did wear, thee and thy comrades. Ye shall have
Siegfried, the youth, then made low obeisance to the queen. He spake:
"None but twelve warriors will I have upon the way. Let raiment be made
ready for them, I pray, for I would fain see how it standeth with
Then sate fair ladies night and day. Few enow of them, I trow, did
ease them, till Siegfried's weeds had all been wrought. Nor would he
desist from faring forth. His father bade adorn the knightly garb in
which his son should ride forth from Siegmund's land. The shining
breastplates, too, were put in trim, also the stanch helmets and their
shields both fair and broad. Now their journey to the Burgundian land
drew near; man and wife began to fear lest they never should come home
again. The heroes bade lade their sumpters with weapons and with
harness. Their steeds were fair and their trappings red with gold. No
need were there to live more proudly than Siegfried and his men. Then he
asked for leave to journey to the land of Burgundy; this the king and
queen sorrowfully vouchsafed. Lovingly he comforted them twain. "For my
sake," spake he, "must ye not weep, nor have fear for me or for my
The warriors, too, were sad and many a maiden wept; I ween, their
hearts did tell them rightly that many of their kinsmen would come to
death because of this. Just cause had they for wailing; need enow they
had in sooth.
Upon the seventh morning, forth upon the river sand at Worms the
brave warriors pricked. Their armor was of ruddy gold and their
trappings fashioned fair. Smoothly trotted the steeds of bold
Siegfried's men. Their shields were new; gleaming and broad and fair
their helmets, as Siegfried, the bold, rode to court in Gunther's land.
Never had such princely attire been seen on heroes; their sword-points
hung down to their spurs. Sharp javelins were borne by these chosen
knights. Siegfried wielded one full two spans broad, which upon its
edges cut most dangerously. In their hands they held gold-colored
bridles; their martingales were silken: so they came into the land.
Everywhere the folk began to gape amazed and many of Gunther's men fared
forth to meet them. High-mettled warriors, both knight and squire,
betook them to the lords (as was but right), and received into the land
of their lords these guests and took from their hands the black sumpters
which bore the shields. The steeds, too, they wished to lead away for
easement. How boldly then brave Siegfried spake: "Let stand the mounts
of me and of my men. We will soon hence again, of this have I great
desire. Whosoever knoweth rightly where I can find the king, Gunther,
the mighty, of Burgundian land, let him not keep his peace but tell me."
Then up spake one to whom it was rightly known: "Would ye find the
king, that can hap full well. In yon broad hall with his heroes did I
but see him. Ye must hither hie you; there ye may find with him many a
To the king now the word was brought, that full lusty knights were
come, who wore white breastplates and princely garb. None knew them in
the Burgundian land. Much it wondered the king whence came these lordly
warriors in such shining array, with such good shields, both new and
broad. Loth was it to Gunther, that none could tell him this. Then
Ortwin of Metz (a bold and mighty man was he) made answer to the king:
"Since we know them not, ye should send for mine uncle Hagen, and let
him see them. To him are known  all kingdoms and foreign lands. If so
be he knoweth these lords, he will tell us straightway."
Then bade the king that Hagen and his men be brought. One saw him
with his warriors striding in lordly wise unto the court.
"What would the king of me?" asked Hagen.
"There be come to my house strange warriors, whelm here none knoweth.
If ye have ever seen them, I pray you, Hagen, tell me now the truth."
"That will I," spake then Hagen. He hied him to a window and over the
guests he let his glances roam. Well liked him their trappings and their
array, but full strange were they to him in the Burgundian land. He
spake: "From wheresoever these warriors be come unto the Rhine, they may
well be princes or envoys of kings, for their steeds are fair and their
garments passing good. Whencesoever they bear these, forsooth
high-mettled warriors be they."
"I dare well say," so spake Hagen, "though I never have seen
Siegfried, yet can I well believe, however this may be, that he is the
warrior that strideth yonder in such lordly wise. He bringeth new
tidings hither to this land. By this here's hand were slain the bold
Nibelungs, Schilbung and Nibelung,  sons of a mighty king. Since then
he hath wrought great marvels with his huge strength. Once as the hero
rode alone without all aid, he found before a mountain, as I have in
sooth been told, by Nibelung's hoard full many a daring man. Strangers
they were to him, till he gained knowledge of them there.
"The hoard of Nibelung was borne entire from out a hollow hill. Now
hear a wondrous tale, of how the liegemen of Nibelung wished to divide
it there. This the hero Siegfried saw and much it gan wonder him. So
near was he now come to them, that he beheld the heroes, and the knights
espied him, too. One among them spake:
'Here cometh the mighty Siegfried, the hero of Netherland.' Passing
strange were the tidings that, he found among the Nibelungs. Schilbung
and Nibelung greeted well the knight; with one accord these young and
noble lordings bade the stately man divide the hoard. Eagerly they asked
it, and the lord in turn gan vow it to them.
"He beheld such store of gems, as we have heard said, that a hundred
wains might not bear the lead; still more was there of ruddy gold from
the Nibelung land. All this the hand of the daring Siegfried should
divide. As a guerdon they gave him the sword of Nibelung, but they were
served full ill by the service which the good knight Siegfried should
render them. Nor could he end it for them; angry of mood  they grew.
Twelve bold men of their kith were there, mighty giants these. What
might that avail them! Siegfried's hand slew them soon in wrath, and
seven hundred warriors from the Nibelung land he vanquished with the
good sword Balmung.  Because of the great fear that, many a young
warrior had of the sword and of the valiant man, they made the land and
its castles subject to his hand. Likewise both the mighty kings he slew,
but soon he himself was sorely pressed by Alberich.  The latter
weened to venge straightway his masters, till he then discovered
Siegfried's mighty strength; for no match for him was the sturdy dwarf.
Like wild lions they ran to the hill, where from Alberich he won the
Cloak of Darkness.  Thus did Siegfried, the terrible, become master
of the hoard; those who had dared the combat, all lay there slain. Soon
bade he cart and bear the treasure to the place from whence the men of
Nibelung had borne it forth. He made Alberich, the strong, warden of the
hoard and bade him swear an oath to serve him as his knave; and fit he
was for work of every sort."
So spake Hagen of Troneg: "This he hath done. Nevermore did warrior
win such mighty strength. I wot yet more of him: it is known to me that
the hero slew a dragon and bathed him in the blood, so that his skin
became like horn. Therefore no weapons will cut him, as hath full oft
been seen. All the better must we greet this lord, that we may not earn
the youthful warrior's hate. So bold is he that we should hold him as a
friend, for he hath wrought full many a wonder by his strength."
Then spake the mighty king: "Thou mayst well have right. Behold how
valiantly he with his knights doth stand in lust of battle, the daring
man! Let us go down to meet the warrior."
"That ye may do with honor," spake then Hagen; "he is of noble race,
son of a mighty king. God wot, methinks, he beareth him in such wise,
that it can be no little matter for which he hath ridden hither."
"Now be he welcome to us," spake then the king of the land. "He is
both noble and brave, as I have heard full well. This shall stand him in
good stead in the Burgundian land." Then went Lord Gunther to where
The host and his warriors received the guest in such wise that full
little was there lack of worship. Low bowed the stately man, that they
had greeted him so fair. "It wondereth me," spake the king straightway,
"whence ye, noble Siegfried, be come unto this land, or what ye seek at
Worms upon the Rhine."
Then the stranger made answer to the king: "This will I not conceal
from you. Tales were told me in my father's land, that here with you
were the boldest warriors that ever king did gain. This I have often
heard, and that I might know it of a truth, therefore am I come.
Likewise do I hear boasting of your valor, that no bolder king hath ever
been seen. This the folk relate much through all these lands. Therefore
will I not turn back, till it be known to me. I also am a warrior and
was to wear a crown. Fain would I bring it to pass that it may be said
Rightly doth he rule both folk and land. Of this shall my head and
honor be a pledge. Now be ye so bold, as hath been told me, I reck not
be it lief or loth to any man, I will gain from you whatso ye have--land
and castles shall be subject to my hand."
The king had likewise his men had marvel at the tidings they here
heard, that he was willed to take from them their land. The knights
waxed wroth, as they heard this word. "How have I earned this," spake
Gunther, the knight, "that we should lose by the force of any man that
which my father hath rules so long with honor? We should let it ill
appear that we, too, are used in knightly ways."
"In no wise will I desist," spake again the valiant man. "Unless it
be that through thy strength thy land have peace, I will rule it all.
And shouldst thou gain, by thy strength, my ancestral lands, they shall
be subject to thy sway. Thy lands, and mine as well, shall lie alike;
whether of us twain can triumph over the other, him shall both land and
Hagen and Gernot, too, straightway gainsaid this. "We have no wish,"
spake Gernot, "that we should conquer aught of lands, or that any man
lie dead at hero's hands. We have rich lands, which serve us, as is
meet, nor hath any a better claim to them than we."
There stood his kinsmen, grim of mood; among them, too, Ortwin of
Metz. "It doth irk me much to hear these words of peace," spake he; "the
mighty Siegfried hath defied you for no just cause. Had ye and your
brothers no meet defense, and even if he led a kingly troop, I trow well
so to fight that the daring man have good cause to leave this haughty
At this the hero of Netherland grew wonderly wroth. He spake:
"Thy hand shall not presume against me. I am a mighty king, a king's
vassal thou. Twelve of thy ilk durst not match me in strife."
Then Ortwin of Metz called loudly for swords. Well was he fit to be
Hagen of Troneg's sister's son. It rued the king that he had held his
peace so long. Then Gernot, the bold and lusty knight, came in between.
He spake to Ortwin: "Now give over thy anger. Lord Siegfried hath done
us no such wrong, but that we may still part the strife in courteous
wise. Be advised of me and hold him still as friend; far better will
this beseem us."
Then spake the doughty Hagen: "It may well grieve us and all thy
knights that he ever rode for battle to the Rhine. He should have given
it over; my lordings never would have done such ill to him."
To this Siegfried, the mighty man, made answer: "Doth this irk you,
Sir Hagen, which I spake, then will I let you see that my hands shall
have dominion here in the Burgundian land."
"I alone will hinder this," answered Gernot, and he forbade his
knights speak aught with haughtiness that might cause rue. Siegfried,
too, then bethought him of the noble maid.
"How might it beseem us to fight with you?" spake Gernot anew.
"However really heroes should lie dead because of this, we should have
scant honor therefrom and ye but little gain."
To this Siegfried, the son of Siegmund, made reply: "Why waiteth
Hagen, and Ortwin, too, that he hasteth not to fight with his kin, of
whom he hath so many here in Burgundy?"
At this all held their peace; such was Gernot's counsel. Then spake
Queen Uta's son: "Ye shall be welcome to us with all your war-mates, who
are come with you. We shall gladly serve you, I and all my kin."
Then for the guests they bade pour out King Gunther's wine. The
master of the land then spake: "All that we have, if ye desire it in
honorable wise, shall owe fealty to you; with you shall both life and
goods be shared."
At this Lord Siegfried grew of somewhat gentler mood. Then they bade
that care be taken of the armor of the guests. The best of hostels that
men might find were sought for Siegfried's squires; great easement they
gave them. Thereafter they gladly saw the guest in Burgundy. Many a day
they offered him great worship, a thousand fold more than I can tell
you. This his prowess wrought; ye may well believe, full scant a one he
saw who was his foe.
Whenever the lordings and their liegemen did play at knightly games,
Siegfried was aye the best, whatever they began. Herein could no one
match him, so mighty was his strength, whether they threw the stone or
hurled the shaft. When through courtesie the full lusty knights made
merry with the ladies, there were they glad to see the hero of
Netherland, for upon high love his heart was bent. He was aye ready for
whatso they undertook, but in his heart he bare a lovely maid, whom he
had never seen. She too, who in secret spake full well of him, cherished
him alone. Whenever the pages, squires, and knights would play their
games within the court, Kriemhild, the noble queen, watched them from
the windows, for no other pastime she needed on such days. Had he known
that she gazed on him thus, whom he bare within his heart, then had he
had pastime enough, I trow, for well I wot that no greater joy in all
this world could chance to him.
Whenever he stood by the heroes in the court, as men still are wont
to do, for pastime's sake, so winsome was the posture of Siegelind's
son, that many a lady loved him for very joy of heart. But he bethought
him many a day: "How shall that hap, that I with mine own eyes may see
the noble maid, whom I do love with all my heart and so have done long
time. Sadly must I stand, sith she be still a stranger to me."
Whenever the mighty kings fared forth into their land, the warriors
all must needs accompany them at hand, and Siegfried, too. This the lady
rued, and he, too, suffered many pangs for love of her. Thus he dwelt
with the lordings, of a truth, full a year in Gunther's land, and in all
this time he saw not once the lovely maid, from whom in later days there
happed to him much joy and eke much woe.
 "Guest" translates here the M.H.G. "gest", a word which may mean
either 'guest' or 'stranger,' and it is often difficult, as here, to
tell to which meaning the preference should be given.
 "Eleven" translates the M.H.G. "selbe zwelfte", which means one
of twelve. The accounts are, however, contradictory, as a few lines
below mention is made of twelve companions of Siegfried.
 "Vair" (O.F. "vair", Lat. "varius"), 'variegated', like the fur
of the squirrel.
 "Known". It was a mark of the experienced warrior, that he was
acquainted with the customs and dress of various countries and with the
names and lineage of all important personages. Thus in the
"Hildebrandslied" Hildebrand asks Hadubrand to tell him his father's
name, and adds: "If thou tellest me the one, I shall know the other."
 "Schilbung" and "Nibelung", here spoken of as the sons of a
mighty king, were originally dwarfs, and, according to some authorities,
the original owners of the treasure. Boer, ix, 199, thinks, however,
that the name Nibelungs was transferred from Hagen to these dwarfs at a
late stage in the formation of the saga.
 "Angry of mood". The reason of this anger is apparent from the
more detailed account in "Biterolf", 7801. The quarrel arose from the
fact that, according to ancient law, Siegfried acquired with the sword
the rights of the first born, which the brothers, however, refused to
accord to him.
 "Balmung". In the older Norse version and in the "Thidreksaga"
Siegfried's sword bore the name of Gram.
 "Alberich" is a dwarf king who appears in a number of legends,
e.g., in the "Ortnit saga" and in "Biterolf". Under the Romance form of
his name, "Oberon", he plays an important role in modern literature.
 "Cloak of Darkness". This translates the M.H.G. "tarnkappe", a
word often retained by translators. It is formed from O.H.G. tarni,
'secret' (cf. O.E. "dyrne"), and "kappe" from late Latin "cappa",
'cloak'. It rendered the wearer invisible and gave him the strength of
How He Fought with the Saxons. 
Now there came strange tales to Gunther's land, though messengers sent
them from afar--tales of unknown warriors, who bare them hate. When they
heard this word, in sooth it pleased them not. These warriors will I
name to you: there was Liudeger of Saxon land, a great and lordly
prince, and then from Denmark Lindegast, the king. For their journey
they had gathered many a lordly stranger.
To Gunther's land were come the messengers his foes had sent. Men
asked the strangers for their tidings and bade them hie them soon to
court unto King Gunther. The king gave them greeting fair; he spake: "Be
ye welcome . I have not heard who sent you hither, but let that now be
told." So spake the right good king. But they feared full sore King
Gunther's warlike mood.
"Will ye, O King, permit that we tell the tales we bring, then we
shall not hold our tongue, but name to you the lordings who have sent us
hither: Liudegast and Liudeger; they would march upon this land. Ye have
earned their wrath, indeed we heard that both lords bear you mortal
hate. They would harry at Worms upon the Rhine and have the aid of many
a knight; that may ye know upon our faith. Within twelve weeks the
journey must befall. And ye have aught of good friends, who will help
guard your castles and your lands, let this soon be seen. Here shall be
carved by them many a helm and shield. Or would ye parley with them, let
messengers be sent. Then the numerous bands of your mighty foes will not
ride so near you, to give you pain of heart, from which full many a
lusty knight and a good must die."
"Now bide a time," spake the good king, "till I bethink me better;
then ye shall know my mind. Have I aught of trusty men, I will not
withhold from them these startling tales, but will make complaint
thereof unto my friends."
To Gunther, the mighty king, it was loth enow, but in his heart he
bare the speech in secret wise. He bade Hagen be fetched and others of
his men, and sent eftsoon to court for Gernot. Then came the very best
of men that could he found. The king spake:
"Men would seek us here in this our land with mighty armies, now make
ye wail for that."
To this Gernot, a brave and lusty knight, made answer: "That will we
fend indeed with swords. Only the fey  will fall. So let them die;
for their sake I will not forget my honor. Let these foes of ours be
welcome to us."
Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "This thinketh me not good. Liudegast and
Liudeger bear great arrogance; nor can we summon all our men in such
short time. Why tell ye not Siegfried of the thing?" So spake the
To the messengers they bade give lodging in the town. Whatever hate
they bore them, yet Gunther, the mighty, bade purvey them well, as was
but right, till he discovered of his friends who there was who would
lend him aid. Yet in his fears the king was ill at ease. Just then full
blithe a knight, who wot not what had happed, saw him thus sad and
prayed King Gunther to tell him of the matter. "Much it wondereth me,"
spake Siegfried, for he it was, "that ye thus have changed your merry
wont, which ye have used thus far with us."
To this Gunther, the stately knight, replied: "It liketh me not to
tell all folk the grievance which I must bear within my heart in secret
wise. Only to trusty friends should one confide his woe of heart."
At this Siegfried's color waxed both pale and red. To the king he
spake: "I have denied you naught and will gladly help you turn aside
your woes. And ye seek friends, I will be one of them and trow well to
deport myself with honor until mine end."
"Now God reward you, Sir Siegfried, your speech thinketh me good, and
though your prowess help me not, yet do I rejoice to hear that ye are
friend to me, and live I yet a while, I shall repay you well. I will let
you hear why I stand thus sad; from the messengers of my foes I have
heard that they would visit me with war, a thing which knights have
never done to us in all these lands."
"Regard this lightly," spake then Siegfried, "and calm your mood. Do
as I pray you. Let me gain for you both worship and advantage and do ye
command your knights, that they gather to your aid. Should your mighty
foes be helped by thirty thousand  men, yet could I withstand them,
had I but a thousand; for that rely on me."
Then spake King Gunther: "For this I'll serve you ever."
"So bid me call a thousand of your men, since of mine own I have but
twelve, and I will guard your land. Faithfully shall the hand of
Siegfried serve you. Hagen shall help us and also Ortwin, Dankwart, and
Sindolt, your trusty men. Folker, the valiant man, shall also ride
along; he shall bear the banner, for to none would I liefer grant it.
Let now the envoys ride home to their masters' lands. Give them to
understand they soon shall see us, that our castles may rest in peace."
Then the king bade summon both his kinsmen and his men. The
messengers of Liudeger betook them to the court. Fain they were that
they should journey home again. Gunther, the good king, made offrance of
rich gifts and gave them safe-convoy. At this their spirits mounted
high. "Now say unto my foes," spake then Gunther, "that they may well
give over their journey and stay at home; but if they will seek me here
within my lands, hardships shall they know, and my friends play me not
Rich gifts men bare then for the envoys; enow of these had Gunther to
bestow, nor durst the men of Liudeger refuse them. When at last they
took their leave, they parted hence in merry mood.
Now when the messengers were come to Denmark and King Liudegast had
heard how they parted from the Rhine, as was told him, much he rued, in
sooth, their  proud defiance. The envoys said that Gunther had full
many a valiant man-at-arms and among them they saw a warrior stand,
whose name was Siegfried, a hero from Netherland. Little liked it
Liudegast when he heard aright this tale. When the men of Denmark had
heard these tidings told, they hasted all the more to call their
friends; till Sir Liudegast had gathered for his journey full twenty
thousand knights from among his valiant men. Then King Liudeger, also,
of Saxon land, sent forth his summons, till they had forty thousand men
and more, with whom they thought to ride to the Burgundian land.
Likewise at home King Gunther got him men-at-arms among his kin and
the liegemen of his brothers, and among Hagen's men whom they wished to
lead thence for battle. Much need of this the heroes had, but warriors
soon must suffer death from this. Thus they made them ready for the
journey. When they would hence, Folker, the daring, must bear the flag.
In such wise they thought to ride from Worms across the Rhine. Hagen of
Troneg was master of the troop; with them rode Sindolt and Hunolt, too,
who wist well how to merit Gunther's gold. Dankwart, Hagen's brother,
and Ortwin, too, well could they serve with honor in this war.
"Sir King," spake then Siegfried, "stay ye at home; since that your
warriors are willed to follow me, remain ye with the ladies and keep
your spirits high. I trow well to guard for you both honor and estate.
Well will I bring it to pass that those who thought to seek you out at
Worms upon the Rhine, had better far have stayed at home. We shall ride
so nigh unto their land that their proud defiance shall be turned to
From the Rhine they rode through Hesse with their warriors towards
Saxon land, where they later fought. With fire and pillage, too, they
harried all the countryside, so that the two kings did learn of it in
dire distress. Then came they to the border; the warriors marched along.
Siegfried, the strong, gan ask: "Who shall now guard here the troop?"
Forsooth never did men ride more scathfully to the Saxons. They spake:
"Let the valiant Dankwart guard the young upon the way, he is a doughty
knight. Thus shall we lose the less through Liudeger's men. Let him and
Ortwin guard the rear."
"Then I myself will ride," spake Siegfried, the knight, "and play the
outlook toward the foe, until I discover aright where these warriors
be." Quickly the son of fair Siegelind donned his harness. The troop he
gave in charge to Hagen, when he would depart, and to Gernot, the
valiant man. Thus he rode hence into the Saxon land alone and many a
helmet band he cut to pieces on that day. Soon he spied the mighty host
that lay encamped upon the plain and far outweighed the forces of his
men. Forty thousand or better still there were. Full blithely Siegfried
saw this in lofty mood. Meantime a warrior full well arrayed had mounted
to the outlook 'gainst the foe. Him Sir Siegfried spied, and the bold
man saw him, too. Each began to watch the other in hostile wise. Who it
was, who stood on guard, I'll tell you now; a gleaming shield of gold
lay by his hand. It was the good King Liudegast, who was guarding here
his band. The noble stranger pricked along in lordly wise.
Now had Sir Liudegast espied him with hostile eye. Into the flanks of
their horses they plunged the spurs; with all their might they couched
the spears against the shields. At this great fear befell the mighty
king. After the thrust the horses carried past each other the royal
knights, as though borne upon the wind. With the bridles they wheeled in
knightly wise and the two fierce champions encountered with their
swords. Then smote Sir Siegfried, so that the whole field did ring.
Through the hero's hand from out the helmets, as from firebrands, flew
the bright red sparks. Each in the other found his match. Sir Liudegast,
too, struck many a savage blow; the might of each broke full upon the
shields. Thirty of Liudegast's men stood there on guard, but ere they
could come to his aid, Siegfried had won the fight, with three groat
wounds which he dealt the king through his gleaming breastplate, the
which was passing good. The blood from the wounds gushed forth along the
edges of the sword, whereat King Liudegast stood in sorry mood. He
begged for life and made offrance of his lands and said that his name
was Liudegast. Then came his warrior's, who had witnessed what there had
happed upon the lookout. As Siegfried would lead his captive thence, he
was set upon by thirty of these men. With mighty blows the hero's hand
guarded his noble prize. The stately knight then wrought worse scathe.
In self-defense he did thirty unto death; only one he left alive, who
rode full fast to tell the tale of what here had chanced. By his
reddened helmet one might see the truth. It sorely grieved the men of
Denmark, when the tale was told them that their king was taken captive.
Men told it to his brother, who at the news began to rage with monstrous
wrath, for great woe it brought him.
Liudegast, the warrior, then was led away by Siegfried's might to
Gunther's men and given to Hagen in charge. When that they heard it was
the king, full moderate was their dole. The Burgundians now were bidden
raise their banner. "Up, men," cried Siegfried, "here shall more be
done, ere the day end, and I lose not my life. Full many a stately dame
in Saxon land shall rue this fight. Ye heroes from the Rhine, give heed
to me, for I can guide you well to Liudeger's band. So shall ye see
helmets carved by the hands of goodly knights; ere we turn again, they
shall become acquaint with fear."
To their horses Gernot and all his men now hasted, and soon the
stalwart minstrel, Sir Folker, grasped the battle-flag and rode before
the band. Then were all the comrades arrayed in lordly wise for strife;
nor had they more than a thousand men, and thereto Siegfried's twelve
men-at-arms. Now from the road gan rise the dust, as across the land
they rode; many a lordly shield was seen to gleam from out their midst.
There, too, were come the Saxons with their troops and well-sharpened
swords, as I since have heard. Sore cut these weapons in the heroes'
hands, for they would fain guard both their castles and their land
against the strangers. The lordings' marshals led on the troop.
Siegfried, too, was come with his men-at-arms, whom he had brought from
Netherland. In the storm of battle many a hand this day grew red with
blood. Sindolt and Hunolt and Gernot, too, slew many a knight in the
strife, ere these rightly knew the boldness of their foes. This many a
stately dame must needs bewail. Folker and Hagen and Ortwin, too, dimmed
in the battle the gleam of many a helm with flowing blood, these
storm-bold men. By Dankwart, too, great deeds were done.
The men of Denmark proved well their hands; one heard many a shield
resounding from the hurtling and from the sharp swords as well, many of
which were wielded there. The battle-bold Saxons did scathe enow, but
when the men of Burgundy pressed to the fight, by them was really a wide
wound carved. Then down across the saddles the blood was seen to flow.
Thus they fought for honors, these knights both bold and good. Loud rang
the sharp weapons in the heroes' hands, as those of Netherland followed
their lording through the sturdy host. Valiantly they forced their way
in Siegfried's wake, but not a knight from the Rhine was seen to follow.
Through the shining helmets one could see flow the bloody stream, drawn
forth by Siegfried's hand, till at last he found Liudeger before his
men-at-arms. Thrice had he pierced the host from end to end. Now was
Hagen come, who helped him achieve in the battle all his mind. Before
them many a good knight must needs die this day.
When the mighty Liudeger espied Siegfried and saw that he bore high
in hand the good sword Balmung and did slay so many a man, then waxed
the lording wroth and fierce enow. A mighty surging and a mighty clang
of swords arose, as their comrades pressed against each other. The two
champions tried their prowess all the more. The troops began to yield;
fierce grew the hate. To the ruler of the Saxons the tale was told that
his brother had been captured; great dole this gave him. Well he knew it
was the son of Siegelind who had done the deed. Men blamed Sir Gernot,
but later he learned the truth.
So mighty were the blows of Liudeger that Siegfried's charger reeled
beneath the saddle. When the steed recovered, bold Siegfried took on a
frightful usance in the fray. In this Hagen helped him well, likewise
Gernot, Dankwart, and Folker, too. Through them lay many dead. Likewise
Sindolt and Hunolt and Ortwin, the knight, laid many low in strife; side
by side in the fray the noble princes stood. One saw above the helmets
many a spear, thrown by here's hand, hurtling through the gleaming
shields. Blood-red was colored many a lordly buckler; many a man in the
fierce conflict was unhorsed. At each other ran Siegfried, the brave,
and Liudeger; shafts were seen to fly and many a keen-edged spear. Then
off flew the shield-plates, struck by Siegfried's hand; the hero of
Netherland thought to win the battle from the valiant Saxons, wondrous
many of whom one saw. Ho! How many shining armor-rings the daring
Then Sir Liudegor espied a crown painted on the shield in Siegfried's
hand. Well he knew that it was Siegfried, the mighty man. To his friends
the hero loudly called: "Desist ye from the strife, my men, here I have
seen the son of Siegmund, Siegfried, the strong, and recognized him
well. The foul fiend himself hath sent him hither to the Saxon land."
The banners bade he lower in the fight. Peace he craved, and this was
later granted him, but he must needs go as hostage to Gunther's land.
This was wrung from him by valiant Siegfried's hand. With one accord
they then gave over the strife and laid aside the many riddled helmets
and the broad, battered bucklers. Whatever of these was found, bore the
hue of blood from the Burgundians' hand. They captured whom they would,
for this lay in their power. Gernot and Hagen, the full bold warriors,
bade bear away the wounded; five hundred stately men they led forth
captive to the Rhine. The worsted knights rode back to Denmark, nor had
the Saxons fought so well that one could give them aught of praise, and
this the heroes rued full sore. The fallen, too, were greatly mourned by
Then they bade place the weapons on sumpters for the Rhine.
Siegfried, the warrior, and his heroes had wrought full well, as
Gunther's men must needs confess. Sir Gernot now sent messengers
homeward to Worms in his native land, and bade tell his kin what great
success had happed to him and to his men, and how these daring knights
had striven well for honor. The squirelings ran and told the tale. Then
those who afore had sorrowed, were blithe for joy at the pleasing
tidings that were come. Much questioning was heard from noble dames, how
it had fared with the liegemen of the mighty king. One of the messengers
they bade go to Kriemhild; this happed full secretly (openly she durst
not), for she, too, had amongst them her own true love. When she saw the
messenger coming to her bower, fair Kriemhild spake in kindly wise: "Now
tell me glad news, I pray. And thou dost so without deceit, I will give
thee of my gold and will ever be thy friend. How fared forth from the
battle my brother Gernot and others of my kin? Are many of them dead
perchance? Or who wrought there the best? This thou must tell me."
Quickly then the envoy spake: "Ne'er a coward did we have, but, to
tell the truth, O noble queen, none rode so well to the strife and fray,
as did the noble stranger from Netherland. Mickle wonders the hand of
valiant Siegfried wrought. Whate'er the knights have done in strife,
Dankwart and Hagen and other men of the king, however much they strove
for honor, 'tis but as the wind compared with Siegfried, the son of
Siegmund, the king. They slew full many a hero in the fray, but none
might tell you of the wonders which Siegfried wrought, whenever he rode
into the fight. Great woe he did the ladies through their kin; upon the
field the love of many a dame lay dead. His blows were heard to ring so
loud upon the helmets, that from the wounds they drew forth the blood in
streams. In every knightly art he is a worthy knight and a brave.
Whatever Ortwin of Metz achieved (and he whom he could reach with his
good sword, fell sorely wounded, but mostly dead), yet your brother
wrought the direst woe that could ever chance in battle. One must say of
the chosen knights in truth, that these proud Burgundians acquitted them
so well that they can well preserve their honor from every taint of
shame. Through their hands we saw many a saddle bare, while the field
resounded with the flashing swords. So well rode the warriors from the
Rhine, that it were better for their foes had it been avoided. The
valiant men of Troneg, also, wrought dire woe, when in great numbers the
armies met. Bold Hagen's hand did many a one to death; of this full many
stories might be told here in the Burgundian land. Sindolt and Hunolt,
Gernot's men, Rumolt the brave, have done such deeds that it may well
ever rue Liudeger that he made war upon thy kinsmen by the Rhine. The
very best fight that happed from first to last, that one has ever seen,
was made full lustily by Siegfried's hand. Rich hostages he bringeth to
Gunther's land. He won them by his prowess, this stately man. Of this
King Liudegast must bear the loss and eke his brother Liudeger of Saxon
land. Now listen to my tale, most noble queen:
by the hand of Siegfried the twain were caught. Never have men
brought so many hostages to this land, as now are coming to the Rhine
through him. Men are bringing to our land five hundred or more unharmed
captives; and of the deadly wounded, my lady, know, not less than eighty
blood-red biers. These men were mostly wounded by bold Siegfried's hand.
Those who in haughty pride sent a challenge to the Rhine, must now needs
be the captives of Gunther, the king, and men are bringing them with joy
unto this land."
Still higher rose Kriemhild's color when she heard this tale. Her
fair face blushed a rosy red, that Siegfried, the youth, the stately
knight, had fared forth so joyfully from the dangerous strife. These
tidings could not have pleased her better. For her kinsmen, too, she
rejoiced in duty bound. Then spake the lovely maid: "A fair tale thou
hast told me; therefore shalt thou have as guerdon rich attire. Likewise
I'll have thee brought ten marks of gold."  Small wonder that such
tales are gladly told to noble dames.
They gave him then his guerdon, the garments and the gold. Then many
a fair maid hied her to the casement and gazed upon the street, where
many high-mettled warriors were seen riding into the Burgundian land.
There came the champions, the wounded and the sound. Without shame they
heard the greetings of their friends. Merrily the host rode forth to
meet his guests, for his great sorrow had been turned to joy. Well
greeted he his vassals and the strangers, too; for it was only meet that
the mighty king in courtly wise should thank those who were come back to
him, because in the storm of battle they had won the fight with honor.
Gunther bade his kinsmen tell who had been slain upon the march; but
sixty had been lost, whom one must mourn, as is the wont with heroes.
Many a riven shield and battered helm the unharmed warriors brought to
Gunther's land. The men alighted from their steeds before the palace of
the king. Loud was heard the joyous sound of the merry welcome; then
order was given to lodge the warriors in the town. The king bade
minister well unto his guests, attend the wounded and give them good
easement. His courtesie was cleverly seen upon his foes. He spake to
Liudegast: "Now be ye welcome. Much damage have I ta'en because of you;
for this I shall now be repaid, if fortune favor. God reward my kinsmen,
for they have given me joy."
"Well may ye thank them," answered Liudeger; "such noble hostages
hath king never gained afore. For fair treatment we offer great store of
wealth, that ye may act with mercy towards your foes."
"I will let you both go free," spake Gunther, "but I must have surety
that my foes remain here with me, that they do not leave the land
against my will." To that Liudeger pledged his hand.
Men brought them to their lodgings and gave them easement. The
wounded were bedded well, and for the sound were poured out good mead
and wine. Never could the comrades have been more merry. Their battered
shields were borne away for keeping, and enow there was of bloody
saddles which one bade hide away, that the ladies might not weep. Many a
good knight returned aweary from the fray. The king did make his guests
great cheer. His lands were full of strangers and of home-folk. He bade
ease the sorely wounded in kindly wise; their haughty pride was now laid
low. Men offered to the leeches rich rewards, silver without weight and
thereto shining gold, if they would heal the heroes from the stress of
war. To his guests the king likewise gave great gifts. Those that were
minded to set out for home, were asked to stay, as one doth to friends.
The king bethought him how he might requite his men, for they had
brought to pass his wish for fame and honor.
Then spake Lord Gernot: "Let them ride away, but be it made known to
them that in six weeks they must come again for a mighty feast. By then
will many a one be healed who now lieth sorely wounded."
Then Siegfried of Netherland also asked for leave, but when King
Gunther learned his wish, lovingly he bade him stay erstwhile. Were it
not for the king's sister, this were never done. He was too rich to take
reward, though he well deserved it and the king liked him well, as also
did the kinsmen, who had seen what happed in battle through his
strength. For the sake of one fair lady he thought to stay, if perchance
he might espy her. Later it was done, and according to his wish he met
the maid. He rode thereafter joyfully to Siegmund's land.
At all times the host bade practice knighthood, and many a youthful
knight did this right gladly. Meanwhile he ordered seats prepared upon
the sand before the town of Worms for those who were to visit him in the
Burgundian land. At the time when they should come, fair Kriemhild heard
it said that the king would hold a feasting for the sake of his dear
friends. Then comely women hasted apace with robes and headgear which
they were to don. The noble Uta heard tales told of the proud warriors
who were to come. Then many rich dresses were taken from the press. To
please her children she bade make garments ready, that many ladies and
many maids might therewith be decked and many youthful knights of the
Burgundian land. Also for many of the strangers she bade fashion lordly
 "Saxons". This war with the Saxons does not appear in the poetic
"Edda", but was probably introduced into the story later to provide the
heroes with a suitable activity in the period elapsing between
Siegfried's marriage and the journey to Brunhild's land. (In our poem it
is placed before the marriage.) It reflects the ancient feuds between
the Franks on the one hand and the Saxons and Danes on the other.
Originally Siegfried probably did not take part in it, but was later
introduced and made the leader of the expedition in place of the king,
in accordance with the tendency to idealize him and to give him
everywhere the most important role. The two opposing leaders are
"Liudeger", lord of the Saxons, and "Liudegast", king of Denmark. In
"Biterolf" Liudeger rules over both Saxons and Danes, and Liudegast is
 "Fey". This Scotch and older English word has been chosen to
translate the M.H.G. "veige", 'fated', 'doomed', as it is etymologically
the same word. The ancient Germans were fatalists and believed only
those would die in battle whom fate had so predestined.
 "Thirty thousand". The M.H.G. epics are fond of round numbers and
especially of thirty and its multiples. They will he found to occur very
frequently in our poem. See Lachmann, "Anmerkungen zu den Nibelungen",
 "Their". The original is obscure here; the meaning is, 'when he
heard with what message they were come, he rued the haughtiness of the
 "Marks of gold". A mark (Lat. "mares") was half a pound of gold
How Siegfried First Saw Kriemhild.
One saw daily riding to the Rhine those who would fain be at the
feasting. Full many of these who for the king's sake were come into the
land, were given steeds and lordly harness. Seats were prepared for all,
for the highest and the best, as we are told, for two and thirty princes
at the feast. For this, too, the fair ladies vied in their attire.
Giselher, the youth, was aught but idle; he and Gernot and all their men
received the friends and strangers. In truth, they gave the knights
right courtly greetings. These brought into the land many a saddle of
golden red, dainty shields and lordly armor to the feasting on the
Rhine. Many a wounded man was seen full merry since. Even those who lay
abed in stress of wounds, must needs forget the bitterness of death. Men
ceased to mourn for the weak and sick and joyed in prospect of the
festal day, and how well they would fare at the feasting of the king.
Pleasure without stint and overabundance of joy pervaded all the folk
which there were seen. Therefore great rejoicing arose throughout the
whole of Gunther's land.
Upon a Whitsun morning five thousand or more brave men, clad in glad
attire, were seen going forth to the high festal tide. On all sides they
vied with each other in knightly sports. The host marked well, what he
already wet, how from his very heart the hero of Netherland did love his
sister, albeit he had never seen her, whose comeliness men praised above
all maids. Then spake the knight Ortwin to the king: "Would ye have full
honor at your feast, so should ye let be seen the charming maids, who
live in such high honors here in Burgundy. What were the joy of man,
what else could give him pleasure, but pretty maids and noble dames?
Pray let your sister go forth before the guests." To the joy of many a
hero was this counsel given.
"This will I gladly do," spake then the king, and all who heard it
were merry at the thought. Then bade he say to the Lady Uta and her
comely daughter, that with their maidens they should come to court. From
the presses they took fair raiment and whatso of rich attire was laid
away. Of rings and ribbons, too, enow they had. Thus each stately maiden
decked herself with zeal. Full many a youthful knight upon that day was
of the mind that he was so fair to look upon for ladies, that he would
not exchange this chance for the lands of any mighty king. Gladly they
gazed on those whom till now they had not known. Then bade the mighty
king full a hundred of his men, who were his kin and hers, escort his
sister and serve her thus. These were the court retainers of the
Burgundian land and carried swords in hand. Soon one saw the noble Uta
coming with her child. Full hundred or more fair ladies had she taken
for her train, who wore rich robes. Likewise there followed her daughter
many a stately maid. When from out a bower men saw them come, there rose
a mighty press of knights who had the hope, if that might be, to gaze
with joy upon the noble maid. Now came she forth, the lovely fair, as
doth the red of dawn from out the lowering clouds. He then was reft of
many woes who bore her in his heart so long a time, when he saw the
lovely maid stand forth so glorious. How shone full many a precious
stone upon her robes! In lovely wise her rose-red hue appeared. Whatever
one might wish, he could not but confess that never in the world had he
beheld a fairer maid. As the radiant moon, whose sheen is thrown so
brightly on the clouds, doth stand before the stars, so stood she now
before full many a stately dame. Therefore higher rose the spirits of
the comely knights. Richly appareled chamberlains marched on in front,
while the high-mettled warriors forsooth must press where they might see
the lovely maid. At this Lord Siegfried felt both joy and dole. To
himself he thought: "How could that chance, that I should love thee?
That is a foolish dream. But if I now must lose thee, then were I better
dead." At thought of this his color came and went. There stood the son
of Siegmund in such dainty grace, as he were limned on parchment by
skillful master's art. Indeed 'twas said of him that never had so fair a
knight been seen. The escort of the ladies now bade everywhere give way
and many a man obeyed. These high-born hearts rejoiced full many a
wight, as thus so many a noble dame appeared in courtly bearing.
Then spake Lord Gernot of Burgundy: "Dear brother Gunther, him who
offered service in such kindly wise, ye should in like manner requite
before these knights; nor shall I ever rue this counsel. Bid Siegfried
now approach my sister, that the maid may greet him; this will ever be
our gain. She who never greeted warrior shall greet him fair, that by
this means we now may win the stately knight."
Then went the kinsmen of the host to fetch the hero. To the champion
from Netherland they spake: "You hath the king permitted to go to court;
his sister is to greet you. This hath he decreed to do you honor."
At this the lord grew blithe of mood, for in his heart he bare joy
without alloy, that he thus should see fair Uta's child. With lovely
grace she greeted Siegfried then, but when she saw the haughty knight
stand thus before her, her cheeks flamed bright. "Be welcome, Sir
Siegfried, most good and noble knight," the fair maid spake, and at this
greeting his spirits mounted high. Courteously he made obeisance; she
took him by the hand. How gallantly he walked by the lady's side! Upon
each other this lord and lady gazed with kindling eyes. Full secretly
this happed. Was perchance a white hand there fervently pressed by
heart-felt love? That know I not; yet I cannot believe that this was
left undone, for soon had she betrayed to him her love. Nevermore in
summertide nor in the days of May bare he within his heart such lofty
joy as now he gained, when hand in hand he walked with her whom he fain
would call his love.
Then thought full many a knight: "Had that but happed to me, to walk
thus with her hand in hand, as now I see him do, or to lie beside her,
I'd bear it willingly."
Never has warrior better served to gain a queen. From whatever land
the guests were come, all gazed alike upon this pair alone. She then was
bidden kiss the stately man, to whom no such delight had ever happened
in this world.
Then spake the king of Denmark: "Because of this high greeting many a
warrior lieth wounded (this wot I well), through Siegfried's hand. God
grant that he may never come again to my kingly lands."
On all sides they bade make way for Kriemhild, as thus to church one
saw her go with many a valiant knight in courtly wise. Then soon the
stately knight was parted from her side. Thus went she to the minster,
followed by many a dame. So full of graces was this queenly maid that
many a daring wish must needs be lost. Born she was to be the eyes'
delight of many a knight. Siegfried scarce could wait till mass was
sung. Well might he think his fortune that she did favor him, whom thus
he bare in heart. Cause enow he had to love the fair.
When she came forth from out the minster, they begged the gallant
knight again to bear her company, as he had done afore. Then first the
lovely maid began to thank him that he had fought so gloriously before
so many knights. "Now God requite you, Sir Siegfried," spake the comely
maid, "that ye have brought to pass with your service, that the warriors
do love you with such fealty as I hear them say."
Then upon Dame Kriemhild he began to gaze in loving wise. "I will
serve them ever," spake then the knight, "and while life shall last,
never will I lay my head to rest till I have done their will; and this I
do, my Lady Kriemhild, to win your love."
A twelfth-night long, on each and every day, one saw the winsome maid
beside the knight, when she should go to court to meet her kin. This
service was done from sheer delight. A great rout of joy and pleasure
was daily seen in front of Gunther's hall, without and eke within, from
many a daring man. Ortwin and Hagen began to do great marvels. Whatever
any wished to play, these lusty knights were fully ready; thus they
became well known to all the guests and so the whole of Gunther's land
was decked with honor. Those who had lain wounded were now seen coming
forth; they, too, would fain have pastime with the troop and guard
themselves with bucklers and hurl the shaft. Enow there were to help
them, for there was great store of men.
At the feasting the host bade purvey them with the best of cheer. He
kept him free from every form of blame that might befall a king; men saw
him move in friendly wise among his guests. He spake: "Ye worthy
knights, ere ye go hence, pray take my gifts. I am minded to deserve it
of you ever. Do not disdain my goods, the which I'll share with you, as
I have great desire."
Then up spake they of Denmark: "Ere we ride homeward to our land, we
crave a lasting peace; we knights have need thereof, for many a one of
our kinsmen lieth dead at the hands of your men-at-arms."
Liudegast, the Saxon chief, was now cured of his wounds and had
recovered from the fray, though many dead they left within this land.
Then King Gunther went to find Sir Siegfried; to the knight he spake:
"Now tell me what to do. Our foes would fain ride early and beg for
lasting peace of me and of my men. Advise me now, Knight Siegfried, what
thinketh thee good to do? What the lordings offer me will I tell thee;
what of gold five hundred steeds can bear, that would they gladly give
me, and I set them free again."
Then spake the mighty Siegfried: "That were done but ill. Let them
ride hence unhindered, but make each of the lordings give surety with
his hand, that their noble knights henceforth forbear all hostile riding
hither to your land."
"This counsel will I follow." Herewith they parted, and to the king's
foes was told that no one craved the gold they proffered. For their
loved friends at home the battle-weary warriors longed. Many a shield
full of treasure was then brought forth which the king dealt out
unweighed to his many friends, to each five hundred marks of gold, and
to a few, still more. Gernot, the brave, had counseled Gunther this.
Then they all took leave, sith they would hence. One saw the guests draw
nigh to Kriemhild and also to where Dame Uta sate. Never yet were
knights dismissed in better wise. Lodgings grew empty as they rode away,
but still there stayed at home the king and all his kin and many a noble
liegeman. Daily they were seen as they went to Lady Kriemhild. The good
knight Siegfried now would likewise take his leave; he weened not to win
that on which his mind was set. The king heard said that he would hence,
but Giselher, the youth, quite won him from the journey.
"Whither would ye ride now, noble Siegfried? Pray tarry with the
knights, I beg you, with Gunther the king and with his men. Here, too,
are many comely dames whom we shall gladly let you see."
Then spake the mighty Siegfried: "Let stand the steeds. I listed to
ride hence, but now will I desist. The shields, too, bear away. To my
land I craved to go, in truth, but Giselher with his great love hath
turned me from it."
So the valiant knight stayed on to please his friends, nor could he
have fared more gentilly in any land. This happed because he daily saw
Kriemhild, the fair; for the sake of her unmeasured beauty the lording
stayed. With many a pastime they whiled the hours away, but still her
love constrained him and often gave him dole. Because of this same love
in later days the valiant knight lay pitiful in death.
How Gunther Fared To Isenland  for Brunhild.
New tidings came across the Rhine. 'Twas said that yonder many a fair
maid dwelt. The good king Gunther thought to win him one of these; high
therefore rose the warrior's spirits. There lived a queen beyond the
sea, whose like men knew not anywhere. Peerless was her beauty and great
her strength. With doughty knights she shot the shaft for love. The
stone she hurled afar and sprang far after it. He who craved her love
must win without fail three games from this high-born dame. When the
noble maid had done this passing oft, a stately knight did hear it by
the Rhine. He turned his thoughts upon this comely dame, and so heroes
must needs later lose their lives.
One day when the king and his vassals sate and pondered to and fro in
many a wise, whom their lord might take to wife, who would be fit to be
their lady and beseem the land, up spake the lord of the Rhinelands: "I
will go down to the sea and hence to Brunhlld, however it may go with
me. For her love I'll risk my life. I will gladly lose it and she become
not my wife."
"Against that do I counsel you," spake then Siegfried, "if, as ye
say, the queen doth have so fierce a wont, he who wooeth for her love
will pay full dear. Therefore should ye give over the journey."
Then spake King Gunther: "Never was woman born so strong and bold
that I might not vanquish her with mine own hand."
"Be still," spake Siegfried, "ye little know her strength."
"So will I advise you," spake Hagen then, "that ye beg Siegfried to
share with you this heavy task. This is my rede, sith he doth know so
well how matters stand with Brunhild."
The king spake: "Wilt thou help me, noble Siegfried, to woo this
lovely maid? And thou doest what I pray thee and this comely dame become
my love, for thy sake will I risk both life and honor."
To this Siegfried, the son of Siegmund, answered: "I will do it, and
thou give me thy sister Kriemhild, the noble queen. For my pains I ask
no other meed."
"I'll pledge that, Siegfried, in thy hand," spake then Gunther, "and
if fair Brunhild come hither to this land, I'll give thee my sister unto
wife. Then canst thou live ever merrily with the fair."
This the noble warriors swore oaths to do, and so the greater grew
their hardships, till they brought the lady to the Rhine. On this
account these brave men must later be in passing danger. Siegfried had
to take with him hence the cloak which he, the bold hero, had won 'mid
dangers from a dwarf, Alberich he hight. These bold and mighty knights
now made them ready for the journey. When Siegfried wore the Cloak of
Darkness he had strength enow: the force of full twelve men beside his
own. With cunning arts he won the royal maid. This cloak was fashioned
so, that whatsoever any wrought within it, none saw him. Thus he won
Brunhild, which brought him dole.
"Now tell me, good Knight Siegfried, before our trip begin, shall we
not take warriors with us into Brunhild's land, that we may come with
passing honors to the sea? Thirty thousand men-at-arms can soon be
"However many men we take," quoth Siegfried, "the queen doth use so
fierce a wont that they must perish through her haughty pride. I'll give
thee better counsel, O brave and worthy king. Let us fare as wandering
knights adown the Rhine, and I will tell thee those that shall be of the
band. In all four knights, we'll journey to the sea and thus we'll woo
the lady, whatever be our fate thereafter. I shall be one of the four
comrades, the second thou shalt be. Let Hagen be the third (then have we
hope of life), Dankwart then the fourth, the valiant man. A thousand
others durst not match us in the fight."
"Gladly would I know," spake then the king, "ere we go hence ('t
would please me much), what garments we should wear before Brunhild,
which would beseem us there. Pray tell this now to Gunther."
"Weeds of the very best which can be found are worn all times in
Brunhild's land. We must wear rich clothes before the lady, that we feel
no shame when men shall hear the tidings told."
The good knight spake: "Then will I go myself to my dear mother, if
perchance I can bring it to pass that her fair maids purvey us garments
which we may wear with honor before the high-born maid."
Hagen of Troneg spake then in lordly wise: "Wherefore will ye pray
your mother of such service? Let your sister hear what ye have in mind,
and she'll purvey you well for your journey to Brunhild's court."
Then sent he word to his sister, that he would fain see her, and
Knight Siegfried, too, sent word. Ere this happed the fair had clad her
passing well. That these brave men were coming, gave her little grief.
Now were her attendants, too, arrayed in seemly wise. The lordings came,
and when she heard the tale, from her seat she rose and walked in
courtly wise to greet the noble stranger and her brother, too.
"Welcome be my brother and his comrade. I'd gladly know," so spake
the maid, "what ye lords desire, sith ye be thus come to court. Pray let
me hear how it standeth with you noble knights."
Then spake king Gunther: "My lady, I'll tell you now. Maugre our
lofty mood, yet have we mickle care. We would ride a-wooing far into
foreign lands, and for this journey we have need of costly robes."
"Now sit you down, dear brother," spake the royal maid, "and let me
hear aright who these ladies be whom ye fain would woo in the lands of
By the hand the lady took the chosen knights and with the twain she
walked to where she sate afore upon a couch, worked, as well I wot, with
dainty figures embossed in gold. There might they have fair pastime with
the ladies. Friendly glances and kindly looks passed now full oft
between the twain. In his heart he bare her, she was dear to him as
life. In after days fair Kriemhild became strong Siegfried's wife.
Then spake the mighty king: "Dear sister mine, without thy help it
may not be. We would go for knightly pastime to Brunhild's land, and
have need of princely garb to wear before the dames."
Then the noble maiden answered: "Dear brother mine, I do you now to
wit, that whatever need ye have of help of mine, that stand I ready to
give. Should any deny you aught, 't would please Kriemhild but ill. Most
noble knights, beseech me not with such concern, but order me with
lordly air to do whatso ye list. I stand at your bidding and will do it
with a will." So spake the winsome maid.
"We would fain, dear sister, wear good attire, and this your noble
hand shall help to choose . Your maidens then must make it fit us, for
there be no help against this journey." Then spake the princess: "Now
mark ye what I say. Silks I have myself; see ye that men do bring us
jewels upon the shields and thus we'll work the clothes. Gunther and
Siegfried, too, gave glad assent.
"Who are the comrades," spake the queen, "who shall fare with you
thus clad to court?"
He spake: "I shall be one of four. My liegemen twain, Dankwart and
Hagen, shall go with me to court. Now mark ye well, my lady, what I say.
Each of us four must have to wear for four whole days three changes of
apparel and such goodly trappings that without shame we may quit
In fitting wise the lords took leave and parted hence. Kriemhild, the
queen, bade thirty of her maidens who were skillful in such work, come
forth from out their bowers. Silks of Araby, white as snow, and the fair
silk of Zazamanc,  green as is the clover, they overlaid with
precious stones; that gave garments passing fair. Kriemhild herself, the
high-born maiden, cut them out. Whatso they had at hand of well-wrought
linings from the skin of foreign fish, but rarely seen of folk, they
covered now with silk, as was the wont to wear.  Now hear great
marvels of these shining weeds. From the kingdom of Morocco and from
Libya, too, they had great store of the fairest silks which the kith of
any king did ever win. Kriemhild made it well appear what love she bore
the twain. Sith upon the proud journey they had set their minds, they
deemed ermine to be well fit.  Upon this lay fine silk as black as
coal. This would still beseem all doughty knights at high festal tides.
From out a setting of Arabian gold there shone forth many a stone. The
ladies' zeal, it was not small, forsooth; in seven weeks they wrought
the robes. Ready, too, were the weapons for the right good knights.
When now they all stood dight,  there was built for them in haste
upon the Rhine a sturdy little skiff, that should bear them downward to
the sea. Weary were the noble maids from all their cares. Then the
warriors were told that the brave vestures they should wear were now
prepared; as they had craved it, so it now was done. Then no longer
would they tarry on the Rhine; they sent a message to their
war-companions, if perchance they should care to view their new attire,
to see if it be too long or short. All was found in fitting measure, and
for this they gave the ladies thanks. All who saw them could not but
aver that never in the world had they seen attire more fair. Therefore
they wore it gladly at the court. None wist how to tell of better
knightly weeds. Nor did they fail to give great thanks. Then the lusty
knights craved leave to go, and this the lordings did in courtly wise.
Bright eyes grew dim and moist thereat from weeping.
Kriemhild spake: "Dear brother, ye might better tarry here a while
and pay court to other dames, where ye would not so risk your life; then
would I say well done. Ye might find nearer home a wife of as high a
I ween their hearts did tell them what would hap. All wept alike, no
matter what men said. The gold upon their breasts was tarnished by their
tears, which thick and fast coursed downward from their eyes.
She spake: "Sir Siegfried, let this dear brother of mine be commended
to your fealty and troth, that naught may harm him in Brunhild's land."
This the full brave knight vowed in Lady Kriemhild's hand.
The mighty warrior spake: "If I lose not my life, ye may be free from
every care, my lady. I'll bring him to you sound again hither to the
Rhine; that know of a surety." The fair maid bowed her thanks.
Men bare their gold-hued shields out to them upon the sands and
brought them all their harness. One bade lead up the steeds, for they
would ride away. Much weeping then was done by comely dames. The winsome
maids stood at the easements. A high wind stirred the ship and sails;
the proud war fellowship embarked upon the Rhine.
Then spake King Gunther: "Who shall be the captain of the ship?"
"That will I," quoth Siegfried, "I wot well how to steer you on the
flood. That know, good knights, the right water ways be well known to
So they parted merrily from out the Burgundian land. Siegfried
quickly grasped an oar and from the shore the stalwart man gan push.
Bold Gunther took the helm himself, and thus the worshipful and speedy
knights set forth from land. With them they took rich food and eke good
wine, the best that could be found along the Rhine. Their steeds stood
fair; they had good easement. Their ship rode well; scant harm did hap
them. Their stout sheet-rope was tightened by the breeze. Twenty leagues
they sailed, or ever came the night, with a good wind, downward toward
the sea. These hard toils later brought the high-mettled warriors pain.
Upon the twelfth-day morning, as we hear say, the winds had borne
them far away to Isenstein in Brunhild's land. To none save Siegfried
was this known; but when King Gunther spied so many castles and broad
marches, too, how soon he spake: "Pray tell me, friend Siegfried, is it
known to you whose are these castles and this lordly land?"
Siegfried answered: "I know it well. It is the land and folk of
Brunhild and the fortress Isenstein, as ye heard me say. Fair ladies ye
may still see there to-day. Methinketh good to advise you heroes that ye
be of one single mind, and that ye tell the selfsame tale. For if we go
to-day before Brunhild, in much jeopardy must we stand before the queen.
When we behold the lovely maiden with her train, then, ye far-famed
heroes, must ye tell but this single tale: that Gunther be my master and
I his man; then what he craveth will come to pass." Full ready they were
for whatever he bade them vow, nor because of pride did any one abstain.
They promised what he would; wherefrom they all fared well, when King
Gunther saw fair Brunhild. 
"Forsooth I vow it less for thy sake than for thy sister's, the
comely maid, who is to me as mine own soul and body. Gladly will I bring
it to pass, that she become my wife."
 "Isenland" translates here M.H.G. "Islant", which has, however,
no connection with Iceland in spite of the agreement of the names in
German. "Isen lant", the reading of the MSS. BJh, has been chosen,
partly to avoid confusion, and partly to indicate its probable
derivation from "Isenstein", the name of Brunhild's castle. Boer's
interpretation of "Isen" as 'ice' finds corroboration in Otfrid's form
"isine steina" ('ice stones', i.e. crystals) I, 1. 70. Isenstein would
then mean Ice Castle. In the "Thidreksaga" Brunhild's castle is called
"Saegarthr" ('Sea Garden'), and in a fairy tale (No. 93 of Grimm)
"Stromberg", referring to the fact that it was surrounded by the sea.
Here, too, in our poem it stands directly on the shore.
 "Zazamanc", a fictitious kingdom mentioned only here and a few
times in Parzival, Wolfram probably having obtained the name from this
passage. (See Bartsch, "Germanistische Studien", ii, 129.)
 "Wont to wear". In the Middle Ages costly furs and fish-skins
were used as linings and covered, as here described, with silk or cloth.
By fish such amphibious animals as otter and beaver were often meant.
 "Well fit". In this passage "wert", the reading of A and D, has
been followed, instead of unwert of B and C, as it seems more
appropriate to the sense.
 "Dight", 'arrayed'; used by Milton.
 "Brunhild". The following words are evidently a late
interpolation, and weaken the ending, but have been translated for the
sake of completeness. They are spoken by Siegfried.
How Gunther Won Brunhild.
Meanwhile their bark had come so near the castle that the king saw many
a comely maiden standing at the casements. Much it irked King Gunther
that he knew them not. He asked his comrade Siegfried: "Hast thou no
knowledge of these maidens, who yonder are gazing downward towards us on
the flood? Whoever be their lord, they are of lofty mood."
At this Sir Siegfried spake: "I pray you, spy secretly among the
high-born maids and tell me then whom ye would choose, and ye had the
"That will I," spake Gunther, the bold and valiant knight. "In yonder
window do I see one stand in snow-white weeds. She is fashioned so fair
that mine eyes would choose her for her comeliness. Had I power, she
should become my wife."
"Right well thine eyes have chosen for thee. It is the noble
Brunhild, the comely maid, for whom thy heart doth strive and eke thy
mind and mood." All her bearing seemed to Gunther good.
When bade the queen her high-born maids go from the windows, for it
behooved them not to be the mark of strangers' eyes. Each one obeyed.
What next the ladies did, hath been told us since. They decked their
persons out to meet the unknown knights, a way fair maids have ever had.
To the narrow casements they came again, where they had seen the
knights. Through love of gazing this was done.
But four there were that were come to land. Through the windows the
stately women saw how Siegfried led a horse out on the sand, whereby
King Gunther felt himself much honored. By the bridle he held the steed,
so stately, good and fair, and large and strong, until King Gunther had
sat him in the saddle. Thus Siegfried served him, the which he later
quite forgot. Such service he had seldom done afore, that he should
stand at any here's stirrup. Then he led his own steed from the ship.
All this the comely dames of noble birth saw through the casements. The
steeds and garments, too, of the lusty knights, of snow-white hue, were
right well matched and all alike; the bucklers, fashioned well, gleamed
in the hands of the stately men. In lordly wise they rode to Brunhild's
hall, their saddles set with precious stones, with narrow martingales,
from which hung bells of bright and ruddy gold. So they came to the
land, as well befit their prowess, with newly sharpened spears, with
well-wrought swords, the which hung down to the spurs of these stately
men. The swords the bold men bore were sharp and broad. All this
Brunhild, the high-born maid, espied.
With the king came Dankwart and Hagen, too. We have heard tales told
of how the knights wore costly raiment, raven black of hue. Fair were
their bucklers, mickle, good and broad. Jewels they wore from the land
of India, the which gleamed gloriously upon their weeds. By the flood
they left their skiff without a guard. Thus the brave knights and good
rode to the castle. Six and eighty towers they saw within, three broad
palaces,  and one hall well wrought of costly marble, green as grass,
wherein Brunhild herself sate with her courtiers. The castle was
unlocked and the gates flung wide. Then ran Brunhild's men to meet them
and welcomed the strangers into their mistress' land. One bade relieve
them of their steeds and shields.
Then spake a chamberlain: "Pray give us now your swords and your
shining breastplates, too."
"That we may not grant you," said Hagen of Troneg; "we ourselves will
Then gan Siegfried tell aright the tale. "The usage of the castle,
let me say, is such that no guests may here bear arms. Let them now be
taken hence, then will all be well."
Unwillingly Hagen, Gunther's man, obeyed. For the strangers men bade
pour out wine and make their lodgings ready. Many doughty knights were
seen walking everywhere at court in lordly weeds. Mickle and oft were
these heroes gazed upon.
Then the tidings were told to Lady Brunhild, that unknown warriors
were come in lordly raiment, sailing on the flood. The fair and worthy
maid gan ask concerning this. "Pray let me hear," spake the queen, "who
be these unknown knights, who stand so lordly in my castle, and for
whose sake the heroes have journeyed hither?"
Then spake one of the courtiers: "My lady, I can well say that never
have I set eyes on any of them, but one like Siegfried doth stand among
them. Him ye should give fair greetings; that is my rede, in truth. The
second of their fellowship is so worthy of praise that he were easily a
mighty king over broad and princely lands, and he had the power and
might possess them. One doth see him stand by the rest in such right
lordly wise. The third of the fellowship is so fierce and yet withal so
fair of body, most noble queen. By the fierce glances he so oft doth
east, I ween he be grim of thought and mood. The youngest among them is
worshipful indeed. I see the noble knight stand so charmingly, with
courtly bearing, in almost maiden modesty. We might all have cause for
fear, had any done him aught. However blithely he doth practice
chivalry, and howso fair of body he be, yet might he well make many a
comely woman weep, should he e'er grow angry. He is so fashioned that in
all knightly virtues he must be a bold knight and a brave."
Then spake the queen: "Now bring me my attire. If the mighty
Siegfried be come unto this land through love of mine, he doth risk his
life. I fear him not so sore, that I should become his wife."
Brunhild, the fair, was soon well clad. Then went there with her many
a comely maid, full hundred or more, decked out in gay attire. The
stately dames would gaze upon the strangers. With them there walked good
knights from Isenland, Brunhild's men-at-arms, five hundred or more, who
bore swords in hand. This the strangers rued. From their seats then the
brave and lusty heroes rose. When that the queen spied Siegfried, now
hear what the maid did speak.
"Be ye welcome, Siegfried, here in this our land! What doth your
journey mean? That I fain would know."
"Gramercy, my Lady Brunhild, that ye have deigned to greet me, most
generous queen, in the presence of this noble knight who standeth here
before me, for he is my liege lord. This honor I must needs forswear. By
birth he's from the Rhine; what more need I to say? For thy sake are we
come hither. Fain would he woo thee, however he fare. Methink thee now
betimes, my lord will not let thee go. He is hight Gunther and is a
lordly king. An' he win thy love, he doth crave naught more. Forsooth
this knight, so well beseen, did bid me journey hither. I would fain
have given it over, could I have said him nay."
She spake: "Is he thy liege and thou his man, dare he assay the games
which I mete out and gain the mastery, then I'll become his wife; but
should I win, 't will cost you all your lives."
Then up spake Hagen of Troneg: "My lady, let us see your mighty
games. It must indeed go hard, or ever Gunther, my lord, give you the
palm. He troweth well to win so fair a maid."
"He must hurl the stone and after spring and cast the spear with me.
Be ye not too hasty. Ye are like to lose here your honor and your life
as well. Bethink you therefore rightly," spake the lovely maid.
Siegfried, the bold, went to the king and bade him tell the queen all
that he had in mind, he should have no fear. "I'll guard you well
against her with my arts."
Then spake King Gunther: "Most noble queen, now mete out whatso ye
list, and were it more, that would I all endure for your sweet sake.
I'll gladly lose my head, and ye become not my wife."
When the queen heard this speech, she begged them hasten to the
games, as was but meet. She bade purvey her with good armor for the
strife: a breastplate of ruddy gold and a right good shield. A silken
surcoat,  too, the maid put on, which sword had never cut in any
fray, of silken cloth of Libya. Well was it wrought. Bright embroidered
edging was seen to shine thereon.
Meanwhile the knights were threatened much with battle cries.
Dankwart and Hagen stood ill at ease; their minds were troubled at the
thought of how the king would speed. Thought they: "Our journey will not
bring us warriors aught of good."
Meanwhile Siegfried, the stately man, or ever any marked it, had hied
him to the ship, where he found his magic cloak concealed. Into it he
quickly slipped and so was seen of none. He hurried back and there he
found a great press of knights, where the queen dealt out her lofty
games. Thither he went in secret wise (by his arts it happed), nor was
he seen of any that were there. The ring had been marked out, where the
games should be, afore many valiant warriors, who were to view them
there. More than seven hundred were seen bearing arms, who were to say
who won the game.
Then was come Brunhild, armed as though she would battle for all
royal lands. Above her silken coat she wore many a bar of gold;
gloriously her lovely color shone beneath the armor. Then came her
courtiers, who bare along a shield of ruddy gold with large broad strips
as hard as steel, beneath the which the lovely maid would fight. As
shield-thong there served a costly band upon which lay jewels green as
grass. It shone and gleamed against the gold. He must needs be passing
bold, to whom the maid would show her love. The shield the maid should
bear was three spans thick beneath the studs, as we are told. Rich enow
it was, of steel and eke of gold, the which four chamberlains could
When the stalwart Hagen saw the shield borne forth, the knight of
Troneg spake full grim of mood: "How now, King Gunther? How we shall
lose our lives! She you would make your love is the devil's bride, in
Hear now about her weeds; enow of these she had; she wore a surcoat
of silk of Azagoue,  noble and costly. Many a lordly stone shone in
contrast to its color on the person of the queen.
Then was brought forth for the lady a spear, sharp, heavy, and large,
the which she cast all time, stout and unwieldy, mickle and broad, which
on its edges cut most fearfully. Of the spear's great weight hear
wonders told. Three and one half weights  of iron were wrought
therein, the which scarce three of Brunhild's men could bear. The noble
Gunther gan be sore afraid. Within his heart he thought: "What doth this
mean? How could the devil from hell himself escape alive? Were I safe
and sound in Burgundy, long might she live here free of any love of
Then spake Hagen's brother, the valiant Dankwart: "The journey to
this court doth rue me sore. We who have ever borne the name of knights,
how must we lose our lives! Shall we now perish at the hands of women in
these lands? It doth irk me much, that ever I came unto this country.
Had but my brother Hagen his sword in hand, and I mine, too, then should
Brunhild's men go softly in their overweening pride. This know for sure,
they'd guard against it well. And had I sworn a peace with a thousand
oaths, before I'd see my dear lord die, the comely maid herself should
lose her life."
"We might leave this land unscathed," spake then his brother Hagen,
"had we the harness which we sorely need and our good swords as well;
then would the pride of this strong dame become a deal more soft."
What the warrior spake the noble maid heard well. Over her shoulders
she gazed with smiling mouth. "Now sith he thinketh himself so brave,
bring them forth their coats-of-mail; put in the warriors' hands their
When they received their weapons as the maiden bade, bold Dankwart
blushed for very joy. "Now let them play whatso they list," spake the
doughty man. "Gunther is unconquered, since now we have our arms."
Mightily now did Brunhild's strength appear. Into the ring men bare a
heavy stone, huge and great, mickle and round. Twelve brave and valiant
men-at-arms could scarcely bear it. This she threw at all times, when
she had shot the spear. The Burgundians' fear now grew amain.
"Woe is me," cried Hagen. "Whom hath King Gunther chosen for a love?
Certes she should be the foul fiend's bride in hell."
Upon her fair white arm the maid turned back her sleeves; with her
hands she grasped the shield and poised the spear on high. Thus the
strife began. Gunther and Siegfried feared Brunhild's hate, and had
Siegfried not come to Gunther's aid, she would have bereft the king of
life. Secretly Siegfried went and touched his hand; with great fear
Gunther marked his wiles. "Who hath touched me?" thought the valiant
man. Then he gazed around on every side, but saw none standing there.
"'Tis I, Siegfried, the dear friend of thine. Thou must not fear the
queen. Give me the shield from off thy hand and let me bear it and mark
aright what thou dost hear me say. Make thou the motions, I will do the
When Gunther knew that it was Siegfried, he was overjoyed.
Quoth Siegfried: "Now hide thou my arts; tell them not to any man;
then can the queen win from thee little fame, albeit she doth desire it.
See how fearlessly the lady standeth now before thee."
Then with might and main the noble maiden hurled the spear at a
shield, mickle, new, and broad, which the son of Siegelind bore upon his
arm. The sparks sprang from the steel, as if the wind did blow. The edge
of the mighty spear broke fully through the shield, so that men saw the
fire flame forth from the armor rings. The stalwart men both staggered
at the blow; but for the Cloak of Darkness they had lain there dead.
From the mouth of Siegfried, the brave, gushed forth the blood. Quickly
the good knight sprang back again and snatched the spear that she had
driven through his shield. Stout Siegfried's hand now sent it back
again. He thought: "I will not pierce the comely maid." So he reversed
the point and cast it at her armor with the butt, that it rang out
loudly from his mighty hand. The sparks flew from the armor rings, as
though driven by the wind. Siegmund's son had made the throw with might.
With all her strength she could not stand before the blow. In faith King
Gunther never could have done the deed.
Brunhild, the fair, how quickly up she sprang! "Gunther, noble
knight, I cry you mercy for the shot." She weened that he had done it
with his strength. To her had crept a far more powerful man. Then went
she quickly, angry was her mood. The noble maid and good raised high the
stone and hurled it mightily far from her hand. After the cast she
sprang, that all her armor rang, in truth. The stone had fallen twelve
fathoms hence, but with her leap the comely maid out-sprang the throw.
Then went Sir Siegfried to where lay the stone. Gunther poised it, while
the hero made the throw. Siegfried was bold, strong, and tall; he threw
the stone still further and made a broader jump. Through his fair arts
he had strength enow to bear King Gunther with him as he sprang. The
leap was made, the stone lay on the ground; men saw none other save
Gunther, the knight, alone. Siegfried had banished the fear of King
Gunther's death. Brunhild, the fair, waxed red with wrath. To her
courtiers she spake a deal too loud, when she spied the hero safe and
sound at the border of the ring: "Come nearer quickly, ye kinsmen and
liegemen of mine, ye must now be subject to Gunther, the king."
Then the brave knights laid aside their arms and paid their homage at
the feet of mighty Gunther from the Burgundian land. They weened that he
had won the games by his own strength alone. He greeted them in loving
wise; in sooth he was most rich in virtues.
Then the lovely maiden took him by the hand; full power she granted
him within the land. At this Hagen, the bold and doughty knight,
rejoiced him. She bade the noble knight go with her hence to the
spacious palace. When this was done, they gave the warriors with their
service better cheer. With good grace Hagen and Dankwart now must needs
submit. The doughty Siegfried was wise enow and bare away his magic
cloak. Then he repaired to where the ladies sate. To the king he spake
and shrewdly did he this: "Why wait ye, good my lord? Why begin ye not
the games, of which the queen doth deal so great a store? Let us soon
see how they be played." The crafty man did not as though he wist not a
Then spake the Queen: "How hath it chanced that ye, Sir Siegfried,
have seen naught of the games which the hand of Gunther here hath won?"
To this Hagen of the Burgundian land made answer. He spake: "Ye have
made us sad of mind, my lady. Siegfried, the good knight, was by the
ship when the lord of the Rhineland won from you the games. He knoweth
"Well is me of this tale," spake Siegfried, the knight, "that your
pride hath been brought thus low, and that there doth live a wight who
hath the power to be your master. Now, O noble maiden, must ye follow us
hence to the Rhine."
Then spake the fair-fashioned maid: "That may not be. First must my
kith and liegemen learn of this. Certes, I may not so lightly void my
lands; my dearest friends must first be fetched."
Then bade she messengers ride on every side. She called her friends,
her kinsmen, and her men-at-arms and begged them come without delay to
Isenstein, and bade them all be given lordly and rich apparel. Daily,
early and late, they rode in troops to Brunhild's castle.
"Welaway," cried Hagen, "what have we done! We may ill abide the
coming of fair Brunhild's men. If now they come into this land in force,
then hath the noble maid been born to our great rue. The will of the
queen is unknown to us; what if she be so wroth that we be lost?"
Then the stalwart Siegfried spake: "Of that I'll have care. I'll not
let hap that which ye fear. I'll bring you help hither to this land,
from chosen knights the which till now ye have not known. Ye must not
ask about me; I will fare hence. Meanwhile may God preserve your honor.
I'll return eftsoon and bring you a thousand men, the very best of
knights that I have ever known."
"Pray tarry not too long," spake then the king; "of your help we be
He answered: "In a few short days I'll come again. Tell ye to
Brunhild, that ye've sent me hence."
 "Palaces". See Adventure III, note 7.
 "Surcoat", which here translates the M.H.G. "wafenhemde", is a
light garment of cloth or silk worn above the armor.
 "Azagouc". See Zazamanc, Adventure VI, note 2. This strophe is
evidently a late interpolation, as it contradicts the description given
 Weights. The M.H.G. "messe" (Lat. "masse") is just as indefinite
as the English expression. It was a mass or lump of any metal, probably
determined by the size of the melting-pot.
ADVENTURE VIII 
How Siegfried Fared To His Men-At-Arms, the Nibelungs.
Through the gate Siegfried hied him in his Cloak of Darkness down to the
sand, where he found a skiff. Secretly the son of Siegmund embarked and
drove it quickly hence, as though the wind did blow it on. None saw the
steersman; the bark fared fast, impelled by Siegfried's mighty strength.
They weened a seldom strong wind did drive it on. Nay, it was rowed by
Siegfried, the son of Siegelind, the fair. In the time of a day and
night with might and main he reached a land full hundred rests  away,
or more. The people hight Nibelungs, where he owned the mighty hoard.
The hero rowed alone to a broad isle, where the lusty knight now beached
the boat and made it fast full soon. To a hill he hied him, upon which
stood a castle, and sought here lodgment, as way-worn travelers do. He
came first to a gateway that stood fast locked. In sooth they guarded
well their honor, as men still do. The stranger now gan knock upon the
door, the which was closely guarded. There within he saw a giant
standing, who kept the castle and at whose side lay at all times his
arms. He spake: "Who is it who doth knock so rudely on the gate?"
Then bold Siegfried changed his voice and spake: "I am a knight; do
up the door, else will I enrage many a one outside to-day, who would
liefer lie soft and take his ease."
When Siegfried thus spake, it irked the warder. Meanwhile the giant
had donned his armor and placed his helm upon his head. Quickly the
mighty man snatched up his shield and opened wide the gate. How fiercely
he ran at Siegfried and asked, how he durst wake so many valiant men?
Huge blows were dealt out by his hand. Then the lordly stranger gan
defend him, but with an iron bar the warder shattered his shield-plates.
Then was the hero in dire need. Siegfried gan fear a deal his death,
when the warder struck such mighty blows. Enow his master Siegfried
loved him for this cause. They strove so sore that all the castle rang
and the sound was heard in Nibelung's hall. He overcame the warder and
bound him, too.
The tale was noised abroad in all the Nibelungs' land. Alberich, the
bold, a savage dwarf, heard the fierce struggle through the mountain. He
armed him quick and ran to where he found the noble stranger, as he
bound the mighty giant. Full wroth was Alberich and strong enow. On his
body he bare helmet and rings of mail and in his hand a heavy scourge of
gold. Swift and hard he ran to where Siegfried stood. Seven heavy knobs
 hung down in front, with which he smote so fiercely the shield upon
the bold man's arm, that it brake in parts. The stately stranger came in
danger of his life. From his hand he flung the broken shield and thrust
into the sheath a sword, the which was long. He would not strike his
servant dead, but showed his courtly breeding as his knightly virtue
bade him. He rushed at Alberich and with his powerful hands he seized
the gray-haired man by the beard. So roughly he pulled his beard, that
he screamed aloud. The tugging of the youthful knight hurt Alberich
Loud cried the valiant dwarf: "Now spare my life. And might I be the
vassal of any save one knight, to whom I swore an oath that I would own
him as my lord, I'd serve you till my death." So spake the cunning 
He then bound Alberich as he had the giant afore. Full sore the
strength of Siegfried hurt him. The dwarf gan ask: "How are ye named?"
"My name is Siegfried," he replied; "I deemed ye knew me well."
"Well is me of these tidings," spake Alberich, the dwarf. "Now have I
noted well the knightly deeds, through which ye be by right the sovran
of the land. I'll do whatso ye bid, and ye let me live."
Then spake Sir Siegfried: "Go quickly now and bring me the best of
knights we have, a thousand Nibelungs, that they may see me here."
Why he wanted this, none heard him say. He loosed the bonds of
Alberich and the giant. Then ran Alberich swift to where he found the
knights. In fear he waked the Nibelung men. He spake:
"Up now, ye heroes, ye must go to Siegfried."
From their beds they sprang and were ready in a trice. A thousand
doughty knights soon stood well clad. They hied them to where they saw
Sir Siegfried stand. Then was done a fair greeting, in part by deeds.
Great store of tapers were now lit up; they proffered him mulled wine.
 He gave them thanks that they were come so soon. He spake: "Ye must
away with me across the flood."
Full ready for this he found the heroes brave and good. Well thirty
hundred men were come eftsoon, from whom he chose a thousand of the
best. Men brought them their helmets and other arms, for he would lead
them to Brunhild's land. He spake: "Ye good knights, this will I tell
you, ye must wear full costly garments there at court, for many lovely
dames shall gaze upon us. Therefore must ye deck yourselves with goodly
Early on a morn they started on their way. What a speedy journey
Siegfried won! They took with them good steeds and lordly harness, and
thus they came in knightly wise to Brunhild's land.
The fair maids stood upon the battlements. Then spake the queen:
"Knoweth any, who they be whom I see sailing yonder far out upon the
sea? They have rich sails e'en whiter than the snow."
Quoth the king of the Rhineland: "They're men of mine, the which I
left hard by here on the way. I had them sent for, and now they be come,
my lady." All eyes were fixed upon the lordly strangers.
Then one spied Siegfried standing at his vessel's prow in lordly
weeds and many other men. The queen spake: "Sir King, pray tell me,
shall I receive the strangers or shall I deny them greetings?"
He spake: "Ye must go to meet them out before the palace, that they
may well perceive how fain we be to see them here."
Then the queen did as the king advised her. She marked out Siegfried
with her greetings from the rest. Men purveyed them lodgings and took in
charge their trappings. So many strangers were now come to the land,
that everywhere they jostled Brunhild's bands. Now would the valiant men
fare home to Burgundy.
Then spake the queen: "My favor would I bestow on him who could deal
out to the king's guests and mine my silver and gold, of which I have
To this Dankwart, King Giselher's liegeman, answered: "Most noble
queen," spake the brave knight, "let me but wield the keys. I trow to
deal it out in fitting wise; whatso of blame I gain, let be mine own."
That he was bountiful, he made appear full well.
When now Sir Hagen's brother took the keys in charge, the hero's hand
did proffer many a costly gift. He who craved a mark  received such
store that all the poor might lead a merry life. Full hundred pounds he
gave, nor did he stop to count. Enow walked before the hall in rich
attire, who never had worn afore such lordly dress. Full sore it rued
the queen when this she heard. She spake: "Sir King, I fain would have
your aid, lest your chamberlain leave naught of all my store of dress;
he squandereth eke my gold. If any would forfend this, I'd be his friend
for aye. He giveth such royal gifts, the knight must ween, forsooth,
that I have sent for death. I would fain use it longer and trow well
myself to waste that which my father left me." No queen as yet hath ever
had so bounteous a chamberlain.
Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "My lady, be it told you that the king of
the Rhineland hath such great store of gold and robes to give, that we
have no need to carry hence aught of Brunhild's weeds."
"Nay, and ye love me," spake the queen, "let me fill twenty traveling
chests with gold and silk as well, the which my hand shall give, when we
are come across to Gunther's land."
Men filled her chests with precious stones, the while her
chamberlains stood by. She would not trust the duty to Giselher's men.
Gunther and Hagen began to laugh thereat.
Then spake the queen: "With whom shall I leave my lands? This my hand
and yours must first decree."
Quoth the noble king: "Now bid draw near whom ye deem fit and we will
make him steward."
The lady spied near by one of her highest kin (it was her mother's
brother); to him the maiden spake: "Now let be commended to your care my
castles and my lands, till that King Gunther's hand rule here."
Then twenty hundred of her men she chose, who should fare with her
hence to Burgundy, together with those thousand warriors from the
Nibelung land. They dressed their journey; one saw them riding forth
upon the sand. Six and eighty dames they took along and thereto a
hundred maids, their bodies passing fair. No longer now they tarried,
for they were fain to get them hence. Ho, what great wail was made by
those they left at home! In courtly wise she voided thus her land. She
kissed her nearest kinsmen who were found at court. After a fair
leave-taking they journeyed to the sea. To her fatherland the lady
nevermore returned. Many kinds of games were seen upon the way; pastimes
they had galore. A real sea breeze did help them on their voyage. Thus
they fared forth from the land fully merrily. She would not let her
husband court her on the way; this pleasure was deferred until their
wedding-tide in the castle, their home, at Worms, to which in good time
she came right joyfully with all her knights.
 Adventure VIII. This whole episode, in which Siegfried fetches
men to aid Gunther in case of attempted treachery on Brunhild's part, is
of late origin and has no counterpart in the older versions. It is a
further development of Siegfried's fight in which he slew Schilbung and
Nibelung and became the ruler of the Nibelung land. The fight with
Alberich is simply a repetition of the one in the former episode.
 "Rest" (M.H.G. "rast"), originally 'repose', then used as a
measure of distance, as here.
 "Knobs", round pieces of metal fastened to the scourge.
 "Cunning" is to be taken here in the Biblical sense of 'knowing'.
The M.H.G. "listig" which it here translates, denotes 'skilled' or
'learned' in various arts and is a standing epithet of dwarfs.
 "Mulled wine" translates M.H.G. "lutertranc", a claret mulled
with herbs and spice and left to stand until clear.
 "Mark". See Adventure V, note 5.
How Siegfried Was Sent To Worms.
When they had thus fared on their way full nine days, Hagen of Troneg
spake: "Now mark ye what I say. We wait too long with the tidings for
Worms upon the Rhine. Our messengers should be e'en now in Burgundy."
Then spake King Gunther: "Ye have told me true, and none be more
fitting for this trip than ye, friend Hagen; now ride ye to my land.
None can acquaint them better with our journey home to court."
To this Hagen made answer: "I am no fit envoy. Let me play
chamberlan, I'll stay with the ladies upon the flood and guard their
robes, until we bring them to the Burgundian land. Bid Siegfried bear
the message, he knoweth how to do it well with his mighty strength. If
he refuse you the journey, then must ye in courtly and gentle wise pray
him of the boon for your sister's sake."
Gunther sent now for the warrior, who came to where he stood. He
spake: "Sith we be now nearing my lands at home, it behooveth me to send
a messenger to the dear sister of mine and to my mother, too, that we
draw near the Rhine. This I pray you, Siegfried; now do my will, that I
may requite it to you ever," spake the good knight.
Siegfried, the passing bold man, however said him nay, till Gunther
gan beseech him sore. He spake: "Ye must ride for my sake and for
Kriemhild's too, the comely maiden, so that the royal maid requite it,
as well as I."
When Siegfried heard these words, full ready was the knight. "Now bid
me what ye will; naught shall be withheld. I will do it gladly for the
fair maid's sake. Why should I refuse her whom I bear in heart? Whatso
ye command for love of her, shall all be done."
"Then tell my mother Uta, the queen, that we be of lofty mood upon
this voyage. Let my brothers know how we have fared. These tidings must
ye let our friends hear, too. Hide naught from my fair sister, give her
mine and Brunhild's greetings. Greet the retainers, too, and all my men.
How well I have ended that for which my heart hath ever striven! And
tell Ortwin, the dear nephew of mine, that he bid seats be built at
Worms along the Rhine. Let my other kinsmen know that I am willed to
hold with Brunhild a mighty wedding feast. And tell my sister, when she
hath heard that I be come with my guests to the land, that she give fair
greeting to my bride. For that I will ever render Kriemhild service."
The good Lord Siegfried soon took leave of Lady Brunhild, as beseemed
him well, and of all her train; then rode he to the Rhine. Never might
there be a better envoy in this world. He rode with four and twenty
men-at-arms to Worms; he came without the king. When that was noised
about, the courtiers all were grieved; they feared their master had been
Then they dismounted from their steeds, high stood their mood.
Giselher, the good young king, came soon to meet them, and Gernot his
brother, too. How quickly then he spake, when he saw not Gunther at
Siegfried's side: "Be welcome, Siegfried; pray let me know where ye have
left the king my brother? The prowess of Brunhild, I ween, hath ta'en
him from us. Great scathe had her haughty love then brought us."
"Let be this fear. My battle-comrade sendeth greetings to you and to
his kin. I left him safe and sound. He sent me on ahead, that I might be
his messenger with tidings hither to this land. Pray have a care,
however that may hap, that I may see the queen and your sister, too, for
I must let them hear what message Gunther and Brunhild have sent them.
Both are in high estate."
Then spake Giselher, the youth: "Now must ye go to her, for ye have
brought my much of joy. She is mickle fearful for my brother. I'll
answer that the maid will see you gladly."
Then spake Sir Siegfried: "Howsoever I may serve her, that shall be
gladly done, in faith. Who now will tell the ladies that I would hie me
Giselher then became the messenger, the stately man. The doughty
knight spake to his mother and his sister too, when that he saw them
both: "To us is come Siegfried, the hero from Netherland; him my brother
Gunther hath sent hither to the Rhine. He bringeth the news of how it
standeth with the king. Pray let him therefore come to court. He'll tell
you the right tidings straight from Isenland."
As yet the noble ladies were acquaint with fear, but now for their
weeds they sprang and dressed them and bade Sir Siegfried come to court.
This he did full gladly, for he was fain to see them. Kriemhild, the
noble maid, addressed him fair: "Be welcome, Sir Siegfried, most
worshipful knight. Where is my brother Gunther, the noble and mighty
king? We ween that we have lost him through Brunhild's strength. Woe is
me, poor maid, that ever I was born."
Then spake the daring knight: "Now give me an envoy's guerdon, ye
passing fair ladies, ye do weep without a cause. I do you to wit, I left
him safe and sound. They have sent me with the tidings to you both. He
and his bride do send you kindly greetings and a kinsman's love, O noble
queen. Now leave off your weeping, they'll come full soon."
In many a day she had not heard a tale so glad. With her snow-white
hem she wiped the tears from her pretty eyes and began to thank the
messenger for the tidings, which now were come. Thus her great sorrow
and her weeping were taken away. She bade the messenger be seated; full
ready he was for this. Then spake the winsome maid: "I should not rue
it, should I give you as an envoy's meed my gold. For that ye are too
rich, but I will be your friend in other ways."
"And had I alone," spake he, "thirty lands, yet would I gladly
receive gifts from your fair hand."
Then spake the courtly maid: "It shall be done." She bade her
chamberlain go fetch the meed for tidings. Four and twenty arm-rings,
set with goodly gold, she gave him as his meed. So stood the hero's mood
that he would not retain them, but gave them straightway to her nearest
maidens, he found within the bower. Full kindly her mother offered him
her service. "I am to tell you the tale," then spake the valiant man,
"of what the king doth pray you, when he cometh to the Rhine. If ye
perform that, my lady, he'll ever hold you in his love. I heard him
crave that ye should give fair greetings to his noble guests and grant
him the boon, that ye ride to meet him out in front of Worms upon the
strand. This ye are right truly admonished by the king to do."
Then spake the winsome maid: "For this am I full ready. In whatsoever
wise I can serve the king, that will I not refuse; with a kinsman's love
it shall be done." Her color heightened for very joy. Never was the
messenger of any prince received more fair. The lady would have kissed
him, had she but dared. How lovingly he parted from the dames!
The men of Burgundy then did as Siegfried counseled. Sindolt and
Hunolt and Rumolt, the knight, must needs be busy with the work of
putting up the seats outside of Worms upon the strand. The royal
stewards, too, were found at work. Ortwin and Gere would not desist, but
sent to fetch their friends on every side, and made known to them the
feasting that was to be. The many comely maids arrayed themselves
against the feast. Everywhere the palace and the walls were decked out
for the guests. Gunther's hall was passing well purveyed for the many
strangers. Thus began full merrily this splendid feast.
From every side along the highways of the land pricked now the
kinsmen of these three kings, who had been called that they might wait
upon those who were coming home. Then from the presses great store of
costly weeds was taken. Soon tidings were brought that men saw
Brunhild's kinsmen ride along. Great jostling then arose from the press
of folk in the Burgundian land. Ho, what bold knights were found on
Then spake fair Kriemhild: "Ye maids of mine, who would be with me at
the greeting, seek out from the guests the very best of robes; then will
praise and honor be given us by the guests." Then came the warriors,
too, and bade the lordly saddles of pure red gold be carried forth, on
which the ladies should ride from Worms down to the Rhine. Better
trappings might there never be. Ho, what bright gold did sparkle on the
jet-black palfreys! From their bridles there gleamed forth many a
precious stone. The golden stepping-blocks were brought and placed on
shining carpets for the ladies, who were gay of mood. As I have said,
the palfreys now stood ready in the courtyard for the noble maids. One
saw the steeds wear narrow martingales of the best of silk, of which
tale might be told. Six and eighty ladies who wore fillets  in their
hair were seen come forth. The fair ones came to Kriemhild wearing
glittering robes. Then followed many a comely maid in brave attire,
fifty and four from the Burgundian land. They were eke the best that
might anywhere be found. Men saw them walking with their flaxen hair and
shining ribbons. That which the king desired was done with zeal. They
wore before the stranger knights rich cloth of silk, the best that could
be found, and so many a goodly robe, which well befit their ample
beauty. One found there many clothes of sable and ermine fur. Many an
arm and hand was well adorned with bracelets over the silken sleeves,
which they should wear. None might tell the story of this tiring to the
end. Many a hand played with well-wrought girdles, rich and long, above
gay colored robes, over costly ferran  skirts of silken cloth of
Araby. In high spirits were these maids of noble birth. Clasps  were
sewed in lovely wise upon the dress of many a comely maid. She had good
cause to rue it, whose bright color did not shine in contrast to her
weeds. No kingly race hath now such fair retainers. When now the lovely
maids had donned the garments they should wear, there then drew near a
mickle band of high-mettled champions. Together with their shields they
carried many an ashen spear.
 "Fillets" were worn only by married women.
 "Ferran", a gray colored cloth of silk and wool; from O.F.
 "Clasps" or "brooches" were used to fasten the dresses in front.
How Brunhild Was Received At Worms.
Across the Rhine men saw the king with his guests in many bands pricking
to the shore. One saw the horse of many a maiden, too, led by the
bridle. All those who should give them welcome were ready now. When
those of Isenland and Siegfried's Nibelung men were come across in
boats, they hasted to the shore (not idle were their hands), where the
kindred of the king were seen upon the other bank. Now hear this tale,
too, of the queen, the noble Uta, how she herself rode hither with the
maidens from the castle. Then many a knight and maid became acquaint.
Duke Gere led Kriemhild's palfroy by the bridle till just outside the
castle gate. Siegfried, the valiant knight, must needs attend her
further. A fair maid was she! Later the noble dame requited well this
deed. Ortwin, the bold, rode by Lady Uta's side, and many knights and
maidens rode in pairs. Well may we aver that so many dames were never
seen together at such stately greeting.
Many a splendid joust was ridden by worshipful knights (not well
might it be left undone) afore Kriemhild, the fair, down to the ships.
Then the fair-fashioned ladies were lifted from the palfreys. The king
was come across and many a worthy guest. Ho, what stout lances brake
before the ladies' eyes! One heard the clash of many hurtling shields.
Ho, what costly bucklers rang loudly as they closed! The lovely fair
stood by the shore as Gunther and his guests alighted from the boats; he
himself led Brunhild by the hand. Bright gems and gleaming armor shone
forth in rivalry. Lady Kriemhild walked with courtly breeding to meet
Dame Brunhild and her train. White hands removed the chaplets,  as
these twain kissed each other; through deference this was done.
Then in courteous wise the maiden Kriemhild spake: "Be ye welcome in
these lands of ours, to me and to my mother and to all the loyal kin we
Low bows were made and the ladies now embraced full oft. Such loving
greeting hath one never heard, as the two ladies, Dame Uta and her
daughter, gave the bride; upon her sweet mouth they kissed her oft. When
now Brunhild's ladies all were come to land, stately knights took many a
comely woman by the hand in loving wise. The fair-fashioned maids were
seen to stand before the lady Brunhild. Long time elasped or ever the
greetings all were done; many a rose-red mouth was kissed, in sooth.
Still side by side the noble princesses stood, which liked full well the
doughty warriors for to see. They who had heard men boast afore that
such beauty had ne'er been seen as these two dames possessed, spied now
with all their eyes and must confess the truth. Nor did one see upon
their persons cheats of any kind. Those who wot how to judge of women
and lovely charms, praised Gunther's bride for beauty; but the wise had
seen more clear and spake, that one must give Kriemhild the palm before
Maids and ladies now drew near each other. Many a comely dame was
seen arrayed full well. Silken tents and many rich pavilions stood hard
by, the which quite filled the plain of Worms. The kinsmen of the king
came crowding around, when Brunhild and Kriemhild and with them all the
dames were bidden go to where shade was found. Thither the knights from
the Burgundian land escorted them.
Now were the strangers come to horse, and shields were pierced in
many royal jousts. From the plain the dust gan rise, as though the whole
land had burst forth into flames. There many a knight became well known
as champion. Many a maiden saw what there the warriors plied. Methinks,
Sir Siegfried and his knights rode many a turn afore the tents. He led a
thousand stately Nibelungs.
Then Hagen of Troneg came, as the king had counseled, and parted in
gentle wise the jousting, that the fair maids be not covered with the
dust, the which the strangers willingly obeyed. Then spake Sir Gernot:
"Let stand the steeds till the air grow cooler, for ye must be full
ready when that the king will ride. Meanwhile let us serve the comely
dames before the spacious hall."
When now over all the plain the jousts had ceased, the knights, on
pastime bent, hied them to the ladies under many a high pavilion in the
hope of lofty joys. There they passed the hours until they were minded
to ride away.
Just at eventide, when the sun was setting and the air grew chill, no
longer they delayed, but man and woman hasted toward the castle. Many a
comely maiden was caressed with loving glances. In jousting great store
of clothes were torn by good knights, by the high-mettled warriors,
after the custom of the land, until the king dismounted by the hall.
Valiant heroes helped the ladies, as is their wont. The noble queens
then parted; Lady Uta and her daughter went with their train to a
spacious hall, where great noise of merriment was heard on every side.
The seats were now made ready, for the king would go to table with
his guests. At his side men saw fair Brunhild stand, wearing the crown
in the king's domain. Royal enow she was in sooth. Good broad tables,
with full many benches for the men, were set with vitaille, as we are
told. Little they lacked that they should have! At the king's table many
a lordly guest was seen. The chamberlains of the host bare water forth
in basins of ruddy gold. It were but in vain, if any told you that men
were ever better served at princes' feasts: I would not believe you
Before the lord of the Rhineland took the water to wash his hands,
Siegfried did as was but meet, he minded him by his troth of what he had
promised, or ever he had seen Brunhild at home in Isenland. He spake:
"Ye must remember how ye swore me by your hand, that when Lady Brunhild
came to this land, ye would give me your sister to wife. Where be now
these oaths? I have suffered mickle hardship on our trip."
Then spake the king to his guest: "Rightly have ye minded me. Certes
my hand shall not be perjured. I'll bring it to pass as best I can."
Then they bade Kriemhild go to court before the king. She came with
her fair maidens to the entrance of the hall. At this Sir Giselher
sprang down the steps. "Now bid these maidens turn again. None save my
sister alone shall be here by the king."
Then they brought Kriemhild to where the king was found. There stood
noble knights from many princes' lands; throughout the broad hall one
bade them stand quite still. By this time Lady Brunhild had stepped to
the table, too. Then spake King Gunther:
"Sweet sister mine, by thy courtesie redeem my oath. I swore to give
thee to a knight, and if he become thy husband, then hast thou done my
will most loyally."
Quoth the noble maid: "Dear brother mine, ye must not thus entreat
me. Certes I'll be ever so, that whatever ye command, that shall be
done. I'll gladly pledge my troth to him whom ye, my lord, do give me to
Siegfried here grew red at the glance of friendly eyes. The knight
then proffered his service to Lady Kriemhild. Men bade them take their
stand at each other's side within the ring and asked if she would take
the stately man. In maidenly modesty she was a deal abashed, yet such
was Siegfried's luck and fortune, that she would not refuse him out of
hand. The noble king of Netherland vowed to take her, too, to wife. When
he and the maid had pledged their troths, Siegfried's arm embraced
eftsoon the winsome maid. Then the fair queen was kissed before the
knights. The courtiers parted, when that had happed; on the bench over
against the king Siegfried was seen to take his scat with Kriemhild.
Thither many a man accompanied him as servitor; men saw the Nibelungs
walk at Siegfried's side.
The king had seated him with Brunhild, the maid, when she espied
Kriemhild (naught had ever irked her so) sitting at Siegfried's side.
She began to weep and hot tears coursed down fair cheeks. Quoth the lord
of the land: "What aileth you, my lady, that ye let bright eyes grow
dim? Ye may well rejoice; my castles and my land and many a stately
vassal own your sway."
"I have good cause to weep," spake the comely maid; "my heart is sore
because of thy sister, whom I see sitting so near thy vassal's side. I
must ever weep that she be so demeaned."
Then spake the King Gunther: "Ye would do well to hold your peace. At
another time I will tell you the tale of why I gave Siegfried my sister
unto wife. Certes she may well live ever happily with the knight."
She spake: "I sorrow ever for her beauty and her courtesie. I fain
would flee, and I wist whither I might; go, for never will I lie close
by your side, unless ye tell me through what cause Kriemhild be
Then spake the noble king: "I'll do it you to wit; he hath castles
and broad domains, as well as I. Know of a truth, he is a mighty king,
therefore did I give him the peerless maid to love."
But whatsoever the king might say, she remained full sad of mood.
Now many a good knight hastened from the board. Their hurtling waxed
so passing hard, that the whole castle rang. But the host was weary of
his guests. Him-thought that he might lie more soft at his fair lady's
side. As yet he had not lost at all the hope that much of joy might hap
to him through her. Lovingly he began to gaze on Lady Brunhild. Men bade
the guests leave off their knightly games, for the king and his wife
would go to bed. Brunhild and Kriemhild then met before the stairway of
the hall, as yet without the hate of either. Then came their retinue.
Noble chamberlains delayed not, but brought them lights. The warriors,
the liegemen of the two kings, then parted on either side and many of
the knights were seen to walk with Siegfried.
The lords were now come to the rooms where they should lie. Each of
the twain thought to conquer by love his winsome dame. This made them
blithe of mood. Siegfried's pleasure on that night was passing great.
When Lord Siegfried lay at Kriemhild's side and with his noble love
caressed the high-born maid so tenderly, she grew as dear to him as
life, so that not for a thousand other women would he have given her
alone. No more I'll tell how Siegfried wooed his wife; hear now the tale
of how King Gunther lay by Lady Brunhild's side. The stately knight had
often lain more soft by other dames. The courtiers now had left, both
maid and man. The chamber soon was locked; he thought to caress the
lovely maid. Forsooth the time was still far off, ere she became his
wife. In a smock of snowy linen she went to bed. Then thought the noble
knight: "Now have I here all that I have ever craved in all my days." By
rights she must needs please him through her comeliness. The noble king
gan shroud the lights and then the bold knight hied him to where the
lady lay. He laid him at her side, and great was his joy when in his
arms he clasped the lovely fair. Many loving caresses he might have
given, had but the noble dame allowed it. She waxed so wroth that he was
sore a-troubled; he weened that they were lovers, but he found here
hostile hate. She spake: "Sir Knight, pray give this over, which now ye
hope. Forsooth this may not hap, for I will still remain a maid, until I
hear the tale; now mark ye that."
Then Gunther grew wroth; he struggled for her love and rumpled all
her clothes. The high-born maid then seized her girdle, the which was a
stout band she wore around her waist, and with it she wrought the king
great wrong enow. She bound him hand and foot and bare him to a nail and
hung him on the wall. She forbade him love, sith he disturbed her sleep.
Of a truth he came full nigh to death through her great strength.
Then he who had weened to be the master, began to plead. "Now loose
my bands, most noble queen. I no longer trow to conquer you, fair lady,
and full seldom will I lie so near your side."
She reeked not how he felt, for she lay full soft. There he had to
hang all night till break of day, until the bright morn shone through
the casements. Had he ever had great strength, it was little seen upon
"Now tell me, Sir Gunther, would that irk you aught," the fair maid
spake, "and your servants found you bound by a woman's hand?"
Then spake the noble knight: "That would serve you ill; nor would it
gain me honor," spake the doughty man. "By your courtesie, pray let me
lie now by your side. Sith that my love mislike you so, I will not touch
your garment with my hands."
Then she loosed him soon and let him rise. To the bed again, to the
lady he went and laid him down so far away, that thereafter he full
seldom touched her comely weeds. Nor would she have allowed it.
Then their servants came and brought them new attire, of which great
store was ready for them against the morn. However merry men made, the
lord of the land was sad enow, albeit he wore a crown that day. As was
the usage which they had and which they kept by right, Gunther and
Brunhild no longer tarried, but hied them to the minster, where mass was
sung. Thither, too, Sir Siegfried came and a great press arose among the
crowd. In keeping with their royal rank, there was ready for them all
that they did need, their crowns and robes as well. Then they were
consecrated. When this was done, all four were seen to stand joyful
'neath their crowns. Many young squires, six hundred or better, were now
girt with sword in honor of the kings, as ye must know. Great joy rose
then in the Burgundian land; one heard spear-shafts clashing in the
hands of the sworded knights. There at the windows the fair maids sat;
they saw shining afore them the gleam of many a shield. But the king had
sundered him from his liegemen; whatso others plied, men saw him stand
full sad. Unlike stood his and Siegfried's mood. The noble knight and
good would fain have known what ailed the king. He hasted to him and gan
ask: "Pray let me know how ye have fared this night, Sir King."
Then spake the king to his guest: "Shame and disgrace have I won; I
have brought a fell devil to my house and home. When I weened to love
her, she bound me sore; she bare me to a nail and hung me high upon a
wall. There I hung affrighted all night until the day, or ever she
unbound me. How softly she lay bedded there! In hope of thy pity do I
make plaint to thee as friend to friend."
Then spake stout Siegfried: "That rueth me in truth. I'll do you this
to wit; and ye allow me without distrust, I'll contrive that she lie by
you so near this night, that she'll nevermore withhold from you her
After all his hardships Gunther liked well this speech. Sir Siegfried
spake again: "Thou mayst well be of good cheer. I ween we fared unlike
last night. Thy sister Kriemhild is dearer to me than life; the Lady
Brunhild must become thy wife to-night. I'll come to thy chamber this
night, so secretly in my Cloud Cloak, that none may note at all my arts.
Then let the chamberlains betake them to their lodgings and I'll put out
the lights in the pages' hands, whereby thou mayst know that I be within
and that I'll gladly serve thee. I'll tame for time thy wife, that thou
mayst have her love to-night, or else I'll lose my life."
"Unless be thou embrace my dear lady," spake then the king, "I shall
be glad, if thou do to her as thou dost list. I could endure it well,
an' thou didst take her life. In sooth she is a fearful wife."
"I pledge upon my troth," quoth Siegfried, "that I will not embrace
her. The fair sister of thine, she is to me above all maids that I have
Gunther believed full well what Siegfried spake.
From the knightly sports there came both joy and woe; but men forbade
the hurtling and the shouting, since now the ladies were to hie them to
the hall. The grooms-in-waiting bade the people stand aside; the court
was cleared of steeds and folk. A bishop led each of the ladies, as they
should go to table in the presence of the kings. Many a stately warrior
followed to the seats. In fair hope the king sate now full merrily; well
he thought on that which Siegfried had vowed to do. This one day thought
him as long as thirty days, for all his thoughts were bent upon his
lady's love. He could scarce abide the time to leave the board. Now men
let fair Brunhild and Kriemhild, too, both go to their rest. Ho, what
doughty knights were seen to walk before the queens!
The Lord Siegfried sate in loving wise by his fair wife, in bliss
without alloy. With her snow-white hands she fondled his, till that he
vanished from before her eyes, she wist not when. When now she no longer
spied him, as she toyed, the queen spake to his followers: "Much this
wondereth me, whither the king be gone. Who hath taken his hands from
She spake no other word, but he was gone to where he found many
grooms of the chamber stand with lights. These he gan snuff out in the
pages' hands. Thus Gunther knew that it was Siegfried. Well wist he what
he would; he bade the maids and ladies now withdraw. When that was done,
the mighty king himself made fast the door and nimbly shoved in place
two sturdy bolts. Quickly then he hid the lights behind the hangings of
the bed. Stout Siegfried and the maiden now began a play (for this there
was no help) which was both lief and loth to Gunther. Siegfried laid him
close by the high-born maid. She spake: "Now, Gunther, let that be, and
it be lief to you, that ye suffer not hardship as afore."
Then the lady hurt bold Siegfried sore. He held his peace and
answered not a whit. Gunther heard well, though he could not see his
friend a bit, that they plied not secret things, for little ease they
had upon the bed. Siegfried bare him as though he were Gunther, the
mighty king. In his arms he clasped the lovely maid. She cast him from
the bed upon a bench near by, so that his head struck loudly against the
stool. Up sprang the valiant man with all his might; fain would he try
again. When he thought now to subdue her, she hurt him sore. Such
defense, I ween, might nevermore be made by any wife.
When he would not desist, up sprang the maid. "Ye shall not rumple
thus my shift so white. Ye are a clumsy churl and it shall rue you sore,
I'll have you to know fall well," spake the comely maid. In her arms she
grasped the peerless knight; she weened to bind him, as she had done the
king, that she might have her case upon the bed. The lady avenged full
sore, that he had rumpled thus her clothes. What availed his mickle
force and his giant strength? She showed the knight her masterly
strength of limb; she carried him by force (and that must needs be) and
pressed him rudely 'twixt a clothes-press and the wall.
"Alas," so thought the knight, "if now I lose my life at a maiden's
hands, then may all wives hereafter bear towards their husbands haughty
mien, who would never do it else."
The king heard it well and feared him for his liegeman's life.
Siegfried was sore ashamed; wrathful he waxed and with surpassing
strength he set himself against her and tried it again with Lady
Brunhild in fearful wise. It thought the king full long, before he
conquered her. She pressed his hands, till from her strength the blood
gushed forth from out the nails: this irked the hero. Therefore he
brought the highborn maiden to the pass that she gave over her unruly
will, which she asserted there afore. The king heard all, albeit not a
word he spake. Siegfried pressed her against the bed, so that she
shrieked aloud. Passing sore his strength did hurt her. She grasped the
girdle around her waist and would fain have bound him, but his hand
prevented it in such a wise that her limbs and all her body cracked.
Thus the strife was parted and she became King Gunther's wife.
She spake: "Most noble king, pray spare my life. I'll do thee remedy
for whatso I have done thee. I'll no longer struggle against thy noble
love, for I have learned full well that thou canst make thee master over
Siegfried let the maiden be and stepped away, as though he would do
off his clothes. From her hand he drew a golden finger ring, without
that she wist it, the noble queen. Thereto he took her girdle, a good
stout band. I know not if he did that for very haughtiness. He gave it
to his wife and rued it sore in after time.
Then lay Gunther and the fair maid side by side. He played the lover,
as beseemed him, and thus she must needs give over wrath and shame. From
his embrace a little pale she grew. Ho, how her great strength failed
through love! Now was she no stronger than any other wife. He caressed
her lovely form in lover's wise. Had she tried her strength again, what
had that availed? All this had Gunther wrought in her by his love. How
right lovingly she lay beside him in bridal joy until the dawn of day!
Now was Sir Siegfried gone again to where he was given fair greetings
by a woman fashioned fair. He turned aside the question she had thought
to put and hid long time from her what he had brought, until she ruled
as queen within his land. How little he refused to give her what he
On the morn the host was far cheerier of mood than he had been afore.
Through this the joy of many a noble man was great in all his lands,
whom he had bidden to his court, and to whom he proffered much of
service. The wedding feast now lasted till the fourteenth day, so that
in all this while the sound never died away of the many joys which there
they plied. The cost to the king was rated high. The kinsmen of the
noble host gave gifts in his honor to the strolling folk, as the king
commanded: vesture and ruddy gold, steeds and silver, too. Those who
there craved gifts departed hence full merrily. Siegfried, the lord from
Netherland, with a thousand of his men, gave quite away the garments
they had brought with them to the Rhine and steeds and saddles, too.
Full well they wot how to live in lordly wise. Those who would home
again thought the time too long till the rich gifts had all been made.
Nevermore have guests been better eased. Thus ended the wedding feast;
Gunther, the knight, would have it so.
 "Chaplet" (O.F. "chaplet", dim. of "chapel", M.H.G.
"schapel" or "schapelin") or wreath was the headdress especially of
unmarried girls, the hair being worn flowing. It was often of flowers or
leaves, but not infrequently of gold and silver. (See Weinhold,
"Deutsche Frauen im Mittelalter", i, 387.)