Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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The tournament

200

One day king Isung and his eleven sons were in their castle, and Sigfrid came to them and said to them: My lord, I saw a tent on the field before your castle, of a different type than I saw before. In the middle of this tent is a pole, and on it a knot of gold. And there is a second, red tent before it, and a third, green tent behind it, and on the right a golden tent, and on the left a white tent.

And before the tents there are thirteen shields, and on the outer shield there is a horse, and that is Heime's, and on the next a golden hawk with two birds, and that is my relativesee 203 for this relation jarl Hornboge's, and on the third shield is the same, and that is of his son Amelung, and on the fourth there is a tongues, hammer and anvil, and that is Witig's, and on the fifth is a crowned lion, and that is king Dietrich's. On the sixth is a crowned eagle, and that is king Gunther's, and on the seventh an eagle without a crown, and that is his brother Hagen's, and on the eighth there are flames of gold, and that is Herbrand's, and on the ninth there is also a lion, but without a crown, and that is Fasold's, and on the tenth is a dragon, and that is Sintram's, and on the eleventh is the castle of Bern, and that is Hildebrand's, and on the twelfth are a boar and a bear, and that is Wildeber's, and on the thirteenth there are a man and an elephant, and that is Detlef's.

And from that, Sigfrid continued, it seems to me that foreign warriors have come to our land, and I am prepared, if you wish, to ride to them and find out who they areA bit pointless, since he just identified them, but that's how sagas work and why they have erected their tents against your will.

King Isung said: I'll send one of my men to them to tell them that if they want to keep their lives they should pay me tribute, as our laws require, and my emissary will ask them who they are, where they come from, where they were born, and where they're going, and if they have any other goal here than to pay me tribute.

And Sigfrid said: the man you're going to send should be none other than me.

201

Then Sigfrid took a bad horse without a saddleWhy? and rode from the castle and down the mountain to king Dierich's tent. He dismounted and said: Welcome, good sir knight, and I'd greet you by name if I but knew it. They replied in similar vein and welcomed him.

Then Sigfrid said: My lord king Isung sends me to demand tribute from you, as our laws require, but if you do not give tribute you will leave your goods and your life here.

King Dietrich replied: We came here for reasons other than to give your king tribute. I offer him a challengevígr. Let him come to me with as many men as I have, and before we part we will see what kind of heroes have come hereretranslate.

Sigfrid replied: With your permission, who is your leader, and where do you come from? You're doing something no one has done before with your challenge. Haven't you heard how great he is? And I think he will not refuse battle, whatever men you are.

Witig said: King Dietrich rules these men, and there is another king here, that is Gunther of Niflungenland, and there are also many good heroes here. But do you think that king Isung and Sigfrid will truly battle us?

Sigfrid said: King Isung and Sigfrid will not flee from you, even though it's Dietrich von Bern and his men who have come here. But you cannot break the law and refuse tribute, so you should send him something that honours both you and him.

King Dietrich said: Since you bring us this message with so much courtesy I'm willing to send him an honourable gift. And he turned to his men and decided they would send one horse and shield, and they would cast lots to see who would lose them. And they did soOne would love a few more details about the process, and Amelung Hornboge's son's lot came up. Thus king Dietrich gave Amelung's horse and shield to Sigfrid, who rode away.

202

Amelung didn't like losing his horse and wanted to ride after Sigfrid. He went to his father Hornboge and asked to borrow his horse, but the jarl refused him.

Then Amelung went to Witig and asked the same. Witig said that he thought Amelung would not get back his horse, and if he lost Witig's in the process, what would Witig have left?

Amelung promised that if he also lost Witig's horse, he would give him twelve strong castles in Vindland, which his father had given him, and ind addition Witig would be Hornboge's heir. But if I return with your horse, I'll also have mine, and if I don't return I'll be dead. Witig agreed to this, because Amelung took most of the risk in this endeavour.

Then Amelung mounted Schimming, rode after Sigfrid and overtook him close to the castle where a linden tree grewThis is apparently important; see 203. And Amelung told Sigfrid to get off the horse he was riding, and give it back, since Amelung needed it for the journey back home. Sigfrid asked him who he was, and told him he didn't think he'd get it, whether he possessed it before or not.

Amelung said: Get off that horse, or you will lose both horse and life. Sigfrid started to suspect that this man was jarl Hornboge's son, his relativesee notes to next chapter, and said: I see you truly want to fight me for this horse, but it could be you'd even lose the one you're riding now. So take your spearlance and try to throw me off my horse, and I'll try to do the same afterwards, and thus we'll see who gets whose horse. Amelung liked this proposal.

203

Now Amelung gave Schimming the spurs and rode to Sigfrid, and his spear hit his shield, but Sigfrid staid in the saddle, although his horse sank on its hindlegs. And the spear shaft broke.

Sigfrid said: That was well done for a young man, and you may well have relatives who are as knightly as you are. Now it's my turn.

And Sigfrid gave his horse the spurs and rode to Amelung, and his spear hit his shiled so hard that Amelung was carried far back off his horse. Now Sigfrid took Schmming's reins and said: Good man, now you have neither your own horse nor the other one, which appears to be Schimming, Witig's horse. You will likely have pledged a great deal to get it. It would have been better if you had sat still this time.

Amelung replied that it might still turn out otherwise, and Sigfrid asked him what we wanted to do. Amelung said he'd do anything honourable to get his horse back. Then Sigfrid asked him who he was. Amelung refused to tell him, because Sigfrid still held his horse and his companions would say he told him out of fear, which would be dishonourable.

Then Sigfrid asked him if he was the son of jarl Hornboge, his kinsman, because he would never do dishonour to kinsmen. Also he told Amelung he was Sigfrid. Amelung still refused, unless Sigfrid swore with God as witness the facy would never be used to shame him. This Sigfrid promised.

Then Amelung told him he was Amelung Hornboge's son and they were related. Then Sigfrid said he had done well, and proposed that Amelung would take both horses back to the tents, but before he left he would bind Sigfrid to the linden tree and take his spear and shield as well.

And they did this, and Amelung rode back with both horses, and when he neared the tents he behaved quite heroically.

204

Now king Dietrich and Witig stood outside their tents and saw Amelung ride back. Witig said: Amelung has his horse back, and now I can guess that it was Sigfrid who came to us, because I believe Amelung asked for the horse as a gift, since they are related, and Amelung will have spoken quite humbly because he'd never have received the horse in any other way.

King Dietrich said: He would not have taken the horse back against Sigfrid's wishes, but it could be that the man who came to us was another man, and thusby defeating a lesser warrior Amelung got what he wanted.

Now Amelung rode to the tents, and his father and his companions asked him how he'd got the horse. Then Amelung said: When I came to the foot of the mountain I found the man who had taken my horse, and I rode at him as hard as I could and hit his shield with my spear - and you can see the shield here - and my spear broke in two, but I still threw him off his horse, and I beat him with the pieces of my spear, and I bound him to a linden tree using his belt and shield strap, and I also cut my sword strap in pieces to bind him as tightly as I wanted. And I assume he still stands there, because he can't free himself. Now everyone agreed he had behaved quite knightly.

Then Witig said to king Dietrich: I want to ride to where the man is bound, and when it is Sigfrid, as I suspect, then this was done with cunning, and if he still awaits me at the tree I'll be certain if it's Sigfrid or someone elseDifficult sentence.

Dietrich agreed, and Witig mounted and said: It's a great shame if the man you have bound can't free himself, and I want to free him. And he rode there.

But when Sigfrid saw that a man rode to him he tore apart his bonds and walked up the mountain, because he did not want to encounter the man. When Witig arrived he saw the staps lie there, and the broken spear shafts, and thought that everything Amelung had said was true, and that's what he told his companions.

205

Now Sigfrid came to king Isung's hall and told him what had happened, and that Dietrich von Bern with twelve of his heroes had come, and that he had challenged them to a duel, and that Sigfrid had had a horse as a gift of friendshipNo more mention of tribute, but I gave it to one of my relatives when I met him.

And king Isung said that he willingly accepted the challenge.

206

The next morning king Isung and his mensons, one presumes armed themselves, and Sigfrid took his banner and they rode from the castle to king Dietrich's tent. There king Isung said: Let king Dietrich stand up and arm himself and come against thirteen of us with thirteen of his men. And if he now rides home without fighting we will tell everyone about his scandalous behaviour.

And king Dietrich said: Don't doubt we've come here to fight. We have ridden a long road and encountered many dangers to find out who of us has the better swords and shields, the harder helmets, and more strength and valour.

King Isung and his men dismounted while king Dietrich and his men armed themselves. And they decided to hold thirteen duels between two heroes on foot. King Dietrich would fight Sigfrid, king Gunther would fight king Isung, and Witig Isung's oldest son, and so man was paired with man.

207

The first duel pitted Heime against the youngest princeThe saga calls him konungssonr, king's son. I’ll go with prince. When they had fought many hours the prince decided to end the fight, took his sword in both hands and brought it down on Heime's helmet with such force that Heime fell to the ground. Then the prince threw himself on Heime and told him to lie still if he wanted to save his life, and be bound.

Heime refused and wrestled with him, but the prince gave him such a blow on the helmet with his bare fist that the helmet bended in against Heime's skull, and blood streamed from his nose and mouth and he lost consciousness.

And then Heime was bound hand and foot and the prince took his spear, planted it in the ground, and bound Heime to it. Then he returned to his men and called on the next pair of fighters. And he sat down calmly, because he had done his duty.

208

Now Herbrand, king Dietrich's banner bearer, took the field, and against him was set another of king Isung's sons, and they started the fight. They fought for a long time, but eventually Herbrand had received five wounds, none of them small, and lost a lot of blood and became tired. His strength left him and one more strong blow felled him. He surrendered his arms and was bound like before.

The prince went back to his men, and called on the next pair of fighters.

209

Now Wildeber took the field, and against him the third prince. They fought long and hard, and this was one of the toughest fights, and the prince received five wounds, all serious, but Wildeber had received seven, all even more serious, and began to become tired because of the blood he lost, and fell, surrendered his weapons, and was bound.

And the prince went back to his men, and he had done well.

210

Now Sintram von Wenden took the field, and against him the fourth prince. They gave each other many blows, and neither retreated. And Sintram's sword went through helmet, armour and shield as if it went through clothing, and the prince received three wounds, while Sintram had received none. Now the prince hit Sintram with all his force on his helmet, and his sword broke and he was disarmed. Then he took his shield and, because he was a brave man who preferred dying to fleeing or begging for peace, he ran toward Sintram and pushed him so hard that Sintram fell over, and he could not get back on to his feet before his hands and feet were bound.

The prince went back to his men, and he liked what had happened well.

211

Now Fasold took the field, and against him the fifth prince. This duel started with great braveness, since both were very strong men, and for a long time it was unclear who would win. Both gave the other hard blows, and each received two serious wounds. Then the prince hit Fasold's helmet so hard that Fasold fell unconscious, but the prince stood above him and said: You're such a brave man, why would you fall from a single blow? Stand up and defend yourself!

Fasold got to his feet and they fought on. Then the prince thought to himself that it was a disgrace that he would fight all day with one man, and he should win one out of thirteen victories. And in great anger he hit Fasold so hard that he fell again, and now the prince bound him, like his companions.

Now five spears stood on that field, and to each was tied one of the companions, and the Bertanga-men were quite happy and they felt everything was going well.

212

Now Amelung said: "It was an unfortunate dayótímadagr when king Dietrich decided on this expedition, since he himself and all his men would be bound and defeated. He should have staid home in Bern and defended his realm."

And now he called on his father jarl Hornboge and told him to bind his helmet onto his head as firmly as he could, and to bind his shield to his left hand as firmly as he could so that it could not be lost, and he swore that he'd rather be chopped as small as the smallest pieces that went into a kettle before he would be bound and the Bertanga-men would support his back with a spear shaft.

Now he took the field, and against him the sixth prince, and they fought with great courage for a long time. Amelung saw that the fight would take a long time if he didn't take some more risk. Despite his shield being bound to his left hand, he took his sword in both hands and hit the prince on the helmet as hard as he could, and the sword would not cut it, so hard was that helmet. But still the prince fell, and Amelung threw himself onto him and told him: If you want to keep your life, surrender your weapons and you'll be bound to a spear shaft like your brothers did to my companions. But if you want to free yourself, then they should let go my good friend Fasold and Herbrand.

The prince agreed, and it happened, and now each went back to his men; and the duel had gone as Sigfrid had thought it would.Manuscript A adds: And this prince was one of the least strong ones.

213

Now jarl Hornboge took the field, and against him the seventh prince. They fought courageously, and jarl Hornboge acquitted himself honourably for a while, but he was overpowered by the prince, due to strong blows and knightly bravrery, and he could not hold but was defeated and bound.

And the prince went back to his men and the Bertanga-men were well pleased with the outcome.

214

Now Hagen took the field, and against him the eighth prince. And this was the hardest fight of all, and they hit one another so hard that sparks flew off their weapons, and if if had been night there would have been enough light to fight by. And no one knew who would win.

And after a while the prince decided he had to take more risk and win eithe victory or death, and he gave Hagen three serious wounds. And Hagen fell, and was bound to his spear. And the prince happily went back to his men.

215

Now Detlef the Dane took the field, and against him the ninth prince. And this fight was tough and bitter. They hit and stabbed so quickly that eyes could hardly keep up, and they fought until they both were tired, and both of them stabbed their shaftsof their spears, apparently into the ground and leaned on them to rest.

Then Detlef said: If you want to keep your life, surrender your weapons and I'll bind you, but you may live in disgrace.

The prince replied: I won't yield my weapons, even though you are a Dane and a much-praised man, because you'll have to suffer many blows from my sword before I let it go, and you'll need your weapons as much as I need mineMaybe means: I won't ask you to yield your weapons because you'll need them?.

Then they started fighting again with even more courage than before, and they did not stop until both of them were so tired that they could hardly stand. And it began to grow dark.

Then king Dietrich took his shield, and king Isung too, and both came between the fighters and separated themThis also happens in 95. And still nobody knew who would win.

Then king Isung said to king Dietrich: Now that it is evening we can no longer fight. I'll ride home to my castle, but the bound men who are not freed will have to stay here. And then tomorrow with daylight we will continue our fight, and by the evening you will lie bound on the same place you're sitting now. And with that they parted. King Isung and his men went to the castle, and king Dietrich and his companions slept in their tents.

And in the morning, when it was light, king Isung and his thirteen men returned, and king Dietrich went to them with his men. And now the fight between Detlef and the prince was resumed, and they fought bravely until Detlef got the upper hand and the prince fell, and Detlef caught him and told him he'd bind him unless he bought himself free by releasing Hagen.

Nine fights had been fought now.

216

Now Hildebrand took the field, and against him the tenth prince. They started their fight with great valour, and fought for a long time, until they tired. Hildebrand had already wounded the prince three times, all of them serious, and then he wanted to strike a mighty blow, but his sword broke in two, and now the prince came so boldly that he captured Hildebrand and bound him.

Then the prince went back to his men, and the Bertanga-men rejoiced.

217

Now king Gunther of Niflungenland took the field, and against him king Isung. The two kings attacked each other sharply, and both hit strongly and well, but still king Isung was a long stronger. But king Gunther did not fall back, and returned many blows. When this had gone on for a while king Isung became angry that a man could stand against him for so long, and decided to risk himself boldly, so that one of them would get a quick defeat, and spared no force and hit the helmet of king Gunther, and his sword broke; and this was such a strong blow that it was a wonder. But the helmet was so hard that the sword didn't bite.

Now king Isung took the spear shaft that Hagen had been bound to from the earth and hit king Gunther's helmet with all might, and the helmet bent and king Gunther fell, blood streaming from nose and mouth.

Then king Isung took him and bound him, and went away saying: "May the men who are left do equally well."

218

Now Witig the Strong took the field, and against him the eleventh prince, and this was the strongest of them all. Now they went at each other so powerfully that each blow was half as strong again as the previous one, and nobody saw a braver fight then this one. And they came so close to one another that they were barely able to hit one anotherRetranslate; vague.

Now Witig considered what Mimung had done before, when he had carried that sword into a duel95, and he had confidence in it, and he did not hold back. So he swung with all his might and trusted his sword, and it hit the prince's helmet and cut off what it hit, not only the helmet's tip, but also a bit of the prince's head, but it was not a large wound. And again Witig swung his sword, and now he hit the prince's foot so hard that he cut away not only the outer clothes and the leg guardsof his armour, but also the foot, except for a little bit, and the prince fell.

Witig spoke: You, king Isung, choose: either release all my companions, or lose your son. King Isung replied: I won't release them before I see that the man can be killed, but he has not yet received a mortal wound.

The prince called: Do what he desires at once, or I'll lose my life. He has the Devil himself in his hand, and I cannot stand against it, nor anyone else; but still it's expensive to trade man against manRetranslate; I do not fully understand.

Then Witig said: If you, king Isung, do not release all my companions I'll cut off your son's head, and then I'll cut you a killing blow, and Mimung will not be sheathed before all my companions are free.

Now Witig walked to where his companions were kept, and he broke one spear shaft after the other until they were all free. And then he walked to the man he had fought with and wanted to kill him. Then king Isung and Sigfrid sprang between them and separated them, and king Dietrich agreed with this. And they were reconciled, and it was decided that both sides were unbound now, and that the fights so far were equal. And with that they parted, and Witig had released all his friends.

219

Now king Dietrich drew his sword Eckisax from its sheath, and came forth from his men to the field, and he was ready to fight. Sigfrid walked to meet him and drew his sword Gram. They drew closer courageously, and as soon as they met they exchanged great blows. Most blows were incredibly strong, and they did not spare theireach other's? shield and armour. Such a strength projected from their weapons that the spectators on both sides were afraid, each most for their own man. And although the battle was terrible, neither had received a wound, so good was their armour. And thus they fought the entire day until night fell, and still no one knew who had had the better of the other.

Then king Isung took his shield, and Witig too, and they entered the battlefield and separated the two. "Enough fighting for today, and let's rest for the night, but tomorrow you may conclude your duel." And thus they parted, and king Isung and his men rode to the castle, while king Dietrich and his men went to their tents. They were quite happy, since things had gone well. And then they slept.

220

The next morning, when it hadn't been light for long, king Isung came down from his castle, and king Dietrich and Sigfrid armed themselves for a new day of combat. And when they continued they fought as if they had not met one another before, and both seemed fresh, and they hacked at one another until both were tired and they rested for a while. And then they fought on, the entire day until nightfall, and they only rested when neither of them could stay on his feet. And still their armours were unbroken, so that neither of them had suffered a wound, and still nobody knew who would vanquish the other. And again they were separated by king Isung and Witig. And then king Isung rode to his castle, and Dietrich and his men slept in their tents.

221

That night king Dietrich and Witig met, and Witig asked Dietrich: My lord, how do you think this battle with Sigfrid will end? He seems to be a brave and strong man, and both of you are, so I cannot say which one of you will win the prizethe battle, and thus the tournament. Both of you have given everything, and none of you is even wounded.

King Dietrich replied: I don't know either, but I'd feel better if my sword could penetrate his skin, which seems harder than any weaponThis is the first time Sigfrid's horn skin comes up. Before, his armour was credited.. Therefore I'd like to ask you if I could borrow Mimung, because I know it will cut through anything. And he fears this weapon alone; this morning, before we fought, I had to swear an oath not to use Mimung.

Witig replied: You may not ask for Mimung, because since it was forged it was but once in another man's hands than mine, and that was when Heime took it136; but this is actually not true: Hildebrand kept it for a while from 88 on..

This angered the king, and he said: Now hear what great shame this is, that you compare your king to a stable boy. We will never be as good friends as we were before because of these words.

Witig replied: My lord, if I spoke ill of you that was not deliberate??? makligt, forgive me. I will lend you the sword, and may it help you. And with that he gave the sword to Dietrich, and no one knew this except for these two. And then they went to sleep.

222

And when the night had passed king Isung came back with his men to fight. And king Dietrich was ready with his men. And when king Dietrich came on to the battlefield he had drawn his sword, but put his shield in front of it. Sigfrid had not comeonto the battlefield yet, and Dietrich called out for him to come fight.

Sigfrid replied: I'm coming, and we'll fight like yesterday, provided you again swear you won't use Mimung, Witig's sword. And once you do so I'll gladly fight with you. Dietrich replied he'd rather swear that oath than not fight, and called Sigfrid again.

Now Sigfrid came to the battlefield, but king Dietrich drew the sword behind his back and stuck its point in the earth, and supported the hilt with his back, and swore that, so help him God, Mimung's point was not above the earth and its hilt in no man's hand.

That was enough for Sigfrid, and he drew his sword Gram, but Dietrich took Mimung and they came together and fought. After a short while Dietrich made one hit after the other, and he cut off pieces of Sigfrid's shield or helmet or armourthe horn skin is gone again, and Sigfrid suffered five wounds in a short time.

Now Sigfrid realised exactly which oath Dietrich had sworn, and that he used Mimung, and he said: Lord Dietrich, I wish to surrender my arms and become your manfollower, because it is no shame to serve such a lord as you. And you are such a famous hero that I'd rather surrender myself to you than lose my life.

And Sigfrid surrendered his weapons, and king Dietrich took him gladly into his following, and it seemed to him that he had won the greatest and strongest hero in the world. And thus they parted.

And now king Dietrich and his men were quite happy and considered themselves to have succeeded in this expedition. But king Isung and his men were unhappy, because their best man and most famous hero was defeated.

Status: summary of 23 chapters complete.

Other parts

  1. Samson (1-13)
  2. Hildebrand and Heime (14-20)
  3. Wieland the Smith (57-79)
  4. Witig (80-95)
  5. Journey to Osning (96-107)
  6. Witig and Heime (108-110,134-137,146-151)
  7. Detlef the Dane (111-129)
  8. Amelung, Wildeber, and Herbrand (130-133)
  9. Wildeber and Isung (138-145)
  10. Sigmund and Sisibe (152-161)
  11. Sigfrid's youth (162-168)
  12. Origins of the Niflungen (169-170)
  13. Dietrich's feast (171-191)
  14. The road to Bertangaland (192-199)
  15. The tournament (200-222)
  16. Dietrich's fellowship falls apart (223-226,240)
  17. Gunther and Brunhild (227-230)
  18. Walther and Hildegund (241-244)
  19. Ake and Iron (269-275)
  20. Dietrich's flight (276-290)
  21. The Wilkinen wars (291-315)
  22. The battle of Gransport (316-341)
  23. Sigfrid's death (342-348)
  24. Hertnit and Isung (349-355)
  25. Grimhild's revenge (356-394)
  26. Dietrich's return (395-415)
  27. Attila's death (423-428)
  28. Heime's death (429-437)
  29. Dietrich's death (438-441)