Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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Dietrich's return


Now king Dietrich von Bern had lost many warriors. King Dietrich and master Hildebrand conferred, and the king said: It has always been my greatest regret that I have been away from my realm for so long, and now I lost all my heroes and friends, and my honour. See, master Hildebrand, how many of our friends are dead: good margrave Rodinger, and king Gunther of Niflungenland was killed, and HagenMs B adds: and their brothers, who have been our greatest friends. What are we doing here in Hunnenland? Why should we grow old here? And God knows I'd prefer to die for my realm of Amelungenland and my good city of Bern than grow old and lose my honour here in Hunnenland. We have served king Attila for too long.

Master Hildebrand replied: My lord, we've been away from our realm for a long time, and lost much, first of all by Sibich's treason, and we will fight against superior numbers in king Ermenrik's realm. But still I agree with you: it's better to die in Amelungenland than to grow old dishonourably in Hunnenland.

King Dietrich said: Master Hildebrand, what have you heard about my town of Bern. Who rules there now?

And master Hildebrand said: My lord, I do not know, but I have heard something about it, that there would be a duke there named Alebrand, and he is supposed to be my son. And it is said he is a great warrior. It could be that my wife Oda was pregnant when I left Bern, and that he was born afterwards.

King Dietrich replied: If your son were duke of Bern it would be a stroke of luck. He would receive us well if he is as loyal to us as you have been.

And Hildebrand said: Lord, how will we arrange this trip?

And the king said: We cannot come to Amelungenland with an army. Since Hunnenland has too few men left king Attila will not send his leaders with us to win back our realm. I want to go to Amelungenland in secret, and it would be good if there were no more men than the two of us, and I will swear I will not leave Amelungenland again with dishonour, but die there or win my kingdom back.

Master Hildebrand said: If the two of us go alone, lord, this journey will only have little honourApparently honour requires a large army?, but it's better to travel like this than not to go to Amelungenland at all.


Dietrich told Hildebrand they would travel over the Mundia mountains397, and before them was a forest. Dietrich and Herrat remained in the forest, but Hildebrand rode on to a castle belonging to old earl Ludwig and his son Konrad. Then Hildebrand spotted a man that lived in the castle, and he asked him who ruled there, and the man told him it was earl Ludwig and his son Konrad. Then Hildebrand asked who ruled Bern. The man told him it was lord Alebrand, son of old Hildebrand.

Hildebrand laughed and asked: How good of a warrior is Alebrand? And what kind of man is he? The man replied that Alebrand was the best of all warriors, and he exceeds all in courtesy and generosity, but he is grim towards his enemies.

Hildebrand said: You're a good man. What more can you tell me? And the man replied that there was important and likely true news: Ermenrik was dead.


And Hildebrand and the man went to the castle, and Hildebrand asked the man to get jarl Konrad. Konrad wanted to know what a foreign man with a broad white beard wanted from him, and came out of the castle alone. Hildebrand asked him who he was, and he replied he was Konrad son of Ludwig, and Konrad asked who Hildebrand was. Hildebrand answered he was Hildebrand master of the WölfingenThis family name is new, it does not occur in 15. And Konrad told him he, too, was a Wölfing, and invited his kinsman into the castle to meet his father.

But Hildebrand said he couldn't come this time, but was there any news? Big news! Konrad replied, king Ermenrik of Rome is dead. And who now wears his crown, Hildebrand asked. Evil news, Konrad replied, it’s that traitor Sibich. But what news do you have? And Hildebrand told him jarl Elsung had been killed and king Dietrich was back in Amelungenland.

God be praised, Konrad replied. Alebrand has already sent messengers north into Hunnenland to tell Dietrich to come back to his realm. And Alebrand does not want to give up his castle to Sibich, nor any other place. The Amelungs prefer to die before allowing Sibich to rule Bern.

And Hildebrand said he had to return to the forest where Dietrich waited. But Konrad asked him to wait, because he wanted to tell his father what had happened.


Konrad went into the castle and told his father what had happened. And jarl Ludwig rose and went to Hildebrand with many men, and kissed him, and welcomed him as a kinsman. But where, he then asked, is king Dietrich? Hildebrand told him he was in the forest, and jarl Ludwig called for horses, and at that moment some men arrived with a cart full of honey and wine. Ludwig took the cart, added some of the best provisions, and went into the forest, where Dietrich had meanwhile made a fire.

Ludwig and Konrad fell on their knees before Dietrich, kissed his hands, hailed him as their lord, and told him they would help him in whatever he wanted to do. Then Dietrich took them by the hand and set them next to him, and they exchanged tidings. Ludwig invited Dietrich to his castle, but Dietrich told him he'd stay in the forest for a while, while Hildebrand rode to meet his son Alebrand. And while Hildebrand made himself ready they had a great feast, but Dietrich refused to go into the castle because he had sworn not to enter any house before his good castle at Bern.


Hildebrand and Konrad set out, and Konrad advised Hildebrand to tell Alebrand straight away who he was, because if he didn't Alebrand might kill him, he was that good of a warrior. And Hildebrand asked for a description of Alebrand. Konrad told him Alebrand had a white stallion, and the nails in his shoes were golden, and so were his horseshoes. His shield was white with a castle on it. And you are too old to stand up to him.

Hildebrand laughed and said that even though Alebrand might be too proud to compare himself to another man, it might still be that he wouldn't tell me his name before I tell him mine.


Now Hildebrand rode on the road to BernKonrad seems to have disappeared, and when he neared the town he saw a man with two dogs and a falcon, and the man sat proudly on a white horse, and his armour was white but Bern was painted on it with golden towers. Hildebrand rode towards him.

When Alebrand saw an armed man riding towards him, he rode towards the man. When he saw that the man did not bow to him he became angry and readied himself for a fight and spurred on his horse. And Hildebrand held his shield before his breast, brought his lance forward, and also spurred on his horse. Both now put their lance in the other man's shield so strongly that both shafts splintered, and the old man jumped from his horse and drew his sword, and the young man as well. They fought until both were tired, and put their shields down and leaned on them.


Now Alebrand asked who this old man standing before him was. And tell me quickly what your name is, and surrender your weapons to retain your life. Hildebrand replied that, before telling his name, he wanted to know the name of his opponent, and surrender your weapons freely or by force.

Then Alebrand swung his sword at the old man, and Hildebrand struck back, and the fight became hard and was twice as valiant as before. Then they became tired again, and Alebrand put down his shield to rest, and Hildebrand did the same.

And Alebrand said: tell me your name and surrender your weapons and you'll live, but if not then you will be killed. You did not tell me before, and without dishonour, but now you will, and without victory, and lose all your weapons, or you will die. And the young man became even fiercer and tried to kill the old man, but he defended himself bravely.

Now Hildebrand said: If you are from the Wölfing family, tell me, and I will make peace with you, but if you’re not I’ll kill you. And Alebrand replied: Give up if you want to live. But I am no more a Wölfing than you are, and now tell me who you are. If you knew who I am you wouldn't call my father a Wölfing. And again they fought even harder.

Then Hildebrand struck a mighty blow at the young man’s thigh, so that the armour was cut open and Alebrand was wounded so severely that he could hardly use his foot. And now Alebrand said: Here is my sword, I will surrender and can no longer fight. You have the fiend in your handhis sword; same sentence as in 402. The old man turned around his shield and stretched his hand to take the sword, but Alebrand struck at him and tried to cut off his hand. But the old man quickly brought his shield back and said: You learned that blow from your mother, and not from your father. And Hildebrand attacked so swiftly that Alebrand fell to the ground, and Hildebrand sprang on top of him and set his sword on the young man’s chest and said: Tell me quickly who you are and who your family is, or you will lose your life.

Then Alebrand said: I won’t tell you, and I don’t care about my life now that I’ve been vanquished by such an old gray goosegrágás. And Hildebrand said: If you want to keep your life, tell me quickly if you are Alebrand my son, and I’ll be Hildebrand your father. And Alebrand said: If you’re Hildebrand my father, then I’m Alebrand your son.

Then Hildebrand rose and Alebrand as well, and they kissed each other and regarded each other. Now Hildebrand became quite pleased with his son, and Alebrand with his father, and they jumped on their horses and rode to Bern. And Alebrand asked: Where did you part with king Dietrich? And Hildebrand told him everything that had happened and how they separated in the forest, and Alebrand rode there with all his men.


In the evening they rode to Alebrand’s motherShe does not live in Bern, but in fort Her; see 90.. She cried out when she saw him wounded, and asked who wounded him and who his companion was. He explained that it was his father Hildebrand. This made her glad, and all three were happy with one another. His mother dressed Alebrand’s wounds, and they dined here that evening. Then they rode to Bern, and it was dark when they arrived, and a guard was closing the gate.

Alebrand rode into the gate, and the guard barely recognised him, and Hildebrand pushed open the gate roughly. Then the guard struck at him with his sword, but Hildebrand got his shield between them and was not wounded. When Alebrand saw this he became angry and cut off the guard’s headRemember: this is one of Alebrand’s own men.

Then Hildebrand said: This was an evil deed, for his strike did not hurt me, and you killed an innocent man. But Alebrand replied: It’s thanks to your armor that you weren’t hurt, and if it hadn’t been there I’d have to avenge my father, and he wouldn’t be innocent. Then they entered the castle and were received well.


Now Alebrand sent messengers throughout the castle and town and called all the most powerful men to him. When a large crowd had gathered in the royal hall he told them king Dietrich was coming back to reclaim his realm. And he asked them to choose between Dietrich and the traitor Sibich. And one chieftain replied: If king Dietrich has truly come to Amelungenland and we could meet him, I know the will of all in the realm. All would rather die with him rather than him not regaining his lands.

And many agreed with him, and all who were present that night called out and praised God for Dietrich coming back to them. Some said that they wanted to serve him and would never take another lord as long as he was alive, but others said that Dietrich had not really returned to Amelungenland. Then Alebrand said that Dietrich had truly returned, followed by Hildebrand, my father, who is now with us. And all said that Hildebrand was welcome here. Then Alebrand said that, if they truly wanted Dietrich for a king, the best men should arm themselves and take their horses and ride out to meet him.


The next morning Alebrand and his knights departed, and master Hildebrand with them, for the forest where king Dietrich and jarl Ludwig waited. They all dismounted and bowed before him, and Dietrich kissed Alebrand. Then they all mounted and went to Bern. When the people of the town saw them coming they rejoiced. And Hildebrand bore his banner and Alebrand rode on his other side. Then Alebrand placed a small golden finger-ring in Dietrich’s hand and said: Lord, since your kinsman Ermenrik, who appointed me lord of this town and directed me to guard all of Amelungenland, died, Sibich has never ruled this kingdom. I give you this small finger-ring, and with it Bern and Amelungenland, and myself with all my men in your following.

King Dietrich thanked him, and promised to reward him well. Now each of the knights gave something to king DietrichVery weird. One would expect Dietrich to give gifts to his new followers, but the Old Norse really says Nú gefa Þiðreki konungi allir riddarar; now to king Dietrich all knights gave. some large estates, others good horses, yet others good swords, armour, and shields, or gold and silver, and the powerful gave him treasures.

And with all of them king Dietrich rode to his hall, and Alebrand and Hildebrand brought him to his throne, and that day he had no fewer than ten hundreds at his dish. Then the king sent word to all who ruled over castles and towns and districts, and every day many arrived to give their holdings into Dietrich’s lordship.


A few days later Dietrich rode out of Bern with a large army to the town called Ran. There he held an assemblyÞing and he said Sibich had assembled a great army with which he wanted to conquer Amelungenland. He asked the assembled men if they would have him or Sibich as king, and added that he would not flee from Sibich. Everyone replied that they wanted to serve king Dietrich, and not give Sibich a penny. Then he told them all to arm, and he didn’t want to spend any night at a place he had done so already before he encountered Sibich.


Then king Dietrich rode out of Rana with his army of seven thousand men. But Sibich had thirteen thousand and had come to the town called Gegenburg, and there Dietrich met him. Hildebrand rode in front with Dietrich’s banner, then the king himself, and then all his men. A great battle ensued, and an army of seven thousand came from Roma to help Sibich, and they attacked Dietrich in the back. Then Dietrich had his standard turned against the Romans, while Hildebrand with the Amelungen continued against Sibich.

Duke Alebrand now rode against Sibich until he was under his banner, and with his first blow he cut off the hand that held the banner and the banner pole itself, and the banner fell to the ground. And then Sibich himself rode against him, and they gave one another mighty blows, until Sibich fell dead from his horse. And when the king of the Romans had fallen the Amelungen raised a great victory cheer, and the Romans surrendered.

When king Dietrich became aware of this he said he had had great luck that day, and that the realm of the Amelungs would be better if he had done this nineNot entirely consistent with 396, but this is from A and B, and 396 from the Membrame winters ago. The Romans did not grieve much for their lord and gave themselves into Dietrich’s power.


Now king Dietrich marched on Rome, and all castles and towns he passed surrendered. In Rome he entered the hall king Ermenrik had had, and set himself on the throne, and Hildebrand placed king Ermenrik’s crown on his head. Then all knights who had served Ermenrik went over to him and became his men, and so did all in the realm, some out of friendship, others because they didn’t dare to do otherwise.

Now king Dietrich had many great works done that one can still see today: the bathhouse called DietrichsbadSee also 438, and he had a great likeness made of himself on his horse Falke, and almost all who came to Rome must have seen this statue. Another likeness he had made to the northBern, and there he stands with his sword Eckisax raised toward the stone bridge over the river.


Late in king Dietrich’s days the Arian heresy was condemned by Christian men, and all who had followed that heresy went over to the true faith. King Dietrich and Hildebrand went over to Christianity as well, and the entire realm of Romans and Langobards was baptised againThis sentence comes from the Raszmann translation quoted by Ritter. It is not in Jónsson. The Svava has more or less this sentence, but leaves out the bits about Arianism.. Shortly thereafter master Hildebrand fell ill. This was a serious illness, and the king never left him.

Then master Hildebrand said: I believe this illness will lead to my death. I bid you to let my son Alebrand enjoy our friendship, and that he has my weapons. And a little later Hildebrand died, and king Dietrich wept many tears over him. He had his body prepared and gave him a rich funeral. In all these stories no man is more praised than Hildebrand, mostly for his loyalty to king Dietrich and while he was the bravest and best in battle, and the most generous of men. German men say he was a hundred and fifty when he died, but German songs say he was two hundred. And Alebrand now wore the sword Gram and the helmet that had belonged to his father.

Shortly after king Dietrich’s wife, lady Herrat, became ill and she also died. She was a good woman, courteous and beloved, like her kinswomen Erka and Gotelinde369-370, jarl Rodinger’s wife. These three women are the best and most generous of all women mentioned in this saga.

Dietrich's death


An emperor in Rome was called Henry son of FyppoldiA combination of Filip and Leopold. It is not known which emperor is meant., duke of Burgundy. He said that king Dietrich had a horse raised in a dark underground room until it was seven years of age, and when he was in the bath the horse was brought to him. But the horse Alebrand had given to himBlanka, which he rode in 438 he had tied nearby, and he had yet another in his stables, and it was this horse that the squire rode after him.

All this was done so that he could ride out of his kingdom in secret, because if his departure was known he would never have found Witig Wieland’s son.

Deo gratias.

Status: summary of 15 chapters complete.

Other parts

  1. Dietrich's family (1-14)
  2. Hildebrand (15-17)
  3. Heime (18-20)
  4. Osantrix and Oda (21-38)
  5. Attila and Erka (39-56)
  6. Wieland the Smith (57-79)
  7. Witig (80-95)
  8. Journey to Osning (96-107)
  9. Witig and Heime (108-110,134-137,146-151)
  10. Detlef the Dane (111-129)
  11. Amelung, Wildeber, and Herbrand (130-133)
  12. Wildeber and Isung (138-145)
  13. Sigmund and Sisibe (152-161)
  14. Sigfrid's youth (162-168)
  15. Origins of the Niflungen (169-170)
  16. Dietrich's feast (171-191)
  17. The road to Bertangaland (192-199)
  18. The tournament (200-222)
  19. Dietrich's fellowship falls apart (223-226,240)
  20. Gunther and Brunhild (227-230)
  21. Walther and Hildegund (241-244)
  22. Ake and Iron (269-275)
  23. Dietrich's flight (276-290)
  24. The Wilkinen wars (291-315)
  25. The battle of Gransport (316-341)
  26. Sigfrid's death (342-348)
  27. Hertnit and Isung (349-355)
  28. Grimhild's revenge (356-394)
  29. Dietrich's return (395-415)
  30. Attila's death (423-428)
  31. Heime's death (429-437)
  32. Dietrich's death (438-442)