Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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Origins of the Niflungen

169

A king named Aldrian ruled over Niflungenland, and his wife was the daughter of a mighty king. One day, when Aldrian was away, she was drunk with wine and fell asleep in a flower garden. A man came to her, and she thought she recognised Aldrian, but he left quickly.

The queen became pregnant, and when she once again was alone the same man came to her, and told her he was the child's father, and he was an elf. She should keep this a secret from everyone except the child, who would grow to become a great man. And when he would ever find himself in trouble, he should call upon his father. Having said that, the man disappeared.

The queen gave birth to Hagen, called Aldrian's son. When he was four winters old, the other children told him his face was like a ghost's, and when he looked at himself in water, he saw his face was as pale like ash. He went to his mother and asked why he was like this. His mother told him the truth about his father, but a woman stood nearby and overheard the conversation, and this woman later became a concubine of Diet­rich von Bern, and she told him the secret, and thus it became known.

King Aldrian and his wife had three sons and a daughter: Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher, who was still a child when these things happened I think Siegfried's death is meant here.. Their sister was Grimhild.

When king Aldrian left his realm and died, his oldest son Gunther took up the kingship.

Walther and Hildegund

243

When king Attila found out that Walther and Hildegund had fled, he ordered twelve of his men to ride after them, and they should take back all the gold they had stolen, and also Walther's head. Among them there was also a man called Hagen, kung Aldrian's son. These twelve knights pursued the two fugitives and quicly saw them ride ahead.

Then Walther sprang from his stallion and hid Hildegund and the treasure under it very unclear, and then he remounted, put his helmet on his head, and his spear forward.

Then Hildegund said: It's a pity you should fight alone against twelve knights, you should rather turn back and save your life. Walther told her not to cry. He had seen helmets cleaved before, and shields split, and armour sundered, and headless men falling off their horses Almost seems like a poetic quotation, and I've done all of that with my own hands, and these men are not too much for me.

Now they rode against each other, and battle broke out, and it became night before it was over.

The battle of Gransport

340

Two winters after the battle of Gransport queen Erka fell ill, and she knew she did not have long to live. And one day she sent a message to king Diet­rich to come to her. And he did so.

And Diet­rich said that it would be a great loss for Hunnenland if the illness would take her, and he would have lost his best friend feminine. Queen Erka said: Dear Diet­rich, you have always been my and king Attila's best friend. It could be that my illness separates us, and therefore I want to give you fifteen marks of red gold in a beaker, and a purple cloak for your festive garb. And also lady Herrat, my relative, you should marry her.

Then king Diet­rich replied: Good lady, your illness is dangerous, but may God cure you. You have shown great friendship to me, but it will be worse for King Attila; he would rather lost most of Hunnenland than miss a wife like you. And so full of sorrow was Diet­rich that he wept like a child, could not say more, and went out.

Then Erka asked: And where is master Hildebrand. Here am I, he said, and went to her, and she took her best gold ring from her hand and said they should separate as friends, and stay friends when we meet again. And Hildebrand thanked here, started to cry as well, and all who were there with him.

Then Erka had her knights call king Attila, and he went to her, and she said: Great king Attila, it could happen that we are separated and you become a widower. But you won't stay one for long, and you should take a good, worthy woman. But, good king Attila, do not take a wife from Niflungenland and Aldrian's family, because if you do you will pay for it, and great harm will come to you and your children if you do so.

And when she had said that she turned away from him and passed away.

And when it became known that queen Erka had died all people in Hunnenland wailed and cried, and all said, that a woman as good as she had never come to Hunnenland, and that no one had done as much good for as many people as queen Erka, and that no one had cried for more people than she had.

341

King Attila had queen Erka's body buried beneath the town wall, and over her grave stood king Attila and king Diet­rich and all best men in Soest, and they again bewailed her death.

Sigfrid's death

342

In these days, in the town called Vernisa According to Ritter Virnich close to Z├╝lpich, king Gunther ruled over Niflungenland, and with him his brother Hagen, and as the third their brother in law, the most famous of all heroes and chiefs, both in the Southlands and in the Northlands, Sigfrid, who was married to Grimhild, daughter of Aldrian and sister of Hagen and Gunther, who Gunther was married to Brunhild the rich and beautiful.

And from the moment that Sigfrid married Grimhild this realm stood in great splendor, mostly because everyone was afraid of the mighty lords who ruled there, and also because they had more cattle, gold, and silver than any other king. They were cruel to their enemies, but among one another they were good friends. But Sigfrid excelled above the others in all things, his skin was as hard as horn, like the breast of a wild boar, and no weapn could pierce it, except between the shoulders, where his skin was like that of other people.

Grimhild's revenge

360

These men went to Niflungenland and found king Gunther in Verniza. The king received the messengers of his brother in law king Attila well, and the one that brought the message said: King Attila of Soest and queen Grimhild send greetings to king Gunther and his brothers Hagen, Gernot, and Giselher. We want to invite you to a feast in our lands. King Attila is now old, and it becomes difficult for him to rule his kingdom, but his son Aldrian is still young, and it would seem to us you, as his mother's brothers, would be best suited to rule his realm with your nephew, as long as he isn't old enough. So come and let us talk about what to do with the land, and take as many men as you like.

367

By evening they lay down and Hagen took the watch again. And when everyone was asleep Hagen went out to scout far from his people. And he found a sleeping man in armour who had laid his sword under him, but the hilt was visible. Hagen took the sword and threw it from him, and then he poked the man with his right foot, and told him to wake up.

The man jumped up and reached for his sword, but saw it was gone, and said: Woe to me for this sleep! I lost my sword, and now I guarded my lord's realm badly Von der Hagen adds: my lord margrave Rodinger's; and: I waited for three days and nights, and therefore I slept.

Hagen said: You are a good man, see here a golden ring for your courage sarcasm? and you will enjoy it more than the previous man who got it apparently Hagen took his golden ring back from the pilot, and also I'll return your sword.

The man replied: Thank you for my sword, and also your ring. And Hagen said: Don't be afraid of this army if you guard margrave Rodinger's land. He is our friend, and king Gunther of the Niflungen leads this army with his brothers. But tell me, where do you want us to spend the night? And who are you?

The man said: I am Eckeward, and now I understand where you go. Are you Hagen Aldrian's son, who killed my lord Sigfrid? Take care while you are in Hunnenland, because you may have many enemies here. But for spending the night I can't bring you to a better place than Bakalar, with margrave Rodinger.

Hagen said: You directed us to where we wanted to go anyway. Now ride home to the castle and tell them that we are coming. Also tell them we are rather wet.

373

King Attila led his brothers in law to his hall, and had fires made, but the Niflungen did not take off their armour, and did not lay down their weapons. Now Grimhild came into the hall where her brothers were drying near the fires, and she saw their armour under their cloaks.

Then Hagen saw his sister Grimhild, and he took his helmet, put it on his head, and tightened it, and Volker did the same. Then Grimhild said: Hagen, did you bring he the Niflungen treasure that Sigfrid once had?

But Hagen replied: I bring you a strong enemy who follows my shield and my helmet with my sword, and I will never take off my armour. Then king Gunther said: My sister, come and sit here. And then Grimhild went to her young brother Giselher and kissed him, and she sat down between him and king Gunther Some manuscripts have Gernot; don't know which one(s); figure out, and cried bitterly.

Then Giselher asked: Why do you cry? And she replied: That I can tell you. I am pained most by the great wounds Sigfrid received between his shoulders, and no weapon has touched his shield.

Then Hagen replied: Let's not remember Sigfrid's wounds for now. King Attila should be as dear to you as Sigfrid used to be, and he is half as much richer, but it is not possible any more to heal Sigfrid's wounds, and what has happened has happened. Then Grimhild rose and went away.

Now Diet­rich von Bern came to invite the Niflungen to the meal, and he was followed by Aldrian, king Attila's son. King Gunther took Aldrian on his arm and carried him with him.

But king Diet­rich and Hagen were such good friends that they took each other's hands Thus Diet­rich indicates to everyone he will not fight Hagen, and thus they went all the way to the hall. And on every tower and every window, and in every garden, and on the town wall there were noble kurteisar women who wanted to see Hagen, so famous was he in all lands for his bravery. Thus they came to the hall.

377

Now Attila went into the garden where the feast would take place and called all others in. And the queen told the Niflungen: Now give your weapons to me for safe keeping. No one should bear arms here, and you will see the Huns do so as well.

Then Hagen said: You are a queen I think he means: you are a woman, what would you do with my weapons? My father taught me never to trust my weapons to a woman, and as long as I am in Hunnenland I will never let my weapons far from me. And Hagen put his helmet on his head and bound it as tightly as he could. And all saw how angry Hagen was, and did not know what that meant.

Then Gernot said: Hagen was never in a good mood since we set out on this journey, and it could be he will prove his courage even today. And now Gernot, too, started to suspect betrayal, and recalled that Hagen had said so before they ever went on this journey, and he, too, bound his helmet tightly on his head.

Now king Attila, too, saw this happening, and he asked Diet­rich who those were that bound their helmets so tightly. And Diet­rich told him they were Hagen and Gernot, and both are brave heroes in foreign lands, Von der Hagen adds: 'And the king said'; presumably Attila and they do so from great courage. And again Diet­rich spoke, and said: They are brave heroes, and it is likely that they will show it even this day, if things go as I suspect.

Now king Attila went to king Gunther and Giselher, and took their hands, Gunther's in his right hand, and Giselher's in his left, and called to Hagen and Gernot, and he placed them all on the high table to his right, as was said before 374. A great fire had been made in the garden, and around it were tables and seats.

And all Niflungen had come to the garden in their armour with their swords, but their shields and spears they had given to their squires for safe keeping, and twenty squires were set by the door to the room where the shields and spears were kept? to warn them of treason. Hagen and Gernot had decided this.

Volker sat with the foster of Aldrian, Attila's son, and Grimhild had her chair set opposite king Attila, and duke Osid was with her.

378

At this time queen Grimhild went to the knight who was set over her other knights and who was called Irung. And she said: Good friend Irung, don't you want to avenge my dishonour? Neither king Attila wants to do so, nor king Diet­rich, nor any other of my friends. Irung asked: What should we avenge, my lady, and why do you cry so bitterly Irung is not what you'd call clued in?

And the queen replied: I remember how Sigfrid was mudered, and I want to avenge him, if anyone wants to help me. And she took his gold-plated shield and said: Good friend Irung, do you want to avenge my dishonour? I will fill this shield with red gold if you do, and you'll also have my friendship. And Irung replied: Lady, your friendship is worth more than gold. He got up, armed himself, called his knights, and unfurled his banner.

The queen told him to first go to the squires and kill them, and then make sure none of the Niflungen entered the garden, and that those who were already inside would not escape with their lives.

379

Quickly the queen went to the garden and sat on the high table. And her son Aldrian ran to her and kissed her. Then the queen said: My dear son, if you want to be equal in courage to your relatives, then go to Hagen and when he leans over the table to take something from a plate, then hit him with your fist as hard as you can. Then you will be a hero.

The boy ran over to Hagen, and when Hagen leaned forward the boy struck him with his fist on the chin Ms. A adds: so that Hagen's blood streamed from his nose on to the table, and this blow was stronger than one would expect from such a young man.

Then Hagen took the boy by the hairs with his left hand, and said: You did not do this of your own accord, and also not at the command of your father king Attila, but this is an idea of your mother's, and you won't enjoy it for long. And with his right hand he drew his sword and beheaded the boy, and he hurled the head to Grimhild's breast.

Then he said: In this garden we drink good wine, but it will now turn out to be expensive. I now pay the first part of the price to my sister Grimhild. And again he struck, right over Volker's head, and beheaded the boy's foster, and said: Now the queen has been paid as she deserves, and how you brought up this boy.

King Attila jumped up and called: Arise, Huns, all my men, arm yourselves and kill the Niflungen. And everyone in the garden jumped up, but the Niflungen now drew their swords.

At queen Grimhild's command raw, wet cow skins had been placed outside the door to the garden, and when the Niflungen ran out of the garden they slipped on the skins, and thus many men were killed, because Irung and his men stood there and killed many good hero, and already many hundreds lay dead in the garden This last clause is missing from mss. A and B.

393

Now king Diet­rich went to Hagen and asked if he could still be healed, but Hagen said he might live a few more days but there was no doubt he would die from these wounds.

Now king Diet­rich had Hagen carried to his hall, and had his wounds tended to. And he gave Hagen his relative Herrat to tend to his wounds. And in the evening Hagen asked Diet­rich for a woman for his last night, and Diet­rich did so.

And in the morning Hagen told this woman: It could happen you get a son from me, and he should be called Aldrian. And here are keys you will keep and give to the boy, for these keys go to Sigfrid's cellar, where the Niflungen treasure is Foreshadowing 423-427. And then Hagen died.

And thus the Niflungen had ended their lives, and also the most powerful men in Hunnenland except for king Attila, king Diet­rich, and master Hildebrand. In this struggle a thousand Niflungen fell, and four thousand Hunnen and Amelungen. And German men say that no battle has been more famous in old sagas than this one. And after the battle Hunnenland was empty of men for king Attila's remaining days.

Now queen Erka's prophecy 340 was fulfilled, that the Huns would lose greatly if Attila married a Niflung.

Status: summary of 12 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)