Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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The Wilkinen wars

293

When king Attila had been home for a short while he got the message that Waldemar, king of Holmgard and brother of Osantrix, had come to Hunnenland with a large army. And one day king Diet­rich stood on the highest tower and oversaw Hunnenland, and he saw large fires and much smoke in the lands, and he went to king Attila and said: Rise, my lord, and arm your men. Waldemar is burning your lands, and if you do not ride against him now he will come to you and you must fight anyway. Then king Attila stood up, had his horns blown and rode forth with his army.

Meanwhile king Waldemar had taken a castle of king Attila, and had captured a good knight named Rudolf who had been sent there, and bound him. He had already burned a thousand villages, and taken fifteen towns and castles. But when he heard king Attila was coming with his army he fled back to his own land.

294

Now king Attila marched to Russland apparently Waldemar's kingdom, but it's a bit unclear; this is not Russia with his army, and he plundered the realms of Russland and Wilkinenland. When king Waldemar heard this he gathered his army, marched against Attila and met him in Wilkinenland, and he had a much larger army. And both armies made ready for battle. King Attila had his banner erected against king Waldemar's banner, but king Diet­rich would fight against Didrik, Waldemar's son.

295

Now the battle broke out, and they fought bravely. Diet­rich von Bern rode into the enemy army and killed Russen on both sides. But Didrik Waldemar's son rode against him, and they fought long and hard without help from anyone. Diet­rich received nine wounds, but Didrik got five, all of them serious, and in the end he was captured and bound.

Then they became aware that king Attila and his Huns had fled. Diet­rich rallied his men, and fought on.

296

Now Diet­rich and his men went to a place where a town had been destroyed, and here they stayed. King Waldemar besieged him, and they fought every day and killed many men.

Diet­rich had few men and little food. He found out when Waldemar's army had dinner, and at that moment he had five hundred knights made ready, and put half of them near each castle gate. And they sallied forth and shouted loudly.

Now king Waldemar and his men thought king Attila had returned, and they fled. Thus Diet­rich killed many men and captured food and wine. But Waldemar quickly found out which strategem had been used, and turned around and besieged the town again, until Diet­rich's men had no food but were forced to eat the horses.

297

Then Diet­rich said to master Hildebrand: We should send a messenger to king Attila, if we can find someone who is courageous enough to do so. And Hildebrand said: No one is better suited than Wildeber the hero. And Diet­rich asked Wildeber to take on this mission.

But Wildeber replied: I am seriously wounded, so I cannot ride through such a great army, although I will still fight for you. But ask your relative Wolfhart, he would be suitable.

So Diet­rich asked Wolfhart, who replied that Wildeber would be better suited, since he himself was younger and less experienced. But Diet­rich told him Wildeber was too wounded to travel. And Wolfhart agreed to the mission, but asked Diet­rich for his sword Eckisax and his helmet Hildegrim and his horse Falke, and Diet­rich granted him that.

298

Now Wolfhart rode from the town at midnight. He went straight to a fire and took a burning branch and thus rode through the army of his enemies. And the Russen thought he must be one of them, since he rode so fearlessly through their camp. When he came to the centre of the army he saw many tents, among which one that was very beautiful and expensive, and he threw the burning branch into it.

In this tent king Waldemar slept, and most of his chiefs. Now the tent started burning, and all that were in the tent rose. But Wolfhart jumped from his horse, entered the tent, and killed eleven chiefs, but he wasn't sure if he had killed the king himself, since the night was dark. Then Wolfhart mounted again and rode away as quickly as he could. King Diet­rich and master Hildebrand stood on the town wall, and were quite happy when they saw the tent burning, I suppose, and went to bed.

Now Wolfhart rode day and night until he came to Hunnenland to king Attila and margrave Rodinger. And when Rodinger saw his weapons he though Diet­rich had returned. But Wolfhart said: Welcome, margrave Rodinger, king Diet­rich sends his greetings. And now Rodinger understood it was one of Diet­rich's men, but not he himself. and he said: Thank God Diet­rich is still alive. We will ride to his aid as soon as possible. And then Wolfhart told Rodinger everything, and the margrave went to the king and told him the story.

King Attila now had his horns blown and tear down his tents Apparently they were still in the field, and turned around to help king Diet­rich and rode to the town.

King Waldemar's men noticed that a mighty army had entered Russland and told their king. And king Waldemar had his horns blown and gathered his men and rode away.

299

When king Diet­rich saw that king Waldemar rode away they sallied forth from the town and tode after them and killed many men.

And when king Diet­rich returned to the town he met king Attila with his army, and Attila was glad Diet­rich was still alive. And then the went up into town.

Margrave Rodinger said: We are sorry we could not come sooner to help you, since you were in so much danger.

And Hildebrand replied: I am now a hundred winters old Slight exaggeration, and I have never been in such danger. We had five hundred men at first, but the hunger was so fierce that we ate five hundred horses, and only seven are left.

Then king Diet­rich went to where Didrik was kept and showed him to king Attila, and said: This is Didrik Waldemar's son. I captured him in the battle, but because of our friendship I'll give him to you to do with as you please, either kill him or allow Waldemar to ransom him. And Attila said: You have given me a gift that pleases me more than two shippounds of red gold.

Then they went back to Hunnenland, and nothing more can be said about their travels until they came home. Diet­rich had many wounds and had to keep to his bed. But Didrik was thrown into prison, and he was also gravely wounded.

300

When king Attila had been home for half a year he decided on an expedition, had his horns blown, and sent messengers across his realm to gather all his men. When that was done he had eight thousands knights and many other people. But Diet­rich was so wounded that this time he could not go with king Attila to help him.

Now queen Erka went to king Attila and said: I would like to ask you to release Didrik Waldemar's son, my cousin Erka is Osantrix' daughter, and thus Waldemar's niece and Didrik's cousin from prison so I can take care of his wounds myself. And it could be that you and king Waldemar are reconciled, and then it would be better if Didrik was not dead.

But king Attila said: I cannot grant you this. If he is healthy again while I am away I may never get him in my power any more i.e. he might escape.

But Erka said: I give my head as security that he will not ride off even when he his healty. This annoyed the king, who said: Do you want to release my greatest enemy from prison and cure him? If he would get away to Russland I would lose more than if I lost Soest, because his relatives will buy his release with cities and realms. But since you offer your head as security, do not doubt that I will cut it off if you let him ride away.

Now Erka had her cousin Didrik taken from prison and had him put in a tower, and had him taken care of and personally kept watch and healed him.

Meanwhile king Attila went to Polen and Russland with his army, and he burned and looted king Waldemar's lands.

308

Now we have to speak of king Attila's expedition, and how he burned many towns and castles. But when king Waldemar heard of this he gathered all his men and rode against king Attila. Then a great battle ensued when the two kings met one another, and they fought for a long time. King Attila rode at the front and carried his banner himself. And Hildebrand led king Diet­rich's followers and carried his banner. But some of king Diet­rich's men followed margrave Rodinger. But king Waldemar had his horns blown and attacked, and many of king Attila's men fell and he had to flee.

Hildebrand and Rodinger saw this, and Hildebrand considered how well king Diet­rich's men could fight, and thus they went forwards and killed two thousand of king Waldemar's men. A count of Greken rode against them and hit Hildebrand with his spear so that he fell from his horse. When Rodinger saw Hildebrand had fallen he rode to his rescue. He caught Hildebrand's horse, brought it to him, and helped him back in the saddle. And when master Hildebrand was back in the saddle he fought with great anger, and the Reussen fled before him.

But king Waldemar had so much warriors that Hildebrand and Rodinger also had to flee. And they rode back to Hunnenland and they were not happy with their defeat.

309

Master Hildebrand went to where king Diet­rich lay, and told him: I'm happy you're still alive, but I'd be happier if you'd been healed. And Diet­rich asked him how things had gone in Reussland.

Hildebrand replied: Not well. You often told me how courageous king Attila is, but it seems to me he's no hero. As soon as we fought against king Waldemar and the fight was at its height, he fled like an evil dog, and his banner dropped down, and he took the entire Hun army with him. Rodinger and I turned against the enemy three more times, but a count of Greken, king Waldemar's brother, threw me from my horse, and Rodinger saved my life. But then we had to flee, and we had dishonour from this expedition.

King Diet­rich replied: Be silent, Hildebrand, and don't speak of your journey. But if I heal I will once more ride to Reussland and I will see for myself who will flee first, and the Reussen will not long enjoy their victory.

And king Diet­rich's wounds healed.

310

One day king Diet­rich said to king Attila: Do you remember which shame the Reussen did to us? Or do you not want to avenge yourself? Attila replied: I'd love to take revenge, especially if you'll help me. And king Diet­rich said: I'll help you. Gather your men, and king Waldemar will flee from us or die, or we will die.

King Attila gathered a great army, no less than ten thousand knights. And he commanded that everyone over twenty years of age should come to him, and thus he had twenty thousand more knights when he left Hunnenland.

He entered Reussland with this army and burned towns and castles, and laid siege before Palteskia. This town was so strong that they hardly knew how to take it. It had strong stone walls, high towers, and a broad and deep moat, and the town contained a large army, and the defenders didn't fear king Attila's army.

When king Attila saw how difficult it would be to take the town he divided his army into three: under his own banner he set ten thousand knights, and another ten thousands at another place, and he named Diet­rich their leader, and a large number of ribbalda followed them. And the third ten thousand he have to margrave Rodinger.

Now each leader made camp before the town, and they fought with the townsmen for many days, and both sides lost many men.

311

And when they had besieged the town for three months Diet­rich told Attila the entire army should not stay before this town any longer, and said: My lord, you should ride deeper into Reussland with your army, and Rodinger as well, but I will stay before this town and not depart before it is won. Or if you want to stay yourself we will go elsewhere.

King Attila replied courteously, but he considered that Diet­rich wanted to have the honour of taking this town for himself, and that the walls had already been weakened, since the siege equipment was working day and night. But on the other hand he thought that if he, king Attila, would stay behind by himself, it could be that king Waldemar could come to him to fight, and that he would lack the help of Diet­rich and Rodinger.

Therefore he replied: I have made such an effort to take this town that I cannot ride from here without placing my banner at the top of the tower, but I ask you and Rodinger not to go elsewhere, since the Reussen cannot move against us if we do not divide our army.

King Diet­rich replied: If we three remain before this town we will not gain a victory over the Reussen. So you stay before this town, and Rodinger as well, but let me go and conquer more places. And they agreed to that.

312

King Diet­rich tore down his camp and led his army further into Reussland. He laid siege to a town called Smaland, and fought with the townsmen. And when he had been there for six days king Waldemar came there with a great army, forty thousand men. King Diet­rich had his horns blown and ordered Amelungen and Hunnen to arm themselves, and they rode against king Waldemar. And they said that this day king Waldemar would die or flee, or king Diet­rich would die.

Now Diet­rich rode at the head of his army, and with him Hildebrand and Wolfhart his relative, and their friend Wildeber, and battle broke loose. King Diet­rich rode into the middle of the Reussen army, and killed men and horse on both sides, and his heroes followed him. And Diet­rich fought like a lion in a flock of cattle, and all feared his weapons, and he and his horse were covered with blood.

Finally he saw king Waldemar's banner before him, and rode to it, and hit the knight who bore the banner on his right hand so that it was hacked off, and thus the banner fell to the ground. And then he gave king Waldemar the death blow. A great cry went up from Amelungen and Hunnen, and the Reussen fled, but many were killed. The Amelungen and Hunnen fought all day, and all night, and the next day, and killed every man they saw, and only a small number escaped.

313

And three days after king Diet­rich had ridden away king Attila attacked the walls so strongly that they won the town. And the Hunnen went into town and killed many men, and took incredible riches, and they tore down the place almost to the ground, and thus was done what people who come to this town can see until today.

314

King Attila led his army deeper into Reussland to where he heard king Diet­rich was. And since king Diet­rich had gone against Smaland, king Attila came there as well, and told him what had happened.

In this town was jarl Iron, king Waldemar's brother, and he told his men this: I see two options. Either we fight king Attila as long as we can, but it's likely we cannot withstand his power. Or we give ourselves and this town into king Attila's power.

Then the jarl took off his shoes and his armour, and the chiefs did the same, and they went out of the town barefoot and defenceless and thus showed they had been defeated. And on this day the kingdom of the Reussen came into Attila's power.

Now king Attila discussed with king Diet­rich whether he should give jarl Iron peace. And Diet­rich said: I would counsel that you give peace to the jarl and his men, since he has given himself into your power, and the kingdom is now subjected to you. Do not kill them, since they are defenceless, but take the kingdom.

King Attila told the jarl: If you will serve us loyally we'll give you peace, on the advice of king Diet­rich and our other chiefs. And the jarl replied: Lord, if we'd had enough men to keep this town from your power we wouldn't have surrendered. Do what you wish with us, but we gave you the town and laid down our arms because we knew what great men you have with you. Also, the greatest leaders of the Reussen are dead, and we will serve you loyally. And now king Attila took jarl Iron and placed him among his chiefs.

Status: summary of 15 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)