Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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The battle of Gransport

316

King Diet­rich von Bern came to king Attila in Soest when he fled his realm for his uncle king Ermenrik. In Soest his brother Ritter postulates Diether may be his son Diether was with him. Diether was one winter old when he came to Soest, and spent twenty winters with Attila, and he was a great knight.

King Attila had two sons, Erp and Ortwin. These three boys were of the same age and they loved one another so much they were rarely separated. Queen Erka loved her sons very much, as well as her foster Diether, and so did king Attila.

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One day king Diet­rich von Bern went to the hall where Erka lived Apparently the queen has her own hall; see also 343 with her women, and the queen received him well, offered him wine, and asked him what she could do for him. And again she asked: Why do you come? Do you have any business to discuss with us? Or do you have any new tidings?

But Diet­rich was full of grief, and water flowed from his eyes he cried, and he responded: My lady, I have no new tidings, only old ones. I remember how I left my kingdom, my good town of Bern and the wealthy Ravenna, and many other cities, and how it drove me into the mercy and protection of king Attila. And it’s been twenty years now.

Queen Erka replied: You have been in our realm for a long time and given us aid. Therefore, if you want to try to retake it, it is fitting that the Huns give you an army to help you. And I would like to be the first to offer you help, so I will send my twon sons Erp and Ortwin and a thousand knights, and I will also ask king Attila to send you help as well. And Diet­rich thanked the queen.

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Now queen Erka took her cloak and went to the hall where king Attila sat apparently they have separate halls, and king Diet­rich followed her. When she arrived the king Attila offered her a golden bowl with wine, and asked her to sit on his throne with him, and asked her if she has any business to discuss.

Queen Erka replied: Lord, I do have business. King Diet­rich wants to go back to his lands and take revenge, if he gets help from you. King Diet­rich has been in Hunnenland for a long time and has suffered many perils for your sake, battles and duels, and has won many lands for you. So pay him back by giving him an army from your lands to reconquer his realm.

Then king Attila answered angrily, and he didn't like being asked to do so. He said: If king Diet­rich wants help, why doesn't he ask me? Or is he so proud that he doesn't want our help unless we offer it?

The queen replied: King Diet­rich can discuss this himself, but I spoke instead of him because we believed that you would more readily accept than if he had asked alone. But I will give him my not our! sons Erp and Ortwin and a thousand kinghts, and now you can tell us what you will give him.

Then king Attila said: What you said is true, and it is fitting that we offer him help now. Since you have given him your two sons and a thousand knights, I will give him margrave Rodinger and two thousand knights.

Then king Diet­rich said to king Attila: It went as I thought, that queen Erka's help would be of benefit to me, and I will take your offer with many thanks and gladness, and may God reward you.

Now this army prepared all winter, and nothing was forged in Hunnenland but swords and spears, helms and armour, shields and saddles, and all other things knights need when they go on an expedition. And in early spring the army gathered in Soest.

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And when that army was ready it happened that king Attila's sons Erp and Ortwin, and Diether with them as well as other young knights, sat in a garden, and queen Erka came to them and said: My dear sons, I want to arm you for your expedition with king Diet­rich.

And she had armour brought to them, light as silver and hard as steel and inlaid with red gold, and helmets shining like swords, and all the nails had red gold on them, and two thick shields, and they were red with a golden banner with pole on them; and that they did not have an animal or bird on them was because they weren't yet of age to have received their knighthoods.

Then queen Erka said crying: Now I have prepared you for battle, my sons, and I have never seen two king's sons bear better arms. Now, be brave, and although I hope you will return safely, it is more important to me that you'll be called brave men and good warriors when you've been to battle.

320

Now she called her foster son Diether and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him, and said: My dear foster son Diether, see here my sons Erp and Ortwin who I have prepared for war. The three of you love each other much and always help one another in games; now do the same on this expedition.

Diether replied: My lady, your two sons and me are ready for battle, and may God help me to bring your sons back safe, but when they fall in battle, I, too, will not come home. You will not hear that they are dead while I am alive. And the queen said she hoped he would keep his promise. Then she had steel armour brought, and a helmet, and a red shield with a golden lion on it.

And now the three boys were aremed, and it is said in ancient sagas probably meant in general, and not referring to a specific saga that nobody ever saw three king's sons armed thusly, with more gold and precious stones.

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Now Soest was filled with sounds of weapons, and shouts, and neighing of horses. The entire town was so full of men that no one could pass through, and no one could hear anyone unless they were close to them.

Now king Attila went up into a tower and called loudly: Hear me, men, and be quiet, and hear my commands. And the town fell silent.

Then the king said: Now a great army has gathered here, and now you must go as I will tell you. King Diet­rich will travel alone with his army, and my man margrave Rodinger will go with another part of the knights that I have given to king Diet­rich, and all the other men will follow my sons and young Diether. And all did as king Attile had commanded.

Now margrave Rodinger rode forth from Soest with his army. And Erp and Ortwin mounted, and in their following were duke Nudung of Walkaburg, who bore Diet­rich's banner presumably because of Diether's presence in this group?, and Wolfhart and Helfrich, both Diet­rich's relatives Helfrich's relation is not mentioned anywhere else, and the details of Wolfhart's are unclear..

And when the latter mounted queen Erka said: Good friend Helfrich, guard my sons well, and let them ride beside you when the armies meet. And Helfrich said: I swear by God, I won't come home from this war if I lose your sons. And queen Erka thanked him.

Now duke Nudung rode from Soest, and next Diether, and then Erp and Ortwin and the good knight Helfrich, then Wolfhart, and then all their warriors. Now king Diet­rich mounted his horse Falke, and master Hildebrand bore his banner and went before king Diet­rich, and then Wildeber and the warriors who followed Diet­rich's banner i.e. the personal retainers Diet­rich brought with him on his flight. And in these three groups there were no less than ten thousand knights which would give Diet­rich 7,000 knights; seems rather too much to me and a great lot of other people.

330

And when light came king Diet­rich rose and had his horns blown, and then Diether did the same, as did margrave Rodinger. And now all rose and armed themselves. And when they had mounted master Hildebrand rode in front with king Diet­rich's banner pole in his hands, and close behind him king Diet­rich with all his men. And they rode to the same ford that Hildebrand had used during the night.

And when the Amelungen saw this, Sibich had king Ermenrik's horns blown, and Witig and Reinald did the same, and all their men armed themselves. Witig mounted his horse Schimming and was ready to fight; and so too Reinald with his army.

Walther of Waskastein bore king Ermenrik's banner in his hand, this banner had the outer part in black like a raven's, and the next part gold, and the third one green as grass, and seventy golden bells were sewn into this banner, so that one could hear it throughout the entire army as soon as the banner was moved or touched by the wind. And behind him came Sibich with his men.

And when king Diet­rich saw king Ermenrik's banner and knew Sibich followed it, he called on master Hildebrand to carry his banner that way; and this banner was made of white silk, and had a golden lion with a crown, and no fewer than seventy bells hung from it; queen Erka had had this banner made and gave it to king Diet­rich. So these two armies rode to one another.

Then rode Reinald with his troupe; and his banner was red silk like blood, and on the tip of the pole were three golden knots. And he led his army against margrave Rodinger.

Then rode Witig with his army, and his banner was carried by the strong Runga - no giant was found with equal strength - and this banner was black, and a white hammer, tongues, and anvil on it. Against him rode duke Nudung, and he bore a white banner with a golden lion, and this banner queen Erka had given to Diether. And after him rode Diether and Erp and Ortwin, Attila's sons, and the good knight Helfrich. Their shoes were covered with red gold so that they had a glow as if of fire.

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Now the six army groups met. Diet­rich rode in front on his good stallion Falke with his sword Eckisax, and killed men and horses on both sides, and before him rode master Hildebrand carrying his banner and slaying men with his free hand, and their companion Wildeber followed them, and many Amelungen from Sibich's army fell.

Then king Diet­rich called loudly: You have fought against the Reussen and Wilkinenmen, and we were usually victorious, but in this battle we fight for our lands and realm, so let's win great fame by reconquering it.

Now king Diet­rich rode in the middle of Sibich's army and slew man and horse, and when he had come in the middle he went back by another way, and he was much feared. And by another route Wildeber rode through the Amelungen army, and no man held against him.

Walther of Waskastein saw how much damage Wildeber was doing to the Amelungen, and how they fled for him, and rode against him and hit him with his spear in the breast so that it exited between the shoulder blades. And Wildeber struck off the spear's shaft and struck Walther's thigh in the saddle, and pierced the armour and his sword got stuck in the saddle, and both fell dead from their horses It is unclear to me why Walther would die instantly of this wound..

When Sibich saw that his banner had fallen, and the strong Walther with it, he turned his horse and fled, and his men with him. But king Diet­rich and his men pursued the fugitives for a long time and killed them all day long, and it took quite a while before he returned.

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Witig saw that Sibich fled, and knew the Amelungen would lose if the same happened elsewhere. Therefore he pressed the attack and rode against duke Nudung, who had killed many men. Quickly a fight ensued, which ended when Witig hacked the banner pole in two with his sword and the banner fell to the ground. And then he gave Nudung a blow on the neck that pierced the armour so that head and body fell to the ground.

And the three young men saw this, and Ortwin said to Helfrich: Do you see how that evil dog Witig kills duke Nudung? Let's ride to him and not let him get away.

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Then Ortwin bravely rode against Witig, and Helfrich with him, and against them came the strong Runga, and a fight broke out, and before it ended Ortwin and Helfrich fell dead on the ground.

And when Erp and Diether saw that the rode forward and Diether and Runga fought with great bravery, and Diether hit Runga on the helmet and went through helmet and head to the shoulders, so that Runga fell dead. But in the mean time Witig had killed Erp, and when Diether saw that both his friends were dead, he rode against Witig and wanted to either lose his life or avenge his foster brothers, and hit Witig hard and often.

But Witig said: Aren't you Diether, king Diet­rich's brother? I know you, now ride elsewhere, because for his sake I will not harm you, so go fight other men.

But Diether replied: God knows, since you killed Erp and Ortwin, you vile dog, I'll take revenge for them. and one of us will die. And again he hit Witig as strongly as he could.

Witig said: God knows I hate to do this, for your brother Diet­rich's sake. Then Diether hit Witig on his helmet, but the helmet was so hard that his steel could not penetrate it, and the sword sprang from the helmet down along the saddle bow and hit the head of his horse, and thus Schimming, Witig's war stallion, died.

Now Witig said, when he stood on the ground: Great necessity forces me to do something I'd rather not do. And now Witig took his sword Mimung in both hands and hit Diether in the back so that armour and body were rent apart and he fell to the ground in two pieces. And now the battle continued, and Witig killed many men, but also lost many men from the Amelungen.

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The good knight Wolfhart fought with great courage all day, and he carried margrave Rodinger's banner and had ridden far into the Amelung army. And margrave Rodinger followed him. In the same way Reinald rode into the Hun army and killed many men. Now he saw what great damage Wolfhart his relative did, and his men wanted to flee from Rodinger and Wolfhart. So he rode against them and hit his relative Wolfhart in the breast with his spear, so that it exited through the shoulder blades and he fell dead from his horse.

Margrave Rodinger was close by and took the banner pole and carried his banner himself, and attacked Reinald's banner bearer and beheaded him and also cut the banner pole so that the banner fell to the ground. When Reinald's men saw their banner fall and Sibich had fled they fled as well, and when Reinald saw that he went after them.

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Then one of Diet­rich's followers rode after the king and called: Good lord Diet­rich, turn back, that vile dog Witig has killed first duke Nudung, then Ortwin and Erp, then Helfrich, and now your brother Diether. Go back, my lord, and avenge them.

Then king Diet­rich said: What have I done that God grants me such an evil day? No weapon hit me today, and I have no wounds, but the princes are dead and so is Diether. I can never return to Hunnenland now. I will avenge them or be killed myself.

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When king Diet­rich came to Soest he went into a cooking house a small house separate from the main structure meant for baking bread and other food that required fire and refused to see king Attila and queen Erka.

But margrave Rodinger went into Attila's hall and greeted him. And Attila asked for news, and whether they had won, and if king Diet­rich had survived.

And margrave Rodinger replied: King Diet­rich is alive and the Huns have won, but still it was an evil dau, since we lost your sons Erp and Ortwin. Then queen Erka cried, and almost all who were in that hall. And king Attila asked: Who else of the Huns fell along with my sons?

And Rodinger replied: Many good warriors, young Diether von Bern, and your good fried Helfrich, and duke Nudung, and Wildeber, and many other good men and chiefs, but the Amelungen lost half as many men, and those who live had to flee.

Then king Attila said, and he was courageous under these tidings: Now it happened as before, those who are fated will fall, and good weapons and strength do not help when you have to die. And we have seen that in this expedition, because Erp and Ortwin and Diether all had the best weapons, but still they all lie dead. And then he asked: But where is my good friend king Diet­rich?

Someone replied: In a cooking house sit king Diet­rich and master Hildebrand, and they put down their weapons and do not want to come under your eyes, my lord, so bad they feel about losing the princes.

Then king Attila said: Two of my knights, go there and ask my friend king Diet­rich to come inside. He should still be close to me, despite all that has happened.

The two knights went to where king Diet­rich sat, and gave him the message. But king Diet­rich replied that his mood was so heavy and sad that he did not want to meet other people. And the knights went back to king Attila and told him what had happened.

Status: summary of 13 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)