Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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Samson

6

Now they rode their way until they were not far outside the forest. Then twelve men rode against them, with large horses, broad shields, and strong spears. And Samson said to his wife: Who would those be? And she said she didn't know, and if he reconised their coat of arms. And he said he didn't know themselves, but their coat of arms I do know: the first man has a red shield with a golden lion See also 172, and that was my father's coat, and his brother Dietmar's. They must be my relatives.

When they'd drawn close Samson asked who they were and where they were going. Their leader replied: We have ridden a long road, but now we have found our goal, because we have heard how sorely you were beset by your over-powerful enemies and were driven from your lands. Because you are our relative Samson, and I am your father's brother Dietmar, and my two sons are here, and all others are relatices as well. And we've come to help you. Samson thanked them for their offer.

Then they rode to a town that had belonged to king Brunstein, and the people from the town didn't see them until they were close by. Then they recognised Samson, who had killed jarl Rodger and king Brunstein, and they considered he was a great warrior and they were currently without a laeader, The wisest men took counsel, and decided to reconcile themselves with Samson.

Thus they went to him and found him in a hall where he had made quarter, where they fell on their knees and bowed to him and gave themselves into his power, so that they became his men and would surrender the town and accept them as their lord. Samson received this well, and bade them to stand up. And now a meeting þing was called and the men of the town declared him their duke.

9

Then it is said that king Samson and his wife Hildeswid got a son named Ermenrik. When the boy grew up he became strong, and Samson loved him very much. King Samson extended his realm and subjected many western lands and other places.

Now king Samson got another son from another wife according to manuscript B; the other wife is missing from A called Dietmar after Samson's father's brother. When he grew up he was big and strong, manly and wise, and he was quite like his father in character.

King Samson was already an old man, and Ermenrik his son mature, but Dietmar was fifteen says B; A says twelve winters old. One day Samson was sitting on his throne, and his son Ermenrik served him. Then Samson said: My son, I do not want you to serve me or any other man, I want to give you a kingdom Literally Vil ek nú gefa þér konungsnafn yfir: I now want to give you the king's name over with twelve of the largest cities in Spain the Haspengau according to Ritter, all of which I won with my sword, and give you even more lands, because I received no kingdom as gift or inheritance, but still I am not lacking in them now. Samson appears to contradict himself here; I didn't get any gifts, but you will. Unclear

When young Dietmar heard this he went to his father and said: "Now you have given your son a kingdom and large realm, but I, too, have been in your following, and we have always been equal in everything, so now you should give me more power or a higher name king's name, I presume."

King Samson heard this speech and did not reply, but looked at him in anger, and Dietmar thought he had spoken too rashly. And when he didn't get a reply he went back to his room.

12

When three months had passed a powerful army was gathered in Salerni. King Samson led this army out of Salerni to jarl Elsung's lands. And when he had traveled through these lands for two says A; B says three days he encountered Jarl Elsung's mighty army, with men even from the north over the mountains, from the east from Svava and Hungary says Jónsson; Von der Hagen says from the south from Hungary and doesn't mention Svava.

And when the armies met a hard and bloody battle started, and many men fell on both sides. King Samson rode with his sons Ermenrik and Dietmar, and the king slew man and horse on both sides. And he rode forth in the midst of his enemies, and called: Though I rode alone into this army and have no followers with me, I will continue to prove what I do best, and slay Elsung's men. And his voice was so formidable that everyone took fright.

Jarl Elsung saw the damage king Samson did, and called: Forward, my men. We will get victory and they dead, because our warriors fight better. And now give this hard-necked dragon or serpent; inn digrhálsaði ormr that has ravaged our army for so long the death blow.

Then jarl Elsung rode alone against king Samson, and split the king's shield from the top to the handgrip, and with the second blow he hit his armpit and gave him a serious wound. But equally quickly king Samson hit him on the neck so that his head flew off. Then king Samson took the head and held it high by the beard, and asked jarl Elsung's men if they recognised their lord, and then the battle ended. And all of Elsung's men gave themselves and his realm into Samson's power.

Now king Samson went to Bern with his entire army, and no one was brave enough to stand against them. And when king Samson came to Bern all gates were open, and all townsmen went to him, showed him jarl Elsung's treasure, and gave themselves into his power.

13

Now king Samson ordered a great feast in Bern, and here Odilia, jarl Elsung's daughter, was married to Dietmar, and Samson gave him the king's name and Bern and all the lands jarl Elsung had held. And the town called Fritila, which the Northmen call Friðsæla he gave to his son Ake, called Harlungentrost, and with it the name of duke and not king because Ake's mother was of low birth.

Then Ermenrik went south to Rome with his father king Samson, and on this journey Samson died. Ermenrik took his entire realm and then fought against Rome, and had several battles with the men of Rome and did many heroic deeds and conquered the best part of the territory of Rome and many other strong towns until even in Puli. He also conquered the larger part of the realm on the Greek sea Grekin; according to Ritter this is Grach on the Mosel until the mountains in the north, and much of the Greek islands, and thus he became the richest and most powerful of all kings. He was friendly and peaceful in the first part of his reign.

Hildebrand and Heime

14

Now king Dietmar ruled over Bern, and he and his wife Odilia had a son named Diet­rich. And he was large and strong, but not so long that he was called a giant, and as long as he lived he never grew a beard. And all who had known king Samson said that Diet­rich resembled him very much.King Dietmar knighted Diet­rich when he was fifteen winters according to B; A says twelve old, and made him a chief over his court I assume Dietmar's court is meant here, and not that Diet­rich got his own court and all his knights and other people.

15

Duke Erik ruled in the town called Wenden, and his sons were Bertram and Reginbald, who became dukes of Wenden after him. Duke Reginbald had a son named Hildebrand, and when he was fifteen years old his father knighted him.

Duke Bertram had a son called Reginbald, and his son was Sintram, who we'll talk about later 106.

When Hildebrand was thirty years not 'winters'; er þrítugr at aldri old he told his father that he wanted to get to know the customs of strange men, and he couldn't gain fame if he stayed here in Wenden A adds: or ride to Svava to eat with the warriors.

The duke asked where he wanted to go, and Hildebrand said he wanted to go to king Dietmar of Bern. He armed himself and rode with twelve knights to Bern. The king received him well and asked him to stay there. And Hildebrand accepted, and the king set him next to him something like: made him a principal counsellor?. And Hildebrand stayed with king Dietmar for a long time, as this saga will show.

Diet­rich, king Dietmar's son, was seven winters old when Hildebrand set him next to him and became his teacher until he was fifteen winters old. And he was a chief over the knights at court. And the two loved one another so much as no two men have done, except for David and Jonathan.

16

Now it is said that Diet­rich and Hildebrand rode forth from Bern with their hawks and dogs to the forest to enjoy themselves. They let the hawks fly and loosed the dogs. And when Diet­rich followed a hawk he saw a dwarf walking. Diet­rich spurred his horse and pursued the dwarf, and before he could come to his cave Diet­rich took him by the neck and took him with him in the saddle, and this was the dwarf Alberich the famous thief from whom old sagas speak Otherwise unknown.

The dwarf spoke: Lord, if I can buy my life with it, I'll show you where so much gold, silver and jewelry are that even the rich king Dietmar, your father, doesn't have such amounts. And this treasure is with two people, a woman called Hilda, and her husband is Grim, who is as strong as twelve men, but his wife is even stronger, and they are cruel and evil. He also has a sword called Nagelring, and it is the best of all swords. But you can only defeat them if you first take the sword. And it would be a greater heroic deed of you two to conquer this treasure than to take me with my small body and weak legs.

Diet­rich said: I will never free you unless you give me Nagelring in my hand today, and even then you will show us where this treasure is. The dwarf agreed and swore the oath Diet­rich required. Diet­rich freed him, and he and Hildebrand hunted birds and animals the entire day until the ninth hour from sunrise. Then Diet­rich and Hildebrand were at a mountain slope, and Alberich came back with Nagelring and gave it to Diet­rich. Then he said: On this slope is a gap and there you'll find their earth-house underground house, cave. You can take as much gold and jewelry there as are left, but you'll need your manliness courage to win it, but you will never get me in your power again even if you live two men's lives. And with that the dwarf disappeared.

Diet­rich and Hildebrand dismounted, tethered their horses, and then Diet­rich drew Nagelring, and both felt they had never seen a better sword.

Witig

80

Witig Wieland's son was now twelve winters old when Wieland asked him if he also wanted to learn the craft of smithing so that even if one looked in the entire world there would be no third who could forge iron as well as the two of them did. But Witig said that, for the sake of his mother, he hoped he'd never touch hammer and tongues.

Then Wieland asked him what else he would do to get food and clothes. And Witig said he wanted a good horse, a strong spear, a sharp sword, a new shield, a hard helmet, and armour, and serve a famous prince and ride with him as long as he was alive. Wieland promised to give him all that, but asked where he wanted to go. And Witig said he wanted to ride to Amelungenland to find Diet­rich, son of king Dietmar of Bern, who was now the most famous hero in the world, and they were the same age, and him Witig wanted to search and challenge to a duel. And when Witig would not be able to withstand his strong blows and fall, he knew that Diet­rich, who was a noble hero, would give Witig his life back if he surrendered his sword and became his follower; but it could also be the duel went better than that.

Wieland said he didn't advise Witig to go to Diet­rich, because he was such a great hero Witig would not be able to withstand him. Instead, Wieland added, in a forest nearby lives a giant who does great harm to many people. And I'll help you to defeat him, and when you have done so the king of Sweden will give you his daughter and half of his realm.

But Witig said he did not want to do this because of a woman, because if the giant would defeat him all would say he had lost his life dishonourably. So he would travel south and fight with Diet­rich von Bern. And Wieland said that because Witig would not change his mind, Wieland would give him what he had asked for.

83

They dismounted and walked to the river. But Witig had heard them quite clearly and called: Allowe me to come to land unharmed and I'll show you I'm not a dwarf. And they allowed him, and Witig jumped from the river, and he covered nine feet in one jump. Then Hildebrand asked who he was, and Witig said: If you're a good hero, do you ask such questions of a naked man? Let me first find my clothes and weapons, and then you can ask.

Witig clothed and armed himself, mounted his horse, and rode to the three. Good sirs knight, he said, God help me, I'd name all of you by name if I but knew them. But ask me anything you like. Hildebrand asked for his name and what he was doing here traveling alone. And Witig said he was a Dane named Witig, and his father was Wieland the Smith, and his mother was daughter to king Nidung of Jutland, and he was traveling to Diet­rich Dietmar's son to challenge him to a duel.

When Hildebrand saw how strong this man was, and how well-made his weapons and armour were, he understood his lord Diet­rich would come to great danger if he fought against this man, and he wasn't sure who would win. Therefore he joyously replied: Thank God I finally found a man courageous enough to swing his sword against Diet­rich, and I hope you will win, because Diet­rich thinks no one is braver and stronger than he. Come, now let's swear brotherhood, that we will help one another when we need it most.

Witig said he felt Hildebrand was a noble man, and he would love to swear brotherhood, but he'd first liked to know their names. And Hildebrand said he was Voltram son of Reginbald, jarl of Wenden, and here is Sintram Herbrand's son, and the third is jarl Hornboge of Vindland. Now Witig and Hildebrand held hands and swore brotherhood. And Hildebrand knew where the ford was, and they rode over it and continued.

90

Now they rode on and in the evening they came to a fort called Her which belonged to king Dietmar Mss. A and B say: belonged to Hildebrand, Diet­rich's father, and Hildebrand's wife lived there Manuscript A calls her Oda; the others do not have a name. There they stayed overnight, and the next day they went on to Bern.

Now Diet­rich was told while he was eating that Hildebrand, jarl Hornboge and Heime had come, and he rose and went out to greet them and asked for news. He didn't say a word to Witig, because he didn't know what kind of man he was. Then Witig took a silver-plated glove and gave it to Diet­rich, who asked what that meant. Witig replied: Hereby I challenge you to a duel. We are the same age, but I have heard much about you, and I have gone through a great deal to see if you are as great a hero as is said. Now I have reached you, and since the day I left home I have waited for the moment the two of us will fight.

Diet­rich said: I will keep the peace in the lands of my father and myself, so that not every tramp or scoundrel will challenge me to a duel. Hildebrand said: My lord, you don't know whom you're talking to. I'm not sure who would win a duel between the two of you; it is even likely that you would lose, when no one helps you.

Reinald, a follower of Diet­rich's, said: It's a great shame, my lord, that any country bumpkin can challenge you in your own lands. But when Hildebrand heard this he told him not to insult his companions with such words, and he hit Reinald on the ear with his fist so that he fell unconscious.

Then Diet­rich said to Hildebrand: I see you're taking the trouble to help this man, but you'll see how he will enjoy it: today he will hang outside Bern. Hildebrand said: If he comes into your power by bravery and strength i.e. after losing the duel then he will have to submit to your harsh judgement, but I think he'll fight better than that. But he is still unbound i.e. doesn't have a lord ... I think, and I think he'll stay here all day until the two of you fight Unclear; retranslate.

95

When king Dietmar saw that his son would be defeated he took a red shield apparently an official sign of some kind and stepped between the two of them. Then Witig said: What do you want, lord king? If you're going to kill me with all your men no one will think you a better hero, and my death will not remain unavenged, because my mother's brother is as powerful a king as you are.

Then the king said: Good sir knight, I merely want to ask you to spare my son, because I see that when you fight on his end is near. And if you do I'll give you a castle or town in my lands and make you a count, and also give you a noble wife.

Then Witig said: I won't spare him; he will receive the same sentence he wanted to give me, unless you prevent me with your multitude of men.

Then the king stepped back and the fight recommenced, and Diet­rich defended himself bravely, but in the end Witig hit the helmet Hildegrim so hard that it was cut from left to right, and the upper part flew off Diet­rich's head and some of his hair with it.

When Hildebrand saw that Hildegrim had been broken he sprang between the two and said: My dear friend Witig, please give Diet­rich peace for the sake of our brotherhood, and take him as your companion, because when the two of you fight together, no one in the entire world will be your peer.

Then Witig said: Although he doesn't deserve it I will do as you ask for the sake of our brotherhood. Then they put down their weapons, shook hands, and became good friends and companions. They rode back to Bern and were all happy.

Journey to Osning

96

King Dietmar was home in Bern, and his son Diet­rich with him, who was still suffering from his wounds. And these four heroes were with the king: Hildebrand, Witig, jarl Hornboge, and Heime.

When Diet­rich had healed he rode away from Bern alone, and nobody knew of it except for Witig. Because he had lost his fight, Diet­rich did not want to return to Bern before he had performed a heroic deed that would increase his fame.

He rode for seven days until he came to the forest called Osning, and he found lodging. There he heard of a castle on the other side of the forest called Drekanfils, and once this castle had been owned by king Drusian, who had died, and the queen had married or was engaged with; that's not entirely clear but it likely doesn't matter a man called Ecke. Ecke's brother was Fasold. It was Ecke's custom to ride in the forest hunting animals, but when he met someone who wanted to measure himself against him, he was willing to do so.

Diet­rich wasn't sure how to get through the forest without meeting Ecke. He didn't feel like fighting Ecke, since the wounds that Witig had given him still pained him, and he preferred to first fight a lesser man first.

Amelung, Wildeber, and Herbrand

131

Now king Dietmar became ill and died quickly after, and he left life in full honour. Now his son Diet­rich took over his kingdom, and was now king of Bern, and he was the most famous prince on earth, and his name will never be forgotten in the southlands as long as the world stands.

The Wilkinen wars

305

Now Diet­rich tied Didrik's head to his saddle and rode back to Wilkinenburg. And he saw the same lady as before that had offered to dress his wounds. And when she did so he put cloth over Didrik's head so that she wouldn't see it.

Then the jarl her father came, and asked who this man was. Diet­rich said: I don't know if I should tell you my name, because I suspect one of my relatives was killed here, but I'll still tell you I'm Diet­rich Dietmar's son of Bern.

When the jarl heard this he invited him for the evening, and Diet­rich accepted, since he was wounded and tired. And thus Diet­rich and the jarl's daughter lay together in one bed that night.

Status: summary of 14 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)