Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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Witig

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.

Amelung, Wildeber, and Herbrand

133

Now king Diet­rich heard of a good man called Herbrand, who was one of the best-travelled of all men, and he had visited the great princes of the North Sea, and also in Greece, knew their customs, and spoke their languages. He sent a message to this man and invited him to come to Bern. And so Herbrand came to the king's court and became his knight, and also his counselor, and he carried the king's banner.

Witig and Heime

136

King Osantrix also had a large army, and when he met the army that did not flee from him Did the army flee from him earlier? The saga is unclear they clashed with one another, and a great battle began.

Herbrand, king Diet­richs banner carrier, rode in front, and hit with both hands both men and horses, and behind him came king Diet­rich and his heroes, and they all tried their swords on hard helmets and strong shields and armour, and all the companions helped one another where necessary.

Then Widolf with the Pole came to them and with his pole he hit Witig, who was out in the very front, on the helmet, so that he fell from his horse onto the ground unconscious. Heime was close by, and when Witig had fallen he took his sword Mimung and hurried from there.

The Wilkinen also fought bravely, but king Diet­rich told all his men to advance and show the enemies their handiwork. Now king Osantrix saw that the battle was lost and fled, after he had lost 500 knights. Attila, who had lost only 300, chased after him.

Dietrich's feast

171

All these sat on one bench or platform; pall: king Diet­rich, king Gunther and Hagen, Hildebrand and jarl Hornboge. To his Diet­rich's left hand sat Witig and Amelung, Detlef and Fasold, Sintram and Wildeber, Herbrand the wise and well-traveled, and Heime the Cruel.

And everyone said that they had never seen such noble and brave men, so perfect in all virtues in one hall together.

182

Herbrand the Well-Traveled's coat of arms was red, and on it one saw a thrown fire skoteldr; some sort of siege equipment that flies faster and further than any other siege equipment. Herbrand was like that in battle, he always rode in fast, and he never sat still, since he had traveled the entire world.

190

Now Herbrand the Wise, the king's banner bearer, said that Diet­rich was speaking out of ignorance, because Herbrand knew a country called Bertangaland, with a king named Isung, who is the strongest of all men and feared in duels, and he has eleven sons who are exactly like their father, and he has a banner bearer called Sigfrid, who is so great and wonderful in all heroic things that no better man can be found.

His skin is like horn everywhere, and few weapons bite him. His sword is Gram, and his horse is Grani, a brother of Falke Diet­rich's horse, Schimming Witig's horse, and Rispa Heime's horse. Gram, too, is the best of all swords, and so are all his other weapons.

If you would fight this man, you would say before you returned home, if you returned at all, that you've never been in this much danger.

191

King Diet­rich said with great courage, that if all that was true, then stand up from this table, arm yourself, take my banner, and I and the eleven others will follow you, and go and ride to Bertangaland. And before I sleep in my own bed for another night I want to know whether they or we are the strongest, and one of us will vanquish the other.

The road to Bertangaland

192

Then Herbrand went to his weapons, armed himself, mounted on his horse, and took king Diet­rich's banner, and rode into the king's court. Let's wait no longer, he said, I'll show you the way to Bertangaland.

King Diet­rich and all his men mounted, and Herbrand led them from Bern, with Diet­rich behind him and the rest behind Diet­rich, and they rode over long roads through wild woods, settlements and wilderness, to places where Diet­rich had never been, nor one of his men.

193

Now they came to a large forest their road went through. Herbrand held his horse and told king Diet­rich they had reached the Bertangaland forest, and in the forest lives a giant called Etger, a son of king Nordian and a brother of the giants Wildeber killed 144. Etger is here to protect king Isung's lands. Now the road to Bertangaland goes through this forest, but the giant is so strong that I do not know his equal. Anyone who wishes should ride into the forest, but I will not go any further than this unless all of us go. And now I have warned you.

Witig replied: If all that is the case, Herbrand, you and king Diet­rich and all the others should wait outside, but I will ride into the forest and talk to the giant, and it could be I get him to allow us to pass through, since we are relatives. And if he refuses, my stallion will not carry me slower back to you than forward to the giant. The king and all companions agreed to this.

194

Although they did not cultivate it much, Witig and Etger the giant were related. Because Witig was the son of Wieland the Smith, whom the Northmen Væringjar call Völund fyrir hagleiks sakar Google Translate says 'for the sake of good fortune'. This part is missing from Von der Hagen's translation., and Wieland was a son of the giant Wade, and Wade was the son of king Wilkinus and a sea lady sjókona, as was said earlier 23. But king Wilkinus had another son with his own wife eiginkona called Nordian, who was also a king, but a lesser one than his father, and Nordian had four sons who were all strong giants: Aventrod, Widolf with the Pole, and the third was Etger, who lived in this forest, and the fourth was Aspilian, who was also a king, and he was like other children of men i.e. not a giant. In this way Witig and the giant Etger were related.

195

Now Witig rode into the forest, and he saw a man sleeping who was very large and terrible, and he snored so hard that the branches on the trees shook. Witig dismounted and tied his horse to an olive tree, drew his sword Mimung, and poked the giant with his left foot. Rise, giant, he said, and defend yourself. The man has come who will take your life. The one who guards this country for a rich chieftain should not sleep.

The giant awoke, and saw a man had come here, but he was not afraid. He said: I don't always sleep, I awake when there is need. But when you are concerned I can either sleep or wake i.e. I can kill you even in my sleep. But why did you wake me and who are you? I think you should go on your way and not threaten me, because it's too much trouble for me to straighten my legs and stand up just to kill you. And the giant went back to sleep.

Then Witig again poked him with his foot, so hard that two ribs broke, and now the giant jumped up and was angry. He took his iron pole and swung at Witig. Witig jumped aside, and the giant hit the ground so hard the pole was stuck between two rocks hanira.

Now king Diet­rich and the others heard a great crash when the pole came down, and Herbrand said: We may well have heard Witig's death, so let's ride away as quickly as we can, because if we don't we'll get killed as well.

The giant now took his spear and threw it at Witig, but Witig ran towards him and the spear went over his head and deep into the ground, where it remained stuck. And now Witig struck the giant on his thigh, and carved off a piece so large no horse could carry it, and then he struck another blow and another until the giant fell down with many wounds. And while he had no more weapons he saw he would be defeated in this duel, so he fell to the ground in such a way that he hoped to catch Witig under him and thus kill him. But Witig ran through his legs and thus escaped.

When they heard this mighty fall, Witig's companions said: Now the giant has surely killed Witig. But others said that maybe Witig had won and the giant had fallen.

The tournament

200

One day king Isung and his eleven sons were in their castle, and Sigfrid came to them and said to them: My lord, I saw a tent on the field before your castle, of a different type than I saw before. In the middle of this tent is a pole, and on it a knot of gold. And there is a second, red tent before it, and a third, green tent behind it, and on the right a golden tent, and on the left a white tent.

And before the tents there are thirteen shields, and on the outer shield there is a horse, and that is Heime's, and on the next a golden hawk with two birds, and that is my relative see 203 for this relation jarl Hornboge's, and on the third shield is the same, and that is of his son Amelung, and on the fourth there is a tongues, hammer and anvil, and that is Witig's, and on the fifth is a crowned lion, and that is king Diet­rich's. On the sixth is a crowned eagle, and that is king Gunther's, and on the seventh an eagle without a crown, and that is his brother Hagen's, and on the eighth there are flames of gold, and that is Herbrand's, and on the ninth there is also a lion, but without a crown, and that is Fasold's, and on the tenth is a dragon, and that is Sintram's, and on the eleventh is the castle of Bern, and that is Hildebrand's, and on the twelfth are a boar and a bear, and that is Wildeber's, and on the thirteenth there are a man and an elephant, and that is Detlef's.

And from that, Sigfrid continued, it seems to me that foreign warriors have come to our land, and I am prepared, if you wish, to ride to them and find out who they are A bit pointless, since he just identified them, but that's how sagas work and why they have erected their tents against your will.

King Isung said: I'll send one of my men to them to tell them that if they want to keep their lives they should pay me tribute, as our laws require, and my emissary will ask them who they are, where they come from, where they were born, and where they're going, and if they have any other goal here than to pay me tribute.

And Sigfrid said: the man you're going to send should be none other than me.

208

Now Herbrand, king Diet­rich's banner bearer, took the field, and against him was set another of king Isung's sons, and they started the fight. They fought for a long time, but eventually Herbrand had received five wounds, none of them small, and lost a lot of blood and became tired. His strength left him and one more strong blow felled him. He surrendered his arms and was bound like before.

The prince went back to his men, and called on the next pair of fighters.

212

Now Amelung said: "It was an unfortunate day ótímadagr when king Diet­rich decided on this expedition, since he himself and all his men would be bound and defeated. He should have staid home in Bern and defended his realm."

And now he called on his father jarl Hornboge and told him to bind his helmet onto his head as firmly as he could, and to bind his shield to his left hand as firmly as he could so that it could not be lost, and he swore that he'd rather be chopped as small as the smallest pieces that went into a kettle before he would be bound and the Bertanga-men would support his back with a spear shaft.

Now he took the field, and against him the sixth prince, and they fought with great courage for a long time. Amelung saw that the fight would take a long time if he didn't take some more risk. Despite his shield being bound to his left hand, he took his sword in both hands and hit the prince on the helmet as hard as he could, and the sword would not cut it, so hard was that helmet. But still the prince fell, and Amelung threw himself onto him and told him: If you want to keep your life, surrender your weapons and you'll be bound to a spear shaft like your brothers did to my companions. But if you want to free yourself, then they should let go my good friend Fasold and Herbrand.

The prince agreed, and it happened, and now each went back to his men; and the duel had gone as Sigfrid had thought it would. Manuscript A adds: And this prince was one of the least strong ones.

Dietrich's fellowship falls apart

225

When king Diet­rich and his men had made sure that no man in the world would dare to carry a shield against them attack them, they wanted to appoint powerful chiefs to their realms to rule and protect them.

Thus jarl Hornboge went home to Windland, and with him his son Amelung and his wife Fallburg, and they ruled their realm for a long time with honour and fame. And Sintram went east to Fenedi and became duke there, and was one of the most famous men, like his ancestors had been. And Herbrand went back to his realm, and also became a powerful duke.

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)