Masterpieces of

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The Nibelungenlied

Translated by Daniel B. Shumway

Illustrations by Arthur Rackham



How Brunhild Was Received At Worms.
Across the Rhine men saw the king with his guests in many bands pricking to the shore. One saw the horse of many a maiden, too, led by the bridle. All those who should give them welcome were ready now. When those of Isenland and Siegfried's Nibelung men were come across in boats, they hasted to the shore (not idle were their hands), where the kindred of the king were seen upon the other bank. Now hear this tale, too, of the queen, the noble Uta, how she herself rode hither with the maidens from the castle. Then many a knight and maid became acquaint. Duke Gere led Kriemhild's palfroy by the bridle till just outside the castle gate. Siegfried, the valiant knight, must needs attend her further. A fair maid was she! Later the noble dame requited well this deed. Ortwin, the bold, rode by Lady Uta's side, and many knights and maidens rode in pairs. Well may we aver that so many dames were never seen together at such stately greeting.

Many a splendid joust was ridden by worshipful knights (not well might it be left undone) afore Kriemhild, the fair, down to the ships. Then the fair-fashioned ladies were lifted from the palfreys. The king was come across and many a worthy guest. Ho, what stout lances brake before the ladies' eyes! One heard the clash of many hurtling shields. Ho, what costly bucklers rang loudly as they closed! The lovely fair stood by the shore as Gunther and his guests alighted from the boats; he himself led Brunhild by the hand. Bright gems and gleaming armor shone forth in rivalry. Lady Kriemhild walked with courtly breeding to meet Dame Brunhild and her train. White hands removed the chaplets, [1] as these twain kissed each other; through deference this was done.

Then in courteous wise the maiden Kriemhild spake: "Be ye welcome in these lands of ours, to me and to my mother and to all the loyal kin we have."

Low bows were made and the ladies now embraced full oft. Such loving greeting hath one never heard, as the two ladies, Dame Uta and her daughter, gave the bride; upon her sweet mouth they kissed her oft. When now Brunhild's ladies all were come to land, stately knights took many a comely woman by the hand in loving wise. The fair-fashioned maids were seen to stand before the lady Brunhild. Long time elasped or ever the greetings all were done; many a rose-red mouth was kissed, in sooth. Still side by side the noble princesses stood, which liked full well the doughty warriors for to see. They who had heard men boast afore that such beauty had ne'er been seen as these two dames possessed, spied now with all their eyes and must confess the truth. Nor did one see upon their persons cheats of any kind. Those who wot how to judge of women and lovely charms, praised Gunther's bride for beauty; but the wise had seen more clear and spake, that one must give Kriemhild the palm before Brunhild.

Maids and ladies now drew near each other. Many a comely dame was seen arrayed full well. Silken tents and many rich pavilions stood hard by, the which quite filled the plain of Worms. The kinsmen of the king came crowding around, when Brunhild and Kriemhild and with them all the dames were bidden go to where shade was found. Thither the knights from the Burgundian land escorted them.

Now were the strangers come to horse, and shields were pierced in many royal jousts. From the plain the dust gan rise, as though the whole land had burst forth into flames. There many a knight became well known as champion. Many a maiden saw what there the warriors plied. Methinks, Sir Siegfried and his knights rode many a turn afore the tents. He led a thousand stately Nibelungs.

Then Hagen of Troneg came, as the king had counseled, and parted in gentle wise the jousting, that the fair maids be not covered with the dust, the which the strangers willingly obeyed. Then spake Sir Gernot: "Let stand the steeds till the air grow cooler, for ye must be full ready when that the king will ride. Meanwhile let us serve the comely dames before the spacious hall."

When now over all the plain the jousts had ceased, the knights, on pastime bent, hied them to the ladies under many a high pavilion in the hope of lofty joys. There they passed the hours until they were minded to ride away.

Just at eventide, when the sun was setting and the air grew chill, no longer they delayed, but man and woman hasted toward the castle. Many a comely maiden was caressed with loving glances. In jousting great store of clothes were torn by good knights, by the high-mettled warriors, after the custom of the land, until the king dismounted by the hall. Valiant heroes helped the ladies, as is their wont. The noble queens then parted; Lady Uta and her daughter went with their train to a spacious hall, where great noise of merriment was heard on every side.

The seats were now made ready, for the king would go to table with his guests. At his side men saw fair Brunhild stand, wearing the crown in the king's domain. Royal enow she was in sooth. Good broad tables, with full many benches for the men, were set with vitaille, as we are told. Little they lacked that they should have! At the king's table many a lordly guest was seen. The chamberlains of the host bare water forth in basins of ruddy gold. It were but in vain, if any told you that men were ever better served at princes' feasts: I would not believe you that.

Before the lord of the Rhineland took the water to wash his hands, Siegfried did as was but meet, he minded him by his troth of what he had promised, or ever he had seen Brunhild at home in Isenland. He spake: "Ye must remember how ye swore me by your hand, that when Lady Brunhild came to this land, ye would give me your sister to wife. Where be now these oaths? I have suffered mickle hardship on our trip."

Then spake the king to his guest: "Rightly have ye minded me. Certes my hand shall not be perjured. I'll bring it to pass as best I can."

Then they bade Kriemhild go to court before the king. She came with her fair maidens to the entrance of the hall. At this Sir Giselher sprang down the steps. "Now bid these maidens turn again. None save my sister alone shall be here by the king."

Then they brought Kriemhild to where the king was found. There stood noble knights from many princes' lands; throughout the broad hall one bade them stand quite still. By this time Lady Brunhild had stepped to the table, too. Then spake King Gunther:

"Sweet sister mine, by thy courtesie redeem my oath. I swore to give thee to a knight, and if he become thy husband, then hast thou done my will most loyally."

Quoth the noble maid: "Dear brother mine, ye must not thus entreat me. Certes I'll be ever so, that whatever ye command, that shall be done. I'll gladly pledge my troth to him whom ye, my lord, do give me to husband."


Siegfried here grew red at the glance of friendly eyes. The knight then proffered his service to Lady Kriemhild. Men bade them take their stand at each other's side within the ring and asked if she would take the stately man. In maidenly modesty she was a deal abashed, yet such was Siegfried's luck and fortune, that she would not refuse him out of hand. The noble king of Netherland vowed to take her, too, to wife. When he and the maid had pledged their troths, Siegfried's arm embraced eftsoon the winsome maid. Then the fair queen was kissed before the knights. The courtiers parted, when that had happed; on the bench over against the king Siegfried was seen to take his scat with Kriemhild. Thither many a man accompanied him as servitor; men saw the Nibelungs walk at Siegfried's side.

The king had seated him with Brunhild, the maid, when she espied Kriemhild (naught had ever irked her so) sitting at Siegfried's side. She began to weep and hot tears coursed down fair cheeks. Quoth the lord of the land: "What aileth you, my lady, that ye let bright eyes grow dim? Ye may well rejoice; my castles and my land and many a stately vassal own your sway."

"I have good cause to weep," spake the comely maid; "my heart is sore because of thy sister, whom I see sitting so near thy vassal's side. I must ever weep that she be so demeaned."

Then spake the King Gunther: "Ye would do well to hold your peace. At another time I will tell you the tale of why I gave Siegfried my sister unto wife. Certes she may well live ever happily with the knight."

She spake: "I sorrow ever for her beauty and her courtesie. I fain would flee, and I wist whither I might; go, for never will I lie close by your side, unless ye tell me through what cause Kriemhild be Siegfried's bride."

Then spake the noble king: "I'll do it you to wit; he hath castles and broad domains, as well as I. Know of a truth, he is a mighty king, therefore did I give him the peerless maid to love."

But whatsoever the king might say, she remained full sad of mood.

Now many a good knight hastened from the board. Their hurtling waxed so passing hard, that the whole castle rang. But the host was weary of his guests. Him-thought that he might lie more soft at his fair lady's side. As yet he had not lost at all the hope that much of joy might hap to him through her. Lovingly he began to gaze on Lady Brunhild. Men bade the guests leave off their knightly games, for the king and his wife would go to bed. Brunhild and Kriemhild then met before the stairway of the hall, as yet without the hate of either. Then came their retinue. Noble chamberlains delayed not, but brought them lights. The warriors, the liegemen of the two kings, then parted on either side and many of the knights were seen to walk with Siegfried.

The lords were now come to the rooms where they should lie. Each of the twain thought to conquer by love his winsome dame. This made them blithe of mood. Siegfried's pleasure on that night was passing great. When Lord Siegfried lay at Kriemhild's side and with his noble love caressed the high-born maid so tenderly, she grew as dear to him as life, so that not for a thousand other women would he have given her alone. No more I'll tell how Siegfried wooed his wife; hear now the tale of how King Gunther lay by Lady Brunhild's side. The stately knight had often lain more soft by other dames. The courtiers now had left, both maid and man. The chamber soon was locked; he thought to caress the lovely maid. Forsooth the time was still far off, ere she became his wife. In a smock of snowy linen she went to bed. Then thought the noble knight: "Now have I here all that I have ever craved in all my days." By rights she must needs please him through her comeliness. The noble king gan shroud the lights and then the bold knight hied him to where the lady lay. He laid him at her side, and great was his joy when in his arms he clasped the lovely fair. Many loving caresses he might have given, had but the noble dame allowed it. She waxed so wroth that he was sore a-troubled; he weened that they were lovers, but he found here hostile hate. She spake: "Sir Knight, pray give this over, which now ye hope. Forsooth this may not hap, for I will still remain a maid, until I hear the tale; now mark ye that."

Then Gunther grew wroth; he struggled for her love and rumpled all her clothes. The high-born maid then seized her girdle, the which was a stout band she wore around her waist, and with it she wrought the king great wrong enow. She bound him hand and foot and bare him to a nail and hung him on the wall. She forbade him love, sith he disturbed her sleep. Of a truth he came full nigh to death through her great strength.

Then he who had weened to be the master, began to plead. "Now loose my bands, most noble queen. I no longer trow to conquer you, fair lady, and full seldom will I lie so near your side."

She reeked not how he felt, for she lay full soft. There he had to hang all night till break of day, until the bright morn shone through the casements. Had he ever had great strength, it was little seen upon him now.

"Now tell me, Sir Gunther, would that irk you aught," the fair maid spake, "and your servants found you bound by a woman's hand?"

Then spake the noble knight: "That would serve you ill; nor would it gain me honor," spake the doughty man. "By your courtesie, pray let me lie now by your side. Sith that my love mislike you so, I will not touch your garment with my hands."

Then she loosed him soon and let him rise. To the bed again, to the lady he went and laid him down so far away, that thereafter he full seldom touched her comely weeds. Nor would she have allowed it.

Then their servants came and brought them new attire, of which great store was ready for them against the morn. However merry men made, the lord of the land was sad enow, albeit he wore a crown that day. As was the usage which they had and which they kept by right, Gunther and Brunhild no longer tarried, but hied them to the minster, where mass was sung. Thither, too, Sir Siegfried came and a great press arose among the crowd. In keeping with their royal rank, there was ready for them all that they did need, their crowns and robes as well. Then they were consecrated. When this was done, all four were seen to stand joyful 'neath their crowns. Many young squires, six hundred or better, were now girt with sword in honor of the kings, as ye must know. Great joy rose then in the Burgundian land; one heard spear-shafts clashing in the hands of the sworded knights. There at the windows the fair maids sat; they saw shining afore them the gleam of many a shield. But the king had sundered him from his liegemen; whatso others plied, men saw him stand full sad. Unlike stood his and Siegfried's mood. The noble knight and good would fain have known what ailed the king. He hasted to him and gan ask: "Pray let me know how ye have fared this night, Sir King."

Then spake the king to his guest: "Shame and disgrace have I won; I have brought a fell devil to my house and home. When I weened to love her, she bound me sore; she bare me to a nail and hung me high upon a wall. There I hung affrighted all night until the day, or ever she unbound me. How softly she lay bedded there! In hope of thy pity do I make plaint to thee as friend to friend."

Then spake stout Siegfried: "That rueth me in truth. I'll do you this to wit; and ye allow me without distrust, I'll contrive that she lie by you so near this night, that she'll nevermore withhold from you her love."

After all his hardships Gunther liked well this speech. Sir Siegfried spake again: "Thou mayst well be of good cheer. I ween we fared unlike last night. Thy sister Kriemhild is dearer to me than life; the Lady Brunhild must become thy wife to-night. I'll come to thy chamber this night, so secretly in my Cloud Cloak, that none may note at all my arts. Then let the chamberlains betake them to their lodgings and I'll put out the lights in the pages' hands, whereby thou mayst know that I be within and that I'll gladly serve thee. I'll tame for time thy wife, that thou mayst have her love to-night, or else I'll lose my life."

"Unless be thou embrace my dear lady," spake then the king, "I shall be glad, if thou do to her as thou dost list. I could endure it well, an' thou didst take her life. In sooth she is a fearful wife."

"I pledge upon my troth," quoth Siegfried, "that I will not embrace her. The fair sister of thine, she is to me above all maids that I have ever seen."

Gunther believed full well what Siegfried spake.

From the knightly sports there came both joy and woe; but men forbade the hurtling and the shouting, since now the ladies were to hie them to the hall. The grooms-in-waiting bade the people stand aside; the court was cleared of steeds and folk. A bishop led each of the ladies, as they should go to table in the presence of the kings. Many a stately warrior followed to the seats. In fair hope the king sate now full merrily; well he thought on that which Siegfried had vowed to do. This one day thought him as long as thirty days, for all his thoughts were bent upon his lady's love. He could scarce abide the time to leave the board. Now men let fair Brunhild and Kriemhild, too, both go to their rest. Ho, what doughty knights were seen to walk before the queens!

The Lord Siegfried sate in loving wise by his fair wife, in bliss without alloy. With her snow-white hands she fondled his, till that he vanished from before her eyes, she wist not when. When now she no longer spied him, as she toyed, the queen spake to his followers: "Much this wondereth me, whither the king be gone. Who hath taken his hands from mine?"

She spake no other word, but he was gone to where he found many grooms of the chamber stand with lights. These he gan snuff out in the pages' hands. Thus Gunther knew that it was Siegfried. Well wist he what he would; he bade the maids and ladies now withdraw. When that was done, the mighty king himself made fast the door and nimbly shoved in place two sturdy bolts. Quickly then he hid the lights behind the hangings of the bed. Stout Siegfried and the maiden now began a play (for this there was no help) which was both lief and loth to Gunther. Siegfried laid him close by the high-born maid. She spake: "Now, Gunther, let that be, and it be lief to you, that ye suffer not hardship as afore."

Then the lady hurt bold Siegfried sore. He held his peace and answered not a whit. Gunther heard well, though he could not see his friend a bit, that they plied not secret things, for little ease they had upon the bed. Siegfried bare him as though he were Gunther, the mighty king. In his arms he clasped the lovely maid. She cast him from the bed upon a bench near by, so that his head struck loudly against the stool. Up sprang the valiant man with all his might; fain would he try again. When he thought now to subdue her, she hurt him sore. Such defense, I ween, might nevermore be made by any wife.

When he would not desist, up sprang the maid. "Ye shall not rumple thus my shift so white. Ye are a clumsy churl and it shall rue you sore, I'll have you to know fall well," spake the comely maid. In her arms she grasped the peerless knight; she weened to bind him, as she had done the king, that she might have her case upon the bed. The lady avenged full sore, that he had rumpled thus her clothes. What availed his mickle force and his giant strength? She showed the knight her masterly strength of limb; she carried him by force (and that must needs be) and pressed him rudely 'twixt a clothes-press and the wall.

"Alas," so thought the knight, "if now I lose my life at a maiden's hands, then may all wives hereafter bear towards their husbands haughty mien, who would never do it else."

The king heard it well and feared him for his liegeman's life. Siegfried was sore ashamed; wrathful he waxed and with surpassing strength he set himself against her and tried it again with Lady Brunhild in fearful wise. It thought the king full long, before he conquered her. She pressed his hands, till from her strength the blood gushed forth from out the nails: this irked the hero. Therefore he brought the highborn maiden to the pass that she gave over her unruly will, which she asserted there afore. The king heard all, albeit not a word he spake. Siegfried pressed her against the bed, so that she shrieked aloud. Passing sore his strength did hurt her. She grasped the girdle around her waist and would fain have bound him, but his hand prevented it in such a wise that her limbs and all her body cracked. Thus the strife was parted and she became King Gunther's wife.

She spake: "Most noble king, pray spare my life. I'll do thee remedy for whatso I have done thee. I'll no longer struggle against thy noble love, for I have learned full well that thou canst make thee master over women."

Siegfried let the maiden be and stepped away, as though he would do off his clothes. From her hand he drew a golden finger ring, without that she wist it, the noble queen. Thereto he took her girdle, a good stout band. I know not if he did that for very haughtiness. He gave it to his wife and rued it sore in after time.

Then lay Gunther and the fair maid side by side. He played the lover, as beseemed him, and thus she must needs give over wrath and shame. From his embrace a little pale she grew. Ho, how her great strength failed through love! Now was she no stronger than any other wife. He caressed her lovely form in lover's wise. Had she tried her strength again, what had that availed? All this had Gunther wrought in her by his love. How right lovingly she lay beside him in bridal joy until the dawn of day!

Now was Sir Siegfried gone again to where he was given fair greetings by a woman fashioned fair. He turned aside the question she had thought to put and hid long time from her what he had brought, until she ruled as queen within his land. How little he refused to give her what he should!

On the morn the host was far cheerier of mood than he had been afore. Through this the joy of many a noble man was great in all his lands, whom he had bidden to his court, and to whom he proffered much of service. The wedding feast now lasted till the fourteenth day, so that in all this while the sound never died away of the many joys which there they plied. The cost to the king was rated high. The kinsmen of the noble host gave gifts in his honor to the strolling folk, as the king commanded: vesture and ruddy gold, steeds and silver, too. Those who there craved gifts departed hence full merrily. Siegfried, the lord from Netherland, with a thousand of his men, gave quite away the garments they had brought with them to the Rhine and steeds and saddles, too. Full well they wot how to live in lordly wise. Those who would home again thought the time too long till the rich gifts had all been made. Nevermore have guests been better eased. Thus ended the wedding feast; Gunther, the knight, would have it so.


[1] "Chaplet" (O.F. "chaplet", dim. of "chapel", M.H.G.

"schapel" or "schapelin") or wreath was the headdress especially of unmarried girls, the hair being worn flowing. It was often of flowers or leaves, but not infrequently of gold and silver. (See Weinhold, "Deutsche Frauen im Mittelalter", i, 387.)

How Siegfried Journeyed Homeward With His Wife.
When now the strangers had all ridden hence, Siegmund's son spake to his fellowship: "We must make us ready, too, to journey to my lands."

Lief was it to his wife, when the lady heard the tale aright. She spake to her husband: "When shall we ride? I pray thee, make me not haste too sore. First must my brothers share their lands with me."

It was loth to Siegfried, when he heard this from Kriemhild. The lordings hied them to him and all three spake: "Now may ye know, Sir Siegfried, that our true service be ever at your bidding till our death."

Then he made obeisance to the knights, as it was proffered him in such kindly wise. "We shall share with you," spake Giselher, the youth, "both land and castles which we do own and whatever broad realms be subject to our power. Of these ye and Kriemhild shall have a goodly share."

The son of Siegmund spake to the princes, as he heard and saw the lordings' will: "God grant that ye be ever happy with your heritage and the folk therein. My dear bride can well forego in truth the share which ye would give. There where she shall wear a crown, she shall be mightier than any one alive, and live to see the day. For whatsoever else ye do command, I stand ready to your bidding."

Then spake the Lady Kriemhild: "Though ye forego my heritage, yet is it not so light a matter with the Burgundian men-at-arms. A king might gladly lead them to his land. Forsooth my brothers' hands must share them with me."

Then spake the Lord Gernot: "Now take whomsoever thou dost wish.

Thou wilt find here really a one who'll gladly ride with thee. We will give thee a thousand of our thirty hundred warriors; be they thy court retainers."

Kriemhild then gan send for Hagen of Troneg and also for Ortwin, to ask if they and their kinsfolk would be Kriemhild's men.

At this Hagen waxed wonderly wroth. He spake: "Certes, Gunther may not give us to any in the world. Let others follow as your train. Ye know full well the custom of the men of Troneg: we must in duty bound remain here with the kings at court. We must serve them longer, whom we till now have followed."

They gave that over and made them ready to ride away. Lady Kriemhild gained for herself two and thirty maids and five hundred men, a noble train. The Margrave Eckewart [1] followed Kriemhild hence. They all took leave, both knights and squires and maids and ladies, as was mickle right. Anon they parted with a kiss and voided merrily King Gunther's land. Their kinsmen bare them company far upon the way and bade them pitch their quarters for the night, whereso they listed, throughout the princes' land.

Then messengers were sent eftsoon to Siegmund, that he might know, and Siegelind, too, that his son would come with Lady Uta's child, Kriemhild, the fair, from Worms beyond the Rhine. Liefer tidings might they never have. "Well for me," spake then Siegmund, "that I have lived to see fair Kriemhild here as queen. My heritage will be thereby enhanced. My son, the noble Siegfried, shall himself be king."

Then the Lady Siegelind gave much red velvet, silver, and heavy gold; this was the envoy's meed. The tale well liked her, which then she heard. She clad her and her handmaids with care, as did beseem them. Men told who was to come with Siegfried to the land. Anon they bade seats be raised, where he should walk crowned before his friends. King Siegmund's liegemen then rode forth to meet him. Hath any been ever better greeted than the famous hero in Siegmund's land, I know not. Siegelind, the fair, rode forth to meet Kriemhild with many a comely dame (lusty knights did follow on behind), a full day's journey, till one espied the guests. Home-folk and the strangers had little easement till they were come to a spacious castle, hight Xanten, [2] where they later reigned.

Smilingly Siegelind and Siegmund kissed Kriemhild many times for joy and Siegfried, too; their sorrow was taken from them. All their fellowship received great welcome. One bade now bring the guests to Siegmund's hall, and lifted the fair young maids down from the palfreys. Many a knight gan serve the comely dames with zeal. However great the feasting at the Rhine was known to be, here one gave the heroes much better robes than they had worn in all their days. Of their splender great marvels might be told. When now they sate in lofty honors and had enow of all, what gold-hued clothes their courtiers wore with precious stones well worked thereon! Thus did Siegelind, the noble queen, purvey them well.

Then to his friends Lord Siegmund spake: "I do all Siegfried's kin to wit, that he shall wear my crown before these knights." Those of Netherland heard full fain the tale. He gave his son the crown, the cognizance, [3] and lands, so that he then was master of them all. When that men went to law and Siegfried uttered judgment, that was done in such a wise that men feared sore fair Kriemhild's husband.

In these high honors Siegfried lived, of a truth, and judged as king, till the tenth year was come, when his fair lady bare a son. This was come to pass after the wish of the kinsmen of the king. They hastened to baptize and name him Gunther for his uncle; nor had he need to be ashamed of this. Should he grow like to his kinsman, he would fare full well. They brought him up with care, as was but due. In these same times the Lady Siegelind died, and men enow made wail when death bereft them of her. Then the child of the noble Uta held withal the power over the lands, which well beseemed such high-born dames. [4]

Now also by the Rhine, as we hear tell, at mighty Gunther's court, in the Burgundian land, Brunhild, the fair, had born a son. For the hero's sake they named him Siegfried. With what great care they bade attend him! The noble Gunther gave him masters who well wot how to bring him up to be a doughty man. Alas, what great loss of kin he later suffered through misfortune!

Many tales were told all time, of how right worshipfully the lusty knights dwelt alway in Siegmund's land. Gunther dealt the same with his distinguished kin. The Nibelung land and Schilbung's knights and the goods of both served Siegfried here (none of his kinsmen ever waxed mightier than he). So much the higher rose the mood of the valiant man. The very greatest heard that any hero ever gained, save those who owned it aforetime, the bold man had, the which he had won by his own hand hard by a hill, and for which he did many a lusty knight to death. He had honors to his heart's desire, and had this not been so, yet one must rightly aver of the noble champion, that he was one of the best that ever mounted horse. Men feared his might and justly, too.


[1] "Eckewart", see Adventure I, note 15.

[2] "Xanten", see Adventure II, note 3.

[3] "Cognizance", 'jurisdiction.'

[4] "Dames", i.e., Siegelind and Kriemhild.

How Gunther Bade Siegfried To The Feasting.
Now Gunther's wife thought alway: "How haughtily doth Lady Kriemhild bear her! Is not her husband Siegfried our liegeman? Long time now hath he done us little service." This she bare within her heart, but held her peace. It irked her sore that they did make themselves such strangers and that men from Siegfried's land so seldom served her. Fain would she have known from whence this came. She asked the king if it might hap that she should see Kriemhild again. Secretly she spake what she had in mind. The speech like the king but moderately well. "How might we bring them," quoth he, "hither to our land? That were impossible, they live too far away; I dare not ask them this."

To this Brunhild replied in full crafty wise: "However high and mighty a king's vassal be, yet should he not leave undone whatsoever his lord command him."

King Gunther smiled when she spake thus. However oft he saw Siegfried, yet did he not count it to him as service.

She spake: "Dear lord, for my sake help me to have Siegfried and thy sister come to this land, that we may see them here. Naught liefer might ever hap to me in truth. Whenso I think on thy sister's courtesie and her well-bred mind, how it delighteth me! How we sate together, when I first became thy wife! She may with honor love bold Siegfried."

She besought so long, till the king did speak: "Now know that I have never seen more welcome guests. Ye need but beg me gently. I will send my envoys for the twain, that they may come to see us to the Rhine."

Then spake the queen: "Pray tell me then, when ye are willed to send for them, or in what time our dear kinsmen shall come into the land. Give me also to know whom ye will send thither."

"That will I," said the prince. "I will let thirty of my men ride thither."

He had these come before him and bade them carry tidings to Siegfried's land. To their delight Brunhild did give them full lordly vesture.

Then spake the king: "Ye knights must say from me all that I bid you to mighty Siegfried and the sister of mine; this must ye not conceal: that no one in the world doth love them more, and beg them both to come to us to the Rhine. For this I and my lady will be ever at your service. At the next Midsummer's Day shall he and his men gaze upon many here, who would fain do them great honor. Give to the king Siegmund my greetings, and say that I and my kinsmen be still his friends, and tell my sister, too, that she fail not to ride to see her kin. Never did feasting beseem her better."

Brunhild and Uta and whatever ladies were found at court all commended their service to the lovely dames and the many valiant men in Siegfried's land. With the consent of the kinsmen of the king the messengers set forth. They rode as wandering knights; their horses and their trappings had now been brought them. Then they voided the land, for they had haste of the journey, whither they would fare. The king bade guard the messengers well with convoys. In three weeks they came riding into the land, to Nibelung's castle, in the marches of Norway, [1] whither they were sent. Here they found the knight. The mounts of the messengers were weary from the lengthy way.

Both Siegfried and Kriemhild were then told that knights were come, who wore such clothes as men were wont to wear at Burgundy. She sprang from a couch on which she lay to rest and bade a maiden hie her to the window. In the court she saw bold Gere standing, him and the fellowship that had been sent thither. What joyful things she there found against her sorrow of heart! She spake to the king: "Now behold where they stand, who walk in the court with the sturdy Gere, whom my brother sendeth us adown the Rhine.

Spake then the valiant Siegfried: "They be welcome to us."

All the courtiers ran to where one saw them. Each of them in turn then spake full kindly, as best he could to the envoys. Siegmund, the lord, was right blithe of their coming. Then Gere and his men were lodged and men bade take their steeds in charge. The messengers then went hence to where Lord Siegfried sate by Kriemhild. This they did, for they had leave to go to court. The host and his lady rose from their seats at once and greeted well Gere of the Burgundian land with his fellowship, Gunther's liegemen. One bade the mighty Gere go and sit him down.

"Permit us first to give our message, afore we take our seats; let us way-worn strangers stand the while. We be come to tell you tidings which Gunther and Brunhild, with whom all things stand well, have sent you, and also what Lady Uta, your mother, sendeth. Giselher, the youth, and Sir Gernot, too, and your dearest kin, they have sent us hither and commend their service to you from out the Burgundian land."

"Now God requite them," quoth Siegfried; "I trow them much troth and good, as one should to kinsfolk; their sister doth the same.

Ye must tell us more, whether our dear friends at home be of good cheer? Since we have been parted from them, hath any done amiss to my lady's kinsmen? That ye must let me know. If so, I'll ever help them bear it in duty bound, until their foes must rue my service!"

Then spake the Margrave Gere, a right good knight: "They are in every virtue of such right high mood, that they do bid you to a feasting by the Rhine. They would fain see you, as ye may not doubt, and they do beg my lady that she come with you, when the winter hath taken an end. They would see you before the next Midsummer's Day."

Quoth the stalwart Siegfried: "That might hardly hap."


Then answered Gere from the Burgundian land: "Your mother Uta, Gernot, and Giselher have charged you, that ye refuse them not. I hear daily wail, that ye do live so far away. My Lady Brunhild and all her maids be fain of the tidings, if that might be that they should see you again; this would raise their spirits high." These tidings thought fair Kriemhild good.

Gere was of their kin; the host bade him be seated and had wine poured out for the guests; no longer did they tarry. Now Siegmund was come to where he saw the messengers. The lord said to the Burgundians in friendly wise: "Be welcome, Sir Knights, ye men of Gunther. Sith now Siegfried, my son, hath won Kriemhild to wife, one should see you more often here in this our land, if ye would show your kinship."

They answered that they would gladly come, when so he would. Of their weariness they were cased with joyous pastime. Men bade the messengers be seated and brought them food, of which Siegfried had them given great store. They must needs stay there full nine days, till at last the doughty knights made plaint, that they durst not ride again to their land.

Meantime king Siegfried had sent to fetch his friends; he asked them what they counseled, whether or no they should to the Rhine. "My kinsman Gunther and his kin have sent to fetch me for a feasting. Now I would go full gladly, but that his land doth lie too far away. They beg Kriemhild, too, that she journey with me. Now advise, dear friends, in what manner she shall ride thither. Though I must harry for them through thirty lands, yet would Siegfried's arm fain serve them there."

Then spake his warriors: "And ye be minded to journey to the feasting, we will advise what ye must do. Ye should ride to the Rhine with a thousand knights, then can ye stand with worship there in Burgundy land."

Up spake then Lord Siegmund of Netherland: "Will ye to the feasting, why make ye it not known to me? If ye scorn it not, I will ride thither with you and will take a hundred knights, wherewith to swell your band."

"And will ye ride with us, dear father mine," quoth brave Siegfried, "glad shall I be of that. Within a twelfth night I will quit my lands."

All who craved it were given steeds and vesture, too.

Since now the noble king was minded for the journey, men bade the good and speedy envoys ride again. He sent word to his wife's kindred on the Rhine, that he would full fain be at their feasting. Siegfried and Kriemhild, as the tale doth tell, gave the messengers such store of gifts that their horses could not bear them to their native land. A wealthy man was he. They drove their sturdy sumpters merrily along.

Siegfried and Siegmund arrayed their men. Eckewart, the margrave, that very hour bade seek out ladies' robes, the best that were at hand or might be found throughout all Siegfried's land. Men gan prepare the saddles and the shields. To knights and ladies who should go hence with him was given whatso they would, so that they wanted naught. He brought to his kinsfolk many a lordly stranger.

The messengers pricked fast upon their homeward way. Now was Gere, the knight, come to Burgundy and was greeted fair. Then they dismounted from their steeds and from the nags in front of Gunther's hall. Young and old did hie them, as people do, to ask the tidings. Quoth the good knight: "When I tell them to the king, thou be at hand a hear."

With his fellowship he went to where he found King Gunther. For very joy the king sprang from his seat. Fair Brunhild cried them mercy, that they were come so quick. Gunther spake to the envoys: "How fareth Siegfried, from whom so much of gladness hath happed to me?"

Brave Gere spake: "He blushed for joy, he and your sister; no truer tidings did ever any man send to friends, than the Lord Siegfried and his father, too, have sent to you."

Then to the margrave spake the noble queen: "Now tell me, cometh Kriemhild to us? Hath the fair still kept the graces which she knew how to use?"

"She cometh to you surely," quoth Gere, the knight.

Then Uta bade the messenger come quickly to her. By her question one might note full well that she was fain to hear if Kriemhild still were well. He told how he had found her and that she would shortly come. Nor were the gifts concealed by them at court, which Siegfried gave them, gold and vesture; these they brought for the vassals of the three kings to see. For their passing great bounty men gave them thanks.

"He may lightly give great gifts," spake then Hagen; "he could not squander all his wealth, and he should live for aye. His hand hath closed upon the hoard of the Nibelungs. Ho, let him only come to the Burgundian land!"

All the courtiers were glad that they should come. Early and late the men of the three kings were busy. Many benches they gan raise for the folk. The valiant Hunolt and the knight Sindolt had little rest. All time they had to oversee the stewards and the butlers and raise many a bench. Ortwin helped them, too, at this, and Gunther said them thanks. Rumolt, the master cook, how well he ruled his underlings! Ho, how many a broad kettle, pot, and pan they had! They made ready the vitaille for those who were coming to the land.


[1] "Norway". The interpolated character of the Adventures XI to XIII, which are not found in the earlier versions, is shown by the confusion in the location of Siegfried's court. The poet has forgotten that Xanten is his capital, and locates it in Norway. No mention is made, however, of the messengers crossing the sea; on the contrary, Kriemhild speaks of their being sent down the Rhine.

How They Journeyed To The Feasting.
Let us now take leave of all their bustling, and tell how Lady Kriemhild and her maidens journeyed from the Nibelung land down toward the Rhine. Never did sumpters bear so much lordly raiment. They made ready for the way full many traveling chests. Then Siegfried, the knight, and the queen as well, rode forth with their friends to where they had hope of joys. Later it sped them all to their great harm. They left Siegfried's little child, Kriemhild's son, at home. That must needs be. Great grief befell him through their journey to the court. The bairn never saw his father and his mother more. With them, too, there rode Lord Siegmund. Had he known aright how he would fare at the feasting, no whit of it would he have seen. No greater woe might ever hap to him in loving friends.

Messengers were sent ahead, who told the tale. Then with a stately band there rode to meet them many of Uta's kith and Gunther's liegemen. The host gan bestir him for his guests. He went to where Brunhild sate and asked: "How did my sister greet you when ye came to our land? In like manner must ye greet Siegfried's wife."

"That will I gladly," quoth she, "for I have good cause to be her friend."

The mighty king spake further: "They come to us early on the morrow; if ye would greet them, set quickly to work, that we abide them not within the castle. At no time have such welcome guests ever come to see me."

At once she bade her maids and ladies hunt out goodly raiment, the best they had, the which her train should wear before the guests. One may lightly say, they did this gladly. Gunther's men hasted also for to serve them, and around him the host did gather all his knights. Then the queen rode forth in princely wise and mickle greeting of the welcome guests was done. With what great joy did they receive them! It thought them as though Lady Kriemhild had not greeted Lady Brunhild so fair in the Burgundian land. Those who had never seen her became acquaint with lofty mood.

Now was Siegfried come with his liegemen. One saw the heroes wending to and fro upon the plain in unwieldy bands. None might guard him there against the jostling and the dust.

When that the ruler of the land spied Siegfried and Siegmund, how lovingly he spake: "Now be ye full welcome to me and all my friends; we shall be of good cheer because of this your journey to our court."

"Now God requite you," quoth Siegmund, the honor-seeking man; "sith my son Siegfried won you to kinsman, my heart hath urged that I should go to see you."

At this spake Gunther: "Now hath joy happed to me thereby."

Siegfried was received with much great worship as beseemed him; none bare him hatred there. Giselher and Gernot helped thereby with great courtesie. I ween, never have guests been greeted in such goodly wise.

Then the wives of the two kings drew near each other. Emptied were many saddles, as fair ladies were lifted down by knightly hands upon the sward. How busy were those who gladly served the dames! The lovely women now drew near each other, and many a knight was blithe, that such fair greeting passed between the twain. Then one saw great press of warriors standing by the high-born maids. The lordly meiny [1] grasped each other by the hand. Much courteous bowing was seen and loving kisses from fair-fashioned dames. This liked well Gunther's and Siegfried's liegemen for to see. They bided now no longer, but rode to town. The host bade show his guests full well that all were fain to see them in the Burgundian land. Many a royal joust took place before the high-born maids. Hagen of Troneg and Ortwin, too, proved full well their prowess. One durst not leave undone whatso they would command. Much service was rendered by them to the welcome guests. Many shields were heard resound from thrusts and blows before the castle gate. The host and his guests tarried long time without, or ever they came within. Forsooth the hours passed quickly for them with their sports. Merrily they rode before the royal palace. Many cunning housings [2] of good cloth and well cut were seen hanging on either side from the saddles of the fair-fashioned dames.


Then came Gunther's liegemen. Men bade lead the strangers quickly to their easement. At times one saw Brunhild glance at Lady Kriemhild, who was passing fair enow. Her color against the gold gave back the gleam in lovely wise. On every side in Worms one heard the courtiers shout. Gunther bade Dankwart, his marshal, have them in his care, who then gan lodge the retinue in goodly wise. One let them eat within and eke without. Never were stranger guests better cared for. Men gave them gladly all they craved; so rich was the king, that not a wish was there denied. Men served them in friendly wise without all hate. The host now took his seat at table with his guests. One bade Siegfried be seated where he sate afore. Then many a stately man went with him to the seats. Twelve hundred warriors in sooth did sit at his round table. Brunhild thought her that a vassal could not be mightier than he; yet she was still so friendly to him that she did not wish his death.

On an evening when the king was seated at the board, many costly robes were wet with wine, as the butlers hied them to the tables. Full service was given there with mickle zeal. As hath long been the wont at feasts, men bade the ladies and the maids be given fair lodgment. From wherever they were come, the host bare them right good will. One gave them all enow with goodly honors.

When the night had an end and the day appeared, many a precious stone from the sumpter chests sparkled on goodly weeds, as they were touched by woman's hand. Many a lordly robe was taken forth. Or ever the day had fully dawned, many knights and squires came out before the hall. Then rose a merry rout before the early mass, which was sung for the king. There young heroes rode so well that the king did cry them mercy. Many a trumpet rang out passing loud, and the noise of drums and flutes did grow so great that the broad town of Worms reechoed with the sound. The high-mettled heroes horsed them everywhere. Then there rose in the land high knightly play from many a doughty champion; one saw a great rout of them whose youthful hearts beat high, and many a dapper knight and a good stood armed with shield. At the easements sate the high-born dames and many comely maids, decked out in brave attire. They watched the pastimes of the many valiant men. The host himself gan tilt there with his friends. Thus they passed the time, the which seemed aught but long.

Then from the dome was heard the sound of many bells. The palfreys came, the ladies rode away; but many a bold man followed the noble queens. They alighted on the green before the minster;

Brunhild was still friendly to her guests. Wearing crowns, they entered the spacious church. Later their love was parted, which caused great hate. When they had heard the mass, they rode away again with many honors and were soon seen going merrily to table. Their pleasure at the feasting did not flag until the eleventh day.


[1] "Meiny" (M.E. "meiny", O.F. "mesnee"), 'courtiers', 'serving folk'.

[2] "Housings", 'saddle cloths'.

How The Queens Reviled Each Other.
On a day before the vesper tide a great turmoil arose, which many knights made in the court, where they plied their knightly sports for pastime's sake, and a great throng of men and women hasted there to gaze. The royal queens had sat them down together and talked of two worshipful knights.

Then spake the fair Kriemhild: "I have a husband who by right should rule over all these kingdoms."

Quoth Lady Brunhild: "How might that be? If none other lived but he and thou, then might these kingdoms own his sway, but the while Gunther liveth, this may never hap."

Kriemhild replied: "Now dost thou see, how he standeth, how right royally he walketh before the knights, as the moon doth before the stars? Therefore must I needs be merry of mood."

Said Lady Brunhild: "However stately be thy husband, howso worthy and fair, yet must thou grant the palm to Knight Gunther, the noble brother of thine. Know of a truth, he must be placed above all kings."

Then Kriemhild spake again: "So doughty is my husband, that I have not lauded him without good cause. His worship is great in many things. Dost thou believe it, Brunhild, he is easily Gunther's peer."

"Forsooth thou must not take it amiss of me, Kriemhild, for I have not spoken thus without good reason. I heard them both aver, when I saw them first of all, and the king was victor against me in the games, and when he won my love in such knightly wise, that he was liegeman to the king, and Siegfried himself declared the same. I hold him therefore as my vassal, sith I heard him speak thus himself."

Then spake fair Kriemhild: "Ill had I then sped. How could my noble brothers have so wrought, that I should be a mere vassal's bride? Therefore I do beseech thee, Brunhild, in friendly wise, that for my sake thou kindly leave off this speech."

"I'll not leave it off," quoth the king's wife. "Why should I give up so many a knight, who with the warrior doth owe us service?"

Kriemhild, the passing fair, waxed wroth out of wit. "Thou must forego that ho ever do you a vassal's service; he is worthier than my brother Gunther, the full noble man. Thou must retract what I have heard thee say. Certes, it wondereth me, sith he be thy vassal and thou hast so much power over us twain, why he hath rendered thee no tribute so long a time. By right I should be spared thy overweening pride."

"Thou bedrest thee too high," spake the king's wife. "I would fain see whether men will hold thee in such high honor as they do me."

The ladies both grew wonderly wroth of mood. Then spake the Lady Kriemhild: "This must now hap. Sith thou hast declared my husband for thy liegeman, now must the men of the two kings perceive to-day whether I durst walk before the queen to church. Thou must see to-day that I am noble and free and that my husband is worthier than thine; nor will I myself be taxed therewith. Thou shalt mark to-day how thy liegewoman goeth to court before the knights of the Burgundian land. I myself shall be more worshipful than any queen was known to be, who ever wore a crown." Great hate enow rose then betwixt the ladies.

Then Brunhild answered: "Wilt thou not be a liegewoman of mine, so must thou sunder thee with thy ladies from my train when that we go to church."

To this Kriemhild replied: "In faith that shall be done."

"Now array you, my maids," spake Siegfried's wife. "I must be here without reproach. Let this be seen to-day, and ye do have rich weeds. Brunhild shall fain deny what she hath here averted."

They needed not much bidding, but sought rich robes and many a dame and maid attired her well. Then the wife of the noble king went forth with her train. Fair Kriemhild, too, was well arrayed and three and forty maidens with her, whom she had brought hither to the Rhine. They wore bright vesture wrought in Araby, and thus the fair-fashioned maids betook them to the minster. All Siegfried's men awaited them before the house. The folk had marvel whence it chanced that the queens were seen thus sundered, so that they did not walk together as afore. From this did many a warrior later suffer dire distress. Here before the minster stood Gunther's wife, while many a good knight had pastime with the comely dames whom they there espied.

Then came the Lady Kriemhild with a large and noble train. Whatever kind of clothes the daughters of noble knights have ever worn, these were but the wind against her retinue. She was so rich in goods, that what the wives of thirty kings could not purvey, that Kriemhild did. An' one would wish to, yet he could not aver that men had ever seen such costly dresses as at this time her fair-fashioned maidens wore. Kriemhild had not done it, save to anger Brunhild. They met before the spacious minster. Through her great hate the mistress of the house in evil wise bade Kriemhild stand: "Forsooth no vassaless should ever walk before the queen."

Then spake fair Kriemhild (angry was her mood): "Couldst thou have held thy peace, 'twere well for thee. Thou hast disgraced thee and the fair body of thine. How might a vassal's leman [1] ever be the wife of any king?"

"Whom callest thou here leman?" spake the queen.


"That call I thee," quoth Kriemhild. "Thy fair person was first caressed by Siegfried, my dear husband. Certes, it was not my brother who won thy maidhood. Whither could thy wits have wandered? It was an evil trick. Wherefore didst thou let him love thee, sith he be thy vassal? I hear thee make plaint without good cause," quoth Kriemhild.

"I' faith," spake then Brunhild, "Gunther shall hear of this."

"What is that to me?" said Kriemhild. "Thy pride hath bewrayed thee. With words thou hast claimed me for thy service. Know, by my troth, it will ever grieve me, for I shall be no more thy faithful friend."

Then Brunhild wept. Kriemhild delayed no longer, but entered the minster with her train before the queen. Thus there rose great hatred, from which bright eyes grew dim and moist.

Whatso men did or sang to God's service there, the time seemed far too long for Brunhild, for she was sad of heart and mood. Many a brave knight and a good must later rue this day. Brunhild with her ladies now went forth and stopped before the minster. Her-thought: "Kriemhild must tell me more of what this word-shrewd woman hath so loudly charged me. Hath Siegfried made boast of this, 'twill cost his life."

Now the noble Kriemhild came with many a valiant liegeman. Lady Brunhild spake: "Stand still a while. Ye have declared me for a leman, that must ye let be seen. Know, that through thy speech, I have fared full ill."

Then spake the Lady Kriemhild: "Ye should have let me pass. I'll prove it by the ring of gold I have upon my hand, and which my lover brought me when he first lay at your side."

Brunhild had never seen so ill a day. She spake: "This costly hoop of gold was stolen from me, and hath been hid full long a time from me in evil wise. I'll find out yet who hath ta'en it from me."

Both ladies now had fallen into grievous wrath.

Kriemhild replied: "I'll not be called a thief. Thou hadst done better to have held thy peace, an' thou hold thine honor dear. I'll prove it by the girdle which I wear about my waist, that I lie not. Certes, my Siegfried became thy lord."

She wore the cord of silk of Nineveh, set with precious stones; in sooth 'twas fair enow. When Brunhild spied it, she began to weep. Gunther and all the Burgundian men must needs now learn of this.

Then spake the queen: "Bid the prince of the Rhineland come hither. I will let him hear how his sister hath mocked me. She saith here openly that I be Siegfried's wife."

The king came with knights, and when he saw his love a-weeping, how gently he spake: "Pray tell me, dear lady, who hath done you aught?"

She answered to the king: "I must stand unhappy; thy sister would fain part me from all mine honors. I make here plaint to thee she doth aver that Siegfried, her husband hath had me as his leman."

Quoth King Gunther: "Then hath she done ill."

"She weareth here my girdle, which I have lost, and my ring of ruddy gold. It doth repent me sore that I was ever born, unless be thou clearest me of this passing great shame, for that I'll serve thee ever."

King Gunther spake: "Have him come hither. He must let us hear if he hath made boast of this, or he must make denial, the hero of Netherland." One bade fetch at once Kriemhild's love.

When Siegfried saw the angry dames (he wist not of the tale), how quickly then he spake: "I fain would know why these ladies weep, or for what cause the king hath had me fetched."

Then King Gunther spake: "It doth rue me sore, forsooth. My Lady Brunhild hath told me here a tale, that thou hast boasted thou wast the first to clasp her lovely body in thine arms; this Lady Kriemhild, thy wife, doth say."

Then spake Lord Siegfried: "And she hath told this tale, she shall rue it sore, or ever I turn back, and I'll clear me with solemn oaths in front of all thy men, that I have not told her this."

Quoth the king of the Rhineland: "Let that be seen. The oath thou dost offer, and let it now be given, shall free thee of all false charges."

They bade the proud Burgundians form a ring. Siegfried, the bold, stretched out his hand for the oath; then spake the mighty king: "Thy great innocence is so well known to me, that I will free thee of that of which my sister doth accuse thee and say, thou hast never done this thing."

Siegfried replied: "If it boot my lady aught to have thus saddened Brunhild, that will surely cause me boundless grief."

Then the lusty knights and good gazed one upon the other. "One should so train women," spake again Siegfried, the knight, "that they leave haughty words unsaid. Forbid it to thy wife, and I'll do the same to mine. In truth, I do shame me of her great discourtesie."

Many fair ladies were parted by the speech. Brunhild mourned so sore, that it moved King Gunther's men to pity. Then came Hagen of Troneg to his sovran lady. He found her weeping, and asked what grief she had. She told him then the tale. On the spot he vowed that Kriemhild's lord should rue it sore, or he would nevermore be glad. Ortwin and Gernot joined their parley and these heroes counseled Siegfried's death. Giselher, the son of the noble Uta, came hither too. When he heard the talk, he spake full true: "Ye trusty knights, wherefore do ye this? Siegfried hath not merited forsooth such hate, that he should therefore lose his life. Certes, women oft grow angry over little things."

"Shall we then raise cuckolds?" answered Hagen; "such good knights would gain from that but little honor. Because he hath boasted of my liege lady, I will rather die, an' it cost him not his life."

Then spake the king himself: "He hath shown us naught but love and honor, so let him live. What booteth it, if I now should hate the knight? He was ever faithful to us and that right willingly."

Knight Ortwin of Metz then spake: "His great prowess shall not in sooth avail him aught. If my lord permit, I'll do him every evil."

So without cause the heroes had declared a feud against him. In this none followed, save that Hagen counselled all time Knight Gunther the that if Siegfried no longer lived, then many kingly lands would own his sway. At this the king grew sad, so they let it rest.

Jousting was seen once more. Ho, what stout shafts they splintered before the minster in the presence of Siegfried's wife, even down to the hall! Enow of Gunther's men were now in wrath. The king spake: "Let be this murderous rage, he is born to our honor and to our joy. Then, too, the wonderly bold man is so fierce of strength, that none durst match him, if he marked it."

"No, not he," spake Hagen then, "Ye may well keep still; I trow to bring it to pass in secret, that he rue Brunhild's tears. Certes, Hagen hath broken with him for all time."

Then spake King Gunther: "How might that chance?"

To this Hagen made answer: "I'll let you hear. We'll bid messengers, that be not known to any here, ride into our land, to declare war upon us openly. Then do ye say before your guests that ye and your men will take the field. When that is done, he will vow to serve you then and from this he shall lose his life, an' I learn the tale from the bold knight's wife."

The king followed his liegeman Hagen in evil wise. These chosen knights gan plan great faithlessness, or ever any one was ware. From two women's quarreling full many a hero lost his life.


[1] "Leman" (M.E. "lemman", O.E. "leof mann", 'lief man', i.e., 'dear one'), 'mistress' in a bad sense.

How Siegfried Was Betrayed.
Upon the fourth morning two and thirty men were seen to ride to court and the tale was brought to mighty Gunther that war had been declared. The very direst woes befell fair women from a lie. They gained leave to come before the king and say that they were Liudeger's men, whom Siegfried's hand had conquered afore and had brought as hostages to Gunther's land. He greeted then the messengers and bade them go and seat them. One among them spake: "My lord, pray let us stand till we have told the message we do bear you. This know, ye have of a truth many a mother's son as foe. Liudegast and Liudeger, whom ye one time gave grievous sores, declare a feud against you and are minded to ride with an army to this land." The king waxed wroth when he heard This tale.

Men bade lead the perjurers to their lodgings. How might Siegfried, or any else against whom they plotted, ware himself against their wiles? This later brought great sorrow to them all. The king walked whispering with his friends; Hagen of Troneg never let him rest. Enow of the king's liegemen would fain have parted the strife, but Hagen would not give up his plan. On a day Siegfried found them whispering. The hero of Netherland gan ask: "How go the king and his men so sadly? I'll help avenge it, hath any done you aught."

Then spake King Gunther: "I am rightly sad. Liudegast and Liudeger have challenged me to war; they are minded to ride openly into my land."

At this the bold knight said: "Siegfried's hand shall hinder that with zeal, as beseemeth all your honors. I'll do yet to these knights as I did before; I'll lay waste their lands, or ever I turn again. Be my head your pledge of this. Ye and your warriors shall stay at home and let me ride to meet them with those I have. I'll let you see how fain I serve you. This know, through me it shall go evil with your foes."

"Well is me of these tidings," spake then the king, as though he were glad in earnest of this aid. With guile the faithless man bowed low.

Quoth Lord Siegfried: "Ye shall have small care."

Then they made ready for the journey hence with the men-at-arms. This was done for Siegfried and his men to see. He, too, bade those of Netherland get them ready. Siegfried's warriors sought out warlike weeds. Then the stalwart Siegfried spake: "My father Siegmund, ye must stay here. We shall return in short space hither to the Rhine, and God give us luck. Ye must here make merry with the king."

They tied fast their banners, as though they would away, and there were enow of Gunther's men who wist not wherefore this was done. Great rout of men was seen at Siegfried's side. They bound their helmets and their breastplates upon the steeds, and many a stout knight made ready to quit the land. Then Hagen of Troneg went to find Kriemhild and asked for leave; sith they would void the land.

"Now well is me," spake Kriemhild, "that I have won a husband who dare protect so well my loving kinsfolk, as my Lord Siegfried doth here. Therefore," spake the queen, "will I be glad of heart. Dear friend Hagen, think on that, that I do serve you gladly and never yet did bear you hate. Requite this now to me in my dear husband. Let him not suffer, if I have done to Brunhild aught. I since have rued it," spake the noble wife. "Moreover, he since hath beaten me black and blue; the brave hero and a good hath well avenged that ever I spake what grieved her heart."

"Ye'll be friends once more after some days. Kriemhild, dear lady, pray tell me how I may serve you in your husband Siegfried. Liefer will I do this for you than for any else."

"I should be without all fear," quoth the noble dame, "that any one would take his life in the fray, if he would not follow his overweening mood; then the bold knight and a good were safe."

"Lady," spake then Hagen, "an' ye do think that men might wound him, pray let me know with what manner of arts I can prevent this. On foot, on horse, will I ever be his guard."

She spake: "Thou art my kinsman and I am thine. I'll commend to thee trustingly the dear lover of mine, that thou mayst guard him well, mine own dear husband." She made him acquaint with tales which had been better left unsaid. She spake: "My husband is brave and strong enow. When he slew the dragon on the hill, the lusty warrior bathed him of a truth in the blood, so that since then no weapon ever cut him in the fray. Yet am I in fear, whenever he standeth in the fight and many javelins are cast by heroes' hands, that I may lose this dear husband of mine. Alas, how oft I suffer sore for Siegfried's sake! Dear kinsman, in the hope that thou wilt hold thy troth with me, I'll tell thee where men may wound the dear lord of mine. I let thee hear this, 'tis done in faith. When the hot blood gushed from the dragon's wounds and the bold hero and a good bathed him therein, a broad linden leaf did fall betwixt his shoulder blades. Therefore am I sore afraid that men may cut him there."


Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "Sew a small mark upon his coat, whereby I may know where I must guard him, when we stand in battle."

She weened to save her knight, but 'twas done unto his death. She spake: "With fine silk I'll sew a secret cross upon his vesture. There, knight, thy hand must guard my husband, when the strife is on and he standeth in the battle before his foes."

"That will I well, dear my lady," Hagen then replied.

The lady weened that it would boot him aught, but Kriemhild's husband was thereby betrayed. Hagen then took leave; merrily he hied him hence. The king's liegeman was blithe of mood. I ween that nevermore will warrior give such false counsel, as was done by him when Kriemhild trusted in his troth.

Next morning Siegfried with a thousand of his men rode merrily forth. He weened he should avenge the grievance of his kinsmen. Hagen rode so near him that he could eye his clothes. When he saw the sign, he sent in secret twain of his men, who should tell another tale: that Gunther's land should still have peace and that Liudeger had sent them to the king. How loth Siegfried now rode home again, or ever he had avenged his kinsmen's wrongs! Gunther's men could hardly turn him back. He rode then to the king; the host gan thank him. "Now God requite you of your will, friend Siegfried, that ye do so willingly what I bid you. For this I'll ever serve you, as I rightly should. I trust you more than all my friends. Now that we be rid of this foray, I am minded to ride a-hunting for bears and boars to the Vosges forest, as I have done oft-time." That Hagen, the faithless knight, had counseled. "Let it be told to all my guests, that we ride betimes. Those that would hunt with me must make them ready. If any choose to stay at home to court the ladies, that liketh me as well."

Then spake Sir Siegfried in lordly wise: "And ye would a-hunting,

I'd fain go with you. Pray lend me a huntsman and some brach, [1] and I will ride to the pines."

"Will ye have but one?" spake the king anon. "I'll lend you, an' ye will, four men to whom both wood and paths be known where the game is wont to go, and who will not let you miss the camp."

Then rode the full lusty warrior to his wife, whilst Hagen quickly told the king how he thought to trap the doughty knight. A man should never use such faithlessness.


[1] "Brach", 'hunting dog', cognate with M.H.G. "braeke", used here.


How Siegfried Was Slain.
Gunther and Hagen, the passing bold knights, faithlessly let cry a-hunting in the woods, that with sharp spears they would hunt boars and bears and bison. What might be braver? With them rode Siegfried in lordly guise; many kinds of victual did they take along. At a cool spring he later lost his life, the which Brunhild, King Gunther's wife, had counseled. The bold knight then went to where he found Kriemhild. His costly hunting garb and those of his fellowship were already bound upon the sumpters, for they would cross the Rhine. Never could Kriemhild have been more sorrowful. He kissed his love upon her mouth. "God let me see thee, lady, still in health and grant that thine eyes may see me too. Thou shalt have pastime with thy loving kinsmen. I may not stay at home."

Then she thought of the tale she had told to Hagen, though she durst not say a whit. The noble queen began to rue that she was ever born. Lord Siegfried's wife wept out of measure. She spake to the knight: "Let be your hunting. I had an evil dream last night, how two wild boars did chase you across the heath; then flowers grew red. I have in truth great cause to weep so sore. I be much adread of sundry plans and whether we have not misserved some who might bear us hostile hate. Tarry here, dear my lord, that I counsel by my troth."

He spake: "Dear love, I'll come back in a few short days. I wot not here of people who bear me aught of hate. Each and all of thy kinsmen be my friends, nor have I deserved it other of the knights."

"No, no, Sir Siegfried, in truth I fear thy fall. I had last night an evil dream, how two mountains fell upon thee. I saw thee nevermore. It doth cut me to the heart, that thou wilt part from me."

In his arms he clasped his courteous wife and kissed her tenderly. Then in a short space he took his leave and parted hence. Alas, she never saw him in health again.

Then they rode from thence into a deep wood for pastime's sake. Many bold knights did follow Gunther and his men, but Gernot and Giselher stayed at home. Many laden sumpters were sent before them across the Rhine, the which bare for the hunting fellowship bread and wine, meat and fish, and great store of other things, which so mighty a king might rightly have. They bade the proud huntsmen and bold halt before a green wood over against the courses of the game, upon a passing broad glade where they should hunt. The king was told that Siegfried, too, was come. The hunting fellowship now took their stand on every side. Then the bold knight, the sturdy Siegfried, asked: "Ye heroes bold and brave, who shall lead us to the game within the wood?"

"Let us part," spake Hagen, "ere we begin the chase. Thereby my lords and I may know who be the best hunter on this woodland journey. Let us divide the folk and hounds and let each turn whithersoever he list. He who doth hunt the best shall have our thanks." Short time the huntsmen bided by another after that.

Then spake Lord Siegfried: "I need no dogs save one brach that hath been trained that he can tell the track of the beasts through the pine woods." Quoth Kriemhild's husband: "We'll find the game."

Then an old huntsman took a good sleuth-hound and in a short space brought the lord to where many beasts were found. Whatso rose from its lair the comrades hunted as good hunters still are wont to do. Whatever the brach started, bold Siegfried, the hero of Netherland, slew with his hand. His horse did run so hard that none escaped him. In the chase he gained the prize above them all. Doughty enow he was in all things. The beast which he slew with his hands was the first, a mighty boar; after which he found full soon a monstrous lion. [1] When the brach started this from its lair, he shot it with his bow, in which he had placed a full sharp arrow. After the shot the lion ran the space of but three bounds. The hunting fellowship gave Siegfried thanks. Thereafter he speedily slew a bison and an elk, four strong ure-oxen, [2] and a savage shelk. [3] His horse bare him so swiftly that naught escaped him, nor could hart or hind avoid him. Then the sleuth-hound found a mighty boar; when he began to flee, at once there came the master oś the hunt and encountered him upon his path. Wrathfully the boar did run against the valiant hero, but Kriemhild's husband slew him with his sword. Another huntsman might not have done this deed so lightly. When he had felled him, they leashed the sleuth-hound; his rich booty was soon well known to the Burgundian men.

Then spake his huntsman: "Sir Siegfried, if might so be, let us leave a deal of the beasts alive. Ye'll empty both our hill and woods to-day."

At this the brave knight and a bold gan smile. Then the calls of men and the baying of hounds were heard on every side; so great was the noise that both hill and pine woods echoed with the sound. The huntsmen had let loose full four and twenty packs. Then passing many beasts must needs lose their lives. Each man weened to bring it to pass that men should give him the prize of the hunt; that might not be, for the stalwart Siegfried was already standing by the fire. The chase was over, and yet not quite. Those who would to the camp-fire brought with them thither hides of many beasts and game in plenty. Ho, how much the king's meiny bare then to the kitchen!

Then bade the king announce to the huntsman that he would dismount. A horn was blown full loud just once, that all might know that one might find the noble prince in camp. Spake then one of Siegfried's huntsmen: "My lord, I heard by the blast of a horn that we must now hie us to the quarters; I'll now give answer."

Thus by many blasts of horns they asked about the hunters. Then spake Sir Siegfried: "Now let us leave the pine wood!" His steed bare him smoothly and with him they hasted hence. With their rout they started up a savage beast; a wild bear it was. Quoth then the knight to those behind: "I'll give our fellowship a little pastime. Let loose the brach. Forsooth I spy a bear which shall journey with us to the camp. Flee he never so fast, he shall not escape us,"

The brach was loosed, the bear sprang hence; Kriemhild's husband would fain overtake him. He reached a thicket, where none could follow. The mighty beast weened now to escape from the hunter with his life, but the proud knight and a good leaped from his steed and began to chase him. The bear was helpless and could not flee away. At once the hero caught it and bound it quickly with not a wound, so that it might neither scratch nor bite the men. The doughty knight then tied it to his saddle and horsed him quickly. Through his overweening mood the bold warrior and a good brought it to the camp-fire as a pastime. In what lordly wise he rode to the quarters! Mickle was his boar-spear, strong and broad. A dainty sword hung downward to his spurs. The lord bare also a fair horn of ruddy gold. Never heard I tale of better hunting weeds. One saw him wear a coat of black and silky cloth and a hat of sable: rich enow it was. Ho, what costly bands he wore upon his quiver! A panther's skin was drawn over it for its sweet fragrance' [4] sake. He bare a bow, which any but the hero must needs draw back with a windlass, and he would bend it. His vesture was befurred with otter skin [5] from head to toe. From the bright fur shone out on both sides of the bold master of the hunt many a bar of gold. Balmung [6] he also bare, a good broad sword, that was so sharp that it never failed when 'twas wielded 'gainst a helmet; its edge was good. In high spirits was the lordly huntsman. Sith I must tell you all the tale, his costly quiver was full of goodly darts, the heads a full hand's breadth, on golden shafts. What he pierced therewith must needs die soon.

Thus the noble knight rode hence in hunter's garb. Gunther's men espied him coming and ran out to meet him and took his horse in charge. On his saddle he carried a large bear and a strong. When he had dismounted, he loosed the bonds from feet and snout. Those of the pack bayed loudly, that spied the bear. The beast would to the woods; the serving folk had fear. Dazed by the din, the bear made for the kitchen. Ho, how he drove the scullions from the fire! Many a kettle was upset and many a firebrand scattered. Ho, what good victual men found lying in the ashes! Then the lordings and their liegemen sprang from their scats. The bear grew furious and the king bade loose the pack that lay enleashed. Had all sped well, they would have had a merry day. No longer the doughty men delayed, but ran for the bear with bows and pikes. There was such press of dogs that none might shoot, but from the people's shouts the whole hill rang. The bear began to flee before the dogs; none could follow him but Kriemhild's husband, who caught and slew him with his sword. Then they bore the bear again to the fire. Those that saw it, averred he was a mighty man.

Men bade now the proud hunting fellowship seat them at the tables. Upon a fair mead there sate a goodly company. Ho, what rich viands they bare there to the noble huntsmen! The butlers who should bring the wine delayed; else might never heroes have been better served. Had they not been so falsely minded, then had the knights been free of every blame.

Now the Lord Siegfried spake: "Me-wondereth, since men do give us such great store from the kitchen, why the butlers bring us not the wine. Unless men purvey the hunters better, I'll be no more your hunting-fellow. I have well deserved that they regard me, too."

The king addressed him from his seat with guile: "We fain would do you remedy of what we lack. It is Hagen's fault, who is willed to let us die of thirst."

Then spake Hagen: "Dear my lord, I weened that the hunt should be in the Spessart [7] wood, therefore sent I thither the wine. Though we may not drink today, how well will I avoid this in the future!"

At this Lord Siegfried spake: "Small thanks ye'll get for that. One should have brought me hither seven sumpter loads of mead and mulled wine. [8] If that might not be, then men should have placed our benches nearer to the Rhine."

Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "Ye noble knights and bold, I wot near by a good cold spring. Let us go thither, that ye wax not wroth."

To the danger of many a knight was this counsel given. The pangs of thirst now plagued the warrior Siegfried. He bade the tables be borne away the sooner, for he would go to the spring in the mountains. With false intent the counsel was then given by the knights. They bade the game which Siegfried's hand had slain, be carried home on wains. Whoever saw it gave him great laud. Hagen of Troneg now foully broke his troth to Siegfried. When they would hence to the broad linden, he spake: "It hath oft been told me, that none can keep pace with Kriemhild's husband when he be minded for to race. Ho, if he would only let us see it here!"

Bold Siegfried from Netherland then answered: "Ye can well test that, and ye will run a race with me to the spring. When that is done, we call give the prize to him who winneth."

"So let us try it then," quoth Hagen, the knight.

Spake the sturdy Siegfried: "Then will I lay me down on the green sward at your feet." [9]

How lief it was to Gunther, when he heard these words! Then the bold knight spake again: "I'll tell you more. I'll take with me all my trappings, my spear and shield and all my hunting garb." Around him he quickly girded his quiver and his sword.

Then they drew the clothes from off their limbs; men saw them stand in two white shifts. Like two wild panthers through the clover they ran, but men spied bold Siegfried first at the spring. In all things he bare away the prize from many a man. Quickly he ungirt his sword and laid aside his quiver and leaned the stout spear against a linden bough. The lordly stranger stood now by the flowing spring. Passing great was Siegfried's courtesie. He laid down his shield where the spring gushed forth, but the hero drank not, albeit he thirsted sore until the king had drunk, who gave him evil thanks. Cool, clear, and good was the spring. Gunther stooped down then to the flowing stream, and when he had drunken straightened up again. Bold Siegfried would fain also have done the same, but now he paid for his courtesie. Hagen bare quite away from him both bow and sword and bounded then to where he found the spear; then he looked for the mark on bold Siegfried's coat. As Lord Siegfried drank above the spring, he pierced him through the cross, so that his heart's blood spurted from the wounds almost on Hagen's clothes. Nevermore will hero do so foul a deed. Hagen left the spear a-sticking in his heart and fled more madly than he ever in the world had run from any man.

When Lord Siegfried felt the mighty wound, up from the spring he started in a rage. From betwixt his shoulder blades a long spear-shaft towered. He weened to find his bow or his sword, and then had Hagen been repaid as he deserved. But when the sorely wounded hero found no trace of his sword, then had he naught else but his shield. This he snatched from the spring and ran at Hagen; nor could King Gunther's man escape him. Albeit he was wounded unto death, yet he smote so mightily that a plenty of precious stones were shaken from the shield. The shield itself burst quite apart. Fain would the lordly stranger have avenged him. Now was Hagen fallen to the ground at his hands, and from the force of the blow the glade rang loudly. Had he had a sword in hand, then had it been Hagen's death, so sore enraged was the wounded man. Forsooth he had good cause thereof. His hue grew pale, he could not stand; his strength of body melted quite away, for in bright colors he bore the signs of death. Thereafter he was bewailed by fair dames enow.

Kriemhild's husband fell now among the flowers. Fast from his wounds his blood was seen to gush. He began to rail, as indeed he had great cause, at those who had planned this treacherous death. The deadly wounded spake: "Forsooth, ye evil cowards, what avail my services now that ye have slain me? This is my reward that I was always faithful to you. Alas, ye have acted ill against your kinsmen. Those of them who are born in after days will be disgraced. Ye have avenged your wrath too sore upon me. With shame shall ye be parted from all good warriors."

The knights all ran to where he lay slain. For enow of them it was a hapless day. He was bewailed by those who had aught of loyalty, and this the brave and lusty knight had well deserved. The king of the Burgundians bemoaned his death. Quoth the deadly wounded: "There is no need that he should weep who hath done the damage; he doth merit mickle blame. It had been better left undone."

Then spake the fierce Hagen: "Forsooth I wot not what ye now bewail. All our fear and all our woe have now an end. We shall find scant few who dare withstand us now. Well is me, that to his rule I have put an end."

"Ye may lightly boast you," Siegfried then replied. "Had I wist your murderous bent, I had well guarded my life against you. None doth rue me so sore as Lady Kriemhild, my wife. Now may God have pity that I ever had a son to whom the reproach will be made in after days, that his kindred have slain a man with murderous intent. If I might," so spake Siegfried, "I should rightly make complaint of this." Piteously the deadly wounded spake again:

"Noble king, if ye will keep your troth to any in the world, then let my dear love be commended to your grace and let it avail her that she be your sister. For the sake of your princely courtesie protect her faithfully. My father and my men must wait long time for me. Never was woman sorer wounded in a loving friend."

The flowers on every side were wot with blood. With death he struggled, but not for long, sith the sword of death had cut him all too sorely. Then the lusty warrior and a brave could speak no more.

When the lordlings saw that the knight was dead, they laid him on a shield of ruddy gold and took counsel how they might conceal that Hagen had done the deed. Enow of them spake: "Ill hath it gone with us. Ye must all hide it and aver alike that robbers slew Kriemhild's husband as he rode alone a-hunting through the pine wood."

Then Hagen of Troneg spake: "I'll bring him home; I care not if it be known to her, for she hath saddened Brunhild's heart. Little doth it trouble me however much she weep."


[1] "Lion." It is hardly necessary to state that lions did not roam at large in the forests of Germany. They were, however, frequently exhibited in the Middle Ages, and the poet introduced one here to enhance Siegfried's fame as a hunter.

[2] "Ure-oxen", the auerochs, or European bison, now practically extinct.

[3] "Shelk" (M.H.G. "schelch"), probably a species of giant deer.

[4] "Fragrance". It was believed that the odor of the panther attracted the game. Compare the description of the panther in the older "Physiologus", where the odor is said to surpass that of all ointments.

[5] "Otter" translates here M.H.G. "ludem", whose exact connotation is not known. Some interpret it to meau the fish otter, others the "Waldschrat", a kind of faun.

[6] "Balmung", see Adventure III, note 7.

[7] "Spessart wood" lies forty to fifty miles east of Worms and is therefore too distant for a day's hunt, but such trifles did not disturb the poet.

[8] "Mulled wine", see Adventure VIII, note 5.

[9] "Feet". This was probably done as a handicap. The time consumed in rising to his feet would give his opponent quite a start.

How Kriemhild Mourned Her Husband And How He Was Buried.
Then they waited for the night and crossed the Rhine. Never had heroes hunted worse. Noble maids bewept the game they slew. Forsooth many good warriors must needs atone for this in after days. Now ye may hear a tale of great overweening and dire revenge. Hagen bade carry Siegfried of the Nibelung land, thus dead, before the bower where Kriemhild lodged. He bade place him stealthily against the door, that she might find him when she went forth before the break of day to matins, which Lady Kriemhild full seldom missed through sleep.

Men rang the minster bells according to their custom. Lady Kriemhild, the fair, now waked her many maids and bade them bring a light and her vesture, too. Then came a chamberlain and found Siegfried there. He saw him red with blood, his clothes all wet. He wist not it was his lord, but with the light in his hand he hasted to the bower and through this Lady Kriemhild learned the baneful tale. As she would set out with her ladies for the minster, the chamberlain spake: "Pray stay your feet, there doth lie before the chamber a knight, slain unto death."

Kriemhild gan make passing sore wail, or ever she heard aright that it was her husband. She began to think of Hagen's question, of how he might protect him. Then first she suffered dole; she renounced all pleasure at his death. To the earth she sank, not a word she spake, and here they found lying the hapless fair. Passing great grew Kriemhild's woe. After her faint, she shrieked, that all the chamber rang. Then her meiny said:

"Perchance it is a stranger knight."

The blood gushed from her mouth, from dole of heart; she spake:

"'Tis Siegfried, mine own dear husband. Brunhild hath counseled this and Hagen hath done the deed."

The lady bade them lead her to where the hero lay. With her white hand she raised his head, and though it was red with blood, she knew him soon. There lay the hero of the Nibelung land in piteous guise. The gracious queen cried sadly: "Oh, woe is me of my sorrow! Thy shield is not carved with swords, thou liest murdered here. Wist I who hath done the deed, I'd ever plot his death."

All her maids made mourn and wailed with their dear lady, for they grieved full sore for their noble lord whom they had lost. Hagen had cruelly avenged the wrath of Brunhild.

Then spake the grief-stricken dame: "Go now and wake with haste all Siegfried's men. Tell Siegmund also of my grief, mayhap he'll help me bewail brave Siegfried."

A messenger ran quickly to where lay Siegfried's warriors from the Nibelung land, and with his baleful tidings stole their joy. They could scarce believe it, till they heard the weeping. Right soon the messenger came to where the king did lie. Siegmund, the lord, was not asleep. I trow his heart did tell him what had happed. Never again might he see his dear son alive.

"Awake, Sir Siegmund; Kriemhild, my lady, bade me go to fetch you. A wrong hath been done her that doth cut her to the heart, more than all other ills. Ye must help her mourn, for much it doth concern you."

Siegmund sat up; he spake: "What are fair Kriemhild's ills, of which thou tellest me?"

Weeping the messenger spake: "I cannot hide them from you; alas, bold Siegfried of Netherland is slain."

Quoth Siegmund: "For my sake let be this jesting and such evil tales, that thou shouldst tell any that he be dead, for I might never bewail him fully before my death."

"If ye will believe naught of what ye hear me say, then you may hear yourself Kriemhild and all her maids bewailing Siegfried's death."

Siegmund then was sore affrighted, as indeed he had great need, He and a hundred of his men sprang from their beds and grasped with their hands their long sharp swords. In sorrow they ran toward the sound of wail. Then came a thousand men-at-arms, bold Siegfried's men. When they heard the ladies wail so pitifully, some first grew ware that they should dress them. Forsooth they lost their wits for very sorrow. Great heaviness was buried in their hearts.

Then King Siegmund came to where he found Kriemhild. He spake:

"Alas for the journey hither to this land! Who hath so foully bereft me of my child and you of your husband among such good friends?"

"Oh, if I knew him," spake the noble wife, "neither my heart nor soul would ever wish him well. I would plan such ill against him that his kin must ever weep because of me."

Around the prince Lord Siegmund threw his arms. So great grew the sorrow of his kin, that the palace, the hall, and the town of Worms resounded from the mighty wail and weeping. None might now comfort Siegfried's wife. They stripped off the clothes from his fair body; they washed his wounds and laid him on the bier. Woe were his people from their mighty grief. Then spake his warriors from the Nibelung land: "Our hands be ever ready to avenge him; he liveth in this castle who hath done the deed."

All of Siegfried's men hasted then to arms. These chosen knights came with their shields, eleven hundred men-at-arms, whom Lord Siegmund had in his troop. He would fain avenge the death of his son, as indeed he had great need. They wist not to whom they should address their strife, unless it be to Gunther and his men, with whom Lord Siegfried had ridden to the hunt.

Kriemhild saw them armed, which rued her sore. However great her grief and how dire her need, yet she did so mightily fear the death of the Nibelungs at the hands of her brothers' liegemen, that she tried to hinder it. In kindly wise she warned them, as kinsmen do to loving kin. The grief-stricken woman spake: "My Lord Siegmund, what will ye do? Ye wot naught aright; forsooth King Gunther hath so many valiant men, ye will all be lost, and ye would encounter these knights."

With their shields uncovered, the men stood eager for the fight. The noble queen both begged and bade that the lusty knights avoid it. When they would not give it over, sorely it grieved her. She spake: "Lord Siegmund, ye must let it be until more fitting time, then I'll avenge my husband with you. An' I receive proof who hath bereft me of him, I'll do him scathe. There be too many haughty warriors by the Rhine, wherefore I will not counsel you to fight. They have full well thirty men to each of ours. Now God speed them, as they deserve of us. Stay ye here and bear with me my dole. When it beginneth to dawn, help me, ye lusty knights, to coffin the dear husband of mine."

Quoth the knights: "That shall be done."

None might tell you all the marvel of knights and ladies, how they were heard to wail, so that even in the town men marked the sound of weeping. The noble burghers hasted hither. With the guests they wept, for they, too, were sore aggrieved. None had told them of any guilt of Siegfried, or for what cause the noble warrior lost his life. The wives of the worthy burghers wept with the ladies of the court. Men bade smiths haste to work a coffin of silver and of gold, mickle and strong, and make it firm with strips of good hard steel. Sad of heart were all the folk.

The night was gone, men said the day was dawning. Then the noble lady bade them bear Lord Siegfried, her loved husband, to the minster. Whatever friends he had there were seen weeping as they went. Many bells were ringing as they brought him to the church. On every side one heard the chant of many priests. Then came King Gunther with his men and grim Hagen also toward the sound of wail. He spake: "Alas for thy wrongs, clear sister, that we may not be free from this great scathe. We must ever lament for Siegfried's death."

"That ye do without cause," spake the sorrow-laden wife. "Were this loth to you, it never would have happed. I may well aver, ye thought not on me, when I thus was parted from my dear husband. Would to God," quoth Kriemhild, "that it had happed to me."

Firmly they made denial. Kriemhild gan speak: "Whoso declareth him guiltless, let him show that now. He must walk to the bier before all the folk; thereby one may know the truth eftsoon."

This is a great marvel, which oft doth hap; whenever the blood-stained murderer is seen to stand by the dead, the latter's wounds do bleed, [1] as indeed happed here, whereby one saw the guilt was Hagen's. The wounds bled sore, as they had done at first. Much greater grew the weeping of those who wailed afore.

Then spake King Gunther: "I'd have you know that robbers slew him; Hagen did not do the deed."

"I know these robbers well," quoth she. "Now may God yet let his friends avenge it. Certes, Gunther and Hagen, 'twas done by you."

Siegfried's knights were now bent on strife. Then Kriemhild spake again: "Now share with me this grief."

Gernot, her brother, and young Giselher, these twain now came to where they found him dead. They mourned him truly with the others; Kriemhild's men wept inly. Now should mass be sung, so on every side, men, wives, and children did hie them to the minster. Even those who might lightly bear his loss, wept then for Siegfried. Gernot and Giselher spake: "Sister mine, now comfort thee after this death, as needs must be. We'll try to make it up to thee, the while we live."

Yet none in the world might give her comfort. His coffin was ready well towards midday. From the bier whereon he lay they raised him. The lady would not have that he be buried, so that all the folk had mickle trouble. In a rich cloth of silk they wound the dead. I ween, men found none there that did not weep. Uta, the noble dame, and all her meiny mourned bitterly the stately man. When it was noised abroad that men sang in the minster and had encoffined him, then rose a great press of folk. What offerings they made for his soul's sake! He had good friends enow among these foes. Poor Kriemhild spake to her chamberlains: "Ye must now be put to trouble for my sake, ye who wished him well and be my friends. For Siegfried's soul shall ye deal out his gold."

No child, however small, that had its wits, but must go to service, or ever he was buried. Better than a hundred masses were sung that day. Great throng was there of Siegfried's friends.

When that mass was sung, the folk went hence. Then Lady Kriemhild spake: "Pray let me not hold vigil over the chosen knight this night alone. With him all my joys have come to fall. I will let him lie in state three days and nights, until I sate me with my dear lord. What if God doth bid that death should take me too. Then had ended well the grief of me, poor Kriemhild."

The people of the town returned now to their lodgeings. She begged the priests and monks and all his retinue, that served the knight, to stay. They spent full evil nights and toilsome days; many a man remained without all food and drink. For those who would partake, it was made known that men would give them to the full. This Sir Siegmund purveyed. Then were the Nibelungs made acquaint with mickle toil. During the three days, as we hear tell, those who knew how to sing, were made to bear a deal of work. What offerings men brought them! Those who were very poor, grew rich enow. Whatever of poor men there were, the which had naught, these were bid go to mass with gold from Siegfried's treasure chamber. Since he might not live, many thousand marks of gold were given for his soul. She dealt out well-tilled lands, wherever cloisters and pious folk were found. Enow of gold and silver was given to the poor. By her deeds she showed that she did love him fondly.

Upon the third morning at time of mass, the broad churchyard by the minster was full of weeping country folk. They served him after death, as one should do to loving kin. In the four days, as hath been told, full thirty thousand marks or better still were given to the poor for his soul's sake. Yet his great beauty and his life lay low. When God had been served and the chants were ended, much people fought 'gainst monstrous grief. Men bade bear him from the minster to the grave. Those were seen to weep and wail who missed him most. With loud laments the people followed hence; none was merry, neither wife nor man. They sang and read a service before they buried him. Ho, what good priests were present at his burial! Ere Siegfried's wife was come to the grave, her faithful heart was rung with grief, so that they must needs oft sprinkle her with water from the spring. Her pain was passing great; a mickle wonder it was that she ever lived. Many a lady helped her in her plaint.

Then spake the queen: "Ye men of Siegfried, by your loyalty must ye prove your love to me. Let me receive this little favor after all my woe, that I may see once more his comely head."

She begged so long, with griefs strong will, that they must needs break open the lordly casket. Then men brought the lady to where he lay. With her white hand she raised his fair head and kissed the noble knight and good, thus dead. Tears of blood her bright eyes wept from grief. Then there happed a piteous parting. Men bare her hence, she could not walk, and soon they found the high-born lady lying senseless. Fain would the lovely fair have died of grief.

When they had now buried the noble lord, those who were come with him from the Nibelung land were seen to suffer from unmeasured grief. Men found Siegmund full seldom merry then. There were those that for three days would neither eat nor drink for passing grief. Yet might they not so waste away their bodies, but that they recovered from their sorrows, as still happeneth oft enow.


[1] "Bleed". This was not only a popular superstition, but also a legal practice in case of a murder when the criminal had not been discovered, or if any one was suspected. The suspected person was requested to approach the bier and touch the body, in the belief that the blood would flow afresh if the one touching the body were guilty. Our passage is the first instance of its mention in German literature. A similar one occurs in "Iwein", 1355-1364. The usage was also known in France and England. See the instances quoted by Jacob Grimm in his "Rechtsaltertumer", 930.


How Siegmund Journeyed Home Again.
Kriemhild's husband's father went to where he found her. Unto the queen he spake: "We must unto our land; by the Rhine, I ween, we be unwelcome guests. Kriemhild, dear lady, now journey with me to my lands. Albeit treachery here in these lands hath bereft us of your noble husband, yet should ye not requite this. I will be friendly to you for my dear son's sake, of this shall ye have no doubt. Ye shall have, my lady, all the power which Siegfried, the bold knight, gave you aforetime. The land and also the crown shall be subject to you. All Siegfried's men shall serve you gladly."

Then the squires were told that they must ride away. A mickle hurrying for steeds was seen, for they were loth to stay with their deadly foes. Men bade dames and maidens seek their robes. When that King Siegmund would fain have ridden forth, Kriemhild's mother gan beg her that she stay there with her kindred.

The royal lady answered: "That might hardly hap. How could I bear the sight of him from whom such great wrong hath happed to me, poor wife?"

Then spake young Giselher: "Dear sister mine, by thy troth thou shouldst stay here with thy mother. Thou dost need no service of them that have grieved thee and saddened thy mood. Live from my goods alone."

To the warrior she spake: "Certes, it may not hap, for I should die of dole whenever I should gaze on Hagen."

"I'll give thee rede for that, dear sister mine. Thou shalt live with thy brother Giselher, and of a truth I'll comfort thee of thy husband's death."

Then answered the hapless wife: "Of that hath Kriemhild need."

When the youth had made her such kindly offer, then gan Uta and Gernot and her faithful kin entreat. They begged her to tarry there, for but little kith she had among Siegfried's men.

"They be all strangers to you," spake Gernot; "none that liveth is so strong but that he must come to die. Consider that, dear sister, and console your mind. Stay with your kinsfolk; ye shall fare well in truth."

Then she made vow to Giselher that she would stay. The steeds were brought for Siegfried's men, sith they would ride to the Nibelung land. Also all the trappings of the knights were packed upon the sumpters. Then the Lord Siegmund hied him to Kriemhild's side. To the lady he spake: "Siegfried's men are waiting by the steeds. Now must we ride away, for I be ill content in Burgundy."

The Lady Kriemhild then replied: "All that I have of faithful kin advise me that I stay here with them; I have no kith in the Nibelung land."

Loth it was to Siegmund, when that he found Kriemhild of this mind. He spake: "Let no one tell you that. Before all my kinsmen ye shall wear the crown with such sovran power as ye did aforetime. Ye shall not suffer, because we have lost the knight. Ride also with us home again, for the sake of your little child. Lady, ye should not leave him orphaned. When your son groweth up, he will comfort your heart. Meanwhile many bold heroes and good shall serve you."

"Sir Siegmund," quoth she, "forsooth I like not for to ride. Whatever fortune, here must I tarry with my kindred, who help me mourn."

These tales gan now displease the doughty warriors. All spake alike: "We might well aver that now first hath ill befallen us. If ye would stay here with our foes, then have heroes never ridden to court more sorrowfully."

"Ye shall journey free of care, commended unto God; ye shall be given safe-conduct to Siegmund's land, I'll bid them guard you well. To the care of you knights shall my dear child be given."

When they marked that she would not go hence, then wept all of Siegmund's men alike. How right sorrowfully Siegmund parted then from Lady Kriemhild! He became acquaint with grief. "Woe worth this courtly feasting," spake the noble king. "Through pastime will nevermore hap to king or to his kinsmen, what here hath happed to us. Men shall see us nevermore in Burgundy."

Then Siegfried's men spake openly: "A journey to this land might still take place, if we discovered aright him who slew our lord. Enow of his kinsmen be their deadly foes."

He kissed Kriemhild; how sorrowfully he spake, when he perceived aright that she would stay: "Now let us ride joyless home unto our land, now first do I feel all my sorrow."

Down to the Rhine from Worms they rode without an escort. They were surely of the mind that they, the bold Nibelungs, could well defend them, should they be encountered in hostile wise. Leave they asked of none, but Gernot and Giselher were seen to go to Siegmund in loving wise. These brave and lusty knights convinced him that they mourned his loss. Courteously Prince Gernot spake:

"God in heaven knoweth well that I be not to blame for Siegfried's death, nor heard I ever that any was his foe. I mourn him justly."

Giselher, the youth, gave them then safe-conduct. Sorrowly he led them from the land home to Netherland. How few kinsman were found joyous then!

How they now fared at Worms I cannot tell. All time men heard Kriemhild mourn, so that none might comfort her heart nor mind, save Giselher alone; loyal he was and good. Brunhild, the fair, sate in overweening pride. How Kriemhild wept, she recked not, nor did she ever show her love or troth. Lady Kriemhild wrought her in after days the bitterest woe of heart.


How The Nibelung Hoard Was Brought to Worms.
When the noble Kriemhild thus was widowed, the Margrave Eckewart with his vassals stayed with her in the land, and served her alway. He also often helped his mistress mourn his lord. At Worms, hard by the minster, they built for her a dwelling, broad and passing large, costly and great, where, with her maids, she since dwelt joyless. She liked for to go to church and did this willingly. Where her love lay buried, thither she went all time in mournful mood (how seldom she gave that over). She prayed the good God to have mercy on her soul. With great fidelity she bewept the knight full oft. Uta and her meiny comforted her all time, but so sorely wounded was her heart, that it booted naught, whatever comfort men did offer her. She had the greatest longing for her dear love, that ever wife did have for loving husband. One might see thereby her passing virtue; until her end she mourned, the while life lasted. In after days brave Siegfried's wife avenged herself with might.

Thus she dwelt after her sorrow, after her husband's death, and this is true, well three and one half years, that she spake no word to Gunther, nor did she see her foeman Hagen in all this time.

Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "If ye could compass it to make your sister friendly, then might come to these lands the gold of Nibelung. Of this might ye win great store, an' the queen would be our friend."

The king made answer: "Let us try. My brothers bide with her; we will beg them to bring it to pass that she be our friend, if perchance she might gladly see us win the hoard."

"I trow not," spake Hagen, "that it will ever hap."

Then he bade Ortwin and the Margrave Gere go to court. When that was done, Gernot and Giselher, the youth, were also brought. They tried it with the Lady Kriemhild in friendly wise. Brave Gernot of Burgundy spake: "Lady, ye mourn too long for Siegfried's death. The king will give you proof that he hath not slain him. We hear you mourn all time so greatly."

She spake: "None chargeth him with this. 'Twas Hagen's hand that struck him, where he could be wounded. When he learned this of me, how could I think that he did bear him hate? Else had I guarded against this full well," spake the queen, "so that I had not betrayed his life; then would I, poor wife, leave off my weeping. I'll never be a friend of him that did the deed." Then Giselher, the full stately man, began implore.

When at last she spake: "I will greet the king," men saw him stand before her with his nearest kin, but Hagen durst not come before her. Well he wot his guilt; 'twas he had caused her dole. When now she would forego her hate of Gunther, so that he might kiss her, it had befitted him better had she not been wronged by his advice; then might he have gone boldly unto Kriemhild. Nevermore was peace between kindred brought to pass with so many tears; her loss still gave her woe. All, save the one man alone, she pardoned. None had slain him, had not Hagen done the deed.

Not long thereafter they brought it to pass that Lady Kriemhild gained the hoard from the Nibelung land and brought it to the Rhine. It was her marriage morning gift [1] and was hers by right. Giselher and Gernot rode to fetch it. Kriemhild ordered eighty hundred men, that they should bring it from where it lay hid, where it was guarded by the knight Alberich [2] and his nearest kin. When they saw those from the Rhine coming for the hoard, Alberich, the bold, spake to his friends: "Naught of the treasure dare we withhold from her, sith the noble queen averreth it to be her marriage morning gift. Yet should this never be done," quoth Alberich, "but that with Siegfried we have foully lost the good Cloud Cloak, for fair Kriemhild's love did wear it alway. Now, alas, it hath fared ill with Siegfried, that the hero bereft us of the Cloud Cloak and that all this land did have to serve him."

Then went the warder to where he found the keys. Before the castle stood Kriemhild's liegemen and a deal of her kinsfolk. Men bade carry the treasure hence to the sea, down to the boats; one bare it then upon the waves to the mountains on the Rhine. Now may ye hear marvels of the hoard, the which twelve huge wains, packed full, were just able to bear away from the hill in four days and nights and each must make the trip three times a day. There was naught else but gems and gold, and had men paid therewith the wage of all the world, not a mark less had it been in worth. Forsooth Hagen did not crave it so without good cause. The greatest prize of all was a wishing-rod [3] of gold. He who knew its nature, might well be master over any man in all the world.

Many of Alberich's kinsmen journeyed with Gernot hence. When they stored away the hoard in Gunther's land and the queen took charge of everything, chambers and towers were filled therewith. Never did men hear tales told of such wondrous store of goods. And had it been a thousand times as much, if the Lord Siegfried were but alive again, Kriemhild would fain have stood empty-handed at his side. No more faithful wife did hero ever win. Now that she had the hoard, she brought many unknown warriors to the land. In truth the lady's hand gave in such wise that men have never seen such bounty more. She used great courtesie; men owned this of the queen. To the rich and the poor she began to give so greatly that Hagen said, should she live yet a while, she would gain so many a man for her service that they would fare full ill.

Then spake King Gunther: "Her life and her goods be hers. How shall I hinder that she do with them as she will? Forsooth I hardly compassed it, that she became thus much my friend. Let us not reck to whom she deal out her silver and her gold."


Spake Hagen to the king: "No doughty man should leave to any wife aught of the heard. With her gifts she'll bring about the day when it well may rue the brave Burgundians sore."

Then spake King Gunther: "I swore an oath, that nevermore would I do her harm, and will keep it further, for she is my sister."

Spake then Hagen: "Let me be the guilty one."

Few of their oaths were kept. From the widow they took the mighty store and Hagen made him master of all the keys. This vexed her brother Gernot, when he heard the tale aright. Lord Giselher spake: "Hagen hath done my sister much of harm; I should prevent it. It would cost him his life, were he not my kin."

Siegfried's wife shed tears anew. Then spake the Lord Gernot:

"Or ever we be imperiled by the gold, we should have it sunk entirely in the Rhine, that it belong to none."

Full pitifully she went before her brother Giselher. She spake:

"Dear brother, thou shouldst think of me and be the guardian of both my life and goods."

Quoth he then to the lady: "That shall be done when we return again, for now we think to ride."

The king and his kindred voided then the land, the very best among them that one might find. Only Hagen alone remained at home, through the hatred he bare to Kriemhild, and did so willingly. Before the king was come again, Hagen had taken the treasure quite and sunk it all at Loche, [4] in the Rhine. He weened to use it, but that might not be. The lordings came again and with them many men. With her maids and ladies Kriemhild gan bewail her passing loss, for sore it grieved them. Gladly would Giselher have helped in all good faith. All spake alike: "He hath done wrong."

Hagen avoided the princes' wrath, until he gained their favor. They did him naught, but Kriemhild might never have borne him greater hate. Before Hagen of Troneg thus hid the treasure, they had sworn with mighty oaths that it should lie concealed as long as any one of them might live. Later they could not give it to themselves or any other.

Kriemhild's mind was heavy with fresh sorrow over her husband's end, and because they had taken from her all her wealth. Her plaints ceased not in all her life, down to her latest day. After Siegfried's death, and this is true, she dwelt with many a grief full thirteen years, that she could not forget the warrior's death. She was true to him, as most folk owned.


[1] "Marriage morning gift" was the gift which it was customary for the bridegroom to give the bride on the morning after the bridal night. On this custom see Weinhold, "Deutsche Frauen im Mittelalter", i, p. 402.

[2] "A1berich", see Adventure III, note 8. It is characteristic of the poem that even this dwarf is turned into a knight.

[3] "Wishing-rod", a magic device for discovering buried treasure. Cf. Grimm, "Deutsche Mythologie, ii, 813.

[4] "Loche", according to Piper, is the modern "Locheim" in the Rhine province.

How King Etzel [1] Sent To Burgundy For Kriemhild.
That was in a time when Lady Helca [2] died and the king Etzel sought another wife, that his friends advised his marriage to a proud widow in the Burgundian land, hight Lady Kriemhild. Since fair Helca was dead, they spake: "Would ye gain a noble wife, the highest and the best king ever won, then take this same lady; the stalwart Siegfried was her husband."

Then spake the mighty king: "How might that chance, sith I am heathen and be christened not a whit, whereas the lady is a Christian and therefore would not plight her troth? It would be a marvel, and that ever happed."

The doughty warriors answered: "What if she do it, perchance, for the sake of your high name and your mickle goods? One should at least make a trial for the noble dame. Well may ye love the stately fair."

The noble king then spake: "Which of you be acquaint with the people and the land by the Rhine?"

Up spake then the good knight Rudeger of Bechelaren: [3] "I have known from a child the three noble and lordly kings, Gunther and Gernot, the noble knights and good; the third hight Giselher. Each of them doth use the highest honors and courtesie, as their forebears, too, have always done."

Then answered Etzel: "Friend, I prithee, tell me whether she should wear the crown in this my land. An' she be so fair, as hath been told me, it shall never rue my dearest kin."

"She compareth well in beauty with my Lady Helca, the royal queen. Certes, there might not be in all this world a king's bride more fair. He may well be of good cheer to whom she plight her troth."

He spake: "So bring it to pass, Rudeger, as I be dear to thee; and if ever I do lie at Kriemhild's side, I will requite thee for it as best I may. Then hast thou done my will in fullest wise. From my treasure chambers I will bid thee be given such store of horses, of clothes and all thou wilt, that thou and thy fellowship may live full merrily. I'll bid full plenty of these things be made ready against thine errand."

To this the lordly margrave Rudeger replied: "Craved I thy goods, that were not worthy of praise. With mine own goods, which I have from thy hands, will I gladly be thy envoy to the Rhine."

Then spake the mighty king: "Now when wilt thou ride for the fair? May God keep thee and my lady in all worship on the journey. May fortune help me, that she look with favor on my suit."

Rudeger made answer: "Ere we void the land, we must first make ready arms and trappings, that we may stand with honor before princes. I will lead to the Rhine five hundred stately men, that wherever in Burgundy I and mine be seen, all may say of thee:

'Never did any king send afar so many men in better wise than thou hast done to the Rhine.' If thou, O mighty king, wilt not turn back on this account, I'll tell thee that her noble love was subject unto Siegfried, Siegmund's son. Him thou hast seen here. [4] Men could in right truth ascribe to him great worship."

Then spake King Etzel: "Tho' she was the warrior's wife, yet was the noble prince so peerless that I should not disdain the queen. She liketh me well for her passing beauty."

The margrave answered: "Then I will tell thee that we will start hence in four and twenty days. I'll send word to Gotelind, my dear lady, that I myself will be the messenger to Kriemhild."

Rudeger sent word to Bechelaren, at which the margravine grew both sorrowful and proud. He told her he should woo for the king a wife. Lovingly she thought on Helca, the fair. When the margravine heard the message, a deal she rued it; weeping beseemed her at the thought whether she should gain a lady as afore. When she thought on Helca, it grieved her heart full sore.

Rudeger should ride in seven days from Hungary; lusty and merry King Etzel was at this. There in the town of Vienna men prepared their weeds. Then might he no longer delay his journey. At Bechelaren Gotelind awaited him; the young margravine, too, Rudeger's child, gladly saw her father and his men. Many fair maids awaited them with joy. Ere the noble Rudeger rode from the city of Vienna to Bechelaren, all their clothes were placed upon the sumpters. They journeyed in such wise that not a whit was taken from them.

When they were come to tho town of Bechelaren, the host full lovingly bade lodge his fellowship and ease them well. The noble Gotelind saw the host come gladly, as likewise his dear daughter did, the young margravine. To her his coming could not be liefer. How fain she was to see the heroes from the Hunnish land! With smiling mien the noble maiden spake: "Now be my father and his men full welcome here."

Then great thanks were given to the young margravine by many a doughty knight in courteous wise. Well wot Gotelind Sir Rudeger's mood. When at night she lay close by his side, what kindly questions the margravine put, whither the king of the Huns had sent him. He spake: "My Lady Gotelind, I'll gladly make this known to thee. I must woo another lady for my lord, sith that the fair Helca hath died. I will ride for Kriemhild to the Rhine; she shall become a mighty queen here among the Huns."

"Would to God," spake Gotelind, "an' that might hap, sith we do hear such speech of her many honors, that she might perchance replace our lady for us in our old age, and that we might be fain to let her wear the crown in Hungary."

Then spake the margrave: "My love, ye must offer to those who are to ride with me to the Rhine, your goods in loving wise. When heroes travel richly, then are they of lofty mood."

She spake: "There be none that taketh gladly from my hand, to whom I would not give what well beseemeth him, or ever ye and your men part hence."

Quoth the margrave: "That doth like me well."

Ho, what rich cloths of silk were borne from their treasure chambers! With enow of this the clothing of the noble warriors was busily lined from the neck down to their spurs. Rudeger had chosen only men that pleased him well.

On the seventh morning the host and his warriors rode forth from Bechelaren. Weapons and clothes a plenty they took with them through the Bavarian land. Seldom did men assail them on the highways for robbery's sake, and within twelve days they reached the Rhine. Then might the tidings not be hid; men told it to the king and to his liegemen, that stranger guests were come. The host gan say, if any knew them, he should tell him so. One saw their sumpters bear right heavy loads. 'Twas seen that they were passing rich.

Anon in the broad town men purveyed them quarters. When that the many strangers had been lodged, these same lords were gazed upon full oft. The people wondered from whence these warriors were come to the Rhine. The host now sent for Hagen, if perchance they might be known to him. Then spake the knight of Troneg:

"None of them have I ever seen, but when we now gaze upon them, I can tell you well from whence they ride hither to this land. They must indeed be strangers, an' I know them not full soon." [5]

Lodgings were now taken for the guests. The envoy and his fellowship were come in passing costly vesture. To the court they rode wearing good garments, cut in full cunning wise. Then spake the doughty Hagen: "As well as I can tell, for I have not seen the lord long time, they ride as if 'twere Rudeger from the Hunnish land, a lordly knight and a brave."

"How can I believe," spake at once the king, "that the lord of Bechelaren be come to this land?"

When King Gunther had ended his speech, Hagen, the brave, espied the good knight Rudeger. He and his friends all ran to meet them. Then five hundred knights were seen dismounting from their steeds. Fair were the men from Hungary greeted; messengers had never worn such lordly clothes. Then Hagen of Troneg spake full loudly: "Now be these knights, the lord of Bechelaren and all his men, welcome in God's name."

With worship the speedy knights were greeted. The next of kin to the king went to where they stood. Ortwin of Metz spake to Rudeger: "Never have we seen guests so gladly here at any time. This I can truly say."

On all sides they thanked the warriors for their greeting. With all their fellowship they hied them to the hall, where they found the king and with him many a valiant man. The lords rose from their seats; through their great chivalry this was done. How right courteously he met the messengers! Gunther and Gernot greeted the stranger and his vassals warmly, as was his due. He took the good knight Rudeger by the hand and led him to the seat where he sat himself. Men bade pour out for the guests (full gladly this was done) passing good mead and the best of wine that one might find in the land along the Rhine. Giselher and Gere both were come; Dankwart and Folker, too, had heard about the strangers. Merry they were of mood and greeted before the king the noble knights and good.

Then spake Hagen of Troneg to his lord: "These thy knights should ever requite what the margrave for our sake hath done; for this should the husband of fair Gotelind receive reward."

King Gunther spake: "I cannot hold my peace; ye must tell me how fare Etzel and Helca of the Hunnish land."

To this the margrave now made answer: "I'll gladly let you know."

He rose from his seat with all his men and spake to the king:

"An' may that be that ye permit me, O prince, so will I not conceal the tidings that I bring, but will tell them willingly."

Quoth the king: "The tidings that have been sent us through you, these I'll let you tell without the rede of friends. Pray let me and my vassals hear them, for I begrudge you no honor that ye here may gain."

Then spake the worthy envoy: "My great master doth commend to you upon the Rhine his faithful service and to all the kinsmen ye may have. This message is sent in all good faith. The noble king bade complain to you his need. His folk is joyless; my lady, the royal Helca, my master's wife, is dead. Through her hath many a high-born maid been orphaned, daughters of noble princes, whom she hath trained. Therefore it standeth full piteously in his land; they have alas none that might befriend them faithfully. The king's grief, I ween, will abate but slowly."

"Now God reward him," spake Gunther, "that he so willingly commendeth his service to me and to my kin. Full gladly have I here heard his greeting, and this both my kindred and my men shall fain requite."

Then spake the warrior Gernot of Burgundy: "The world must ever rue fair Helca's death, for her many courtesies, which she well knew how to use."

With this speech Hagen, the passing stately knight, agreed.

Then answered Rudeger, the noble and lordly envoy: "Sith ye permit me, O king, I shall tell you more, the which my dear lord hath hither sent you, sith he doth live so right sorrowfully in longing after Helca. Men told my lord that Kriemhild be without a husband, that Sir Siegfried be dead. If this be so, then shall she wear a crown before Etzel's knights, would ye but permit her. This my sovran bade me say."

Then spake the mighty king, full courteous was his mood: "And she care to do this, she shall hear my pleasure. This will I make known to you in these three days. Why should I refuse King Etzel before I've learned her wish?"

Meanwhile men bade purvey good easement for the guests. They were served so well that Rudeger owned he had good friends there among Gunthers men. Hagen served him gladly, as Rudeger had done to him of yore. Till the third day Rudeger thus remained. The king sent for his counsel (full wisely he acted) to see whether his kinsmen would think it well that Kriemhild take King Etzel to husband. All together they advised it, save Hagen alone. He spake to Gunther, the knight: "Have ye but the right wit, ye will take good care that ye never do this, tho' she were fain to follow."

"Why," spake then Gunther, "should I not consent? Whatever pleasure happen to the queen, I should surely grant her this; she is my sister. We ourselves should bring it to pass, if perchance it might bring her honor."

Then answered Hagen: "Give over this speech. Had ye knowledge of Etzel as have I, and should she harry him, as I hear you say, then first hath danger happed to you by right."

"Why?" quoth Gunther. "I'll take good care that I come not so near him that I must suffer aught of hatred on his part, an' she become his wife."

Said Hagen: "Never will I give you this advice."

For Gernot and Giselher men bade send to learn whether the two lords would think it well that Kriemhild should take the mighty and noble king. Hagen still gainsaid, but no one other. Then spake the knight Giselher of Burgundy: "Friend Hagen, ye may still show your fealty. Make her to forget the wrongs that ye have done her. Whatever good fortune she may have, this ye should not oppose. Ye have in truth done my sister so many an ill," continued Giselher, the full lusty knight, "that she hath good cause, if she be angry with you. Never hath one bereft a lady of greater joys."

Quoth Hagen: "I'll do you to wit what well I know. If she take Etzel and live long enow, she'll do us still much harm in whatever way she can. Forsooth full many a stately vassal will own her service."

To this brave Gernot answered: "It may not happen, that we ever ride to Etzel's land before they both be dead. Let us serve her faithfully, that maketh for our honor."

Again Hagen spake: "None can gainsay me, an' the noble Kriemhild wear the crown of Helca, she will do us harm as best she may. Ye should give it over, 'twould beseem you knights far better."

Wrathfully then spake Giselher, fair Uta's son: "Let us not all act as traitors. We should be glad of whatever honors may be done her. Whatever ye may say, Hagen, I shall serve her by my troth."

Gloomy of mood grew Hagen when he heard these words. Gernot and Giselher, the proud knights and good, and Gunther, the mighty, spake at last, if Kriemhild wished it, they would let it hap without all hate.

Then spake Prince Gere: "I will tell the lady that she look with favor upon King Etzel, to whom so many knights owe dread obedience. He can well requite her of all the wrongs that have been done her."

Then the doughty warrior hied him to where he saw Kriemhild. Kindly she received him. how quickly then he spake: "Ye may well greet me gladly and give me a messenger's meed. Fortune is about to part you from all your woes. For the sake of your love, my lady, one of the very best that ever gained a kingdom with great honors, or should wear a crown, hath sent envoys hither. Noble knights be wooing; this my brother bade me tell you."

Then spake the sorrow-laden dame: "God should forbid you and all my kinsmen that ye make a mock of me, poor woman. What could I be to a man who had ever gained heartfelt love from a faithful wife?"

Sorely she gainsaid it, but then came Gernot, her brother, and Giselher, the youth, and lovingly bade her ease her heart. It would do her good in truth, could she but take the king.

None might persuade the lady that she should marry any man. Then the knights begged: "If ye do naught else, pray let it hap that ye deign to see the messengers."

"I'll not deny," spake the noble dame, "but that I should gladly see the Margrave Rudeger for his passing courtesie. Were he not sent hither, whoever else might be the messenger, never should he become acquainted with me. Pray bid him come to-morrow to my bower. I'll let him hear my will in full and tell it him myself." At this her great laments brake forth anew.

The noble Rudeger now craved naught else but that he might see the high-born queen. He wist himself to be so wise that she could not but let the knight persuade her, if it should ever be. Early on the morrow when mass was sung, the noble envoys came. A great press arose; of those who should go to court with Rudeger, many a lordly man was seen arrayed. Full sad of mood, the high-born Kriemhild bided the noble envoy and good. He found her in the weeds she wore each day, whereas her handmaids wore rich clothes enow. She went to meet him to the door and greeted full kindly Etzel's liegeman. Only as one of twelve he went to meet her. Men offered him great worship, for never were come more lofty envoys. They bade the lording and his vassals seat them. Before her were seen to stand the two Margraves Eckewart and Gere, the noble knights and good. None they saw merry of mood, for the sake of the lady of the house. Many fair women were seen to sit before her, but Kriemhild only nursed her grief; her dress upon her breast was wot with scalding tears. This the noble margrave noted well on Kriemhild.

Then spake the high-born messenger: "Most noble princess, I pray you, permit me and my comrades that are come with me, to stand before you and tell you the tidings for the sake of which we have ridden hither."

"Now may ye speak whatso ye list," spake the queen. "I am minded to hear it gladly; ye be a worthy messenger."

The others noted well her unwilling mood.

Then spake Prince Rudeger of Bechelaren: "Etzel, a high-born king, hath in good faith sent you a friendly greeting, my lady, by messengers hither to this land. Many good knights hath he sent hither for your love. Great joy without grief he doth offer you most truly. He is ready to give you constant friendship, as he did afore to Lady Helca, who lay within his heart. Certes, through longing for her virtues he hath full often joyless days."

Then spake the queen: "Margrave Rudeger, were there any who knew my bitter sorrow, he would not bid me marry any man. Of a truth I lost the best of husbands that ever lady won."

"What may comfort grief," the bold knight replied, "but married joy. When that any gan gain this and chooseth one who doth beseem him, naught availeth so greatly for woe of heart. And ye care to love my noble master, ye shall have power over twelve mighty crowns. Thereto my lord will give you the lands of thirty princes, all of which his doughty hand hath overcome. Ye shall become the mistress over many worthy liegemen, who were subject to my Lady Helca, and over many dames of high and princely race, who owned her sway." Thus spake the brave knight and bold. "Thereto my lord will give you (this he bade me say), if ye would deign to wear with him the crown, the very highest power which Helca ever won; this shall ye rule before all Etzel's men."

Then spake the queen: "How might it ever list me to become a hero's bride? Death hath given me in the one such dole that I must ever live joyless unto mine end."

To this the Huns replied: "O mighty queen, your life at Etzel's court will be so worshipful that it will ever give you joy, an' it come to pass, for the mighty king hath many a stately knight. Helca's damosels and your maids shall together form one retinue, at sight of which warriors may well be blithe of mood. Be advised, my lady, ye will fare well in truth."

With courtesie she spake: "Now let be this speech until the morrow early, when ye shall come here again. Then will I give you answer to what ye have in mind."

The bold knights and good must needs obey.

When all were now come to their lodgings, the noble dame bade send for Giselher and for her mother, too. To the twain she said, that weeping did beseem her and naught else better.

Then spake her brother Giselher: "Sister, it hath been told me, and I can well believe it, that King Etzel would make all thy sorrows vanish, and thou takest him to be thy husband. Whatever others may advise, this thinketh me well done. He is well able to turn thy grief to joy," spake Giselher again; "from the Rhone to the Rhine, from the Elbe down to the sea, there be no other king as mighty as he. Thou mayst well rejoice, an' he make thee his wife."

She spake: "My dear brother, why dost thou advise me this? Weeping and wailing beseem me better far. How should I go to court before his knights? Had I ever beauty, of this I am now bereft."

To her dear daughter the Lady Uta spake: "Whatever thy brothers counsel thee, dear child, that do. Obey thy kindred and it will go well with thee. I have seen thee now too long in thy great grief."

Then she prayed God full oft to grant her such store of goods that she might have gold, silver, and clothes to give, as at her husband's side of yore, when that he was still alive and well. Else would she never have again such happy hours. She thought within her mind: "And shall I give my body to a paynim [6] (I am a Christian wife), forever in the world must I bear shame. An' he gave me all the kingdoms in the world still 1 would not do it."

Thus she let the matter rest. All night until the break of day the lady lay upon her bed in thought. Her bright eyes never grew dry, till on the morn she went to matins. Just at the time for mass the kings were come and took their sister again in hand. In truth they urged her to wed the king of the Hunnish land; little did any of them find the lady merry. Then they bade fetch hither Etzel's men, who now would fain have taken their leave, whatever the end might be, whether they gained or lost their suit. Rudeger came now to court; his heroes urged him to learn aright the noble prince's mind. To all it seemed well that this be done betimes, for long was the way back into their land. Men brought Rudeger to where Kriemhild was found. Winningly the knight gan beg the noble queen to let him hear what message she would send to Etzel's land. I ween, he heard from her naught else than no, that she nevermore would wed a man. The margrave spake: "That were ill done. Why would ye let such beauty wither? Still with honor may ye become the bride of a worthy man."

Naught booted that they urged, till Rudeger told the noble queen in secret that he would make amends for all that ever happed to her. At this her great sorrow grew a deal more mild. To the queen he spake: "Let be your weeping. If ye had none among the Huns but me and my faithful kin and liegemen, sore must he repent it who had ever done you aught."

At this the lady's mood grew gentler. She spake: "Then swear me an oath, that whatever any do to me that ye will be the first to amend my wrongs."

Quoth the margrave: "For this, my lady, I am ready."

Rudeger with all his vassals swore that he would ever serve her faithfully and pledged his hand, that the noble knights from Etzel's land would ne'er refuse her aught.

Then the faithful lady thought: "Sith I, wretched wife, have won so many friends, I'll let the people say whatso they choose. What if my dear husband's death might still be avenged?" She thought: "Sith Etzel hath so many men-at-arms, I can do whatso I will, an' I command them. He is likewise so rich that I shall have wherewith to give; the baleful Hagen hath bereft me of my goods."

To Rudeger she spake: "Had I not heard that he were a paynim, gladly would I go whithersoever he listed and would take him to my husband."

Then spake the margrave: "Lady, give over this speech. He hath so many knights of Christian faith, that ye'll ever be joyful at his court. What if ye bring it to pass, that he should let himself be christened? Therefore may ye fain become King Etzel's wife."

Then her brothers spake again: "Now pledge your troth, dear sister. Ye should now give over your sadness."

They begged her till she sadly vowed before the heroes to become King Etzel's bride. She spake: "I will obey you, I poor queen, and fare to the Huns as soon as ever that may be, whenever I have friends who will take me to his land."

Of this fair Kriemhild pledged her hand before the knights.

Then spake the margrave: "If ye have two liegemen, I have still more. 'Twill be the best, that with worship we escort you across the Rhine. No longer, lady, shall ye tarry here in Burgundy. I have five hundred vassals and kinsmen, too; they shall serve you, lady, and do whatso ye bid, both here and there at home. I'll do by you the same whenever ye do mind me of the tale and never feel ashamed. Now bid the housings for your horses be made ready (Rudeger's counsel will never irk you) and tell it to your maids, whom ye would take along, for many a chosen knight will meet us on the road."

She still had harness with which they rode afore in Siegfried's time, so that she might take with her many maidens now with worship, whenever she would hence. Ho, what good saddles they fetched for the comely dames! Albeit they had aye worn costly robes, many more were now made ready, for much had been told them of the king. They opened up the chests, which stood afore well locked. For four and one half days they were aught but idle; from the presses they brought forth the stores that lay therein. Kriemhild now began to open up her treasure rooms, she fain would make all Rudeger's liegemen rich. Of the gold from the Nibelung land she still had such store that a hundred horses might not bear it; she weened her hand should deal it out among the Huns.

This tale Hagen heard told of Kriemhild. He spake: "Sith Kriemhild will not become my friend, so Siegfried's gold must stay behind. For why should I give to my foes such great store of goods? Well I wot what Kriemhild will do with this hoard. I can well believe, an' she take it with her, that it will be doled out to call forth hate against me. Nor have they steeds enow to bear it hence. Hagen doth intend to keep it, pray tell Kriemhild that."

When that she heard this tale, it irked her sore. It was likewise told to all three kings. Fain would they have changed it, but as this did not hap, the noble Rudeger spake full blithely: "Mighty queen, why mourn ye for the gold? King Etzel doth bear you such great love, that when his eyes do light upon you, such store he'll give you that ye can never spend it all; this will I swear to you, my lady."

Then spake the queen: "Most noble Rudeger, never hath king's daughter gained such wealth as that, of which Hagen hath bereft me."

Then came her brother Gernot to the treasure chamber. By leave of the king in the door he thrust the key. Kriemhild's gold was handed forth, a thousand marks or more. He bade the strangers take it; much this pleased King Gunther.

Then spake Gotelind's knight from Bechelaren: "And had my Lady Kriemhild all the hoard that was brought from the Nibelung land, little of it would mine or the queen's hand touch. Now bid them keep it, for I will none of it. Forsooth I brought from home such store of mine that we can lightly do without this on the road, for we be furnished for the journey in full lordly wise."

Aforr this her maids had filled twelve chests at leisure with the very best of gold that anywhere might be. This they took with them and great store of women's trinkets, which they should wear upon the road. Her thought too great the might of Hagen. Of her gold for offerings [7] she had still a thousand marks. For her dear husband's soul she dealt it out. This Rudeger thought was done in faithful love. Then spake the mournful lady: "Where be now my friends who for my sake would live in exile? Let those who would ride with me to the Hunnish land, take now my treasure and purchase horses and trappings."

Then spake the margrave Eckewart to the queen: "Since the day I first became your vassal, I have served you faithfully," spake the knight, "and aye will do the same by you until mine end. I will take with me also five hundred of my men and place them in your service right loyally. Naught shall ever part us, save death alone."

For this speech Kriemhild bowed her thanks; forsooth she had full need.

Men now led forth the palfreys; for they would ride away. Then many tears were shed by kinsfolk. Royal Uta and many a comely maiden showed that they were sad at Kriemhild's loss. A hundred high-born maids she took with her hence, who were arrayed as well befit them. Then from bright eyes the tears fell down, but soon at Etzel's court they lived to see much joy. Then came Lord Giselher and Gernot, too, with their fellowship, as their courtesie demanded. Fain would they escort their dear sister hence; of their knights they took with them full a thousand stately men. Then came Or(win and the doughty Gere; Rumolt, the master of the kitchen, must needs be with them, too. They purveyed them night quarters as far as the Danube's shore, but Gunther rode no further than a little from the town. Ere they fared hence from the Rhine, they had sent their messengers swiftly on ahead to the Hunnish land, who should tell the king that Rudeger had gained for him to wife the noble high-born queen.


[1] "Etzel", see Adventure I, note 7.

[2] "Helca" (M.H.G. "Helche") or "Herka", Etzel's wife, is the daughter of king "Oserich" or "Osantrix", as the "Thidreksaga" calls him. In the latter work (chap. 73-80) we read how Rudeger (Rodingeir) took her by force from her father and brought her to Etzel to be the latter's bride. On her identity with the historical "Kerka" of Priscus, see Bleyer, PB. "Beit." xxxi, 542.

[3] "Rudeger of Bechelaren", or, as the name reads in the "Thidreksaga", "Rodingeir of Bakalar", is probably not an historical personage, but the hero of a separate legend. Evidence of this is seen in the fact that he calls himself an exile, though he is Etzel's mightiest vassal, with castles and lands in fief. He may have been introduced, as Wilmanns ("Anz." xviii 101) thinks, to play a role originally assigned to Dietrich, who is also an exile. Mullenhoff considered him to have been a mythical person. Bechelaren, or Pechlarn, lies at the junction of the Erlach with the Danube.

[4] "hast seen here". "Biterolf", 9471, relates that Dietrich had carried Siegfried, when young, by force to Etzel's court.

[5] "full soon". See Adventure III, note 4.

[6] "Paynim" (O F. "paienime", late Latin "paganismus"), 'heathen'.

[7] "gold for offerings". This was the gold to be used as offering when masses were sung for Siegfried's soul.


How Kriemhild Journeyed To The Huns.
Let now the messengers ride. We will do you to wit, how the queen journeyed through the lands and where Giselher and Gernot parted from her. They had served her as their fealty bade them. Down to Vergen [1] on the Danube they rode; here they gan crave leave of the queen, for they would ride again to the Rhine. Without tears these faithful kinsmen might not part. Doughty Giselher spake then to his sister: "Whenever, lady, thou shouldst need me, when aught doth trouble thee, let me but know, and I will ride in thy service to Etzel's land."

Those who were her kin she kissed upon the mouth. Lovingly they took their leave of Margrave Rudeger's men. The queen had with her many a fair-fashioned maid, full a hundred and four, that wore costly robes of rich, gay-colored silks. Many broad shields were borne close by the ladies on the road, but many a lordly warrior turned then from her.

They journeyed soon from thence down through Bavarian land. Here the tale was told that many unknown strangers had gathered there, where still a cloister standeth and where the Inn floweth into the Danube. In the town of Passau, where lived a bishop, lodgings were soon emptied and the prince's court as well, as they hurried forth to meet the strangers in the Bavarian land, where the Bishop Pilgrim [2] found fair Kriemhild. The knights of the land were little loth, when in her train they saw so many comely maids; with their eyes they courted the daughters of noble knights. Later good lodgings were given the noble guests.

With his niece the bishop rode toward Passau. When it was told the burghers of the town that Kriemhild was come, their prince's sister's child, well was she greeted by the merchants. The bishop had the hope that they would stay. Then spake Sir Eckewart: "That may not be. We must fare further down to Rudeger's land. Many knights await us, for all wot well the news."

Well wist fair Gotelind the tale. She tired her and her noble child with care. Rudeger had sent her word that it thought him good that she should cheer the mind of the queen by riding forth, with his vassals to the Enns [3] for to meet her. When this message had been given, one saw on every side the roads alive; on foot and horse they hastened to meet their guests. Now was the queen come to Efferding. [4] Enow there were from the Bavarian land who might perchance have done the guests much harm, had they robbed upon the roads, as was their wont. That had been forestalled by the lordly margrave: he led a thousand knights or more.

Now Gotelind, the wife of Rudeger, was come; with her there rode many a noble knight in lordly ;vise. When they were come across the Traun, [5] upon the plain by Enns, one saw erected huts and tents, where the guests should have their lodgings for the night. Rudeger gave the vitaille to his guests. Fair Gotelind left her lodgings far behind her; along the road there trotted many a shapely palfrey with jingling bridle. Fair was the welcome; right well was Rudeger pleased. Among those who rode to meet them on the way, on either side, in praiseworthy wise, was many a knight. They practised chivalry, the which full many a maiden saw. Nor did the service of the knights mislike the queen. When that Rudeger's liegemen met the guests, many truncheons [6] were seen to fly on high from the warriors' hands in knightly custom. As though for a prize they rode before the ladies there. This they soon gave over and many warriors greeted each other in friendly wise. Then they escorted fair Gotelind from thence to where she saw Kriemhild. Scant leisure had they who wot how to serve the ladies.

The lord of Bechelaren rode now to his wife. Little it irked the noble margravine that he was come so well and sound from the Rhine. In part her cares had given way to .joy. When she had welcomed him, he bade her dismount with the ladies of her train upon the sward. Many a noble knight bestirred him and served the ladies with eager zeal. Then Kriemhild spied the margravine standing with her meiny. No nearer she drew, but checked the palfrey with the bridle and bade them lift her quickly from the saddle. Men saw the bishop with Eckewart lead his sister's child to Gotelind. All stood aside at once. Then the exiled queen kissed Gotelind upon the mouth. Full lovingly spake Rudeger's wife: "Now well is me, dear lady, that I have ever seen with mine own eyes your charming self in these our lands. Naught liefer might hap to me in all these times."

"Now God requite you," quoth Kriemhild, "most noble Gotelind. Shall I and Botelung's [7] son remain alive and well, it may be lief to you that ye have seen me here."

Neither knew what must needs later hap. Many maidens went to meet each other in courtly wise. The warriors, too, were full ready with their service. After the greeting they sat them down upon the clover. With many they became acquaint, who were full strange to them aforetime. As it was now high noon, men bade pour out wine for the ladies. The noble meiny no longer tarried, but rode to where they found many broad pavilions; there ample service stood ready for the guests.

That night they had repose till early on the morn. Those from Bechelaren made ready for to lodge the worthy guests. So well had Rudeger planned, that little enow they lacked. The embrasures in the walls stood open, the castle at Bechelaren was opened wide. In rode the guests whom men were fain to see; the noble host bade purvey them proper easement. Most lovingly Rudeger's daughter with her meiny went to welcome the queen. There, too, stood her mother, the margrave's wife; many a high-born maid was greeted with delight. They took each other by the hand and hied them hence to a broad hall, fashioned full fair, under which the Danube flowed along. Towards the breeze they sate and held great pastime. What more they did I cannot tell, save that Kriemhild's men-at-arms were heard to grumble that they fared so slowly on their way, for much it irked them. Ho, what good knights rode with them hence from Bechelaren!

Rudeger offered them much loving service. The queen gave Gotelind's daughter twelve ruddy armlets, and raiment too, as good as any that she brought to Etzel's land. Although the Nibelung gold was taken from her, yet she did win the hearts of all that saw her with the little she still might have. Great gifts were given to the courtiers of the host. In turn the Lady Gotelind offered the guests from the Rhine worship in such friendly wise, that men found passing few of the strangers that did not wear her jewels or her lordly robes.

When they had eaten and should depart, faithful service was proffered by the lady of the house to Etzel's bride. The fair young margravine, too, was much caressed. To the queen she spake: "Whenso it thinketh you good, I know well that my dear father will gladly send me to you to the Hunnish land." How well Kriemhild marked that the maiden loved her truly.

The steeds were harnessed and led before the castle of Bechelaren and the noble queen took leave of Rudeger's wife and daughter. With a greeting many a fair maid parted too. Full seldom did they see each other since these days. From Medelick [8] the folk bare in their hands many a rich cup of gold, in which they offered wine to the strangers on the highway. Thus they made them welcome. A host dwelt there, hight Astolt, [9] who showed them the road to the Austrian land, towards Mautern [10] down the Danube. There the noble queen was later served full well. From his niece the bishop parted lovingly. How he counseled her that she should bear her well and that she should purchase honor for herself, as Helca, too, had done! Ho, what great worship she later gained among the Huns!

To the Traisem [11] they escorted hence the guests. Rudeger's men purveyed them zealously, until the Huns came riding across the land. Then the queen became acquaint with mickle honor. Near the Traisem the king of the Hunnish land did have a mighty castle, hight Zeisenmauer, [12] known far and wide. Lady Helca dwelt there aforetime and used such great virtues that it might not lightly ever hap again, unless it be through Kriemhild. She wist so how to give, that after all her sorrow she had the joy that Etzel's liegemen gave her great worship, of which she later won great store among the heroes. Etzel's rule was known far and wide, so that all time one found at his court the boldest warriors of whom men ever heard, among Christian or among paynim. They were all come with him. All time there were at his court, what may not so lightly hap again, Christian customs and also heathen faith. In whatsoever wise each lived, the bounty of the king bestowed on all enow.


[1] "Vergen" is the modern Pforing, below Ingolstadt. A ferry across the river existed here from ancient times.

[2] "Pilgrim", or "Pilgerin", as he is variously called, is an historical personage. He was bishop of Passau from 971 to 991. Without doubt he is a late introduction, according to Boer between 1181 and 1185. See Boer, ii, 204, and E.L. Dummler, "Pilgrim von Passau", Leipzig, 1854.

[3] "Enns" (M.H.G. "Ens") is one of the tributaries of the Danube, flowing into it about eleven miles southeast of Linz.

[4] "Efferding" (M.H.G. "Everdingen") is a town on the Danube, about thirteen miles west of Linz.

[5] "Traun" (M.H.G. "Trune") is a river of Upper Austria, forty-four miles southeast of Linz.

[6] "Truncheons", see Adventure II, note 8.

[7] "Botelung's son" is Attila, who is so called in our poem, in the "Klage", and in "Biterolf". In the earlier Norse version "Atli" is the son of "Budli". (On this point see Mullenhoff, "Zur Geschichte der Nibelungensage", p. 106, and Zsfd A., x, 161, and Bleyer, PB. Beit. xxxi, 459, where the names are shown to be identical.

[8] "Medelick" is the modern Molk, or Melk, a town on the Danube near the influx of the Bilach. It lies at the foot of a granite cliff on which stands a famous Benedictine abbey.

[9] "Astolt" appears only in this passage; nothing else is known of him.

[10] "Mantern" is situated at the influx of the Flanitz, opposite Stein in Lower Austria.

[11] "Traisem", Traisen, is a tributary of the Danube in Lower Austria, emptying near Traismauer.

[12] "Zeisenmauer" (M.H.G. "Zeizenmure"). All the MSS. but C and D have this reading. The latter have "Treysenmoure" and "treisem moure", which corresponds better to the modern name, as Zeiselmauer lies between Tulln and Vienna. It is possible, however, that the town on the Traisem was originally called Zeiselmauer, as the road leading from Traismauer to Tulln still bears the name of Zeiselstrasse. See Laehmann, "Anmerkungen", 1272, 3, and Piper, ii, 289, note to str. 1333.


How Etzel Made Kriemhild His Bride.
Until the fourth day she stayed at Zeisenmauer. The while the dust upon the highway never came to rest, but rose on every side, as if it were burning, where King Etzel's liegemen rode through Austria. Then the king was told aright how royally Kriemhild fared through the lands; at thought of this his sorrows vanished. He hasted to where he found the lovely Kriemhild. Men saw ride before King Etzel on the road many bold knights of many tongues and many mighty troops of Christians and of paynims. When they met the lady, they rode along in lordly wise. Of the Russians and the Greeks there rode there many a man. The right good steeds of the Poles and Wallachians were seen to gallop swiftly, as they rode with might and main. Each did show the customs of his land. From the land of Kiev [1] there rode many a warrior and the savage Petschenegers. [2] With the bow they often shot at the birds which flew there; to the very head they drew the arrows on the bows.

By the Danube there lieth in the Austrian land a town that men call Tulna. [3] There she became acquaint with many a foreign custom, the which size had never seen afore. She greeted there enow who later came through her to grief. Before Etzel there rode a retinue, merry and noble, courtly and lusty, full four and twenty princes, mighty and of lofty birth. They would fain behold their lady and craved naught more. Duke Ramung [4] of Wallachia, with seven hundred vassals, galloped up before her; like flying birds men saw them ride. Then came Prince Gibeek with lordly bands. The doughty Hornbog, [5] with full a thousand men, wheeled from the king away towards the queen. Loudly they shouted after the custom of their land. Madly too rode the kinsmen of the Huns. Then came brave Hawart [6] of Denmark and the doughty Iring, [7] free of guile was he, and Irnfried [8] of Thuringia, a stately man. With twelve hundred vassals, whom they had in their band, they greeted Kriemhild, so that she had therefrom great worship. Then came Sir Bloedel, [9] King Etzel's brother, from the Hunnish land, with three thousand men. In lordly wise he rode to where he found the queen. Then King Etzel came and Sir Dietrich, too, with all his fellowship. There stood many worshipful knights, noble, worthy, and good. At this Dame Kriemhild's spirits rose.

Then Sir Rudeger spake to the queen: "Lady, here will I receive the high-born king; whomso I bid you kiss, that must ye do. Forsooth ye may not greet alike King Etzel's men."

From the palfrey they helped the royal queen alight. Etzel, the mighty, bode no more, but dismounted from his steed with many a valiant man. Joyfully men saw them go towards Kriemhild. Two mighty princes, as we are told, walked by the lady and bore her train, when King Etzel went to meet her, where she greeted the noble lording with a kiss in gracious wise. She raised her veil and from out the gold beamed forth her rosy hue. Many a man stood there who vowed that Lady Helca could not have been more fair than she. Close by stood also Bloedel, the brother of the king. Him Rudeger, the mighty margrave, bade her kiss and King Gibeek, too. There also stood Sir Dietrich. Twelve of the warriors the king's bride kissed. She greeted many knights in other ways.

All the while that Etzel stood at Kriemhild's side, the youthful warriors did as people still are wont to do. One saw them riding many a royal joust. This Christian champions did and paynim, too, according to their custom. In what right knightly wise the men of Dietrich made truncheons from the shafts fly through the air, high above the shields, from the hands of doughty knights! Many a buckler's edge was pierced through and through by the German strangers. Great crashing of breaking shafts was heard. All the warriors from the land were come and the king's guests, too, many a noble man.

Then the mighty king betook him hence with Lady Kriemhild. Hard by them a royal tent was seen to stand; around about the plain was filled with booths, where they should rest them after their toils. Many a comely maid was shown to her place thereunder by the knights, where she then sate with the queen on richly covered chairs. The margrave had so well purveyed the seats for Kriemhild, that all found them passing good; at this King Etzel grew blithe of mood. What the king there spake, I know not. In his right lay her snow-white hand; thus they sate in lover's wise, since Rudeger would not let the king make love to Kriemhild secretly.

Then one bade the tourney cease on every side; in courtly wise the great rout ended. Etzel's men betook them to the booths; men gave them lodgings stretching far away on every side. The day had now an end; they lay at ease, till the bright morn was seen to dawn again, then many a man betook him to the steeds. Ho, what pastimes they gan ply in honor of the king! Etzel bade the Huns purvey all with fitting honors. Then they rode from Tulna to the town of Vienna, where they found many a dame adorned. With great worship these greeted King Etzel's bride. There was ready for them in great plenty whatever they should have. Many a lusty hero rejoiced at prospect of the rout.

The king's wedding feast commenced in merry wise. They began to lodge the guests, but quarters could not be found for all within the town. Rudeger therefore begged those that were not guests to take lodgings in the country round about. I ween men found all time by Lady Kriemhild, Sir Dietrich and many another knight. Their rest they had given over for toil, that they might purvey the guests good cheer. Rudeger and his friends had pastime good. The wedding feast fell on a Whitsuntide, when King Etzel lay by Kriemhild in the town of Vienna. With her first husband, I trow, she did not win so many men for service. Through presents she made her known to those who had never seen her. Full many among them spake to the guests: "We weened that Lady Kriemhild had naught of goods, now hath she wrought many wonders with her gifts."

The feasting lasted seventeen days. I trow men can no longer tell of any king whose wedding feast was greater. If so be, 'tis hidden from us. All that were present wore brand-new garments. I ween, she never dwelt before in Netherland with such retinue of knights. Though Siegfried was rich in goods, I trow, he never won so many noble men-at-arms, as she saw stand 'fore Etzel. Nor hath any ever given at his own wedding feast so many costly mantles, long and wide, nor such good clothes, of which all had here great store, given for Kriemhild's sake. Her friends and the strangers, too, were minded to spare no kind of goods. Whatever any craved, this they willingly gave, so that many of the knights through bounty stood bereft of clothes. Kriemhild thought of how she dwelt with her noble husband by the Rhine; her eyes grew moist, but she hid it full well, that none might see it. Great worship had been done her after many a grief. Whatever bounty any used, 'twas but a wind to that of Dietrich,.


What Botelung's son had given him, was squandered quite. Rudeger's lavish hand did also many wonders. Prince Bleedel of Hungary bade empty many traveling chests of their silver and their gold; all this was given away. The king's champions were seen to live right merrily. Werbel and Swemmel, [10] the minstrels of the king, each gained at the wedding feast, I ween, full thousand marks, or even better, when fair Kriemhild sate crowned at Etzel's side.

On the eighteenth morning they rode forth from Vienna. Many shields were pierced in tilting by spears, which the warriors bare in hand. Thus King Etzel came down to the Hunnish land. They spent the night at ancient Heimburg. [11] No one might know the press of folk, or with what force they rode across the land. Ho, what fair women they found in Etzel's native land! At mighty Misenburg [12] they boarded ship. The water which men saw flowing there was covered with steeds and men, as if it were solid earth. The wayworn ladies had their ease and rest. Many good ships were lashed together, that neither waves nor flood might do them harm. Upon them many a goodly tent was spread, as if they still had both land and plain.

From thence tidings came to Etzelburg, [13] at which both men and wives therein were glad. Helca's meiny, that aforetime waited on their mistress, passed many a happy day thereafter at Kriemhild's side. There many a noble maid stood waiting, who had great grief through Helca's death. Kriemhild found still seven royal princesses there, through whom all Etzel's land was graced. For the meiny the high-born maiden Herrat [14] cared, the daughter of Helca's sister, beseen with many courtly virtues, the betrothed of Dietrich, a royal child, King Nentwin's [15] daughter; much worship she later had. Blithe of heart she was at the coming of the guests; for this, too, mighty treasures were prepared. Who might tell the tale of how the king held court? Never had men lived better among the Huns with any queen.

When that the king with his wife rode from the shore, the noble Kriemhild was told full well who each one was; she greeted them the better. Ho, how royally she ruled in Helca's stead! She became acquaint with much loyal service. Then the queen dealt out gold and vesture, silk and precious stones. Whatever she brought with her across the Rhine to Hungary must needs be given all away. All the king's kinsmen and all his liegemen then owned her service, so that Lady Helca never ruled so mightily as she, whom they now must serve till Kriemhild's death. The court and all the land lived in such high honors, that all time men found the pastimes which each heart desired, through the favor of the king and his good queen.


[1] "Kiev" (M.H.G. "Kiew") is now a government in the southwestern part of Russia. Its capital of the same name, situated on the Dnieper, is the oldest of the better known cities of Russia, and in the latter Middle Ages was an important station of the Hanseatic league.

[2] "Petschenegers", a Turkish tribe originally dwelling to the north of the Caspian. By conquest they acquired a kingdom extending from the Don to Transylvania. They were feared for their ferociousness and because they continually invaded the surrounding countries, especially Kiev.

[3] "Tulna (M.H.G. "Tulne") is the modern Tulln, a walled town of Lower Austria, seventeen milos northwest of Vienna on the Danube.

[4] "Ramung and Gibeck" (M.H.G. "Gibeche") appear only in our poem, nothing else is known of them.

[5] "Hornbog" is frequently mentioned in the "Thidreksaga", but nothing otherwise is known of him.

[6] "Hawart" is perhaps identical with the Saxon duke Hadugot, who is reputed to have played an important part in the conquest of Thuringia. He evidently comes from the Low German version.

[7] "Iring" is considered by Wilmanns to have been originally an ancient deity, as the Milky Way is called "Iringe straze" or "Iringi". He occurs in a legend of the fall of the Thuringian kingdom, where he played such a prominent role that the Milky Way was named after him. See W. Grimm, "Heldensage", p. 394, who thinks, however, that the connection of Iring with the Milky Way is the result of a confusion.

[8] "Irnfried" is considered to be Hermanfrid of Thuringia, who was overthrown and killed in A.D. 535 by Theuderich with the aid of the Saxons. See Felix Dahn, "Urgeschichte", iii, 73-79. He, too, comes from the Low German tradition.

[9] "Bloedel" is Bleda, the brother of Attila, with whom he reigned conjointly from A.D. 433 to 445. In our poem the name appears frequently with the diminutive ending, as "Bloedelin".

[10] "Werbel and Swemmel", who doubtless owe their introduction to some minstrel, enjoy special favor and are intrusted with the important mission of inviting the Burgundians to Etzel's court, an honor that would hardly be accorded to persons of their rank. Swemmel appears mostly in the diminutive form "Swemmelin".

[11] "Heimburg" lies on the Danube near the Hungarian border.

[12] "Misenburg" is the modern Wieselburg on the Danube, twenty-one miles southeast of Pressburg.

[13] "Etzelburg" was later identified with the old part of Budapest, called in German "Ofen", through the influence of Hungarish legends, but, as G. Heinrich has shown, had no definite localization in the older M.H.G. epics. See Bleyer, PB. Belt. xxxi 433 and 506. The name occurs in documents as late as the fifteenth century.

[14] "Herrat", the daughter of King "Nentwin" is frequently mentioned in the "Thidreksaga" as Dietrich's betrothed. She is spoken of as the exiled maid.

[15] "Nentwin" is not found in any other saga, and nothing else is known of him. See W. Grimm, "Heldensage", 103.



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