Part 3 out of 6
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
(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
He had these come before him and bade them carry tidings to
Siegfried's land. To their delight Brunhild did give them full
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
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
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
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
"That will I gladly," quoth she, "for I have good cause to be her
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
(1) "Meiny" (M.E. "meiny", O.F. "mesnee"), 'courtiers', 'serving
(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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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 oť 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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
(2) "Ure-oxen", the auerochs, or European bison, now practically
(3) "Shelk" (M.H.G. "schelch"), probably a species of giant
(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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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",
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.