Part 5 out of 6
learnt what it was to fall. The crash of shafts resounded from
their fellowship. Hagen, who from the thrust afore had come to
earth, down on the grass, sprang up again. I trow, he was not
gentle of mood towards Gelfrat then. Who held their steeds, I
know not; both Hagen and Gelfrat had alighted on the sand and
rushed together. Their fellowship helped thereby and became
acquaint with strife. Albeit Hagen sprang at Gelfrat fiercely,
the noble margrave smote from his shield a mickle piece, so that
the sparks flew wide. Full nigh did Gunther's liegeman die
therefrom. He began to call to Dankwart: "O help, dear brother!
Certes, a hero of his hands hath matched me, he will not spare my
At this hold Dankwart spake: "I'll play the umpire here."
The hero then sprang nearer and with a sharp sword smote Gelfrat
such a blow that he fell down dead. Else then would fain avenge
the knight, but he and his fellowship parted from the fray with
scathe. His brother had been slain, he himself was wounded; full
eighty of his knights remained with grim death behind upon the
field. Their lord must needs turn in flight from Gunther's men.
When those from the Bavarian land gave way and fled, one heard
the savage blows resound behind them. Those of Troneg chased
their foes; they were in passing haste, who had not weened to
make amends. Then spake Dankwart, the knight, in their pursuit:
"Let us turn soon on this road and let them ride, for they be wot
with blood. Haste we to our friends, this I advise you of a
When they were come again, where the scathe had happed, Hagen
of Troneg spake: "Heroes, prove now what doth fail us here, or
whom we have lost in the strife through Gelfrat's wrath."
Four they had lost whom they must needs bewail. But they had
been paid for dearly; for them a hundred or better from the
Bavarian land were slain. From their blood the shields of the
men of Troneg were dimmed and wet. Through the clouds there
partly broke the gleam of the shining moon, as Hagen spake again:
"Let none make known to my dear lords what we have wrought here
to-day. Let them rest without care until the morn."
When those who just had fought were now come again, the
fellowship was full weary from the way. "How long must we still
ride?" asked many a man.
Then spake the bold Dankwart: "We may not find lodgings here, ye
must all ride until the day be come."
The doughty Folker, who had charge of the fellowship, bade ask
the marshal: "Where may we find a place to-night, where our
steeds may rest and our dear lords as well?"
Bold Dankwart answered: "I cannot tell you that, we may not rest
till it begin to dawn. Wherever then we find a chance, we'll lay
us down upon the grass."
How loth it was to some when they heard this tale! They remained
unmarked with their stains of warm red blood, until the sun shot
his gleaming light against the morn across the hills. Then the
king beheld that they had fought. Wrathfully the hero spake:
"How now, friend Hagen? I ween, ye scorned to have me with you
when your rings grew wet with blood? Who hath done this?"
Quoth he: "This Else did, who encountered us by night. We were
attacked because of his ferryman. Then my brother's hand smote
Gelfrat down. Else soon escaped us, constrained thereto by
mickle need. A hundred of them and but four of ours lay dead in
We cannot tell you where they laid them down to rest. All of the
folk of the land learned soon that the sons of the noble Uta rode
to court. Later they were well received at Passau. The uncle of
the noble king, the Bishop Pilgrim, was blithe of mood, as his
nephews came to his land with so many knights. That he bare them
good will, they learned full soon. Well were they greeted, too,
by friends along the way, sith men could not lodge them all at
Passau. They had to cross the stream to where they found a field
on which they set up pavilions and costly tents. All one day
they must needs stay there, and a full night too. What good
cheer men gave them! After that they had to ride to Rudeger's
land, to whom the tidings were brought full soon. When the way-
worn warriors had rested them and came nearer to the Hunnish
land, they found a man asleep upon the border, from whom Hagen of
Troneg won a sturdy sword. The same good knight hight Eckewart
(3) in truth; sad of mood he grew, that he lost his weapon
through the journey of the knights. They found Rudeger's marches
"Woe is me of this shame," spake Eckewart. "Certes this journey
of the Burgundians rueth me full sore. My joy hath fled, sith I
lost Knight Siegfried. Alas, Sir Rudeger, how I have acted
When Hagen heard the noble warrior's plight, he gave him back his
sword and six red arm bands. "These keep, Sir Knight, as a token
that thou art my friend. A bold knight thou art, though thou
standest alone upon the marches."
"God repay you for your arm bands," Eckewart replied. "Yet your
journey to the Huns doth rue me sore. Because ye slew Siegfried,
men hate you here. I counsel you in truth, that ye guard you
"Now may God protect us," answered Hagen. "These knights, the
kings and their liegemen, have forsooth no other care, save for
their lodgement, where we may find quarters in this land
to-night. Our steeds be spent by the distant way and our food
run out," quoth Hagen, the knight. "We find naught anywhere for
sale, and have need of a host, who through his courtesie would
give us of his bread to-night."
Then Eckewart made answer: "I'll show you a host so good that
full seldom have ye been lodged so well in any land, as here may
hap you, an' ye will seek out Rudeger, ye doughty knights. He
dwelleth by the highway and is the best host that ever owned a
house. His heart giveth birth to courtesie, as the sweet May
doth to grass and flowers. He is aye merry of mood, when he can
serve good knights."
At this King Gunther spake: "Will ye be my messenger and ask
whether my dear friend Rudeger will for my sake keep us, my
kinsmen and our men? I will repay thee this, as best I ever
"Gladly will I be the messenger," Eckewart replied. With a right
good will he gat him on the road and told Rudeger the message he
had heard, to whom none such pleasing news had come in many a
At Bechelaren men saw a knight pricking fast. Rudeger himself
descried him; he spake: "Upon the road yonder hasteth Eckewart,
a liegeman of Kriemhild."
He weened the foes had done him scathe. Before the gate he went
to meet the messenger, who ungirt his sword and laid it from his
hand. The tales he brought were not hidden from the host and his
friends, but were straightway told them. To the margrave he
spake: "Gunther, the lord of the Burgundian land, and Giselher,
his brother, and Gernot, too, have sent me hither to you. Each
of the warriors tendered you his service. Hagen and Folker, too,
eagerly did the same in truth. Still more I'll tell you, that
the king's marshal sendeth you by me the message, that the good
knights have passing need of your lodgement."
Rudeger answered with a smile: "Now well is me of these tales,
that the high-born kings do reck of my service. It shall not be
denied them. Merry and blithe will I be, an' they come unto my
"Dankwart, the marshal, bade let you know whom ye should lodge in
your house with them: sixty doughty champions, a thousand good
knights, and nine thousand men-at-arms."
Merry of mood grew Rudeger; he spake: "Now well is me of these
guests, that these noble warriors be coming to my house, whom I
have served as yet full seldom. Now ride ye forth for to meet
them, my kinsmen and my men."
Knights and squires now hied them to their horses; it thought
them right, which their lord did bid. All the more they hasted
with their service. As yet Lady Gotelind wist it not, who sate
within her bower.
(1) "Adventure XXVI". This adventure is a late interpolation,
as it is not found in the "Thidreksaga". Originally the
river must be thought of as separating them from Etzel's
(2) "Moering" (M.H.G. "Moeringen") lies between Pforing and
Ingolstadt. In the "Thidreksaga" we are told that the
mermaids were bathing in a body of water called "Moere",
whereas in our poem they bathe in a spring. This may be the
original form of the account and the form here contaminated.
See Boer, i, 134.
(3) "Eckewart", see Adventure I, note 15. It will be remembered
that he accompanied Kriemhild first to the Netherlands, then
stayed with her at Worms after Siegfried's death, and
finally journeyed with her to Etzel's court. Originally he
must be thought of as guarding the boundary of Etzel's land.
Without doubt he originally warned the Burgundians, as in
the early Norse versions, where Kriemhild fights on the side
of her brothers, but since this duty was given to Dietrich,
he has nothing to do but to announce their arrival to
Rudeger. His sleeping here may, however, be thought to
indicate that it was too late to warn Gunther and his men.
How They Came To Bechelaren.
Then the margrave went to where he found the ladies, his wife
with his daughter, and told them straightway the pleasing tidings
he had heard, that the brothers of their lady were coming thither
to their house. "My dearest love," quoth Rudeger, "ye must
receive full well the noble high-born kings, when they come here
to court with their fellowship. Ye must give fair greeting, too,
to Hagen, Gunther's man. With them there cometh one also, hight
Dankwart; the other is named Folker, well beseen with courtesie.
Ye and my daughter must kiss these and abide by the knights with
gentle breeding." This the ladies vowed; quite ready they were
to do it. From the chests they hunted out the lordly robes in
which they would go to meet the warriors. Fair dames were
passing busy on that day. Men saw but little of false colors on
the ladies' cheeks; upon their heads they wore bright bands of
gold. Rich chaplets (1) these were, that the winds might not
dishevel their comely hair, and this is true i' faith.
Let us now leave the ladies with these tasks. Much hasting over
the plain was done by Rudeger's friends, to where one found the
lordings, whom men then received well into the margrave's land.
When the margrave, the doughty Rudeger, saw them coming toward
him, how joyfully he spake: "Be ye welcome, fair sirs, and your
liegemen, too. I be fain to see you in my land." Low obeisance
the knights then made, in good faith, without all hate. That he
bare them all good will, he showed full well. Hagen he gave a
special greeting, for him had he known of yore. (2) To Folker
from Burgundy land he did the same. Dankwart he welcomed, too.
The bold knight spake: "Sith ye will purvey us knights, who shall
have a care for our men-at-arms whom we have brought?"
Quoth the margrave: "A good night shall ye have and all your
fellowship. I'll purvey such guard for whatever ye have brought
with you, of steeds and trappings, that naught shall be lost,
that might bring you harm, not even a single spur. Ye footmen
pitch the tents upon the plain. What ye lose I'll pay in full.
Take off the bridles, let the horses run."
Seldom had host done this for them afore. Therefore the guests
made merry. When that was done, the lordlings rode away and the
footmen laid them everywhere upon the grass. Good ease they had;
I ween, they never fared so gently on the way. The noble
margravine with her fair daughter was come out before the castle.
One saw stand by her side the lovely ladies and many a comely
maid. Great store of armlets and princely robes they wore. The
precious stones gleamed afar from out their passing costly weeds.
Fair indeed were they fashioned.
Then came the guests and alighted there straightway. Ho, what
great courtesie one found among the Burgundian men! Six and
thirty maids and many other dames, whose persons were wrought as
fair as heart could wish, went forth to meet them with many a
valiant man. Fair greetings were given there by noble dames.
The young margravine kissed all three kings, as did her mother,
too. Close at hand stood Hagen. Her father bade her kiss him,
but when she gazed upon him, he seemed so fearful that she had
fain left it undone. Yet she must needs perform what the host
now bade her do. Her color changed first pale then red.
Dankwart, too, she kissed, and then the minstrel. For his great
prowess was this greeting given. The young margravine took by
the hand Knight Giselher of the Burgundian land. The same her
mother did to Gunther, the valiant man. Full merrily they went
hence with the heroes. The host walked at Gernot's side into a
broad hall, where the knights and ladies sate them down. Soon
they bade pour out for the guests good wine. Certes, heroes
might never be better purveyed than they. Rudeger's daughter was
gazed upon with loving glances, so fair she was. Forsooth many a
good knight caressed her in his mind. And well did she deserve
this, so high she was of mood. The knights thought what they
would, but it might not come to pass. Back and forth shot the
glances at maids and dames. Of them sate there enow. The noble
fiddler bare the host good will.
Then they parted after the custom, knights and ladies going to
different sides. In the broad hall they set up the tables and
served the strangers in lordly wise. For the sake of the guests
the noble margravine went to table, but let her daughter stay
with the maidens, where she sate by right. The guests saw naught
of her, which irked them sore, in truth.
When they had eaten and drunk on every side, men brought the fair
again into the hall; nor were merry speeches left unsaid. Many
such spake Folker, this brave and lusty knight. Before them all
the noble minstrel spake: "Mighty margrave, God hath dealt full
graciously with you, for he hath given you a passing comely wife
and thereto a life of joy. An' I were a prince," quoth the
minstrel, "and should wear a crown, I would fain have to wife
your comely daughter. This my heart doth wish. She is lovely
for to see, thereto noble and good."
Then answered the margrave: "How might that be, that king should
ever crave the dear daughter of mine? My wife and I are exiles;
what booteth in such ease the maiden's passing comeliness?"
To this Gernot, the well-bred man, made answer: "An' I might have
a love after mine own desire, I should be ever glad of such a
Hagen, too, replied in full kindly wise: "My lord Giselher must
take a wife. The margravine is of such high kin that I and all
his liegemen would gladly serve her, should she wear a crown in
This speech thought Rudeger passing good, and Gotelind too,
indeed it joyed their mood. Then the heroes brought to pass that
the noble Giselher took her to wife, as did well befit a king.
Who may part what shall be joined together? Men prayed the
margravine to go to court, and swore to give him the winsome
maid. He, too, vowed to wed the lovely fair. For the maiden
they set castles and land aside, and this the hand of the noble
king did pledge with an oath, and Lord Gernot, too, that this
Then spake the margrave: "Sith I have naught of castles, I will
ever serve you with my troth. As much silver and gold will I
give my daughter, as an hundred sumpters may barely carry, that
it may please the hero's kin in honor."
After the custom men bade them stand in a ring. Over against her
many a youth stood, blithe of mood. In their minds they harbored
thoughts, as young folk still are wont to do. Men then gan ask
the winsome maid whether she would have the knight or no. Loth
in part she was, and yet she thought to take the stately man.
She shamed her of the question, as many another maid hath done.
Her father Rudeger counseled her to answer yes, and gladly take
him. In a trice young Giselher was at her side, and clasped her
in his white hands, albeit but little time she might enjoy him.
Then Spake the margrave: "Ye noble and mighty kings, when ye now
ride again (that is the custom) home to Burgundy, I will give you
my child, that ye may take her with you."
This then they vowed. Now men must needs give over all the noisy
joy. They bade the maiden hie her to her bower, and bade the
guests to sleep and rest them against the day. Meanwhile men
made ready the food; the host purveyed them well.
When now they had eaten, they would ride hence to the Hunnish
lands. "I'll guard against that well," spake the noble host.
"Ye must tarry still, for full seldom have I gained such welcome
To this Dankwart replied: "Forsooth this may not be. Where would
ye find the food, the bread and wine, that ye must have for so
many warriors another night?"
When the host heard this, he spake: "Give o'er this speech. My
dear lords, ye must not say me nay. Forsooth I'd give you
vittaile for a fortnight, with all your fellowship that is come
hither with you. King Etzel hath taken from me as yet full
little of my goods."
However much they demurred, still they must needs tarry there
until the fourth morning, when such deeds were done by the bounty
of the host that it was told after. He gave his guests both
mounts and robes. No longer might they stay, they must fare
forth. Through his bounty bold Rudeger wot how to save but
little. Naught was denied that any craved, it could not but
please them all. Their noble meiny now brought saddled before
the gate the many steeds, and to them came forth thee stranger
knights. In their hands they bare their shields, for they would
ride to Etzel's land. Before the noble guests come forth from
the hall, the host had proffered everywhere his gifts. He wist
how to live bountifully, in mickle honors. To Giselher he had
given his comely daughter; to Gunther, the worshipful knight, who
seldom took a gift, he gave a coat of mail, which the noble and
mighty king wore well with honor. Gunther bowed low over noble
Rudeger's hand. Then to Gernot he gave a weapon good enow, the
which he later bare full gloriously in strife. Little did the
margrave's wife begrudge him the gift, but through it good
Rudeger was forced to lose his life. Gotelind offered Hagen a
loving gift, as well befit her. He took it, sith the king had
taken one, that he should not fare forth from her to the
feasting, without her present. Later he gainsayed it. "Of all
that I have ever seen," quoth Hagen, "I crave to bear naught else
save that shield on yonder wall; fain would I take that with me
into Etzel's land."
When the margravine heard Hagen's speech, it minded her of her
grief -- tears became her well. She thought full dearly on
Nudung's (3) death, whom Wittich had slain; from this she felt
the stress of sorrow. To the knight she spake: "I'll give you
the shield. Would to God in heaven, that he still lived who bare
it once in hand. He met his death in battle; for him must I ever
weep, which giveth me, poor wife, dire woe."
The noble margravine rose from her seat and with her white hands
she seized the shield. To Hagen the lady bare it, who took it in
his hand. This gift was worthily bestowed upon the knight. A
cover of shining silk concealed its colors, for it was set with
precious stones. In sooth the daylight never shone on better
shield. Had any wished to buy it at its cost, 'twere well worth
a thousand marks. (4) Hagen bade the shield be borne away.
Then Dankwart came to court. To him the margrave's daughter gave
great store of rich apparel, the which he later wore among the
Huns in passing lordly wise. However many gifts were taken by
them, naught would have come into the hands of any, save through
the kindness of the host, who proffered them so fair. Later they
became such foes that they were forced to strike him dead.
Now the doughty Folker went courteously with his fiddle and stood
before Gotelind. He played sweet tunes and sang to her his
songs. Thus he took his leave and parted from Bechelaren. The
margravine bade fetch a chest. Now hear the tale of friendly
gifts! Twelve rings she took out and placed them on his hand.
"These ye must bear hence to Etzel's land and wear them at court
for my sake, whithersoever ye turn, that men may tell me how ye
have served me yonder at the feast." What the lady craved, he
later carried out full well.
Then spake the host to his guests: "Ye shall journey all the
gentlier, for I myself will guide you and bid guard you well,
that none may harm you on the road."
Then his sumpters were laden soon. The host was well beseen with
five hundred men with steeds and vesture. These he took with him
full merrily hence to the feasting. Not one of them later ever
came alive to Bechlaren. With a loving kiss the host parted
hence; the same did Giselher, as his gentle breeding counseled
him. In their arms they clasped fair wives. This many a high-
born maid must needs bewail in later times. On every side they
opened the casements, for the host with his liegemen would now
mount their steeds. I ween their hearts did tell them of the
bitter woes to come. Then wept many a dame and many a comely
maid. They pined for their dear kinsmen, whom nevermore they saw
in Bechelaren. Yet these rode merrily across the sand, down
along the Danube to the Hunnish land.
Then noble Rudeger, the full lusty knight, spake to the
Burgundians: "Certes, the tidings that we be coming to the Huns
must not be left unsaid, for king Etzel hath never heard aught
that pleased him more."
So down through Austria the envoy sped, and to the folk on every
side 'twas told that the heroes were coming from Worms beyond the
Rhine. Naught could have been liefer to the courtiers of the
king. On before the envoys hasted with the tidings, that the
Nibelungs were already in the Hunnish land.
"Thou must greet them well, Kriemhild, lady mine. Thy dear
brothers be coming in great state to visit thee."
Within a casement window Lady Kriemhild stood and looked out to
see her kin, as friend doth for friend. Many a man she spied
from her fatherland. The king, too, learned the tale and laughed
for very pleasure. "Now well is me of my joys," quoth Kriemhild,
"my kinsmen bring with them many a brand-new shield and white
coat of mail. He who would have gold, let him bethink him of my
sorrows, and I'll ever be his friend."
(1) "Chaplets", see Adventure 10, note 1.
(2) "Of yore", see Adventure 23, note 2.
(3) "Nudung" was slain, according to the "Thidreksaga", chap.
335, by "Vidg"a (here Wittich, M.H.G. "Witege", the son of
Wielant, the smith, in the battle of Gronsport. There,
chap. 369, he is Gotelind's brother, but in "Biterolf" and
the "Rosengarten" he is her son.
(4) "Marks", see Adventure V, note 5.
How The Burgundians Came To Etzel's Castle.
When the Burgundians were come to the land, old Hildebrand (1) of
Berne did hear the tale, and sore it rued him. He told his lord,
who bade him welcome well the lusty knights and brave. The
doughty Wolfhart (2) bade fetch the steeds; then many a sturdy
warrior rode with Dietrich, to where he thought to meet them on
the plain where they had pitched full many a lordly tent. When
Hagen of Troneg saw them riding from afar, to his lords he spake
in courteous wise: "Now must ye doughty warriors rise from your
seats and go to meet them, who would greet you here. Yonder
cometh a fellowship I know full well, they be full speedy knights
from the Amelung land, (3) whom the lord of Berne doth lead --
high-mettled warriors they. Scorn not the service that they
Then with Dietrich there alighted from the steeds, as was mickle
right, many a knight and squire. Towards the strangers they
went, to where they found the heroes; in friendly wise they
greeted those from the Burgundian land. Ye may now hear what Sir
Dietrich said to the sons of Uta, as he saw them coming toward
him. Their journey rued him sore; he weened that Rudeger wist
it, and had told them the tale. "Be ye welcome, fair sirs,
Gunther and Giselher, Gernot and Hagen, likewise Folker and the
doughty Dankwart. Know ye not that Kriemhild still mourneth
sorely for the hero of the Nibelung land?"
"Let her weep long time," quoth Hagen. "He hath lain these many
years, done to death. Let her love now the Hunnish king.
Siegfried cometh not again, he hath long been buried."
"Let us not talk of Siegfried's wounds, but if Kriemhild still
live, scathe may hap again," so spake Sir Dietrich, the lord of
Berne. "Hope of the Nibelungs, guard thee well against this."
"Why should I guard me?" spake the high-born king. "Etzel sent
us envoys (why should I question more?) to say that we should
ride to visit him, hither to this land. My sister Kriemhild sent
us many a message, too."
"Let me counsel you," quoth Hagen, "to beg Sir Dietrich and his
good knights to tell you the tidings further, and to let you know
the Lady Kriemhild's mood."
Then the three mighty kings, Gunther and Gernot and Sir Dietrich,
too, went and spake apart. "Pray tell us, good and noble knight
of Berne, what ye do know of the queen's mood?"
Answered the lord of Berne: "What more shall I tell you? Every
morning I hear King Etzel's wife wail and weep with piteous mind
to the mighty God of heaven over the stalwart Siegfried's death."
"That which we have heard," spake bold Folker, the fiddler,
"cannot be turned aside. We must ride to court and abide what
may hap to us doughty knights among the Huns."
The brave Burgundians now rode to court. In lordly wise they
came after the fashion of their land. Many a brave man among the
Huns wondered what manner of man Hagen of Troneg be. It was
enough that men told tales, that he had slain Kriemhild's husband
the mightiest of all heroes. For that cause alone much
questioning about Hagen was heard at court. The knight was fair
of stature, that is full true; broad he was across the breast;
his hair was mixed with gray; his legs were long, and fierce his
glance; lordly gait he had.
Then one bade lodge the Burgundian men, but Gunther's fellowship
was placed apart. This the queen advised, who bare him much
hate, and therefore men later slew the footmen in their lodgings.
Dankwart, Hagen's brother, he was marshal. The king earnestly
commended to him his followers, that he purvey them well and give
them enow to eat; The hero of Burgundy bare them all good will.
Kriemhild, the fair, went with her maids-in-waiting to where,
false of mood, she greeted the Nibelungs. Giselher alone she
kissed and took by the hand. That Hagen of Troneg saw, and bound
his helmet tighter. "After such a greeting," quoth Hagen,
"doughty knights may well bethink them. One giveth kings a
greeting different from their men. We have not made a good
journey to this feast." (4)
She spake: "Be welcome to him that be fain to see you; I greet
you not for your kinship. Pray tell me what ye do bring me from
Worms beyond the Rhine, that ye should be so passing welcome to
"Had I known," quoth Hagen, "that knights should bring you gifts,
I had bethought me better, for I be rich enow to bring you
presents hither to this land."
"Now let me hear the tale of where ye have put the Nibelung
hoard? It was mine own, as ye well know, and ye should have
brought me that to Etzel's land."
"I' faith, my Lady Kriemhild, it is many a day sith I have had
the care of the Nibelung hoard. My lords bade sink it in the
Rhine, and there it must verily lie till doomsday."
Then spake the queen: "I thought as much. Ye have brought full
little of it hither to this land, albeit it was mine own, and I
had it whilom in my care. Therefore have I all time so many a
"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to
carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the
sword is in my hand, therefore I bring yon naught."
Then the queen spake to the knights on every side: "One may not
bring weapons to the hall. Sir Knights, give them to me, I'll
have them taken in charge."
"I' faith," quoth Hagen, "never shall that be done. In sooth I
crave not the honor, O bounteous princess, that ye should bear my
shield and other arms to the lodgings; ye be a queen. This my
father did not teach me, I myself will play the chamberlain."
"Alack for my sorrows," spake Lady Kriemhild. "Why will Hagen
and my brother not let their shields be taken in charge? They be
warned, and wist I, who hath done this, I'd ever plan his death."
To this Sir Dietrich answered in wrath: "'Tis I, that hath warned
the noble and mighty princes and the bold Hagen, the Burgundian
liegeman. Go to, thou she-devil, thou durst not make me suffer
for the deed."
Sore abashed was King Etzel's wife, for bitterly she feared Sir
Dietrich. At once she left him, not a word she spake, but gazed
with furious glance upon her foes. Two warriors then grasped
each other quickly by the hand, the one was Sir Dietrich, the
other Hagen. With gentle breeding the lusty hero spake:
"Forsooth I rue your coming to the Huns, because of what the
queen hath said."
Quoth Hagen: "There will be help for that."
Thus the two brave men talked together. King Etzel saw this, and
therefore he began to query: "Fain would I know," spake the
mighty king, "who yonder warrior be, whom Sir Dietrich greeteth
there in such friendly wise. He carrieth high his head; whoever
be his father, he is sure a doughty knight."
A liegeman of Kriemhild made answer to the king: "By birth he is
from Troneg, his father hight Aldrian; however blithe he bear him
here, a grim man is he. I'll let you see full well that I have
told no lie."
"How shall I know that he be so fierce?" replied the king. As
yet he wist not the many evil tricks that the queen should later
play upon her kin, so that she let none escape from the Huns
"Well know I Aldrian, for he was my vassal (5) and here at my
court gained mickle praise and honor. I dubbed him knight and
gave hint of my gold. The faithful Helca loved him inly.
Therefore I have since known Hagen every whit. Two stately
youths became my hostages, he and Walther of Spain. (6) Here
they grew to manhood; Hagen I sent home again, Walther ran away
He bethought him of many tales that had happed of yore. He had
spied aright his friend of Troneg, who in his youth had given him
yeoman service. Later in his old age he did him many a dear
friend to death.
(1) "Hildebrand" is the teacher and armor bearer of Dietrich.
He is the hero of the famous "Hildebrandslied".
(2) "Wolfhart" is Hildebrand's nephew. In the "Thidreksaga" he
falls in the battle of Gronsport.
(3) "Amelung land" is the name under which Dietrich's land
appears. Theodorich, the king of the East Goths, belonged
to the race of the Amali.
(4) "Feast". That Kriemhild kissed only Giselher, who was
innocent of Siegfried's death, aroused Hagen's suspicions.
(5) "Vassal". No other account speaks of Aldrian as being at
Etzel's court. He is probably confused here with his son,
for Hagen's stay with Etzel in various legends, as also in
our poem a few lines further down.
(6) "Walther of Spain" is Walther of Aquitania, a legendary
personage of whom the O.E. fragment "Waldere", the Latin
epic "Waltharius", a M.H.G. epic, and the "Thidreksaga"
tell. He flees with Hildegund, the daughter of the
Burgundian King Herrich, from Etzel's court, as related
here, but has to fight for his life against overpowering
numbers, in the "Thidreksaga" against the pursuing Huns, in
the other sources against the Burgundians. In both cases
Hagen is among his foes, but takes no part in the fight at
first, out of friendship for Walther.
How Hagen Would Not Rise For Kriemhild.
Then the two worshipful warriors parted, Hagen of Troneg and Sir
Dietrich. Over his shoulder Gunther's liegeman gazed for a
comrade-at-arms, whom he then quickly won. Folker he saw, the
cunning fiddler, stand by Giselher, and begged him to join him,
for well he knew his savage mood. He was in all things a bold
knight and a good. Still they let the lordings stand in the
court, only these twain alone men saw walk hence far across the
court before a spacious palace. These chosen warriors feared the
hate of none. They sate them down upon a bench before the house
over against a hall, the which belonged to Kriemhild. Upon their
bodies shone their lordly weeds. Enow who gazed upon them would
than have known the knights; as wild beasts the haughty heroes
were stared upon by the Hunnish men. Etzel's wife, too, gazed
upon them through a window, at which fair Kriemhild waxed sad
again. Of her sorrows it minded her and she began to weep. Much
it wondered Etzel's men what had so quickly saddened her mood.
Quoth she: "That Hagen hath done, ye heroes brave and good."
To the lady they spake: "How hath that happed, for but newly we
did see you joyful? None there be so bold, an' he hath done you
aught, but it will cost him his life, if ye bid us venge you."
"Ever would I requite it, if any avenged my wrongs. I would give
him all he craved. Behold me at your feet," spake he queen;
"avenge me on Hagen, that he lose his life."
Then sixty bold men made them ready eftsoon for Kriemhild's sake.
They would hence to slay the bold knight Hagen and the fiddler,
too. With forethought this was done. When the queen beheld the
band so small, grim of mood she spake to the knights: "What ye
now would do, ye should give over. With so few durst ye never
encounter Hagen. And however strong and bold Hagen of Troneg be,
he who sitteth by his side, Folker, the fiddler, is stronger
still by far. He is an evil man. Certes, ye may not so lightly
match these knights."
When they heard this, four hundred doughty warriors more did make
them ready. The noble queen craved sore to do them harm.
Thereby the heroes later fell in mickle danger. When she saw her
followers well armed, the queen spake to the doughty knights:
"Now bide a while, ye must stand quite still in truth. Wearing
my crown, I will go to meet my foes. List ye to the wrongs that
Hagen of Troneg, Gunther's man, hath done me. I know him to be
so haughty that he'll not deny a whit. Little I reek what hap to
him on this account."
Then the fiddler, a bold minstrel, spied the noble queen walk
down the flight of steps that led downward from a house. When
bold Folker saw this, to his comrade-at-arms he spake: "Now
behold, friend Hagen, how she walketh yonder, who hath
faithlessly bidden us to this land. I have never seen with a
queen so many men bearing sword in hand march in such warlike
guise. Know ye, friend Hagen, whether she bear you hate? If so
be, I counsel you to guard the better your life and honor.
Certes, methinks this good. They be wroth of mood, as far as
I can see, and some be so broad of chest that he who would guard
himself should do so betimes. I ween there be those among them
who wear bright breastplates. Whom they would attack, I cannot
Then, angry of mood, the brave knight Hagen spake: "Well I wot
that all this be done against me, that they thus bear their
gleaming swords in hand. For aught of them, I still may ride to
the Burgundian land. Now tell me, friend Folker, whether ye will
stand by me, if perchance Kriemhild's men would fight me? Pray
let me hear that, if so be ye hold me dear. I'll aid you
evermore with faithful service."
"I'll help you surely," spake the minstrel; "and should I see the
king with all his warriors draw near us, not one foot will I
yield from fear in aiding you, the while I live."
"Now may God in heaven requite you, noble Folker; though they
strive against me, what need I more? Sith ye will help me, as I
hear you say, let these warriors come on full-armed."
"Let us rise now from our seats," spake the minstrel. "Let us do
her honor as she passeth by, she is a high-born dame, a queen.
We shall thereby honor ourselves as well."
"For my sake, no," quoth Hagen. "Should I go hence, these
knights would think 'twas through fear. Not for one of them will
I ever rise from my seat. It beseemeth us both better, forsooth,
to leave this undone, for why should I honor one who doth bear me
hatred? Nor will I do this, the while I live; I reck not how King
Etzel's wife doth hate me."
Haughty Hagen laid across his knees a gleaming sword from whose
pommel a sparkling jasper, greener than grass, did shine. Its
hilt was golden, its sheath an edging of red. That it was
Siegfried's, Kriemhild knew full well. She must needs grow sad
when that she knew the sword, for it minded her of her wrongs;
she began to weep. I ween bold Hagen had done it for this cause.
Folker, the bold, drew nearer to the bench a fiddle bow, strong,
mickle, and long, like unto a broad, sharp sword, and there the
two lusty knights sate undaunted. These two brave men did think
themselves so lordly, that they would not leave their seats
through fear of any man. The noble queen walked therefore to
their very feet and gave them hostile greeting. She spake: "Now
tell me, Hagen, who hath sent for you, that ye durst ride hither
to this land, sith ye know full well what ye have done me? Had
ye good wits, ye should have left it undone, by rights."
"No one sent for me," quoth Hagen. "Men bade to this land three
knights, who hight my lords. I am their liegeman, and full
seldom have I stayed behind when they journeyed to any court."
Quoth she: "Now tell me further, why ye did this, through the
which ye have earned my hate? Ye slew Siegfried, my dear
husband, for which I have cause enow to weep until mine end."
Quoth he: "What booteth more, enow is already said. It is just
I, Hagen, who slew Siegfried, a hero of his hands. How sorely
did he atone that Lady Kriemhild railed at comely Brunhild. 'Tis
not to be denied, O mighty queen, I alone am to blame for this
scathful scathe. (1) Let him avenge it who will, be he wife or
man. Unless be I should lie to you, I have dons you much of
Quoth she: "Now hear, ye knights, how he denieth no whit of my
wrongs. Men of Etzel, I care not what hap to him from this
The proud warriors all gazed at one another. Had any began the
fight, it would have come about that men must have given the
honors to the two comrades, for they had oft wrought wonders in
the fray. What the Huns had weened to do must now needs be left.
undone through fear.
Then spake one of the men-at-arms: "Why gaze ye thus at me? What
I afore vowed, I will now give over. I will lose my life for no
man's gift. Forsooth King Etzel's wife would fain lead us into
Quoth another hard by: "Of the selfsame mind am I. An' any give
me towers of good red gold, I would not match this fiddler, for
his fearful glances, the which I have seen him cast. Hagen, too,
I have known from his youthful days, wherefore men can tell me
little of this knight. I have seen him fight in two and twenty
battles, through which woe of heart hath happed to many a dame.
He and the knight from Spain trod many a war path, when here at
Etzel's court they waged so many wars in honor of the king. Much
this happed, wherefore one must justly honor Hagen. At that time
the warrior was of his years a lad. How gray are they who then
were young! Now is he come to wit and is a man full grim.
Balmung, (2) too, he beareth, the which he won in evil wise."
Therewith the strife was parted, so that no one fought, which
mightily rued the queen. The warriors turned them hence; in
sooth they feared their death at the fiddler's hands, and surely
they had need of this. Then spake the fiddler: "We have now well
seen that we shall find foes here, as we heard tell afore. Let
us go to court now to the kings, then dare none match our lords
in fight. how oft a man doth leave a thing undone through fear,
the which he would not do, when friend standeth by friend in
friendly (3) wise, an' he have good wits. Scathe to many a man
is lightly warded off by forethought."
Quoth Hagen: "Now will I follow you."
They went to where they found the dapper warriors standing in the
court in a great press of welcoming knights.
Bold Folker gan speak loudly to his lords: "How long will ye
stand and let yourselves be jostled? Ye must go to court and
hear from the king of what mind he be."
Men then saw the brave heroes and good pair off. The prince of
Berne took by the hand the mighty Gunther of Burgundian land.
Irnfried (4) took the brave knight Gernot, while Rudeger was seen
to go to court with Giselher. But however any paired, Folker and
Hagen never parted, save in one fray, when their end was come,
and this noble ladies must needs greatly bewail in after time.
With the kings one saw go to court a thousand brave men of their
fellowship, thereto sixty champions that were come with them,
whom the bold Hagen had taken from his land. Hawart and Iring,
(5) two chosen men, were seen to walk together near the kings.
Men saw Dankwart and Wolfhart, a peerless knight, display their
chivalry before all eyes.
When the lord of the Rhine had entered the hall, the mighty Etzel
delayed no longer, but sprang from his throne when he saw him
come. Never did so fair a greeting hap from any king. "Be
welcome, Sir ,Gunther, and Sir Gernot, too, and your brother
Giselher. I sent you truly my faithful service to Worms beyond
the Rhine. All your fellowship, too, I welcome. Now be ye
passing welcome, ye two knights, Folker, the brave, and Sir Hagen
likewise, to me and to my lady, here in this our land. She sent
you many a messenger to the Rhine."
Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "I heard much talk of that, and were
I not come to the Huns for the sake of my lords, I should have
ridden in your honor to this land."
The noble host then took his dear guests by the hand and led them
to the settle where he sate himself. Busily they poured out for
the guests in broad bowls of gold, mead, morat, (6) and wine and
bade those far from home be welcome. Then spake King Etzel: "Let
me tell you this; it might not liefer hap to me in all this
world, than through you heroes, that ye be come to see me.
Through this much sadness is also taken from the queen.
Me-wondereth greatly what I have done you noble strangers, that
ye never recked to come into my land. My sadness is turned to
joy, since now I see you here."
To this Rudeger, a high-mettled knight, made answer: "Ye may be
glad to see them. Good is the fealty which the kinsmen of my
lady wot how to use so well. They bring also to your house many
a stately knight."
Upon a midsummer's eve the lords were come to the court of the
mighty Etzel. Seldom hath there been heard such lofty greeting
as when he welcomed the heroes. When now the time to eat was
come, the king went with them to the board. Never did host sit
fairer with his guests. Men gave them meat and drink to the
full. All that they craved stood ready for them, for mickle
wonders had been told about these knights.
(1) "Scathful scathe" here imitates the M.H.G. "scaden
(2) "Balmung", see Adventure III, note 7.
(3) "friend . . . friendly". This repetition occurs in the
(4) "Irnfried", see Adventure XXII, note 8.
(5) "Hawart" and "Iring", Adventure XXII, notes 6 and 7.
(6) "Morat" (M.H.G. "moraz") from late Latin "moratum", mulberry
wine, is a beverage composed of honey flavored with
How They Kept The Watch.
The day had now an end, and the night drew nigh. Care beset the
wayworn travelers, as to when they should go to bed and rest
them. This Hagen bespake with Etzel, and it was told them soon.
Gunther spake to the host: "God be with you, we would fain go to
our sleep, pray give us leave. We will come early on the morrow,
whensoever ye bid."
Etzel parted then full merrily from his guests. Men pressed the
strangers on every side, at which brave Folker spake to the Huns:
"How dare ye crowd before the warriors' feet? An' ye will not
leave this, ye will fare full ill. I'll smite some man so heavy
a fiddle blow, that if he have a faithful friend he may well
bewail it. Why give ye not way before us knights? Methinks
'twere well. All pass for knights, but be not of equal mettle."
As the fiddler spake thus in wrath, Hagen, the brave, looked
behind him. He spake: "The bold gleeman doth advise you right,
ye men of Kriemhild, ye should hie you to your lodgings. I ween
none of you will do what ye are minded, but would ye begin aught,
come early on the morrow, and let us wanderers have peace
to-night. Certes, I ween that it hath never happed with such
good will on the part of heroes."
Then the guests were brought into a spacious hall, which they
found purveyed on every side with costly beds, long and broad,
for the warriors. Lady Kriemhild planned the very greatest
wrongs against them. One saw there many a cunningly wrought
quilt from Arras (1) of shining silken cloth and many a coverlet
of Arabian silk, the best that might be had; upon this ran a
border that shone in princely wise. Many bed covers of ermine
and of black sable were seen, beneath which they should have
their ease at night, until the dawn of day. Never hath king lain
so lordly with his meiny.
"Alas for these night quarters," spake Giselher, the youth, "and
alas for my friends, who be come with us. However kindly my
sister greeted us, yet I do fear me that through her fault we
must soon lie dead."
"Now give over your care," quoth Hagen, the knight. "I'll stand
watch myself to-night. I trow to guard us well, until the day
doth come. Therefore have no fear; after that, let him survive
All bowed low and said him gramercy. Then went they to their
beds. A short while after the stately men had laid them down,
bold Hagen, the hero, began to arm him. Then the fiddler, Knight
Folker, spake: "If it scorn you not, Hagen, I would fain hold the
watch with you to-night, until the early morn."
The hero then thanked Folker in loving wise: "Now God of heaven
requite you, dear Folker. In all my cares, I would crave none
other than you alone, whenever I had need. I shall repay you
well, and death hinder me not."
Both then donned their shining armor and either took his shield
in hand, walked out of the house and stood before the door. Thus
they cared for the guests in faithful wise. The doughty Folker
leaned his good shield against the side of the hall, then turned
him back and fetched his fiddle and served his friends as well
befit the hero. Beneath the door of the house he sate him down
upon a stone; bolder fiddler was there never. When the tones of
the strings rang forth so sweetly, the proud wanderers gave
Folker thanks. At first the strings twanged so that the whole
house resounded; his strength and his skill were both passing
great. Then sweeter and softer he began to play, and thus many a
care-worn man he lulled to sleep. When he marked that all had
fallen asleep, the knight took again his shield and left the room
and took his stand before the tower, and there he guarded the
wanderers against Kriemhild's men.
'Twas about the middle of the night (I know not but what it
happed a little earlier), that bold Folker spied the glint of a
helmet afar in the darkness. Kriemhild's men would fain have
harmed the guests. Then the fiddler spake: "Sir Hagen, my
friend, it behooveth us to bear these cares together. Before the
house I see armed men stand, and err I not, I ween, they would
"Be silent," quoth Hagen, "let them draw nearer before they be
ware of us. Then will helmets be dislodged by the swords in the
hands of us twain. They will be sent back to Kriemhild in evil
One of the Hunnish warriors (full soon that happed) marked that
the door was guarded. How quickly then he spake: "That which we
have in mind may not now come to pass. I see the fiddler stand
on guard. On his head he weareth a glittering helmet, shining
and hard, strong and whole. His armor rings flash out like fire.
By him standeth Hagen; in sooth the guests be guarded well."
Straightway they turned again. When Folker saw this, wrathfully
he spake to his comrade-at-arms: "Now let me go from the house to
the warriors. I would fain put some questions to Lady
"For my sake, no," quoth Hagen. "If ye leave the house, the
doughty knights are like to bring you in such stress with their
swords, that I must aid you even should it be the death of all my
kin. As soon as we be come into the fray, twain of them, or
four, would in a short time run into the house and would bring
such scathe upon the sleepers, that we might never cease to
Then Folker answered: "Let us bring it to pass that they note
that I have seen them, so that Kriemhild's men may not deny that
they would fain have acted faithlessly."
Straightway Folker then called out to them: "How go ye thus
armed, ye doughty knights? Would ye ride to rob, ye men of
Kriemhild? Then must ye have the help of me and my comrade-at-
To this none made reply. Angry grew his mood. "Fy! Ye evil
cowards," spake the good knight, "would ye have murdered us
asleep? That hath been done full seldom to such good heroes."
Then the queen was told that her messengers had compassed naught.
Rightly it did vex her, and with wrathful mood she made another
plan. Through this brave heroes and good must needs thereafter
(1) "Arras", the capital of Artois in the French Netherlands.
In older English "arras" is used also for tapestry.
ADVENTURE XXXI. (1)
How They Went To Church.
"My coat of mail groweth cold," said Folker. "I ween the night
hath run its course. By the air I mark that day is near."
Then they waked the many knights who still lay sleeping. The
light of dawn shone into the hall upon the strangers. On all
sides Hagen gan wake the warriors, if perchance they would fain
go to the minster for mass. Men now loudly rang the bells in
Christian fashion. Heathens and Christians did not sing alike,
so that it was seen full well that they were not as one.
Gunther's liegemen now would go to church, and all alike had
risen from their beds. The champions laced them into such goodly
garments, that never did hero bring better clothes to the land of
any king. This vexed Hagen. He spake: "Heroes, ye should wear
here other clothes. Certes, ye know full well the tales.
Instead of roses, bear weapons in your hands; instead of jeweled
chaplets, your bright helms and good, sith ye know full well the
wicked Kriemhild's mood. Let me tell you, we must fight to-day,
so instead of silken shirts, wear hauberks, and instead of rich
cloaks, good shields and broad, so that if any grow angry with
you, ye be full armed. Dear my lords, and all my kin and
liegemen, go willingly to church and make plaint to the mighty
God of your fears and need, for know full sure that death draweth
nigh us. Nor must ye forget to confess aught that ye have done
and stand full zealously before your God. Of this I warn you,
noble knights, unless God in heaven so will, ye'll never more
So the princes and their liegemen went to the minster. In the
holy churchyard bold Hagen bade them halt, that they might not
be parted. He spake: "Of a truth none knoweth what will hap to
us from the Huns. Place, my friends, your shields before your
feet, and if any proffer you cold greeting, repay it with deep
and mortal wounds. That is Hagen's counsel, that ye may so be
found as doth befit your honor."
Folker and Hagen, the twain, then hied them to the spacious
minster. This was done that the queen might press upon them in
the crowd. Certes, she was passing grim. Then came the lord of
the land and his fair wife, her body adorned with rich apparel;
Doughty warriors, too, were seen to walk beside her. One saw the
dust rise high from Kriemhild's band. When mighty Etzel spied
the kings and their fellowship thus armed, how quick he spake:
"Why do I see my friends thus go with helmets? Upon my troth, it
grieveth me, and hath any done them aught, I shall gladly make
amends, as doth think them good. Hath any made heavy their
hearts or mood, I'll show them well, that it doth irk me much. I
am ready for whatever they command me."
To this Hagen answered: "None hath done us aught; it is the
custom of my lordings that they go armed at all high feasts for
full three days. We should tell Etzel, had aught been done us."
Kriemhild heard full well what Hagen spake. How right hostilely
she gazed into his eyes! She would not tell the custom of their
land, albeit she had known it long in Burgundy. However grim and
strong the hate she bare them, yet had any told Etzel the truth,
he would have surely hindered what later happed. Because of
their great haughtiness they scorned to tell him. When the great
crowd went past with the queen, these twain, Hagen and Folker,
would not step back more than two hand-breadths, the which irked
the Huns. Forsooth they had to jostle with the lusty heroes.
This thought King Etzel's chamberlains not good. Certes, they
would have fain angered the champions, but that they durst not
before the noble king. So there was much jostling, but nothing
When they had worshiped God and would hence again, many a Hunnish
warrior horsed him passing soon, At Kriemhild's side stood many
a comely maid, and well seven thousand knights rode with the
queen. Kriemhild with her ladies sate her down at the easements
by the side of the mighty Etzel, which was him lief, for they
would watch the lusty heroes joust. Ho, what stranger knights
rode before them in the court! Then was come the marshal with
the squires. Bold Dankwart had taken to him his lord's retainers
from the Burgundian land; the steeds of the Nibelungs they found
well saddled. When now the kings and their men were come to
horse, stalwart Folker gan advise that they should ride a joust
after the fashion of their land. At this the heroes rode in
lordly wise; none it irked what the knight had counseled. The
hurtling and the noise waxed loud, as the many men rode into the
broad court. Etzel and Kriemhild themselves beheld the scene.
To the jousts were come six hundred knights of Dietrich's men to
match the strangers, for they would have pastime with the
Burgundians. Fain would they have done it, had he given them
leave. Ho, what good champions rode in their train! The tale
was told to Sir Dietrich and he forbade the game with Gunther's
men; he feared for his liegemen, and well he might.
When those of Berne had departed thence, there came the men of
Rudeger from Bechelaren, five hundred strong, with shields,
riding out before the hall. It would have been lief to the
margrave, had they left it undone. Wisely he rode then to them
through the press and said to his knights, that they were ware
that Gunther's men were evil-minded toward them. If they would
leave off the jousting, it would please him much. When now these
lusty heroes parted from them, then came those of Thuringia, as
we are told, and well a thousand brave men from Denmark. From
the tilting one saw many truncheons (2) flying hence. Irnfried
and Hawart now rode into the tourney. Proudly those from the
Rhine awaited them and offered the men of Thuringia many a joust.
Many a lordly shield was riddled by the thrusts. Thither came
then Sir Bloedel with three thousand men. Well was he seen of
Etzel and Kriemhild, for the knightly sports happed just before
the twain. The queen saw it gladly, that the Burgundians might
come to grief. Schrutan (3) and Gibecke, Ramung and Hornbog, (4)
rode into the tourney in Hunnish wise. To the heroes from
Burgundian land they addressed them. High above the roof of the
royal hall the spear-shafts whirled. Whatever any there plied,
'twas but a friendly rout. Palace and hall were heard resounding
loud through the clashing of the shields of Gunther's men. With
great honor his meiny gained the meed. Their pastime was so
mickle and so great, that from beneath the housings of the good
steeds, which the heroes rode, there flowed the frothy sweat. In
haughty wise they encountered with the Huns.
Then spake the fiddler, Folker the minstrel: "I ween these
warriors dare not match us. I've aye heard the tale, that they
bear us hate, and forsooth it might never fortune better for them
than now." Again Folker spake: "Let our steeds be now led away
to their lodgings and let us joust again toward eventide, and
there be time. Perchance the queen may accord to the Burgundians
Then one was seen riding hither so proudly, that none of all the
Huns could have done the like. Certes, he must have had a
sweetheart on the battlements. As well attired he rode as the
bride of any noble knight. At sight of him Folker spake again:
"How could I give this over? This ladies' darling must have a
buffet. None shall prevent me and it shall cost him dear. In
truth I reck not, if it vex King Etzel's wife."
"For my sake, No," spake straightway King Gunther. "The people
will blame us, if we encounter them. 'Twill befit us better far,
an' we let the Huns begin the strife."
King Etzel was still sitting by the queen.
"I'll join you in the tourney," quoth Hagen then. "Let the
ladies and the knights behold how we can ride. That will be
well, for they'll give no meed to King Gunther's men."
The doughty Folker rode into the lists again, which soon gave
many a dame great dole. His spear he thrust through the body of
the dapper Hun; this both maid and wife were seen thereafter to
bewail. Full hard and fast gan Hagen and his liegemen and sixty
of his knights ride towards the fiddler, where the play was on.
This Etzel and Kriemhild clearly saw. The three kings would not
leave their minstrel without guard amidst the foe. Cunningly a
thousand heroes rode; with haughty bearing they did whatso they
would. When now the wealthy Hun was slain, men heard his kin cry
out and wail. All the courtiers asked: "Who hath done this
"That the fiddler did, Folker, the valiant minstrel."
The margrave's kindred from the Hunnish land called straightway
for their swords and shields, and would fain have done Folker to
death. Fast the host gan hasten from the windows. Great rout
arose from the folk on every side. The kings and their
fellowship, the Burgundian men, alighted before the hall and
drove their horses to the rear. Then King Etzel came to part the
strife. From the hand of a kinsman of the Hun he wrenched a
sturdy weapon and drove them all back again, for full great was
his wrath. "Why should my courtesie to these knights go all for
naught? Had ye slain this minstrel at my court," spake King
Etzel, "'twere evil done. I saw full well how he rode, when he
thrust through the Hun, that it happed through stumbling, without
any fault of his. Ye must let my guests have peace."
Thus he became their safe-guard. To the stalls men led away the
steeds; many a varlet they had, who served them well with zeal in
every service. The host now hied him to his palace with his
friends, nor would he let any man grow wroth again. Then men set
up the tables and bare forth water for the guests. Forsooth the
men from the Rhine had there enow of stalwart foes. 'Twas long
before the lords were seated.
Meanwhile Kriemhild's fears did trouble her passing sore. She
spake: "My lord of Berne, I seek thy counsel, help, and favor,
for mine affairs do stand in anxious wise."
Then Hildebrand, a worshipful knight, made answer to her: "And
any slay the Nibelungs for the sake of any hoard, he will do it
without my aid. It may well repent him, for they be still
unconquered, these doughty and lusty knights."
Then Spake Sir Dietrich in his courteous wise: "Let be this wish,
O mighty queen. Thy kinsmen have done me naught of wrong, that I
should crave to match these valiant knights in strife. Thy
request honoreth thee little, most noble queen, that thou dost
plot against the life of thy kinsfolk. They came in hope of
friendship to this land. Siegfried will not be avenged by
When she found no whit of faithlessness in the lord of Berne,
quickly she promised Bloedel a broad estate, that Nudung (5)
owned aforetime. Later he was slain by Hagen, so that he quite
forgot the gift. She spake: "Thou must help me, Sir Bloedel,
forsooth my foes be in this house, who slew Siegfried, my dear
husband. Ever will I serve him, that helpeth me avenge this
To this Bloedel replied: "My lady, now may ye know that because
of Etzel I dare not, in sooth, advise to hatred against them, for
he is fain to see thy kinsmen at his court. The king would ne'er
forget it of me, and I did them aught of wrong."
"Not so, Sir Bloedel, for I shall ever be thy friend. Certes,
I'll give thee silver and gold as guerdon and a comely maid, the
wife of Nudung, whose lovely body thou mayst fain caress. I'll
give thee his land and all his castles, too, so that thou mayst
always live in joy, Sir knight, if thou dost now win the lands
where Nudung dwelt. Faithfully will I keep, whatso I vow to thee
When Sir Bloedel heard the guerdon, and that the lady through her
beauty would befit him well, he weened to serve the lovely queen
in strife. Because of this the champion must needs lose his
life. To the queen he spake: "Betake you again to the hall, and
before any be aware, I'll begin a fray and Hagen must atone for
what he hath done you. I'll deliver to you King Gunther's
liegeman bound. Now arm you, my men," spake Bloedel. "We must
hasten to the lodgings of the foes, for King Etzel's wife doth
crave of me this service, wherefore we heroes must risk our
When the queen left Bloedel in lust of battle, she went to table
with King Etzel and his men. Evil counsels had she held against
the guests. Since the strife could be started in no other wise
(Kriemhild's ancient wrong still lay deep buried in her heart),
she bade King Etzel's son be brought to table. How might a woman
ever do more ghastly deed for vengeance' sake? Four of Etzel's
men went hence anon and bare Ortlieb, (6) the young prince, to
the lordings' table, where Hagen also sat. Because of this the
child must needs die through Hagen's mortal hate.
When now the mighty king beheld his son, kindly he spake to the
kinsmen of his wife: "Now see, my friends, this is the only son
of me and of your sister. This may be of profit to you all, for
if he take after his kinsmen, he'll become a valiant man, mighty
and noble, strong and fashioned fair. Twelve lands will I give
him, and I live yet a while. Thus may the hand of young Ortlieb
serve you well. I do therefore beseech you, dear friends of
mine, that when ye ride again to your lands upon the Rhine, ye
take with you your sister's son and act full graciously toward
the child, and bring him up in honor till he become a man. Hath
any done you aught in all these lands, he'll help you to avenge
it, when he groweth up."
This speech was also heard by Kriemhild, King Etzel's wife.
"These knights might well trust him," quoth Hagen, "if he grew to
be a man, but the young prince doth seem so fey, (7) that I shall
seldom be seen to ride to Ortlieb's court."
The king glanced at Hagen, for much the speech did irk him; and
though the gentle prince said not a word, it grieved his heart
and made him heavy of his mood. Nor was Hagen's mind now bent on
pastime. But all the lordings and the king were hurt by what
Hagen had spoken of the child; it vexed them sore, that they
were forced to hear it. They wot not the things as yet, which
should happen to them through this warrior.
(1) "Adventure XXXI". This adventure is of late origin, being
found only in our poem. See the introduction.
(2) "Truncheons", see Adventure II, note 8.
(3) "Schrutan". This name does not occur elsewhere. Piper
suggests, that perhaps a Scotchman is meant, as "Skorottan"
appears in the "Thidreksaga", chap. 28, as an ancient name
(4) "Gibecke", "Ramung" and "Hornbog", see Adventure XXII, notes
4 and 5.
(5) "Nudung", see Adventure XXVII, note 3.
(6) "Ortlieb". In the "Thidreksaga" Etzel's son is called
Aldrian. There, however, he is killed because he strikes
Hagen in the face, here in revenge for the killing of the
(7) "Fey", see Adventure V, note 2.
ADVENTURE XXXII (1)
How Bloedel Was Slain.
Full ready were now Bloedel's warriors. A thousand hauberks
strong, they hied them to where Dankwart sate at table with the
squires. Then the very greatest hate arose among the heroes.
When Sir Bloedel drew near the tables, Dankwart, the marshal,
greeted him in courteous wise. "Welcome, Sir Bloedel, in our
house. In truth me-wondereth at thy coming. What doth it mean?"
"Forsooth, thou needst not greet me," so spake Bloedel; "for this
coming of mine doth mean thine end. Because of Hagen, thy
brother, by whom Siegfried was slain, thou and many other knights
must suffer here among the Huns."
"Not so, Sir Bloedel," quoth Dankwart, "else this journey to your
court might rue us sore. I was but a little child when Siegfried
lost his life. I know not what blame King Etzel's wife could put
"Of a truth, I wot not how to tell you of these tales; thy
kinsmen, Gunther and Hagen, did the deed. Now ward you, ye
wanderers, ye may not live. With your death must ye become
"And ye will not turn you," quoth Dankwart, "then do my
entreaties rue me; they had better far been spared."
The doughty knight and brave sprang up from the table; a sharp
weapon, mickle and long, he drew and dealt Bloedel so fierce a
sword-stroke that his head lay straightway at his feet. "Let
that be thy marriage morning gift," (2) spake Dankwart, the
knight, "for Nudung's bride, whom thou wouldst cherish with thy
love. They call betroth her to another man upon the morn.
Should he crave the dowry, 'twill be given to him eftsoon." A
faithful Hun had told him that the queen did plan against them
such grievous wrongs.
When Bloedel's men beheld their lord lie slain, no longer would
they stand this from the guests. With uplifted swords they
rushed, grim of mood, upon the youthful squires. Many a one did
rue this later. Loudly Dankwart called to all the fellowship:
"Ye see well, noble squires, how matters stand. Now ward you,
wanderers! Forsooth we have great need, though Kriemhild asked
us here in right friendly wise."
Those that had no sword reached down in front of the benches and
lifted many a long footstool by its legs. The Burgundian squires
would now abide no longer, but with the heavy stools they dealt
many bruises through the helmets. How fiercely the stranger
youths did ward them! Out of the house they drove at last the
men-at-arms, but five hundred of them, or better, stayed behind
there dead. The fellowship was red and wot with blood.
These grievous tales were told now to Etzel's knights; grim was
their sorrow, that Bloedel and his men were slain. This Hagen's
brother and his squires had done. Before the king had learned
it, full two thousand Huns or more armed them through hatred and
hied them to the squires (this must needs be), and of the
fellowship they left not one alive. The faithless Huns brought a
mickle band before the house. Well the strangers stood their
ground, but what booted their doughty prowess? Dead they all
must lie. Then in a few short hours there rose a fearful dole.
Now ye may hear wonders of a monstrous thing. Nine thousand
yeomen lay there slain and thereto twelve good knights of
Dankwart's men. One saw him stand alone still by the foe. The
noise was hushed, the din had died away, when Dankwart, the hero,
gazed over his shoulders. He spake: "Woe is me, for the friends
whom I have lost! Now must I stand, alas, alone among my foes."
Upon his single person the sword-strokes fell thick and fast.
The wife of many a hero must later mourn for this. Higher he
raised his shield, the thong he lowered; the rings of many an
armor he made to drip with blood. "Woe is me of all this
sorrow," quoth Aldrian's son. (3) "Give way now, Hunnish
warriors, and let me out into the breeze, that the air may cool
me, fight-weary man."
Then men saw the warrior walk forth in full lordly wise. As the
strife-weary man sprang from the house, how many added swords
rang on his helmet! Those that had not seen what wonders his
hand had wrought sprang towards the hero of the Burgundian land.
"Now would to God," quoth Dankwart, "that I might find a
messenger who could let my brother Hagen know I stand in such a
plight before these knights. He would help me hence, or lie dead
at my side."
Then spake the Hunnish champions: "Thou must be the messenger
thyself, when we bear thee hence dead before thy brother. For
the first time Gunther's vassal will then become acquaint with
grief. Passing great scathe hast thou done King Etzel here."
Quoth he: "Now give over these threats and stand further back, or
I'll wot the armor rings of some with blood. I'll tell the tale
at court myself and make plaint to my lords of my great dole."
So sorely he dismayed King Etzel's men that they durst not
withstand him with their swords, so they shot such great store of
darts into his shield that he must needs lay it from his hand
for very heaviness. Then they weened to overpower him, sith he
no longer bare a shield. Ho, what deep wounds he struck them
through their helmets! From this many a brave man was forced to
reel before him, and bold Dankwart gained thereby great praise.
From either side they sprang upon him, but in truth a many of
them entered the fray too soon. Before his foes he walked, as
doth a boar to the woods before the dogs. How might he be more
brave? His path was ever wot with recking' blood. Certes, no
single champion might ever fight better with his foes than he had
done. Men now saw Hagen's brother go to court in lordly wise.
Sewers (4) and cupbearers heard the ring of swords, and full many
a one cast from his hand the drink and whatever food he bare to
court. Enow strong foes met Dankwart at the stairs.
"How now, ye sewers," spake the weary knight. "Forsooth ye
should serve well the guests and bear to the lords good cheer and
let me bring the tidings to my dear masters."
Those that sprang towards him on the steps to show their prowess,
he dealt so heavy a sword-stroke, that for fear they must needs
stand further back. His mighty strength wrought mickle wonders.
(1) Adventure XXXII. The details of the following scenes differ
materially in the various sources. A comparative study of
them will be found in the works of Wilmanns and Boer.
(2) "Marriage morning gift" (M.H.G. "morgengabe") was given by
the bridegroom to the bride on the morning after the
wedding. See Adventure XIX, note 1.
(3) "Aldrian's son", i.e., Dankwart.
(4) "Sewers" (O.F. "asseour", M.L. "adsessor" 'one who sets the
table'; cf. F. "asseoir" 'to set', 'place', Lat. "ad
sedere"), older English for an upper servant who brought on
and removed the dishes from the table.
How The Burgundians Fought The Huns.
When brave Dankwart was come within the door, he bade King
Etzel's meiny step aside. His garments dripped with blood and in
his hand he bare unsheathed a mighty sword. Full loud he called
out to the knight: "Brother Hagen, ye sit all too long, forsooth.
To you and to God in heaven do I make plaint of our woe. Our
knights and squires all lie dead within their lodgements."
He called in answer: "Who hath done this deed?"
"That Sir Bloedel hath done with his liegemen, but he hath paid
for it dearly, as I can tell you, for with mine own hands I
struck off his head."
"It is but little scathe," quoth Hagen, "if one can only say of a
knight that he hath lost his life at a warrior's hands. Stately
dames shall mourn him all the less. Now tell me, brother
Dankwart, how comes it that ye be so red of hue? Ye suffer from
wounds great dole, I ween. If there be any in the land that hath
done you this, 'twill cost his life, and the foul fiend save him
"Ye see me safe and sound; my weeds alone are wot with blood.
This hath happed from wounds of other men, of whom I have slain
so many a one to-day that, had I to swear it, I could not tell
"Brother Dankwart," he spake, "guard us the door and let not a
single Hun go forth. I will hold speech with the warriors, as
our need constraineth us, for our meiny lieth dead before them,
"If I must be chamberlain," quoth the valiant man, "I well wet
how to serve such mighty kings and will guard the stairway, as
doth become mine honors." Naught could have been more loth to
"Much it wondereth me," spake Hagen, "what the Hunnish knights be
whispering in here. I ween, they'd gladly do without the one
that standeth at the door, and who told the courtly tale to us
Burgundians. Long since I have heard it said of Kriemhild, that
she would not leave unavenged her dole of heart. Now let us
drink to friendship (1) and pay for the royal wine. The young
lord of the Huns shall be the first."
Then the good knight Hagen smote the child Ortlieb, so that the
blood spurted up the sword towards his hand and the head fell
into the lap of the queen. At this there began a murdering, grim
and great, among the knights. Next he dealt the master who
taught the child a fierce sword-stroke with both his hands, so
that his head fell quickly beneath the table to the ground. A
piteous meed it was, which he meted out to the master. Hagen
then spied a gleeman sitting at King Etzel's board. In his wrath
he hied him thither and struck off his right hand upon the
fiddle. "Take this as message to the Burgundian land."
"Woe is me of my hand," spake the minstrel Werbel. "Sir Hagen of
Troneg, what had I done to you? I came in good faith to your
masters' land. How can I now thrum the tunes, sith I have lost
Little recked Hagen, played he nevermore. In the hall he dealt
out fierce deadly wounds to Etzel's warriors, passing many of
whom he slew. Enow of folk in the house he did to death. The
doughty Folker now sprang up from the board; loud rang in his
hands his fiddle bow. Rudely did Gunther's minstrel play. Ho,
what foes he made him among the valiant Huns! The three noble
kings, too, sprang up from the table. Gladly would they have
parted the fray, or ever greater scathe was done. With all their
wit they could not hinder it, when Folker and Hagen gan rage so
sore. When that the lord of the Rhine beheld the fray unparted,
the prince dealt his foes many gaping wounds himself through the
shining armor rings. That he was a hero of his hands, he gave
great proof. Then the sturdy Gernot joined the strife. Certes,
he did many a hero of the Huns to death with a sharp sword, the
which Rudeger had given him. Mighty wounds he dealt King Etzel's
warriors. Now the young son of Lady Uta rushed to the fray.
Gloriously his sword rang on the helmets of Etzel's warriors from
the Hunnish land. Full mickle wonders were wrought by bold
Giselher's hand. But how so doughty they all were, the kings and
their liegemen, yet Folker was seen to stand before them all
against the foe; a good hero he. Many a one he made to fall in
his blood through wounds. Etzel's men did fend them, too, full
well, yet one saw the strangers go hewing with their gleaming
swords through the royal hall and on every side was heard great
sound of wail. Those without would now fain be with their
friends within, but at the entrance towers they found small gain.
Those within had gladly been without the hall, but Dankwart let
none go either up or down the steps. Therefore there rose before
the towers a mighty press, and helmets rang loudly from the
sword-blows. Bold Dankwart came into great stress thereby; this
his brother feared, as his loyalty did bid him.
Loudly then Hagen called to Folker: "See ye yonder, comrade, my
brother stand before the Hunnish warriors amid a rain of blows?
Friend, save my brother, or ever we lose the knight."
"That will I surely," quoth the minstrel, and through the palace
he went a-fiddling, his stout sword ringing often in his hand.
Great thanks were tendered by the warriors from the Rhine. Bold
Folker spake to Dankwart: "Great discomfiture have ye suffered
to-day, therefore your brother bade me hasten to your aid. Will
ye stand without, so will I stand within."
Sturdy Dankwart stood without the door and guarded the staircase
against whoever came, wherefore men heard the swords resound in
the heroes' hands. Folker of Burgundy land performed the same
within. Across the press the bold fiddler cried: "Friend Hagen,
the hall is locked; forsooth King Etzel's door is bolted well.
The hands of two heroes guard it, as with a thousand bars." When
Hagen of Troneg beheld the door so well defended, the famous hero
and good slung his shield upon his back and gan avenge the wrongs
that had been done him there. His foes had now no sort of hope
When now the lord of Berne, the king of the Amelungs, (2) beheld
aright that the mighty Hagen broke so many a helm, upon a bench
he sprang and spake: "Hagen poureth out the very worst of
The host, too, was sore adread, as behooved him now, for his life
was hardly safe from these his foes. O how many dear friends
were snatched away before his eyes! He sate full anxious; what
booted it him that he was king? Haughty Kriemhild now cried
aloud to Dietrich: "Pray help me hence alive, most noble knight,
by the virtues of all the princes of the Amelung land. If Hagen
reach me, I shall grasp death by the hand."
"How shall I help you, noble queen?" spake Sir Dietrich. "I fear
for myself in sooth. These men of Gunther be so passing wroth
that at this hour I cannot guard a soul."
"Nay, not so, Sir Dietrich, noble knight and good. Let thy
chivalrous mood appear to-day and help me hence, or I shall die."
Passing great cause had Kriemhild for this fear.
"I'll try to see if I may help you, for it is long since that I
have soon so many good knights so bitterly enraged. Of a truth I
see blood spurting through the helmets from the swords."
Loudly the chosen knight gan call, so that his voice rang forth
as from a bison's horn, until the broad castle resounded with his
force. Sir Dietrich's strength was passing great in truth.
When Gunther heard this man cry out in the heated strife, he
began to heed. He spake: "Dietrich's voice hath reached mine
ears, I ween our champions have bereft him of some friend
to-day. I see him on the table, he doth beckon with his hand.
Ye friends and kinsmen from Burgundian land, give over the
strife. Let's hear and see what here hath fortuned to the knight
from my men-at-arms."
When Gunther thus begged and bade in the stress of the fray, they
sheathed their swords. Passing great was his power, so that none
struck a blow. Soon enow he asked the tidings of the knight of
Berne. He spake: "Most noble Dietrich, what hath happed to you
through these my friends? I am minded to do you remedy and to
make amends. If any had done you aught, 'twould grieve me sore,"
Then spake Sir Dietrich: "Naught hath happed to me, but I pray
you, let me leave this hall and this fierce strife under your
safe-guard, with my men. For this favor I will serve you ever."
"How entreat ye now so soon," quoth Wolfhart (3) then. "Forsooth
the fiddler hath not barred the door so strong, but what we may
open it enow to let us pass."
"Hold your tongue," spake Sir Dietrich; "the devil a whit have ye
Then: spake King Gunther: "I will grant your boon. Lead from the
hall as few or as many as ye will, save my foes alone; they must
remain within. Right ill have they treated me in the Hunnish
When Dietrich heard these words, he placed his arm around the
high-born queen, whose fear was passing great. On his other side
he led King Etzel with him hence; with Dietrich there also went
six hundred stately men.
Then spake the noble Margrave Rudeger: "Shall any other who would
gladly serve you come from this hall, let us hear the tale, and
lasting peace shall well befit good friends."
To this Giselher of the Burgundian land replied: "Peace and
friendship be granted you by us, sith ye are constant in your
fealty. Ye and all your men, ye may go hence fearlessly with
these your friends."
When Sir Rudeger voided the hall, there followed him, all told,
five hundred men or more, kinsmen and vassals of the lord of
Bechelaren, from whom King Gunther later gained great scathe.
Then a Hunnish champion spied Etzel walking close by Dietrich.
He, too, would take this chance, but the fiddler dealt him such a
blow that his head fell soon before King Etzel's feet. When the
lord of the land was come outside the house, he turned him about
and gazed on Folker. "Woe is me of these guests. This is a
direful need, that all my warriors should lie low in death before
them. Alas for the feasting," quoth the noble king. "Like a
savage boar there fighteth one within, hight Folker, who is a
gleeman. I thank my stars that I escaped this fiend. His glees
have an evil sound, the strokes of his how draw blood; forsooth
his measures fell many a hero dead. I wot not, with what this
minstrel twitteth us, for I have never had such baleful guest."
They had permitted whom they would to leave the hall. Then there
arose within a mighty uproar; sorely the guests avenged what
there had happed them. Ho, what helmets bold Folker broke! The
noble King Gunther turned him toward the sound. "Hear ye the
measures, Hagen, which Folker yonder fiddleth with the Huns, when
any draweth near the towers? 'Tis a blood-red stroke he useth
with the bow."
"It rueth me beyond all measure," quoth Hagen, "that in this hall
I sate me down to rest before the hero did. I was his comrade
and he was mine; and come we ever home again, we shall still be
so, in loyal wise. Now behold, most noble king, Folker is thy
friend, he earneth gladly thy silver and thy gold. His fiddle
bow doth cut through the hardest steel, on the helmets he
breaketh the bright and shining gauds! (4) Never have I seen
fiddler stand in such lordly wise as the good knight Folker hath
stood to-day. His glees resound through shield and helmet.
Certes he shall ride good steeds and wear lordly raiment."
Of all the kinsmen of the Huns within the hall, not one of these
remained alive. Thus the clash of arms died out, since none
strove with them longer. The lusty knights and bold now laid
aside their swords.
(1) "Friendship" translates the M.H.G. "minne trinken" 'to drink
to the memory of a person', an old custom originating with
the idea of pouring out a libation to the gods. Later it
assumed the form of drinking to the honor of God, of a
saint, or of an absent friend. See Grimm, "Mythologie", p.
(2) "Amelungs", see Adventure XXVIII, note 3.
(3) "Wolfhart", see Adventure XXVIII, note 2.
(4) "Gauds", ornaments.
How They Cast Out The Dead.
The lordings sate them down for weariness. Folker and Hagen came
forth from the hall; upon their shields the haughty warriors
leaned. Wise words were spoken by the twain. Then Knight
Giselher of Burgundy spake: "Forsooth, dear friends, ye may not
ease you yet; ye must bear the dead from out the hall. I'll tell
you, of a truth, we shall be attacked again. They must no longer
lie here beneath our feet. Ere the Huns vanquish us by storm,
we'll yet how wounds, which shall ease my heart. For this,"
quoth Giselher, "I have a steadfast mind."
"Well is me of such a lord," spake then Hagen. "This rede which
my young master hath given us to-day would befit no one but a
knight. At this, Burgundians, ye may all stand glad."
Then they followed the rede, and to the door they bare seven
thousand dead, the which they cast outside. Down they fell
before the stairway to the hall, and from their kinsmen rose a
full piteous wall. Some there were with such slight wounds that,
had they been more gently treated, they would have waxed well
again; but from the lofty fall, they must needs lie dead. Their
friends bewailed this, and forsooth they had good cause.
Then spake Folker, the fiddler, a lusty knight: "Now I mark the
truth of this, as hath been told me. The Huns be cravens, like
women they wail; they should rather nurse these sorely wounded
A margrave weened, he spake through kindness. Seeing one of his
kinsmen lying in the blood, he clasped him in his arms and would
have borne him hence, when the bold minstrel shot him above the
dead to death. The flight began as the others saw this deed, and
all fell to cursing this selfsame minstrel. He snatched javelin,
sharp and hard, the which had been hurled at him by a Hun, and
cast it with might across the court, far over the folk. Thus he
forced Etzel's warriors to take lodgement further from the hall.
On every side the people feared his mighty prowess.
Many thousand men now stood before the hall. Folker and Hagen
gan speak to Etzel all their mind, wherefrom these heroes bold
and good came thereafter into danger. Quoth Hagen: "'Twould well
beseem the people's hope, if the lords would fight in the
foremost ranks, as doth each of my lordings here. They hew
through the helmets, so that the blood doth follow the sword."
Etzel was brave; he seized his shield. "Now fare warily," spake
Lady Kriemhild, "and offer the warriors gold upon your shield.
If Hagen doth but reach you there, ye'll be hand in hand with
The king was so bold he would not turn him back, the which doth
now seldom hap from so mighty a lord. By his shield-thong they
had to draw him hence. Once again grim Hagen began to mock him.
"It is a distant kinship," quoth Hagen, the knight, "that bindeth
Etzel and Siegfried. He loved Kriemhild, or ever she laid eyes
on thee. Most evil king, why dost thou plot against me?"
Kriemhild, the wife of the noble king, heard this speech; angry
she grew that he durst thus revile her before King Etzel's
liegemen. Therefore she again began to plot against the
strangers. She spake: "For him that slayeth me Hagen of Troneg
and bringeth me his head, I will fill King Etzel's shield with
ruddy gold, thereto will I give him as guerdon many goodly lands
"Now I know not for what they wait," spake the minstrel. "Never
have I seen heroes stand so much like cowards, when one heard
proffered such goodly wage. Forsooth King Etzel should never be
their friend again. Many of those who so basely eat the
lording's bread, and now desert him in the greatest need, do I
see stand here as cravens, and yet would pass for brave. May
shame ever be their lot!"
How Iring Was Slain.
Then cried Margrave Iring of Denmark: "I have striven for honor
now long time, and in the storm of battle have been among the
best. Now bring me my harness, for in sooth I will encounter me
"I would not counsel that," spake Hagen, "but bid the Hunnish
knights stand further back. If twain of you or three leap into
the hall, I'll send them back sore wounded down the steps."
"Not for that will I give it over," quoth Iring again. "I've
tried before such daring things; in truth with my good sword I
will encounter thee alone. What availeth all thy boasting, which
thou hast done in words?"
Then were soon arrayed the good Knight Iring and Irnfried of
Thuringia, a daring youth, and the stalwart Hawart and full a
thousand men. Whatever Iring ventured, they would all fain give
him aid. Then the fiddler spied a mighty troop, that strode
along well armed with Iring. Upon their heads they bare good
helmets. At this bold Folker waxed a deal full wroth of mood.
"See ye, friend Hagen, Iring striding yonder, who vowed to match
you with his sword alone? How doth lying beseem a hero? Much
that misliketh me. There walk with him full a thousand knights
or more, well armed."
"Say not that I lie," spake Hawart's liegeman. "Gladly will I
perform what I have vowed, nor will I desist therefrom through
any fear. However frightful Hagen be, I will meet him single-
On his knees Iring begged both kinsmen and vassals to let him
match the knight alone. This they did unwillingly, for well they
knew the haughty Hagen from the Burgundian land. But Iring
begged so long that at last it happed. When the fellowship
beheld his wish and that he strove for honor, they let him go.
Then a fierce conflict rose between the twain. Iring of Denmark,
the peerless high-born knight, bare high his spear and covered
him with his shield. Swiftly he rushed on Hagen before the hall,
while a great shout arose from all the knights around. With
might and main they cast the spears with their hands through the
sturdy shields upon their shining armor, so that the shafts
whirled high in air. Then the two brave men and fierce reached
for their swords. Bold Hagen's strength was mickle and great,
but Iring smote him, that the whole hall rang. Palace and towers
resounded from their blows, but the knight could not achieve his
Iring now left Hagen stand unharmed, and hied him to the fiddler.
He weened to fell him by his mighty blows, but the stately knight
wist how to guard bin, well. Then the fiddler struck a blow,
that the plates of mail whirled high above the buckler's rim. An
evil man he was, for to encounter, so Iring let him stand and
rushed at Gunther of the Burgundian land. Here, too, either was
strong enow in strife. The blows that Gunther and Iring dealt
each other drew no blood from wounds. This the harness hindered,
the which was both strong and good.
He now let Gunther be, and ran at Gernot, and gan hew sparks of
fire from his armor rings. Then had stalwart Gernot of Burgundy
nigh done brave Iring unto death, but that he sprang away from
the prince (nimble enow he was), and slew eftsoon four noble
henchmen of the Burgundians from Worms across the Rhine. At this
Giselher might never have waxed more wroth. "God wot, Sir
Iring," spake Giselher, the youth, "ye must pay me weregild (1)
for those who have fallen dead this hour before you."
Then at him he rushed and smote the Dane, so that he could not
stir a step, but sank before his hands down in the blood, so that
all did ween the good knight would never deal a blow again in
strife. But Iring lay unwounded here before Sir Giselher. From
the crashing of the helmet and the ringing of the sword, his wits
had grown so weak that the brave knight no longer thought of
life. Stalwart Giselher had done this with his might. When now
the ringing gan leave his head, the which he had suffered from
the mighty stroke, he thought: "I am still alive and nowhere
wounded. Now first wot I of Giselher's mighty strength." On
either side he heard his foes. Wist they the tale, still more
had happed him. Giselher, too, he marked hard by; he bethought
him, how he might escape his foes. How madly he sprang up from
the blood! Well might he thank his nimbleness for this. Out of
the house he ran to where he again found Hagen, whom he dealt a
furious blow with his powerful hand.
Hagen thought him: "Thou art doomed. Unless be that the foul
fiend protect thee, thou canst not escape alive."
Yet Iring wounded Hagen through his crest. This the hero wrought
with Waska, (2) a passing goodly sword. When Sir Hagen felt the
wound, wildly he brandished his weapon in his hand. Soon
Hawart's liegeman was forced to yield his ground, and Hagen gan
pursue him down the stairs. Brave Iring swung his shield above
his head, but had the staircase been the length of three, Hagen
would not have let him strike a blow the while. Ho, what red
sparks did play above his helmet!
Iring returned scatheless to his liegemen. Then the tidings were
brought to Kriemhild, of that which he had wrought in strife
with Hagen of Troneg. For this the queen gan thank him highly.
"Now God requite thee, Iring, thou peerless hero and good. Thou
hast comforted well my heart and mind. I see that Hagen's weeds
be wot with blood." For very joy Kriemhild herself relieved him
of his shield.
"Be not too lavish of your thanks," spake Hagen. "'Twould well
befit a knight to try again. A valiant man were he, if he then
came back alive. Little shall the wound profit you, which I have
at his bands; for that ye have seen the rings wot with blood from
my wound doth urge me to the death of many a man. Now first am I
enraged at Hawart's liegeman. Small scathe hath Knight Iring
done me yet."
Meanwhile Iring of Denmark stood in the breeze; he cooled his
harness and doffed his casque. All the folk then praised his
prowess, at which the margrave was in passing lofty mood. Again
Sir Iring spake: "My friends, this know; arm me now quickly, for
I would fain try again, if perchance I may not conquer this
His shield was hewn to pieces, a better one he gained; full soon
the champion was armed again. Through hate he seized a passing
heavy spear with which he would encounter Hagen yonder. Meantime
the death-grim man awaited him in hostile wise. But Knight Hagen
would not abide his coming. Hurling the javelin and brandishing
his sword, he ran to meet him to the very bottom of the stairs.
Forsooth his rage was great. Little booted Iring then his
strength; through the shields they smote, so that the flames rose
high in fiery blasts. Hagen sorely wounded Hawart's liegeman
with his sword through shield and breastplate. Never waxed he
well again. When now Knight Iring felt the wound, higher above
his helmet bands he raised his shield. Great enow he thought the
scathe he here received, but thereafter King Gunther's liegeman
did him more of harm. Hagen found a spear lying now before his
feet. With this he shot Iring, the Danish hero, so that the
shaft stood forth from his head. Champion Hagen had given him a
bitter end. Iring must needs retreat to those of Denmark. Or
ever they unbound his helmet and drew the spear-shaft from his
head, death had already drawn nigh him. At this his kinsmen
wept, as forsooth they had great need.
Then the queen came and bent above him. She gan bewail the
stalwart Iring and bewept his wounds, indeed her grief was
passing sharp. At this the bold and lusty warrior spake before
his kinsmen: "Let be this wail, most royal queen. What availeth
your weeping now? Certes, I must lose my life from these wounds
I have received. Death will no longer let me serve you and
Etzel." To the men of Thuringia and to those of Denmark he
spake: "None of you must take from the queen her shining ruddy
gold as meed, for if ye encounter Hagen, ye must gaze on death."
Pale grew his hue; brave Iring bare the mark of death. Dole enow
it gave them, for no longer might Hawart's liegeman live. Then
the men of Denmark must needs renew the fray. Irnfried and
Hawart with well a thousand champions leaped toward the hall. On
every side one heard a monstrous uproar, mighty and strong. Ho,
what sturdy javelins were cast at the Burgundian men! Bold
Irnfried rushed at the minstrel, but gained great damage at his
hands. Through his sturdy helmet the noble fiddler smote the
landgrave. Certes, he was grim enow! Then Sir Irnfried dealt
the valiant gleeman such a blow that his coat of mail burst open
and his breastplate was enveloped with a bright red flame. Yet
the landgrave fell dead at the minstrel's hands. Hawart and
Hagen, too, had come together. Wonders would he have seen, who
beheld the fight. The swords fell thick and fast in the heroes'
hands. Through the knight from the Burgundian land Hawart needs
must die. When the Thuringians and the Danes espied their
lordings dead, there rose before the hall a fearful strife,
before they gained the door with mighty hand. Many a helm and
shield was hacked and cut thereby.
"Give way," spake Folker, "and let them in, for else what they
have in mind will not be ended. They must die in here in full
short time. With death they'll gain what the queen would give
When these overweening men were come into the hall, the head of
many a one sank down so low that he needs must die from their
furious strokes. Well fought the valiant Gernot, and the same
did Giselher, the knight . A thousand and four were come into the
hall and many a whizzing stroke of the swords was seen flash
forth, but soon all the warriors lay slain therein. Mickle
wonders might one tell of the Burgundian men. The hall grew
still, as the uproar died away. On every side the dead men's
blood poured through the openings down to the drain-pipes. This
the men from the Rhine had wrought with their passing strength.
Those from the Burgundian land now sate them down to rest and
laid aside their swords and shields. But still the valiant
minstrel stood guard before the hall. He waited, if any would
perchance draw near again in strife. Sorely the king made wail,
as did the queen. Maids and ladies were distraught with grief.
Death, I ween, had conspired against them, wherefore many of the
warriors perished through the guests.
(1) "Weregild" (O.E. "wer", 'a man', "gild", 'payment of
money'), legal term for compensation paid for a man killed.
(2) "Waska". In "Biterolf" it is the name of the sword of
Walther of Wasgenstein and is connected with the old German
name, "Wasgenwald", for the Vosges.
How The Queen Gave Orders To Burn the Hall.
"Now unbind your helmets," spake the good Knight Hagen. "I and
my comrade will guard you well, and should Etzel's men be minded
to try again, I'll warn my lords as soon as I ever can."
Then many a good knight bared his head. They sate them down upon
the wounded, who had fallen in the blood, done to death at their
hands. Evil looks were cast upon the noble strangers. Before
the eventide the king and the queen brought it to pass that the
Hunnish champions tried again. Men saw full twenty thousand
warriors stand before them, who must perforce march to the fray.
Straightway there rose a mighty storming towards the strangers.
Dankwart, Hagen's brother, the doughty knight, sprang from his
lordings' side to meet the foes without the door. All weened
that he were dead, yet forth he stood again unscathed. The
furious strife did last till nightfall brought it to a close. As
befitted good knights, the strangers warded off King Etzel's
liegemen the livelong summer day. Ho, how many a bold knight
fell doomed before them! This great slaughter happed upon
midsummer's day, when Lady Kriemhild avenged her sorrow of heart
upon her nearest kin and upon many another man, so that King
Etzel never again gained joy.
The day had passed away, but still they had good cause for fear.
They thought, a short and speedy death were better for them, than
to be longer racked with monstrous pain. A truce these proud and
lusty knights now craved; they begged that men would bring the
king to see them. Forth from the hall stepped the heroes, bloody
of hue, and the three noble kings, stained from their armor.
They wist not to whom they should make plaint of their mighty