Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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Samson

1

Here the saga starts with a knight born in the town of Salerni. A powerful jarl named Rodger ruled there with his brother Brunstein. The jarl had a daughter named Hildeswid, and the jarl and all men in the town loved her very much,

A knight was named Samson, who served the jarl well, and he was honoured as he deserved. Knight Samson loved Hildeswid and wanted to win her favour, whether with good or with evil.

2

One day the jarl was at dinner and Samson served him. Then the jarl sent the best dishes from his table to his daughter Hildeswid on silver platters, and Samson took them to Hildeswid's castle together with his squire. Then he told his squire: Go and take my horse and arms, and all my treasure, and stand ready with them until I come.

Now Samson asked the one who guarded the door to let him in, and the man did so. Then Samson went into the castle to the highest tower, where Hildeswid had dinner. And he greeted her, and they received him well and invited him to dine with them. He did so and then told them why he came He apparently says he wants to take Hildeswid away, but the saga doesn't say so..

And shortly after, when dinner was done, she took her jewelry and said to her companions feminine: Now knight Samson has come to take me away against my father's and my relatives' will, and how can we withstand him? For even if there were a hundred knights here, he would still do as he pleased. And so I took my possessions with me, although it is a great dishonour to go from here and separate myself from my father and relatives. But please keep this a secret for as long as you can, because Samson is such a great warrior he'll kill a great many men who would be sent after them.

Then Samson took the jarl's daughter in his arms and carried her from the castle, but all the women stayed behind weeping. And when he came to the court garðinn his squire was there with two horses, one saddled and one with his treasure. Samson armed himself, mounted, and took his wife in his lap. Then they rode forth from the castle on a long road that came to an uninhabited forest. He built a house and there they stayed for a long time.

3

Several days later jarl Rodger learned that his daughter had been taken, and who had done it and how. He did not know how to take revenge, but had all of Samson's lands burned down, banished him from his realm, and told all his men to kill him on sight.

When Samson heard about this he rode from the forest to the jarl's holdings, burned them, and killed many people and cattle, and everyone who came in his way fled. But when he returned to the forest jarl Rodger and sixty men came to him. As soon as Samson saw them he turned his horse and rode towards them with spear and sword, shield and armour. And on his first hit he drove his spear through a knight's breast so that it exited between the shoulders and he was thrown far onto the field. Then Samson drew his sword and with his first hit he killed the jarl's banner bearer under the left armpit so that he went through his breast and also right through the banner pole, and on his right he hit a man in his back so that his sword went right through him and the man fell down in two parts. And now he hit the jarl himself so that his helmet and armour split, and he also severed the horse's head so that jarl and horse fell dead. And in a short while he killed fifteen men and did not receive any wounds, and the others fled.

Now Samson went back into the forest to his wife, and stayed there for a while. But the knights went back to Salerni and told about the death of the jarl and fifteen knights, and now Salerni was without a ruler.

4

The same day Brunstein, jarl Rodger's brother, called a meeting þing and made hisemf king over the entire realm that Rodger had possessed. Now Brunstein rode many days with many men to find Samson, but Samson valiantly rode into the king's possessions and killed people and took loot.

This feud had gone on for two winters when king Brunstein with a hundred knights but did not find him. And at night he came to a castle in the forest and stayed there. But at midnight Samson came there all alone, and the castle was closed and the guards asleep. Samson went to a small village close to the castle, where poor people lived. He tied his horse and set a house on fire, and took a burning branch and threw it into the castle which is apparently made of wood, and quickly all buildings were burning and the guards awoke. They woke the entire castle sating that the enemy was within, and everyone took his arms and told the others to hurry. This noise also reached the king, who hurried out of the castle and rode away with six knights into the forest. Everyone assumed an army had attacked the castle because there was so much noise and blaring of horns, and thus they frightened themselves most of all. Then all fled, on horse or foot, armed or not, and some undressed, and Samson killed many of them.

5

Now Brunstein rode in the forest and came to a house, where a woman stood, and he recognised his kinswoman Hildeswid. He asked her what she was doing here and where her lover was and if she wanted to come with him, and she said she lived in this small house, and Samson rode forth last night, and she didn't know where. Then she asked what he was doing so deep in the forest at night, and where his night camp was, and Samson had told her that from here it would take an entire day to reach the forest's edge. And Brunstein told her what had happened.

Hildeswid thought it had been Samson who had burned the castle and killed the men, but Brunstein said was crazy to think Samson alone could have done that. And she should take her clothes and belongings and come with him, because she had stayed here long enough to the shame of her relatives.

She refused to come with him because she knew he'd do something else quickly not entirely clear and he should turn his horse and now talk to the one who had come to speak with him. And Brunstein turned and saw that Samson was riding towards him. And they both took their swords, and Samson split Brunstein's helmet and head so that the sword ended up in his armpit, and with his next blow he hit a knight in the armpit, and he ran through the third knight with his sword. The rest fled, but Samson chased them until he had slain another two, and the last one got away with a heavy wound. This man went back to the castle and told everyone what had happened. All said that Samson was an incomparable knight.

Now Samson went back to his wife and said: I've been in this forest for too long, and I don't want to hide from my enemies any more. So take your possession and perpare yourself. Then he took three horses and loaded them with treasure, a fourth one for Hildeswid and a fifth one for himself.

6

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

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

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

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

7

Soon after duke Samson rode with five knights and a large retinue to another town that was richer and more populated. He sent men to tell the inhabitants to either surrender or defend themselves.

When the inhabitants heard this they held a meeting of prominent citizens, I assume, and then a meeting of the full people Check translation. Von der Hagen seems to add things that are not in Jónsson's text, and there one of the notable citizens held a long speech about Samson and how he was good to his friends but a bad enemy, and how he had paid back jarl Rodger and king Brunstein. And how could they keep their town safe when even such mightly lords had fallen before Samson? He ended with: And now I counsel to receive him the best we can. Many others agreed, and no one was so bold as to speak against it.

And when duke Samson rode into the town all gates were opened, and he rode in with his entire army. And a general meeting þing, finally; this chapter hasn't used that word before and they surrendered the town to him and all lands and castles belonging to it. Also, the townsmen offered him the king's name konungs nafn. Does this mean the title of king, or an actual name that the king bore? Right here it seems to mean the first, but see also 41.. But he replied that he wouldn't accept that title until he had planted his banner in Salerni. In this town he stayed for five days.

8

When duke Samson rode from this town he had two thousand knights and a large retinue of other people. He led this army onto the road to Salerni, and all towns and castles on the way surrendered. He sent messengers to Salerni that he wanted to occupy the town peacefully or with violence. When the townsmen heard this they became worried, and they held a meeting with the leading citizens and the wise men, and this went on for several days before a decision was taken.

And when the townspeople hard that the duke had come near the town the rode out with their weapons and banners, and all manner of harps, violins, and drums, and praises retranslate. And when they neared the duke they dismounted, first the chief townsmen and then the knights, and told him they wanted to give the town into his power. The duke thanked them, and everyone remounted and followed the duke to the town. And on the same day they gave him the king's name and opened the entire town for him, including king Brunstein's treasure.

Then the king sent messengers throughout Brunstein's realm that all men likely the upper class should obey and serve him. Thus king Samson ruled for quite a while.

9

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

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

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

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

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

10

Now king Samson sat on his throne in his hall, and it was sumptuously decorated. And he held a long speech about how he was getting older, and reflected on his mortality, and that heroic deeds were remembered even when a thousand winters had passed. Therefore he did not want to stay in Salerni any longer, but ordered his nobles to be ready for a campaign within three months, and his towns to raise three armed and mounted men each. And when the time had come all should come to him.

11

Now king Samson had a letter written and he sent six knights to deliver it to jarl Elsung the powerful and long-bearded. In the letter he said that the jarl had not sent him tribute yet, and he demanded his daughter for his younger son Dietmar, and she should be accompanied by sixty virgins. And also sixty armed knights with two horses and a squire each, and sixty well-trained hawks, and sixty hunting dogs, and the best of them should wear a gold collar, and its leash should be made from your beard, so that you know there's a more powerful man in the world than you. And if you don't send me all this, you should make sure your towns and men are ready three months from now, and we will see how your towns and realm defend themselves.

The six knights brought this letter to Bern, where jarl Elsung the Elder ruled. The knights came to him when he was at dinner, and put the letter before him, and he read it himself as opposed to Samson who had the letter written by someone else?, and he became red in the face and said: King Samson demands tribute, and requires in our old age what we would never have done when we were younger, to serve him while he still is our enemy. But before that happens each town in my realm should be broken and many knights made headless and I'd rather die myself than endure this shame.

And he had the knights who brought the message taken, and the one who had handed it to him was hanged from the highest tower, and four he had beheaded, and the last one, who was the smallest youngest? he had the right hand cut off before he was sent back home. Then he prepared his towns and knights, and everyone in his realm wondered if it would hold against king Samson.

The knight now came back to Salerni and told king Samson what had happened, and Samson pretended he had had no reply to the letter.

12

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

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

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

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

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

13

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

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

Status: summary of 13 chapters complete.

Other parts

  1. Samson (1-13)
  2. Hildebrand and Heime (14-20)
  3. Wieland the Smith (57-79)
  4. Witig (80-95)
  5. Journey to Osning (96-107)
  6. Witig and Heime (108-110,134-137,146-151)
  7. Detlef the Dane (111-129)
  8. Amelung, Wildeber, and Herbrand (130-133)
  9. Wildeber and Isung (138-145)
  10. Sigmund and Sisibe (152-161)
  11. Sigfrid's youth (162-168)
  12. Origins of the Niflungen (169-170)
  13. Dietrich's feast (171-191)
  14. The road to Bertangaland (192-199)
  15. The tournament (200-222)
  16. Dietrich's fellowship falls apart (223-226,240)
  17. Gunther and Brunhild (227-230)
  18. Walther and Hildegund (241-244)
  19. Ake and Iron (269-275)
  20. Dietrich's flight (276-290)
  21. The Wilkinen wars (291-315)
  22. The battle of Gransport (316-341)
  23. Sigfrid's death (342-348)
  24. Hertnit and Isung (349-355)
  25. Grimhild's revenge (356-394)