Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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The Wilkinen wars

291

King Attila told king Diet­rich how much trouble king Osantrix of the Wilkinen had caused him, both by killing men and by destroying his country. Diet­rich said that should be avenged since he was in Attila's kingdom now i.e. he would fight with Attila because he was his guest now, and it should no longer be endured.

Not long after messengers came to king Attila who told him king Osantrix had entered his realm and was burning buildings and destroying the land and killing many men. Then king Attila called up all his men to ride out against Osantrix. And king Diet­rich told master Hildebrand to take his banner and that all his men should ride out to help king Attila.

Now king Attila rode from Soest with king Diet­rich and margrave Rodinger and went to the town called Brandenborg, because Osantrix had recently taken this town. King Attila and his men now laid siege to the town, and king Osantrix was also there with his whole army.

292

When king Osantrix heard king Attila had arrived he rode out of the town? to meet him. He asked king Attila if he was ready for battle, and spurred on his men to fight bravely. And king Diet­rich replied that Osantrix would find out quickly that Attila was ready for battle. And he told his men: They will have death, but we will have victory! Now let's help king Attila.

Now Hildebrand rode forth with king Diet­rich's banner, and he slew Wilkimen one after the other. And behind him rode ming Diet­rich, and also his relative Wolfhart, and the Amelungen Diet­rich's men fought the Wilkinen wherever they met. And Hildebrand carried Diet­rich's banner straight through the Wilkinen army, and then went back via another route, and they killed Wilkinen one after the other all day.

King Osantrix saw that, and he rode at the front of his army against the Huns. Now Wolfhart attacked him, and they fought a hard battle that ended with king Osantrix' fall. And when the king had fallen the Wilkinen fled, and the Huns pursued them. Thus king Attila won this battle.

Now king Attila rode home, having freed his realm from the Wilkinen. But the Wilkinen took Hertnit, Osantrix' son, as their king.

293

When king Attila had been home for a short while he got the message that Waldemar, king of Holmgard and brother of Osantrix, had come to Hunnenland with a large army. And one day king Diet­rich stood on the highest tower and oversaw Hunnenland, and he saw large fires and much smoke in the lands, and he went to king Attila and said: Rise, my lord, and arm your men. Waldemar is burning your lands, and if you do not ride against him now he will come to you and you must fight anyway. Then king Attila stood up, had his horns blown and rode forth with his army.

Meanwhile king Waldemar had taken a castle of king Attila, and had captured a good knight named Rudolf who had been sent there, and bound him. He had already burned a thousand villages, and taken fifteen towns and castles. But when he heard king Attila was coming with his army he fled back to his own land.

294

Now king Attila marched to Russland apparently Waldemar's kingdom, but it's a bit unclear; this is not Russia with his army, and he plundered the realms of Russland and Wilkinenland. When king Waldemar heard this he gathered his army, marched against Attila and met him in Wilkinenland, and he had a much larger army. And both armies made ready for battle. King Attila had his banner erected against king Waldemar's banner, but king Diet­rich would fight against Didrik, Waldemar's son.

295

Now the battle broke out, and they fought bravely. Diet­rich von Bern rode into the enemy army and killed Russen on both sides. But Didrik Waldemar's son rode against him, and they fought long and hard without help from anyone. Diet­rich received nine wounds, but Didrik got five, all of them serious, and in the end he was captured and bound.

Then they became aware that king Attila and his Huns had fled. Diet­rich rallied his men, and fought on.

296

Now Diet­rich and his men went to a place where a town had been destroyed, and here they stayed. King Waldemar besieged him, and they fought every day and killed many men.

Diet­rich had few men and little food. He found out when Waldemar's army had dinner, and at that moment he had five hundred knights made ready, and put half of them near each castle gate. And they sallied forth and shouted loudly.

Now king Waldemar and his men thought king Attila had returned, and they fled. Thus Diet­rich killed many men and captured food and wine. But Waldemar quickly found out which strategem had been used, and turned around and besieged the town again, until Diet­rich's men had no food but were forced to eat the horses.

297

Then Diet­rich said to master Hildebrand: We should send a messenger to king Attila, if we can find someone who is courageous enough to do so. And Hildebrand said: No one is better suited than Wildeber the hero. And Diet­rich asked Wildeber to take on this mission.

But Wildeber replied: I am seriously wounded, so I cannot ride through such a great army, although I will still fight for you. But ask your relative Wolfhart, he would be suitable.

So Diet­rich asked Wolfhart, who replied that Wildeber would be better suited, since he himself was younger and less experienced. But Diet­rich told him Wildeber was too wounded to travel. And Wolfhart agreed to the mission, but asked Diet­rich for his sword Eckisax and his helmet Hildegrim and his horse Falke, and Diet­rich granted him that.

298

Now Wolfhart rode from the town at midnight. He went straight to a fire and took a burning branch and thus rode through the army of his enemies. And the Russen thought he must be one of them, since he rode so fearlessly through their camp. When he came to the centre of the army he saw many tents, among which one that was very beautiful and expensive, and he threw the burning branch into it.

In this tent king Waldemar slept, and most of his chiefs. Now the tent started burning, and all that were in the tent rose. But Wolfhart jumped from his horse, entered the tent, and killed eleven chiefs, but he wasn't sure if he had killed the king himself, since the night was dark. Then Wolfhart mounted again and rode away as quickly as he could. King Diet­rich and master Hildebrand stood on the town wall, and were quite happy when they saw the tent burning, I suppose, and went to bed.

Now Wolfhart rode day and night until he came to Hunnenland to king Attila and margrave Rodinger. And when Rodinger saw his weapons he though Diet­rich had returned. But Wolfhart said: Welcome, margrave Rodinger, king Diet­rich sends his greetings. And now Rodinger understood it was one of Diet­rich's men, but not he himself. and he said: Thank God Diet­rich is still alive. We will ride to his aid as soon as possible. And then Wolfhart told Rodinger everything, and the margrave went to the king and told him the story.

King Attila now had his horns blown and tear down his tents Apparently they were still in the field, and turned around to help king Diet­rich and rode to the town.

King Waldemar's men noticed that a mighty army had entered Russland and told their king. And king Waldemar had his horns blown and gathered his men and rode away.

299

When king Diet­rich saw that king Waldemar rode away they sallied forth from the town and tode after them and killed many men.

And when king Diet­rich returned to the town he met king Attila with his army, and Attila was glad Diet­rich was still alive. And then the went up into town.

Margrave Rodinger said: We are sorry we could not come sooner to help you, since you were in so much danger.

And Hildebrand replied: I am now a hundred winters old Slight exaggeration, and I have never been in such danger. We had five hundred men at first, but the hunger was so fierce that we ate five hundred horses, and only seven are left.

Then king Diet­rich went to where Didrik was kept and showed him to king Attila, and said: This is Didrik Waldemar's son. I captured him in the battle, but because of our friendship I'll give him to you to do with as you please, either kill him or allow Waldemar to ransom him. And Attila said: You have given me a gift that pleases me more than two shippounds of red gold.

Then they went back to Hunnenland, and nothing more can be said about their travels until they came home. Diet­rich had many wounds and had to keep to his bed. But Didrik was thrown into prison, and he was also gravely wounded.

300

When king Attila had been home for half a year he decided on an expedition, had his horns blown, and sent messengers across his realm to gather all his men. When that was done he had eight thousands knights and many other people. But Diet­rich was so wounded that this time he could not go with king Attila to help him.

Now queen Erka went to king Attila and said: I would like to ask you to release Didrik Waldemar's son, my cousin Erka is Osantrix' daughter, and thus Waldemar's niece and Didrik's cousin from prison so I can take care of his wounds myself. And it could be that you and king Waldemar are reconciled, and then it would be better if Didrik was not dead.

But king Attila said: I cannot grant you this. If he is healthy again while I am away I may never get him in my power any more i.e. he might escape.

But Erka said: I give my head as security that he will not ride off even when he his healty. This annoyed the king, who said: Do you want to release my greatest enemy from prison and cure him? If he would get away to Russland I would lose more than if I lost Soest, because his relatives will buy his release with cities and realms. But since you offer your head as security, do not doubt that I will cut it off if you let him ride away.

Now Erka had her cousin Didrik taken from prison and had him put in a tower, and had him taken care of and personally kept watch and healed him.

Meanwhile king Attila went to Polen and Russland with his army, and he burned and looted king Waldemar's lands.

301

Now we should speak of what queen Erka did and how she healed her cousin Didrik. She gave him one of the best beds, and day after day brought him good meals, and bathed him, and gave him treasure. But she had one of her servant girls take care of Diet­rich von Bern, but she did not understand healing as well as the queen, and thus his wounds turned bad and he healed slowly, and an evil smell came from him.

When Didrik was healed he took his weapons and donned his armour, and put his helmet on his head. And he said to the helmet: You have received so many blows from Diet­rich von Bern, but I gave his as many, and he is still wounded while I am cured. And if anyone else had done this I'd have killed him, but he is such a good knight that I cannot do that when he is defenseless. But now I will ride from Soest to Russland, neither king Attila nor Diet­rich can prevent that.

When queen Erka became aware of this she asked him what he planned. And he said he had been in Hunnenland for too long, and would go home. Then queen Erka said: So this is how you will repay my kindness? I have given my head as security for you, but you don't care if I'm dead or not, as long as you get away.

Didrik said: You are a powerful queen, and king Attila cannot kill you, but when I wait for him to come home I will surely be killed. Then he went to Diet­rich and asked if his wounds were healed. Diet­rich said: My wounds are many and heavy, and they stink. I cannot ride nor go anywhere as long as I'm in this condition.

Then Didrik went to his horse, saddled it, and rode away. But that horse belonged to king Attila Odd. First the saga says his horse. Queen Erka managed to say to her cousin: Stay here, and I will support you in a reconciliation, but if you don't king Attila will cut of my head. But Didrik rode away and pretended he hadn't heard.

302

Queen Erka cried long and bitterly, and she tore her clothing, and went where Diet­rich lay, and said: Diet­rich, my hero, I need your advice. And she explained the matter.

King Diet­rich said: You were right to heal him, but you send an inexperienced woman to me, and she did not and could not heal my wounds, because she lay with a man every night, and that's not what doctors do. Now my wounds are half again as bad as when I received them. And I cannot even sit, let alone fight a man, and this is the first time you came to me as long as I laid here.

Then queen Erka cried, and she knew he was right, and she said: Good king Diet­rich, you are the best of all men in the world in courage and strength, and woe to me for not healing you, because now you cannot help me. And if I had done so Didrik wouldn't have left. Now I have no man in my realm who can help me, and king Attila will cut of my head and proclaim it throughout all lands. Oh king Diet­rich, if you were only healed I would keep my life and realm.

And afterwards she cried and repeated herself, and tore her clothing and her hair, and hit herself on the breast Symbols of mourning?.

303

Then king Diet­rich said: Bring my armour and weapons. And again: Bring my shield, for Didrik and I will meet today. When Diet­rich had armed himself he ordered his horse saddled and brought to him, and he mounted and rode as quickly as he could, but while he rode his wounds bled so that his armour and horse were all red.Now he rode to Wilkinenburg, where Fridrich Ermenrik's son had been killed 278 by Sibich's treason. On the tower of this castle stood the daughter of the jarl that ruled it, and she had seen Didrik travel, and now she saw a man ride after him, so she went to the tower as stealthily and quickly as she could.

And king Diet­rich came so close they could talk with one another, and he said: Lady, did you see a man ride past with a white armour and shield, and a grey horse? He is my companion, and I want to follow him to his realm. And she said she had seen him not long ago. Then Diet­rich spurred on his horse Falke and rode even faster than before.

Now the lady started to doubt that this man was a friend of the man that had come before, but rather wanted to kill him, and she deplored having said there was little distance between them. And she called out: Good lord, com here, I see that you are wounded. I will dress your wounds, and after that you can still ride after this man. Now your wounds bleed so much you may not reach him, but if you let me dress them you can overtake him all the quicker.

But Diet­rich didn't want to stop, and he rode off. And now she considered they were truly enemies, and that the one had wounded the other, and she didn't want to leave before she knew how the fight ended.

304

Now king Diet­rich rode to the forest called Burgwald; this forest lies between Hunnenland and Pulinaland. There Diet­rich saw Didrik and called to him: Return, and I will give you gold and silver as much as I have in Hunnenland, and I will secure friendship from king Attila.

But Didrik said: Why does my enemy offer me gold and silver? I will never become your friend. If I wouldn't be dishonoured by fighting you in this condition? you would never see queen Erka again. Now ride away, because a terrible stench comes from your wounds.

Diet­rich said: Return, there is no honour in riding from Hunnenland like this, because the head of queen Erka, your cousin, is at stake. And both of us will help you reconciliate with king Attila. But Didrik said the same as before.

Now Diet­rich said: If you do not want to return for gold or silver, or to spare queen Erka's head, then dismount and fight. And if you don't you will be called a coward by everyone, since you fled for a single man. But my horse is so good that I will overtake you anyway and kill you, and you will still be known as a coward.Then Didrik turned his horse and wanted to fight instead of flee, although he knew he was going to die. And now they dismounted and fought for a long time, and cut up one another's armour and shields. But Diet­rich became tired from the wounds he had received before and received now, and Didrik also became tired, and each put his shield in front of him and leaned on it to rest.

Then Diet­rich said: Now good friend and namesake, come back with me and we'll go home and you will reconciliate with king Attila, but if he refuses to, I will take my arms and men and follow you into your realm.

But Didrik did not want that at all. Now they fought again with great anger, and in the end Diet­rich cut off Didrik's head so that it flew leftward.

305

Now Diet­rich tied Didrik's head to his saddle and rode back to Wilkinenburg. And he saw the same lady as before that had offered to dress his wounds. And when she did so he put cloth over Didrik's head so that she wouldn't see it.

Then the jarl her father came, and asked who this man was. Diet­rich said: I don't know if I should tell you my name, because I suspect one of my relatives was killed here, but I'll still tell you I'm Diet­rich Dietmar's son of Bern.

When the jarl heard this he invited him for the evening, and Diet­rich accepted, since he was wounded and tired. And thus Diet­rich and the jarl's daughter lay together in one bed that night.

306

When day came the jarl went to his men and asked for counsel on what to offer Diet­rich for his relative i.e. what compensation to offer him.

One knight, who was a relative of Sibich, said: Since Diet­rich has come alone and is wounded, let's take his weapons and kill him, then we don't have to be afraid of him any more. But if we let him get away he could take all our towns and kill us all.

The jarl replied: If we kill king Diet­rich we will surely have war with king Attila as soon as he hears about this. And he is much more powerful that we are, so we will lose our town.

Then another chief said: Then let's invite Diet­rich to a feast and give him gifts of gold and silver, and many knights to bring him back to Soest, he will surely appreciate this. And the jarl followed this counsel.

307

Now the jarl had a feast laid out for king Diet­rich, and he stayed there for many days. Then the jarl had six of his best knights decked out in purple and other fineries, and said to Diet­rich: These knights I'd like to give to you in exchange for your good will. And Diet­rich thanked him and accepted. Then the jarl added: There is one thing I'd like to ask you, though. And Diet­rich asked him what, and said he would likely grant it due to the honour the jarl had done him.

And the jarl said: I would ask that you forgive me for killing your kinsman Fridrich due to Sibich's treason. I would not have done so if I had known the truth. And Diet­rich said: I forgive you, since you have received me so graciously. But if you had not done so I'd have avenged my cousin.

And now Diet­rich was ready to depart with his six knights. And the jarl went to Diet­rich's horse and took off the cloth and thus saw Didrik's head. Then Diet­rich mounted and rode to Hunnenland with the six knights.

And when he came home to Soest queen Erka came to him and, seeing the knights, thought that Didrik was also returning, and she was happy about that. But king Diet­rich took his namesake's head and threw it at her feet. Then queen Erka cried because so many of her relatives lost their lives because of her One would like to know about the others.

But Diet­rich went back to bed because he was still wounded, and the six knights served him from now on with honour and loyalty.

308

Now we have to speak of king Attila's expedition, and how he burned many towns and castles. But when king Waldemar heard of this he gathered all his men and rode against king Attila. Then a great battle ensued when the two kings met one another, and they fought for a long time. King Attila rode at the front and carried his banner himself. And Hildebrand led king Diet­rich's followers and carried his banner. But some of king Diet­rich's men followed margrave Rodinger. But king Waldemar had his horns blown and attacked, and many of king Attila's men fell and he had to flee.

Hildebrand and Rodinger saw this, and Hildebrand considered how well king Diet­rich's men could fight, and thus they went forwards and killed two thousand of king Waldemar's men. A count of Greken rode against them and hit Hildebrand with his spear so that he fell from his horse. When Rodinger saw Hildebrand had fallen he rode to his rescue. He caught Hildebrand's horse, brought it to him, and helped him back in the saddle. And when master Hildebrand was back in the saddle he fought with great anger, and the Reussen fled before him.

But king Waldemar had so much warriors that Hildebrand and Rodinger also had to flee. And they rode back to Hunnenland and they were not happy with their defeat.

309

Master Hildebrand went to where king Diet­rich lay, and told him: I'm happy you're still alive, but I'd be happier if you'd been healed. And Diet­rich asked him how things had gone in Reussland.

Hildebrand replied: Not well. You often told me how courageous king Attila is, but it seems to me he's no hero. As soon as we fought against king Waldemar and the fight was at its height, he fled like an evil dog, and his banner dropped down, and he took the entire Hun army with him. Rodinger and I turned against the enemy three more times, but a count of Greken, king Waldemar's brother, threw me from my horse, and Rodinger saved my life. But then we had to flee, and we had dishonour from this expedition.

King Diet­rich replied: Be silent, Hildebrand, and don't speak of your journey. But if I heal I will once more ride to Reussland and I will see for myself who will flee first, and the Reussen will not long enjoy their victory.

And king Diet­rich's wounds healed.

310

One day king Diet­rich said to king Attila: Do you remember which shame the Reussen did to us? Or do you not want to avenge yourself? Attila replied: I'd love to take revenge, especially if you'll help me. And king Diet­rich said: I'll help you. Gather your men, and king Waldemar will flee from us or die, or we will die.

King Attila gathered a great army, no less than ten thousand knights. And he commanded that everyone over twenty years of age should come to him, and thus he had twenty thousand more knights when he left Hunnenland.

He entered Reussland with this army and burned towns and castles, and laid siege before Palteskia. This town was so strong that they hardly knew how to take it. It had strong stone walls, high towers, and a broad and deep moat, and the town contained a large army, and the defenders didn't fear king Attila's army.

When king Attila saw how difficult it would be to take the town he divided his army into three: under his own banner he set ten thousand knights, and another ten thousands at another place, and he named Diet­rich their leader, and a large number of ribbalda followed them. And the third ten thousand he have to margrave Rodinger.

Now each leader made camp before the town, and they fought with the townsmen for many days, and both sides lost many men.

311

And when they had besieged the town for three months Diet­rich told Attila the entire army should not stay before this town any longer, and said: My lord, you should ride deeper into Reussland with your army, and Rodinger as well, but I will stay before this town and not depart before it is won. Or if you want to stay yourself we will go elsewhere.

King Attila replied courteously, but he considered that Diet­rich wanted to have the honour of taking this town for himself, and that the walls had already been weakened, since the siege equipment was working day and night. But on the other hand he thought that if he, king Attila, would stay behind by himself, it could be that king Waldemar could come to him to fight, and that he would lack the help of Diet­rich and Rodinger.

Therefore he replied: I have made such an effort to take this town that I cannot ride from here without placing my banner at the top of the tower, but I ask you and Rodinger not to go elsewhere, since the Reussen cannot move against us if we do not divide our army.

King Diet­rich replied: If we three remain before this town we will not gain a victory over the Reussen. So you stay before this town, and Rodinger as well, but let me go and conquer more places. And they agreed to that.

312

King Diet­rich tore down his camp and led his army further into Reussland. He laid siege to a town called Smaland, and fought with the townsmen. And when he had been there for six days king Waldemar came there with a great army, forty thousand men. King Diet­rich had his horns blown and ordered Amelungen and Hunnen to arm themselves, and they rode against king Waldemar. And they said that this day king Waldemar would die or flee, or king Diet­rich would die.

Now Diet­rich rode at the head of his army, and with him Hildebrand and Wolfhart his relative, and their friend Wildeber, and battle broke loose. King Diet­rich rode into the middle of the Reussen army, and killed men and horse on both sides, and his heroes followed him. And Diet­rich fought like a lion in a flock of cattle, and all feared his weapons, and he and his horse were covered with blood.

Finally he saw king Waldemar's banner before him, and rode to it, and hit the knight who bore the banner on his right hand so that it was hacked off, and thus the banner fell to the ground. And then he gave king Waldemar the death blow. A great cry went up from Amelungen and Hunnen, and the Reussen fled, but many were killed. The Amelungen and Hunnen fought all day, and all night, and the next day, and killed every man they saw, and only a small number escaped.

313

And three days after king Diet­rich had ridden away king Attila attacked the walls so strongly that they won the town. And the Hunnen went into town and killed many men, and took incredible riches, and they tore down the place almost to the ground, and thus was done what people who come to this town can see until today.

314

King Attila led his army deeper into Reussland to where he heard king Diet­rich was. And since king Diet­rich had gone against Smaland, king Attila came there as well, and told him what had happened.

In this town was jarl Iron, king Waldemar's brother, and he told his men this: I see two options. Either we fight king Attila as long as we can, but it's likely we cannot withstand his power. Or we give ourselves and this town into king Attila's power.

Then the jarl took off his shoes and his armour, and the chiefs did the same, and they went out of the town barefoot and defenceless and thus showed they had been defeated. And on this day the kingdom of the Reussen came into Attila's power.

Now king Attila discussed with king Diet­rich whether he should give jarl Iron peace. And Diet­rich said: I would counsel that you give peace to the jarl and his men, since he has given himself into your power, and the kingdom is now subjected to you. Do not kill them, since they are defenceless, but take the kingdom.

King Attila told the jarl: If you will serve us loyally we'll give you peace, on the advice of king Diet­rich and our other chiefs. And the jarl replied: Lord, if we'd had enough men to keep this town from your power we wouldn't have surrendered. Do what you wish with us, but we gave you the town and laid down our arms because we knew what great men you have with you. Also, the greatest leaders of the Reussen are dead, and we will serve you loyally. And now king Attila took jarl Iron and placed him among his chiefs.

315

Now king Attila called king Diet­rich and many other chiefs to a meeting landráða to decide how these realms they had won would be governed. And king Attila, with the agreement of king Diet­rich and the other chiefs, set jarl Iron over Reussland as a chief to rule the realm and dispense justice according to the laws of the land, but he would pay tribute to king Attila and give him aid as needed.

Status: summary of 25 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)