Written down around 1200 by an anonymous poet, the Song of the Nibelungs consists of 39 aventiuren and leads us in into a world of courtly splendour, love, hatred and jealousy. In 2009, the UNESCO included the historically important manuscripts of the medieval Song of the Nibelungs in its list of Memory of the World documents.
Who is not fascinated by this story of Gernot, Gunther und Giselher, who ruled the kingdom jointly after the death of their father? And their sister Kriemhild, who can only accept as her husband a man of equal birth? Hagen, adviser to the family and secretly in love with Kriemhild but unthinkable as a husband because of the difference in rank, can only hope that his affections are reciprocated, until Siegfried, the invulnerable dragon slayer, wins the heart of the proud Kriemhild. What’s more, Siegfried then helps Gunther to conquer the proud Brünhild, who will accept as her husband only a man who can defeat her in a trial of strength. And they are successful with the help of a trick and a magic cloak.
For Siegfried and Kriemhild, happiness is short-lived. With Gunther’s agreement, Hagen murders Siegfried while they are out hunting. He plunges a spear between the hero’s shoulder blades while Siegfried is drinking at a spring. Kriemhild suspects who has killed her husband and stays behind in Worms, a widow in mourning.
The saga of the Nibelungs is a heroic epic tale widespread in medieval Germany and Scandinavia that has come down to us over centuries in many different versions. The best-known written source is the Song of the Nibelungs in Middle High German (dating from around 1200 and probably from the Passau region).
Siegfried and Kriemhild, happiness is short-lived. With Gunther’s agreement, Hagen murders Siegfried while they are out hunting. He plunges a spear between the hero’s shoulder blades while Siegfried is drinking at a spring. Kriemhild suspects who has killed her husband and stays behind in Worms, a widow in mourning.
As long as she stays a virgin, Brünhild has supernatural and magic powers, and she is not prepared to give herself to a man unless he first defeats her in three trials of strength. If he fails, then he forfeits his life. Gunther could never do that, but Siegfried is strong enough to succeed and is prepared to help Gunther, using the cloak that makes its wearer invisible. This is how Brünhild is defeated by Gunther.
When Gunther and Brünhild arrive in Worms, there is a double wedding – Gunther marries Brunhlid and Siegfried marries Kriemhild. Brünhild weeps at the wedding feast and decides to refuse to consummate her marriage until Gunther tells her the truth. As he cannot do this, Brünhild ties him up with her belt on their wedding night and hangs him from a nail in the wall. She doesn’t take him down until the next morning.
Siegried’s help is needed again. The next night, he steals into Gunther’s bedroom, invisible because he is wearing the magic cloak, and holds Brünhild down in the marriage bed until she submits. Now Gunther can deflower her, and as a result she loses her magic powers. While they are struggling, Siegfried secretly takes Brünhild’s ring and her belt, and later he gives them to his wife Kriemhild as evidence because she wants to know where he was in the night after their wedding night.
Gunther invites Siegfried and his wife Kriemhild to a celebration in Worms.
They go to church, and the two queens become involved in a dispute in public when they quarrel over which of them should go first when they enter the cathedral in Worms. Brünhild insults Kriemhild, calling her a maid in bondage and the wife of a serf. Kriemhild counters, saying that her husband Siegfried was the first man to sleep with Brünhild. As proof, she presents the ring and the belt.
Hagen of Tronje, a relative of Gunther’s and his most important adviser, wants to avenge this humiliation of Brünhild (his master’s wife), or rather he uses it as a pretext. He is interested in acquiring the Nibelung treasure, but he cannot do this as long as Siegfried is alive. He cunningly persuades Kriemhild to tell him the secret of the vulnerable spot on Siegfried’s body, which was protected by a linden leaf when Siegfried bathed in the blood of the dragon he had slain. While they are on a hunting trip and with Gunther’s agreement, Hagen murders Siegfried by plunging a spear between his shoulder blades while Siegfried is drinking at a spring. Kriemhild suspects who has killed her husband and stays behind in Worms, a widow in mourning.