|Multiple medieval manuscripts are providing stories
An army of merited and self-appointed experts has been attempting to
out the historical core of such literary renditions. However, all these
specialists soon must state that they have to do with uneasy
'adaptation on adaptation'.
Nonetheless, two professionals have been contributing
to disentangle this most popular German saga:
In 1931 Prof Aloys Schröfl submitted that the second
the Nibelungenlied called 'Der
Nôt' (Grimhilde's revenge and the Nibelungen Downfall) cannot
be the right sequel of the first (Sigfrid's life and death), because
second one appears initiated by Pil(i)grim
von Aribon, Bishop
Passau on the Danube in 10th century. [Aloys
die Nibelungenfrage gelöst (1931); Der Urdichter
des Liedes von
der Nibelunge Nôt und die Lösung der Nibelungenfrage (1927).]
The lay actually refers to some topical cultural and
item of 10th century, which, however, had
become less significant or obsolete already in
Furthermore, considering connotative
cultural and historical environment of Ottonian German Empire, Schröfl
found conclusive circumstantial evidence in the Nibelungenlied that
use his version as 'the carrot' for the court
Hungary. With it, as Schröfl conclusively points
out, Pilgrim intended to enlarge his influence on this country
that was about to be christianised. According to this certainly
interesting research, the later formed and most
lay, necessarily drawn up to glorify the ancestors of the Hungarians,
be evaluated today as an early political flyer.
The lay's available eldest manuscripts ('redactions'),
written in the time of Passau Bishop Wolfger
von Erla, do reveal also that this poetry came into fashion in
century. Thus, regarding characteristic plagiarism, assimilation
and assemblage of compiled medieval
heroic epics, the postulated prime version must have been
transformed to 'updates' due to the spirit of high medieval times.
Schröfl's special research into the politico-religious
10th-century relations of German Empire with
Hungary is mainly focussing on connective approach
to motive and authorship of the archetype source, which,
however, has been either scholarly suppressed or apodictically
negated through non-convincing Germanistic evaluation.
Schröfl fairly underlined that the original
creators of the Nibelungenlied are explicitly quoted in its Lament work
'Bischof Pilgrin von Pazzowe' and his 'Master(-writer) Kuonrat'.
Karl J. Simrock, well-known German translator of the Nibelungenlied,
already connected both names with heyday of Upper German Clerical
Poetry of 10th/11th
The lay's first part, however, was principally not
research. He rather distilled out a distinctive archetypal Upper German
version from the lay's second part serving as its source (as a missing
Latin Nibelungias has been already postulated).
Heinz Ritter († 1994), philologist and scientist from
on the Weser, seems to have got the historical core of the real
by his impressive publications and lectures. His long and meticulous
done over many decades, led him to various Nordic texts, especially to
the manuscript known as Old Norse 'Membrane' (perg. fol. 4,
usually completed with younger Icelandic texts) and two Old Swedish
manuscripts at the
Stockholm Riksarkivet he
shortly called 'Svava'. As Ritter points out, these texts cannot
to Theodoric the Great of Ravenna, but rather an equally named
king of Germanic Migration Era who had his first residence somewhere
between the Eiffel and the Rhine.
The Svava (or the Didrikskrönikan)
and the Membrane, popular name of the oldest manuscript of Þiðreks
saga, provide narration about the historical Nibelungen, as
classified by progressive German research following Ritter
The Svava reports less pompous than the more longwinded Membrane, but
relate quite more objective than the so-called MHG (Middle High German)
sources. The archaic version of both manuscripts was certainly known
or in the era of Charlemagne who had initiated the recording of
traditions to great extent, as Ritter argues in his book Sigfrid
This book reveals a very imposing correlation between
related to the Nibelungen, Sigfrid's life and death.
The Evaluation of the Nordic Manuscripts
Ritter's method of dealing with Thidreks saga is
his answer to the cardinal question whether a tradition assumed being
pregnant with historical facts may be dissected in twilight mixture of
mythological narratives. As Ritter expressively underlined at his
rather less significant as well as detectable non-contemporary
by an evident group of Norse editors might have induced scholarly
to consider Thidreks saga for the most part as less authentic or
pool of mostly unrelated single tales. Beside other
Ritter regards the source the Old Swedish manuscripts principally
'guiding' Thidreks saga, and he considers
all these texts of such recognizable literary selectivity that
will allow efforts to estimate them as historiographical sources.
Theodore M. Andersson, reviewer of a symposium-based
edited by Susanne Kramarz-Bein for Walter de Gruyter's encyclopaedia of
Germanic antiquity, comments the current contradicting scholarly
of Thidreks saga. Andersson, incidentally seeing a clear literary
between 'Norse' and 'of Norway', was obviously remembering Ritter's
by this introductory remark of 1996: »... Þiðreks saga,
which had not received much scholarly attention for several decades,
back into fashion about ten years ago ...«
This English review, available at http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~alvismal/7susanne.pdf
, follows Heinrich Beck's position by means of his paper Þiðreks
saga als Gegenwartsdichtung? who, stringently against
postulation and reasoning, also exposes Thidreks saga to the light of
poetry and heroic narrative somehow inspired by history. Andersson
Heinrich Beck's "Þiðreks saga als Gegenwartsdichtung?"
... points out that Þiðreks saga ... synchronizes events from
legendary prehistory with near-contemporary events in the twelfth
(campaigns against the Slavs on the eastern frontier of Germany). Time
in Þiðreks saga is thus a variable quantity ...«
Moreover, Heinrich Beck classifies the message of Þiðreks
saga expressively more subtle than its naïve reader would imagine.
Addressing Ritter, he will underpin Germanism's fundamental attitude
towards the general understanding of SAGA with
manifesto: »Germanistic saga research has recognized long since
(...) that saga tradition is not an ancient forwarding but derives from
topic adoption.« (Translated quotation from Zur
Thidrekssaga-Diskussion; Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie,
112, 1993; pgs 441–448.)
The Germanistic and other scholastic strategies against
of Ritter obviously ignore the fact that the Old Norse scribes
used to translate, catalogue and title historiographies as 'saga'.
the author's publication Sage und Wirklichkeit. Dietrich von Bern
die Nibelungen (2007) repudiates subtle exploration of Thidreks
by Heinrich Beck and other experts in literature agreeing with his
Ritter's translation of the Old Swedish Didriks
in question on literary subject. For elaborating research he therein
his comparing analysis of both chronological and historiographical
of the Svava and Thidreks saga manuscripts. In the addenda provided
his translation (pgs 399–455), he exemplarily scrutinises and refutes
Svava's dependency from the Membrane and Icelandic manuscripts against
scholastic evaluation of Scandinavian and German researchers. Ritter
implemented into his posthumous publication Der Schmied Weland,
published by his son Hans Martin Ritter at Olms, Germany
a supplementary analysis that points out the different literary style
these texts anything but less insignificant through exemplary synoptic
studies providing Thidreks saga's predilection for certain subjective
forwarding and, as a result, also for mythologizing, cf Quotations
from Der Schmied Weland (German).
Seasoned practitioners have not rejected Ritter's
deciphering of 'the geographical and ethnic names in the Didriks
Saga', a work of noteworthy terminological consistency considering
rational contemporary circumstances of time and location. In 1959
William J. Pfaff had already introduced an equally titled book
with 'a study in Germanic heroic Legend', who, however, failed in
the geostrategical plausibility of such important places originally
'Bern' or 'Drekanfils'. Ritter rather found out that the right
geographical operation area related to the Didriks chronicle
(subsequently also to the 'saga')
does extend diagonally from South Sweden and Jutland to German
Moselle river and, west-to-east, from Belgium to Baltic countries.
Thus, the revising research would hardly believe that
editors had done more than a mere translation of an imported
tradition, mainly a Lower German Historia Dietrich von Bern;
especially considering that, apart from only a very few cases of
Ostrogothic misunderstanding and misinterpreting, the translators
never attempted to change any location name there.
To boot, it seems implausible that the Old Norse scribes of King
Hákon IV would have had any good reason to implant any own
narration or compilation on such unfamiliar small locations
as Vernica, Thorta or Brictan,
such rivulets as Duna, Wisara
or Eydissa, such mountain forests as the Osning or (by
The Nibelungen Origin Place
Mone explicitly favours the region of Neuss that Gregory of Tours
quotes Nivisium (Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der teutschen
1836.) Henri Grégoire, another researcher and philologist, has
that subject with Nivelle, castle and town of Belgium. The
about persons of this place show epithet donation as Nivellung,
respectively Nibelunc (whom Charlemagne proudly called his
as these names were given to Pepins in 7th
century. (The Pepins were forming most influential 'mayor-domus' family
serving as Mayor of the Palace Charlemagne and other preceding
rulers.) Grégoire, although trying a suspect relocalization of
basically agrees with Emil Rückert who published in 1836 (in the same
year as F. J. Mone) his ethnological and genealogical discoveries by
book Oberon von Mons und die Pipine von Nivella – Untersuchungen
den Ursprung der Nibelungensage.
Furthermore, Mone connects Gilibach rivulet, today called
'Gillbach' that springs
c. 20 miles to the north of Zülpich, with Nibelungen origin. The
this watercourse was recorded Giliovi pagus, pago Gilegoui
in Middle Ages. Earlier spelling forms of this region called nowadays die
Gilbach are unknown.
Nonetheless, some reader may think of the origin location of Gibica
or Gibich, the
latter provided as Middle High German name of the 'Nibelungen father'.
||As Ritter refers to the Svava and the
Nibelungen by means
of his comprehensive publication Die Nibelungen zogen nordwärts (Herbig,
1981), the Nibelungen home location as well as name giving to them will
be related to a rivulet called Neffel (*)
that springs in the outer
Eiffel near Zülpich. Thus, Ritter follows the localization of Franz
Joseph Mone, Professor in History and eminent German philologist of 19th
Photo by the author. Ritter identifies the Nibelungen residence on its
suburban location Virnich or Virmenich – on well known Roman main roads
of both Cologne–Trier and Cologne–Rheims.
Challenging the findings of Grégoire,
Ritter recognizes the historical Nibelungen
seat just 80 miles farther
to the east, since an eye-catching number of location names in the
of German Zülpich must be seriously taken into consideration for
those Norse-Nordic texts related to King Gunter's family. For example,
there is an old place called Juntersdorf, formerly spelled
(dorp = village). The name of Hagen's
grandfather King Yrian
('Irian'), provided by an Old Swedish manuscript on Didrik af Bern,
seems to correspond
well with a former location Iriniacum.
Heribert van der Broeck, author of 2000 Jahre Zülpich
Kölnische Verlagsdruckerei, 1968) ascribes this name to a Celtic
individual Irinus. The
manuscripts remark also
Hagen's father was originally spelled Elf, Elff(e) or Albe,
as this name appears closely related to Elvenich. In former
this place was testified as Albinacum or Albihenae.
Van der Broeck
reckons this location to a Celtic place of worshipping, since those ‘nich’
endings are very typical for Roman-Celtic
on contemporary spelling.
Old settlements called Irnich (today: Burg
on a Roman
fundator called Varinius), Virnich (at Zülpich-Schwerfen) and Virmenich
(now Firmenich) can be found there. These names correspond well with
Nibelungen residence originally spelled Vernica, Verniza, Vermintza.
Ritter also detects correlating significant indication
region as the right home location of the historical Nibelungen: The
note brightest full moon night when these folk met the Rhine at Duna
on their fateful march to Grimhilde and her spouse Attala ('Attila',
Old Swedish Aktilius, Atilius, Icelandic MS B: 'Attala'
as preferred by Ritter),
king of that part of Saxony
the Old Swedish scribes call Hunaland:
Since important campaigns were usually planned to start at full moon in
Late Antiquity as well as medieval times, the Nibelungen with
armour underneath their garments could have covered only c. 30
their capital place!
The Nibelungen region of Zülpich and Nivisium,
recognized by Ritter,
Mone and other researchers, formerly pertained to eastern Frankish
Regarding space and time, a 5th–6th-century
ruler called King Sigebert – Gregory of Tours remarked him 'the
Lame' – was residing at Cologne before he was eliminated by Frankish
Clodovocar I. The Waltharius, a poetry definitely elder than
Nibelungenlied, titles the Nibelungen as leaders of a Frankish tribe.
we should make an effort to encounter Merovingians
by the Svava in an early history of the Franks.
Regarding research into the early history of Pepin Family, some more
interesting indications should be considered for correlation with the
||The Pepins are undoubtedly related to
region of Zülpich.
For example, a former church of Juntersdorf (Guntirsdorp) was dedicated
to their patroness Gertrud of Nivelles.
||The Svava and Membrane texts note Hagen's son
the only known
descendant of the Nibelungen, a long living successor and ruler of
||The western borderline of the Nibelungen realm
noted, but Sigfrid
(Aldrian's slain uncle) has to be considered heir of maternal family
The Svava quotes about the last Nibelungen Ride
campaign to their downfall – with this text:
...so they rode to the Rhine, where Duna meets the
The Duna may not be taken for the Danube in this
for Dhünn river (recorded as Duone in 1117) falling
till 1830/1840 into the Rhine at Leverkusen, the town to the north of
Incidentally, Ritter underlined this location as an important crossing
of former times.
Other researchers generally agree with Ritter: Walter
book author and documentary film maker, and Ernst F. Jung, historian
philologist, largely share Ritter's revision of the Nibelungen factual
history. Roswitha Wisniewski, Prof PhD, found strong indication that in
first half of 13th century a comprehensive
with the vita and epoch of Dietrich von Bern was transferred as
a chronicle from Wedinghausen monastery at Arnsberg, Westphalia, to
where it was re-narrated by Old Norse and Icelandic writers, as the
notes well in her postdoctoral thesis. (These medieval scribes
titled imported historiographical material as saga.)
The Svava: Sigfrid
A short summary
Note: 'Svava' or ' Swana' means the
by evaluation of contemporary chronicles and old cartographic material.
Annotations: Questions & Findings
|Sigfrid's father Sigmund is King of Tarlunga.
Lower Saxon town Wolfsburg may be found in the centre of this
region called in other sources 'Darlingau'.)
Sigmund enters in matrimony with Sissibe,
daughter of King Nidung
of Haspengau: Hesbaye, the region on the Meuse (Maas)
Namur and Maastricht. King Sigmund receives the half of King Nidung's
as gift. Sissibe, however, becomes victim of an intrigue initiated by
noblemen Hartwen and Herman. King Sigmund, who went out
warring, had appointed them to his representatives. However, Hartwin
annex Tarlunga with Sissibe for his spouse – but she refuses all the
The counts pretend infidelity of Sissibe to their returning king who,
shocked, allows them to abandon her somewhere in a woodland. There, on
a river, she gives birth to Sigmund's son. Hartwin will cut out her
but his accomplice Herman will not agree with mutilation. In the end,
can behead Hartwin in a fierce fight who, however, has kicked the baby
– embedded in a vessel of glass – into the river. Sissibe, mentally and
physically stressed, dies of shock.
A hind finds the baby and breastfeeds it a year.
result, it grows
up four times faster. A smith called Mymmer (Mime) raises the
the Old Swedish texts call Sigord Sven1.
Sigfrid's choleric nature is certainly basing on
frustration by the
'gilded cage' his childless foster-father Mime2
has obviously made for him. At the forge, he lets off steam by beating
up Mime's best foreman. Mime has also to recognize that his huge
strong adoptive son would never become a good smith. Moreover, Mime's
Queen Brynhilde (Brynilla or Brynilda in the Old
seems to attract his pet. In the end, Mime has to admit
that he cannot hold Sigfrid any longer, but he rather wants him dead
having lost: So the sly smith sends Sigfrid for charcoal burning to the
area of Regen3,
who was believed Mime's brother as well as 'man-killing
Sigfrid meets Regen and kills him. (The cheeky
that there is no witness to confirm his version that the bloody
from Regen has made his skin not only horny and invulnerable, but also
sharpened his mind to understand bird language.)
Sigfrid brings Regen's 'special head' to Mime and
him to pick
it. Mime, however, is tremendously afraid of expecting Sigfrid's
Therefore, he promises him a precious armour he has just made for a
his best sword Gram(er), and Grane, a stallion
of Queen Brynhilde.
Sigfrid takes the armour that Mime puts him on.
smith also hands
him over the sword, but Sigfrid swings Gram to kill his
Thereupon he violently enters Brynhilde's castle
After he has killed seven gate guardians and scuffled with the queen's
knights and squires, she manages to stop him. Much impressed by the
she sends for the stallion and enlightens Sigfrid about his
Sigfrid moves with Grane to Bertanga,
Icelandic spelling of German Bardengau,
today the region between Hamburg and Wittingen on Elbe river. He there
takes up service at King Isung who allows him to bear his own
banner, a dragon, half red and half brown, on red background.
King Theoderic of Bern6
(Didrik by the Svava)
receives information about Sigfrid's power
and heroic actions. He makes up his mind to go out and measure himself
against him. These are some of the Twelve of his followers: Gunter
(in the manuscripts Gunnar), King of the Nibelungen
(Nyfflinga, Niflunga), his brother Gernholt,
both sons of King Aldrian, and their half-brother Hagen,
the Old Norse Hogni7. Heim the Magnanimous,
or the Fierce,
is mentioned as a relative of Brynhilde. His blue shield shows a
son of Weland, is the owner of Mimming (Mimung), the
already made of hardest steel. Incidentally, as the Didriks chronicle
Sigfrid's cockiness had turned out Weland, creator of Mimung,
Didrik camps within sight to Isung's castle8.
Sigfrid masquerades as modest horseman and rides down to spy them out.
He demands an appropriate present ('toll and tribute') from the
for his king. Didrik's noble knights throw dices for it, and Sigfrid
receives Amling's horse and shield. However, 'Amlung' follows
King Isung's special
agent with Wideke's white horse Skimling to get back his own
may come. Sigfrid defeats Amlung as they meet in the woodland nearby.
discloses his identity to his pursuer, and gives back the horse to its
owner because he remembers Amlung's father Hornboge as
kinsman. Wideke had also recognized Sigfrid, but both do not report on
this incident to the Franco-Rhenish king.
King Isung agrees with a tournament. He nominates
eleven sons and
Sigfrid. Didrik cannot defeat him with his sword on
and second day. Therefore, he goes to Wideke and insists on handing
the Mimung. At the beginning of the third day of tournament, Didrik
off to use that sword, but takes it nonetheless.
After King Didrik has seriously hit Sigfrid five
the beaten recognises
the wilful deceit and surrenders. For all that perjury, Sigfrid freely
offers his service to the Franco-Rhenish king.
Sigfrid enters in matrimony with Grimhilde
(Crimilla in the Old Swedish texts)
of his new king. As doing so, Sigfrid receives the half of Niflunga
realm that King Didrik has promised him.9
King Sigfrid, just married, loves to be the broker
of King Gunter and Brynhilde. This service is delicate insofar as
had sworn her faithfulness before his own marriage, and so she gives
now a good talking to his broken oath of love!
The kingly marriage was performed between Gunter
Brynhilde, but she
successfully refuses every night. Gunter confides his problem to
who discloses that she might lose her power at her first physical
Gunter thus entrusts Sigfrid with further proceeding. However,
does not refuse against Sigfrid.
Grimhilde later finds Sigfrid's trophy of that hot
lovers' tryst: Brynhilde's
ring. It triggers off dispute and deepest odium between Grimhilde and
In the end, basically in parallelism with the Nibelungenlied, Sigfrid
be killed by Hagen's spear.
Grimhilde swears revenge and marries King Aktilius
(in other texts Attala, 'Attila'). He is descendant of a mighty Frisian
ruler family and the ruler of a large region belonging to today's
Netherlands and Lower Saxony. Seven years
later, she attracts her brothers to meet her at the residence of her
(Soest of German Westphalia), centre of the so-called Hunaland
King Gunter combines the great chance to take over
realm of his
brother-in-law, although Hagen and Queen Oda warn him in vain. So the Niflungi
finally accept the invitation and move out with 1,000 fighters. Hagen
two fortune telling women on that ride at a river lake on the Rhine. He
slays them after a trivial dispute about their ominous prophecy, and,
a short time later, the ferryman at Duna mouth crossing point.
After a half day ride, the Niflungi meet Margrave
Rodinger (the Old Swedish Rodgerd)
at Bakalar ('Becculær', 'Pæclar' in the texts) that Ritter
identified in today's region of Bergisch Gladbach.
After a short stay they follow the Duna (dwna), passing Thorta
(Dortmund) on their route
to Susat. There the Niflungi fate is sealed in the
against the folk of King Attala, who, nonetheless, must give the lives
4,000 fighters for his victory.
At the banquet, where Providence was tempted,
wins her little
son Aldrian to punch on Hagen's chin for funny encouragement.
the irritable Niflung becomes so tremendously enraged by the boy's
that he beheads him and his tutor. In reply, King Attala gives
order to slay all Niflungi.
Already on the first day of the battle, Gunter
surrender to the fighters of Duke Osid, nephew of Attala.
They throw him into the Schlangenturm10
('Snake Tower') by order of Attala, where the king of the Niflungi
Grimhilde kills her brother Gislher (Gynter by the Old Swedish
manuscripts) by driving a burning log into his throat. She already did
the same to Gernhold who had been slain by Hildebrand (in the texts Hillebrand),
follower and advisor of Didrik.
Thereupon, Didrik slays Grimhilde on Attala's
wounded by Grimhilde's follower Lord Irung, surrendered to Didrik after
his last fight against the Franco-Rhenish king, who, nevertheless,
well for him. Hagen wishes for a young woman to be his nurse. He is
to beget a son in the last night of his life, and hands over the keys
Sigfrid's Hoard to the expectant mother of the child, a promised son to
be named Aldrian.
Young aged, about 12, Aldrian attracts King
to that three-doors treasury cave and locks him there. Thereafter
reports that Revenge of the Niflungi to Brynhilde who rewards
generously. Then he takes over the Nibelungen realm as good king.
The location of the Niflunga Hoard11
was kept as a secret and the cave never entered again. Its position
be estimated being far from King Attala's residence.12
Map of 1968
Neffel - Niflung
According to German Wikipedia 'Neffelbach' (retrieved
the name of this rivulet is based on Nevvel =
because 'the banks
of this stream are frequently covered with fog in the morning'. A
legend rooted in the region of the rivulet's source tells about two
influential underground dwarf rulers Niff
Obviously picking up this context, the Nibelungenlied provides a more
less splendid allusion with two dwarves called Nibelung, father
son. The latter had a brother called Schilbung, possibly
derived from a
place named 'Schievelsheide' nearby. Their father left
an immense treasure captured later by Siegfried.
Interestingly, the 350th stanza of the
Nibelungenlied reads Nebelkappe = fog cap
instead of Tarnkappe = stealth cap: ...with
it everybody could do anything of his courage
– apparently a further allusion to this Neffel region. (It seems also
comprehensible that dense fog can make particular smaller
creatures less visible.)
The author(s) of the elder Waltharius,
Upper German poetry ascribed to 9th
century, nicknamed the Nibelungen - Niflungen Franci nebulones.
A rather objective initial interpretation that unmasks the Neffel dwarf
legend follows ore processing being proved there at an early date, in
region already applied in Roman times. Thus, it seems consistent that
simply called dwarves did their jobs in underground mining or
'in the caves'.
And they might have been commanded by those potential, smart and
individuals of same body size who were masterly engaged in profitable
iron and fine art metal works.
Regarding the etymological side of word forms beginning with nifl-
, Jan de Vries rightfully connects original
meaning with both dark and foggy, as the former
might correspond well with traditional mining work in this region (J.
de Vries: Altnordisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch).
Compared with Ritter's localization of Sigord-Sigfrid's childhood,
forging episode and treasure capture (see annotations 1
the Neffel region as well as locations named Rheinbach (early certified
as Reginsbach) and
both nearby, seem to gain in archaic background.
(His birth and fate as a baby appears as
of Frankish Genoveva legend enriched with motives of the birth of Moses
and the saga of Romulus and Remus.)
Some old maps of northern Harz show a deserted
(see X- mark on the linked Nordharz map) that was named originally Sigefrideshuson
according to elder archive maps (Ritter).
settlement. A view to SE.
on the Holtemme rivulet.
where to find the rocky ground of Ilsenstein Castle.
Mime takes an armour he has just made for a king, puts
and it does fit. Moreover, it obviously fits so well that he can move
it to Brynhilde's castle. If he were aged as a boy, he could certainly
not slay seven guardians and go at loggerheads with some knights and
on the queen's castle. What are the mathematical probabilities that
the king and Sigfrid may have same size of just about a giant's? There
is much impressing description of Sigfrid's size, as Lord Brand recites
at the Grand Banquet for King Didrik's followers and friends (Sv 177&178).
Does that speech might rather spring from boating yobbos who are much
themselves? Only a short time later these guys have go home with a
man-to-man result of a trial of strength at King Isung: They had lost
less than nine of twelve fights! Besides, Hagen and King Gunter were
Didrik's fight may be left aside here for his wilful deceit by broken
Mime seems not to be any old smith who has to do his
for the villagers. Rulers of far regions obviously know about his
Mime seems to coddle Sigfrid who certainly has not to
His adoptive son, obviously frustrated, thanks his foster-father's
tenderness by hanging around, poking his nose into the smithy now and
where he does nothing else than vastly enervate and beat Mime's
Just at that point, as Sigfrid was hardly to control for his enormous
Mime is going to teach him working at the anvil.
According to early documented testimonies, a village
– just a few miles far from Siewershausen – does belong not only to the
eldest settlements of that region, but is also closely related to iron
works of early times. Ritter was witness of scientific diggings and
of ferrous slag found at Minsleben, whose suffix leben is a
from Thuringian leva or leven. Ritter
notes well that Mime was written down as Mymmer or Mynner
the Old Swedish manuscripts.
An intriguing localization of Mime's smithy has been
Liegt das „Rheingold“ in Rheinbach-Loch bei Bonn?
Referring to the Reginsmál and Fáfnismál
of the Elder Edda (Codex Regius), a ruler named Hjalprek
put Regin (intertextual
character corresponding with Mime) in charge of raising up Sigord
Regarding Ritter's schedule of Thidreks saga, this Hjalprek
be considered as early Salian King Childeric I. Both historiographical
and poetical texts localize his activities also in Saxony and
Following Gregory of Tours, Childeric's territory or influence might
have included the Eiffel. Regarding that passage provided by
the Elder Edda's lays, we could identify an
Eiffel location called Rheinbach – actually recorded in former
times as Regin(s)bach
(= 'Regin's rivulet') – as place of Sigfrid's foster father. This
assumption might also implicate an important area of narration provided
some heroic lay of the Edda.
On the subject of the slaughter of Sigfrid, Patzwaldt
intertextual etymological details provided by the Nibelungenlied and
saga. Subsequently, he points out the Eiffel as more believable origin
location of some of the lay’s most dramatic parts.
Seven miles to the southeast from Minsleben, the Regenstein
up as a small woodland mountain with steeply ascending rocks.
surrounds the Regenstein. Photo by the author.
Imposing caves are crossing the Regenstein foot area
nicknamed Feuerland ('Fireland').
They could have been serving for places of Germanic worshipping, eg Thing
by the author.
Today, just a mile far from the Regenstein, ponds and
fill the little valley of Goldbach rivulet. Old land registry
specify its parcels as Drachenkopf (Dragonhead) and Drachenloch.
latter, 'Dragon Valley', rolls approximately a third mile.
rangers of this district still use these names! Today, this area is
run and restricted.
'Dragon Valley' rolls about a third mile.
Photos by the
author who thanks the proprietors of this
the release of both photos.
Was Regen a solitary protozoon or rather the Count of
There might have been an ideal habitat for the first
Although the manuscripts report on Regen as a brother of Mime, this
could mean spiritual brotherhood: Had Mime some slyness and cunning of
On the other hand, Hartebold alias the first Count of
below), a homeless parvenu who recently had received that location
without remarkable means, could easily and specially protect his area
making good use of the ghastly natural scenery surrounding his castle:
As most important performer, he just needed the completing 'dragon' to
horrify (and rob?) unexpected visitors – certainly by masquerade. There
are some tortuous items supporting such theory of an unreal dragon, cf
original quotations in Sv 158 and Sv 304.
The German translation of the Volsunga saga, ch
this speech by the 'dragon':
'Haven't you heard how that all folk are afraid of me
|[Retranslated by the author. Note
'The Story of
the Volsungs', as being translated by William Morris and Eirikr
(Walter Scott Press, London, 1888) rather gives less exact translation
by this speech of Fafnir: 'Hadst thou never heard how that all folk
were adrad of me, and of the awe of my countenance?']
A robber masqueraded as a dragon, as some authors
never dare to chose his hidey-hole on the foot of a feudal lord's
or somewhere nearby; and a wary Mime, heaping up an enormous mass of
by his 'High-tech smith works company', would never entrust neither a
kinsman nor any unfamiliar person with that means in order to keep it
away from his questionable or curious workers and, generally, any kind
of temptation. Nonetheless, Mime would certainly do accordingly with
brother who ought to meet contemporary VIP class as well: Regen – Count
A German translation of the Volsunga saga
on the incentive related to the smith and his brother. The latter or
'dragon-worm', basing on narration by Fáfnismál of
the Elder Edda, makes this confession towards Sigfrid
has wounded him lethally:
'I had on the shocking helmet to protecting myself
for all the time I was keeping my brother's heritage... so that nobody
else dared to approach me; no sword was frightening me, and I never
so many men against me, methought being much stronger than them, so all
were afraid of me ...' (Translation by the author.)
The Volsunga saga, however, provides a divergent
of the 'brothers’ heritage.
its ruined castle by Merian, 1654.
There is historical narration about name
giving to Regenstein:
Thus, the name of this location was contemporarily known. If a 'huge
were living at that time somewhere around the Regenstein, it could have
named after the short name of its proprietor.
Malvericus, King of Thuringia, started a campaign against the Saxons.
his army was beaten back at Veckenstedt (Veckenstädt) in the Harz.
There, a brave fighting nobleman called Hartebold was rewarded for his
service by the option to chose a piece of land for his own
found the little rocky mountains, he shouted out, 'This stone is
right ('regen') one for my home!'
he had built his castle there, he called himself 'Count of Regenstein'
um den Regenstein. Authors: Hans Bauernfeind, Helga Sorge, Hermann
Wehr. Publisher: Schloßmuseum Blankenburg. .
There seems to be at least one interesting parallelism
to the Siebengebirge
on the Rhine which is believed Dragon Place by Upper German
is an old German(ic) word for regnen or Regen, while gebirge
means 'mountains'. The Old Norse name for Regen is Fafnir
4 Dragon Blood
Regarding the legendary incredible qualities of
Svava itself qualifies all those quotations to a reasonable degree when
retelling the tournament fight against Didrik, where Sigfrid, even
by an armour, must give up for his wounds!
Incidentally, by retelling his fable of the
had taken that special bath from the beast's bloody brew, Sigfrid
could certainly make some people believe to have become invulnerable
just by this thrilling 'excuse': As historians have noted, the
most important dynasty of early Frankish rulers, were tainted with
skin disease called 'ichthyosis hystrix'. Its most striking form will
human skin as thick as a swine's rind.
This is translated text from the entry Drache=Dragon
by German DUDEN, Edition 1969:
...The victory over the dragon means victory over chaos,
or an old order...
Thus, the dragon represents the bad – and he must not
out by its natural appearance!
as being placed on the Drachenfels 'Dragon Rock' on the Rhine.
protozoon sculpture is a detailed reconstruction basing on real
fragments preserved at Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt, and the Berlin
by the author.
5 Brynhilde's Castle
Sigfrid obviously ventured without horse but in heavy
smithy straight to Brynhilde's residence the Svava nicknames Seaguard
– so this place must be in reach by walking! The nearest castle to this
condition will be either the Heimburg or Ilsenstein;
the latter on a mountain in the neighbourhood of the highest of the
the Brocken with its marvellous sight-seeing place. Incidentally, the
provides Isenstein as Brynhilde's residence.
The manuscripts specify her castle's location 'at
Mountains' (Sv 14); and she had also 'a stud estate in the
nearby' whose horses were much praised for their extraordinary
Queen Brynhilde is known as orphan. Her uncle – who
her brother-in-law – is Heim (the) Studder or Heimir.
runs her stud estate, as provided by the Völsunga saga that
nicknames Brynhilde's castle Shielded Castle or Castle of
Actually, its rocks photographed from the distance do resemble simple
of Late Antiquity being heaped up irregularly. The position of Heimir's
castle, the Heimburg that became related with German rulers
IV and Henry the Lion later on, can be verified by a large lake – 'sea'
(See) in German language – recently found subterranean only some
miles to the north, as the proprietors of Dragon Valley land
informed the author.
Nonetheless, Queen Brynhilde might have had no reason to
after the death of her parents and move down to her bad- tempered
on the lower Heimburg (Sv 14), as Walter Böckmann does also believe.
This castle might belong to the queen's real estates; but the
with its surviving rocks and longwinded access of nearly one mile, is
quite more representative landscape position.
by the author.
the photo the
Heimburg cone at an important strategic position.
Harz rising behind
Heimburg by Merian,
The traditional but 'peculiar horse breeding in
as Tacitus quotes in his Germania, ch 27, is also shown by the Horse
Capital at the crypt of Drübeck Cloister Church
founded c. 2 miles far from the Ilsenstein. Incidentally, the distance
from this place to the Heimburg is approximately 9 miles.
6 Theoderic or
He was proclaimed King of Bern at an age below
Already grown older, he has to flee to King
Attala who grants him exile at his Soest (Susat) residence
for a big threat coming from Didrik's kinsman
Ermenrik. Now, in the period of deprivation,
Didrik seizes the opportunity to aid Saxon
King Attala warring against Baltic tribes. Thereafter he leaves
Attala's court for a campaign against Ermenrik.
the battle at Gransport on the Moselle's mouth results in
high personal losses. He moves back to King Attala and
renounces his restoration to the throne for the deaths of a
kinsman and two offspring of King Attala's family.
Some years later, after the Niflunga
at Soest, he leaves King Attala's country for Bern where he
with his new army. He meets the troops of Sevekin, Ermenrik's follower,
at Graach on the Moselle and
overthrows him. The scriptors relate that Didrik was immediately
crowned King of Rome, thereafter even ruling a greater
Locations of Thidreks saga (Ritter).
Ritter believes in Bonn on the Rhine as place of
young King Didrik. He argues that Bern is based on derivation
Latin Verona - Berona as handed down actually in the
for Bonn on the Rhine. Nonetheless, we seriously have to consider
quite more precious ancient place for Bern: 'Varne', provable
of the Roman VARNENVM.
location appearing between Attala's residence and Didrik's Bern is Babilonia.
It can be identified as Cologne on the Rhine by clerical messaging of 11th-
German century. Thus, the basic
related to the vita of Franco-Rhenish king Didrik cannot be confused
those of Theodoric the Great.
Hagen's father can enter the garden of certainly well
castle without any problems for a lovers' tryst! Therefore, he
had been introduced to the court, coming across with self-confidence
as a druid (Sv 161). The appearance of a Celtic priest in the Eiffel
of the Niflungi might correspond with those typical
relicts in today’s location names there. The former location of Hagen's
family, as provided by his name apposition he certainly had received
his father, is occasionally forwarded as 'of Tröya' (Sv 340) or 'of
Troja' (Thidreks saga, Mb 395). However, it seems less credible that
ancestors were of Trojan origin or came from the Colonia Ulpia Traiana
of Xanten. We rather should consider Frankish Troyes,
outstanding Celtic location of the Tricassi.
8 King Isung's Land
... They were riding across large woodlands and
The Svava's description perfectly corresponds with the
German Lüneburg. Ritter estimates the kingly castle on the Kalkberg
of Lüneburg town.
Kalkberg of Lüneburg
Incidentally, Sigfrid reports to King Isung that on the
arrival is 'also a lion of gold with a crown' (Sv 185).
there was no other subject mentioned afore being in connection with
symbol, it must be King Isung's, too. Actually, we know dynasties with
a lion on their heraldic crests that have been ruling this region
Brunswick and Lüneburg.
9 Sigfrid and
The Svava does not report on any affections for a love
Sigfrid and Grimhilde!
Due to Ritter's schedule of the Didriks chronicle,
over 40 when she married King Attala. Considering a health-conscious
of life as well as corresponding genes, she could have given birth to a
child, the meaningful son of King Attala, just in time. Nonetheless, we
may wonder if the couple were willing to sacrifice him, probably their
only heir apparent, for the apparently planned provocation for slaying
the Niflungi. If they would not, any suitably aged son of King
concubine(s) could have been publicly introduced as Grimhilde's son.
As a heroic lay of the Elder Edda provides, Atli
let punish a
court-maid who alleged that Gudrun (= Grimhilde) was sleeping
at Atli's residence.
Regarding the Niflunga pedigree extracted from
saga manuscripts, however, Grimhilde's youngest brother Gislher cannot
be the natural son of Queen Oda, spouse of early died King Aldrian, as
Ritter rightly stated.
Former existence of a tower with this name is provable
Soest of High
11 Sigfrid's Niflunga
The hoard, most probably a cave, should meet these
||That location must be easily
King Attala's residence, for a twelve years old boy and an elder man on
horses, but without an escort or entourage.
||The position and inlet of the cave must not be
with ease in the
||The cave must contain mortal remains of a man
with earth or
other natural material after passing one and a half millennium.
||The position of the dead body must not indicate a
||The dead may not be as died young. His date of
must be verifiable
to pre-christian time of that territory.
||Considering the secret trip to the cave, the
of the dead must be ascribable to a ruler of 6th
A cave meeting these conditions found in a rocky hill at
In the tunnel of that Hohler Stein ('Hollow
of a man were found in an undisrupted stratum. Nonetheless, a burial
been impossible for that position. The age of the dead was determined
nearly 50. The jewellery found at his skeleton, a rune fibula, an arm
a finger ring and knobs, as preserved today at North-Rhine-Westphalian
museums of Lippstadt and Münster, do correspond with the period of
Attala's lifetime and appropriate status of a nobleman on the hunt.
Stieren and Dr Julius Andree, his scientific assistant, directed this
On the next official excursion (made in 1933) relicts of a forgery of
War were found at the western inlet of the cave that still has an
number of tunnels. As Ritter notes in his book on the Nibelungen
Dr Adree informed him that Prof Stieren 'certainly had suppressed
onto the Kallenhardt
Position of the dead man
copy from the cave's ground plan as given by Eberhard Henneböle,
of that region.
12 Graves, Soest 6th
If survivors of the Soest Battle had wanted to leave a
about those dramatic events to the far posterity by the techniques of
era, they surely would have resigned themselves to do so by gravely
At that time, in other epochs as well, characteristic
persons were often expressed by precious burial objects, nonetheless –
Which would be the least significant arrangements if to
proceed to the
kingly family of Soest in this way?
In springtime of 1930, about a mile to the south of the old town
of Soest, a burying place was found at excavation work for a
building. Prof August Stieren also directed the diggings and
of this special discovery. Its basic properties (reckoned to Frankish
are exactly meeting the aforesaid conditions: There was a small male
very distinguished burial chamber (archaeologically catalogued as no
between two, but only two noble female chambers (no 106, no 105).
||No male kingly burial
died in Sigfrid's
||For that reason not less than two
chambers to be
found side by side, because Attala married the mother of Hagen's son
after the death of Grimhilde.
||Since Aldrian, the obvious son of
died early by
Hagen's sword, his grave must be found close to one female burial
chamber – the 'royal' one.
||Regarding an important symbol for
Attala's death, one female burial chamber, that of the concubine
who shared with Hagen his deathbed, ought to contain a piece that
either shows or is a key.
||The female burial chamber of
contain otherwise or in addition a symbol expressing an
intimate ratio for the generation of Aldrian, designated avenger
whose father's coat of arms features an uncrowned eagle.
According to Ritter's schedule of the Didriks chronicle, the time of
burial must be provable between 527 and 530 at least for the 'queen's
and that of her supposed son.
Graves no 1, 18,
The younger solidus of the 'queen's burial chamber'
(no 106) is a mint of East Roman Emperor Justinian I (527–565).
It displays almost no evidence of usage.
The elder one is a worn coin of Roman Emperor Valentinian I.
These wooden burial chambers must have belonged to a
mound. Prints of a wooden bench were incontestably found in chamber
no. 105. Thus, this chamber could have been accessible
a certain period after the time of burial. As regards numismatic
dating, a coin and/or some other burial gift could have been deposed later in so far.
Some German criticism against Ritter levelled
at the key or other grave goods in the female burial chamber no 105
(see items 4–5) appears inconsistent, however: The key could be
either a symbolic replica or the death and burial of the involved
person took place after Aldrian's revenge.
August Stieren: Ein neuer Friedhof
fränkischer Zeit aus Soest.
Germania, Korrespondenzblatt der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission des
Archäologischen Instituts, XIV 1930. Heft 3. (Pgs 166–175.)
Heinz Ritter-Schaumburg: Die Nibelungen
zogen nordwärts. 1981.
picture on the left:
The medallion (c. 10 cm or c. 4 inches in diameter)
and its contour sketch by the author. This piece was found in the
female burial chamber no 105
also contained an iron made key. Interestingly, such a key as burial
object appears rather atypical to that time period. Both Ritter and
Walter Böckmann interpret Prof Stieren's
statements as concealing his real final conclusion from that
rune fibula found in the 'royal' chamber no 106 and its contour sketch
the reverse (c. 5 cm or c. 2 inches in diameter).
type experts have
read one of its engravings A-T-A-N-O or A-T-A-L-O.
(See also: Further
information to read the fibula.)
pieces: Burghof-Museum Soest. Photos
and illustrations by the author.
Final Remarks and Reactions
In comparison with MHG works
such as the
and Swedish manuscripts appear as objective as a police report. We also
must state that historiographical and bibliographical characteristics
medieval literature allow to conclude that stylistically drier
were rather serving for embellished adaptations of sophisticated epic
Furthermore, the long-established scholastic opinion that the
core of the Nibelungen downfall were the defeat of Burgundian King
by West-Roman and following Hunnish troops in 435/436 appears as de
facto less homogenous identification referring to transfigured
appropriation being based upon recognizable deceptive instrumentation
destination of the Nibelungenlied (notably Aloys Schröfl and
Bálint Hóman, allusively Ritter and other authors). Moreover,
the literary research has come to realize that the writing artists
with 'courtier’s poetry' would have thought hardly of any atavism back
to literary style of Thidreks saga. Ernst F. Jung, expert in Roman and
early Merovingian history, has evaluated the research of both
and Ritter. He points out the most significant difference between the
saga and the Nibelungenlied with this statement: 'Their historical
of space and time is absolutely unlike. The Thidreks saga relates
events being connected with North-Rhine Westphalia while the
is basing on poetical fantasy playing at the Danube ...' („das
Gesamtpanorama raumzeithistorischer Art ist ganz und gar verschieden.
Ths. spielt auf Chronik-Basis in NRW, das Nl. als Spiel dichterischer
im Donauland ...“)
Peter Arens, historian at
TV-channel ZDF, remarks upon
of the historical Burgundians in his book Sturm über Europa
(2001): 'It is interesting that this ferocious attempt of
was ascribed to Attila afterwards, although the battle took place
his regency.' (Interessant ist, daß dieser ruchlose
im Nachhinein Attila zugeschrieben wurde, obwohl die Schlacht vor
Regentschaft lag.“) The Bibliotheca of Photios, Byzantine
of 9th century and Patriarch of
provided the records of Olympiodorus the Elder, allow to conclude that
the historical Burgundians were (also) settling in the region of Moyndiakon
– Mundiacum, cf today's locations 'Müntz' and 'Mündt'
between the Eiffel and the lower Rhine.
As Ritter has shown, the Mundia of Thidrekssaga covers
location of the Niflungi.
Regarding the martial expeditions provided by the
Thidreks saga and the so-called Svava, Ritter decidedly
chronological accounts of these manuscripts into
This allocation does basically concern the reign
of Theuderic I. Regarding both archaeological findings and
historiographic sources, in first third of 6th
century this Frankish
king finally took over not only today's Westphalian regions east of the
spatial period Ritter dates the expedition of the Niflungi
crossing the Rhine eastwards, as these people
and their leaders are nowhere
mentioned as 'Burgundians' in the Old Norse and Swedish manuscripts.
Conclusively, there might have been an obvious lost archaic rendition
for the works written by the postulated Lower German provider and Old
Norse/Swedish scribes and
those Upper German authors, because the Nordic traditions do augment
with some receptive detail
definitely conveyed by the Nibelungenlied resp its suggested earlier
Regarding discussions and
interpretations of Nibelungen
however, the experts go at it hammer and tongues to maintain or defend
their position: Aloys Schröfl had his own publisher company to make
known his findings. In the end, his contemporary critics paid some
The notable research of Heinz
reliability and reviewing the doctrinal foundation of Germanistic
that, however, has not been ready to receive him for some obvious
Thus, an institute of Siegen University, Germany, put a sharp
flyer in circulation to bawl out Ritter's analysis of Thidreks saga
certainly seems poisonous to Germanistic research. The authors of that
leaflet were not only students.
Nevertheless, Heinz Ritter's bibliographical work instigated
many German reactions
by private researchers. One of most interesting contributions, besides
to emendate him for some more or less controversial attitude, was
by Rudolf Patzwaldt (see above). He also provides a captivating
analysis of some geographical items related to the Nibelungenlied and
Heinz Ritter was honoured with German Bundesverdienstkreuz
Service Cross of Germany) and the Verdienstorden des Landes
(Order of Service of North-Rhine Westphalia) for his meritorious