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Kriemhild accuses Hagen of murdering Sigfrid after Sigfrid's wounds begin to bleed in Hagen's presence, by Emil Lauffer (1879) (Public Domain)

Nibelungs – Germanic Race Of Elves Or Giants?

The Nibelungs are one of the most mysterious peoples of the ancient world. Some scholars regard them as a race of dwarfs or elves. On the other hand, their close identification with giants suggests that they may have been viewed as die scions of a mythical race of giants. The story of the Nibelungs appears in the Nibelungenlied a Germanic heroic legend, as followers of the great Nordic hero Sigfrid.

First page from Nibelungenlied Manuscript C (c. 1230) (Public Domain)

First page from Nibelungenlied Manuscript C (c. 1230) (Public Domain)

The Nibelungenlied

The Nibelungenlied was based on Germanic heroic legends and written in Middle High German in about 1200 AD. The story for the most part agrees with the epic of Sigurd, told in the Icelandic Eddas, especially the Poetic Edda, as well as the Völsunga saga which were based on Old Norse traditions. The story commences with the mighty prince, Sigfrid, arriving at the Burgundian court of Gunther (Gunnar) at Worms on the Rhine to woo Gunther’s sister, Kriemhild, famous for her exceptional beauty. Sigfrid’s parents, Sigemund and Sigelinde, were from Santen (Xanten) in the Netherlands, where they later ruled as King and Queen. Gunther ruled with his brothers, Gernot and young Giselher, all of them sons of Dankrât and Uote (Uta). Among those who held at the court were Hagen of Tronege and Dankwart, sons of Aldrian, and their sister’s son, Ortwin of Metz. When Sigfrid’s company of knights with their shining armour arrived, Gunther called for Hagen, who knew all the kingdoms and foreign lands well, to inform him about Sigfrid.


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