The Nibelungenlied: Translated by Margaret Armour

Date: 1200



WHEN noble Kriemhild was widowed, Count Eckewart stayed by her in Burgundy with his men, as honour bad him, and served his mistress with goodwill till his death.

At Worms, by the minster, they gave her a room, wide and high, rich & spacious, where she sat joyless with her attendants. To church she went often and gladly. Since her dear one was buried, how seldom she failed there! She went thither sorrowfully every day, and prayed to great God for his soul. Faithfully and without stint the knight was mourned.

Uta and her women ceased not to comfort her. But her heart was wounded so deep that she could not be cheered. She sorrowed for Siegfried more than wife ever did for husband. Her great love appeared therein, and she mourned him to the end, while her life endured. Strong and true she took vengeance at the last.

So she remained (I say sooth) till the fourth year after her husband’s death, and had spoken no word to Gunther, nor once, in the whole of that time, had looked on Hagen, her foe.

Then said Hagen of Trony, ’Couldst thou contrive that thy sister took thee to friend again? So would the Nibelung gold come into this land. Thou mightst win much thereof for thyself, if the queen were appeased.’

’We will try it,’ answered the king. ’I will send my brothers thither, that haply they may prevail upon her to do it gladly.’

But Hagen said, ’I doubt that will never be.’

Gunther sent Ortwin and the Margrave Gary to the court. When that was done, they brought Gernot, and Giselher the youth. And on friendly wise they essayed it with Kriemhild.

Bold Gernot of Burgundy said, ’Lady, thou mournest Siegfried’s death too long. The king will prove to thee that it was not he that slew him. Evermore thou art heard wailing bitterly.’

She said, ’No one blameth the king. Hagen’s hand slew him, and from me he discovered where he should stab. How could I know he hated him? Good care had I taken then not to betray his beautiful body, and had not needed now to weep, wretched woman that I am. I will never be the friend of them that did it.’

Then began Giselher, the valiant man, to entreat her.

She said, ’Ye give me no peace. I must greet him, but great is your blame therein, for without fault of mine the king hath brought on me bitter heart’s dole. With my mouth I may pardon him, but with my heart, never.’

’After this it will be better,’ thought her friends. ’What if he so entreat her that she grow glad again?’

’He may yet make it good to her,’ said Gernot, the warrior.

And the sorrowful woman said, ’See, I will do as ye desire; I will greet the king.’

When they told him that, the king went with his best friends to her. But Hagen durst not come before her. Well he knew his guilt, and that he had done her a wrong.

Since she had hid her hate to him, Gunther deemed it well to kiss her. If he had not wrought her such woe, he might have gone often and boldly into her presence.

Friends were never reconciled with so many tears, for her wrongs weighted heavy on her heart. She forgave them all, save the one man, for none but Hagen had slain him.

Soon after, they contrived that Kriemhild won the great hoard from the land of the Nibelungs, and brought it to the Rhine. It was her marriage-morning gift, & rightly hers. Giselher and Gernot went for it. Kriemhild sent eighty hundred men to fetch it from where it lay hid, and where Albric with his nearest kinsmen guarded it.

When they saw the men of the Rhine come for the treasure, bold Albric spake to his friends, ’We dare not refuse her the treasure, for it is the noble queen’s wedding gift. Yet we had never parted with it, if we had not lost with Siegfried the good Tarnkappe. At all times it was worn by fair Kriemhild’s husband. A woeful thing hath it proved for Siegfried that he took from us the Tarnkappe, and won all this land to his service.’

Then the chamberlain went and got the keys. Kriemhild’s men & some of her kinsmen stood before the mountain. They carried the hoard to the sea, on to the ships, and bare it across the waves from the mountain to the Rhine.

Now hear the marvels of this treasure. Twelve waggons scarce carried it thence in four days and four nights, albeit each of them made the journey three times. It was all precious stones and gold, and had the whole world been bought therewith, there had not been one coin the less. Certes, Hagen did not covet it without cause.

The wishing-rod lay among it, the which, if any discovered it, made him master over every man in all the world.

Many of Albric’s kinsmen went with Gernot. When Gernot and Giselher the youth got possession of the hoard, there came into their power lands, and castles, also, and many a good warrior, that served them through fear of their might.

When the hoard came into Gunther’s land, and the queen got it in her keeping, chambers and towers were filled full therewith. One never heard tell of so marvellous a treasure. But if it had been a thousand times more, but to have Siegfried alive again, Kriemhild had gladly stood bare by his side. Never had hero truer wife.

Now that she had the hoard, it brought into the land many stranger knights; for the lady’s hand gave more freely than any had ever seen. She was kind and good; that must one say of her.

To poor and rich she began to give, till Hagen said that if she lived but a while longer, she would win so many knights to her service that it must go hard with the others.

But King Gunther said, ’It is her own. It concerneth me not how she useth it. Scarcely did I win her pardon. And now I ask not how she divideth her jewels and her red gold.’

But Hagen said to the king, ’A wise man would leave such a treasure to no woman. By reason of her largess, a day will come that the bold Burgundians my rue.’

Then King Gunther said, ’I sware an oath to her that I would do her no more hurt, nor will I do it. She is my sister.’

But Hagen said, ’Let me be the guilty one.’

And so they brake their oath and took from the widow her rich hoard. Hagen got hold of all the keys.

Gernot was wroth when he heard thereof, & Giselher said, ’Hagen hath greatly wronged Kriemhild. I should have withstood him. Were he not my kinsman, he should answer for it with his life.’

Then Siegfried’s wife began to weep anew.

And Gernot said, ’Sooner than be troubled with this gold, let us sink it in the Rhine. Then it were no man’s.’

She went wailing to Giselher, and said, ’Dear brother, forsake me not, but be my kind and good steward.’

He answered her, ’I will, when we win home again. For the present we ride on a journey.’

The king & his kinsmen left the land. He took the best he had with him. Only Hagen tarried behind through the hate he bare Kriemhild, and that he might work her ill.

Or the great king came back, Hagen had seized all the treasure and sunk it in the Rhine at Lochheim. He thought to profit thereby, but did not.

Or Hagen hid the treasure, they had sworn a mighty oath that it should remain a secret so long as they lived. Neither could they take it themselves nor give it to another.

The princes returned, and with them many knights. Thereupon Kriemhild, with her women and her maidens, began to bewail her wrong bitterly. She was right woeful. And the knights made as to slay Hagen, and said with one accord, ’He hath done evilly.’ So he fled from before their anger till thy took him in favour again. They let him live, but Kriemhild hated him with deadly hate.

Her heart was heavy with new grief for her husband’s murder, and that they had stolen her treasure, and till her last day she ceased not to wail.

After Siegfried’s death (I say sooth) she mourned till the thirteenth year, nor could she forget the hero. She was ever true to him, and for this folk have praised her.

Uta founded a rich abbey with her wealth after Dankrat’s death, and endowed it with great revenue, the which it draweth still. It is the Abbey of Lorsch, renonwned to this day. Kriemhild also gave no little part thereto, for Siegfried’s soul, & for the souls of all the dead. She gave gold and precious stones with willing hand. Seldom have we known a truer wife.

After that Kriemhild forgave Gunther, and yet, through his fault, lost her great treasure, her heart’s dole was a thousand times worse than afore, and she was fain to be gone. A rich palace was built for Uta fast by the Cloister of Lorsch. She left her children and went thither, and there she lieth still, buried in her coffin.

Then said the queen, ’Dearest daughter mine, since thou canst not tarry here, dwell with me in my house at Lorsch, and cease from weeping.’

But Kriemhild answered, ’To whom then should I leave my husband?’

’Leave him here,’ said Uta.

’God in Heaven forbid!’ said the good wife. ’That could I never do, dearest mother; he must go with me.’

The sorrowful one had his body taken up, and his noble bones were buried again at Lorsch beside the minster with great honour; and there the bold hero lieth in a long coffin.

But when Kriemhild would have journeyed thither with her mother, the which she was fain to do, she was forced to tarry, by reason of news that came from far beyond the Rhine.


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Chicago: "Nineteenth Adventure," The Nibelungenlied: Translated by Margaret Armour Original Sources, accessed July 17, 2024,

MLA: . "Nineteenth Adventure." The Nibelungenlied: Translated by Margaret Armour, Original Sources. 17 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , 'Nineteenth Adventure' in The Nibelungenlied: Translated by Margaret Armour. Original Sources, retrieved 17 July 2024, from