A summary of the Thidrekssaga, part 1

On this page, I will give an extended summary of Thidrekssaga chapters 1-79.

  1. Samson and Hildeswind
  2. Dietrich and Hildebrand
  3. Heime
  4. Osantrix and Oda
  5. Attila and Erka
  6. Wieland the Smith

I disclaim all attempts to scientifically study the saga on basis of this summary alone.

For easy reference, I have divided the saga into small parts. I do largely, but not entirely, follow the division of Von der Hagen's. I also give the chapter-numbering of the Membrame-manuscript.

For a discussion of the internal (in)consistency of the saga, see Boer. (2nd href)


1: Samson and Hildeswind (Ths. 1-13)

Since the first pages of the Membrame are missing, this first part of the saga stems from manuscripts A and B.

he career of Samson, Dietrich's grandfather. Samson is a knight of jarl Rodger, whose daughter Hildeswind he steals. He conquers a great many cities, including Bern. He kills jarl Elsung of Babilonia. Samson's son Dietmar marries Odilia, daughter of the jarl of Bern. Samson dies, leaving three sons. They divide his realm:

Follow Ermenrik
Follow Ake
Consequences of the killing of Elsung

2: Dietrich's first fight (Ths. 14-17)

ntroduction of Dietrich Dietmar's son. The hero Hildebrand comes to Dietmar's court to be Dietrich's mentor. When Dietrich is twelve years old, he and Hildebrand capture the dwarf Alberich, who as a ransom helps them to kill the dangerous giants Grim and Hild. Dietrich finds his first sword: Nagelring.


3: Heime (Ths. 18-20)

he hero Heime Studder's son comes to Bern. He challenges Dietrich and is defeated.

Follow Dietrich, king Dietmar, Hildebrand and Heime


4: Osantrix and Oda (Ths. 21-38)

Introduction of two royal families:

ing Hertnit defeats king Nordian, who becomes his follower. Then Hertnit dies. His two sons divide his realm. Nordian and his sons become followers of Osantrix. Then Nordian dies and Aspilian succeeds him.

ing Osantrix wants to marry Oda, daughter of king Melias of the Huns. Melias, however, indignantly refuses his courtship. Osantrix decides on some trickery.

After a little war, he enters Melias' realm with a small band of followers, including Nordian's four sons. He calls himself Fridrich.
On arriving at Melias' capital, the inhabitants open the gates for him, although Melias distrusts Fridrich from the start. Fridrich, however, at generous length explains he has been scandalously mistreated by Osantrix and seeks revenge. He hopes to find his chance in Melias' service. Melias refuses his service three times over.

Meanwhile, the four giant brothers are impatiently waiting for the battle to break loose. Widolf with the Pole is, as always, bound by heavy iron fetters. Aventrod and Etger, whose task is to prevent Widolf from starting the battle too soon, fasten these fetters to the town wall.
Widolf, however, is so shocked by seeing his lord bow his knee to another king, that he breaks loose and joyfully commences the slaughter. King Melias himself escapes, but his capital is looted by Osantrix. Osantrix discovers Oda and marries her on the spot by offering her a golden and a silver shoe.

Follow Aventrod and Widolf
Follow Etger
Follow Aspilian

5: Attila and Erka (Ths. 39-56)

ttila, second son of king Osid of Friesland, sets out to conquer the realm of Melias. Everything goes smoothly, especially when Melias dies (incidentally, being one of the very few men in the saga to die of natural causes). Attila becomes king and founds Soest as his capital.

To consolidate his rule, Attila wishes to marry Erka, daughter to Osantrix and Oda and thus granddaughter to Melias. Adhering to tradition, Osantrix indignantly refuses, which leads to war. Attila's follower Rodinger succesfully ends the war and offers to go and fetch Erka.

After spending some time at Osantrix' court in disguise, Rodinger speaks to Erka and after a while she consents to marry Attila. They flee from Osantrix' court. Osantrix pursues them, but the cavalry arrives just in time and Attila marries Erka. Osantrix decides on a bloody feud with Attila, but for the moment holds his peace.

Follow Attila
Follow Rodinger
Follow Osantrix

6: Wieland the Smith (Ths. 57-79)

ade, Nordian's half-brother, wishes his son Wieland to become a smith. Thus, he brings him to Ballova where Wieland becomes the apprentice of the dwarves. The dwarves are so pleased with him, that one year later they offer Wade to pay back their fees if Wieland can stay for another year. They also stipulate that Wade must be back in precisely one year. If not, they will kill Wieland.

Wade returns three days before the set date, but unexpectedly dies in a landslide. Wieland, on discovering this, decides to run. For good measure he kills the dwarves, then fashions himself a kind of canoo from a tree. In this little boat, he travels the Weser towards the North Sea. He drifts ashore in the realm of king Nidung on Jutland. His arrival is noticed by one of Nidung's chiefs, Regin. Regin steals Wieland's smithing tools, but Wieland does not notice.

Wieland becomes a servant at Nidung's court. One day, he looses the best knife of the king and makes another. Nidung notices that suddenly his knife cuts much better than before, and questions Wieland. Wieland says that Nidung's regular smith Amilias has made the knife, but Nidung understands this cannot be so. As a result, Amilias challenges Wieland to a battle of skill. Amilias will fashion an armour and Wieland a sword. Then Wieland may try to kill Amilias, who will wear his armour, with his newly made sword.

On preparing to make the sword, Wieland discovers his tools are gone. He knows Regin has to be the thief, but does not know his name. He makes a statue of Regin, which is so lifelike that Nidung immediately recognizes him. Wieland gets his tools back.

Then, Wieland forges the famous sword Mimung and a second, lesser sword. When the day comes for the battle against Amilias, Wieland cleanly cuts Amilias into two pieces, Mimung being so sharp and smooth that at first Amilias does not even notice. Only when Wieland asks him to shake, Amilias falls apart. Of course, Nidung demands Mimung. Of course, Wieland gives him the second sword.

ome time later, war breaks out. On reaching enemy territory, Nidung discovers he has forgotten to bring his Siegerstein, a magical implement conductive to winning battles. He offers his daughter to the knight bringing him the stone before morning.

Wieland sets out and brings the stone, but before he reaches Nidung, another knight wants to steal the stone (and the daughter). Wieland kills the knight, which makes Nidung very angry. Wieland departs from Nidung.

Later on, he returns in disguise and gives Nidung's daughter a love philter, which, however, is discovered by her magical knife. Therefore Wieland makes her a new knife, looking the same but having no magical properties. The princess, however, notices her knife suddenly cuts much better and deduces Wieland must have made it. Thus, Wieland is discovered. As a punishment, Nidung cuts his knee-tendons and puts him to work in his smithy.

Now, Wieland wants revenge. First, he seduces the princess, then he cleverly kills Nidung's two younger sons. Then his brother Egil the Bowman comes to Nidung's court. Wieland fashions a coat of feathers and makes a test flight. Then, he binds a bladder filled with blood to his arm and flies away. Nidung, on seeing this, commands Egil to shoot him. Egil shoots and hits the bladder. Wieland gets away.

After Nidung's death, Wieland concludes a peace with his son Otwin. He is reunited to his princess and their son: Witig.


Load the second part of the summary.