The Nibelungenlied



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The Nibelungenlied: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

After the guests depart, Siegfried tells his wife and his men that he, too, wants to return home. Kriemhild, however, doesn’t want to leave before she and her brothers have divided their landholdings. The Burgundian kings assure Siegfried that they will share all their lands and castles with him. Siegfried thanks them and says that, since she will be rich in possessions in the Netherlands, Kriemhild can forgo her Burgundian inheritance. But Kriemhild speaks up to remind him that allegiances to vassals must still be accounted for.
Like Brunhild before her, Kriemhild finds herself largely at the mercy of her husband’s and brothers’ whims regarding the disposal of her rightful lands, but she finds a way to speak up for herself—her Burgundian vassals might not wish to transfer their allegiance to the king of a foreign realm.
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Gernot grants Siegfried a thousand knights for his household. Kriemhild wants to take Hagen and Ortwin as her liegemen, but Hagen is incensed at the implication that Gunther can “give” them to anyone or that they can abandon their obligations to the Burgundian court.
Notably, Hagen identifies himself strongly with his obligations to Burgundy and resists being placed in service to Siegfried. Gunther doesn’t show up in these negotiations whatsoever, another suggestion of his weakness.
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They abandon this matter and get ready to leave, taking Kriemhild’s retinue of 32 maidens and 500 vassals. Messengers are sent to inform Siegmund and Sieglind that their son, Siegfried, is on the way with his new bride. The happy parents prepare a high seat for the royal couple. Many vassals, as well as Sieglind with her ladies, ride out to meet the newcomers and accompany them home to Xanten. After the Burgundian entourage has been warmly welcomed in the Netherlands, Siegmund announces that he is making over his crown and kingdom to his son.
At last, Siegfried returns to his native land a fully civilized figure, fit for kingship—in contrast to the fighting and wanderlust of his wilder youth. He and Kriemhild become King and Queen of the Netherlands.
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Siegfried lives in magnificence and dispenses justice for ten years, at which time Kriemhild gives birth to a son, named Gunther after his uncle. Brunhild, too, gives birth to a son in Burgundy, named Siegfried.
Both kingdoms dwell in peace for ten years, and both households bear sons. It appears that all is as it should be.
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