The Nibelungenlied



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The Nibelungenlied: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Over the past ten years, Brunhild has been disquieted by Kriemhild’s marriage to Siegfried, and she wonders why they hold themselves aloof and offer Burgundy so little service, if indeed Siegfried is Gunther’s vassal. She asks Gunther if it might be possible to see Kriemhild again. Gunther says that she and Siegfried live too far away to be easily summoned, but Brunhild begs and finally prevails.
A whole decade has passed, yet Brunhild continues to nurse bitter feelings about Kriemhild’s marriage. The poet doesn’t offer many clues as to why this is the case. However, it seems to be more than Siegfried’s (perceived) failure to be a good vassal; does Brunhild suspect that Siegfried might have been the more suitable match for her after all? In any case, it bothers her enough that she contrives to invite Siegfried and Kriemhild back for a visit.
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Messengers are sent on the three-week journey to the Netherlands to invite Siegfried and Kriemhild to a festivity that will be held before midsummer. Though the messengers are warmly welcomed, Siegfried is hesitant at first about making the long journey. His friends persuade him to go, traveling with a large party of warriors, and Siegmund accompanies them as well. Siegfried and Kriemhild outfit their guests with fine clothes for the journey.
The return to Burgundy isn’t a quick journey, but a fully outfitted state visit—a big deal. Siegfried and Kriemhild also give Gunther’s messengers beautiful gifts, no doubt to advertise that their household and kingdom are thriving.
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The messengers return to Burgundy and share the news that Siegfried and Kriemhild will attend the festivity. They also show off the munificent gifts they received, prompting Hagen to remark that it’s easy for Siegfried to bestow such gifts, since he holds the Nibelung treasure. “Ah me,” he sighs, “if that were to come to Burgundy!” Meanwhile, the rest of the court prepares for the festivity.
In contrast to Brunhild’s obsession with Siegfried, Hagen is less interested in the impending guests than in the treasure they steward. He already daydreams about the possibility that the Nibelung hoard he spoke of earlier could somehow be brought to Burgundy—and within his reach.
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