The Nibelungenlied



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The Nibelungenlied: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Siegfried, Kriemhild, and Siegmund set out for the festival expecting great joy, though, the poet notes, “it turned out to the great sorrow of them all.” Meanwhile, in Burgundy, vassals prepare to ride out to meet the guests. Gunther approaches Brunhild, who is sitting idly, and asks her to welcome Kriemhild with the same honors with which she herself was received when she first came to Burgundy.
The poet creates dramatic irony by forecasting how the visit is going to turn out. In contrast to the bustle around Burgundy, Brunhild continues to brood passively. This signals such a breach of etiquette—Kriemhild is entitled to at least an equal welcome after having greeted Brunhild as a stranger—that even Gunther takes notice.
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Gunther tells Brunhild that she must bestir herself if she plans to receive the guests the following morning. Brunhild does so, and she and Gunther, with their ladies and warriors, ride out with great magnificence the next day. Gunther welcomes Siegfried and Siegmund joyfully. The two queens also greet one another courteously.
Once Brunhild has remembered her obligation as queen, she and Gunther lead the Burgundian court in welcoming the Netherlands king and queen. The two royal couples are reunited for the first time in many years.
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As the guests are conducted to the palace, Brunhild “[darts] a glance” at Kriemhild “now and again.” A lavish feast is set up, and Siegfried is seated with 1,200 knights. Brunhild thinks that no liegeman could be mightier. The poet remarks that “her feelings towards him were still friendly enough for her to let him live.”
Despite her hospitable exterior, Brunhild is still squarely fixated on Kriemhild. She is also distracted by Siegfried’s outward displays of high status. So far, though, there is an ambivalence in her reception of the two—neither warm nor hostile.
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The next day, exuberant knightly sports take place, and everyone attends a cathedral mass together. The poet draws attention to the fact that “Brunhild was as yet well disposed towards her guests, and they all entered [the church] together in their crowns.” The joy of the high feast persists until the 11th day.
The festivity carries on as intended for a while; everyone enjoys the traditional entertainments and treats one another with courtesy. Any hostile feelings are suppressed, while courtly dispositions prevail outwardly.
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