The Nibelungenlied



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The Nibelungenlied: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Siegmund urges Kriemhild to return to the Netherlands with him, as she seems to be an unwelcome guest in Worms. He reminds her that Siegfried’s crown and realm will be hers. However, her kinsmen, especially Giselher, beg her to remain, promising that she need never see Hagen and that it will comfort her to live with her mother and brothers. Siegmund is distressed that she won’t return to her little son, and Siegfried’s men are affronted at having had to make such a perilous journey for no reason. Kriemhild commends the knights to God’s keeping and her son to the knights’ care. Everyone mourns anew at this parting.
Kriemhild ultimately chooses the kingdom of her birth over the kingdom that’s hers to rule by right, believing that her kinsfolk are better able to support her in her continued mourning.
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The Nibelungs ride homeward without requesting a Burgundian escort. Kriemhild continues to live at Worms in ceaseless lament, with only Giselher able to comfort her. Brunhild, meanwhile, sits “enthroned in her pride,” extending no affection toward her bereaved sister-in-law.
The Nibelungs’ unaccompanied departure would have been seen as a hostile act; asking for an escort was considered a mark of esteem and trust. Brunhild fades from the story at this point; readers last see her presiding silently over the mess she’s created, while the role of the proactive (and ultimately threatening) woman is assumed by Kriemhild.
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