The Nibelungenlied

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Anonymous

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The Nibelungenlied Characters

Kriemhild

Kriemhild is a princess of the kingdom of Burgundy, whose family rules from Worms beside the Rhine. She is famously beautiful and charming, desired by many knights, though it transpires that she is also calculating… read analysis of Kriemhild

Gunther

A renowned warrior and king of Burgundy, Gunther is the brother of Kriemhild, Gernot, and Giselher and son of Dancrat and Uote. The senior Burgundian King, he rules from Worms beside the… read analysis of Gunther

Siegfried

Siegfried is the prince of the Netherlands, son of Siegmund and Sieglind. He is a handsome knight famed for his valiant exploits. He falls in love with Kriemhild from a distance, long before he… read analysis of Siegfried

Brunhild

Brunhild is Queen of Iceland, a maiden renowned not only for her great beauty, but also for strength and athletic ability surpassing that of any man who has tried to win her. She demands that… read analysis of Brunhild

Hagen

Hagen is a vassal of the Burgundian kings Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher. He is known as a particularly fearsome warrior. He is also calculating and acquisitive, always looking for ways to accumulate… read analysis of Hagen
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Etzel

Etzel is the widowed King of Hungary (his character is based on Attila the Hun). Because he is a pagan, he doubts that the Christian Kriemhild will consider marrying him, but hopes that his extravagant… read analysis of Etzel

Rüdiger

Rüdiger is the margrave and lord of Pöchlarn, Austria. A vassal of Etzel’s, Rüdiger volunteers to act as envoy when Etzel decides to ask the widowed Kriemhild to marry him. Rüdiger is renowned for… read analysis of Rüdiger

Dietrich

Dietrich is the Lord of the Goths who lives in exile in Etzel’s court. He is one of the only characters who seems aware of the long-term effects of people’s actions and who ultimately… read analysis of Dietrich

Hildebrand

Hildebrand is Dietrich’s faithful master-at-arms. When Dietrich learns of Rüdiger’s death, he sends Hildebrand and his vassals to investigate, but they are provoked to fight, and Hildebrand slays Volker. Hagen wounds him… read analysis of Hildebrand

Gernot

A renowned warrior and king of Burgundy, Gernot is the brother of Kriemhild, Gunther, and Giselher and son of Dancrat and Uote. He rules from Worms beside the Rhine. When Siegfried arrives… read analysis of Gernot

Giselher

A renowned warrior and king of Burgundy, Giselher is the brother of Kriemhild, Gunther, and Gernot and son of Dancrat and Uote. He rules from Worms beside the Rhine. He is reluctant… read analysis of Giselher

Uote

Uote is the great Queen of Burgundy, wife of Dancrat, and mother of Kriemhild, Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher. She is largely in the background of the poem. She interprets Kriemhild’s… read analysis of Uote

Ortwin

Ortwin of Metz is nephew of Hagen and Dancwart, a vassal of the Burgundian kings, and serves as King’s Seneschal in the Burgundian court. He is hot-blooded and wants to take up arms against… read analysis of Ortwin

Volker

Volker of Alzei is a noble lord known as “the minstrel” because he plays the viol. He is Hagen’s faithful comrade-in-arms throughout the bloodbath in Etzel’s court. On the first night of the… read analysis of Volker

Siegmund

Siegmund is King of the Netherlands, husband of Sieglind and father of Siegfried. Though he has misgivings about his son’s plan to woo Kriemhild, he sends him off to Burgundy with due honor… read analysis of Siegmund

Sieglind

Sieglind is Queen of the Netherlands, wife of Siegmund and mother of Siegfried. She fears that her son will lose his life in his quest to Burgundy, but sends him off with due honor… read analysis of Sieglind
Minor Characters
Dancrat
Dancrat is the husband of Uote and father of Kriemhild, Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher. He does not appear directly in much of the story.
Dancwart
Dancwart is Hagen’s brother, a vassal of the Burgundian kings, and Marshal of the Burgundian court. At Etzel’s court, he and his squires are attacked by Lord Bloedelin, starting off waves of bloodshed.
Gere
Gere is a margrave and vassal of the Burgundian kings. He first announces Etzel’s proposal of marriage to Kriemhild.
Eckewart
Eckewart is a margrave and vassal of the Burgundian kings. After Kriemhild agrees to marry Etzel, he accompanies her to Hungary, pledging himself to her until death.
Rumold
Rumold is a vassal of the Burgundian kings and serves as Lord of the Kitchen in the Burgundian court. He is appointed regent when his lords go to Hungary.
Sindold
Sindold is a vassal of the Burgundian kings and serves as Cup-bearer in the Burgundian court.
Hunold
Hunold is a vassal of the Burgundian kings and serves as Chamberlain of the Burgundian court.
Schilbung
With Nibelung, Schilbung is one of the princes of Nibelungenland who asked Siegfried to divide the massive Nibelung treasure, giving him the sword Balmung in payment. Siegfried ultimately slayed both him and Nibelung and took the treasure and kingdom for himself.
Nibelung
With Schilbung, Nibelung is one of the princes of Nibelungenland who asked Siegfried to divide the massive Nibelung treasure, giving him the sword Balmung in payment. Siegfried ultimately slayed both him and Schilbung and took the treasure and kingdom for himself.
Alberich
Alberich is a Nibelung dwarf from whom Siegfried seizes the cloak of invisibility. Siegfried then appoints him treasurer of the Nibelung treasure.
Liudeger
Liudeger is the King of Saxony, who, with Liudegast, invades Burgundy. He is taken prisoner by Siegfried during the battle.
Liudegast
Liudegast is the King of Denmark, who, with Liudeger, invades Burgundy. He is wounded and taken prisoner by Siegfried during the battle.
Gotelind
Gotelind is Rüdiger’s wife, who helps him dole out lavish gifts on the many visitors who pass through Pöchlarn and seeks to befriend Kriemhild when she arrives in foreign parts.
Ortlieb
Ortlieb is the son of Kriemhild and Etzel, born seven years after their marriage. Kriemhild insists on his being baptized as a Christian, despite Etzel being a heathen. Ortlieb is brought to the table during the ill-fated festival and is soon beheaded by Hagen.
The Water-Fairies / The Nixies
The fairies, or nixies, are discovered by Hagen while he searches for a way to ford the Danube. They have second sight, and they predict—accurately—that all but one of the Burgundian party will be killed in Hungary.
Bloedelin
Bloedelin is Etzel’s brother, to whom Kriemhild appeals for help in killing Hagen, offering him wealth and a bride in exchange. He is beheaded soon after challenging Dancwart, but he successfully instigates fighting among the knights.
Iring, Margrave of Denmark
On the second day of the festival, Iring fights and wounds Hagen, but is finally killed by him.
Wolfhart
Wolfhart is Hildebrand’s nephew and vassal of Dietrich. When he is sent with Hildebrand and Dietrich’s other vassals to investigate Rüdiger’s death, he insists that they be armed, which contributes to their getting drawn into the fight. He and Giselher end up slaying one another.