The Nibelungenlied, or “The Song of the Nibelungs”, is a Middle High German epic poem first written sometime in the thirteenth century. Though its author is unknown, The Nibelungenlied remains one of the premiere Germanic texts. It is appreciated for its literary style, contrasting the themes of emotion and violence, and its recollection and assimilation of older Germanic tales.
The Female Protagonist at the Heart of the Story
The tale of the Nibelungs is told in two parts, however both center on Kriemhild, the primary female protagonist. The story of the Nibelungs begins by introducing Kriemhild, a Burgundian princess of Worms, and Siegfried, a prince from the lower Rhine region. Kriemhild has three brothers—Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher—but the first is the only one who takes precedence throughout the story. Gunther’s actions and desires lead the tale as much as Kriemhild’s do, and he is often spurred to action by the advice and forethought of his vassal Hagen.