Gudrun

Gudrun

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Gudrun'
Start a new discussion about 'Gudrun'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

Gudrun is a major figure in the early Germanic literature centered on the hero Sigurd
Sigurd
Sigurd is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. The earliest extant representations for his legend come in pictorial form from seven runestones in Sweden and most notably the Ramsund carving Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) is a legendary hero of...

, son of Sigmund
Sigmund
This article is about the mythological hero Sigmund; for other meanings see: Sigmund .In Norse mythology, Sigmund is a hero whose story is told in the Völsunga saga. He and his sister, Signý, are the children of Völsung and his wife Hljod...

. She appears as Kriemhild in the Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

 and as Gutrune in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

.

Norse mythology


In Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

, Gudrun (Guðrún Gjúkadóttir) was the sister of Gunnar
Gunther
Gunther is the German name of a semi-legendary king of Burgundy of the early 5th century...

. Gudrun fell in love with Sigurd
Sigurd
Sigurd is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. The earliest extant representations for his legend come in pictorial form from seven runestones in Sweden and most notably the Ramsund carving Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) is a legendary hero of...

, who did not care for her, because he was in love with the valkyrie
Valkyrie
In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one of a host of female figures who decides who dies in battle. Selecting among half of those who die in battle , the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin...

 Brynhild, to whom he gave the ring Andvarinaut
Andvarinaut
In Norse mythology, Andvaranaut is a magical ring capable of producing gold, first owned by Andvari.The mischievous god Loki tricked Andvari into giving Andvaranaut to him...

. Gudrun's brother Gunnar, however, wished to marry Brynhild, but this was impossible because Brynhild, knowing that only Sigurd could do so, had sworn to marry only the man who could defeat her in a fair fight.

In another version, Brynhild is imprisoned inside a ring of fire as a punishment by Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

. Sigurd had already gone through the fire once and promised his marriage to Brynhild, but he is cursed by Andvarinaut and bewitched. He switches bodies with Gunnar, and in this guise rides through the fire and wins Brynhild, who, deceived, marries the real Gunnar.

Gudrun's mother Grimhild
Grimhild
In Norse mythology, Grimhild was a beautiful but evil woman. She was married to king ],] kind of southern Rhine, Burgundy. She had three sons named; Gunnar, Hogni, Guttorm, and a daughter Gudrun. She is the sorceress who gave Sigurd a magic potion that makes him forget that he ever married his...

, who is called Ute in the Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

, gave her a potion to make Sigurd forget his love for Brynhild. Gunnar allowed Sigurd to marry Gudrun under the condition, that Sigurd would win Brynhild for him. Sigurd succeeded in doing so; taking the shape of Gunnar, he took Andvarinaut
Andvarinaut
In Norse mythology, Andvaranaut is a magical ring capable of producing gold, first owned by Andvari.The mischievous god Loki tricked Andvari into giving Andvaranaut to him...

 from Brynhild and gave it to Gudrun as his morning gift. Both queens, Gudrun and Brynhild, were married on the same day.

Later, when Brynhild learned that she had been tricked into marrying an inferior man, she exacted vengeance by telling Gunnar that Sigurd had taken liberties with her, and Gunnar had Sigurd killed. Gudrun was so overcome with grief that she could not weep, and the court feared for her life. Finally her sister showed Gudrun Sigurd's corpse, and her tears flowed at last. She lamented her lost husband and predicted the death of his killer, her own brother Gunnar.

Gudrun later married the king Atli (loosely based on. In the northern version Atli is responsible for the death of her whole family, who inherited the name Völsunge
Volsung
In Norse mythology, Völsung was the son of Rerir and the eponymous ancestor of the ill-fortuned Völsung clan , including the greatest of Norse heroes, Sigurð...

 / Niebelungen from the Nibelung
Nibelung
The German Nibelungen and the corresponding Old Norse form Niflung is the name in Germanic and Norse mythology of the royal family or lineage of the Burgundians who settled at Worms....

 gold. The queen took revenge for her family by killing her two sons by Atli, Erp and Eitil, and serving them to their father at a feast. Then, when Atli was solidly drunk, she broke the news to him:
"Thou giver of swords, / of thy sons the hearts
All heavy with blood / in honey thou hast eaten;
Thou shalt stomach, thou hero, / the flesh of the slain,
To eat at thy feast, / and to send to thy followers.
Thou shalt never call / to thy knees again
Erp or Eitil, / when merry with ale;
Thou shalt never see / in their seats again
The sharers of gold / their lances shaping,"


(Atlakviða
Atlakviða
Atlakviða is one of the heroic poems of the Poetic Edda. One of the main characters is Atli who originates from Attila the Hun. It is one of the most archaic Eddic poems. It is preserved in the Codex Regius and the same story is related in the Völsunga saga...

, stanza 39—40.)


She set fire to the Atli's hall, killing him along with all of his men, then tried to drown herself by jumping into the sea with an armful of stones. The waves found her revenge fitting, however, and instead of drowning her carried her to Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, where she married another king, Jónakr, with whom she had three sons Hamdir, Sörli and Erp
Jonakr's sons
Hamdir, Sörli and Erp were three brothers in Norse mythology, who have a historic basis in the history of the Goths.-Legend:...

.

Svanhild
Svanhild
Svanhild is the beautiful daughter of Sigurd and Gudrun in Germanic mythology, whose grisly death at the hands of her jealous royal husband Ermanaric was told in many northern European stories, including the Icelandic Poetic Edda , Prose Edda and the Volsunga Saga; the Norwegian Ragnarsdrápa; the...

, her daughter by Sigurd, was wooed by Ermanaric
Ermanaric
Ermanaric was a Greuthungian Gothic King who before the Hunnic invasion evidently ruled an enormous area north of the Black Sea. Contemporary historian Ammianus Marcellinus recounts him as a "most warlike man" who "ruled over extensively wide and fertile regions"...

, but was accused wrongly of adultery and was killed by her husband. She also had a son by Sigurd named Sigmund (named after Sigurd's father).

Then her three sons were killed when they avenged Svanhild
Svanhild
Svanhild is the beautiful daughter of Sigurd and Gudrun in Germanic mythology, whose grisly death at the hands of her jealous royal husband Ermanaric was told in many northern European stories, including the Icelandic Poetic Edda , Prose Edda and the Volsunga Saga; the Norwegian Ragnarsdrápa; the...

 (see Jonakr's sons
Jonakr's sons
Hamdir, Sörli and Erp were three brothers in Norse mythology, who have a historic basis in the history of the Goths.-Legend:...

).

In the southern version Gudrun, here Kriemhild, kills her brothers to get the Nibelung gold back, and is killed in turn by Dietrich von Bern.

A south German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 / Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n epic also has a principal female character called Kudrun
Kudrun
Kudrun , is a Middle High German epic, written probably in the early years of the 13th century, not long after the Nibelungenlied, the influence of which may be traced upon it....

 (a variant of Gudrun), but her story is quite different.

Some scholars argue the character of Kriemhild may have been partly inspired by certain historical figures, including Brunhilda of Austrasia
Brunhilda of Austrasia
Brunhilda was a Visigothic princess, married to king Sigebert I of Austrasia who ruled the eastern kingdoms of Austrasia and Burgundy in the names of her sons and grandsons...

, wife to the Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 King Sigibert I; Ildiko (or Hildico), last wife to Attila the Hun; and Fredegund
Fredegund
Fredegund was the Queen consort of Chilperic I, the Merovingian Frankish king of Soissons.All her wealth and power came to her through her association with Chilperic...

, wife to the Frankish king Chilperic I
Chilperic I
Chilperic I was the king of Neustria from 561 to his death. He was one of the sons of the Frankish king Clotaire I and Queen Aregund....

.

The Wild Hunt


In the legend of the Wild Hunt
Wild Hunt
The Wild Hunt is an ancient folk myth prevalent across Northern, Western and Central Europe. The fundamental premise in all instances is the same: a phantasmal, spectral group of huntsmen with the accoutrements of hunting, horses, hounds, etc., in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground,...

, Gudhrun Gjúkadottir is known as Guro Rysserova ("Gudrun Horse-tail").

Popular culture

  • In 1924, Fritz Lang
    Fritz Lang
    Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

     and Thea von Harbou
    Thea von Harbou
    Thea Gabriele von Harbou was a German actress, author and film director of Prussian aristocratic origin. She was born in Tauperlitz in the Kingdom of Bavaria.-Early work:...

     produced Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache
    Die Nibelungen
    Die Nibelungen is a series of two silent fantasy films created by Austrian director Fritz Lang in 1924: Die Nibelungen: Siegfried and Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge....

    (Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge). Kriemhild was played by actress Margarete Schön
    Margarete Schön
    Margarete Schön was a German stage and film actress whose career spanned nearly fifty years. She is possibly best recalled internationally for her role as Kriemhild in director Fritz Lang's 1924 series of two silent fantasy films Die Nibelungen - Die Nibelungen: Siegfried and Nibelungen:...

    .
  • In the 2005 TV epic Ring of the Nibelungs, American
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     actress Alicia Witt
    Alicia Witt
    Alicia Roanne Witt is an American film, stage, television actress and singer.-Early life:Witt was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her mother, Diane , is a junior high school reading teacher, and her father, Robert Witt, is a science teacher and photographer. She has a brother, Ian...

     played Kriemhild in an adaptation of the Nibelungenlied
    Nibelungenlied
    The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

     saga.
  • Gudrun plays a very prominent role in J.R.R. Tolkien's adaptation of the Völsung legend, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
    The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún
    The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is a narrative poem composed by J. R. R. Tolkien. The book was released worldwide on May 5, 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HarperCollins....

    , released for publication in May 2009.
  • In the 2011 TV anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    is a Japanese anime television series produced by Shaft and Aniplex. The series is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo and written by Gen Urobuchi with original character designs by Ume Aoki, character design adaptation by Takahiro Kishida and music by Yuki Kajiura...

    , the witch form of Kaname Madoka named Kriemhild Grechen, she has the power that can destroy the world within ten days.

Family relations

  • Gjuki (father)
  • Grimhild (mother)
  • Gunnar (brother)
  • Hogni (brother)
  • Gudny/Gullrond (sister; rarely mentioned)
  • Gotthorm (maternal half-brother; slayer of Sigurd)
  • Brynhild (sister-in-law; sister of Attila, wife of Gunnar)
  • Sigurd (first husband)
  • Sigmund (son with Sigurd; murdered at Brynhild's behest)
  • Svanhild (daughter with Sigurd)
  • Erp (son with Attila)
  • Eitil (son with Attila)
  • Jonkar (third husband)
  • Hamdir (son with Jonkar)
  • Sorli (son with Jonkar)
  • Erp (son with Jonkar)
  • Hniflung (nephew via Hogni; helped her kill Attila)
  • Solar (nephew via Hogni; mentioned in Atlakvitha En Grönlenzka)
  • Snævar (nephew via Hogni; mentioned in Atlakvitha En Grönlenzka)
  • Gjuki (nephew via Hogni; mentioned in Drap Niflunga)