Images of Nibelung Queens Brunhild & Kriemhild

CHAPTER 7 WAR OF THE WIVES

Looking back through the years, the people of Siegfried’s home town Xanthen called it the best of times. An age of prosperation, peace and wealth in plenty. Down south at the court of Worms things went on entirely  different. Externally everything seemed in good order. But behind  high walls of the royal castle there was another story to be told. Brunhild was cloaked in melancholy and draining spirits twisted her mind. She walked through the halls and doorways like a tiger in a cage. Through all the haze her intuition would never fool her. The ghost of betrayal was haunting the place. The doors of the chambers were opened and closed quietly.

Days turned to months and months turned to years. A bitter taste kept the spirits low and there was no trace of any peace of mind. One day, all of a sudden Brunhild begged Gunther to order Siegfried and Kriemhild at the court. She pretended some feeling of longing to gather the whole family. Gunther replied: “Well I´m not in the position to give Siegfried any kind of order“. He is king and ruler of the Lowlands and the realm of the Nibelungs folk as well. He is a man of great power!“

Brunhild retorted:  “Years ago you introduced him as your vassal! Is it too much to ask: How so?“ The spirit of enlightenment is strong and it´s always raising questions. Gunther knew he couldn´t prohibit Brunhild´s demands. He was hoping to appease her. The time of the solstice seemed to be a perfect reason for some invitation for social high times. Maybe the solemnity and celebration was a way to take things a bit more easy. So Gunther promised so send a herald to Xanthen and messengers should spread the news all over the place. Brunhild was delighted.

No one could have suspect this particular solstice would mark a fateful turning point in the history of the kingdom. Like the sun they would all start their journey towards darker days. Weeks later Siegfried and Kriemhild with their entourage were on the way to the city of Worms. The winds were howling like lost souls and some strange crimson rain was falling like tears of blood. The traveling  party didn´t care and had a rough but safe journey. The city was breathing big time again. The numerous guests were sitting at long tables decorated with exotic flowers and the smell of incense filled the air. Everybody seemed in good spirits, the talking and chatting got louder and louder. The aim of celebration and goods times took the place by storm. Shiny happy people everywhere.

But beneath the calm face of the sea some unstoppable force was starting to rise. A kind of  tsunami was on the way. Brunhild didn´t show her feelings. She kept a smiling face. Her eyes were moving from Siegfried to Kriemhild. She noticed very well how happy and fortunate they appeared. She became aware she coudn´t get something equal. She said to herself:    “My marriage was just a bargain, a simple arrangement and there is not much left for myself. There is no love around, nor friendship or compassion.“ The more she felt her deficiency the more she was hypnotized by Kriemhild. She felt drawn like a moth to a flame.

Unnoticed by the whole crowd she suffered all by herself. There was just one unseen witness. Hagen von Tronje as always kept away from the festivities. He was sipping his wine and observed the scenery from a hidden place. He knew what was going on with Brunhild. He knew what has been done to her. He knew something´s got to give. Away from this he still was the real protector of Gunther and the realm. So he kept his ears and eyes open like some eagle in search of prey. The celebrations of the solstice lasted for days. There was the usual feasting and the entertainment was excellent and extraordinary.

During the glamorous occasions Brunhild´s jealousy turned to a destructive mood of envy. Despite this the two of them spent much time together. After a while they appeared even inseparable like sisters. Day and night they seemed to belong to each others presenceThen came the day something was coming out to accelerate the whole story. In a temper caused by wine, exuberance and ecstasy Kriemhild wascarried away by her feelings.With a goblet in her hand she shouted to the crowd:  “My husband ought to be the king of the world. Watch at his brilliancy!No one can match him“. She was bursting out in laughter. The crowd was watching her in surprise. The impression of something over the top was in the air.

Brunhild answered in an icy voice:  “My dear,  you should remember Gunther defeated me at Isenstein. Your dear husband had to act as a stirrup holder. He is just another subordinate. Gunther is the only true king of us all.“ The air turned to cold as ice and Kriemhild´s face went pale. She smashed the goblet to the ground and gasped. She hissed: “What is that?  Do you really think my brother would have given me to somebody of lower rank?
Brunhild countered: “Siegfried himself told me so. Listen! Tomorrow  is the divine service at the cathedral. You and me will walk through the northern gate. This is the place of official announcements to the public. In the light of day I will have the precedence and you will give way. I´ll show the whole world that I´m the queen by the side of the most glorious king of all times.“ She flashed a cruel smile and left the place.

Kriemhild was shivering all over and with  hollow eyes she stumbled to her  chamber. That night the two rivaling women couldn´t find any sleep. Kriemhild was on a quest to find out about hierarchy. Brunhild felt the pursuit of truth was close at hand. A blood red dawning seemd to foreshadow what was about to come.In the morning Kriemhild took her finest clothes and commanded her maidens to wear garments of exquisite gorgeousness.
At the cathedral the whole court had gathered. Over 1000 eyes were watching the triumphant arrival of the royal family.

The northern gate was waiting for a spectacular sight like no other. This was the very place  where laws used to be presented to the public. There would be no better setting for a showdown as dramatic as could be. Brunhild and her maidens were already waiting in full sail as Kriemhild and her following showed up. The queen of the northern lights stepped in the way and shouted: “Wait!  It´s not fitting for the wife of a subordinate to have the steps forward. Stop yourself and let me get by!“

Kriemhild raised her head in proud manner and answered: “Who are you to demand the steps forward? Do you remember the night you did hang up your husband at a nail on the wall?And do you remember the next night? You might think Gunther subdued you, don´t you? Well I have some bad news! It was my husband! He proved to be your master. Here is your ring and your belt as a proof. You are nothing but a concubine.“

With these words of wrath she threw the items at Brunhild´s feet. The thundering voices still seemed to echo all over the place. The crowd was in terror and everyone knew Kriemhild had ripped out the heart of the kingdom. Brunhild stood like turned to stone. She staggered.  She whispered: “Lies, lies! This can´t be“ There were tremors in her eyesand it was obvious she was deeply affected.

Kriemhild ignored her and stepped as the first through the gate of the cathedral. While the public humiliation was going on Brunhild started to cry like a child. She was shattered. Slowly  very slowly with the help of her maidens she left the place like a beaten dog.On her way she met Gunther on his way to the service. She told him what happened. She demanded immediate atonement. Otherwise she was ready to leave to her own place at Isenstein. She was swearing and accused Gunther of betrayal. And Gunther called his servants and told them to search after Siegfried. The king was growing old in seconds. And after the next night his hair turned white as snow. He knew something´s got to give.