(No, this is not about The Hobbit)
As I promised last week, I am working my way though the Dietrich Cycle - just finished Great Norse, Celtic and Teutonic Legends - and picking and choosing stories that I will want to work with in the future for storytelling performances.
For today, I have an assortment of love stories for your consideration. Like in all medieval romances (duh), there is a lot of them around Dietrich and his valiant knights - and some are more quirky than others.
Hilgunde and Hildburg
(I really just have to accept that every single female name in the saga starts with Hil- or Sig-)
What can the emperor of Constantinople do when he wishes to marry a princess locked away in a tower? Obviously, he goes undercover. In the case of Hugdieterich, that means that he dresses up as a lady, and learns "the ways of women" - so well, in fact, that he becomes famous for his embroidery, and is hired, under the name Hilgunde (his own imaginary sister), to tutor the princess Hildburg. He spends several weeks in the court, and a strong friendship grows between him and the princess - who eventually discovers that her tutor is in fact a man, an emperor no less. Their friendship grow into something more... someone more, actually (babies!!). But that's another story.
(This would be such a perfect name for an anime!)
In this story another emperor (this time of Rome, or Romaburg) wishes to marry a princess - and is slightly surprised when he is told by her father that the decision is up to her. Once Dietwart and his royal entourage arrive to propose, the Lady Minnie tells them she needs time to get to know the emperor, and make up her mind whether she likes it or not. This slightly anachronistic feminist streak is starting to freak out everyone's masculinity, so they decide to go on a hunt. Turns out, the princess is actually a "mighty huntress" - which makes Dietwart and his boys scoff at her, until she leaves them behind in the dust, and makes the first kill. Unfortunately, she and her maids also scare up a dragon in the woods, and while she keeps shooting arrows at it, they can't break the dragon's scales. She turns to run, and falls... Dietwart to the rescue!
Turns out that killing a dragon and having your chest ripped open is a great in with the ladies. Also turns out that Princess Minnie is also an accomplished healer. Things just work out sometimes.
Herburt and Hild
Nothing illustrates better the difference between the King Arthur cycle and the Dietrich cycle than the fact that they both have a version of Tristan and Isolde - and the latter has a happy ending. Even more than that, it actually involves Tristan's older (and smarter) brother, Herburt - and King Arthur's very own daughter. Talk about royal families being connected.
The gist is the same: King Dietrich wishes to marry King Arthur's fair daughter, but she can't be approached by anyone. Dietrich's good man Herburt goes undercover, gets hired by Arthur, and soon becomes his trusted steward. He designs genius ways to catch a glimpse of the princess (even though she is covered in sheets and surrounded by knights and monks all the time). He ends up becoming her personal servant (as per the princess' request), and honorably proposes to Hild - in Dietrich's name. Hild, obviously, does not like this one bit, and honestly, neither does Herburt. So they run away together. Being pursued by the two most powerful monarchs of European legend and history (one of them literally breathes fire), Herburt and Hild do the only sensible thing: They have sex. Now that she is not a virgin, she is obligated to be Herburt's wife. Everyone can go home. German practicality wins over English drama.
Wow, this got longer than I expected. I'll have to leave the dwarves for next time.
Tune in next week for more!