Dietrich von Bern

German - Son of Dietmar and Odilia. Brother of Diether. Husband of Herrat and Virginal. He was uncontrollable as a child, literally breathing fire, and was fostered by Hildebrand. Together they set out to kill the giant Grim who was ravaging the countryside. They forced the dwarf Elbegast to tell them where to find the giant and his wife, Hilde. Elbegast gave him the magic sword Nagelring and with this weapon Dietrich killed both the giant and his wife. He and Hildebrand shared the giant's treasure. Signenot, Grim's brother, captured Dietrich and Hildebrand but the latter managed to kill the giant. On this adventure Dietrich fell in love with Virginal, the ice queen. When he learned from Bibung that she had been seized by the magician Ortgis, he set out to rescue her. He and Hildebrand killed Ortgis and all his men - only the magician's son, Jambas, escaped and he besieged Jeraspunt, the castle where Virginal was held prisoner. Dietrich soon routed the besiegers, rescued Virginal and married her. He defeated Heime who challenged him and who then became his devoted friend and follower, giving Dietrich the horse Falke, which never tired. When challenged by Wittich, he first defeated him and then, when Wittich's magic sword was returned to him, was defeated by his challenger who became another devoted follower. He fought the giant Ecke, and would have been defeated but was saved when his horse Falke broke its tether and trampled the giant to death. At Drachenfels, where Ecke had imprisoned Bolfriana and her nine daughters, Dietrich met and defeated the giant's brother, Fasolt, who then joined Dietrich's forces. On a journey to visit Ermenrich, he met Dietlieb the Dane who travelled with him to Rome and who later came to him for help when his sister, Kunhild, was abducted by Laurin. Dietrich helped in the rescue of Kunhild and acquired the dwarf's magic sword, belt and cap. Accompanied by Hildebrand and a few selected warriors, he challenged and defeated the twelve knights of Krimhild to win a kiss and a rose garland. When his father died, he became king and took a force to help Etzel who was under attack from Osantrix, ruler of Scandinavia. Some say that Virginal yearned for her home in the icy mountains and left Dietrich, who lived in the green countryside, and he then sent Herart to Britain to sue for the hand of Hilde, daughter of King Arthur, but she eloped with Herbart. His uncle, Ermenrich, demanded tribute from Bern when Dietrich succeeded to the throne and, when the demand was rejected, led an army against Dietrich. He gave up his lands to ransom his friend Hildebrand and some of his followers who had been captured. They all then went to Etzel's court. On one of his several attempts to win back his kingdom, he left Wittich in charge of a captured city but Wittich betrayed his trust and gave the city back to Ermenrich. On another such foray, Dietrich took along his youngest brother Diether and the two sons of Etzel, Orte and Scharpfe, leaving them in the care of Elsan while he rode into battle. The boys went riding and were killed by Wittich. In some stories his kingdom was taken over not by Ermenrich but by Odoacer and was recovered only when Dietrich defeated Wenezlan in single combat. Fighting a war for Etzel against Waldemar, he was besieged in a fortress but was rescued by Rudiger. They then killed Waldemar and took his son prisoner. When the prisoner later escaped, Dietrich, though wounded, pursued him and cut off his head, which he took back to Etzel's court where he married Herrat. When he recovered his kingdom, he killed Sibich who had tried to usurp the throne of Ermenrich, and, marching to Rome, he was crowned as Theodoric, Emperor of the West. Some say that Herrat died soon afterwards and that Dietrich married again, this time to Liebgart, widow of Ortnit. In one story, he fought a long duel with the giant Wunderer and finally beheaded him. Late in life he was hunting when he was told that a white stag had been sighted. He jumped on the nearest horse, a coal-black steed, and was carried off, never to be seen again. Some say that the horse was the Devil and that Dietrich now leads the Wild Hunt. Also commonly identified as Dietrich von Bern, Diderick, Diderick, Thidrek, Thidrek, Theodoric, Thridrek or Thridrek.

Nearby Myths