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On the location of the Kudrun

The last month I’ve extensively been reading the Kudrun (Gudrunlied) over and over again. It’s an Middle High German epic, written probably in the early years of the 13th century. The song actually consists out of two major parts. The first part is about the wooing of Hilde by Hettel and the second part handles about the misfortune of their daughter Kudrun.

What excited me was that the story takes place in the delta of the Schelde. A map from the 14th century shows various places which belong to the Kudrun, like the Heidensee and Wulpen. On this island Hettel, Herwig and Siegfried fight against Hartmut, whose father Ludwig kills Hettel. One of the reasons that the Kudrun tickled my interest is the appearance of three heroes: Wate, Fruote and Horand. They are nobody else than Óðinn, Freyr and Hœnir.

map-1

The second map is from Mercator from the 17th century where the islands are better visible:

Mercator map

A document from Brugge, dating 1190, speaks of “Wulpingi, homines de Wulpia sive de Cassant”. Wulpa is related to the Wülpensand of the sage and reflects in the Oldnorse Frökasund where Freyki (the little Freyr) dies. Another document from 1167 talks about “Vulpa et Cadsant, tam de môrlant, quam de werplant”. Now Siegfried is called the one from “von Môrlant” (Moerkerke). It should be noted that in the southern part of Flanders there is even a region called “De Moeren”. Like the word says, it is a swampy area.

There are even more toponomical indicators that the main actions of the Kudrun takes place here and not in the high north, nor in northern Germany, although Denmark, Ireland, Normandy and the Rhein-area are also noteworthy places in the sage.

I would really recommend a read of the Kudrun in the original Middle High German to better grasp the atmosphere. Whomever speaks German or Dutch will have few problems to translate the text without constantly grabbing a dictionary.

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