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Danish Ballads

Mimmering [weapon:sword] [Danish ballad]

Vidrik Verlandson, Vidrick Verland's son , Vidrik Verlandsson [Dan.]; Virgar Valintsson [Faro.]
One of the knights of King Diderick; son of Verland the smith.
(cog. Viðga Velentsson [ON]; Witig, Wittich [MHG]; Wudga, son of Weland the Smith [AS]).

Mimmering (tr. Borrow, tr. Prior) [E.];, Mimring (DgF 7A, str. 17), Menning (DgF 7Ba, str. 17), Mimmering (Vedel's text = DgF 7Bb, str. 17), Memiring (DgF 7C, str. 14), Memring (DgF 7E, str. 34), Memerick Tand (DgF 10A, str. 23), Memering "Memerick tooth" (DgF 10B, str. 22, 23, 28), Mymmering (DgF 10C, str. 38), Mimring (DgF 10D, str. 25, 26), sueritt "the sword" (DgF 10E, str. 18), Mimering (DgF 10F, str. 24), Mimmering (DgF 10G, str. 42, 51), [Dan.]; Mimmaring[ur] (CCF 34 E Angankári), Mimaring (CCF 9 Dvørgamoy V, CCF10 Risin í Holmgørðum, CCF13 Ragnarlykkja) [Faro.]; Minnering (Arw., 3, A), Mördingen (Arw., 3, C), Brynia (Arw., 3, B), [Swed.]
Name of a sword belonging to Vidrik Verlandson. It was hardened with a hero's blood (* kiempe-blod DgF 7A, str.13; also DgF 7B, C, ), though the word kæmpe can also possibly denote a "giant", which probably simply means the owner has already shed the blood of many worthy opponents with it.

It is said that the sword can also cut "steel as if it were cloth" Staal som Klæde (DgF B,b = Vedel's I,4, str. 7). Though it is not spelled out in the ballad that Vidrik's father Verland forged the sword, that fact is assumed to be understood by the listener.

Vidrik uses the sword to slay the giant at Birtingsberg by the name of Langben Langbien Risker (Grundtvig's intro.) , which means "long-shanks" or "long-shins". Vidrik subsequently plays a prank on his comrades by smearing himself with the giant's blood, and pretending the giant has fatally wounded him and will soon pounce upon the rest of the party.

The combat as told in the ballad closely parallels an episode in the Saga of Thidrek of Bern (Ch. 201ff, Haymes's trans.)

Blank (tr. Borrow, tr. Prior) [E.]; Grib (DgF 7A), Bierthing (DgF 7Ba), Blanck (Vedel's text = DgF 7Bb), Birting (DgF 7C) [Dan.]
[etymology: blank "bright, shining,". grib "vulture". Birting (Birtingsberg) = Bertungaland [ON] "Brittany". cf. Blanka, name of &Thorn;iðrek's horse in Thidrekssaga]
Vidrik's helm are called by an assortment of different names in variants A,B,C of the Kong Diderik og hans Kæmper group of ballads (DgF 7), and not mentioned by name at all in variants D-H.
Nor does the Saga of Thidrek give the name of this hero's helm, neither in the chapter paralleling this giant-killing episode or elsewhere.
In German heroic poetry, Vidrik's counterpart (Witege/Witig/Wittich) wears a helm named Limme
lonen (Alpharts Tod 449,3), Lymme (Biterolf 161) [MHG].

Skrepping (tr. Borrow, tr. Prior) [E.]; Skrep (DgF 7A), Skrepping (DgF 7Ba, Vedel's text = DgF 7Bb), Borting (DgF 7C) [Dan.]
Vidrik's shield, named in DgF 7A, B, C.
Vidrik's shield depicts the "hammer and tong" en Hammer og en Tang which are the tools of his family trade, the metal-smith (DgF 7 A, D, E, F, G, H, DgF 8, DgF 10 A, C)

Skimming (tr. Borrow, tr. Prior) [E.]; Skemming, Skeming, Skinning (DgF 7Ba), Skimming (Vedel's text = DgF 7Bb), Skemming (DgF 7C), Skemming, Skienning, Skiming (DgF 7D), Skeming (DgF 7E), Skiming, Skimming (DgF 7F), Skemming, Skeming (DgF 7G), Skimming (DgF 7G), Skeming hin stercke "the strong" (DgF 10B, str. 21) [Dan.]; Skymbling (Arw., 3, A B. 4, A) [af Bremmers stode (Arw. 3, A), aff grymme stodhe (Arw. 3, B)], Skömlingen [är fallen vnder granenss stode] (Arw., 3, C), Skimming (Verelianske Saml. 16), Apelgrå "dappled gray" (Arw., I, p. 27), [Swed.]

Vidrik's horse. Born in Grimmer-Stod (DgF 7A), Grammer-Stod (DgF 7C); which probably was originally supposed to mean that the horse came from the same stud as Grim/Gram[≈ Sigurðr's horse Grani].


§ "Vidrik Verlandssøn og Langbeen Risker" (DgF 7A, B, C)

Grundtvig classes these ballads under DgF 7 Kong Diderik og hans Kæmper "King Dietrich and his Champions," variants A, B, C.
But even though it is set where Didrik's entourage has arrived in Birting's land, these ballads really only recounts of Vidrik Verlandsson combat with the giant Langben.

This ballad-tale can be read in Borrow's*1 or Prior's*2 translation from Vedel's text*3. The earliest translation is the one by Jamieson*4 entitled "The Ettin Langshanks". And Howitt*5 has inserted a translation in his survey. Both these are also derived from Vedel's text (version Bb).

The episode is closely paralleled by the Thidrekssaga (under the subheading "Thidrek's Campaign in Bertangaland", Ch. 195 "..Vidga and Edgier", Haymes tr.).
Both in the saga and ballad, the hero awakens the giant, fights, and vanquishes the giant, the giant offers treasures to ransom his life, the hero senses a trap to lure him into his house and kills him, and plays the prank on his comrades.
But there are differences: in the saga there is inserted an explanatory that Vidga and the giant were kinsmen, Vidga does not recite a full catalog of his equipment in the saga, nor does Vidga's horse Skemming[r] figure in the combat, so that it is Vidga himself rather than the horse that cracks the giant's ribs.

W. Grimm in DHS *6 mentions various localities that local lore connects with these ballads. The grave and cave of Langben risi near Birkeby (about 1 mile from Roskilde) on Zealand, and a hill named after Vidrick nearby as well.

*1 George Borrow's English translation "Vidrik Verlandson" occurs in the Gutenberg e-text Romantic Ballads (1826), pp. 98-110 and also in his Works, vol. 9, pp.339-447.

*2 Prior's Ancient Danish Ballads, No. 7, "Vidrick Verlands on and Giant Langbane". In his introduction to the ballad, he quotes the whole episode in English from the Wilkina saga (Thidrekssaga) from which the ballad derives.

*3 Borrow's and Prior both translated DgF 7Bb or Vedel's I, Nr. 4, entitled "Langbeen Risers oc Vidrich Verlandssøns Kamp" available at Kalliope.

*4 Jamieson, Robert, 1780?-1844, Weber, Henry William, 1783-1818, Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832. ed. Illustrations of northern antiquities, pp. 295-305 (1814). Also in Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882, ed. ,The poets and poetry of Europe, pp.67-9.

*5 Howitt, William, 1792-1879, The literature and romance of northern Europe, pp.313-20 (1852).

*6 Grimm, Wilhelm, Die deutsche Heldensage, p.369f.

§ "The Tournament (of Didrik's Champions)" (DgF 7A, D, E, F, G, H)

This subgroup of DgF 7 differs from the above. There is a running stretch of strophes describing the shield bearings of dozen or more of Didrik's champions, that justifies the title "The Tournament" or Kong Diderik og hans Kæmper (King Dietrich and his champions).

Subsequently young Sir Humble (variously spelt; ≈ Amlungr [ON]) borrows the horse Skimming from Vidrek, and rides out to face Sivard Snarensvend (i.e. Siegfried).
But because the youth turns out to be a kinsman of Sivard's, a sister-son, the hero consents to getting himself bound to a tree, in order to confer the boy the honor of defeating him.

This ballad is also inspired by an episode from the Thidrekssaga. Sigurd visits the encampment of King Thidrek and demands a tribute. Thidreks men decide to cast losts and give the horse and shield of the loser to Sigurd as a suitable gift. The lot fell on Amlung, son of Earl Hornbogi. The horse was led away by Sigurd. Amlung, anxious to recover his horse, asks Viðga for the loan of his horse Skemming, and will mortgage his land holdings and castles as surety, in case that horse should be lost as well. Although Sigurd prevails over Amlung, he restores the horses to him upon learning that he is kinsman, and tells him to tied him up to a tree, just as in the ballad. (In Edward Hayme's translation, chapters 201ff. )

Borrow's*1 is translated from another ballad in Vedel's collection *3; whereas Prior *2 translated DgF 7Bb as "Vidrick Verlandsson and Giant Langbane" and DgF 7F as "The Tournament" (according to Syndergaard).

*1 George Borrow's English translation "The Tournament / From the Old Danish" in the Gutenberg e-text'd Romantic Ballads (1826), pp. 82-97 and also in his Works, vol. 9, pp.328-38.

*2 Vedel's text is DgF 7H or Vedel's I, Nr. 5, entitled "En Vise om de fornemste gamle Kemper" available at Kalliope.

*3 Prior's Ancient Danish Ballads, No. 8, "The Tournament".

*4 Smith-Dampier, A Book of Danish Ballads, "Oh, Seventy-seven".

§ Spelling forms in variants of DgF 7

Below I've tabulated the different spellings:
Text owner enemy shield helm horse sword
[Borrow's tr.]:
Vidrik Verlandson
Langben the Jutt
(19th st.)
(19th st.)
(20th st.)
(20th st.)
[Prior's tr.]:
Vidrick Verland's son
the Giant Langbane
(str. 19)
(str. 19)
(str. 20)
(str. 20)
Viderick Verlanndz-sønn
Lannge-beenn Redsker
(str. 18-1)
(str. 18-3)
(str. 17-1) Skeming
(str. 65-1, 70-1)
(str. 17-2)
[DgF7B, a]:
Widerich Werlandsøn,
-zøn, -tzøn
Langbien Risker
(str. 16-1)
(str. 16-3)
(str. 17-1)
(str. 17-3)
[DgF7B, b]
= Vedel, I, 4:
Vidrich Verlandssøn,
-zøn, -tzøn
Langbeen Riser
(str. 16-1)
(str. 16-3)
(str. 17-1)
(str. 17-3)
Widerick Walland-sønn(6),
Widerick Wallandz-søn(8)
Lanngbeen Reskieer (8);
Langbenn~(18), Langben~ (26)
(str. 15-3)
(str. 16-1)
Skemming (str. 14-1); Memiring
(str. 14-3)
Text owner borrower V's shield H's shield horse "enemy"
(see above)
Humelumer (47)
Humelum (61)
Humelenn (62)
« skioldt [med] enn hamer och enn thanng » (45)
(hammer & tong)
« skioldt [med] enn biørnn » (47)
(see above) Siuord Snarennsuend (60, 87),
Siuordt (82)
Widdrick (7),
Widreck Warlandsenn(27)
Humelum (15)
« skiold [med] enn hamer och enn thang » (32)
(hammer & tong)
« skiolld [med] lynddenn alt saa grønn » (34)
(linden all green)
Skieming (8, 9); Skienning (10);
Skiming (14)
Syffuert Snarenn-suend (3), Siuertt Snarensuend (4), Syffuer[s] (12), Syuuertz (18), Syffuert (24, 25), Syffuert Snarennd-suend (25)
Widerick Varlandtzen (4)
Humerlumer (5, 14, 15, 24, 28, 29), Humerlomer (30), « skiold [med] en hammer och en tang » (4)
(hammer & tong)
« skiold och II forgildene speer » (5)
(two gilt spears)
Skeming (16, 17, 18, 19)
Memring (34)
Siuor Snarensuend (13), Siuortz (20), Siuor (28 - 33), Siuor Snaren-suendt (35, 37), Siuor Snaren-suendtt (36), Siuor Snaren-suend (38),
Widerick Werlanssen (12 ,35)
Hummerlumer (6, 7, 18),
Humber-lumer[s] (14)
« skiold [med] en hammer och en thange » (35)
(hammer & tong)
« skiold [med] linden aldt saa grøn » (39)
(linden all green)
Skiming (7, 11), Skimming (8, 13)
Siguord Snaren-suend (3, 4, 29, 32), Siguord (6, 10, 25, 30)
[DgF7G]: Widrick (6),
Widrick Varlandsønn(25)
Hummelom (5, 12, 13, 18, 19, etc.) « skiold [med] en hammer och en tang » (25)
(hammer & tong)
« skiold [med] linden thenn er grøn » (27)
(linden of green)
Skemming (6, 9-11) Skeming (7),
Siuor Snaren-suend (4),
=Vedel, I, 5:
Vidrich Verlandssøn (7)
Humble (11, 45, 46, 53, etc.) « Skiold [med] en Hammer oc en Tange » (7)
(hammer & tong)
« Skiold [med] Linden den er grøn » (11)
(linden of green)
Skimming (37, 38, 50, 55, etc.)
Siuard Snaren Suend (3, 66)
[Borrow's tr.]:
Vidrik Verlandson
young Sir Humble
"shield..A hammer and pincers bright"
(7th st.)
"good shield..A linden is thereupon"
(11th st.)
(37, 39, etc.)
Sivard Snaresvend
(3, etc.,)
[Prior's tr.]:
"The Tournament"
(from DgF 7F)
Vidrick (st. 23, etc.) /
Verland's son (st. 7)
Childe Hummer
[son of Jensen Boe /Holmboe Jensen]
(6,7, etc.,)
"Balazon'd upon the third shield stand / A hammer and pair of tongs; / And that to one, no quarter gives, / To Verlandson belongs.
(st. 32)
"Blazon'd upon the seventh shield stands / A linden all in leaf, / And that bears Holboe Jensen's son, / Young Hummer, gallant chief"
(st. 36)
(7, 9, etc.)
Siward, Hasty swain
(3, etc.)

§ Ulf van Yern (DgF 10A - G)

This ballad is entitled Ulf van Yern (≈ Wolfhart von Garte [MHG]) who pleads at King Didrik's court for help in seeking vengeance upon his father's slayer. Vidrik Verlandson offers to face this foe.

A messenger named Hammergray is dispatched, whose speed neither hawk nor hound could match , and delivers the message to the King of Brattens Vendel announcing their intentions: be prepared to defend his life against his vengeance-seeker on the morrow. This enemy professes he fears no one save Vidrik Verlandson, whom he once witnessed slaying fifteen champions as a game.

The duel takes place in Birting land, matching Vidrik against the Vendel King. The king strikes first with eighteen blows, but Vidrik sustains them, and now will return the attack. Speaking to his sword Mimmering to show him what it's got, Vidrik goes on to split his foe down the middle.

Borrow's*1 and Prior's translation *2 is from Vedel's text *3; Stokes's translation is found in his review of DgF*4.

*1 George Borrow's English translation "Ulf van Yern" in his Works, vol. 7, pp.33-40.

*2 Prior's Ancient Danish Ballads, No. 11, "Vidrick Verlandson and Wolf of Yern".

*3 Vedel's text is DgF 11G or Vedel's I, Nr. 11, entitled "Vlff Van Jern " available at Kalliope.

*4 Stokes, Whitley, "Review of DgF 1, 2", The Saturday Review 6 (Aug. 28, 1858); 213-15. (DgF 10F is translated).

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