Definitions

Brunhild

Brunhild

[broon-hilt, -hild, broon-]
Brunhild, Brünnehilde, or Brynhild, mighty female warrior of Germanic mythology and literature. In the Nibelungenlied, a medieval German epic poem (see under Nibelungen), she is the warlike queen of Iceland, whom Siegfried defeats in combat and wins for his brother-in-law, Gunther. Hating Siegfried, Brunhild contrives his death at the hands of Gunther's henchman, Hagen. In the Icelandic version of the story, the Volsungasaga, as Brynhild, she is the chief of the Valkyries. Sigurd (Siegfried) saves her from an enchanted stronghold, and the two fall in love. Later, Gudrun makes him forget Brynhild by means of a magic potion and takes him as her husband; Sigurd then wins Brynhild for Gunnar (Gunther). After bringing about Sigurd's death, Brynhild destroys herself on his funeral pyre. Wagner in his opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelungs, in which she is Brünnehilde, makes her a Valkyrie who defies her father, the god Wotan (see Woden), to help the lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde. Wotan places her sleeping on a mountaintop surrounded by fire, from which she is rescued by Siegfried. He is made by magic to forget her, and for his unfaithfulness she brings about his death, her own death on his pyre, and the burning of Valhalla.

(born circa 534—died 613, Renève, Burgundy) Queen of the Frankish kingdom of Austrasia. Daughter of a king of the Visigoths, she married the Austrasian king Sigebert I in 567. One of the most forceful monarchs of the Merovingians, she urged Sigebert to reclaim her murdered sister's lands from Chilperic I. When her husband was assassinated in 575, Brunhild was imprisoned at Rouen. She later took refuge at Metz, where her son Childebert II had been proclaimed king, and she struggled to establish her authority over her son and the reluctant Austrasian magnates. After Childebert's death she continued to influence affairs and impose her will on her grandsons. After a long career she fell into the hands of her enemies, including the founders of the Carolingian family; she was tortured and then dragged to death by a horse.

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