The Waldere Fragments (partially found fragment of Old English poem; ca. 770)

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Wal manu.jpg

One of the two Waldere Fragments.

Status: Partially Found

The Waldere Fragments, sometimes referred to as Waldere, are two fragments of an old English poem that revolves around the legendary king Walter of Aquitaine as he is held prisoner by Attila the Hun. The poem was rediscovered in 1860 by the chief librarian Dr. E.C. Werlauff at the Royal Library in Copenhagen and only had fifteen lines. It is thought that the original fragment could contain upwards of over one thousand lines and could have been as long as Beowulf.[1]


Despite only two remaining fragments of the poem, a basic summary can still be produced though incomplete. It starts with Walter son of King Alphere of Aquitania, Hiltgunt, and Hagano who are sent to Atilla the Hun as hostages. Walter and Hagano swear an oath to fight under Atilla. King Gibicho the Frankish king dies which ends the Frankish-Hun alliance. This, in turn, causes Haagano (who is a Frankish noble) to flee. A marriage is arranged between a Hunnish princess and Walter. In secret, both Walter and Hilgunt flee with treasure. Upon reaching the city of Worms, Walter is surrounded by soldiers who have heard of his treasures. A character named Guntharius offers Waltharius gold rings to surrender, but Walter rejects this offer. Hiltgunt is also in the town but refuses to fight Walter as they had made an oath together. Walter ends up killing eight of Guntharius' soldiers. A final fight is fought between Walter, Hagano, and Guntharius where Guntharius loses a leg, Walter loses his right hand, and Hagano loses his right eye. After the fighting ceases, they all talk happily among each other and after their wounds are tended to, Guntharius and Hagano stay in Worm, while Waltharius goes back to Aquitania where he becomes king.[2]

Like other Anglo-Saxon works, it is likely that Waldere was originally told orally and was written down much later. Portions of the poem were most likely destroyed due to warfare and time.

In Other Works

Like other Anglo-Saxon works of literature, Waldere is referenced and even present in other works of Medieval literature. Though the character king Walter of Aquitaine is mostly mentioned. Other works of literature that mention King Walter of Aquitaine include:

  • Waltharius- A Latin epic poem
  • Chronicon Novaliciense- A Latin prose chronical where a character named Waltarius is mentioned in chapters 7-13
  • Nibelungenlied-An High German epic
  • Walther-A Middle German epic where a character named Walther von Kärlingen is referred to.
  • Þiðreks saga-An old Norse saga that tells the story of Walter in chapters 241-244
  • Chronicon Poloniae-The 12th-century chronicle of Poland where Walter is a Polish count named Wdaly Walczerz

All of these versions have their own twist on Waldere and none are the same. [3]

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