Wudga

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Wudga (Old English: Wudga, Widia; Middle High German Witege or Witige; Gotho-Latin: Vidigoia; Proto-Germanic: *Widigaz) or Vidrik "Vidga" Verlandsson (Old Norse: Vidrīk + Viðga or Videke + Verlandsson, Vallandsson, or Villandsson) is a hero in several early Germanic legends and later Scandinavian ballads.[1]

In Legends about Theodoric the Great, he was of Dietrich von Bern's warriors.[1] In one of the ballads, he won particular fame in his duel with Langben Rese/Risker.[1]

During the Middle Ages, he became the son of Wayland Smith and Böðvildr, and this entitled him to carry a hammer and pliers in his coat of arms.[1] Later the origin of his name "Wayland's son" was forgotten, but the fame of the character prevailed.[1] During the 16th and the 17th centuries, this led to the idea that his name "Villandsson" referred to Villand Hundred in Skåne, and the hundred duly began to use his coat of arms as its own.[1] Wudga wielded the sword Mimung, forged by his father, as was the helm he wore. His mount was the stallion Schimming, one of the finest horses of its age.

Historical background[edit]

Wudga probably has a historic basis in either the Gothic national hero Vidigoia, or in Witiges, a king of the Ostrogoths.[1]

According to Jordanes, Vidigoia was Gothorum fortissimus and defeated the Sarmatians with a ruse for which he became the subject of epic songs among the Goths.[2] Wudga's treachery may derive from Tufa who deserted Theodoric to join Odoacer, whereas Wudga's greatest treason, which was surrendering Ravenna, appears to be based on a merger with king Witiges.[2] This king gave away Ravenna in 540 to a minor force led by Belisarius and the surrender was held to be a disgrace by his fellow Goths.[3]

Widsith[edit]

One of the earliest appearances of Wudga is in the poem Widsith, lines 123-130, where he appears together with his friend Hama:

Rædhere sohte ic ond Rondhere,
Rumstan ond Gislhere,
Wiþergield ond Freoþeric,
Wudgan ond Haman;
125 ne wæran þæt gesiþa
þa sæmestan,
þeah þe ic hy anihst
nemnan sceolde.
Ful oft of þam heape
hwinende fleag
giellende gar
on grome þeode;
wræccan þær weoldan
wundnan golde
130 werum ond wifum,
Wudga ond Hama.[4]
Raedhere sought I and Rondhere,
Rumstan and Gislhere,
Withergield and Freotheric,
Wudga and Hama;
125 not that these comrades were
the worst,
though I in the last place
name in this song.
Often from that group
hissing in flight
yelled the spear
at fierce people;
pressing their rule
to the gilded gold
130 of men and women,
where Wudga and Hama.[5]

Waldere[edit]

In the Anglo-Saxon fragment known as Waldere, Wudga (Widia) is mentioned together with his father Wayland in a praise of Mimmung, Waldere's sword that Weyland had made.

....... ... me ce bæteran
buton ðam anum, ðe ic eac hafa,
on stanfate stille gehided.
Ic wat þæt hit dohte Ðeodric Widian
selfum onsendon, ond eac sinc micel
maðma mid ði mece, monig oðres mid him
golde gegirwan, iulean genam,
þæs ðe hine of nearwum Niðhades mæg,
Welandes bearn, Widia ut forlet,
ðurh fifela geweald forð onette.
........... a better sword
except the one that I have also in
its stone-encrusted scabbard laid aside.
I know that Theodric thought to Widia's self
to send it and much treasure too,
jewels with the blade, many more besides,
gold-geared; he received reward
when Nithhad's kinsman, Widia, Welund's son,
delivered him from durance;
through press of monsters hastened forth.'[6]

Þiðrekssaga[edit]

Before treating the adventures of Viðga (Wudga) and Heimir (Hama), the Þiðrekssaga introduces the Velents þáttr smiðs to explain how Wayland Smith became the father of Viðga.

Viðga was only twelve years old when he decided to become a warrior. He was already strong and good at fighting with arms. His father gave Viðga weapons of his own manufacture, and most importantly his own sword Mimung and his horse Skemming.

Searching for the famous warrior Thiðrek (Dietrich von Bern), Viðga met Hildebrand, Heimir and earl Hornbogi, but at first Hildibrand believed that Viðga was a dwarf. Viðga and Hildebrand became such good friends that they entered sworn brotherhood, but when they met Hildebrand secretly switched Viðga's sword with an ordinary one.

When Viðga finally met Þiðrek, the latter challenged Viðga to fight a duel with him, and Hildebrand failed with his attempts to make peace between the two. At first the two heroes jousted with lances during which Viðga's lance shattered on Þiðrek's shield. Viðga then cut off Þiðrek's lance and they continued on foot with their swords.

Finally Viðga's fake Mimung shattered on Þiðrek's sword and Þiðrek was about to give the unarmed Viðga his coup de grâce. Then Hildebrand returned the true Mimung to Viðga and Viðga got the upper hand in the duel. Eventually, Þiðrek had neither shield nor a functioning helmet, and Þiðrek's father Þetmar tried to stop the duel. Viðga was however furious with his opponent who had wanted to kill him and refused to stop the fight. It was only when a mighty stroke with the sword shattered Þiðrek's helmet and Hildebrand intervened that the fight ended. From that moment, Viðga became one of Þiðrek's companions.

There was a war between Sweden's (Vilkinaland) king Osantrix and Attila who had conquered Hunaland from Osantrix and taken his daughter. Eventually Attila had to call on Þiðrek and his warriors who helped Attila defeat Osantrix. As the Swedes withdrew, Osantrix' duke Hertnid took Viðga prisoner and Osantrix put him in a dungeon. Viðga was then rescued by his friends Vildifer, who was disguised as a bear, and the minstrel Isung.

During his fight with Sigurd, Þiðrek borrowed Viðga's sword Mimung, and when Sigurd realised whose sword he was fighting against, he surrendered to Þiðrek.

Notes and references[edit]