The vernacular culture of the early Middle Ages

  • David Herlihy
Part of the Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


The fragment known as the Song of Hildebrand (Hildebrandslied) is the oldest surviving example of heroic poetry in a Germanic tongue. Its language is Old High German, and it was written down by two monks at Fulda at about 800, on the bindings of a Latin manuscript since destroyed. Charlemagne, according to his biographer Einhard, liked to have recited to him the “old rude songs” of the Franks, and ordered them written down so that they could be preserved. Unfortunately none of these copies has survived. This Song of Hildebrand is the only surviving example of the kind of poetry that once delighted the great Frankish emperor.


Stressed Syllable Lyric Poetry Single Combat Heroic Poetry Hide Treasure 
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© David Herlihy 1968

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  • David Herlihy

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