Theodor Abeling (Das Nibelungenlied, Leipzig, 1907) traces the Nibelung sagas to three groups of Burgundian legends, each based on fact: the Frankish-Burgundian tradition of the murder of Segeric, son of the Burgundian king Sigimund, who was slain by his father at the instigation of his stepmother; the Frankish-Burgundian story, as told by Gregory of Tours (iii.
11), of the defeat of the Burgundian kings Sigimund and Godomar, and the captivity and murder of Sigimund, by the sons of Clovis, at the instigation of their mother Chrothildis, in revenge for the murder of her father Chilperich and of her mother, by Godomar; the RhenishBurgundian story of the ruin of Gundahari's kingdom by Attila's Huns.
Theodor Abeling, who is disposed to reject or minimize the mythical origins, further suggests a confusion of the story of Attila's wife Ildico with that of the murder of Sigimund the Burgundian by the sons of Chrothildis, wife of Clovis.
But criticism is still busy attempting to trace these also to historical originals, and Theodor Abeling (Das Nibelungenlied, 1907) makes out a very plausible case for identifying Siegfried with Segeric, son of the Burgundian king Sigimund, Brunhild with the historical Brunichildis, and Hagen with a certain Hagnericus, who, according to the Life of St Columban, guided the saint (the chaplain of the Nibelungenlied), who had incurred the enmity of Brunichildis, safe to the court of her grandson Theuderich, king of the West Franks.
2 The historical nucleus is the overthrow of the Burgundian kingdom of Gundahar by the Huns in 436; and round this there gathered an accretion of other episodes, equally historical in their origin, however distorted, with a naïve disregard of chronological possibility: the murder of Segeric (c. 525), the murder of Sigimund by the sons of Chrothildis, wife of Clovis (identified by Abeling with Kriemhild), the murder of Attila by his Burgundian wife Ildico (see Kriemhild).