The epic poem of Gu-drun is one of the most important early literary works of the German race. It is attributed to the latter part of the twelfth or the beginning of the thirteenth century, and to a date a little subsequent to that of the Nibelungen Lied. It was first brought to the notice of the modern world in the year 1817, the only original manuscript now known to exist having been discovered about that time in the castle Ambras in the Tyrol, among other manuscripts which had been collected by the Emperor Maximilian I. (1493-1519). The manuscript is now in the Imperial Library at Vienna. It has been several times edited and printed in the original Middle High German, with critical annotations; various translations into modern German have also been published: but so far as I can learn, no complete metrical version in the English language has been made public.
The name of the author is unknown; it is generally thought to have been constructed, in great measure, from earlier legends which had been repeated by wandering singers. According to the late Karl Bartsch, the distinguished critic and editor of Mediæval German literature, the tale shows affinity to legends of the Scalds of Norway and Denmark, and to those of the Shetland Isles. Traces of resemblance are said to be found among the relics of Anglo-Saxon literature. The supposition that the poem was constructed from various early legends explains some of the marvellous incidents of the tale, and those chronological inconsistencies where the rude habits and ideas of earlier times are combined with the later knightly usages of the Middle Ages and with Christian belief.