Dietrick of Bern

Dietrick of Bern was a heroic but contradictory fictional figure in medieval south Germanic poetry. A 13th century Icelandic author collected the stories into a coherent sequence and incorporated other heroic legends. Medieval chroniclers held that Dietrick was a poetic representation of Theodoric the Great, the 5th century Ostrogothic ruler of Italy.


A number of historical anomalies in the legend contradict this association. For instance in the poems Dietrick is contemporaneous with the Hun king Attila and the Ostrogothic king Ermanarich, both of whom predated Theodoric. There are other elements in the poems, however, which suggests that the story of Dietrick concerns his exile and conflict with his uncle Ermanarich and his alliance with Attila. The fundamental moral of the legends depicts Dietrick  as the good king opposed by Ermanarich, the archetypal tyrant.