Manuscript illumination of Frankish cavalry taken from the so-called “Stuttgart Psalter” (fol. 3v), a Psalm codex produced c. 820 at the monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris), now Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, Cod.bibl.fol.23.

This piece marks the transformation of our Old English Poetry Project into a more inclusive Medieval Poetry Project. Transcription, edition and translation of Ludwigslied by Jake Coen, who discusses the project in his translator’s preface.

Old High German Ludwigslied


Einan kuning uueiz ih Heiszit her hluduig
Ther gerno gode thionot Ih uueiz her imos lonot

Kind uuarth her faterlos Thes uuarth imo sar buo[z]
Holoda inan truhtin Magaczago uuarth her sin

Gab her imo ðugidi Fronisc githigini
Stuol hier in urankon So bruche her es lango

Thaz gideilder thanne Sar mit karlemanne
Bruoder sinemo Thia czala uuunniono

[S]o thaz uuarth al gendiot Koron uuolda sin god
Ob her arbeidi So iung tholon mahti

Lietz her heidine man Obar seo lidan
Thiot urancono Manon sun diono

Sume sar uerlorane Uuurdun sum erkorane
Haranskara tholota Ther er misselebeta

Ther ther thanne thiob uuas Inder thanana ginas
Nam sina uaston Sidh uuarth her guot man

Sum uuas luginari Sum skachari
Sum fol loses Inder gibouzta sih thes

Kuning uuas eruirrit Thaz richi al girrit
Uuas erbolgan Krist Leidhor thes inguld iz

Thoh er barmedes got Uuuisser alla thia not
Hiez her hluduigan Tharot sar ritan

Hluduig kuning min Hilph minan liutin
Heigun sa northman Harto biduuungan

Thanne sprah hluduig Herro so duon ih
Dot ni rette mir ez Al thaz thu gibiudist

Tho nam her godes urlub Huob her gunðfanon uf
Reit her thara in urankon Ingagan northmannon

Gode thancodun The sin beidodun
Quadhun al fro min So lango beidon uuir thin

Thanne sprah luto Hluduig ther guoto
Trostet hiu gisellion Mine not stallon

Hera santa mih god Ioh mir selbo g[ibod]
Ob hiu rat thuhti Thaz ih hier ge[uu]hti
Mih selbon ni sparoti Uncih hie gineriti

Nu uuillih thaz mir uolgon Alle godes holdon
Giskerit ist thiu hier uuist So lango so uuili Krist
Uuiliher unsa hina uarth Thero habet her giuualt

So uuer so hier in ellian Giduot godes uuillion
Quimit he gisund uz Ih gilonon imoz
Bilibit her tharinne Sinemo kunnie

Tho nam her skild indi sper Ellianlicho reit her
Uuolder uuar errahchon Sina uuidarsahchon

Tho ni uuas iz burolang Fand her thia northman
Gode lob sageda Her sihit thes her ge[re]da

Ther kuning reit kuono Sang lioth frono
Ioh alle saman sungun kirrie leison

Sang uuas gisungan Uuig uuas bigunnan
Bluot skein in uuangon Spilodun ther urankon

Thar uaht thegeno gelih Nichein soso hluduig
Snel indi kuoni Thaz uuas imo gekunni

Suman thuruh skluog her Suman thuruh stah her
Her skancta cehanton Sinan fian[ton]
Bitter[es] lides So uue hin hio thes libes

Gilobot si thiu godes kraft Hluduig uuarth sigihaft
[Ioh] allen heiligon thanc Sin uuarth ther sigikamf

[Uu]olar abur hluduig Kuning u[ig]salig
[So] garo so ser hio uuas So uuar soses thurft uuas
Gihalde inan truht[in] Bi sinan ergrehtin

Modern English translation by Jake Coen


I know of a king called Louis who gladly serves God and is rewarded for it. He lost his father as a child, but there was a recompense for this: the Lord called upon him and became his tutor (magaczago: lit., “son-shower”). He gave him virtue, a valiant warrior-band, and a throne here in Francia. May he long enjoy it! He shared this then with his brother, Carloman, the pinnacle of delight. But when that all came to an end, God wished to test whether he, still a young man, could endure great suffering. He let heathen men charge against him in order to remind the Franks of the debt of their sin. Some were lost and others put to the test. He who lived wickedly suffered punishment. He who had been a thief began to fast and became a good man. Still some were liars, others bandits; some lived without any direction, for which this was their penance.

The king was away and the kingdom overwhelmed. Christ was outraged, and the kingdom paid dearly for it. But God showed mercy, for he saw all this suffering. He ordered Louis to return straightaway: “Louis, my king, help my people so greatly oppressed by the Northmen!”

Then spoke Louis: “So shall I do, Lord, unless death releases me from all that you have ordered.” With God’s blessing, he raised his battle banner high and rode thence to Francia against the Northmen.

Those awaiting him thanked God and said together: “My lord, we have waited so long for you!”.

Then Louis the good spoke aloud: “Have faith, my companions in battle! The Lord God has sent me and has ordered—should you agree—that I fight here. I shall not spare myself until I have saved you. Now I wish that all God’s beholden follow me. Our fate here is measured out as Christ wills it. Should he desire our death, he has power over it. So I shall reward whomever bravely does God’s will here and comes back safely; should he stay here, I will reward his kin.”

Louis then took his spear and shield and rode forth courageously. He wished to send a message to his enemies. It was not long before he found the Northmen. He praised God so that He may see what he had ordered [come to fruition]. The king rode bravely and sang a holy song. All sang together: “Kyrie eleison!” The song was sung and the struggle begun. Blood shone in their cheeks as the Franks fought (spilodun: lit., “played”). Every warrior fought there, but none like Louis—fast and brave, as was his nature. Some he struck and some he stabbed. He relentlessly poured a bitter drink for his enemies—woe upon their lives forevermore!

God’s might be praised—Louis was victorious!

Thanks be to all the saints—he was triumphant in battle!

Rejoice, Louis our king, blessed in battle, always there where he was needed. May the Lord hold him in his grace.


Ludwigslied in Old High German

Ludwigslied in Modern English

Jake Coen
PhD Candidate
Medieval Institute
University of Notre Dame