Dietrich of the Glezze: The Belt
Not much is known about the literary-historical background of this poet and his verse narrative (mære). We can be certain, however, that “The Belt” was composed at the end of the thirteenth century (between ca. 1270 and ca. 1290). Dietrich, who remains a rather shadowy figure for us today, was apparently well educated and quite familiar with the ‘classical’ Middle High German literature, though the plot of his tale seems to be highly original and innovative. But in his language (metaphors, imagery, style, rhetorics, etc.) he heavily leaned on such models as Hartmann von Aue (Der arme Heinrich; or Poor Henry; and Erec), Wolfram von Eschenbach (Parzival), Gottfried von Strassburg (Tristan), and his contemporary, Konrad von Würzburg (Partonopier und Meliur). Dietrich also borrowed from various courtly love poets, such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Tannhäuser. The description of nature and its response to the amatory adventure in the lady’s garden might well have been inspired by imagery in some songs included in the Carmina Burana (no. 79, stanzas seven and nine).
The text of this narrative has survived in two manuscripts, both housed in Heidelberg today (cpg 341, early fourteenth century, and cpg 4, ca. 1466-1478). As we know from the epilogue, Dietrich composed his verse narrative after having been prompted to do so by a man called Wilhelm, whose father was an administrator of Widena, or Weidenau in Silesia (today Poland). Dietrich himself originated from Clesse/Glezze at the southern slopes of the Glatz Schneeberg (Glatz Snowy Mountains), Silesia.
For the historical-critical edition, see Otto Richard Meyer, Der Borte des Dietrich von der Glezze: Untersuchungen und Text. Germanistische Arbeiten 3 (Heidelberg: Carl Winters Universitätsbuchhandlung, 1915).
For an English translation, see Erotic Tales of Medieval Germany. Selected and Transl. by Albrecht Classen (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2007).