Prevailing scholarly theories strongly suggest that the written Nibelungenlied is the work of an anonymous poet from the area of the Danube between Passau and Vienna, dating from about 1180 to 1210, possibly at the court of Wolfger von Erla, the bishop of Passau (in office 1191–1204). Most scholars consider it likely that the author was a man of literary and ecclesiastical education at the bishop's court, and that the poem's recipients were the clerics and noblemen at the same court.

The "Nibelung's lament" (Diu Klage), a sort of appendix to the poem proper, mentions a "Meister Konrad" who was charged by a bishop "Pilgrim" of Passau with the copying of the text. This is taken as a reference to Saint Pilgrim, bishop of Passau from 971–991.

The search for the author of the Nibelungenlied in German studies has a long and intense history. Among the names suggested were Konrad von Fußesbrunnen, Bligger von Steinach and Walther von der Vogelweide. None of these hypotheses has wide acceptance, and mainstream scholarship today accepts that the author's name cannot be established.

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