Handbook for William: A Carolingian Woman's Counsel for Her Son

Handbook for William: A Carolingian Woman's Counsel for Her Son

Handbook for William: A Carolingian Woman's Counsel for Her Son

Handbook for William: A Carolingian Woman's Counsel for Her Son

Excerpt

Dhuoda, a Frankish noblewoman, wrote Handbook for William in the middle of the ninth century. In its original Latin, Dhuoda's text is conventionally called Liber manualis , "handbook," without specific mention of its intended audience. The author nevertheless seems to have wished that it be more specifically identified. The present translation reflects her emphasis in the Handbook 's opening and closing lines that she wrote it for the use of her elder son, from whom she was separated when he was fourteen years old. The author here enjoins the adolescent William to use his Handbook carefully for his own benefit. She urges too that he employ it in the instruction of his infant brother when the younger child is old enough to understand (1.7; 10.1; 10.4). Dhuoda Handbook for William , then, presents itself as a source of consolation for a grieving mother. Through this work, she represents her influence on and her love for her absent children.

Dhuoda began the Handbook in 841 and sent it to William in 843, during an extended period of warfare among the Frankish nobility. The emperor Louis the Pious, Charlemagne's son, had died in 840. His three sons Lothar, Louis the German, and Charles the Bald then battled each other over the partition of their father's vast territories, eventually dividing Europe among themselves in the Treaty of Verdun . According to this agreement, struck in the same year Dhuoda set aside her work, Louis maintained his authority over the eastern Franks, Charles established his power in the west, and their overlord, Lothar, held a wide strip of territory cutting Europe north to south . . .

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