Dhuoda of Uzès
One of the most remarkable Carolingian theological writers, Dhuoda
was the wife of the Count of Barcelona and Toulouse,
Bernard of Septimania, whom she
married amid the splendours of Aachen in 824. Bernard was a controversial
political figure, a friend and supposed lover of the Empress Judith;
this relationship caused him to spend some time in exile, until both he
and the queen offered to undergo trial by ordeal or combat and were
exhonerated. Dhuoda wrote her single surviving work in 841, after the
birth of her second son, Bernard; it takes the form of an exhortation to
her firstborn, William. This "handbook" (Liber Manualis) of high
spirituality for a layman at court is an excellent example of its
unfortunately rather neglected genre. Like most Frankish thinkers of
her generation, Dhuoda was influenced by St. Augustine and Alcuin, but
seemingly only by the more Orthodox aspects of their thought. She was
also interested in mathematics and numerology, then not readily
distinguished, and in mnemonics; she presents several curious examples
of "numerical" exegesis of the scriptures.
The Liber Manualis specifically urges young William to serve
loyally his liege lord, Charles the Bald, but the family was
headed for difficult times. Dhuoda disappears from the historical record
before 844, the year in which her husband was again accused of treason
and this time executed. William spent the rest of his life attempting
to regain by force of arms his family's land and honour, supporting the
revolt of Pepin II of Aquitaine, and later forming an alliance with
emir Abd ar-Rahman II to attack Barcelona. He died in battle in Catalonia
in 850. His brother Bernard, called Plantevelue (Hairy-Paws) because
of his fox-like cunning, also fought against the crown, but
later made peace with it and became the first Duke of
Aquitaine. One of his
descendents was William the Pious,
founder of Cluny.
Norman Hugh Redington
- Liber Manualis: Handbook for her warrior son.
Latin text with English translation by Marcelle Thiebaux.
Cambridge Medieval Classics VIII, 1998.
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