[St. Pachomius Library]

Dhuoda of Uzès

IX Century
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


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