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Wife of Bernard, Duke of Septimania

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Dhuoda, wife of Bernard, Duke of Septimania. The only source of information on her life is her “Liber Manualis” which was written for the education of her son William. The name Dhuoda which is indicated in the ‘2 Manual” is latinized by her as Dodana, Duodana, and Dhuodana. Dhuoda was a member of a noble family, and married, June 24, 824, Bernard, son of St. William of Gellone, godson and favorite of King Louis the Pious, Duke of Septimania, and also, either at that time or a little later, Count of Barcelona. Her first son, William, was born November 29, 826, and the second, Bernard, March 22, 841. The “Manual” was begun November 30, 841, at Uzes (now Department of Gard), and completed February 2, 843. She was then separated from both her husband and her two sons, William being at the Court of Charles the Bald, and Bernard having been taken away before baptism to his father in Aquitaine. Probably Dhuoda did not live long after completing her work, as she speaks of herself as weak and near death, expresses her sorrow at the thought that she will not see William in his manhood, and writes herself the epitaph which she desires him to engrave on her tomb. Thus she may have been spared the sorrow of knowing her husband’s condemnation for rebellion (844), and the death of her two sons who were also killed, William in 850, and Bernard in 872, after willfully disregarding their mother’s good lessons. The “Manual”, consisting of seventy-three chapters (not including the introduction, invocation, prologue, etc.), is an important document for general history and especially for the history of education. It was published by Bondurand in 1887 from a manuscript of the seventeenth century in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, and from fragments of a manuscript of the Carlovingian epoch, found in the library of Nimes. Before that date, only a few passages had been published by Mabillon and reproduced in Migne’s “Patrology“. It is a treatise on Christian virtues, revealing the author’s remarkable qualities of heart and mind, her intense affection for her sons and her husband, notwithstanding the latter’s intrigues at the Court (see Martin, Histoire de France, II, 386 sqq.). We find numerous quotations from Holy Scripture, allusions to Scriptural facts, and some references to profane writers. The expression is in some instances obscure and even incorrect from the point of view of classical latinity, but the many images, comparisons, and allegories, the use in some chapters of verse and acrostics, the beauty and nobleness of the thoughts, the earnestness and love of the writer which are manifest throughout the whole work, always keep the reader’s interest alive. It was really a “honeyed beverage” which Dhuoda had prepared for her son:—Istum [libellum] tibi et fratri, ut prosit, quod college festinans, Velut mellifluum potum, favisque permixtum, In cibum oris, ut degustes semper adhortor.



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