Dhuoda, Handbook for her Warrior Son. Liber Manualis. Edited and translated by Marcelle Thiébaux. Cambridge Medieval Classics 8. Cambridge University Press. 1998. Paperback, 2007. Notes and bibliography. 249pp.
This conduct-of-life guide for a teenage boy ranks as the earliest Western treatise on childhood education. The 9th century mother Dhuoda counsels William, 15, on how to survive in turbulent times and how prudently to stay on the good sides of the Church, the Emperor and his own unpredictable father. The author’s introduction offers fresh views of Dhuoda’s individuality as a woman and her relationship to her husband, Count Bernard, a reckless, luckless brawler willing to hand over his son William as a hostage while he, Bernard, conducted an affair with the Emperor’s ravishing wife. The Introduction also discloses how William took his mother’s advice. The story of this calamity-ridden family became sensational enough to make its way into French, German and English romances of the later Middle Ages.
As an annotated scholarly edition of Dhuoda’s handbook of warnings to William, this volume provides the only complete translation in English accompanied by the Latin original.