Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Thiébaux, Marcelle, trans., "A Carolingian Mother, Dhuoda (fl. 824-843)" in The Writings of Medieval Women (New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc. (Garland Library of Medieval Literature, Vol. 14, Series B), pp. 63-79)

Text name(s): 

Number of pages of primary source text: 11


Dates: 841 - 843

Archival Reference: 

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin


  • Translated into English.

Translation Comments: 

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • France

County/Region: Southern France; Uzes

Record Types: 

  • Treatise - Instruction/Advice
  • Theology - Devotional
  • Letter

Subject Headings: 

  • Women / Gender
  • Theology - Moral / Ethics
  • Royalty / Monarchs
  • Nobility / Gentry
  • Literature - Devotional
  • Family / Children
  • Education / Universities
  • Carolingians


  • Bibliography
  • Introduction


This chapter presents translated selections from a letter, presented as a manual, from a Frankish noblewoman, Dhuoda, to her son William. The excerpts presented in this volume are only from the manual’s prologue. Dhuoda makes clear that she was separated from William as well as her husband, Bernard of Septimania (godson of Charlemagne). Although married, Dhuoda lived most of her life separated from her husband on his estate in Uzès, located in modern Southern France. She was also separated from her two sons; while they were still young: Bernard sent William to the court of Charles the Bald as a gesture of loyalty when William was fourteen, and Dhuoda’s second son, Bernard, was taken from her while still an infant.

While Dhuoda presents moral and practical advice to her son for navigating court life, she also divulges a fair amount of autobiographical information about her son’s birth and the circumstances that led to their separation. She bemoans Charlemagne’s death and the resulting political turmoil. She explains that her purpose for writing the book comes out of her feeling of helplessness in her separation from her children. Among her advice, Dhuoda admonishes William to read often, to lead a moral life, rooted in scripture, and, finally, she includes an epitaph for her tomb, which she requests William have inscribed in the event of her death. She also requests that William share the manual with his younger brother, when he is able to read. Dhuoda’s maternal anxiety and desire to be reunited with her son permeate her admonitions in the manual. She exhorts her son to return to her as soon as he can and to leave Charles’s court and she straightforwardly writes of her longing for her children.

The chapter concludes with a short bibliography for further reading on Dhuoda.

Introduction Summary: 

Like the other chapters in this volume, this chapter begins with an introductory overview of Dhuoda’s life and the political circumstances surrounding the writing of her Manual (4 pages). It concludes with a paragraph on the text and Dhuoda’s authorship.

Cataloger: FE