Study Notes for Charlotte Yonge's The Little Duke prepared by Anne White for the Ambleside Online

Curriculum, 2009 How to use these study notes: Since families following the Ambleside Online Cur riculum will be reading The Little Duke with Year Two students, these notes are intended more for the parents' benefit than for the children to use directly. P lease don't insist that children in Year Two memorize the vocabulary, or underst and the historical events; young Richard often doesn't fully comprehend what's g oing on either. It's not even vital to the story that Richard becomes the great -grandfather of William the Conqueror. You might want to set the stage, though, by explaining a little of how the some of the Norsemen (Vikings, with whom Year Two students should already be familiar) took over the land of Normandy, which is now part of France. At the time of this story, their culture was still very much "Norse," although we are told that they were losing their own language. On e of the issues that Richard faces in the story is the reconciling of his Norse heritage, including violent sagas of revenge, with his family's more recent conv ersion to Christianity. He is also caught in a kind of cultural battle, as his people are regarded as the rough, tough outsiders, without the proper French app reciation for luxuries like window glass. But a hundred years or so later, when they had invaded England, the Norman lords (who all spoke French by then) were considered the ones with the fancy manners and snobbish attitude, compared to th e rough, tough Saxons. Another Norse-related point of interest is that Leif Eri cson is believed to have been born in about 970, so this story predates even tha t one. But you don't need a lot of background to open this story. It starts in the col d autumn in a rather cold castle. Richard is the young son of the Duke who rules Normandy; but he lives with another family because that was the custom (see the notes for chapter 1). In the first chapter, he is anxiously waiting for his fa ther to arrive on one of his too-rare visits. Chapter 1: The Silver Key Time: Autumn of the year 943 AD (other sources say 942 AD) Setting: The Castle of Bayeux in Normandy. Normandy is now part of France, but at that time it was somewhat separate, ruled by Duke William of Normandy, who w as in turn ruled by Louis, King of the Franks. (That is, Louis IV, called Louis d'Outremer or Transmarinus, both meaning "from overseas.") Normandy was the land that had been granted to the Norsemen (Vikings) by King Louis' father. This is why Fru (or Dame) Astrida speaks "the old Norwegian tongue" or "the old Norse l anguage." According to the book, the French language was still in its beginning s, and it was called the "langue d'oui." The main event: A welcome-home party for Duke William, and a chance for him to visit with his son before he goes off to deal with some troublesome nobles. Other things to note: Duke William reminds young Richard not to be too enthusia stic about the stories of old Norse battles and heroes, especially those glorify ing vengeance. He also tells Richard to show a better attitude towards his scho ol work. At the end of the chapter: Duke William leaves on his journey. Characters: Duke William of Normandy (called William of the Long Sword) and his son, Prince Richard. Richard's mother was named Duchess Emma (according to this book; histo ry books have different accounts of William's wives), but she had died sometime previously. Duke William tells Prince Richard that King Harald the Fair-haired drove Richard's grandfather Earl Rollo from Denmark (to settle in Normandy).

The Centeville family, the owners of the Castle of Bayeux: Sir Eric de Centevil le (he is referred to later as "old" and "grizzled"), who acts as Richard's guar dian; his mother, Fru (Dame) Astrida; and his son, Osmond, who is a few years ol der than Richard. Young Prince Richard lives with this family because it was "t he custom among the northmen, that young princes should thus be put under the ca re of some trusty vassal, instead of being brought up at home." Rulers of other places: Count Arnulf of Flanders, Count Herluin of Montreuil, C ount Bernard of Harcourt (called The Dane), Baron Rainulf of Ferrieres. Count A rnulf has recently caused trouble for Count Herluin, and Duke William must help settle the dispute. Duke William also mentions the Counts of Anjou, of Provence , and of Paris, King Hako of Norway, and King Ethelstane (Athelstane) of England . Father Lucas, Richard's tutor Legendary Norse heroes and gods, discussed by Duke William and Prince Richard: the brave Sea-King Ragnar, Odin, Thor Vocabulary for Chapter 1: crypt = burial chamber apartment = room ample = large trenchers = like plates chased = ornamented steward = servant in charge of household affairs stag of ten branches = a male deer with large antlers shaft = arrow haunch = part of the deer vassal = one who serves another venomous = poisonous embattled = fortified a pupil in chivalry = one who is learning to be a squire and eventually a knight restitution = repayment sagas = ballads; heroic tales Something to discuss: Richard tries to make light of his dislike of reading by pointing out that his father can't read and seems to have done all right anyway. Is this a logical argument? What is Duke William's response? Chapter 2: Arnulf's Treachery Time: A short time after chapter 1 Setting: The same castle; the cathedral (also called the Church of Our Lady) in Rouen The main event: The Count of Harcourt (Count Bernard) arrives and announces the death of Duke William: he has been murdered by Count Arnulf of Flanders. This means that Prince Richard is now the Duke of Normandy. Richard is taken to Roue n, his father's home, and to the church there to see his father's body. Richard vows vengeance on the Count of Flanders, but he is reproved by the priest (see below) who reminds him of his father's Christian faith. New characters: "The false Fleming" refers to Count Arnulf of Flanders; the people of Flanders a re also called the Flemish.

Duke Alan of Brittany (Brittany is another province of France) Legendary Norse heroes: Sigurd Bloodaxe, etc. Other rulers referred to: Kaiser Otho of Germany Walter the Huntsman Martin, Abbot (head priest) of the Monastery of Jumieges, Duke William's chief f riend and counselor Vocabulary: "doffed his bonnet" = took off his hat "cleave his skull" = break his head open restitution = paying back what you owe vassal = someone who serves someone else chastise = scold or punish largesses = generosity pay homage = bow to bier = platform hair shirt = a rough garment worn by monks that would irritate the skin; worn as a sign of humility and to share in Christ's suffering washed in yon blessed font = baptized in this church, in that baptismal font if thou dost vow aught = if you vow anything Something to notice: Duke William's friends, "the barons" (or nobles) "were far from possessing any temper of forgiveness, thought revenge a duty, and were onl y glad to see a warlike spirit in their new prince." These different expectatio ns are going to cause conflict for Richard throughout the story. Chapter 3: Duke William's Treasure Time: the same Setting: the church in Rouen; Duke William's castle Main event: Duke William's funeral, Richard's investiture as the new Duke of No rmandy, and the evening afterwards. There is an explanation of how Duke William had been hurt several years previously while hunting, and had been cared for at the monastery of Jumieges. New characters: The Archibishop of Rouen: an important priest in charge of the Cathedral at Roue n Alberic de Montemar: a young noble about the same age as Richard Vocabulary: investiture = official ceremony, like a coronation as he was desired = as he was asked to do clergy = priests ranks = rows the choir = part of the church Holy Communion = the Eucharist confirmation = a rite of the church confirming one's baptism, usually done now b etween ages 12 to 14 but which, according to this story, was "administered in in fancy." Because Richard had already been confirmed, he was allowed to receive H oly Communion during the ceremony. communicated = received Holy Communion

iniquity = sin ducal = belonging to a duke girded = attached, hung Frank = one of the tribe of the Franks; King Louis of France coffers = money chests endowed = supported it financially his temporal affairs = his earthly business "saw a white cap at a doorway" = saw Dame Astrida wearing her white cap Something to notice: Richard's prayer: "It was a great and awful oath....He st ill knelt, put both hands over his face, and whispered, 'O God, my Father, help me to keep it.'" Also notice Duke Alan's warning: that the King of France "wil l strive to profit by thy youth and helplessness" (and this does happen later on ), and his own promise of friendship. Notice that Count Bernard is suspicious o f Duke Alan's promise. Why were the nobles so interested in seeing Duke William's greatest treasure? ( They were worried that the Normans might be in financial trouble.) Why were the contents of the trunk so surprising? Something to explain: Duke Alan complains that King Charles the Simple (the fat her of King Louis) called his countrymen, the free Bretons (men of Brittany) lie gemen (servants, vassals) to a race of plundering northern pirates (the Norsemen ). Duke Alan says that he never paid homage to Duke William because of the powe r the Norsemen had been given; he refused to acknowledge them as his overlords; but he did pay homage to Duke William because of his "generosity and forbearance ." In other words, he respected Duke William for his own goodness, not because he was a Norseman. Duke Alan says that he will also pay homage to Richard, agai n not because he is a Norsemen but in memory of Richard's father. Chapter 4: In the Hands of the Frank Time: Shortly after the death of Richard's father Setting: Rouen Main Events: Richard makes friends with Alberic, Baron de Montemar, who is ten years old. Alberic comes to live with Richard. King Louis arrives to allow Ric hard to pay homage to him, but his intentions may not be kindly ones. (There is a hint that the King may have had something to do with Duke William's death.) New Characters: The father of Alberic is discussed; he was killed in a battle, fighting alongsid e Richard's father. King Louis of France. His sons Lothaire and Carloman are also referred to. Vocabulary: precipices = cliffs bred up with my Lord Duke = raised with him seneschal = steward; an important servant in charge of the household and banquet s; like a butler marches = border areas "had left all the advantages of the game to Richard" = let Richard win "with so little animation" = with so little enthusiasm demeanour = manners sit in council = participate in meetings to discuss the ruling of Normandy "the appeals from the Barons...." = very boring financial and business matters

"petted and made much of" = spoiled, fussed over Something to notice: in the growing friendship between Alberic and Richard, how they manage to work out the problem of Richard's needing to win the game (becau se he is the Duke). Something to discuss: Richard's attitude towards Count Bernard vs. King Louis. Who do you suspect will prove to be a better friend? Chapter 5: The Faith of a King Time: the same Setting: the same Main events: Sir Eric warns Osmond during the night that King Louis plans to ta ke Richard with him by force, making him a "ward of the crown" and thereby takin g control over Normandy. Alberic overhears and volunteers to go and warn Count Bernard, who has been absent during the King's visit. The next day Richard's fr iends attempt to get him out of the castle, but Richard, not realizing what is g oing on, ruins that plan. He is taken to pay his homage to the King, and the Ki ng promises to lead "an onset on the traitor Fleming." He insists on taking Ric hard "to grow up in love and friendship with my two boys," and they make prepara tions to leave for the royal Castle of Laon. Alberic is sent back to his own ho me, but Osmond is sent with Richard. New characters mentioned: Queen Gerberge Thibault the armourer King Harald Bluetooth Hugh the White, Count of Paris Hubert of Senlis (Richard's uncle) Vocabulary: to wile = to deceive "to cut off all the race of Rollo" = to end the rule of the Northmen in Normandy "our resistance will little avail" = it will do us little good to resist the postern = the back gate burghers, burgesses = townspeople bring warrant = bring written permission imperious = lordly gauntlet = glove strive = struggle insolent = rude succour = help flown into a passion = flown into temper speak their jargon = speak French hold parley with them = talk to them the Rouennais without = the townspeople of Rouen outside the gates a pledge, a hostage = someone from the French side, "traded" for Richard, to ens ure that Richard will not be harmed Dieu aide = "God helps" (a war cry) guerdon = reward ban and arriere ban = something like reserve troops; those who are called up to fight for the King "the beads of his rosary reminded him of their order" = a rosary is a string of beads on which prayers are counted

Something to think about: "Besides, he is so taken with this King's flatteries, that I doubt whether he would consent to leave him for the sake of Count Bernar d. Poor child, he is like to be soon taught to know his true friends." This is one of the major themes of the book. Something else to notice: At this point in the story, Osmond had "small trust i n Richard's patience and self-command." The development of those virtues is ano ther important theme of the story. Notice the small step that Richard makes in that direction in this chapter, by realizing that his outburst had spoiled a pla n to keep him safe. Something to explain: Osmond refuses to give Richard up to the Franks with the statement that as his father "was committed to his charge by the [council] of No rmandy, he holds himself bound to keep him in his own hands until further orders from them." Sir Eric was given responsibility for Richard by the Norman leader s, and he has no permission from them to let Richard go to anyone else. However , after Count Bernard arrives and Richard is taken to the King, the Normans deci de that they had better let Richard go for the time being, because they are not yet in a position to fight for Normandy. Count Bernard advises Richard to be pa tient, and says that within a few weeks or months they will have enough of an ar my together to defend themselves and rescue him. Chapter 6: The Playfellow of Princes Time: Shortly after the last chapter Setting: The journey to Laon and the arrival at the castle Main events: see Setting. Richard meets the Queen and the two French princes. Quote: "Glass windows and hangings to sleeping chambers! I do not like it; I a m sure we shall never be able to sleep, closed up from the free air of heaven in this way...." New characters: Queen Gerberge, who has "a sharp sour expression" Prince Carloman, who was "eight at Martinmas," and Prince Lothaire, who was "nin e three days since." Carloman appears to be easier to get along with than Lotha ire. Sybald and Henry, two Norman grooms who travel with Richard and Osmond The seneschal and others at the French court Vocabulary: palfrey = horse rude = simple, plain, rough traverse = cross "Richard did not find the second place left for him at the board" = Richard shou ld have been given the second-best seat at dinner, since he outranked the Baron who owned that castle. morass = swamp "iron collars round their necks" = shows that these people are serfs, similar to slaves the fleur-de-lys standard = the French flag with symbols of lilies on it glazing = glass windows tell your beads = use your rosary to say your prayers

Something to notice: Richard's attempts to control his temper, but also his dif ficulties at being polite to people he does not like (such as the Queen). Osmon d scolds him later and tells him that 'the first teaching of a young knight is t o be courteous to ladies." Chapter 7: Captors and Captive Time: The same year and into the next, ending shortly after Whitsuntide (a spri ng holiday, seven weeks after Easter) Setting: The royal castle at Laon Main Events: Description of Prince Lothaire's bullying ways and his cruelty to animals (warning for those with younger ones: he becomes angry at his dog and o rders it killed, and then attempts to have a falcon's eyes put out). When Richa rd interferes in one such incident, he ends up being injured himself. The winte r goes by and things continue on without much change, but when Hugh of Paris vis its at Easter, he warns Osmond to watch out for any trouble. On Whitsunday ther e is a great banquet and one of the guests is Count Arnulf, the murderer of Duke William. When Richard refuses to attend the feast, trouble ensues, and it appe ars that the Count of Paris was right about the situation becoming more dangerou s. (Another warning for sensitive souls: Richard's servants Sybald and Henry a re killed in this chapter, and Queen Gerberge physically threatens Richard.) New characters: Charlot, Giles (servants at the court of Laon) Hugh, Count of Paris (he was mentioned previously); he also mentions his childre n Hugh and Eumacette (Richard's future wife) Vocabulary: "as became his rank" = as his rank of Duke required "check his faults" = stop his faults consternation = noise, confusion effeminate = having feminine manners forbear = refrain from doing something; stop before going too far "his own loyalty and forbearance" = his belief that a subject should be loyal to his King, no matter whether he likes or approves of that King or not "the feeble and degenerate race of Charlemagne" = the present King Louis was des cended from the great King Charlemagne, but Charlemagne's descendants were gener ally weak and corrupt (like Louis and his sons) Something to notice: Lothaire had learned to think "that to give way to his nat urally imperious and violent disposition was the way to prove his power and asse rt his rank." Is that the way to be truly "strong willed?" Something to discuss: was Richard right in interfering with Lothaire's attempt to maim the falcon? Something to notice about Richard's character development: as he studies Lothai re's mean disposition and cowardice, he makes "many resolutions against ordering people about uncivilly when once he should be in Normandy again." At the end o f the chapter it is noted that "Richard, who, six months ago, could not brook a slight disappointment or opposition, had, in his present life of restraint, dang er, and vexation, learnt to curb the first outbreak of temper, and to bear patie ntly instead of breaking out into passion and threats..." Chapter 8: A Bundle of Straw Time: Summer of the year 944

Setting: The castle of Laon; the country between Laon and Normandy; Montemar (A lberic's castle) Main events: Walter the Huntsman arrives at Laon, but is chased away from the c astle. When he discovers the state of things there, he returns to Normandy to a lert Richard's friends. Richard suddenly becomes ill, and Osmond, suspecting po ison, refuses to let him leave his room even after he starts to recover. Osmond comes up with a plan to get Richard back to Normandy. New characters: Walter the Huntsman (mentioned earlier) Perron, one of Lothaire's servants Bertrand, the seneschal at Montemar, and his wife Dame Yolande, also called the Dame de Montemar (the mother of Alberic) Maurice, Jeannot and others--Norman servants King Harald Horridlocks--a legendary Norseman who vowed not to cut his hair Vocabulary: alms = money given to beggars or other poor people pilgrim = traveller, especially one journeying for religious reasons obeisances = bows the chase = hunting animals disappointed of his game = had not caught anything scourge = whip thong = leather strap sanctity = holiness gain an interview with Osmond = get a chance to speak with him with this intelligence = with this news evil tidings = bad news expire = die assiduously = carefully telling his beads = using his rosary to pray provisions = food wallet = bag mantle = cloak Sieur de Centeville = Lord Centeville what recked he = what did he care mended his pace = went a little faster yonder stout palfrey = that strong horse chaffer = haggle about the price sagacity = wisdom forded = crossed (by someone else before them) imprudence = lack of care pennon = flag, banner Something to notice: when Richard awakes at Montemar, notice how the author des cribes him (contrasting that with previous impressions that were given), and how he addresses the Norman nobles, including Count Bernard. Why do they look at h im "with pride and joy?" Chapter 9: Blue-Tooth to the Rescue Time: Some time after the previous chapter; Setting: The castle of Senlis, where Richard is sent for safety Main events: News comes that King Louis has assembled an army and has marched i nto Normandy, forcing the surrender of Rouen. Ships from Denmark arrive to help the Normans. Osmond goes to join the battle, and returns with the news that Lo

uis has been taken prisoner by the Danes. Richard wonders about the loyalty of Count Bernard during these events, but it turns out that he has remained loyal t o the Normans, even when he seemed to be helping the French. New characters: Harald Blue-tooth, the King of Denmark, and his army Nobles previously mentioned, including Alan of Brittany, Count Hugh, Herluin of Montreuil The warder of the castle of Senlis Vocabulary: frontier = border abode = place to live forge = a shop where metal is worked deemed = thought varlet = knave, scoundrel garrison = fort, castle keel = ship politic = shrewd; remaining loyal while seeming to act in someone else's interes t, as Count Bernard did "win my spurs" = gain my knighthood hauberk = coat of armour quitted = left their principal resort = where they spent most of their time "You will be over the battlements" = You will fall over the wall portcullis = the part of the castle gate that is raised up and down Neustria = present-day Northwest France Something to notice: Father Lucas (who suddenly reappears in the story) warns R ichard to beware of broken vows, "but remember it not in triumph over a fallen f oe." Chapter 10: A Norman's Courtesy Time: Almost a year later Setting: The Castle of Bayeux The Main Events: The two princes arrive as hostages in Normandy, where Richard tries to welcome them but cannot seem to break through their anger and fearfulne ss. New characters: Charlot, Lothaire's attendant Vocabulary: engaged = arranged until the terms could be arranged = until the details could be worked out under the charge = under the care cavalcade = procession vouchsafing = giving litter = a device used for carrying someone (usually either wealthy or ill), lik e a stretcher with curtains demoiselle = damsel, girl Bordeaux = a kind of wine pasty of ortolans = bird pie pullet = chicken maltreat = mistreat patois = dialect stalwart = stubborn, strong

remonstrances = pleadings not to do something desolate = deserted, alone Pater Noster = Our Father (the Lord's Prayer) Something to think about: "Perhaps he comes that you may have a first trial in your father's last lesson....and return good for evil." The themes of forgivene ss vs. revenge, and God's purposes in all things, continue to be important in th is story. Chapter 11: The Passing Bell Time: That same summer, and the autumn months Setting: The Castle of Bayeux Main Events: Lothaire's attitude improves slightly, although he is still disagr eeable. Carloman's delicate health worsens, and he tells Richard that he does n ot want to live, because the world is "full of cruel people" and he is too "weak and fearful." At the end of the chapter he dies. New Characters: Hardigras, the dog (mentioned in chapter 10) Vocabulary: forbearance = patience aloof = cold, uninvolved beneficial = good sports = games draughts = drafts embalmed and lapped in lead = prepared for burial according to the customs of th e time Something to notice: When Carloman dies, Richard thinks, "Where shall I go, whe n I come to die, if I have not returned good for evil?" What resolution do you think he has made? Chapter 12: An Oath Fulfilled Time: That same autumn, shortly afterwards Setting: Falaise, the strongest castle in Normandy, and the site of a war confe rence Main Events: On his way to a meeting at Falaise, Richard saves the life of a do g, and then finds out that it belongs to King Harald of Denmark. King Harald pr omises Richard any reward he would like, and Richard asks for the release of Lot haire. New Characters: King Harald of Denmark Vocabulary: parlement = conference, meeting you were not wont = you never used to keep = part of a castle autumn sport = hunting unheeding = not realizing precipice = overhanging rock, cliff

in mortal combat = fighting to the death girdle = belt one of those Frenchified Norman gentilesse = those fancied-up Norman la-de-das baldrick = belt I am beholden to you = I owe you something Jarl = Earl (Duke) tell me your boon = tell me what favour you would like recoiled = drew back harry the fat monks of Ireland = go "a-Viking," plundering (robbing) villages et c. bonder = refers to Osmond St. Clair sur Epte = where Alberic lives injunction = command Something to discuss: How Richard has changed through the book, especially cons idering the last paragraph. What were the most difficult lessons he learned? W hy does Lothaire not think that he can achieve what Richard has? Conclusion This epilogue summarizes the rest of Richard's life, through times of war and la ter of peace, and through the continued hatred of Arnulf of Flanders. It is sai d that Lothaire died in early youth (although online sources say that he lived f rom 954-986) and that Hugh Capet became the next King of France (actually he bec ame King after Lothaire's son Louis.) (Technically Hugh Capet is considered to b e the first King of France, since until that time France had not been considered to be one country.) The last scene of the book takes place many years later, when Richard is "a grey -headed man" visiting Abbot Martin at Jumieges. Arnulf appears at the abbey gate , asking for mercy. Vocabulary: Where the hand of the Lord hath stricken = where God has punished it is not for man to exact his own reckoning = it is not for man to take his own revenge brought to naught = brought to nothing refectory = dining hall venerable = elderly Historical Note In our Macmillan edition of The Little Duke (1954), the following footnotes from the Project Gutenberg text are included in a longer "Historical Note" which fol lows the Conclusion and which verifies some of the historical details used in th e book. "At fourteen years eight years old. on his death-bed, the Duke was then nd of chivalry." of age, Richard was betrothed to Eumacette of Paris, then but In such esteem did Hugues la Blanc hold his son-in-law, that, he committed his son Hugues Capet to his guardianship, though scarcely above twenty, proposing him as the model of wisdom a

"Richard obtained for Arnulf the restitution of Arras, and several other Flemish towns. He died eight years afterwards, in 996, leaving several children, among whom his daughter Emma is connected with English history , by her marriage, first, with Ethelred the Unready, and secondly, with Knute, t he grandson of his firm friend and ally, Harald Blue-tooth. His son was Richard , called the Good; his grandson, Robert the Magnificent; his great-grandson, Wil

liam the Conqueror, who brought the Norman race to England. Few names in histor y shine with so consistent a lustre as that of Richard; at first the little Duke , afterwards Richard aux longues jambes, but always Richard sans peur. This lit tle sketch has only brought forward the perils of his childhood, but his early m anhood was likewise full of adventures, in which he always proved himself brave, honourable, pious, and forbearing. But for these our readers must search for t hemselves into early French history, where all they will find concerning our her o will only tend to exalt his character." (Note written by Charlotte Yonge)

Books for further reading: The Normans: the history of a dynasty, by David Crouch

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.