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BOOK SUMMARY

The Little Duke, by Charlotte Yonge
Publisher
: Lepanto Press
Number of pages:
240

Summary:

Crowned Duke of Normandy at eight years of age after the treacherous murder of his noble father, Richard the Fearless, in compliance with his father’s last injunction, must come to grips with his desire to avenge this terrible injustice.

Political intrigue thickens the plot when the wily French King conspires to take advantage of Normandy’s juvenile ruler to seize the independent region for the crown.

In the year-long separation from his home at the King’s castle in Laon, the young headstrong Duke gleans many lessons from his dealings with Lothaire, the King’s coddled and imperious eldest son.

As Richard’s faithful Danish guardian Osmond senses mounting danger for his young protégé, he carries out an ingenious escape.

The flight of the captive precipitates a war between France and Normandy to which the fierce Danish King lends his aid. The arrangements made at the close of the war, place the King’s two sons as hostages at the little Duke’s castle, allowing him to grow in Christian virtue in regards to Lothaire and his frail, yet lovable brother Carloman.

At the death of fragile Carloman, Richard pleads Lothaire’s case before the King of Denmark; thus fulfilling his father’s final admonition to forgive his enemies.

In like manner, Arnulf of Flanders, reduced to penury through his misdeeds, receives mercy at the hand of Richard the Fearless.

Strong points:

  • The story depicts strong Christian virtues without moralizing overtones.
  • There seems to be a balanced view of Medieval life given (although somewhat harsh on page 111). "…thin, wretched-looking creatures, with wasted limbs, aguish faces, and often iron collars round their necks."
  • It offers insight into this interesting point in history when the Northmen were assimilating their new Christian culture.

Cautions: None.

Conclusion:

This book is well-written and provides readers with a great story. It teaches students to acquire virtues such as self-restraint and forgiveness. It is also excellent reading in order to experience life in tenth century Normandy (through the written word.)