Charles Martel
Overview
 
Charles Martel (c. 688 – 22 October 741), also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title and office, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus , used most notably in the Frankish kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries....

 under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

 (737–43) at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the title of Consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 by the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, but he refused. He is remembered for winning the Battle of Tours
Battle of Tours
The Battle of Tours , also called the Battle of Poitiers and in Battle of the Court of the Martyrs, was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, located in north-central France, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille, about northeast of Poitiers...

 (also known as the Battle of Poitiers) in 732, in which he defeated an invading Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 army and halted northward Islamic expansion in western Europe.

A brilliant general, he is considered to be a founding figure of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, often credited with a seminal role in the development of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 and knighthood, and laying the groundwork for the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

.
Encyclopedia
Charles Martel (c. 688 – 22 October 741), also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title and office, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus , used most notably in the Frankish kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries....

 under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

 (737–43) at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the title of Consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 by the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, but he refused. He is remembered for winning the Battle of Tours
Battle of Tours
The Battle of Tours , also called the Battle of Poitiers and in Battle of the Court of the Martyrs, was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, located in north-central France, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille, about northeast of Poitiers...

 (also known as the Battle of Poitiers) in 732, in which he defeated an invading Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 army and halted northward Islamic expansion in western Europe.

A brilliant general, he is considered to be a founding figure of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, often credited with a seminal role in the development of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 and knighthood, and laying the groundwork for the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

. He was also the father of Pepin the Short and grandfather of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

.

Birth and youth

Martel was born in Herstal
Herstal
Herstal, formerly known as Heristal, or Héristal, is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege along the Meuse river. Herstal is included in the "Greater Liège" agglomeration, which counts about 600,000 inhabitants...

, the illegitimate son of duke Pepin II and his concubine Alpaida
Alpaida
Alpaida was Pepin II's concubine and mother to Pepin II's two illegitimate sons, Charles Martel and Childebrand .-External links:*...

. In German-speaking countries he is known as Karl Martell. Alpaida also bore Pepin another son, Childebrand
Childebrand
Childebrand was a Frankish duke , son of Pepin of Heristal and Alpaida, brother of Charles Martel. He married Emma of Austrasia and was given Burgundy by his father...

.

Contesting for power

In December 714, Pepin of Heristal died. Prior to his death, he had, at his wife Plectrude's urging, designated Theudoald
Theudoald
Theudoald was the mayor of the palace, briefly unopposed in 714 until Ragenfrid was acclaimed in Neustria and Charles Martel in Austrasia by the nobles, after the death of his grandfather, Pepin of Heristal. He was the illegitimate son of Grimoald II and Theudesinda of Frisia and thus a grandson...

, his grandson by their son Grimoald, his heir in the entire realm. This was immediately opposed by the nobles because Theudoald was a child of only eight years of age. To prevent Charles using this unrest to his own advantage, Plectrude had him imprisoned in Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, the city which was destined to be her capital. This prevented an uprising on his behalf in Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

, but not in Neustria
Neustria
The territory of Neustria or Neustrasia, meaning "new [western] land", originated in 511, made up of the regions from Aquitaine to the English Channel, approximating most of the north of present-day France, with Paris and Soissons as its main cities...

.

Civil war of 715-718

In 715, the Neustrian noblesse proclaimed Ragenfrid
Ragenfrid
Ragenfrid was the mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy from 715, when he filled the vacuum in Neustria caused by the death of Pepin of Heristal, until 718, when Charles Martel finally established himself over the whole Frankish kingdom.His original centre of power was the Véxin...

 mayor of their palace on behalf of, and apparently with the support of, Dagobert III
Dagobert III
Dagobert III was Merovingian king of the Franks .He was a son of Childebert III. He succeeded his father as the head of the three Frankish kingdoms—Neustria and Austrasia, unified since Pippin's victory at Tertry in 687, and the Kingdom of Burgundy—in 711, at the age of twelve...

, the youngest of which, who in theory had the legal authority to select a mayor, though by this time the Merovingian dynasty had lost most such powers.

The Austrasians were not to be left supporting a woman and her young son for long. Before the end of the year, Charles Martel had escaped from prison and been acclaimed mayor by the nobles of that kingdom. The Neustrians had been attacking Austrasia and the nobles were waiting for a strong man to lead them against their invading countrymen. That year, Dagobert died and the Neustrians proclaimed Chilperic II
Chilperic II
Chilperic II , born Daniel, the youngest son of Childeric II, was king of Neustria from 715 and sole king of the Franks from 718 until his death. He was the last Merovingian dynast to exercise any authority on his own....

 king without the support of the rest of the Frankish people.

In 717, Chilperic and Ragenfrid together led an army into Austrasia. The Neustrians allied with another invading force under Radbod, King of the Frisians
Radbod, King of the Frisians
Radbod was the king of Frisia from c. 680 until his death. He is often considered the last independent ruler of Frisia before Frankish domination. He defeated Charles Martel at Cologne. Eventually, however, Charles prevailed and compelled the Frisians to submit...

 and met Charles in battle near Cologne, which was still held by Plectrude. Charles had little time to gather men, or prepare, and the result was the only defeat of his life. According to Strauss and Gustave, Martel fought a brilliant battle, but realized he could not prevail because he was outnumbered so badly, and retreated. In fact, he fled the field as soon as he realized he did not have the time or the men to prevail, retreating to the mountains of the Eifel
Eifel
The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium....

 to gather men, and train them. The king and his mayor then turned to besiege their other rival in the city and took it and the treasury, and received the recognition of both Chilperic as king and Ragenfrid as mayor. Plectrude surrendered on Theudoald's behalf.

Military genius

At this juncture, however, events turned in favour of Charles. Having made the proper preparations, he fell upon the triumphant army near Malmedy
Malmedy
Malmedy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region, Province of Liège. It belongs to the French Community of Belgium, within which it is French-speaking with facilities for German-speakers. On January 1, 2006 Malmedy had a total population of 11,829...

 as it was returning to its own province, and, in the ensuing Battle of Amblève
Battle of Amblève
The Battle of Amblève took place in 716 near Amel. The mayor of the palace of Austrasia, Charles Martel, defeated his Neustrian and Frisian rivals who were led by King Chilperic II, his mayor Ragenfrid, and Radbod, Duke of the Frisians. It was the first major victory of Martel in a long career of...

, routed it. The few troops who were not killed or captured, fled. Several things were notable about this battle, in which Charles set the pattern for the remainder of his military career: first, he appeared where his enemies least expected him, while they were marching triumphantly home and far outnumbered him. He also attacked when least expected, at midday, when armies of that era traditionally were resting. Finally, he attacked them how they least expected it, by feigning a retreat to draw his opponents into a trap. The feigned retreat, next to unknown in Western Europe at that time - it was a traditionally eastern tactic — required both extraordinary discipline on the part of the troops and exact timing on the part of their commander. Charles, in this battle, had begun demonstrating the military genius that would mark his rule. The result was an unbroken victory streak that lasted until his death.

In Spring 717, Charles returned to Neustria with an army and confirmed his supremacy with a victory at the Battle of Vincy
Battle of Vincy
The Battle of Vincy was fought at Vincy, near Cambrai, in the modern département of Nord. It was a contest between Charles Martel and the Austrasians on one side and the king of the Franks, Chilperic II, and his mayor of the palace, Ragenfrid, on the other.Chilperic and Ragenfrid returned defeated...

, near Cambrai
Cambrai
Cambrai is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Cambrai is the seat of an archdiocese whose jurisdiction was immense during the Middle Ages. The territory of the Bishopric of Cambrai, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, included...

. He chased the fleeing king and mayor to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, before turning back to deal with Plectrude and Cologne. He took her city and dispersed her adherents. However, he allowed both Plectrude and the young Theudoald to live and treated them with kindness—unusual for those times, when mercy to a former gaoler, or a potential rival, was rare. On this success, he proclaimed Chlotar IV king of Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

 in opposition to Chilperic and deposed the archbishop of Reims
Archbishop of Reims
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Reims is an archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. Erected as a diocese around 250 by St. Sixtus, the diocese was elevated to an archdiocese around 750...

, Rigobert, replacing him with Milo, a lifelong supporter.

Consolidation of power

After subjugating all Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

, he marched against Radbod and pushed him back into his territory, even forcing the concession of West Frisia (later Holland). He also sent the Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 back over the Weser and thus secured his borders—in the name of the new king Clotaire, of course.
In 718, Chilperic responded to Charles' new ascendancy by making an alliance with Odo the Great (or Eudes, as he is sometimes known), the duke of Aquitaine
Duke of Aquitaine
The Duke of Aquitaine ruled the historical region of Aquitaine under the supremacy of Frankish, English and later French kings....

, who had made himself independent during the civil war in 715, but was again defeated, at the Battle of Soissons
Battle of Soissons (718)
The Battle of Soissons of 718 was the last of the great pitched battles of the civil war between the heirs of Pepin of Heristal. Since Pepin's death in December 714, his grandson and heir Theudoald, his widow Plectrude, his bastard son Charles Martel, his successor as mayor of the palace in...

, by Charles. The king fled with his ducal ally to the land south of the Loire
Loire
Loire is an administrative department in the east-central part of France occupying the River Loire's upper reaches.-History:Loire was created in 1793 when after just 3½ years the young Rhône-et-Loire department was split into two. This was a response to counter-Revolutionary activities in Lyon...

 and Ragenfrid fled to Angers
Angers
Angers is the main city in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France about south-west of Paris. Angers is located in the French region known by its pre-revolutionary, provincial name, Anjou, and its inhabitants are called Angevins....

. Soon Clotaire IV died and Odo gave up on Chilperic and, in exchange for recognising his dukedom, surrendered the king to Charles, who recognised his kingship over all the Franks in return for legitimate royal affirmation of his mayoralty, likewise over all the kingdoms (718).

Foreign wars from 718-732

The ensuing years were full of strife. Between 718 and 723, Charles secured his power through a series of victories: he won the loyalty of several important bishops and abbots (by donating lands and money for the foundation of abbeys such as Echternach
Echternach
Echternach is a commune with city status in the canton of Echternach, which is part of the district of Grevenmacher, in eastern Luxembourg. Echternach lies near the border with Germany, and is the oldest town in Luxembourg....

), he subjugated Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 and Alemannia, and he defeated the pagan Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

.

Having unified the Franks under his banner, Charles was determined to punish the Saxons who had invaded Austrasia. Therefore, late in 718, he laid waste their country to the banks of the Weser, the Lippe
Lippe
Lippe is a Kreis in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Neighboring districts are Herford, Minden-Lübbecke, Höxter, Paderborn, Gütersloh, and district-free Bielefeld, which forms the region Ostwestfalen-Lippe....

, and the Ruhr. He defeated them in the Teutoburg Forest
Teutoburg Forest
The Teutoburg Forest is a range of low, forested mountains in the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia which used to be believed to be the scene of a decisive battle in AD 9...

. In 719, Charles seized West Frisia without any great resistance on the part of the Frisians
Frisians
The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia, that was a part of Denmark until 1864. They inhabit an area known as Frisia...

, who had been subjects of the Franks but had seized control upon the death of Pippin. Although Charles did not trust the pagans, their ruler, Aldegisel
Adgillis II
Adgillis II was an obscure historical figure who may have been Ruler of Frisia between 734 and 741. No contemporary accounts of his rule exist, but the scanty information available suggests that King Poppo was succeeded by someone called Adgillis. Eggerik Benninga made a brief record in his...

, accepted Christianity, and Charles sent Willibrord
Willibrord
__notoc__Willibrord was a Northumbrian missionary saint, known as the "Apostle to the Frisians" in the modern Netherlands...

, bishop of Utrecht, the famous "Apostle to the Frisians" to convert the people. Charles also did much to support Winfrid, later Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface , the Apostle of the Germans, born Winfrid, Wynfrith, or Wynfryth in the kingdom of Wessex, probably at Crediton , was a missionary who propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He is the patron saint of Germany and the first archbishop of Mainz...

, the "Apostle of the Germans."

When Chilperic II died the following year (720), Charles appointed as his successor the son of Dagobert III, Theuderic IV
Theuderic IV
Theuderic IV or Theuderich, Theoderic, or Theodoric; in French, Thierry was the Merovingian King of the Franks from 721 until his death in 737...

, who was still a minor, and who occupied the throne from 720 to 737. Charles was now appointing the kings whom he supposedly served, rois fainéants
Roi fainéant
Roi fainéant, literally "lazy king", is a French term primarily used to refer to the later kings of the Merovingian dynasty, after they seemed to have lost their initial energy...

 who were mere puppets in his hands; by the end of his reign they were so useless that he didn't even bother appointing one. At this time, Charles again marched against the Saxons. Then the Neustrians rebelled under Ragenfrid, who had left the county of Anjou. They were easily defeated (724), but Ragenfrid gave up his sons as hostages in turn for keeping his county. This ended the civil wars of Charles' reign.

The next six years were devoted in their entirety to assuring Frankish authority over the dependent Germanic tribes. Between 720 and 723, Charles was fighting in Bavaria, where the Agilolfing dukes had gradually evolved into independent rulers, recently in alliance with Liutprand the Lombard. He forced the Alemanni to accompany him, and Duke Hugbert
Hugbert of Bavaria
Hugbert of the Agilolfings was duke of Bavaria from 725 to 736 . He was son of the duke Theudebert and Regintrud, the probable daughter of the Seneschal Hugobert and Irmina of Oeren....

 submitted to Frankish suzerainty. In 725 and 728, he again entered Bavaria and the ties of lordship seemed strong. From his first campaign, he brought back the Agilolfing princess Swanachild, who apparently became his concubine. In 730, he marched against Lantfrid
Lantfrid
Lantfrid was duke of Alamannia under Frankish sovereignty from 709 until his death. He was the son of duke Gotfrid...

, duke of Alemannia, who had also become independent, and killed him in battle. He forced the Alemanni capitulation to Frankish suzerainty and did not appoint a successor to Lantfrid. Thus, southern Germany once more became part of the Frankish kingdom, as had northern Germany during the first years of the reign.

But by 731, his own realm secure, Charles began to prepare exclusively for the coming storm from the south and west.

In 721, the emir of Córdoba had built up a strong army from Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

, and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 to conquer Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

, the large duchy in the southwest of Gaul, nominally under Frankish sovereignty, but in practice almost independent in the hands of the Odo the Great, the Duke of Aquitaine
Duke of Aquitaine
The Duke of Aquitaine ruled the historical region of Aquitaine under the supremacy of Frankish, English and later French kings....

, since the Merovingian kings had lost power. The invading Muslims besieged the city of Toulouse, then Aquitaine's most important city, and Odo (also called Eudes, or Eudo) immediately left to find help. He returned three months later just before the city was about to surrender and defeated the Muslim invaders on June 9, 721, at what is now known as the Battle of Toulouse
Battle of Toulouse (721)
The Battle of Toulouse was a victory of an Aquitanian army led by Duke Odo of Aquitaine over an Umayyad army besieging the city of Toulouse, and led by the governor of Al-Andalus, Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani...

. This critical defeat was essentially the result of a classic enveloping movement by Odo's forces. (After Odo originally fled, the Muslims became overconfident and failed to maintain strong outer defenses and continuous scouting.) Thus, when Odo returned, he was able to launch a near complete surprise attack on the besieging force, scattering it at the first attack, and slaughtering units caught resting or that fled without weapons or armour.

Due to the situation in Iberia, Martel believed he needed a virtually fulltime army—one he could train intensely—as a core of veteran Franks who would be augmented with the usual conscripts called up in time of war. (During the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, troops were only available after the crops had been planted and before harvesting time.) To train the kind of infantry that could withstand the Muslim heavy cavalry, Charles needed them year-round, and he needed to pay them so their families could buy the food they would have otherwise grown. To obtain money he seized church lands and property, and used the funds to pay his soldiers. The same Charles who had secured the support of the ecclesia by donating land, seized some of it back between 724 and 732. Of course, Church officials were enraged, and, for a time, it looked as though Charles might even be excommunicated for his actions. But then came a significant invasion.

Eve of Tours

Historian Paul K. Davis
Paul K. Davis
Paul K. Davis is a historian specializing in military history. Born in Texas, he was educated at Southwest Texas State University before earning his PhD from King's College London with a thesis on the Mesopotamian campaign of the First World War. He has been consulted as an expert military...

 wrote, "Having defeated Eudes, he turned to the Rhine to strengthen his northeastern borders - but in 725 was diverted south with the activity of the Muslims in Acquitane." Martel then concentrated his attention to the Umayyads, virtually for the remainder of his life. Indeed, 12 years later, when he had thrice rescued Gaul from Umayyad invasions, Antonio Santosuosso
Antonio Santosuosso
Antonio Santosuosso is a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.-Assessment of the Battle of Tours:...

 noted when he destroyed an Umayyad army sent to reinforce the invasion forces of the 735 campaigns, "Charles Martel again came to the rescue." Charles Martel could have pursued the wars against the Saxons—but he was determined to prepare for what he thought was a greater danger.

The Muslims were not aware, at that time, of the true strength of the Franks, or the fact that they were building a disciplined army
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

 instead of the typical barbarian hordes that had dominated Europe after Rome's fall. The Arab Chronicles, the history of that age, show that Arab awareness of the Franks as a growing military power came only after the Battle of Tours when the Caliph expressed shock at his army's catastrophic defeat.

Lead-up and importance

The Cordoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

n emirate
Emirate
An emirate is a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Muslim monarch styled emir.-Etymology:Etymologically emirate or amirate is the quality, dignity, office or territorial competence of any emir ....

 had previously invaded Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and had been stopped in its northward sweep at the Battle of Toulouse
Battle of Toulouse (721)
The Battle of Toulouse was a victory of an Aquitanian army led by Duke Odo of Aquitaine over an Umayyad army besieging the city of Toulouse, and led by the governor of Al-Andalus, Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani...

, in 721. The hero of that less celebrated event had been Odo the Great, Duke of Aquitaine, who was not the progenitor of a race of kings and patron of chroniclers. It has previously been explained how Odo defeated the invading Muslims, but when they returned, things were far different. The arrival in the interim of a new emir of Cordoba, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi
Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi
Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi , also known as Abd er Rahman, Abdderrahman, Abderame, and Abd el-Rahman, led the Andalusian Muslims into battle against the forces of Charles Martel in the Battle of Tours on October 10, 732 AD. for which he is primarily remembered in the West...

, who brought with him a huge force of Arabs and Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 horsemen, triggered a far greater invasion. Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi had been at Toulouse, and the Arab Chronicles make clear he had strongly opposed the Emir's decision not to secure outer defenses against a relief force, which allowed Odo and his relief force to attack with impunity before the Islamic cavalry could assemble or mount. Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi had no intention of permitting such a disaster again. This time the Umayyad horsemen were ready for battle, and the results were horrific for the Aquitani
Aquitani
The Aquitani were a people living in what is now Aquitaine, France, in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic ocean and the Garonne...

ans. Odo, hero of Toulouse, was badly defeated in the Muslim invasion of 732 at the battle prior to the Muslim sacking of Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

, and when he gathered a second army, at the Battle of the River Garonne
Battle of the River Garonne
The Battle of the River Garonne was fought in 732 between an Umayyad army led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, governor of Al-Andalus, and Frankish forces led by Duke Odo of Aquitaine....

—Western chroniclers state, "God alone knows the number of the slain"— and the city of Bordeaux was sacked and looted. Odo fled to Charles, seeking help. Charles agreed to come to Odo's rescue, provided Odo acknowledged Charles and his house as his overlords, which Odo did formally at once. Charles was pragmatic; while most commanders would never use their enemies in battle, Odo and his remaining Aquitanian nobles formed the right flank of Charles's forces at Tours.

The Battle of Tours
Battle of Tours
The Battle of Tours , also called the Battle of Poitiers and in Battle of the Court of the Martyrs, was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, located in north-central France, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille, about northeast of Poitiers...

 earned Charles the cognomen
Cognomen
The cognomen nōmen "name") was the third name of a citizen of Ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. The cognomen started as a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name in order to identify a particular branch within...

 "Martel" ('Hammer') for the merciless way he hammered his enemies. Many historians, including Sir Edward Creasy
Edward Shepherd Creasy
Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy was an English historian. He was born in Bexley, England. He was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge and called to the Bar in 1837. In 1840, he began teaching history at the University of London. He was knighted in 1860 and assumed the position of...

, believe that had he failed at Tours, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 would probably have overrun Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

, and perhaps the remainder of Western Europe. Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

 made clear his belief that the Umayyad armies would have conquered from Rome to the Rhine, and even England, having the English Channel for protection, with ease, had Martel not prevailed. Creasy said "the great victory won by Charles Martel ... gave a decisive check to the career of Arab conquest in Western Europe, rescued Christendom from Islam, [and] preserved the relics of ancient and the germs of modern civilization." Gibbon's belief that the fate of Christianity hinged on this battle is echoed by other historians including John B. Bury, and was very popular for most of modern historiography. It fell somewhat out of style in the 20th century, when historians such as Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

 contended that Arabs had little intention of occupying northern France. More recently, however, many historians have tended once again to view the Battle of Tours as a very significant event in the history of Europe and Christianity. Equally, many, such as William Watson
William Watson
William Watson may refer to:*W. Marvin Watson , U.S. Postmaster General*William E. Watson, military historian*William H. Watson , Mexican-American War soldier from Maryland*William J. Watson...

, still believe this battle was one of macrohistorical world-changing importance, if they do not go so far as Gibbon does rhetorically.

In the modern era, Matthew Bennett
Matthew Bennett
Matthew Ray Bennett is a Canadian actor, writer and director. At the age of 20 he moved from his hometown of Toronto, Ontario to Vancouver, British Columbia to pursue an acting career...

 and his co-authors of Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World, published in 2005, argue that "few battles are remembered 1,000 years after they are fought ... but the Battle of Poitiers, (Tours) is an exception ... Charles Martel turned back a Muslim raid that had it been allowed to continue, might have conquered Gaul." Michael Grant, author of History of Rome, grants the Battle of Tours such importance that he lists it in the macrohistorical dates of the Roman era.

It is important to note however that modern Western historians, military historians, and writers, essentially fall into three camps. The first, those who believe Gibbon was right in his assessment that Martel saved Christianity and Western civilization by this battle are typified by Bennett, Paul Davis, Robert Martin, and educationalist Dexter B. Wakefield who writes in An Islamic Europe:
The second camp of contemporary historians believe that a failure by Martel at Tours could have been a disaster, destroying what would become Western civilization after the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Certainly all historians agree that no power would have remained in Europe able to halt Islamic expansion had the Franks failed. William E. Watson
William E. Watson
William E. Watson was born in New York City. He is Professor of History at Immaculata University in Malvern, Pennsylvania. He received his PhD in Medieval History from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the director of the Duffy's Cut Project...

, one of the most respected historians of this era, strongly supports Tours as a macrohistorical event, but distances himself from the rhetoric of Gibbon and Drubeck, writing, for example, of the battle's importance in Frankish and world history in 1993:
The final camp of Western historians believe that the importance of the battle is dramatically overstated. This view is typified by Alessandro Barbero, who writes, "Today, historians tend to play down the significance of the battle of Poitiers, pointing out that the purpose of the Arab force defeated by Charles Martel was not to conquer the Frankish kingdom, but simply to pillage the wealthy monastery of St-Martin of Tours". Similarly, Tomaž Mastnak writes:
However, it is vital to note, when assessing Charles Martel's life, that even those historians who dispute the significance of this one battle as the event that saved Christianity, do not dispute that Martel himself had a huge effect on Western European history. Modern military historian Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor, notable as a scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a commentator on modern warfare and contemporary politics for National Review and other media outlets...

 acknowledges the debate on this battle, citing historians both for and against its macrohistorical placement:

After Tours

In the subsequent decade, Charles led the Frankish army against the eastern duchies, Bavaria and Alemannia, and the southern duchies, Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

 and Provence
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

. He dealt with the ongoing conflict with the Frisia
Frisia
Frisia is a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea, i.e. the German Bight. Frisia is the traditional homeland of the Frisians, a Germanic people who speak Frisian, a language group closely related to the English language...

ns and Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 to his northeast with some success, but full conquest of the Saxons and their incorporation into the Frankish empire would wait for his grandson Charlemagne, primarily because Martel concentrated the bulk of his efforts against Muslim expansion.

So instead of concentrating on conquest to his east, he continued expanding Frankish authority in the west, and denying the Emirate of Córdoba a foothold in Europe beyond Al-Andalus. After his victory at Tours, Martel continued on in campaigns in 736 and 737 to drive other Muslim armies from bases in Gaul after they again attempted to get a foothold in Europe beyond Al-Andalus.

Wars from 732-737

Between his victory of 732 and 735, Charles reorganized the kingdom of Burgundy, replacing the counts and dukes with his loyal supporters, thus strengthening his hold on power. He was forced, by the ventures of Radbod
Radbod, King of the Frisians
Radbod was the king of Frisia from c. 680 until his death. He is often considered the last independent ruler of Frisia before Frankish domination. He defeated Charles Martel at Cologne. Eventually, however, Charles prevailed and compelled the Frisians to submit...

, duke of the Frisians
Rulers of Frisia
Of the first historically verifiable rulers of Frisia, whether they are called dukes or kings, the last royal dynasty below is established by the chronicles of Merovingian kings of the Franks, with whom they were contemporaries...

 (719-734), son of the Duke Aldegisel who had accepted the missionaries
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 Willibrord and Boniface, to invade independence-minded Frisia again in 734. In that year, he slew the duke, who had expelled the Christian missionaries, in the battle of the Boarn
Battle of the Boarn
The Battle of the Boarn was an eighth century battle between the Franks and the Frisians near the mouth of the river Boarn in what is now the Dutch province of Friesland....

 and so wholly subjugated the populace (he destroyed every pagan shrine) that the people were peaceful for twenty years after.

The dynamic changed in 735 because of the death of Odo the Great, who had been forced to acknowledge, albeit reservedly, the suzerainty of Charles in 719. Though Charles wished to unite the duchy directly to himself and went there to elicit the proper homage of the Aquitainians, the nobility proclaimed Odo's son, Hunald of Aquitaine
Hunald of Aquitaine
Hunald , Duke of Aquitaine , succeeded his father Odo the Great in 735....

, whose dukedom Charles recognised when the Umayyads invaded Provence the next year, and who equally was forced to acknowledge Charles as overlord as he had no hope of holding off the Muslims alone.

This naval Arab invasion was headed by Abdul Rahman's son. It landed in Narbonne
Narbonne
Narbonne is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in 736 and moved at once to reinforce Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

 and move inland. Charles temporarily put the conflict with Hunold on hold, and descended on the Provençal strongholds of the Umayyads. In 736, he retook Montfrin
Montfrin
Montfrin is a commune in the Gard department in southern France.-Population:The residents are called Montfrinois.-Geography:Montfrin is located between Nîmes and Avignon, from Pont du Gard...

 and Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

, and Arles and Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence
Aix , or Aix-en-Provence to distinguish it from other cities built over hot springs, is a city-commune in southern France, some north of Marseille. It is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix is...

 with the help of Liutprand, King of the Lombards
Liutprand, King of the Lombards
Liutprand was the King of the Lombards from 712 to 744 and is chiefly remembered for his Donation of Sutri, in 728, and his long reign, which brought him into a series of conflicts, mostly successful, with most of Italy. He profited by Byzantine weakness to enlarge his domains in Emilia and the...

. Nîmes
Nîmes
Nîmes is the capital of the Gard department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. Nîmes has a rich history, dating back to the Roman Empire, and is a popular tourist destination.-History:...

, Agde
Agde
Agde is a commune in the Hérault department in southern France. It is the Mediterranean port of the Canal du Midi.-Location:Agde is located on the river Hérault, 4 km from the Mediterranean Sea, and 750 km from Paris...

, and Béziers
Béziers
Béziers is a town in Languedoc in southern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the Hérault department. Béziers hosts the famous Feria de Béziers, centred around bullfighting, every August. A million visitors are attracted to the five-day event...

, held by Islam since 725, fell to him and their fortresses were destroyed. He crushed one Umayyad army at Arles, as that force sallied out of the city, and then took the city itself by a direct and brutal frontal attack, and burned it to the ground to prevent its use again as a stronghold for Umayyad expansion. He then moved swiftly and defeated a mighty host outside of Narbonnea at the River Berre, but failed to take the city. Military historians believe he could have taken it, had he chosen to tie up all his resources to do so—but he believed his life was coming to a close, and he had much work to do to prepare for his sons to take control of the Frankish realm. A direct frontal assault, such as took Arles, using rope ladders and rams, plus a few catapults, simply was not sufficient to take Narbonne without horrific loss of life for the Franks, troops Martel felt he could not lose. Nor could he spare years to starve the city into submission, years he needed to set up the administration of an empire his heirs would reign over. He left Narbonne therefore, isolated and surrounded, and his son would return to liberate it for Christianity.

Notable about these campaigns was Charles' incorporation, for the first time, of heavy cavalry with stirrups to augment his phalanx
Phalanx formation
The phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar weapons...

. His ability to coordinate infantry and cavalry veterans was unequaled in that era and enabled him to face superior numbers of invaders, and to decisively defeat them again and again. Some historians believe the Battle against the main Muslim force at the River Berre, near Narbonne, in particular was as important a victory for Christian Europe as Tours.

Further, unlike his father at Tours, Rahman's son in 736-737 knew that the Franks were a real power, and that Martel personally was a force to be reckoned with. He had no intention of allowing Martel to catch him unawares and dictate the time and place of battle, as his father had, and concentrated instead on seizing a substantial portion of the coastal plains around Narbonne
Narbonne
Narbonne is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in 736 and heavily reinforced Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

 as he advanced inland. They planned from there to move from city to city, fortifying as they went, and if Martel wished to stop them from making a permanent enclave for expansion of the Caliphate, he would have to come to them, in the open, where, he, unlike his father, would dictate the place of battle. All worked as he had planned, until Martel arrived, albeit more swiftly than the Moors believed he could call up his entire army. Unfortunately for Rahman's son, however, he had overestimated the time it would take Martel to develop heavy cavalry equal to that of the Muslims. The Caliphate believed it would take a generation, but Martel managed it in five years. Prepared to face the Frankish phalanx, the Muslims were totally unprepared to face a mixed force of heavy cavalry and infantry in a phalanx. Thus, Charles again championed Christianity and halted Muslim expansion into Europe. These defeats, plus those at the hands of Leo in Anatolia, were the last great attempt at expansion by the Umayyad Caliphate before the destruction of the dynasty at the Battle of the Zab
Battle of the Zab
The Battle of the Zab took place on the banks of the Great Zab river in what is now Iraq on January 25, 750. It spelled the end of the Umayyad Caliphate and the rise of the Abbasids, a dynasty that would last until the 13th century.-Background:A serious rebellion had broken out in 747 against...

, and the rending of the Caliphate forever, especially the utter destruction of the Umayyad army at River Berre near Narbonne in 737.

Interregnum

In 737, at the tail end of his campaigning in Provence and Septimania
Septimania
Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis. It corresponded roughly with the modern...

, the king, Theuderic IV, died. Martel, titling himself maior domus and princeps et dux Francorum, did not appoint a new king and nobody acclaimed one. The throne lay vacant until Martel's death. As the historian Charles Oman
Charles Oman
Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman was a British military historian of the early 20th century. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering...

 says (The Dark Ages, pg 297), "he cared not for name or style so long as the real power was in his hands."

Gibbon has said Martel was "content with the titles of Mayor or Duke of the Franks, but he deserved to become the father of a line of kings," which he did. Gibbon also says of him, "in the public danger, he was summoned by the voice of his country."

The interregnum, the final four years of Charles' life, was more peaceful than most of it had been and much of his time was now spent on administrative and organisational plans to create a more efficient state. Though, in 738, he compelled the Saxons of Westphalia
Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

 to do him homage and pay tribute, and in 739 checked an uprising in Provence, the rebels being under the leadership of Maurontus. Charles set about integrating the outlying realms of his empire into the Frankish church. He erected four dioceses in Bavaria (Salzburg, Regensburg
Diocese of Regensburg
The Diocese of Regensburg is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territory seated in Regensburg, Germany. Its district covers parts of northeastern Bavaria; it is subordinate to the archbishop of Munich and Freising. The diocese has 1.3 million Catholics, constituting 81% of its population...

, Freising, and Passau) and gave them Boniface as archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 and metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 over all Germany east of the Rhine, with his seat at Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

. Boniface had been under his protection from 723 on; indeed the saint himself explained to his old friend, Daniel of Winchester, that without it he could neither administer his church, defend his clergy, nor prevent idolatry. It was Boniface who had defended Charles most stoutly for his deeds in seizing ecclesiastical lands to pay his army in the days leading to Tours, as one doing what he must to defend Christianity. In 739, Pope Gregory III
Pope Gregory III
Pope Saint Gregory III was pope from 731 to 741. A Syrian by birth, he succeeded Gregory II in March 731. His pontificate, like that of his predecessor, was disturbed by the iconoclastic controversy in the Byzantine Empire, in which he vainly invoked the intervention of Charles Martel.Elected by...

 begged Charles for his aid against Liutprand, but Charles was loath to fight his onetime ally and ignored the Papal plea. Nonetheless, the Papal applications for Frankish protection showed how far Martel had come from the days he was tottering on excommunication, and set the stage for his son and grandson to rearrange Italian political boundaries to suit the Papacy, and protect it.

Death

Charles Martel died on October 22, 741, at Quierzy-sur-Oise
Quierzy-sur-Oise
Quierzy is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France, straddling the Oise River between Noyon and Chauny.-History:...

 in what is today the Aisne
Aisne
Aisne is a department in the northern part of France named after the Aisne River.- History :Aisne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Île-de-France, Picardie, and Champagne.Most of the old...

 département
Départements of France
The departments of France are French administrative divisions. The 101 departments form one of the three levels of local government, together with the 22 metropolitan and 5 overseas regions above them and more than 36 000 communes beneath them...

in the Picardy
Picardy
This article is about the historical French province. For other uses, see Picardy .Picardy is a historical province of France, in the north of France...

 region of France. He was buried at Saint Denis Basilica
Saint Denis Basilica
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the commune of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The abbey church was created a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. His territories were divided among his adult sons a year earlier: to Carloman
Carloman, son of Charles Martel
Carloman was the eldest son of Charles Martel, major domo or mayor of the palace and duke of the Franks, and his wife Chrotrud. On Charles' death , Carloman and his brother Pippin the Short succeeded to their father's legal positions, Carloman in Austrasia, and Pippin in Neustria...

 he gave Austrasia and Alemannia (with Bavaria as a vassal), to Pippin the Younger
Pippin the Younger
Pepin , called the Short or the Younger , rarely the Great , was the first King of the Franks of the Carolingian dynasty...

 Neustria and Burgundy (with Aquitaine as a vassal), and to Grifo
Grifo
Grifo was the son of the Frankish major domo Charles Martel and his second wife Swanahild.After the death of Charles Martel power may well have been intended to be divided among Grifo and his half-brothers Pepin the Younger and Carloman...

 nothing, though some sources indicate he intended to give him a strip of land between Neustria and Austrasia.

Gibbon called him "the hero of the age" and declared "Christendom ... delivered ... by the genius and good fortune of one man, Charles Martel."

Legacy

At the beginning of Charles Martel's career, he had many internal opponents and felt the need to appoint his own kingly claimant, Clotaire IV. By his end, however, the dynamics of rulership in Francia had changed, no hallowed Meroving was needed, neither for defence nor legitimacy: Charles divided his realm between his sons without opposition (though he ignored his young son Bernard). In between, he strengthened the Frankish state by consistently defeating, through superior generalship, the host of hostile foreign nations which beset it on all sides, including the non-Christian Saxons, which his grandson Charlemagne would fully subdue, and Moors, which he halted on a path of continental domination.

Though he never cared about titles, his son Pippin
Pippin the Younger
Pepin , called the Short or the Younger , rarely the Great , was the first King of the Franks of the Carolingian dynasty...

 did, and finally asked the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 "who should be King, he who has the title, or he who has the power?" The Pope, highly dependent on Frankish armies for his independence from Lombard and Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 power (the Byzantine Emperor still considered himself to be the only legitimate "Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

", and thus, ruler of all of the provinces of the ancient empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, whether recognised or not), declared for "he who had the power" and immediately crowned Pippin.

Decades later, in 800, Pippin's son Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 was crowned emperor by the Pope, further extending the principle by delegitimising the nominal authority of the Byzantine Emperor in the Italian peninsula (which had, by then, shrunk to encompass little more than Apulia
Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...

 and Calabria
Calabria
Calabria , in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro....

 at best) and ancient Roman Gaul, including the Iberian outposts Charlemagne had established in the Marca Hispanica
Marca Hispanica
The Marca Hispanica , also known as Spanish March or March of Barcelona was a buffer zone beyond the province of Septimania, created by Charlemagne in 795 as a defensive barrier between the Umayyad Moors of Al-Andalus and the Frankish Kingdom....

across the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

, what today forms Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

. In short, though the Byzantine Emperor claimed authority over all the old Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, as the legitimate "Roman" Emperor, it was simply not reality. The bulk of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 had come under Carolingian rule, the Byzantine Emperor having had almost no authority in the West since the sixth century, though Charlemagne, a consummate politician, preferred to avoid an open breach with Constantinople. An institution unique in history was being born: the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. Though the sardonic Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 ridiculed its nomenclature, saying that the Holy Roman Empire was "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire," it constituted an enormous political power for a time, especially under the Saxon and Salian dynasties
Salian dynasty
The Salian dynasty was a dynasty in the High Middle Ages of four German Kings , also known as the Frankish dynasty after the family's origin and role as dukes of Franconia...

 and, to a lesser, extent, the Hohenstaufen. It lasted until 1806, by which time it was a nonentity. Though his grandson became its first emperor, the "empire" such as it was, was largely born during the reign of Charles Martel.

Charles was that rarest of commodities in the Middle Ages: a brilliant strategic general, who also was a tactical commander par excellence, able in the heat of battle to adapt his plans to his foe's forces and movement — and amazingly, to defeat them repeatedly, especially when, as at Tours, they were far superior in men and weaponry, and at Berre and Narbonne, when they were superior in numbers of fighting men. Charles had the last quality which defines genuine greatness in a military commander: he foresaw the dangers of his foes, and prepared for them with care; he used ground, time, place, and fierce loyalty of his troops to offset his foe's superior weaponry and tactics; third, he adapted, again and again, to the enemy on the battlefield, shifting to compensate for the unforeseen and unforeseeable.

Gibbon, whose tribute to Martel has been noted, was not alone among the great mid era historians in fervently praising Martel; Thomas Arnold ranks the victory of Charles Martel even higher than the victory of Arminius
Arminius
Arminius , also known as Armin or Hermann was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest...

 in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic tribes led by Arminius of the Cherusci ambushed and decisively destroyed three Roman legions, along with their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus.Despite numerous successful campaigns and raids by the...

 in its impact on all of modern history:
German historians are especially ardent in their praise of Martel and in their belief that he saved Europe and Christianity from then all-conquering Islam, praising him also for driving back the ferocious Saxon barbarians on his borders. Schlegel speaks of this "mighty victory" in terms of fervent gratitude, and tells how " the arm of Charles Martel saved and delivered the Christian nations of the West from the deadly grasp of all-destroying Islam", and Ranke points out,
In 1922 and 1923, Belgian historian Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne was a Belgian historian. A medievalist of Walloon descent, he wrote a multivolume history of Belgium in French and became a national hero....

 published a series of papers, known collectively as the "Pirenne Thesis", which remain influential to this day. Pirenne held that the Roman Empire continued, in the Frankish realms, up until the time of the Arab conquests in the 7th century. These conquests disrupted Mediterranean trade routes leading to a decline in the European economy. Such continued disruption would have meant complete disaster except for Charles Martel's halting of Islamic expansion into Europe from 732 on. What he managed to preserve led to the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

, named after him.

Professor Santosuosso perhaps sums up Martel best when he talks about his coming to the rescue of his Christian allies in Provence, and driving the Muslims back into the Iberian Peninsula forever in the mid and late 730s:
In the Netherlands, a vital part of the Carolingian Empire, and elsewhere in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, he is considered a hero. In France and Germany, he is revered as a hero of epic proportions.

Skilled as an administrator and ruler, Martel organized what would become the medieval European government: a system of fiefdoms, loyal to barons, counts, dukes and ultimately the King, or in his case, simply maior domus and princeps et dux Francorum. ("Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title and office, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus , used most notably in the Frankish kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries....

, Duke of the Franks
Duke of the Franks
The title dux et princeps Francorum, or duke and prince of the Franks, was the title adopted by Pepin of Heristal after his epoch-making victory at the Battle of Tertry in 687...

") His close coordination of church with state began the medieval pattern for such government. He created what would become the first western standing army since the fall of Rome by his maintaining a core of loyal veterans around which he organized the normal feudal levies. In essence, he changed Europe from a horde of barbarians fighting with one another, to an organized state.

Beginning of the Reconquista

Although it took another two decades for the Franks to drive all the Arab garrisons out of Septimania
Septimania
Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis. It corresponded roughly with the modern...

 and across the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

, Charles Martel's halt of the invasion of French soil turned the tide of Islamic advances, and the unification of the Frankish kingdoms under Martel, his son Pippin the Younger, and his grandson Charlemagne created a western power which prevented the Emirate of Córdoba from expanding over the Pyrenees. Martel, who in 732 was on the verge of excommunication, instead was recognised by the Church as its paramount defender. Pope Gregory II
Pope Gregory II
Pope Saint Gregory II was pope from May 19, 715 to his death on February 11, 731, succeeding Pope Constantine. Having, it is said, bought off the Lombards for thirty pounds of gold, Charles Martel having refused his call for aid, he used the tranquillity thus obtained for vigorous missionary...

 wrote to him more than once, asking his protection and aid, and he remained, till his death, fixated on stopping the Muslims.

Martel's son Pippin the Younger
Pippin the Younger
Pepin , called the Short or the Younger , rarely the Great , was the first King of the Franks of the Carolingian dynasty...

 kept his father's promise and returned and took Narbonne by siege in 759. His grandson, Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, actually established the Marca Hispanica
Marca Hispanica
The Marca Hispanica , also known as Spanish March or March of Barcelona was a buffer zone beyond the province of Septimania, created by Charlemagne in 795 as a defensive barrier between the Umayyad Moors of Al-Andalus and the Frankish Kingdom....

across the Pyrenees in part of what today is Catalonia, reconquering Girona
Girona
Girona is a city in the northeast of Catalonia, Spain at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell, with an official population of 96,236 in January 2009. It is the capital of the province of the same name and of the comarca of the Gironès...

 in 785 and Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 in 801. Carolingians called this region of modern-day Spain "The Moorish Marches", and saw it as more than a simple check on the Muslims in Hispania. It formed a permanent buffer zone against Islam and became the basis, along with the efforts of Pelayo (Latin: Pelagius) and his descendants, for the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

.

Heavy infantry and permanent army

Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor, notable as a scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a commentator on modern warfare and contemporary politics for National Review and other media outlets...

 argues that Charles Martel launched "the thousand year struggle" between Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an heavy infantry
Heavy infantry
Heavy infantry refers to heavily armed and armoured ground troops, as opposed to medium or light infantry, in which the warriors are relatively lightly armoured. As modern infantry troops usually define their subgroups differently , 'heavy infantry' almost always is used to describe pre-gunpowder...

 and Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

. Of course, Martel is also the father of heavy cavalry in Europe, as he integrated heavy armoured cavalry into his forces. This creation of a real army would continue all through his reign, and that of his son, Pepin the Short, until his Grandson, Charlemagne, would possess the world's largest and finest army since the peak of Rome. Equally, the Muslims used infantry - indeed, at the Battle of Toulouse most of their forces were light infantry. It was not till Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi brought a huge force of Arab and Berber cavalry with him when he assumed the emirate of Al-Andulus that the Muslim forces became primarily cavalry.

Martel's army was the first standing permanent army since the fall of Rome in 476. " At its core was a body of tough, seasoned heavy infantry who displayed exceptional resolution at Tours. The Frankish infantry wore as much as 70 pounds of armour, including their heavy wooden shields with an iron boss. Standing close together, and well disciplined, they were unbreakable at Tours. Martel had taken the money and property he had seized from the church and paid local nobles to supply trained ready infantry year round. This was the core of veterans who served with him on a permanent basis, and as Hanson says, "provided a steady supply of dependable troops year around." While other Germanic cultures, such as the Visigoths or Vandals, had a proud martial tradition, and the Franks themselves had an annual muster of military aged men, such tribes were only able to field armies around planting and harvest. It was Martel's creation of a system whereby he could call on troops year round that gave the Carolingians the first standing and permanent army since Rome's fall in the west.

Charles Martel's most important military achievement was the victory at Tours. Creasy argues that the Martel victory "preserved the relics of ancient and the germs of modern civilizations." Gibbon called those eight days in 732, the week leading up to Tours, and the battle itself, "the events that rescued our ancestors of Britain, and our neighbours of Gaul [France], from the civil and religious yoke of the Koran." Paul Akers, in his editorial on Charles Martel, says for those who value life and freedom "you might spare a minute sometime today, and every October, to say a silent 'thank you' to a gang of half-savage Germans and especially to their leader, Charles 'The Hammer' Martel."

Martel analysed what would be necessary for him to withstand a larger force and superior technology (the Muslim horsemen had adopted the armour and accoutrements of heavy cavalry from the Sassanid warrior class, which made the armored mounted knight possible). Not daring to send his few horsemen against the Islamic cavalry, he had his army fight in a formation used by the ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 to withstand superior numbers and weapons by discipline, courage, and a willingness to die for their cause: a phalanx. He had trained a core of his men year round, using mostly Church funds, and some had been with him since his earliest days after his father's death. It was this hard core of disciplined veterans that won the day for him at Tours. Hanson emphasizes that Martel's greatest accomplishment as a general may have been his ability to keep his troops under control. Iron discipline saved his infantry from the fate of so many infantrymen - such as the Saxons at Hastings - who broke formation and were slaughtered piecemeal. After using this infantry force by itself at Tours, he studied the foe's forces and further adapted to them, initially using stirrups and saddles recovered from the foe's dead horses, and armour from the dead horsemen.

The defeats Martel inflicted on the Muslims were vital in that the split in the Islamic world left the Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 unable to mount an all-out attack on Europe via its Iberian stronghold after 750. His ability to meet this challenge, until the fragmentation of authority within the Muslims, is considered by most historians to be of macrohistorical importance, and is why Dante
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

 writes of him in Heaven as one of the "Defenders of the Faith."

H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 says of Charles Martel's decisive defeat of the Muslims in his "Short History of the World:
John H. Haaren says in “Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Just as his grandson, Charlemagne, would become famous for his swift and unexpected movements in his campaigns, Charles was renowned for never doing what his enemies forecast he would do, and for moving far faster than his opponents believed he could.

It is notable that the Northmen did not begin their European raids until after the death of Martel's grandson, Charlemagne. They had the naval capacity to begin those raids at least three generations earlier, and constructed defenses against counterattacks by land, but chose not to challenge Martel, his son Pippin, or his grandson, Charlemagne. This was probably fortunate for Martel, who despite his enormous gifts, would probably not have been able to repel the Vikings in addition to the Muslims, Saxons, and everyone else he defeated.

Conclusion

J.M. Roberts says of Charles Martel in his note on the Carolingians on page 315 of his 1993 History of the World:
It (the Carolingian line) produced Charles Martel, the soldier who turned the Arabs back at Tours, and the supporter of Saint Boniface, the Evangelizer of Germany. This is a considerable double mark to have left on the history of Europe."


Gibbon perhaps summarized Charles Martel's legacy most eloquently: "in a laborious administration of 24 years he had restored and supported the dignity of the throne..by the activity of a warrior who in the same campaign could display his banner on the Elbe, the Rhone, and shores of the ocean."

Family and children

Charles Martel married twice:

His first wife was Rotrude of Treves, (690–724) (daughter of Leudwinus, Bishop of Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

). They had the following children:
  • Hiltrud
    Hiltrud
    Hiltrud was a daughter of Charles Martel and Rotrude of Treves.She married Odilo I of Bavaria. After his death in 748, she became regent for her son Tassilo. She died in 754.-Reference/Source:*...

     (d. 754), married Odilo I
    Odilo of Bavaria
    Odilo was an Alamannic nobleman, a son of Gotfrid of the house of the Agilolfings.He ruled Thurgau until 736, when with the death of Hugbert of Bavaria the older line of the Agilofing became extinct and he inherited the rulership of Bavaria, which he held until his death in 748.Odilo presided...

    , Duke of Bavaria
  • Carloman
  • Landrade (Landres), married Sigrand, Count of Hesbania
  • Auda, Aldana, or Alane, married Thierry IV, Count of Autun and Toulouse
    Thierry IV
    Thierry IV or Theoderic IV was a Frankish noble. Count of Autun and Toulouse; he was thought to be a son of Sigebert V, and grandson of Sigebert IV of Raze. It is now well documented that it was a hoax...

  • Pepin the Short


His second wife was Swanhild
Swanachild
Swanachild was the second wife of Charles Martel, who brought her back from his first campaign in Bavaria in 725, along with her uncle Grimoald's wife, Biltrude. Swanachild belonged to the clan of the Agilolfings though her parentage is not quite clear...

. They had the following child:
  • Grifo
    Grifo
    Grifo was the son of the Frankish major domo Charles Martel and his second wife Swanahild.After the death of Charles Martel power may well have been intended to be divided among Grifo and his half-brothers Pepin the Younger and Carloman...



Charles Martel also had a mistress, Ruodhaid
Ruodhaid
Ruodhaid was a concubine or mistress of Charles Martel with whom she had the following children:* Bernard * Hieronymus, son of Charles Martel* Remigius, Archbishop of Rouen * Aldana, wife of Theoderich, Count of Autun...

. They had the following children:
  • Bernard (b. before 732–787)
  • Hieronymus
  • Remigius
    Remigius of Rouen
    Remigius was the illegitimate son of Charles Martel and probably Ruodhaid. He was also the third archbishop of Rouen from 755 to 762. Along with his brothers, he was denied any claim to the legacy of his father. He became archbishop during the reign of his half brother Pippin the Younger.Remigius...

    , archbishop of Rouen
    Archbishop of Rouen
    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rouen is an Archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. As one of the fifteen Archbishops of France, the ecclesiastical province of the archdiocese comprises the majority of Normandy....

     (d. 771)

External links

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