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Arabs Defeated by Charles Martel

Charles Martel

Charles Martel’s reign seemed off to a bad start. Although he was the man, who would eventually defeat the Arabs and halt their advance into Europe, which is recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History before 750 AD. He was his father’s (Pepin II of Herstal) son by his second wife (it was rumored that she was his mistress, which made Charles illegitimate). Pepin bypassed Charles as heir to the title of Mayor of the Palace before his death in 714 AD and named his grandson, Theudoald, as the new ruler of Austrasia instead. To top it all off, his father’s first wife, Plectrude, had Charles imprisoned in Cologne to secure Theudoald’s succession to the throne. Charles, however, escaped from imprisonment almost immediately and came back to Neustrasia. The civil war that ensued between him and Plectrude lasted for two years until he prevailed and proclaimed himself the Mayor of the Palace in 717.

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Muslim Invasion of Western Europe

“Statue Charles Martel”

Back in 711 AD, Arabs and Berbers led by Tariq ibn Ziyad started their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and steadily advanced north to the Pyrenees for the next 7 years. The fragmented Visigoths had been helpless to stop them in Spain. Their northern advance was halted only when they reached Aquitaine. Odo the Great, the Duke of Aquitaine, led his small army into battle and managed to defeat the Muslims in the Battle of Toulouse in 721 AD. For Odo, this was his major victory against the Muslims as he also killed the Arab governor of Al-Andalus who was hastily replaced by the caliph with a high-ranking official called Al-Ghafiqi. Both men and their troops met in the Battle of the River Garonne in 732 AD, but this time, the odds were not in the Duke’s favor. His troops were defeated, and the Muslim army went as far as Poitiers where they looted and killed people along the way.

Odo did not initially offer an alliance to Charles Martel for fear that his Austrasian neighbor would interfere with Aquitaine’s independence, but now he needed an ally who would reinforce his small army to fight the Muslim army. He turned to Charles Martel for help and swore his loyalty. Charles immediately marched with his army south to Aquitaine to help the Duke. The Franks led by Charles Martel and the army led by Al-Ghafiqi met somewhere between Tours and Poitiers (it was called the Battle of Tours, but sometimes called the Battle of Poitiers) in October, 732 AD. It lasted for more than a week until the death of Al-Ghafiqi and the retreat of the Muslims troops to Al-Andalus. According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, Charles, along with his troops followed them as they retreated and destroyed them further (but the remaining Arab and Berber troops also plundered and burned properties along the way). Charles Martel was given the title “The Hammer” after this victory against the Muslims in the Battle of Tours. This victory marked the last time the Muslim troops of Al-Andalus would ever set foot north of Spain.

Picture By Arnaud 25Own work, Public Domain,
Esposito, John L. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Watt, William Montgomery., and Pierre Cachia. A History of Islamic Spain. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction, 2008.
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