Charles Martel was a who, as Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace between 714-741 A.D.
Early Life of Charles Martel
He was a son of the Frankish statesman Pepin of Herstal and Pepin’s mistress, a noblewoman named Alpaida.
His father, Mayor of the Palace Pepin died in 714 A.D.
Charles, who was twenty-five years old at that time, succeeded him as mayor of the palace.
He had fought in many of his father’s battles and so had become a skilled soldier. His men were devoted to him.
While he was mayor of the palace he led armies in several wars against the enemies of the Franks.
The most important of his wars was one with the Saracens.
Muslim came across the Pyrenees from Spain and invaded the land of the Franks.
He intended to establish Islam in France.
Invasion of Saracens
In 711 the Saracens invaded and conquered a great part of Spain.
He founded a powerful kingdom there, which lasted about seven hundred years.
They intended to conquer the land of the Franks next, and then all Europe.
They thought it would be easy to conquer the Franks, because the Frankish king at that time was a very weak man.
Abdur Rahman, the Saracen governor of Spain, led the Muslim army.
On his march through the southern districts of the land of the Franks Abdur-Rahman destroyed many towns and villages.
He killed a number of the people, and seized all the property he could carry off.
He plundered the city of Bordeaux. They obtained so many valuable things like golden vases and cups and emeralds and other precious stones for every soldier.
Charles Martel & Battle of Tours
But meanwhile Charles Martel was not idle.
As quickly as he could he got together a great army of Franks and Germans and marched against the Saracens.
The two armies met between the cities of Tours and Poitiers in October, 732.
For six days, both side fought an occasional skirmish between small parties from both sides; but on the seventh day a great battle took place.
Both Christians and Mohammedans fought with terrible earnestness. The fight went on all day, and covered the field with the bodies of the slain.
But towards evening, Franks made a resolute charge which killed Abdur Rahman. Then the Saracens gradually retired to their camp.
The Franks expected that the fight would be renewed in the morning.
But when Charles Martel, with his Christian warriors, appeared on the field at sunrise he found no enemy to fight.
The Mohammedans had fled in the silence and darkness of the night and had left behind them all their valuable spoils.
The battle of Tours, or Poitiers, as it should be called, is regarded as one of the decisive battles of the world.
Charles Martel – Hero of France
It decided that Christians, and not Moslems, should be the ruling power in Europe.
Charles Martel is especially celebrated as the hero of this battle. His soldier gave him the name Martel because of his bravery during the fight.
Marteau is the French word for hammer, and one of the old French historians says that as a hammer breaks and crushes iron and steel, so Charles broke and crushed the power of his enemies in the battle of Tours.
But though the Saracens fled from the battlefield of Tours, they did not leave the land of the Franks.
Charles had to fight other battles with them, before he finally defeated them.
At last, however, he drove them across the Pyrenees, and they never again attempted to invade Frankland.
After his defeat of the Saracens Charles Martel was looked upon as the great champion of Christianity. People remember and to the day of his death, in 741, he was in reality, though not in name, the king of the Franks.