Charles Martel was instrumental in stopping the advancement of Islam throughout Europe in the early middle ages. He was born in 688 C.E. as an illegitimate child to Frankish statesman Pepin of Herstal and his noble mistress named Alpaida.
Martel was elevated throughout his life as a Frankish Duke and Prince of the Franks. After his father’s death in 718 C.E., Martel inserted himself as the de facto ruler of Francia until his death.
After his father passed away, Charles Martel successfully claimed to be the Mayor of the Palace. He was schooled in military tactics at a young age and tried to build upon his father’s successes.
Early military campaigns led by Charles Martel were fruitful. He placed Gaul under Frankish power and was able to rule Alemannia, Frisia, and Bavaria. Martel also defeated the Saxons.
Many historians consider Charles Martel to be one of the founders of European Middle Ages. Over the time of his rule, he helped with the development of feudalism and knighthood. Martel was the first Frankish ruler to try to reconcile the Franks with the Papacy.
At the time of reconciliation the Pope wanted him to become the defender of the Holy See and Martel was offered the Roman Consulship which he declined.
Charles Martel was given the nickname of Martel also known as the Hammer because of his military tactics and ruthlessness of war. He is best remembered in history for his victory at the Battle of Tours against an Islamic army led by Emir Ab der Rahman.
In the year of 732 C.E. Rahman’s Islamic army had conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula and threatened most of southern France.
During the Battle of Tours, Martel was able to guide his army of between 15,000 and 75,000 soldiers to surprise the Islamic warriors. Instead of marching on the old Roman roads, Martel took his soldiers over the mountains.
The strategy surprised the Islamic army. Martel’s military tactics led to the defeat of the Islamic army of soldiers that ranged between 60,000 to 400,000 soldiers. Rahman was also killed in the Battle of Tours and his army of generals and warriors disbanded.
For two generations more the Franks continued to march on the Islamic armies to drive them out of France and over the Pyrenees Mountain Range. Most historians think if Martel was not victorious at the Battle of Tours that Islam would have spread throughout Europe.
Charles Martel by no means presumed himself as King of Francia. He divided his kingdom between his two sons named Carloman and Pepin. The Carolingians became the family of Charles Martel with Pepin as the leader.
Pepin also known as Pepin The Short gave birth to one of Charles Martel’s grandson named Charlemagne. Charlemagne was the first person to unify both the western and eastern factions of the Roman Empire.
Today, Charles Martel is credited with forming the Carolingian Empire.
Pepin of Herstal
Battle of Tours