It is no secret that many school children (and their parents for that matter) are historically ignorant of many of the important events and figures of the past. Instead of learning about the Spanish Armada or the East-West Schism, they are taught about the “extreme importance” of unionized workers and environmental activism (Rachel Carson…?!?). So, in the interest of remedying the politically correct, Marxist education that many receive, I would like to introduce a hero, Charles Martel.
In the 7th and 8th centuries, the relatively new and very aggressive (spread by war from the beginning) Islamic faith/politic had spread throughout the Mediterranean world, conquering the Iberian Peninsula by 718 in the guise of the Umayyad Empire. The Muslim armies then invaded Gaul (France), but were stopped by Odo, Duke of Aquitaine in 721. The Umayyad armies then returned in even greater force, defeating Odo and sacking the city of Bordeaux in 732. Odo then appealed to his sometimes rival Charles, acknowledged him as his superior, and Charles agreed to help, making Odo and his nobles the leaders of his right flank. Charles then marched south and opposed the Islamic armies near the town of Tours (also close to Poitiers), avoiding the Roman roads and surprising the Muslims by arriving from over the Mountains. Charles was able to win the battle despite lacking cavalry, by using the Greco-Roman phalanx on high ground and stirring up mischief in the enemy camp. This victory halted the Islamic advance into Europe, and may have started the Reconquista (Reconquest) of the Iberian Peninsula.
The majority of historians until the 20th century, and a significant number now, believe that Charles’ victory saved Europe from Islam, and was perhaps one of the “Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World.” Had Martel failed, most historians are in agreement that no power would have been able to halt the Muslim advance into Europe. It is indeed probable that much of Western Civilization, its culture, faith, science, and the like would not have existed without this victory. It is during this battle that Charles obtained his nickname “The Hammer,” because of his seemingly indefatigable resolve. This nickname (Martellus), is probably a reference to Judas Maccabeus, the Jewish leader during the “Intertestamental” (between the Old and New Testaments) period.
Also of importance was Charles support of the evangelism of the existing pagans in the land, as he sent Willibrorod (Apostle to the Frisians) to convert some of his subjects, and was instrumental in supporting St. Boniface (Winfrid) who would be called the “Apostle to the Germans.” In his 1993 work, “The History of the World,” historian J.M. Roberts states that, “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.” In an age that minimizes such heroes, and in an age that tries to demonize the Judeo-Christian west, remembering and studying figures such as Charles Martel is a needed remedy. It is not inconceivable that had it not been for this victory, Paris and London would be covered by Mosques, and Americans would be speaking Arabic!