Today on October 10, 732, Charles Martel leads the Franks to a decisive victory at the Battle of Tours.
The Battle of Tours, also known as the Battle of Poitiers, proved to be one of the most pivotal military conflicts in European history. The de facto King of the Frankish Kingdoms, Charles Martel, led a coalition Christian army against the invading Muslim Umayyad Caliphate. His victory at Tours ultimately prevented the Arabs from sweeping across the rest of Europe. It was truly a defining moment for Christianity. Vast amounts of land were suddenly up for grabs after the rapid fall of the Roman Empire. And, various Islamic powers were in the midst of successfully asserting their control over these regions.
The Umayyads originated from North Africa and had already conquered much of Spain and Portugal. After dominating the Iberian peninsula, they began preparing for the invasion of southern France. The Umayyad leader, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, likely amassed an impressive army of more than 50,000 soldiers. During the summer of 732, he managed to quickly overrun the dutchies of Aquitaine and Burgundy. He next turned his gaze north, ordering his army to march on Paris. King Charles knew he had to stop Al Ghafiqi before the complete collapse of his kingdom. As a result, he formed an alliance with Odo the Great (ruler of Aquitaine) and assembled a formidable army of Christian soldiers. The challenge for Charles was that he was unable to muster any cavalry units to fight against the skilled Muslim horsemen.
The exact location of the Battle of Tours is still unknown today; however, historians agree is did occur somewhere in west-central France between the towns of Poitiers and Tours. Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was killed during the battle, causing mass panic and confusion among the Arab ranks. After his victory at Tours, Charles earned the nickname “The Hammer” and extended his authority further south. Charles Martel is considered to be the Father of the Carolingian Empire, a political entity that laid the foundation for present-day France.