Carolingians-Clifton's Collectiles Genealogy
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Charles the Hammer Martel


Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, was born 23 August 686 AD, in what is now Wallonia, Belgium. Charles was a natural son of Pippin II, mayor of the palace and his concubine Alpaida.  Martel was a Roman Catholic, baptized by St. Rigobert, bishop of Reims.. He died 22 October 741 AD, in Quierzy, France.. His remains are entombed  at Saint-Denise Basilica, Saint-Denis, France. he was a Caucasian of the Frankish Kingdom.

Prior to his death, Pippin II (also called Pepin of Heristal) had, at his wife Plectrude's urging, designated Theudoald, his grandson by their son Grimoald, his heir in the entire realm. At his death  in 714, Pippin's widow, Plectrude claimed the government in Austrasia and Neustria in the name of her grandchildren, and had Charles thrown into prison in Cologne the city which was destined to be her capital. This prevented an uprising on his behalf in Austrasia, but not in Neustria. The Neustrians became allied with the Saxons and Friians and removed Piectrude from power. Charles escaped from prison and defeated the Neustrians in battle in 716 and in 717. forced them to come to his terms. He proclaimed Clotaire IV a king. Martel had the power, Clotaire was just a figurehead. 

In 719, Charles defeated  Ragenfried, the Neustrian mayor of the palace. After the alliance between Charles and Odo on the field of Poitiers, the mayor of the palace left Aquitaine to Odo's son Hunald, who paid homage to him. This basically unified Gaul. By 731, when Ragenfried died, leaving no competition for, "Charles The Hammer".
Charles martel
Charles "The Hammer" Martel

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The Battle of Tours

The Cordoban emirate had previously invaded Gaul and had been stopped in its northward sweep at the Battle of Toulouse, in 721. The hero of that less celebrated event had been Odo the Great, Duke of Aquitaine, who was not the progenitor of a race of kings. Odo defeated the invading Muslims, but when they returned, things were far different. The arrival in the interim of a new emir of Cordoba, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, who brought with him a huge force of Arabs and Berber horsemen, triggered a far greater invasion. Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi had been at Toulouse, and the Arab Chronicles make clear he had strongly opposed the Emir's decision not to secure outer defenses against a relief force, which allowed Odo and his relief force to attack with impunity before the Islamic cavalry could assemble or mount. Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi had no intention of permitting such a disaster again. This time the Umayyad horsemen were ready for battle, and the results were horrific for the Aquitanians. Odo, hero of Toulouse, was badly defeated in the Muslim invasion of 732 at the battle prior to the Muslim sacking of Bordeaux, and when he gathered a second army, at the Battle of the River Garonne—Western chroniclers state, "God alone knows the number of the slain"— and the city of Bordeaux was sacked and looted. Odo fled to Charles, seeking help. Charles agreed to come to Odo's rescue, provided Odo acknowledged Charles and his house as his overlords, which Odo did formally at once.  Charles was pragmatic; while most commanders would never use their enemies in battle, Odo and his remaining Aquitanian nobles formed the right flank of Charles's forces at Tours.
Charles The Hammer at the Battle of Tours
Charles Matel at the Battle of Tours

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The Battle of Tours earned Charles the cognomen "Martel" ('Hammer'), for the merciless way he hammered his enemies. Many historians, including Sir Edward Creasy, believe that had he failed at Tours, Islam would probably have overrun Gaul, and perhaps the remainder of Western Europe. Gibbon made clear his belief that the Umayyad armies would have conquered from Rome to the Rhine, and even England, having the English Channel for protection, with ease, had Martel not prevailed. Creasy said "the great victory won by Charles Martel ... gave a decisive check to the career of Arab conquest in Western Europe, rescued Christendom from Islam, [and] preserved the relics of ancient and the germs of modern civilization." Gibbon's belief that the fate of Christianity hinged on this battle is echoed by other historians including John B. Bury, and was very popular for most of modern historiography. It fell somewhat out of style in the twentieth century, when historians such as Bernard Lewis contended that Arabs had little intention of occupying northern France. More recently, however, many historians have tended once again to view the Battle of Tours as a very significant event in the history of Europe and Christianity. Equally, many, such as William Watson, still believe this battle was one of macrohistorical world-changing importance, if they do not go so far as Gibbon does rhetorically.

Battle of Tours information from Wikipedia
Another rendition of Martel at Tours
Another rendition of Martel at the Battle of Tours, also known as the Battle of  Poitiers
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Modified 13November 2011