Ellie Wood Keith Genealogy

Charles 'The Hammer" Martel, Prince of the Franks

Charles 'The Hammer" Martel, Prince of the Franks

Male 688 - 741  (53 years)

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  • Name Charles 'The Hammer" Martel 
    Suffix Prince of the Franks 
    Born 23 Aug, 688  Herstal Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    History Battle of Tours in 732[edit]
    Main article: Battle of Tours
    In 731, after defeating the Saxons, Martel, turned his attention to the rival southern realm of Aquitaine, and crossed the Loire, breaking the treaty with Odo. The Franks ransacked Aquitaine twice, and captured Bourges, although Odo retook it. Thus occupied, Odo was unable to come to the assistance of his ally, the Berber rebel lord Uthman ibn Naissa, who hearing of the oppression of Berbers in North Africa, had negotiated a peace treaty with Odo. After a brief battle, Uthman ibn Naissa was defeated and executed by Abd al-Rahman al-Ghafiqi.

    Abdul Rahman next proceeded through Gascony all the way to Bordeaux, capturing the city. Odo engaged Abdul Rahman on the Garonne River at the Battle of Bordeaux, but was defeated. The Umayyads looted the rich monasteries of northern Aquitaine before resuming their march towards Tours, a town said to be holding abundant wealth and treasures. This plundering gave Odo enough time to re-organise his Aquitanian troops and warn Charles Martel of the impending danger.

    It was under one of their ablest and most renowned commanders, with a veteran army, and with every apparent advantage of time, place, and circumstance, that the Arabs made their great effort at the conquest of Europe north of the Pyrenees.[25]

    Odo and his remaining Aquitanian nobles formed the right flank of Charles\'s forces at Tours. In the midst of the fighting a rumour went through the Umayyad army that Frankish scouts threatened the booty that they had taken from Bordeaux. Odo set fire to the Umayyad encampment.[26]:281 Some of the Umayyad cavalry troops at once broke off the battle and returned to camp to secure their loot. To the rest of the Muslim army, this appeared to be a full-scale retreat, and soon it became one. While trying to stop the retreat, \'Abd-al-Ra?mân became surrounded, which led to his death, and the Umayyad troops then withdrew altogether to their camp. The Franks held their position, believing the battle would resume the following morning. Come morning, Frankish scouts discovered that the Umayyad force had withdrawn during the night.

    \"The victory at the battle near Poitiers and Tours would later earn Charles the cognomen \"Martellus\" (L., and so \"Martel\", Fr.: \"the hammer\") from 9th century chroniclers who, in the view of Pierre Riche, \"seem to have been… recalling Judas Maccabaeus, \'the Hammerer,\'\" of 1 Maccabees, \"whom God had similarly blessed with victory\" ....\"[27]:44

    Twelve years later, when Charles had thrice rescued Gaul from Umayyad invasions, Antonio Santosuosso noted when he destroyed an Umayyad army sent to reinforce the invasion forces of the 735 campaigns, \"Charles Martel again came to the rescue.\"[28]:TBD

    Contemporary historians[edit]

    Bataille de Poitiers, en octobre 732, by Charles de Steuben, 1834–1837[26]:TBD[29]
    It is important to note, however, that modern Western historians, military historians, and writers, essentially fall into three camps. The first, those who believe Gibbon was right in his assessment that Charles saved Christianity and Western civilization by this battle, as typified by Bennett, Paul Davis, Robert Martin, and educator Dexter B. Wakefield, who writes in An Islamic Europe?:

    A Muslim France? Historically, it nearly happened. But as a result of Charles’ fierce opposition, which ended Muslim advances and set the stage for centuries of war thereafter, Islam moved no farther into Europe. European schoolchildren learn about the Battle of Tours in much the same way that American students learn about Valley Forge and Gettysburg.\"[30]

    The second camp of contemporary historians believe that a failure by Charles at Tours could have been a disaster, destroying what would become Western civilization after the Renaissance. Certainly all historians agree that no power would have remained in Europe able to halt Islamic expansion had the Franks failed:[citation needed] William E. Watson strongly supports Tours as a macrohistorical event, but distances himself from the rhetoric of Gibbon and Drubeck, writing of the battle\'s importance in Frankish and world history in 1993:

    There is clearly some justification for ranking Tours-Poitiers among the most significant events in Frankish history when one considers the result of the battle in light of the remarkable record of the successful establishment by Muslims of Islamic political and cultural dominance along the entire eastern and southern rim of the former Christian, Roman world. The rapid Muslim conquest of Palestine, Syria, Egypt and the North African coast all the way to Morocco in the seventh century resulted in the permanent imposition by force of Islamic culture onto a previously Christian and largely non-Arab base. The Visigothic kingdom fell to Muslim conquerors in a single battle at the Battle of Guadalete on the Rio Barbate in 711, and the Hispanic Christian population took seven long centuries to regain control of the Iberian Peninsula. The Reconquista, of course, was completed in 1492, only months before Columbus received official backing for his fateful voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Had Charles Martel suffered at Tours-Poitiers the fate of King Roderick at the Rio Barbate, it is doubtful that a \"do-nothing\" sovereign of the Merovingian realm could have later succeeded where his talented major domus had failed. Indeed, as Charles was the progenitor of the Carolingian line of Frankish rulers and grandfather of Charlemagne, one can even say with a degree of certainty that the subsequent history of the West would have proceeded along vastly different currents had ‘Abd ar-Rahman been victorious at Tours-Poitiers in 732.[31]

    The final camp of Western historians believe that the importance of the battle is dramatically overstated. This view is typified by Alessandro Barbero, who writes, \"Today, historians tend to play down the significance of the battle of Poitiers, pointing out that the purpose of the Arab force defeated by Charles Martel was not to conquer the Frankish kingdom, but simply to pillage the wealthy monastery of St-Martin of Tours\".[32] Similarly, Tomaž Mastnak writes:

    Modern historians have constructed a myth presenting this victory as having saved Christian Europe from the Muslims. Edward Gibbon, for example, called Charles Martel the savior of Christendom and the battle near Poitiers an encounter that changed the history of the world... This myth has survived well into our own times... Contemporaries of the battle, however, did not overstate its significance. The continuators of Fredegar\'s chronicle, who probably wrote in the mid-eighth century, pictured the battle as just one of many military encounters between Christians and Saracens—moreover, as only one in a series of wars fought by Frankish princes for booty and territory... One of Fredegar\'s continuators presented the battle of Poitiers as what it really was: an episode in the struggle between Christian princes as the Carolingians strove to bring Aquitaine under their rule.[33]

    However, it is vital to note, when assessing Charles Martel\'s life, that even those historians who dispute the significance of this one battle as the event that saved Christianity, do not dispute that Charles himself had a huge effect on Western European history. Modern military historian Victor Davis Hanson acknowledges the debate on this battle, citing historians both for and against its macrohistorical placement:

    Recent scholars have suggested Poitiers, so poorly recorded in contemporary sources, was a mere raid and thus a construct of western myth-making or that a Muslim victory might have been preferable to continued Frankish dominance. What is clear is that Poitiers marked a general continuance of the successful defense of Europe (from the Muslims). Flush from the victory at Tours, Charles Martel went on to clear southern France from Islamic attackers for decades, unify the warring kingdoms into the foundations of the Carolingian Empire, and ensure ready and reliable troops from local estates.[34]:167

    In the modern era, Matthew Bennett argues that \"few battles are remembered 1,000 years after they are fought ... but the Battle of Poitiers, (Tours) is an exception ... Charles Martel turned back a Muslim raid that, had it been allowed to continue, might have conquered Gaul.\"[35]  [1
    History Charles Martel (\'the Hammer\') was born in Herstal (in modern Belgium) on 23 August 688, the son of Pippin II by his mistress Alpais. He was proclaimed Mayor of the Palace and ruled the Franks in the name of a titular king, Clothaire IV. Late in his reign he proclaimed himself duke of the Franks (over the last four years of his reign he did not even bother with the façade of a king) and by any name he was de facto ruler of the Frankish realms. In 739 he was offered an office of Roman consul, which he rejected. He expanded his rule over all three of the Frankish kingdoms: Austrasia, Neustria and Burgundy. He was described by Louis Gustave and Charles Strauss, in their book _Muslem and Frank: or Charles Martel and the rescue of Europe,_ as a tall, powerfully built man who was more agile than his size would lead men to believe.

    His first battles were with the Saxons, Alemanni and Bavarians. However, his importance was established when he rolled back the Saracens in a desperate battle between Tours and Poitiers in 732. This has traditionally been characterised as an event that halted the Islamic expansion in Europe that had conquered Iberia. Prior to the battle, Abdul Rahman, the Arab governor of Spain, had won a great battle near Bordeaux. This Muslem threat united the Burgundians and the Gauls of Provence, who then acknowledged the sovereignty of Charles Martel, recognising him as their saviour from the Muslem conquests. Charles finished his work by driving the Saracens out of Burgundy and the Languedoc in 737.

    In addition to being the leader of the army that prevailed at Tours, Charles Martel was a truly giant figure of the Middle Ages. A brilliant general, he is considered the forefather of western heavy cavalry, chivalry, founder of the Carolingian empire (which was named after him), and a catalyst for the feudal system, which would see Europe through the Middle Ages. Although some recent scholars have suggested he was more of a beneficiary of the feudal system than a knowing agent for social change, others continue to see him as the primary catalyst.

    When Charles died on 22 October 741, his sons Carloman and Pippin, still joint mayors of the palace, shared power over the kingdom of the Franks with the Merovingian king, Childeric III of the Franks.  [2
    Died 22 Oct 741  Cierasy Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1104  Ellie Wood Keith
    Last Modified 30 Jan 2018 

    Father Pippin,   b. Abt 635,   d. 15 Nov, 714, Jupille near Heristal Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 79 years) 
    Relationship putative 
    Mother Chalpaida (Alpais),   d. yes 
    Relationship putative 
    Family ID F661  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Chrodtrud,   d. Abt 725 
    Children 
    +1. Pippin the Short, King of the Franks,   b. c. 714,   d. 24 Sep 768  (Age ~ 54 years)  [putative]
    Last Modified 7 Jan 2018 
    Family ID F660  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 NN 
    Children 
    +1. Alda,   b. Bef 804
    Last Modified 14 Feb 2018 
    Family ID F946  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Charles Martel, \'The Hammer\'
    Charles Martel, \'The Hammer\'
    Charles \'The Hammer\'
    Charles \'The Hammer\'

  • Sources 
    1. [S12] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Martel.

    2. [S64] Genealogics, Leo Van de Pas, http://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00020918&tree=LEO.