Charles Martel Against the Hordes

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After The Saxons conquests, the Britons withdrew to Wales, but still paid the tax due for defence of the island to whoever was King of London. During this time, Spain had been invaded by the Umayad Moslems shortly after Mohammed’s death and they had intentions of moving into Gaul and taking all of Europe. Charles Martel defeated them, losing only 1,500 of his own men and killing 375,000 Moslems according to one account.

The Saxon Era

From a.d. 730 to 1066, there is little to be chronicled but a wearisome sameness of unavailing battles and exhibitions of barbarism. Of the country afterwards called England, Britons, Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Vandals, and other non-descript tribes constituted the population—all distinct characteristics of race, language, and nationality being now lost in a common hybridism. West of the Severn, the eldest tribe of the Kymry held their hereditary domains untouched, cherishing an inextinguishable animosity against the Saxon and Saxonized tribes Eastward, and watching every opportunity that promised them a chance however remote, of recovering the British sceptre now by the conquest or defection of their sister tribes passed from their hands. 

This isolation compelled them to re-organize their constitution on a miniature scale in imitation of their old empire. Instead of Lloegria, Cambria, and Albyn, they divided their patrimony into Venedotia (Gtwynedd), Powys, and Deheubarth,—this last comprising Gwent, Morganwg, and Dyved. The Princes of Powys, Gwent, Dyved, and Morganwg, were subordinated to the Prince of Venedotia, as lord of all Cambria and representative of the once imperial dynasty of Britain. To his custody were consigned with religious care until they should again adorn the person of a sovereign of the Trojan race of Brutus, the regalia of Constantine the Great, of Arthur, and Cadwallo.

The ancient usages prescribed the payment by Cambria for the military defence of the Island, to the king in London —whoever it might be, of a certain sum of gold called the “Teymged”—the king-tax ; and this the Cambrian Princes never appear under any circumstances to have shewn any disposition to withhold. In all other respects, they resisted the imposition of foreign laws upon their ‘ subjects and foreign encroachments upon their beautiful but limited territories with the same dauntless and indepressible spirit that had marked their ancestors of the Roman and Arthurian periods.

It would neither interest or instruct the reader to dwell on the gloomy details of these “night-centuries” —of the useless and interminable battles which continued between the Kymry and the Anglo-Britons or Saxons ; the following are enumerated simply because they may serve as chronological landmarks in the monotonous wild of darkness, superstition, cruelty, and mutual carnage we are now traversing. Rhodri Moelwynog succeeded Idwal the Roe, a;d. 720. He defeated Ethelard, the successor of Ivor in the West-Saxon kingdom, at Heilyn in Cornwall, a.d. 728 ; again at Garth Maelog in Venedotia, a.d. 729 ;and a third time at Pen-y-coed, Glamorgan, a.d. 730.

In France, Charles Martel defeated the Arabs, a.d. 732, at the battle of Tours, and saved the Continent from being Mahometanized.

The Battle of Tours (Wiki)

The Battle of Tours followed two decades of Umayyad conquests in Europe which had begun with the invasion of the Christian Visigothic Kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula in 711. These were followed by military expeditions into the Frankish territories of Gaul, former provinces of the Roman Empire. Umayyad military campaigns reached northward into Aquitaine and Burgundy, including a major engagement at Bordeaux and a raid on Autun. Charles’s victory is widely believed to have stopped the northward advance of Umayyad forces from the Iberian Peninsula and to have prevented the Islamization of Western Europe.

Most historians assume that the two armies met where the rivers Clain and Vienne join between Tours and Poitiers. The number of troops in each army is not known. The Mozarabic Chronicle of 754, a Latin contemporary source which describes the battle in greater detail than any other Latin or Arabic source, states that “the people of Austrasia [the Frankish forces], greater in number of soldiers and formidably armed, killed the king, Abd ar-Rahman”, which agrees with many Arab and Muslim historians. However, virtually all Western sources disagree, estimating the Franks as numbering 30,000, less than half the Muslim force

Some modern historians, using estimates of what the land was able to support and what Martel could have raised from his realm and supported during the campaign, believe the total Muslim force, counting the outlying raiding parties, which rejoined the main body before Tours, outnumbered the Franks. Drawing on non-contemporary Muslim sources, Creasy describes the Umayyad forces as 80,000 strong or more. Writing in 1999, Paul K. Davis estimates the Umayyad forces at 80,000 and the Franks at about 30,000, while noting that modern historians have estimated the strength of the Umayyad army at Tours at between 20,000–80,000.

Losses during the battle are unknown, but chroniclers later claimed that Charles Martel’s force lost about 1,500 while the Umayyad force was said to have suffered massive casualties of up to 375,000 men. However, these same casualty figures were recorded in the Liber Pontificalis for Duke Odo the Great’s victory at the Battle of Toulouse (721). Paul the Deacon reported correctly in his History of the Lombards (written around 785) that the Liber Pontificalis mentioned these casualty figures in relation to Odo’s victory at Toulouse (though he claimed that Charles Martel fought in the battle alongside Odo), but later writers, probably “influenced by the Continuations of Fredegar, attributed the Muslims casualties solely to Charles Martel, and the battle in which they fell became unequivocally that of [Tours-Poitiers].”
The Vita Pardulfi, written in the middle of the eighth century, reports that after the battle ‘Abd-al-Raḥmân’s forces burned and looted their way through the Limousin on their way back to Al-Andalus, which implies that they were not destroyed to the extent imagined in the Continuations of Fredegar.

The Umayads

The invasion of Hispania, and then Gaul, was led by the Umayyad dynasty, the first dynasty of Sunni caliphs of the Sunni Islamic empire after the reign of the Rashidun Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali) ended. The Umayyad Caliphate, at the time of the Battle of Tours, was perhaps the world’s foremost military power. The great expansion of the Caliphate occurred under the reign of the Umayyads. Muslim armies pushed east across Persia and west across North Africa through the late 7th century.


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