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Lest We Forget the Battle of Tours

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Australians celebrate and revere Anzac Day on April 25th each year in remembrance of our brave soldiers who fought in two great world wars to secure our freedom. Every Australian identifies with the slogan “lest we forget” and in services held around the country people reflect on the battles and men who died to secure our freedom. Yet across the world in France, there is one remarkable battle which helped form the Europe we know today and allowed the development of civilization based on Judeo Christian principles. This one famous battle has become known as the battle of Tours and effectively stopped the Muslim advance into Europe. After the death of Mohammed in 632AD, Muslim armies exploded out of the Arabian peninsula to conquer much of the Middle East, expanding across north Africa. From there they crossed into Spain in 711AD and eventually controlled much of al-Andalus by 715AD. It was the victory at Tours by Charles Martel that stemmed the tide and eventually the Muslim marauders were expelled from Spain in 1492 when the last outpost at Granada fell to King Ferdinand of Spain. 

In this article we will discuss the significance of the battle of Tours and draw the parallels with the situation Europe finds itself in today. The message is “lest we forget”.

Muslim invasion of Spain

After the death of Mohammed in 632AD, the Muslim armies quickly invaded surrounding territories which at the time were predominately Christian. North Africa was subdued and many Berbers converted to Islam including one Tariq ibn Ziyad, a former Algerian slave, who became a fierce warrior. Emir Musa who ruled North Africa from Kairouan in Tunisia sent Tariq north to near what is now Gibraltar on an exploratory expedition with a few hundred men. When Tariq returned with booty, a bevy of beautiful girls and slaves, Spain’s fate was sealed. Count Julian, the governor of Ceuta, led the invasion force of seven thousand men, mostly Berbers, to land near the mountain they called Jabel Tariq, or the mountain of Tariq. The name Jabel Tariq later morphed into the word “Gibraltar” as we know it today. The first major battle was against the Visigoth king Rodrigo, and took place near the river Rio Barbate, which is in the Xeres district, now famous for its sherry. Rodrigo and his army was no match for the fierce Berbers and were easily defeated, with casualties in the tens of thousands. After this, count Julian persuaded Tariq to advance to Toledo, the capital.

On the way Cordoba was captured, and Toledo was easily taken. The booty was fabulous and included a gold and emerald table from the Temple of Solomon. Meanwhile, when Musa found out, he was furious and afraid of being upstaged by Tariq, so in 712AD he invaded Spain with about 18,000 Arab and Berber soldiers. On the way to Toledo, Musa captured Carmona, Seville, Merida, Malaga and Granada. When Musa met up with Tariq in Toledo, he asked “why did you disobey me?”, to which Tariq answered “to serve Allah”. Apparantly Musa replied “Allah has been well served”.

By 1915 the majority of Spain was under Islamic control and it wasn’t long before forays were made into France. Umayyad troops under Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani, the governor general of Al-Andalus, overran Septimania in 719 and then set up his capital at Narbonne. From Narbonne which could be easily resupplied from sea, incursions were made into France. They suffered a temporary setback at the battle of Toulouse in 721 but they advanced to Autun in Burgundy by 725AD. In 730 Duke Odo of Aquitaine allied himself with Berber emir Uthman ibn Naissa. Uthman however rebelled against the governor of al-Andalus, Abd al-Rahman who brought a huge force and plundered Bordeaux with a horrific slaughter of Christians at the battle of the river Garonne. Duke Odo then aligned himself with the Franks under Charles Martel. By 732AD the Umayyad army was proceeding north to the river Loire crushing all before them. What lay ahead was the riches in the abbey of Saint Martin of Tours which was the most prestigious and holiest shrine in western Europe at the time. However the mayor of Austrasia, Charles Martel, had other ideas and collected an army and marched to choose his battlefield.

Charles Martel the Frankish Commander

Charles Martel (d. 741) also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum (737–43) at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the title of Consul by the Pope, but he refused. He is remembered for winning the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers) in 732, in which he defeated an invading Muslim army and halted northward Islamic expansion in western Europe. A brilliant general, he is considered to be a founding figure of the Middle Ages, often credited with a seminal role in the development of feudalism and knighthood, and laying the groundwork for the Carolingian Empire. He was also the father of Pepin the Short and grandfather of Charlemagne.

Martel was born in 688AD in Herstal, the illegitimate son of duke Pepin II and his concubine Alpaida. It is interesting that 688 is also the midpoint of the building of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and is the symbolic date representing the rise of Islam. How fitting then that the man born at the time of the rising of Islam should be the one to stop the advance of Islam into Europe in the eighth century?

The Battle of Tours 732AD

Tactics and Outline of the Battle of Tours

From a military point of view, the battle of Tours offers valuable lessons. Firstly, Abd al-Rahman underestimated the ability of the Franks and knew little about their commander Charles Martel, who by now was battle hardened after fighting civil wars and who was a shrewd tactician. Abd al-Rahman had cavalry with chainmail armour and superior weapons and with the approaching winter was anxious to finish the battle. Charles Martel was smart and marched his forces over hills avoiding the roads and positioned his troops on a wooded hilltop giving him the advantage. The Muslim cavalry lost their superiority by being made to charge uphill through trees to engage the enemy. Martel formed his seasoned troops into a phalanx formation which was better able to withstand a cavalry charge. After a waiting game played out over six days, the Muslims charged uphill and engaged the Franks who repelled their advances time and time again. Umayyad troops did manage to break into the square but could not kill Charles because of his highly disciplined troops. Charles however had sent a party behind the lines to attack the Umayyad camp where the booty was held. This manoeuvre was brilliant because many Umayyads broke ranks to protect their booty and the tide of battle turned. Abd al-Rahman himself was killed and the Muslim armies retreated, abandoning their camp at night to return to al Andalus with their booty. Historians argue about the numbers but it is believed that up to 50,000 Umayyad troops were involved with about 12,000 casualties. Charles Martel had about 20,000 troops and suffered only light casualties with 1,100 being killed in the battle.

So in the end it was the tactical genius of Charles Martel and the discipline of his troops that defeated an army superior in numbers and military hardware.

 Was victory at Tours a Divine Decree?

There are interesting and remarkable similarities when you compare the battle of Tours to biblical events such as the story of Joshua and the battle for Jericho and the latter day example of the six day war in 1967 when the Israelis recaptured their Holy city of Jerusalem. The book of Joshua in chapter 6 tells the story of how Joshua and his small army walked around the heavily defended city of Jericho for six days, then on the seventh day achieved victory after walking around seven times, sounding the trumpets, the people shouting and the walls came tumbling down. In 1967 it took just six days for the Israeli army to crush the Jordanian military and retake the city of Jerusalem, celebrating at the famous wailing wall.

And in Tours, the combatants eyed each other off for six days before engaging in battle which was decided at nightfall with the death of the Muslim commander, Abd al-Rahman, on the seventh day.

So we have three famous and decisive victories which were all achieved after six days!

Bible prophecy about the battle of Tours

There is a remarkable and little understood prophecy in the book of Daniel which predicted the symbolic rise of Islam and the classic defeat of the Muslim armies in France which saved Christian Europe. The prophecies are a couplet given in Daniel 12:11,12 and were given by an angel to Daniel in 533BC. The prophecies start in 583BC when the last group of Jews were taken into captivity to Babylon and so the regular burnt offerings ceased. [Jeremiah 52:30] Daniel 12:11 states that an abomination that desolates will be built on the Holy mountain in 688AD and Daniel 12:12 refers to a happy event if you live to see 732AD. The year 688AD was when the building of the Dome of the Rock occurred and so the shrine to Mohammed is an abomination to God. Symbolically from this date the Jews and Christians were scattered. Islam was supreme and spread through the Middle East but the advance into Europe was halted and reversed in 732AD by Charles Martel who was born in 688AD.

CONCLUSION

The battle of Tours in 732AD was a pivotal moment in the history of Europe and without the victory by Charles Martel, Europe may never have experienced the architectural developments, the music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, the classical paintings and sculpture that evolved out of Christian Europe. Contrast that to the backwardness and darkness of the countries that fell under the influence of Islam.

Europe at the Crossroads

Just as it was in 732AD, Europe is under attack today by Islam, and the same patterns are evident. But the tactics have changed into a more subtle form of warfare which many call Stealth Jihad. The raping of infidel women is there as Muslims follow their Allah inspired belief that there is no penalty under Sharia law for raping a non believing woman. The plundering is there as Muslims stream into Europe and drain the generous welfare schemes and demand funding for mosque building to undermine the economies. The destruction of property is there as Muslims blow up infrastructure in the name of Allah.

Muslims riot and rage if their demands are not met with car burnings in France and the 751 “no go” zones where French citizens are in danger of entering. We have the murder of a film maker in Theo van Gogh, the trials of Geert Wilders and Elizabeth Sabatich-Wolff for speaking out against Islam, the legalizing of paedophilia under the Lisbon treaty for the new EU and the undermining of Christian culture.

As their faith grows weak, Europe must consider the example of one man, Charles Martel, who was strong in his faith and stood up to oppose the Islamization of France. Where is the Charles Martel of today?

LEST WE FORGET


REFERENCES

The Battle of Tours in 732AD

Charles Martel the Frankish Commander

The Muslim invasion of Spain – Jihad Galore

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 June 2011 20:18  

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