History calls him Charles Martel (688-741 A.D.).  Chuck is best known for his victory in an important battle at Poitiers, in Southern France, which oddly enough is known as the Battle of Tours, apparently because they forgot where it happened or got confused, or because the battlefield was actually somewhere between Poitiers and Tours.  That’s how history goes. Anyway, the battle took place in October of 732 A.D., and resulted in defeat of an advance contingent of the ever-expanding Islamic empire in Spain, eventually leading to the decline of the Islamic empire and the “Reconquista” by Christianity of that country.  The Islamic empire in “Andalus” — Spain — had been expanding by military force and was making regular forays into territories of the Frankish kings.  One of the kings on the border with the Muslims (you pretty much don’t want to be on a border with Muslims, I guess) begged Chuck for aid, which was given.  The Battle of Tours was the result, and it laid the foundation for the Carolingian Empire which gave us Charlemagne and many of the knights and their fighting traditions who fought in the First Crusade.  Keep in mind, before the Muslims invaded Spain, it was Christian.  Kinda like the Middle East.  Well, no, exactly like the Middle East.

Some historians including Gibbon say Chuck the Hammer saved Christianity at Tours (or Poitiers or wherever) and, by preserving Western Civilization made the Renaissance possible.  Not bad work.

 By the way, there was a Renaissance before the one you normally hear about known as the Carolingian Renaissance, when literature, scholarship, arts and music flourished under the descendants of Chuck the Hammer, roughly the 8th and 9th centuries.

 Oh yeah, Al-Andalus is often hailed by modern scholars as the pinnacle of tolerance and inter-faith cooperation, puppies and rainbows.  Not so.  For instance, fifteen thousand Jewish families were massacred by the Muslim rulers of Spain in 1066 when those Jews refused to leave the country, and persecution and executions of Christians were regular, as were their incessant military incursions to the north further into Europe.  No puppies, no rainbows.  Just power.  Que Sera

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