Sunday, October 10, 2010
Victory at Tours
On this date in 732, the Frankish infantry of Charles Martel defeated the numerically superior Moorish cavalry of Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi near Tours. This is doubtless among the most significant of events faced in the West, and a great triumph that should not be readily forgotten. The sapling of Western Christendom planted in the wake of the fall of Rome would now be free to grow into the mighty civilisation which has benefited us all so very greatly. The threat of the Umayyad Caliphate, then the world's most expansive empire, overtaking the Catholic lands was largely eliminated, the border was drawn at the Pyrenees, and even that would not hold, for as the West strengthened, Iberia was gradually reconquered. Moreover, the esteem of Charles Martel grew even over and above the Merovingian kings of the Franks, and his victory paved the way for his son Pépin to take the throne with papal blessing. Pépin began the work of unifying most of the realms of Western Christendom and subduing and Christianizing the pagans of Saxony, a work brought to glorious completion by his son Charlemagne, the first Roman Emperor in the West since 476. Within a hundred years of Tours, lands from Navarre to Hungary were united into a Holy Roman Empire, the Pope had been granted temporal sovereignty over his own domain, and arts, letters, and learning flourished among the clergy. Truly, then, could Westerners no longer be thought barbarians, but stand as cultural peers of Arabs or Greeks, and even come to exceed them in centuries to follow.