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Charles Martel

Charles Martel was born August 23, 676 in Heristal[?], Alsace, France and died on October 22, 741. He was Mayor of the Palace of the kingdom of the Franks.

Martel is best remembered for winning the Battle of Tours (more correctly the Battle of Poitiers), which has been romanticized as the salvation of Europe from the Arab menace. Martel's Frankish army defeated an Arab army fighting to spread Islam, which had swept through southern Asia and north Africa, before conquering most of the Iberian peninsula and much of southern France.

Although it took another two generations for the Franks to drive all the Arab garrisons out of what is now France and across the Pyrenees. Charles Martel's halt of the invasion of French soil turned the tide of Islamic advance, and the unification of the Frankish kingdom under Charles Martel, his son Pippin the Short, and his grandson Charlemagne prevented the Ummayad kingdom from expanding over the Pyrenees.

Charles Martel (Martel means "the Hammer") was the son of Pippin of Herstal, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, and his concubine Alpaida. On Pippin's death in 714, the succession passed to an infant grandson, Theodoald. The faction of Austrasian nobles who supported Theodoald was led by his stepmother, Pippin's widow, Plectrude. Charles, who was already an adult, led a rival faction and prevailed in a series of battles against both invading Neustrian Franks and the forces of Plectrude. Between 718 and 723, Charles secured his power through a series of victories and by winning the loyalty of several important clerics. This he accomplished in part by donating lands and money for the foundations of abbeys such as Echternach[?].

In the subsequent decade, Charles led the Frankish army against the eastern duchies, Bavaria and Alemannia, and the southern duchies, Aquitaine and Provence. He dealt with the ongoing conflict with the Saxons to his northeast with some success, but full conquest of the Saxons and their incorporation into the Frankish empire would wait for his grandson Charlemagne.

Charles Martel's wives were (1) Chrotrud or Rotrude (690-724) (mother of Pippin and Carloman), and (2) Swanachild.

Charles Martel died on October 22, 741, at Quierzy[?] in what is today the Aisne department in the Picardy region of France. He was interred at Saint Denis Basilica in Paris, France. He was succeeded by his sons, Carloman, Pippin the Short, and Grifo[?].

Related articles

Charles Martel (September 8, 1271-Naples August 12, 1295), also known as Charles I Martel or Charles Martel d'Anjou, was the son of king Charles II of Naples and Maria of Hungary, the daughter of king Stephen V of Hungary. He was a titular king of Hungary from 1290 to 1295 and married Klementia von Habsburg (d.1295), daughter of Emperor Rudolf I.

Their son Charles Robert became king Charles I of Hungary. Their daughter Clemence d'Anjou (1293 - 1328) married on August 13, 1315 to Louis X of France and was the mother of John I of France.

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