The Battle of Tours
Episode #2 of the course “Battles of All Time”
Date: October 10, 732
Perhaps it is because of France’s central location and connection to the sea, but what is now French territory has been a fighting location for years. Some of these fights, as with the Battle of Orleans, have religious undertones. In the Battle of Tours, the Franks stopped an invading Islamic army. This battle is said to have maintained Christianity as the controlling faith in Europe.
The battle took place on October 10, 732 near Tours, France. The Franks were led by Charles Martel, and the Islamic troops were led by Emir Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi Abd al Rahman. The Muslims had taken over northern Spain and threatened to invade the Frankish territories that were located in what is now France.
An alliance between Uthman ibn Naissa, a Muslim ruler, and Eudes (also known as Duke Odo of Aquitaine, whose land was located between Frankish territories and the Arab attacks) failed, and Uthman’s army killed an enormous number of Christians at the River Garonne. One source that cites the battle states that “God alone knows the number of the slain.” Uthman’s army continued to move through the mountains toward Tours. The army included somewhere between 60,000 and 400,000 men. Eudes asked Charles Martel for help, which he granted, but only if Eudes would submit to the Franks. The Frankish defense consisted of somewhere between 15,000 and 75,000 troops.
Charles set up a defensive square and waited for the enemy to attack. However, the armies watched one another for six days before either one made a move. The Muslim forces were uneasy that Charles had picked the grounds and conditions for battle. The invading forces were not as well-dressed for the cold weather, and the Franks refused to come out in the open for the battle. Once the Muslim forces attacked, the Franks stood strong—some of the Franks even went to the Muslim camp to loot. Part of the Muslim forces fell back to defend their plunder in what looked like a retreat. Apparently the Muslim leader attempted to stop the retreat, and the Frank forces took advantage of this, surrounding and killing him. The Muslims returned to their camp and retreated during the night.
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