The Battle of Tours - Islam at the Gate
Historic Moments SERIES
In a place in Central France, around modern Tours, an immense Saracen army, an "innumerable multitude" met a European army headed by Charles Martel. The Europeans were the underdogs, the Saracens were vastly superior and rated as indestructible. Through furious daring, a covert operation, and the actual death of the Saracen General, the Europeans sent the Saracen force scurrying South, back over the Pyrenees, where they came from. The Saracen army had a list of continuous victory. The Europeans were a hastily organized, newly financed group of farmers and tribal fighters. Everyone was surprised at the outcome. At the time, it was just a "battle to keep the foreigners off our land", in looking back, that is kind of what it was. But the overall impact is something to consider, over 1300 years ago.
Most Americans speak English. Many Americans are Christian. Some not always well informed, don't look back through the curtains of the past to get a clearer picture. When we look at images of the Twin Towers, modern people say: "Where does the hatred come from?" We take so many things for granted, and don't think at all about so many other things, it is important to think about just a FEW THINGS:
BEFORE the Crusades, Europe was Attacked by the Saracens
1) Mohammed was alive only 100 years before the growth of Islam started. They converted through the sword. They went across Northern Africa, subdued Africans and a variety of peoples along the coast, and then the Spanish. You will hear about the Crusades, but you don't hear about the Moslems attacking Europe in 732 AD. And with today's education system, it will probably disappear into the mists of history.
Christianity Was Not "Inevitably Victorious" in 700.
2) In 700, Christian Europe was intermixed with Pagan Europe. Much of Non-Romanized Germany (on the other side of the Rhine) was still Pagan. It was the Family of Charles Martel, (Charlemagne's Grandfather), a Christian, who would help solidify central France into a powerful Christian center, which would eventually coalesce into Norman culture, which would establish Modern England with William the Conqueror in 1066. Take a snap shot of Europe at that time, and there is no way a reasonable picture of inevitable Christian victory could be predictable. It could have gone to the Saracens. It could have gone to the Pagans.
There Is A Direct Link From Charlemagne to the Modern World
3) Because Charles Martel went to the Roman Church, and made a financial deal to fund a strong standing army, the two defeated the Muslims at Tours, and thus created the historical momentum for Charlemagne, the power and centralization of the Roman Church and the subsiding of Pagan Europe.
What Did the Moslem Writers Say?
The enduring importance of the battle of Tours in the eyes of the Moslems is attested not only by the expressions of " the deadly battle " and " the disgraceful overthrow " which their writers constantly employ when referring to it, but also by the fact that no more serious attempts at conquest beyond the Pyrenees were made by the Saracens. Charles Martel, and his son and grandson, were left at leisure to consolidate and extend their power. This defeat did establish this family because of the vacuum established after the Battle.
Charlemagne Crowned Himself - Christianity Became "Safe"
The new Christian Roman empire of the West, which the genius of Charlemagne founded, and throughout which his iron will imposed peace on the old anarchy of creeds and races, did not indeed retain its integrity after its great ruler' s death. Fresh troubles came over Europe; but Christendom, though disunited, was safe. Paganism never presented a "whole enemy" to counter Christian growth. The progress of civilization, and the development of the nationalities and governments of modern Europe, from that time forth went forward in not uninterrupted, but ultimately certain career. When Charlemagne crowned himself as the "Holy Roman Emperor", it was much more than Middle Ages Theater. It was prophetic of a "modern world".
The Norman Invasion of England
When Hitler ended up NOT invading England, it made everyone reflect. Wow. Those Normans were the last to cross that Channel with conquering intent. It also made people think of the overly puffed up Spanish Armada, which also failed to conquer England. The Normans, a group of Viking tribes who settled northern France and married native French women became a solidified and unique people. Around the time of the 800's, right after Charlemagne, the Vikings went down the Seine and told the Parisians they would protect them for fees. This also had a "stabilizing effect" during the time of the Vikings. That is a very short story of the Vikings, but suffice it to say that by the time of the Invasion of England, the Normans were a distinct people. Thus, the English language, the English people, their whole sense of "who they were" became solid after the Norman Invasion by William the Conqueror.
What IF? With Some Imagination Look At What Could Have Been Had the Saracens Won At Tours? To do this exercise, you must assume that the official end changes to its opposite, then do an imagined speculation based upon historical forces.
1) They go on and conquer the rest of Europe, and it becomes a Moslem continent. The reason the Saracens were over confident was because there was no other formal army in back of Martel. If the Saracens beat them, they could have gone down any number of hundreds of roads and met only tribal opposition.
2) They don't go on, they just dominate Southern France and own Spain. Power does not develop in Charles Martel and Charlemagne, Christianity becomes permanently weakened, Pagan Europe survives and maybe thrives.
3) Europe becomes a mish mash of states based upon centuries of local and tribal conflicts. Modern states, like they are today, are not developed. Spain and Southern France stay Moslem countries.
4) The New World is discovered by Arab (Moslem) powers. South America is ruled by Moslem culture. Moslem values permeate the New World. North America is in question, because the English never become the same country, not having strong central European influence. England has to fight a constant battle with Moslem powers south of it. The 1700's do not happen in quite the same way they did. Because the Spanish Armada is not there to be defeated, the naval vacuum does not occur. It is difficult to predict how England would develop as a naval power.
"WHAT IF" scenarios are speculative and there is no way of proving what DID NOT HAPPEN.
However, this way of understanding history is an enlivening and stimulating way of understanding the philosophical, religious, moral and ethical forces that flow through human culture. Christofer French obtained his Psy,D. in 2003, and is an adherent of Syncretism, a New Way of Looking at Old Traditions. Astrologygetalong.com is his website.