The Battle of Tours (Poitiers)

The Battle of Tours (October 10, 732), also called the Battle of Poitiers and in Arabic: معركة بلاط الشهداء‎ (ma‘arakat Balâṭ ash-Shuhadâ’) Battle of Court of The Martyrs, was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Poitiers. The location of the battle was close to the border between the Frankish realm and then-independent Aquitaine. The battle pitted Frankish and Burgundian forces under Austrasian Mayor of the Palace Charles Martel against an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of al-Andalus. The Franks were victorious, ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was killed, and Charles subsequently extended his authority in the south. Ninth-century chroniclers, who interpreted the outcome of the battle as divine judgment in his favour, gave Charles the nickname Martellus ("The Hammer"), possibly recalling Judas Maccabeus ("The Hammerer") of the Maccabean revolt. Details of the battle, including its exact location and the exact number of combatants, cannot be determined from accounts that have survived. Notably, the Frankish troops won the battle without cavalry.

Later Christian chroniclers and pre-20th century historians praised Charles Martel as the champion of Christianity, characterizing the battle as the decisive turning point in the struggle against Islam, a struggle which preserved Christianity as the religion of Europe; according to modern military historian Victor Davis Hanson, "most of the 18th and 19th century historians, like Gibbon, saw Poitiers (Tours), as a landmark battle that marked the high tide of the Muslim advance into Europe." Leopold von Ranke felt that "Poitiers was the turning point of one of the most important epochs in the history of the world."

Modern historians, by contrast, are divided over the battle's importance, and considerable disagreement exists as to whether or not the victory was responsible — as Gibbon and his generation of historians claimed, and which is echoed by many modern historians — for saving Christianity and halting the conquest of Europe by Islam. However, there is little dispute that the battle helped lay the foundations of the Carolingian Empire and Frankish domination of Europe for the next century; most historians agree that "The establishment of Frankish power in western Europe shaped that continent's destiny and the Battle of Tours confirmed that power."