Charles Martel

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(688-741), Mayor of the Palace of the Kingdom of the Franks. Charles Martel is best remembered for winning the Battle of Poitiers, which has been romanticized as the salvation of Europe from the Arab menace. Though the Frankish army did defeat an Arab army of invasion on French soil, it took another two generations for the Franks to drive all the Arab garrisons out of what is now France and across the Pyrenees. The unification of the Frankish kingdom under Charles Martel, his son Pepin the short and his grandson Charlemagne had more to do with ending the Arab threat to Europe than a single battle.

Charles Martel (Martel, the Hammer ) was the (most likely) illegitimate son of Pepin II, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia and his concubine Alpaida. On the death of Pepin in 717 the succession was passed to an infant grandson. The faction of Austrasian nobles who supported him were led by his stepmother, Pepin'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 no little way 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 - Bavaria, Alamania - and southern - Aquitaine, Provence - duchies. He dealt with the ongoing conflict with the Saxons to his north east with some success, but full subjugation and incorporation of the Saxons into the Frankish empire would wait for his grandson Charlemagne.

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