Charles Martel And The Battle of Tours (Poitiers): A Decisive Victory For The West
On October 10, 732 Muslim forces under Abd-al-Rahman advanced north from al-Andalus (Spain) and were defeated by Charles Martel (grandfather of Charlemagne) at the Battle of Tours. Most (not all) historians agree that the significance of the battle for Western history cannot be diminished:
A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.--GibbonThe history of Western Europe would undeniably be very different had the Frankish army been defeated in 732. Like the victory of Constantinople some fifteen years earlier, Muslim advances had finally been thwarted, and the steady Reconquista of Spain and parts of Byzantine Empire began apace. If not the decisive battle that can be acknowledged as the turning point of a very long war, e.g. Stalingrad, then surely it can be remembered as the point at which the forward advance of Muslim armies came to a halt. Though the Byzantines finally succumbed by 1453, the Turks were eventually defeated in the great naval battle at Lepanto in 1571, and turned away from Vienna in 1683. The threat of the Caliphate encroaching on Western Europe never penetrated as far west again--until today, as unassimilated Muslim immigrants threaten to "behead those who insult Islam" and foment rage at every perceived slight.
Recent scholars have suggested Poitiers, so poorly recorded in contemporary sources, was a mere raid and thus a construct of western mythmaking or that a Muslim victory might have been preferable to continued frankish dominance. What is clear is that Poitiers marked a general continuance of the successful defense of Europe, (from the Muslims). Flush from the victory at Tours, Charles Martel went on to clear southern France from Islamic attackers for decades, unify the warring kingdoms into the foundations of the Carolingian Empire, and ensure ready and reliable troops from local estates.--Victor Davis Hanson