"TODAY THIS ENTIRE CIVILIZATION IS UNDER ATTACK AND IN DECLINE..."
HEROES OF THE WEST: THE HAMMER OF CHRISTENDOM
PUBLISHED: 21st July, 2019 | By MATT MARSHALL
The British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley once made a speech about Europe in its darkest hour. He was not referring to his own time but when “the Saracen hordes swept across this continent”. He spoke of when “small bands of men came together in resolution” and how the “hordes were thrown back, again and again and again”. This is a story about the central man who “threw back the hordes”. The man to whom Western Civilization’s existence lies upon, and who held back the armies of an enemy power that threatened his people. You may have heard of this man, his name was Charles Martel.
When the Western Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, Europe fell into a period of chaos and upheaval known as the “Dark Ages”. While the Eastern Roman Empire continued to provide some stability, the rest of the continent was a great free for all. The Celts, already long past their prime, were pushed to the edges of France and the British Isles. A massive Germanic influx settled in the lands that used to be the Roman provinces of Gaul, Britannia, Iberia, northern Italia, and even parts of North Africa. Populations travelled rapidly across borders that had ceased to exist. Cities were sacked. The strong battled each other for supremacy, while the weak starved in the ruins. Monasteries and Churches remained as islands of sanctuary and learning in the sea of barbarism, although they were far from unassailable. If this sounds familiar, it should. The world has been reeling from a similar crisis since the collapse of the European colonial powers following both World Wars.
One of the myriad Germanic groups that found themselves swept up in migration and conflict were a group of people called the Franks. Like many Germanic peoples they had a history of both being an enemy and an ally of the Roman Empire. After the collapse of Rome the Franks occupied Northern Gaul and gradually embraced Catholic Christianity. While historically kings had always ruled them, as the passage of time went on an increasing number of their monarchs proved slothful and debauched. Therefore political power began passing to a position called the “Mayor of the Palace”. Originally just the manager of the royal household, the Mayors swiftly took on the command of the Frankish armies and the day-to-day running of the Frankish state. In effect, they became something akin to a parliamentary dictator, with the monarch remaining the spiritual head of state and the Mayor being the chief executive of government.
While the Franks were setting up their own state in Northern Gaul, a new religion had emerged to the east. An Arab trader named Muhammad in 610 AD, who on his own accounts received commands from God, founded the religion of Islam. Muhammad taught that there was one God, that he was the last in a series of prophets including Abraham and Jesus Christ, and that he had received divine instructions on how his followers should worship God and organize their society. Muhammad faced vigorous, violent opposition from the start and therefore he became a military and political leader as well as a spiritual one. Muhammad’s disciples won a number of astounding victories, united the Arabic tribes and forged a mighty empire of faith. The Islamic armies survived the death of the Prophet and the political fractures that followed, bursting out of the Arabain peninsula to overwhelm the Christians and Zoroastrians of North Africa and the Fertile Crescent. Islamic armies drove back the Eastern Roman Empire and conquered the Sassanid Persians, and in the West they conquered the Christian kingdoms of Iberia. Islam had a militancy and vigour that had so far proved unmatched. Armed with steadfast belief in their God-given mission, the Muslim world set its eyes on new territories. Including what used to be Roman Gaul.
Charles Martel was born in 688AD, and was described by most contemporaries as handsome, strong and well educated. Supposedly he was the illegitimate son of the Mayor of the Palace. Charles became a mighty warrior in service to his father and the Frankish king. When his father died in 714, Charles was imprisoned by his stepmother as the kingdom collapsed into civil war between nobles. Charles had escaped by the end of the next year. He brought together an army and spent the next two years defeating mutinous nobles and consolidating political power. He became the Mayor of the Palace in 718, and began a long career or battling against the Saxons, the Frisians, the Bavarians, the Alemanni, and the Lombards. He earned the title “Martellus” or “The Hammer” and this title became known to historians as his last name.
In 732, an Umayyad Arabic-Moorish army invaded the kingdom of Aquitaine, seeking to sack the wealthy city of Tours to the north. While not the first Muslim incursion from Iberia, this was one of the largest. As well as plunder, the Muslims were also assumedly testing the weaknesses of the northern Christian kingdoms. Despite being a rival of Charles, King Odo of Aquitane appealed to him for help. As the Umayyad army marched towards Tours, they were surprised on the 10th of October by a Frankish-Burundian army under the command of Charles Martel. The heavy Muslim cavalry began its famous charge, but “The men of the North stood motionless as a wall” and held fast against their horses. As the battle ground on, whispers spread amongst the Umayyad host that the Franks were raiding their camp and much of the cavalry broke off to defend the army’s supplies. The rest of the army, under pressure from the relentless Franks, broke and retreated. Their commander ‘Abd-al-Rahmân was killed in this flight. The next day Charles prepared for battle again, but found the opposing force had retreated completely in the night.
The Battle of Tours was not the last invasion by Umayyad armies, they returned in 734, 736 and 739. Charles Martel’s son would fight them in 759. Yet something crucial had happened at Tours, the watermark of Islamic expansion in Europe. They would not take Francia (as the Kingdom of the Franks was known). Christendom had struck a blow against the foreign invader and humbled the once invincible Islamic armies. It has become fashionable in modern historical circles to downplay the importance of victory at Tours, but the Frankish victories at both Tours and after certainly prevented any potential Islamic expansion. The personal significance of “The Hammer” is also hard to understate. He was a massively successful military leader who played a large part in unifying the Franks. He would continue to war and expand his territory after the battle of Tours, reign as acting King, and die peacefully in 741. His son Pepin would establish the Carolingian Dynasty and his grandson Charlemagne would become the first Holy Roman Emperor. Charles Martel laid the path for the future of Europe.
Indeed the story of Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours is something that we should hold in great esteem as Europeans. Not long after his death, the word Europenese was first written down in 754AD by a Catholic priest in Umayyad-occupied Iberia. Europe was a new concept, a new vision for the future. At Tours, the descendants of German barbarians pledged their faith to Jesus Christ and fought to defend kingdoms that were pre-occupied with re-building the Roman Empire. Thus Europe was born out of three traditions. The warrior tradition of Pagan barbarians had been joined with the tradition of empire and refinement by the ancient Greco-Roman world, and then unified under the tradition of the divine message of Christianity. To use a metaphor: Pagan oaks had been felled to construct a Christian temple in the Greco-Roman architectural style. Europe had been created. Christendom had been established. Western Civilization had begun to grow.
Today this entire civilization is under attack and in decline. Oswald Spengler and many others predicted this, although even they would be surprised at what they would see today. Islam once again poises to supplant Christianity as the main religion of Europe. Unlike in Charles Martel’s time the struggle is not one of violence between armies but of demographics and beliefs. The Muslims are as strong in their faith today as they were in the 8th Century. We no longer believe in our faith, and our Christian identity is of lessening importance to so many of us. The Greco-Roman traditions have been corrupted into their worst, libertine and “rationalistic” expressions. And we live increasingly devoid from the woods and hills that are barbarian ancestors revered. The only cure to this civilizational malaise is for us to start taking our inheritance seriously again. We must recognize what men like Charles Martel has left for us. We must re-fill the churches, re-read the classics and re-dedicate ourselves to our historic identity. The forces that are arrayed against us prey on our doubts, our insecurities, our rage, and our fear. Only with the hammer of civilization confidence can we scatter these forces and become proud to be Western and European once more.
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