The Battle of Tours, 732
Near the river Owar [Loire], the two great hosts of the two languages and the two creeds were set in array against each other. The hearts of [Muslim leader] Abderrahman, his captains and his men were filled with wrath and pride, and they were the first to begin to fight. The Moslem horsemen dashed fierce and frequent forward against the battalions of the Franks, who resisted manfully, and many fell dead on either side, until the going down of the sun.
Night parted the two armies, but in the gray of the morning the Muslims returned to the battle. Their cavaliers had soon hewn their way into the center of the Christian host. But many of the Moslems were fearful for the safety of the spoil which they had stored in their tents, and a false cry arose in their ranks that some of the enemy were plundering the camp; whereupon several squadrons of the Moslem horsemen rode off to protect their tents. But it seemed as if they fled; and all the host was troubled.
And while Abderrahman strove to check their tumult, and to lead them back to battle, the warriors of the Franks came around him, and he was pierced through with many spears, so that he died. Then all the host fled before the enemy, and many died in the flight.
—anonymous Arab chronicler
Musa being returned to Damascus, the Caliph Abd-el Melek asked of him about his conquests, saying “Now tell me about these Franks—what is their nature?”
"They,” replied Musa, “are a folk right numerous, and full of might: brave and impetuous in the attack, but cowardly and craven in event of defeat.”
"And how has passed the war betwixt them and thyself? Favorably or the reverse?”
"The reverse? No, by Allah and the prophet!” spoke Musa. “Never has a company from my army been beaten. And never have the Moslems hesitated to follow me when I have led them; though they were twoscore to fourscore.”
—anonymous Arab chronicler
For almost seven days the two armies watched one another, waiting anxiously the moment for joining the struggle. Finally they made ready for combat. And in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. . . .
At last night sundered the combatants. The Franks with misgivings lowered their blades, and beholding the numberless tents of the Arabs, prepared themselves for another battle the next day. . . . Unaware that [the tents] were utterly empty, and fearful lest within the phalanxes of the Saracens were drawn up for combat, they sent out spies to ascertain the facts. These spies discovered that all the squadrons of the “Ishmaelites” had vanished. In fact, during the night they had fled with the greatest silence, seeking with all speed their home land.
The Europeans, uncertain and fearful, lest they were merely hidden in order to come back by ambushments, sent scouting parties everywhere, but to their great amazement found nothing. Then without troubling to pursue the fugitives, they contented themselves with sharing the spoils and returned right gladly to their own country.
—Isidore of Beja’s Chronicle
The Muslims planned to go to Tours to destroy the Church of St. Martin, the city, and the whole country. Then came against them the glorious Prince Charles, at the head of his whole force. He drew up his host, and he fought as fiercely as the hungry wolf falls upon the stag.
By the grace of Our Lord, he wrought a great slaughter upon the enemies of Christian faith, so that—as history bears witness—he slew in that battle 300,000 men, likewise their king by name Abderrahman. Then was he [Charles] first called “Martel,” for as a hammer of iron, of steel, and of every other metal, even so he dashed and smote in the battle all his enemies. And what was the greatest marvel of all, he only lost in that battle 1,500 men.
—The Chronicle of St. Denis
By anonymous Arab chroniclers, Isidore of Beja, and St. Denis
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #74 in 2002]
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