Charles the Hammer, also known as Charles Martel, lived from 718 to 741. He ruled over the Frankish empire during the Merovingian dynasty.
Charles was the illegitimate son of Pepin of Heristal and Alpaida. Pepin, his father, was Mayor of the Palace.
A Mayor of the Palace was the real ruler of the kingdom. The king was king in name and title only; he had no authority. It was the Mayor of the Palace who made all the laws, meted out the punishments and established the taxes. It was the Mayor of the Palace who held the real reins of the kingdom in his hands.
When Pepin died, his wife tried to take over his office. She even imprisoned Charles in her attempt. Charles, however, escaped and drew the support of the nobles, using their help to take his mother out of the position.
As Mayor of the Palace Charles ruled justly and fairly. During the course of his life he had two sons—Pepin the Short and Carloman. Pepin would later become the father of the famous Frankish emperor Charlemagne.
Charles was a great military general, with a head for planning and stratagem. He only lost one battle, his first, of the hundreds that he fought.
The famous Battle of Tours took place in 732. The Iberian Muslims were invading Gaul, seeking to expand their already huge empire. Charles went out to fight them. Fortunately for him, the Muslims had amassed a large collection of wealth from their recent pillages. They were more concerned with their booty than with winning the battle. At the end of the fight the Frankish soldiers were getting close the Muslim camp. The Muslim soldiers, afraid that the Franks would steal their wealth, fled to their tents and were defeated. This battle took seven days. It is said that Charles saved Christendom by this brave deed.
There are three major deeds that Charles Martel did in his life.
- He expanded the Frankish empire to contain Aquitaine, a province also known as Gascony.
- He spread the Frankish church into Germany.
- He stopped the Iberian Muslims and halted their expansion.
He was a good general, a just ruler and an honorable man!