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Charles Martel Prince of the Franks

Male 688 - 741  (53 years)

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  • Name Charles Martel Prince of the Franks   [1
    Born 23 Aug 688 
    Gender Male 
    Reference Number 9038 
    Died 22 Oct 741 
    Person ID I9038  FelsingFam
    Last Modified 28 Nov 2021 

    Father Pippin,   b. Abt 635,   d. 15 Nov 714  (Age ~ 79 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Plektrudis 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F6730  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Chrodtrud,   d. Abt 725 
    +1. Pippin 'the Short' King of the Franks,   b. 714,   d. 24 Sep 768  (Age 54 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 28 Nov 2021 
    Family ID F6729  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
      Charles Martel ('the Hammer') was born in Herstal (in modern Belgium) on 23 August 688, the son of Pippin II by his mistress Alpais. He was proclaimed Mayor of the Palace and ruled the Franks in the name of a titular king, Clothaire IV. Late in his reign he proclaimed himself duke of the Franks (over the last four years of his reign he did not even bother with the façade of a king) and by any name he was de facto ruler of the Frankish realms. In 739 he was offered an office of Roman consul, which he rejected. He expanded his rule over all three of the Frankish kingdoms: Austrasia, Neustria and Burgundy. He was described by Louis Gustave and Charles Strauss, in their book _Muslem and Frank: or Charles Martel and the rescue of Europe,_ as a tall, powerfully built man who was more agile than his size would lead men to believe.

      His first battles were with the Saxons, Alemanni and Bavarians. However, his importance was established when he rolled back the Saracens in a desperate battle between Tours and Poitiers in 732. This has traditionally been characterised as an event that halted the Islamic expansion in Europe that had conquered Iberia. Prior to the battle, Abdul Rahman, the Arab governor of Spain, had won a great battle near Bordeaux. This Muslem threat united the Burgundians and the Gauls of Provence, who then acknowledged the sovereignty of Charles Martel, recognising him as their saviour from the Muslem conquests. Charles finished his work by driving the Saracens out of Burgundy and the Languedoc in 737.

      In addition to being the leader of the army that prevailed at Tours, Charles Martel was a truly giant figure of the Middle Ages. A brilliant general, he is considered the forefather of western heavy cavalry, chivalry, founder of the Carolingian empire (which was named after him), and a catalyst for the feudal system, which would see Europe through the Middle Ages. Although some recent scholars have suggested he was more of a beneficiary of the feudal system than a knowing agent for social change, others continue to see him as the primary catalyst.

      When Charles died on 22 October 741, his sons Carloman and Pippin, still joint mayors of the palace, shared power over the kingdom of the Franks with the Merovingian king, Childeric III of the Franks.

  • Sources 
    1. [S804] Genealogics.org.