|Charles Martel -
(märtl´) (KEY) [O.Fr.,=Charles the Hammer], 688?–741,
Frankish ruler, illegitimate son of Pepin of Heristal and
grandfather of Charlemagne. After the death of his father
(714) he seized power in Austrasia from Pepin’s widow, who was ruling as
regent for her grandsons, and became mayor of the palace. He subsequently
subdued the W Frankish kingdom of Neustria and began the reconquest of
Burgundy, Aquitaine, and Provence. Charles Martel defeated the Spanish
Muslims at the battle of Tours (732–33) and began the military campaigns
that reestablished the Franks as the rulers of Gaul. Although he never
assumed the title of king, he divided the Frankish lands, like a king,
between his sons Pepin the Short and Carloman.
Charles (Karl) 'the Hammer' Martel - Mayor of the Palace & King of The Franks b: 676 in Heristal, Liege, Belgium & Chrotrude (Rotrou) of Alemania - Duchess of Austrasia aka: Lady Chrotrude de Trevers b: ABT. 690 in Austrasia
Pippin II "The Fat" Mayor of The Palace of Austrasia b: ABT. 635 in Heristal, Neustria & Alpaide (his mistress) b: ABT. 654 in Heristal, Neustria - daughter of: Childebrand
Ansigisen Mayor of The Palace of Austrasia b: 602 in Austrasia & Baggue (St. Baggue) Von Landen , of Landen b: ABT. 613 in Landen, Liege, Belgium - daughter of: Pepin "The Old" Mayor of The Palace of Austrasia b: 564 in Landen, Liege, Belgium & Iduberga Von Schelde , de Metz, Saint Itta b: ABT. 591 in Landen, Liege, Belgium
Arnold Bishop of Metz , St. Arnulf b: 13 AUG 582 in Austrasia, France & Clothilde (Dode\Oda) de Heristal , Lady of Saxony b: 586 in Old Saxony - daughter of: Arnulf Von Schelde , Bishop of Metz b: 540 & Oda Von Swabia b: 540
Bodegisel II (Bodgise) Governor of Aquitaine b: ABT. 562 in Old Saxony, Gremany
Arnoldus of Saxony b: ABT. 562 in Old Saxony, Germany & & Oda de Saxony b: ABT. 562 in Austrasia - daughter of: Duke of Swabia b: 532
The ensuing years were full of strife. Eager to chastise the Saxons who had invaded Austrasia, Charles in the year 718 laid waste their country to the banks of the Weser. In 719 Ratbod died, and Charles seized Western Friesland without any great resistance on the part of the Frisians, who had taken possession of it on the death of Pepin. The Neustrians, always a menace, had joined forces with the people of Aquitaine, but Charles hacked their army to pieces at Soissons. After this defeat they realized the necessity of surrendering, and the death of King Clotaire IV, whom Charles had placed on the throne but two years previously, facilitated reconciliation of the two great fractions of the Frankish Empire. Charles acknowledged Chilperic as head of the entire monarchy, while on their side, the Neustrians and Aquitainians endorsed the authority of Charles; but, when Chilperic died, the following year (720) Charles appointed as his successor the son of Dagobert III, Thierry IV, who was still a minor, and who occupied the throne from 720 to 737. A second expedition against the Saxons in 720 and the definitive submission of Raginfrid, who had been left the county of Angers (724), re-established the Frankish Monarchy as it had been under Pepin of Herstal, and closed the first series of Charles Martel's struggles. The next six years were devoted almost exclusively to the confirming of the Frankish authority over the dependent Germanic tribes. In 725 and 728 Charles went into Bavaria, where the Agilolfing dukes had gradually rendered themselves independent, and re-established Frankish suzerainty. He also brought thence the Princess Suanehilde, who seems to have become his mistress. In 730 he marched against Lantfrid, Duke of the Alemanna, whom he likewise brought into subjection, and thus Southern Germany once more became part of the Frankish Empire, as had Northern Germany during the first years of the reign. But at the extremity of the empire a dreadful storm was gathering. For several years the Moslems of Spain had been threatening Gaul. Banished thence in 721 by Duke Eudes, they had returned in 725 and penetrated as far as Burgundy, where they had destroyed Autun. Duke Eudes, unable to resist them, at length contented himself by negotiating with them, and to Othmar, one of their chiefs, he gave the hand of his daughter But this compromising alliance brought him into disfavour with Charles, who defeated him in 731, and the death of Othmar that same year again left Eudes at the mercy of Moslem enterprise. In 732 Abd-er-Rahman, Governor of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees at the head of an immense army, overcame Duke Eudes, and advanced as far as the Loire, pillaging and burning as he went. In October, 732, Charles met Abd-er-Rahman outside of Tours and defeated and slew him in a battle (the Battle of Poitiers) which must ever remain one of the great events in the history of the world, as upon its issue depended whether Christian Civilization should continue or Islam prevail throughout Europe. It was this battle, it is said, that gave Charles his name, Martel (Tudites) "The Hammer", because of the merciless way in which he smote the enemy.
The remainder of Charles Martel's reign was an uninterrupted series of triumphant combats. In 733-734 he suppressed the rebellion instigated by the Frisian duke, Bobo, who was slain in battle, and definitively subdued Friesland, which finally adopted Christianity. In 735, after the death of Eudes, Charles entered Aquitaine, quelled the revolt of Hatto and Hunold, sons of the deceased duke, and left the duchy to Hunold, to be held in fief (736). He then banished the Moslems from Arles and Avignon, defeated their army on the River Berre near Narbonne, and in 739 checked an uprising in Provence, the rebels being under the leadership of Maurontus. So great was Charles' power during the last years of his reign that he did not take the trouble to appoint a successor to King Thierry IV, who died in 737, but assumed full authority himself, governing without legal right. About a year before Charles died, Pope Gregory III, threatened by Luitprand, King of Lombardy, asked his help. Now Charles was Luitprand's ally because the latter had promised to assist him in the late war against the Moslems of Provence, and, moreover, the Frankish king may have already suffered from the malady that was to carry him off—two reasons that are surely sufficient to account for the fact that the pope's envoys departed without gaining the object of their errand. However, it would seem that, according to the terms of a public act published by Charlemagne, Charles had, at least in principle, agreed to defend the Roman Church, and death alone must have prevented him from fulfilling this agreement. The reign, which in the beginning was so full of bloody conflicts and later of such incessant strife, would have been an impossibility had not Charles procured means sufficient to attract and compensate his partisans. For this purpose he conceived the idea of giving them the usufruct of a great many ecclesiastical lands, and this spoliation is what is referred to as the secularization by Charles Martel. It was an expedient that could be excused without, however, being justified, and it was pardoned to a certain extent by the amnesty granted at the Council of Lestines, held under the sons of Charles Martel in 743. It must also be remembered that the Church remained the legal owner of the lands thus alienated. This spoliation and the conferring of the principal ecclesiastical dignities upon those who were either totally unworthy or else had naught but their military qualifications to recommend them—as, for instance, the assignment of the episcopal Sees of Reims of Reims and Trier to Milon—were not calculated to endear Charles Martel to the clergy of his time. Therefore, in the ninth century Hincmar of Reims related the story of the vision with which St. Eucher was said to have been favoured and which showed Charles in hell, to which he had been condemned for robbing the Church of its property.
But notwithstanding the almost exclusively warlike character of his reign, Charles Martel was not indifferent to the superior interests of civilization and Christianity. Like Napoleon after the French Revolution, upon emerging from the years 715-719, Charles, who had not only tolerated but perpetrated many an act of violence against the Church, set about the establishment of social order and endeavoured to restore the rights of the Catholic hierarchy. This explains the protection which in 723 he accorded St. Boniface (Winfrid), the great apostle of Germany, a protection all the more salutary as the saint himself explained to his old friend, Daniel of Winchester, that without it he could neither administer his church, defend his clergy, nor prevent idolatry. Hence Charles Martel shares, to a certain degree, the glory and merit of Boniface's great work of civilization. He died after having divided the Frankish Empire, as a patrimony between his two sons, Carloman and Pepin.