HAMMER, Mayor Charles Martel - I29965

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Mayor Charles Martel, "The Hammer"

[1] Died 16 Dec 714. After the death of his father there was a period of anarchy. His nephews, grandchildren of Plectrude, were proclaimed rulers and Charles was thrown into prison. Austrasia (eastern portion of France) and Neustria (western France) were still separate. He escaped and defeated the Neustrians at Ambleve in 716 and at Vincy the following year. He also took the title of mayor of the palace of Austrasia, thus uniting the northern part of the country. In 719 he forced Duke Odo of Aquitaine to recognize his suzerainty. He also became renowned for his victories over the Moors. They had conquered Spain in 711 and later crossed the pyrenees and advanced on Gaul as far as Tours. His brilliant victory, in Oct 732, over the Moors ended the last of the Arab invasion and led them in southern France. His victories over the Germans resulted in the annexation of Frisia, the end of the duchy of Bavaria, intervention in Bavaria and the payment of tribute by the Saxons.

Pope Gregory III attempted to gain his aid against the Lombards but was unsuccessful. For a few years before his death there was no king of the Merovingian line, and in 741 he divided the kingdom between his two sons as though he were master of the realm. [2]

Charles Martel was born in 690 and was a martel and Major Domus of Austrasia with a title of Duke Majored of the monarchy from 715 to 718. He had defeated the Neustrians at Ambleve in 716, Vinchy in 717, and Soissons in 719, making himself the master of Gaul. He then reestablished Frankish authority in southern Gaul, having stopped a Muslim force from Spain at Poiters, in 732.[3] Our Frankish chieftain ancestor then defeated Muslim invaders in 733 at the battle of Tours in central France. At the time, the battle was only another skirmish in the struggle between Christians and Muslims, but in retrospect, it looms as one of the great battles of history; this Frankish victory halted Arab expansion in Europe. Between 735-738, he succeeded in driving the Saxons across the Rhine, and reestablished Frankish authority over the southeast provinces and Germany. Charles Martel held the real power in the Frankish kingdom. His Merovingian King Theodoric IV was a king in name only. At Theodoric's death, Charles left the throne vacant.

Charles Martel encouraged Anglo Saxon missionary activity, seeing it as a means to consolidate the Frankish empire; this undertaking was supported by the papacy. His kingdom was divided between his two legitimate sons, Carloman (he abdicated in 747 for a monastic life) and Pepin III (The Short).


  1. Ref Number: 625 Line of Ephraim Charles Martel of Heristal - Mayor of Austrasia and Neustria 679.
  2. Ref: Johnson, A Concise History of France
  3. Ref: McKay, Hill, Buckler, A History of Western Society, Boston: Houghton Miffin County, 1987), pp. 232-3. Encyclopedia Britannica Macropedia, 1989 ed. S.v. "France, The Merovingians."