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Old July 22nd, 2012, 11:47 PM   #1

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Was the Battle of Tours (Poitiers) decisive ?


This battle was fought in 732 AD where the Franks under Charles Martel, defeated an Umayyad's force under Abdul Rahman Al-Ghafqi.

Its significance is sometimes debatable,

Opinion 1 - That the victory was decisive, and was able to halt further Arab conqests in Europe, thereyby saving Christianity.

Opinion 2 - That the victory was a major one but actually "Insignificant" as the Muslim invasion was actually a large raiding force with no 'Actual' intention of conquering the Frankish Kingdom.
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 11:54 PM   #2

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Option 2. Comet and I had a long conversation about this a while back with another member who argued for option 1.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 12:28 AM   #3

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I don't think 80,000 men capturing and holding cities can reasonably be described as a 'raiding party'.

Charles Martel spent his life basically expelling Muslims from France - why were they still there if they were just there to raid?
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 12:34 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by Sargon of Akkad View Post
I don't think 80,000 men capturing and holding cities can reasonably be described as a 'raiding party'.

Charles Martel spent his life basically expelling Muslims from France - why were they still there if they were just there to raid?
There were not 80,000 this number is way too exaggerated. Arabs never mustered even half of this number for the whole Andalus campaign. you know, even the large Arab invasion to conquer Constantinople (a more important conqest) didn't reach to 80,000
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 12:37 AM   #5

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Hey Sargon....that's the abstract on this view from Wiki....have a look.

Objecting to the significance of Tours as a world-altering event
Other historians disagree with this assessment. Alessandro Barbero[56] writes, "Today, historians tend to play down the significance of the battle of Poitiers, pointing out that the purpose of the Arab force defeated by Charles Martel was not to conquer the Frankish kingdom, but simply to pillage the wealthy monastery of St-Martin of Tours".[57] Similarly, Tomaž Mastnak[58] writes:
“Modern historians have constructed a myth presenting this victory as having saved Christian Europe from the Muslims. Edward Gibbon, for example, called Charles Martel the savior of Christendom and the battle near Poitiers an encounter that changed the history of the world... This myth has survived well into our own times... Contemporaries of the battle, however, did not overstate its significance. The continuators of Fredegar's chronicle, who probably wrote in the mid-eighth century, pictured the battle as just one of many military encounters between Christians and Saracens - moreover, as only one in a series of wars fought by Frankish princes for booty and territory... One of Fredegar's continuators presented the battle of Poitiers as what it really was: an episode in the struggle between Christian princes as the Carolingians strove to bring Aquitaine under their rule.[59]
The Christian Lebanese-American historian Philip Hitti believes that "In reality nothing was decided on the battlefield of Tours. The Moslem wave, already a thousand miles from its starting point in Gibraltar — to say nothing about its base in al-Qayrawan — had already spent itself and reached a natural limit."[60]
The view that the battle has no great significance is perhaps best summarized by Franco Cardini[61] says in Europe and Islam
“Although prudence needs to be exercised in minimizing or 'demythologizing' the significance of the event, it is no longer thought by anyone to have been crucial. The 'myth' of that particular military engagement survives today as a media cliché, than which nothing is harder to eradicate. It is well known how the propaganda put about by the Franks and the papacy glorified the victory that took place on the road between Tours and Poitiers...[62]
In their introduction to The Reader's Companion to Military History Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker summarise this side of the modern view of the Battle of Tours by saying "The study of military history has undergone drastic changes in recent years. The old drums-and-bugles approach will no longer do. Factors such as economics, logistics, intelligence, and technology receive the attention once accorded solely to battles and campaigns and casualty counts. Words like "strategy" and "operations" have acquired meanings that might not have been recognizable a generation ago. Changing attitudes and new research have altered our views of what once seemed to matter most. For example, several of the battles that Edward Shepherd Creasy listed in his famous 1851 book The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World rate hardly a mention here, and the confrontation between Muslims and Christians at Poitiers-Tours in 732, once considered a watershed event, has been downgraded to a raid in force."[63]
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 12:39 AM   #6

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To be consistent, this is the argument in favour of Option 1

Supporting the significance of Tours as a world-altering event
William E. Watson, strongly supports Tours as a macrohistorical event, but distances himself from the rhetoric of Gibbon and Drubeck, writing, for example, of the battle's importance in Frankish, and world, history in 1993:

“There is clearly some justification for ranking Tours-Poitiers among the most significant events in Frankish history when one considers the result of the battle in light of the remarkable record of the successful establishment by Muslims of Islamic political and cultural dominance along the entire eastern and southern rim of the former Christian, Roman world. The rapid Muslim conquest of Palestine, Syria, Egypt and the North African coast all the way to Morocco in the seventh century resulted in the permanent imposition by force of Islamic culture onto a previously Christian and largely non-Arab base. The Visigothic kingdom fell to Muslim conquerors in a single battle on the Rio Barbate in 711, and the Hispanic Christian population took seven long centuries to regain control of the Iberian peninsula. The Reconquista, of course, was completed in 1492, only months before Columbus received official backing for his fateful voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Had Charles Martel suffered at Tours-Poitiers the fate of King Roderic at the Rio Barbate, it is doubtful that a "do-nothing" sovereign of the Merovingian realm could have later succeeded where his talented major domus had failed. Indeed, as Charles was the progenitor of the Carolingian line of Frankish rulers and grandfather of Charlemagne, one can even say with a degree of certainty that the subsequent history of the West would have proceeded along vastly different currents had ‘Abd ar-Rahman been victorious at Tours-Poitiers in 732.[46]


Watson adds, "After examining the motives for the Muslim drive north of the Pyrenees, one can attach a macrohistorical significance to the encounter between the Franks and Andalusi Muslims at Tours-Poitiers, especially when one considers the attention paid to the Franks in Arabic literature and the successful expansion of Muslims elsewhere in the medieval period."

Victorian writer John Henry Haaren says in Famous Men of the Middle Ages, "The battle of Tours, or Poitiers, as it should be called, is regarded as one of the decisive battles of the world. It decided that Christians, and not Moslems, should be the ruling power in Europe."[47] Bernard Grun delivers this assessment in his "Timetables of History", reissued in 2004: "In 732 Charles Martel's victory over the Arabs at the Battle of Tours stems the tide of their westward advance."[48]

Historian and humanist Michael Grant[49] lists the battle of Tours in the macrohistorical dates of the Roman era. Historian Norman Cantor who specialized in the medieval period, teaching and writing at Columbia and New York University, says in 1993: "It may be true that the Arabs had now fully extended their resources and they would not have conquered France, but their defeat (at Tours) in 732 put a stop to their advance to the north."[50]

Military historian Robert W. Martin considers Tours "one of the most decisive battles in all of history."[51] Additionally, historian Hugh Kennedy[52] says "it was clearly significant in establishing the power of Charles Martel and the Carolingians in France, but it also had profound consequences in Muslim Spain. It signaled the end of the ghanima (booty) economy."[53]

Military Historian Paul Davis argued in 1999, "had the Muslims been victorious at Tours, it is difficult to suppose what population in Europe could have organized to resist them."[54] Likewise, George Bruce in his update of Harbottle's classic military history Dictionary of Battles maintains that "Charles Martel defeated the Moslem army effectively ending Moslem attempts to conquer western Europe."[55]

History professor Antonio Santosuosso puts forth an opinion on Charles, Tours, and the subsequent campaigns against Rahman's son in 736-737, presenting that these later defeats of invading Muslim armies were at least as important as Tours in their defense of Western Christendom and the preservation of Western monasticism, the monasteries of which were the centers of learning which ultimately led Europe out of her Middle Ages. He also makes an argument, after studying the Arab histories of the period, that these were clearly armies of invasion, sent by the Caliph not just to avenge Tours, but to begin the end of Christian Europe and bring it into the Caliphate.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 01:25 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essa View Post
There were not 80,000 this number is way too exaggerated. Arabs never mustered even half of this number for the whole Andalus campaign. you know, even the large Arab invasion to conquer Constantinople (a more important conqest) didn't reach to 80,000
Even if there were 'merely' half the number, why were they holding cities if they weren't planning to stay? Why did they have to be forcibly removed if they were just raiding?
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 01:49 AM   #8

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Even if there were 'merely' half the number, why were they holding cities if they weren't planning to stay? Why did they have to be forcibly removed if they were just raiding?
I believe holding cities is strategically different than a "Complete Conquest" where you seek to achive full eliminatation of your foe.....there were no serious attempt to venture into France (on a large scale) and destroy the Kingdom itself.

Besides, a determining factor is scale.....Napoleon's invasion of Russia, Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, the 3 Attempts by Arabs on Constantinople...all qualify as a full-scale invasion as the whole nation was geared for it with significant mobilization.

At that time, Umayyads had forces tied in central Asia and China, in India, in Anatolia against the Byzantines and in Al-Andalus....so that's why some scholars consider the incursions into France as merely an extension of the Andalus emirate.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 02:17 AM   #9

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I believe holding cities is strategically different than a "Complete Conquest" where you seek to achive full eliminatation of your foe.....there were no serious attempt to venture into France (on a large scale) and destroy the Kingdom itself.
No, it's well along the road to complete conquest. You don't spend the time and effort to storm cities and destroy armies if you're just on a raiding mission.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Essa View Post
Besides, a determining factor is scale.....Napoleon's invasion of Russia, Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, the 3 Attempts by Arabs on Constantinople...all qualify as a full-scale invasion as the whole nation was geared for it with significant mobilization.

At that time, Umayyads had forces tied in central Asia and China, in India, in Anatolia against the Byzantines and in Al-Andalus....so that's why some scholars consider the incursions into France as merely an extension of the Andalus emirate.
That just speaks to their abundant manpower.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 03:00 AM   #10

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[QUOTE=Sargon of Akkad;1137693]No, it's well along the road to complete conquest. You don't spend the time and effort to storm cities and destroy armies if you're just on a raiding mission.

That's true if it materializes to a full scale invasion not just cities.

A good example would be the Umayyad-Khazar wars in about the same period as the Battle of Tours.

Khazar raids in 730 AD - 737 AD through northern Umayyad region (modern day Iraq and Iran) have compelled Caliph Hesham to commit a force as large as 100,000 to recover all areas, avenge the previous defeat and put an end to Khazar threat....So, the recapture of some cities led to a final confrontation which saw the Khazars defeated and Umayyad forces entering the capital Atil.....

That, for me was a large/significant scale invasion which saw much more resources allocated by the Umayyad caliphate. Bearing in mind that the Battle of Tours and subsequent stuggle against the Franks took place in the same period, and the fact that Caliph Hesham had to deal with rebillions...precluded the Caliphate to mount a signifcant effort against the Franks.
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