Born: c. 688
Died: 22 October 741
Birthplace: Hersal, Belgium
Best known as: The Frankish ruler who defeated the Muslims in 732
Charles Martel was a Frankish ruler whose military successes were a foundation of the Carolingian dynasty, who ruled what is now France until the tenth century. The illegitimate son of Mayor of the Palace Pepin of Herstal, Charles endured imprisonment at the hands of Pepin's widow, but by 718 he had assumed his father's place as the de facto ruler of Austrasia (the Merovingian rulers were kings in name only). Charles consolidated his power through military might -- he earned the name Martel, which means "The Hammer." His victory in October of 732 at the Battle of Tours is considered a turning point in European history because it stopped the Muslim advance from Spain. Charles died in 741 and divided control of his kingdom between his two sons, Pepin (known as Pepin the Short) and Carloman. Pepin was the first of the Carolingian line to claim the title king; Pepin's son was Charlemagne.
Extra credit: Because the battle was fought between Tours and Poitiers, it is known as both the Battle of Tours and the Battle of Poitiers.
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