Europe, as many people know it, is a great, big continent. Many of the most famous tourist attractions are located in Europe, as well as many famous landmarks. Within this big continent, there are various countries, religions, and different people. However, such a vast continent containing a number of famous attractions and landmarks comes with great history. A number of battles were fought in Europe, and each battle impacted Europe in one way or another. Though the Battle of Tours is not the most talked-about battle that occurred in Europe in its history, it has had a great impact on the continent.
This battle, fought by the Franks against Muslim invaders from Spain, occurred in 732 AD. The Muslims were overconfident in their abilities and their army, but did not think much of the Franks until they came face to face with them. In the days leading up to the battle, the Muslims were looking to capture land in hopes of expanding the Islamic Empire. They were successful in capturing the Iberian Peninsula, and continued looking to take land from there, moving north as they did so. The Muslims were able to establish a capital in Narbonne shortly after they crossed the Iberian Peninsula. They started to move onto pieces of land in western Europe. Because the Muslims had captured so much land, including Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula, and had set up a capital in Narbonne with such ease, there was a lot of confidence surrounding the Muslim army.
Musa, who ruled the Muslim army at the time, said, “Never has a company from my army been beaten.” His successor, Abd al-Rahman, continued to show confidence as the Muslim army plowed their way through Europe to reach France. His intentions were filled with avarice, for he wanted to obtain the rumored riches that were located in Europe, primarily from the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours, located in France. However, what the Muslims were not ready for was a powerful army with an intelligent ruler. The Muslim army was met by the Frankish army. The Frankish army was led by Charles Martel, and his grandson, Charlemagne, would benefit a lot from the win in this battle. Although the precise location of the Battle of Tours is not known, many historians believed that the Muslims fought the Franks near Tours, hence the name given to the battle. Although the Franks were greatly outnumbered in the amount of people on their army, they stood strong with a powerful strategy that was able to take down the Muslim army, who had a few thousand more people than the Franks.
Three Accounts on the Battle of Tours, a primary source, details what the battle was like. These accounts were written from the perspective of the Muslims, with one of them being a Spanish Christian living under Muslim rule. In one of the accounts, “From An Arabian Chronicler”, it shows what some of the leaders of the Muslims, like Musa, thought of the Franks years before the historic battle. It says, “’They,’ replied Musa, ‘are a folk right numerous, and full of might: brave and impetuous in the attack, but cowardly and craven in event of defeat…. Never has a company from my army been beaten. And never have the Moslems hesitated to follow me when I have led them.’” What Musa thought of the Franks was that they were brave and mighty while attacking, but they did not take defeat well.
In addition, he doubted that the Franks would be able to defeat the Muslims, and he claimed that his army had never been beaten before. This shows that he believed that his army was stronger than the Frankish army, and although he did say that they were brave in battle, it shows that Musa thought that the Muslims would be able to defeat them without doubt. The quote also shows his confidence, possibly overconfidence, in his own ability to lead an army. He says that the army has always followed him when he has led them.
Overconfidence is sometimes good, and sometimes bad, and in this case, it led to the Muslims not knowing what they were up against. In addition, the Muslims underestimated the power of the battle strategy that the Franks had, even if the Franks did have less people. n another primary source, “Anon Arab Chronicler”, the chronicler writes, “And Abderrahman trusted in the valour of his soldiers, and in the good fortune which had ever attended him. But such defect of discipline always is fatal to armies. So Abderrabman and his host attacked Tours to gain still more spoil, and they fought against it so fiercely that they stormed the city almost before the eyes of the army that came to save it; and the fury and the cruelty of the Moslems towards the inhabitants of the city were like the fury and cruelty of raging tigers.”
Abd al Rahman was the successor of Musa, meaning he ruled after Musa died. This quote shows how the Muslim army decided to fight the Franks. The Anon Arab writes that Abd al Rahman trusted that the bravery of his soldiers and the good luck that was always with him when he fought in battles would pull them through to win against the Franks, therefore being able to reach the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours. The quote from the primary source shows that Abd al Rahman thought that the Muslims would be able to take down the Franks just as easily as they defeated the other armies who they had defeated in order to gain more land because the quote claims he had no intention of switching up his strategy to battle the Franks. The quote also says that the Muslims just charged at the Franks, most likely due to Abd al Rahman taking advantage of the fact that he had many more people than the Frankish did.
The Muslims wore little armor and relied on swords as their weapon, compared to the Franks, who each wore around seventy pounds of armor and used various types of weapons in battle. Because of this, the Muslims were more mobile than the Franks, but the Franks had more weapons that were of more use to them. This is evident as the Muslim army lost around 10,000 people, while the Franks lost around 1,000 people. The Muslims lost to the Franks in the Battle of Tours, leading to a historic turning point for Europe and for the Muslims, since the Franks’ win stopped the expansion of the Islamic Empire in Europe.
According to some sources, the Muslims and Franks waited for the other to charge for around six or seven days, but the fighting aspect of the battle lasted only one day. Through the primary sources, it can be seen that the Muslims were extremely confident in the ability of their army. Although the Muslims were able to take a lot of land in western Europe, they were unable to get past Charles Martel and the Frankish army. Because the Muslims were overconfident, they should have thought more strategically even though they had more people on their side, even if Charles Martel was a very well trained ruler. If the Franks had more armor than the Muslims, a better strategy would have still put up a better fight against the Franks than just charging and trusting in the good luck that was always at Abd al Rahman’s side. Had Abd al Rahman decided to get his army together and discuss whether they should take up a new strategy, the outcome of the battle may have been different.