THE SARCENS CHECKED
HEN Pepin died, his son Charles cleverly escaped from
the prison in which his stepmother was vainly trying to
keep him so that her son might be mayor of the palace
in his stead. Charles then placed himself
 at the head of an army, conquered the rebellious German
tribes, and had barely put state affairs in some order
when he heard that a new danger was threatening France.
This was the coming of the Saracens, an Eastern
nation, who wished to force every one to give up the
Christian religion and to adopt that taught by their
Instead of merely preaching to people, and thus trying
to persuade them to do as they wished, the Saracens set
out from Arabia to convert the world, sword in hand. As
they were very brave, they soon conquered all the
northern part of Africa; then, crossing the Strait of
Gilbraltar, they swept all over Spain, and even ravaged
Provence, robbing houses and churches, and killing and
burning wherever they went.
Now they had sworn to conquer all France and had begun
by defeating the Duke of Aquitania. The Church of St.
Martin at Tours (toor) being one of the oldest an
richest in the country, Charles felt sure that the
Saracens would soon come to sack that. He therefore
crossed the Loire River with a large army, determined
to check their advance and protect the shrine.
The two forces met between the cities of Tours and
Poiters, so the battle fought there (732) is sometimes
called by one name and sometimes by the other. Both
armies were so large and so strong, it is said, that
they stood opposite each other seven days before daring
to begin the famous battle which was to decide the fate
of France and of all Europe.
Throughout this encounter, Chrles fought with such
courage, and struck such mighty blows, that he earned
the nickname of "Martel'," or "The Hammer." We are even
 told that Charles Martel killed the king of the
Caracens with his own hand and that his example
inspired his men to wonderful deeds of valor.
At dark, both armies retreated into their camps to
rest, fully expecting to renew the struggle on the
morrow. But when the Saracens found out how many
thousands of men they had already lost, they decided to
slip away quietly during the night, leaving their booty
behind them and taking with them nothing but their arms
When morning dawned, Charles and his men waited in vain
for the enemy to come out of their tents and renew the
fight. Finally the Franks advanced with great care, for
they feared a trick on the part of the Saracens. But
they were amazed to find the camp empty, with untold
treasures scattered all over the ground, and it is said
that they collected in a few minutes more wealth than
they could carry away!
The Saracens were so discouraged by this terrible
defeat that they gave up all hope of conquering France.
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