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What was the significance of the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D.?

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Quick Answer

Some historians say that the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D. halted the spread of Islam in Europe, whereas others say that it merely helped the Franks consolidate power in Europe. Others argue that it had little lasting impact on world history.

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The Battle of Tours took place between the cities of Poitiers and Tours in central France. The Muslim armies of the Umayyad Caliphate had conquered the Iberian Peninsula and were advancing through Gaul. They encountered little sustained opposition. However, the Frankish leader, Charles Martel, saw the threat of the Umayyad armies and prepared accordingly. Seizing church lands to fund his endeavors, Charles Martel hired soldiers and trained this standing army into a formidable professional fighting force. He defeated the Umayyad forces and killed their leader, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi. The victory forced the invaders to flee back to their redoubts in Iberia.

Early historians, such as Edward Gibbon, claimed that this victory secured the status of Christianity in Europe, saying that a Muslim victory would have led to the Islamification of the European continent. However, many modern historians, such as William E. Watson, emphasize the importance of the victory in local politics, since it assured the political and military dominance of the Franks in Gaul and in Europe at large. Other historians, such as Tomaž Mastnak, argue that the Frankish victory had no significant macrohistorical impact because the Muslim armies were not in Gaul to conquer it, but merely to plunder.

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