In 711 A.D. a wave of Berber Moors crossed the straight of Gibralter and swept into Hispania. The Visigoth kingdom, which had held sway on the Iberian Peninsula for almost 300 years, was divided by a recent civil war, and had neither the leadership, nor unity to resist the invasion. Stories of treachery by disgruntled Jews and exiled enemies of Roderic, the Visigoth king, abounded. It was even said that Count Julian, a fierce rival of the Visigoth king, had invited the Moors to help overthrow the hated Roderic, and that several important towns, including Toledo, had turned in favor of the conquerors. In any case, the Visigoth resistance was utterly inadequate, and after making a desperate stand at the Guadalete River, the national government collapsed. Several towns resisted the invaders and were besieged, but there was no further organized resistance from the Visigoths, and within a few years the Moors had swept over most of the Iberian Peninsula.
Although the Moors met with no significant Visigoth resistance, when they ventured into territory north of the Pyrenees they encountered the more formidable Franks. Their first defeat at the hands of the Franks was delivered by Odo, the Duke of Aquitaine, who rescued the city of Toulouse from a desperate seige in 721. The Moors were so severely defeated in this action that they did not make another attempt to invade Gaul for ten years. When a new Moorish governor came to power in 730 however, he raised another army and prepared for a new invasion of Gaul, with the obvious ambition of conquering all of civilized Europe for the Mohammedans. The Moslem army invaded Gaul in 732, took the city of Bordeaux by storm, and obliterated Odo's army of Franks at the battle of Garonne River. Odo escaped and sought the help of Charles Martel, the hero of the battle of Tours. This battle, which is considered on of the most significant in western history, was very hard fought and was reputed to have lasted for several days, but ended in a complete victory for the Christians and the death of the Moorish commander.
The Battle of Tours effectively ended the Moslem incursions into Gaul. The following decade saw the fall of the Umayyad dynasty altogether, and the establishment of a Moorish dynasty in Cordova independent of the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad. During the following fifty years, the tables turned, when a large army of Franks under Charlemagne crossed the Pyrenees into Hispania and attacked Moslem kingdoms in the region. The depredations of the Franks against the Moors ended only in 778 when a rebellion in Saxony caused Charlemagne to recall his army, but by that time, the impulse of the Moors in Spain to carry their conquests into the Frankish dominions of Gauls was permanently checked.
|Battle of Guadalete
Fought July 19 to 26, 711, between 90,000 Spaniards, under Roderic, and 12,000 Moslems, with a numerous force of African auxiliaries, under Tarik. On the fourth day the Moslems suffered a severe repulse, leaving 16,000 dead on the field, but the defection of Count Julian, with a large part of the King's forces, revived their courage, and finally the Christians were routed and dispersed. Roderic fled from the field, but was drowned in crossing the Guadalquivir. This victory marks the fall of the Gothic monarchy, and the beginning of the Moorish domination in Spain. Also called the Battle of Xeres.
|Siege of Merida
This place was besieged in 712 by 18,000 Moors, under Musa. After a defeat in the open plain before the city, the Spaniards made a long and obstinate defense, which cost the besiegers many lives, but in the end they were forced by famine to surrender.
|Battle of Covadonga (
Fought 717 near Covadonga between less than 1000 Christian Goths and Romans under Pelayo, and a much larger body of Moors under Al Kamah. The Christians drew the Moslems into an ambush and decisively routed the Moors. The Moors withdrew and left Pelayo in his mountain fastness, which became the foundation of the Christian kingdom of Austria.
|Battle of Toulouse
Fought June 9, 721 between a Frankish army led by Odo, the Duke of Aquitaine, and the Moors, led by the Umayyad governor. The Moors besieged Toulouse, the largest city in the region but Odo returned with an army and launched a surprise attack on the unprepared Moors and nearly annihilated them.
|Battle of Tours
Fought 732, between the Franks, under Charles Martel, and the Saracens, under Abderrahman Ibu Abdillah. The battle lasted several days—according to the Arab chroniclers, two, while the Christian accounts say seven—and ended in the fall of Abderrahman, when the Saracens, discouraged by the death of their leader, owned defeat, and fled, losing heavily in the pursuit.
|Berber general who defeated the Visigoths at the Battle of Gaudalete.|
|Umayyad governor of North Africa who organized and directed the Moslem invasion of the Iberian peninsula.|
|Last king of Visigoth Spain. Died at the Battle of Guadalete.|
|Visigoth hero who survived Moorish conquest in 711 and founded the Christian kingdom of Asturias.|
|Visigoth general who used a ruse in order to make peace with the Moorish conquerors.|
|Legendary Spanish hero during the era of Charlemagne who battled both Moors and Franks.|
|Frankish King who defeated the Moors at the Battle of Tours.|
|Gothic Knight who defended Cordova after the fall of the Visigoths at Guadalete.|
|Duke of Aquitaine who defeated the Moors at Toulouse in 721, but ten years later, was defeated.|
|Governor of Andalusia who led an army into Gaul, but was defeated by Martel at Tours.|
|Moorish Invasion in||The Romance of Spanish History by John S.C. Abbott|
|The Moorish Conquest in||A Child's History of Spain by John Bonner|
|The Conquest in||A Child's History of Spain by John Bonner|
|Merovings and Carlovings in||France: Peeps at History by John Finnemore|
|Mohammed and the Mohammedans in||The Story of the Middle Ages by Samuel B. Harding|
|Beginnings of Spain in||Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain by Charles F. Horne|
|Spain Under the Moors in||Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain by Charles F. Horne|
|Roderick and the Saracens in||Barbarian and Noble by Marion Florence Lansing|
|Sluggard Kings in||The Story of France by Mary Macgregor|
|Conquest of Spain by the Arabs in||The Story of Europe by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall|
|Defeat of the Saracens—Rise of the Carolingians in||The Story of Europe by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall|
|Enchanted Palace in||Historical Tales: Spanish by Charles Morris|
|Battle of Guadalete in||Historical Tales: Spanish by Charles Morris|
|Pelistes, the Defender of Cordova in||Historical Tales: Spanish by Charles Morris|
|Stratagem of Theodomir in||Historical Tales: Spanish by Charles Morris|
|Cave of Covadonga in||Historical Tales: Spanish by Charles Morris|
|Invasion from Africa in||Spain: A History for Young Readers by Frederick A. Ober|
|Charles Martel Repels the Mohammedans at Tours in||European Hero Stories by Eva March Tappan|
|Tours in||The Boy's Book of Battles by Eric Wood|
Charles Martel at Tours
in Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Charles Martel defeats the Moors
in The Story of the Middle Ages
The Franks at Tours Searching the Arab Camp
in Greatest Nations - Germany
in Back Matter
Charles Martel at Tours
in Back Matter
Tarik laying his conquests at the feet of Musa
in Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain
Because of the heavy blows Duke Charles showered upon the saracens he was called Charles the Hammer
in The Story of France
Charles Martel in the Battle of Tours
in European Hero Stories