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Charles Martel

Charles Martel (märtĕlˈ) [key] [O.Fr., = Charles the Hammer], 688?–741, Frankish ruler, illegitimate son of Pepin of Heristal and grandfather of Charlemagne. After the death of his father (714) he seized power in Austrasia from Pepin's widow, who was ruling as regent for her grandsons, and became mayor of the palace. He subsequently subdued the W Frankish kingdom of Neustria and began the reconquest of Burgundy, Aquitaine, and Provence. Charles Martel defeated the Spanish Muslims at the battle of Tours (732–33) and began the military campaigns that reestablished the Franks as the rulers of Gaul. Although he never assumed the title of king, he divided the Frankish lands, like a king, between his sons Pepin the Short and Carloman.

See F. Lot, The End of the Ancient World and the Beginnings of the Middle Ages (1927, tr. 1961); E. James, The Origins of France: Clovis and the Capetians, A.D. 500–1000 (1982).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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