Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/181

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175
BATTL£ OF TOURS.


liar ferocity the Christianized Germans on the left bank of the Rhine, Charles Martel added experienced skill to his natural courage, and he had also formed a militia of veterans among the Franks. Hallam has thrown out a doubt whether, in our admi- ration of his victoiy at Tours, we do not judge a little too much by the event, and whether thefe was not rashness in his risking the fate of France on the result of a general battle with the in- vaders. But when we remember that Charles had no standing army, and the independent spirit, of the Frank warriors who fol- lowed his standard, it seems most probable that it was not in his power to adopt the cautious policy of watching the invaders, and wearing out their strength by delay. So dreadful and so wide- spread were the ravages of the Saracenic light cavalry through- out Gaul, that it must have been impossible to restrain for any length of time the indignant ardor of the Franks. And, even if Charles could have persuaded his men to look tamely on while the Arabs stormed more towns and desolated more districts, he could not have kept an army together when the usual period of a military expedition had expired. If, indeed, the Arab account of the disorganization of the Moslem forces be correct, the battle was as well timed on the part of Charles, as it was, beyond all question, well fought.

The monkish chroniclers, from whom we are obliged to glean a narrative of this memorable campaign, bear full evidence to the terror which the Saracen invasion inspired, and to the agony of that great struggle. The Saracens, say they, and their king, who was called Abdirames, came out of Spain, with all their wives, and their children, and their substance, in such great mul- titudes that no man could reckon or estimate them. They brought with them all their armor, and whatever they had, as if they were thenceforth always to dwell in France.*

Then Abderrahman, seeing the land filled with the multi- tude of his army, pierces through the mountains, tramples over rough and level ground, plunders far into the country of the Franks, and smites all with the sword, insomuch that when

  • " Lots issirent d'Espaigne li Sarrazins, et un leur Roi qui avoit nom

Abdirames, et ont leur fames et leur enfans et toute leur substance en si grand plente que nus ne le prevoit nombrer ne estimer : tout leur hamois et quanques 11 a^oient ameoement avec entz, aussi comme si ils deossent toujonra mes habiter en France."