The seeds of the European Crusades into the Middle East were sown the day the Islamic founder Muhammad was born. When the religion of peace was being establish its leader began a violent rampage throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa and Western and Eastern Europe. Islamic armies swarmed into these territories crushing all who stood before them enslaving or murdering any who resisted. In Western Europe Spain fell easily to the heathens and they were not stopped until they ran into a French Prince named Charles Martel. Had it not been for Martel’s military genius it is probable that Islamic forces would have completely conquered Western Europe. Because of his leadership and actions his son, Pepin the Short became King of France and Martel became known lovingly as “The Hammer.”
Charles “The Hammer” Martel forever changed Western Europe with his many battleground victories against the maundering Islamic armies but he was every bit a skilled politician as he was a military genius. Charles realized that Europe needed uniting to defend itself from invading Muslims. It was Martel that established Frances connection with Rome and it was Martels grandchild, son of Pepin the Short who would eventually unite Europe under Christendom if often by force.
Some people are under the impression that Christendom was the aggressor in what is now simply referred to as The Crusades. In truth the forces of Islam were the new kids on the block and it was the Islamic armies who invaded and conquered Christian held lands including their own most holy of places Jerusalem. All of this beginning more than 700 years after the birth of Christ. Romans, who later converted to Christianity had successfully managed the area for a very long time.
It is natural that at some point Christendom would seek to have its holy lands returned to them one way or another. Yet many historians have come to the conclusion that the Crusades and the desire to retake the Holy Land was more of a motivating factor than it was the real goal. Many believe that the crusades helped to keep the ongoing conflicts between Europe and the Islamic horde away from Europe and in the enemies backyard rather than their own.
King Charlemagne of France is often credited with making Europe Christian and it is Charlemagne the grandson of Charles “The Hammer” Martel that most often comes to mind when the subject of The Crusades is on the table.
But the real truth is it wasn’t a French King who changed Europe but an illegitimate French prince and that French prince saved the civilized world. Charles made sure that his sons knew what the Muslims were and his youngest who became King of France made sure his son knew what they were and knew how they had to be dealt with and what it would take to do so. A united Europe united in one cause, survival.
And so Europe and Western culture survived because of one man.
There is a lesson to be learned here not just about real history, but about where the change in the world really lies.