Battle of Toulouse (721)

The Battle of Toulouse of 721 was a battle fought between the Frankish army led by Duke Odo of Aquitaine and the invading Muslim army of the governor of al-Andalus during the Early Middle Ages. It took place in Toulouse, France, in 721 AD. The result of the Battle of Toulouse was a victory of the Frankish army over the islamic hordes that had besieged the city of Toulouse. Thus, the Germanic Frankish forces hindered the spread of Islam throughout Europe. This first Muslim attempt to destroy Europe had taken place three centuries before the Crusades.

The governor of Muslim Spain (al-Andalus), Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani, had built up a strong army from North Africa, Yemen, and Syria to conquer Aquitaine, which was a large duchy in the southwest of modern-day France, formally under Frankish sovereignty, but in practice almost independent in the hands of the dukes of Aquitaine. Having marched into France through the Pyrenees mountains, Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani besieged the city of Toulouse, then Aquitaine’s most important city. Highly outnumbered, Duke Odo of Aquitaine, known as Eudes, stealthily left the city to find help. He returned three months later, just before the city was about to fall to the enemy, and defeated the Muslim invaders on June 9, 721, at what is now known as the Battle of Toulouse.

The victory at the Battle of Toulouse was essentially the result of a classic enveloping movement by Duke Odo. After Odo originally fled, the Muslims became overconfident, and instead of maintaining strong outer defenses around their siege camp, and continuously scouting, did neither. Thus, when Eudes returned, he was able to launch an almost totally surprise attack on the siege force, scattering it at the first attack, and slaughtering units which were resting, or fled without weapons or armour. Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani managed to get away with a fraction of his forces, but died shortly thereafter.

When Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi became the new governor of Al-Andalus in 730 AD, he rebuilt the Muslim army, again raising levies from North Africa, Yemen, and Syria and invaded Gaul in strength in 732. This time Odo of Aquitaine tried to stop him at Bordeaux, but was defeated, and Bordeaux was plundered. But Charles Martel, Mayor of the Palace of Frankish kings, prepared for this greater Islamic invasion mounted by Abdul Rahman and thoroughly defeated the Muslim army at the Battle of Poitiers in 732 AD. Thus Martel became hailed as the savior of Europe, and of the Church itself. Martel’s later campaigns against the Muslims in 736-7 almost certainly assured the development of Europe and of the Roman Catholic Church.

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Thor is Carlos Benito Camacho, the manager and writer of this blog.