Charles the Hammer and the Battle of Tours

The greatest failure of the past two-thousand years.

Charles the Hammer and the Battle of Tours

From the History Atlas of Europe (Macmillan).

Before the recent turn of the century, the popular media was focused on highlighting the successes of not only the past year, but the past hundred years. While everyone else was pontificating about the “hundred greatest” this or the “hundred greatest” that, we at Failure magazine decided to present something a little different for your consideration—our choice for the most monumental failure of the past two millenniums. Ironically, our pick—Charles Martel’s victory at the Battle of Tours in the year 732 A.D.—is considered by most Westerners to be a great success, and the so-called victory made Martel (a.k.a. Charles the Hammer), one of the heroes of European history.

At first glance, the results of the battle seem clear cut, as the Arab defeat marked the turning point in their unsuccessful attempt to conquer the world. But what would have happened had Charles been defeated at the Battle of Tours and the Arabs went on to overrun the rest of Europe? It is not only possible, but probable, that the development of modern science and technology would have been accelerated by several hundred years, making our lives that much better than they are today.

Central to the argument are the differences that existed between Arab and European cultures in the ninth century and beyond. Go with us back in time, as Failure history writer Jack Stesney recounts the circumstances leading up to the Battle of Tours and theorizes about what might have been if the Arabs were victorious.

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