• Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia (715-741)
  • Mayor of the Palace of Neustria (718-741)
  • King of the Franks (737-741)
  • Victor: Battle of Tours - 732 AD


Charles Martel, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, Mayor of the Palace of Neustria, was born 23 August 686 in Herstal, Belgium to Pepin of Herstal (635-714) and Alpaida (c640-714) and died 22 October 741 Quierzy-sur-Oise, France of unspecified causes. He married Rotrude of Treves (690-724) . He married Swanachild of Agilolfings (c700-) .

Charles Martel (c. 688[1] – 22 October 741) was a Frankish statesman and military leader who as Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, was the de facto ruler of Francia from 718 until his death.[2][3][4] The son of the Frankish statesman Pepin of Herstal and a noblewoman named Alpaida, Charles successfully asserted his claims to power as successor to his father as the power behind the throne in Frankish politics. Continuing and building on his father's work, he restored centralized government in Francia and began the series of military campaigns that re-established the Franks as the undisputed masters of all Gaul.

After establishing unity in Gaul, Charles' attention was called to foreign conflicts with the Islamic advance into Western Europe a foremost concern. Arab and Berber Islamic forces had conquered Spain (711), crossed the Pyrenees (720) and seized Narbonensis, a major dependency of the Visigoths (721–725).[5] After intermittent challenges, Arab and Berber Islamic forces under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, the Arab Governor of al-Andalus, advanced towards Gaul and then onto Tours, "the holy town of Gaul". In October 732, the army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Al Ghafiqi met Frankish and Burgundian forces under Charles between the cities of Tours and Poitiers (modern north-central France[6]), leading to a decisive, historically important Frankish victory known as the Battle of Tours (or ma'arakat Balâṭ ash-Shuhadâ, Battle of the Palace of Martyrs). This battle ended the "last of the great Arab invasions of France," a military victory termed "brilliant" on the part of Charles.[7][8][9]

After Tours, Charles took the offensive, destroying fortresses at Agde, Béziers and Maguelonne, and engaging Islamic forces at Nimes, though ultimately failing to recover Narbonne (737) or to fully reclaim the Visigoth's Narbonensis.[7] He thereafter made significant further gains against fellow Christian realms, establishing Frankish control over Bavaria, Alemannia, and Frisia, and compelling some of the Saxon tribes to offer tribute (738).[7]

Apart from his military endeavours, Charles is considered to be a founding figure of the European Middle Ages.[10] Skilled as an administrator as well as a warrior, he is credited with a seminal role in the emerging responsibilities of the knights of courts, and therefore in the development of the Frankish system of feudalism.[11] Pope Gregory III, whose realm was being menaced by the Lombards, and who could no longer rely on help from Constantinople, asked Charles to defend the Holy See and offered him the Roman consulship, though Charles declined.[7][12][13]

He divided Francia between his sons, Carloman and Pepin. The latter became the first of the Carolingians. Charles' grandson, Charlemagne, extended the Frankish realms to include much of the West, and became the first Emperor in the West since the fall of Rome.[14]

Marriage and Family

1st Marriage : Rotrude of Treves

Charles Martel married twice, his first wife being Rotrude of Treves, daughter either of Lambert II, Count of Hesbaye, or of Leudwinus, Count of Treves. Most of their children married and had issue. They had the following children:

  1. Hiltrud (-754) - married Odilo I (a Duke of Bavaria) - Hiltrud was Duchess consort of Bavaria. She was regent of Bavaria for her minor son in 748-754.
  2. Carloman de Franks (c710-754) - Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, Duke of the Franks. He withdrew from public life in 747 to take up the monastic habit, "the first of a new type of saintly king...more interested in religious devotion than royal power".
  3. Landrada (c712-), also rendered Landres,
  4. Auda of France (732-bef755), also called Aldana or Alane - married Thierry IV (a Count of Autun and Toulouse).
  5. Pepin the Short (714-768) - Pepin's upbringing was distinguished by the ecclesiastical education he had received from the monks of St. Denis. Succeeding his father as the Mayor of the Palace in 741, Pepin reigned over Francia jointly with his elder brother Carloman. Pepin ruled in Neustria, Burgundy, and Provence. Pepin's son was Charlemagne (747-814).

2nd Marriage: Swanachild

Charles also married a second time, to Swanachild of Agilolfings (c700-), and they had a child:

  1. Grifo (726-753) - attempted to share royal powers with his step-brothers, but was subdued and forced into a monastery.

Mistress: Ruodhaid

Finally, Charles Martel also had a known mistress, Roudhaid (c700-), with whom he had the children:

  1. Bernard (bef732-787),
  2. Hieronymus, and
  3. Remigius, the latter who became an archbishop of Rouen.
  4. Aldana, wife of Theoderich, Count of Autun


Offspring of Charles Martel and Rotrude of Treves (690-724)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Hiltrud (-754) 754 Odilo von Bayern (c705-748)
Carloman de Franks (c710-754)
Landrada (c712-) 712 Sigramnus
Auda of France (732-bef755) 722 France Thierry d'Autun (c720-c782)
Pepin the Short (714-768) 714 Jupille, Belgium (Austrasia) 24 September 768 Saint Denis Bertrada of Laon (720-783)

Offspring of Charles Martel and Swanachild of Agilolfings (c700-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Grifo (726-753) 726 753

Offspring of Charles Martel and Ruodhaid (c700-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Bernard (bef732-787) 732 787
Hieronymus (?-?) Ermentrude
Remigius (?-771) 771
Ian (?-783)


Offspring of Pepin of Herstal (635-714) and Plectrude of Neustria (c640-718)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Drogo de Champagne (670-780)
Grimoald II of Neustria (-714)

Offspring of Pepin of Herstal (635-714) and Alpaida (c640-714)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Charles Martel (686-741) 23 August 686 Herstal, Belgium 22 October 741 Quierzy-sur-Oise, France Rotrude of Treves (690-724)
Swanachild of Agilolfings (c700-)
Roudhaid (c700-)
Childebrand I de Bourgogne (678-751) 678 Herstal 751

Research Notes

According to some sources[15], daughter Landrade is the wife of Sigram of Hesbaye and so the great-grandmother of Ermengarde of Hesbaye, first wife of Louis the Pious. Other sources have that Sigram's wife is a Robertian.[16] The latter hypothesis is more likely.



  1. ^ Paul Fouracre, The Age of Charles Martel, (Routledge, 2000), ix.
  2. ^ Schulman, Jana K. (2002). The Rise of the Medieval World, 500–1300: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 101. ISBN 0-313-30817-9. 
  3. ^ Cawthorne, Nigel (2004). Military Commanders: The 100 Greatest Throughout History. Enchanted Lion Books. pp. 52–53. ISBN 1-59270-029-2. 
  4. ^ Kibler, William W.; Zinn, Grover A. (1995). Medieval France: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 205–206. ISBN 0-8240-4444-4. 
  5. ^ God's crucible: Islam and the making of Europe, 570 – 1215. New York, New York: W. W. Norton. 2008. pp. 157 ff.. 
  6. ^ The location is near the present village of Moussais-la-Bataille, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of Poitiers; hence, the location of the battle was close to the border between the Frankish realm and then-independent Aquitaine. God's crucible: Islam and the making of Europe, 570 – 1215. New York, New York: W. W. Norton. 2008. p. 160. 
  7. ^ a b c d Christian Pfister, 1910, "Charles Martel," in The Encyclopædia Britannica: The New Volumes, Constituting… the Twelfth Edition of that Work, and Also Supplying… , Vol. 5, pp. 942–943, Chicago, Illinois, US: Encyclopædia Britannica Company, see [1], accessed 2 August 2015. Christian Pfister, D. ès. L. (1857–1933), was a professor at the Sorbonne, in Paris, and recipient of the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
  8. ^ Quote from Pfister, 1910, op. cit, regarding this text statement: "Besides establishing a certain unity in Gaul, Charles saved it from a great peril. In 711 the Arabs had conquered Spain. In 720 they crossed the Pyrenees, seized Narbonensis, a dependency of the kingdom of the Visigoths, and advanced on Gaul. By his able policy Odo succeeded in arresting their progress for some years; but a new vali, Abdur Rahman, a member of an extremely fanatical sect, resumed the attack, reached Poitiers, and advanced on Tours, the holy town of Gaul. In October 732—just 100 years after the death of Mahomet—Charles gained a brilliant victory over Abdur Rahman, who was called back to Africa by revolts of the Berbers and had to give up the struggle. ...After his victory, Charles took the offensive."
  9. ^ "Charles's victory has often been regarded as decisive for world history, since it preserved western Europe from Muslim conquest and Islamization." [2]
  10. ^ Lewis, p. 183.
  11. ^ Medieval technology and social change. London, England: Oxford University Press. 1962. pp. 2–14. 
  12. ^ Anon., 2001, "The Frankish Kingdom," in The Encyclopedia of World History.
  13. ^ Quote from Pfister (1910), op. cit, regarding this text statement: "Pope Gregory III, menaced by the Lombards, invoked the aid of Charles in 739, sent him a deputation with the keys of the Holy Sepulchre and the chains of St. Peter, and offered to break with the emperor and Constantinople, and to give Charles the Roman consulate (ut a partibus imperatoris recederet et Romanum consulatum Carolo sanciret). This proposal, though unsuccessful, was the starting point of a new papal policy."
  14. ^ Fouracre, Paul (2000) The Age of Charles Martel, London, GBR: Longman, see ISBN 0-582-06475-9, see [3], accessed 2 August 2015.
  15. ^ Foundation for Medieval Geneaology
  16. ^ Mittelalter Genealogie

See Also

Footnotes (including sources)

Charles Martel (686-741)
Carolingian Dynasty
Born: 688 Died: 741
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Pepin II the Middle
    Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia    
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Mayor of the Palace of Neustria
Succeeded by
Pepin the Short
Preceded by
Theuderic IV
King of the Franks

Succeeded by
Childeric III