October 30, 2005
A Long Time Ago, In A France Far, Far, Away
In October of 732, Charles Martel ("The Hammer") and his Frankish horde stopped cold the onrushing cavalry of Allah's finest, halting Islam's desire to break out from Spain and subjugate the rest of Europe.
Creasy argues also that the Martel victory "preserved the relics of ancient and the germs of modern civilizations ." That is, in a Moslem Dominion, the ferment of the Middle Ages, which sparked the Enlightenment with all of its scientific, economic, and political fruits, would never have occurred. Look at the modern Islamic world: backward, unfree, poor--in sad fact, scarcely modern at all. This could be the state of all humankind if not for a Europe where, as Strauss notes, "church and state were [often] at loggerheads," helping form a culture that was, "compared to Islam, decentralized, secularized, individualistic, profit-driven."
Half-educated Christophobes who think the faith contributed nothing but superstition and inventive torture to the human story should ponder Strauss' words. So should modern zealots who would happily marry church and state.
Without the victory at Tours, there would be no suds-swinging Oktoberfest, no Halloween (because no All Hallows Eve), indeed little fun now or at any other time of the year under a Shari'a, or religious law, not noted for winking at petty vices.
Victor Davis Hanson notes the Battle of Tours, or Poitiers, as he refers to it, as one of the landmark battles in Western civilization in his book "Carnage and Culture."
Pray for Europe. But save a few prayers, too, for a band of bearded, coarse, but faithful men who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a cold dawn and faced proven death galloping full-speed toward them--only to unhorse that grim rider and break his bones to bits.
Which is to say that if in the next life you can't find the Pearly Gates, just follow the sound of the loud German drinking songs. You'll get to the right place.
So when you're out running around having a fun Halloween, stop for a moment, look up, and thank a Frank.
Stein hoist to Clarity and Resolve.