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Dr. Suzanne LaVere
Department of History
Department of History
Historians long viewed the 8th century Battle of Tours as a defining event in the history of Europe, and interpretation of the meaning of this battle, both at the time it was fought and well after, has been fraught with controversy. My poster illustrates the beliefs held for centuries by many Westerners of the two dichotomous groups who fought this battle. They characterized the Muslims as expansionist and malevolent and trying to gain more territory and plunder. On the other side of the conflict, historians have viewed the medieval Christians as isolationist and respectable. These beliefs embody dogmas that are still evident among some groups even today. However, this poster suggests that even though these beliefs were upheld by scholars and in popular opinion for many centuries, these ideas are most likely false. While this particular battle happened over a millennium ago, the way it was portrayed in Christian chronicles and later Western histories as a radical encroachment of Islam on Christianity has led to the widespread idea that Western Civilization would have been completely altered if the Muslim forces would have been able to breach the European might. The majority of medieval European Christians believed that Islam was certainly capable of becoming the dominant religion in Europe if this critical battle was lost. Where cathedrals and churches dotted the landscape, medieval Christians feared that mosques and minarets would take their place if the Muslims would have been able to complete their conquest. For centuries, European historians and Western observers more broadly considered the Battle of Tours to be the climax of defeating Islamic invasion into the “civilized” West. The poster provides the background, location, and contenders of the battle, but also insists that this conflict may not have been as decisive as earlier writers have assumed. Primary sources from an anonymous Arab chronicler from 732, and two Christian writers, Isidore of Beja and St. Denis reveal perspectives from both sides of the conflict, and images from medieval European artists display a Christian bias. Ideas from secondary sources describing the battle from various angles are synthesized, and the modern relevance of this battle is challenged. This poster provides the viewer a clearer image of what happened at the Battle of Tours, and also what might have happened if Charles “The Hammer” Martel lost.
Miller, Nicholas, "The Battle of Tours" (2017). 2017 IPFW Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium. 22.