Today the air around us is charged with the energy of great forces in motion, decisions being made that can change life as we know it. If there is time, we can make a difference, but we need to see what history we are repeating.
A knowledge of history can help us, bread crumbs to guide us, a candle in a dark room, an alarm bell in the back of our minds. When the future looms bleak, a place to look for help lies in finding how we confronted adversity the last time it showed its face.
We have rights most of the world doesn’t. However, there are those who are focused on removing those rights, convinced that this is the will of some Divine Other. Scary? Indeed. Did you know that this attempt has happened before? What stopped it?
I have been reading that Islamics want to conquer the world. That isn’t new. In the early 600s, Islamic forces started a world conquest. By the 700s, they had reached Spain, conquered it, crossed the Pyrenees and were just entering southern France, advancing north in their search for world domination. Their motivation was exactly as it is today, based on the doctrine of jihad, armed struggle to claim the whole world for God’s rule, as they perceive Him.
In 732, the Islamic army was nearing the town of Tours, today a city in southern France. Apparently there was little resistance, and the giant army was not expecting any. Then things started going terribly wrong for them.
Facing them was Charles Martel, a young but seasoned warrior, the leader of the foremost military power of Western Europe. Martel’s forces controlled most of what today is France, most of Western Germany and all the Low Countries. “Martel” means “hammer.” He was that kind of warrior. Sometimes he referred to himself as a mayor, and other times as a Duke, but the kings he supposedly served under were in fact men he had appointed, when he bothered to fill their posts at all. Everyone already knew who was in charge.
Martel was an overlord of all Europe north of the Alps, all the way to Hungary. He was known for extraordinary strategy, attacking his enemy when he was least expected, in the most unlikely places and in unusual ways. When attacked, he had trained his men to simulate a retreat. Then the retreat became a trap.
But Martel and his army were alone. No other military force that could challenge the advance of the Islamic army existed.
It was not a small battle. The Muslim forces had come a thousand victorious miles and wanted another thousand, which would have put them in the heart of England. Can you imagine Oxford University teaching the Koran? Or the people living under sharia law throughout most of Europe? The army marched under the direction of the Umayyad Caliphate, which at the time was perhaps the world’s foremost military power.
Defeating this behemoth would not be easy. Martel’s army was outnumbered two to one. But Martel had surprise and superbly trained,disciplined soldiers. He approached by stealth and encamped on a high place in thick trees. He knew the value of forcing an “uphill battle” on the enemy.
The battle lasted only two days. The third morning Martel’s army found itself confronting empty tents. The enemy had fled, and the Islamics had been turned back so decisively that they never threatened Europe again. No more serious attempts to strike beyond the Pyrenees were ever made.
We need another hammer. If World War III is fought with nuclear weapons, World War IV will be fought with rocks and sticks.