The Battle of Tours, as assessed by Gibbon

Today, October 10, 2006 is the 1,274th anniversary of the battle of Tours (also discussed here), in which the unarmored but highly trained infantry of the Frankish Catholic leader Charles Martel held off and then defeated the armored horsemen of the invading Moslem army on the Loire river in what is now central France. Edward Gibbon described the battle (which stopped the Moslem advance into Gaul) and the ensuing campaign, culminating in the battle of Narbonne (which drove the Moslems forever back across the Pyrenees) as “[t]he events that rescued our ancestors of Britain and our neighbors of Gaul from the civil and religious yoke of the Koran.”

You see how Western thinkers used to understand Islam? They saw that it wasn’t just a religion, and that it wasn’t just an oppressive religion; they saw that it was a form of juridical and political tyranny—the “civil yoke of the Koran.”

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Paul Nachman writes:

I’m glad you pointed this out explicitly, especially the part about the civil yoke. Don’t forget the Meriwether Lewis quote you had at VFR last year, where he speaks of the “Mahometan Yoke.” Maybe that’s just Gibbon recycled. Still, that would mean that this point was broadly appreciated in Jefferson’s time. I suppose Jefferson may well have been a strong propagator of the idea, stimulated by his experience with Adams, related here.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 10, 2006 07:30 PM | Send

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