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religious fanaticism, military ardour, and the love of plunder, was not to be repressed by ordinary obstacles. The invaders speedily crossed the Strait of Gibraltar,* and very quickly overran the whole of Spain. The sea having failed to check their progress, it could scarcely be expected that mountains would avail to do so. So early as 714, and within three years of their occupation of the Peninsula, Mousă determined to cross the Pyrenees, hoping to be able to crush the Frank and Lombard kingdoms, and thus to gain an opportunity of conquering Italy and Rome itself. Had the enterprise been then proceeded with, it could hardly have failed of success. Circumstances, however, most providentially combined to postpone the attempt till 731, when a host, whose recorded numbers defy credibility, passed the mountain barrier which separates France from Spain. They were commanded by the veteran Abderahman, their most daring and successful leader. The southern provinces of France were soon subdued, plundered, and laid waste. Every attempt made to check their advance failed. The fate of Christendom seemed sealed. Nor can we wonder that men abandoned themselves in despair to their seemingly inevitable doom. But He 6 who stilleth the noise of the waves and the tumult of the people,” had uttered his decree-" Hitherto shalt thou come,
This name was derived from this circumstance; the rock on which they landed being called by the Arabs Gibel Tarif, or Tarek, “the Hill of Tarı'nat being the name of their leader.
but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." Charles, the commander of the Franks, determined to make a last desperate stand in defence of his country and his faith. He mustered his troops on the banks of a little stream between Tours and Poitiers, and there awaited the enemy. For six days the armies lay encamped in sight of each other, content with skirmishing, neither venturing upon a general engagement. Their leaders, feeling that the destinies of Christendom hung trembling in the balance, waited for an opportunity of striking a decisive blow. At length, on a Saturday, in the month of October, 732, the armies met in the shock of battle. In the brief and obscure narrative of contemporary chronielers, and the wild fictions of subsequent writers, it is very difficult to gain any correct idea of this engagement, which decided whether Europe was to remain Christian or be subjugated beneath the debasing yoke of Mohammed. We only discover that the Franks stood firm as a rock, against which the light-armed and agile Arabs dashed themselves in vain, and were flung off like spray. Charge after charge was made against their phalans, which Isidore, one of the few contemporary writers, describes " as an immovable mass, like a wall of ice." As the day wore on, the prodigious strength of the Franks began to tell in their favour, and the wearied assailants, unable to charge and wheel round in retreat with the same celerity as in the morniug fell fast under their oppo
mayoralty, died, October 21st, 741, and was succeeded by his sons, Carloman, who speedily retired into a monastery, and Pepin, surnamed le Bref, or le Gros, in consequence of being exceedingly corpulent, and only four and a half feet high. His prowess and character may
be judged of from an incident narrated by Gregory of Tours, which, whether true or false, will show the estimate formed of him by his own age. Hearing that some of his officers had been indulging in jocular remarks on his personal appearance, he invited them to witness a combat between a lion and a wild bull. The animals were let loose together in the arena, when the lion at once sprang upon the bull, and pinned him to the earth. The bull rushed madly to and fro, striving to shake off his fierce assailant, but in vain. “ Which of you," said Pepin, turning to his officers, “ will make that beast let go his prey ?” They only replied by a stare of astonishment. “ The task, then," said he, “is mine;" and springing into the arena, armed only with his battle-axe, he assaulted the combatants so impetuously as to kill the lion and drive the bull back to its den.
It was not to be expected that officers so able and energetic as those who held the mayoralty should remain very long subject to kings so feeble as those of France at this period. The condition of affairs, too, was such as to forbid the continued separation of the real and nominal sovereignty. A compact and vigorous govern
ment was needed to ward off the attacks of foreign enemies, who were crowding on every point of the frontier, as well as to repress those intestine feuds which threatened to rend asunder the imperfectly organized state. Pepin, therefore, having first gained for himself the sole and undivided mayoralty, found no difficulty in inducing the Frank warriors to declare the imbecile line of monarchs at an end, and to place him on the vacant throne. He was inaugurated as king, after the custom of all the Germanic tribes, by being raised on the bucklers of the warriors at their annual assembly, held at Soissons in March, 752. Ecclesiastical consent to the change was either felt to be necessary by the Franks, or deemed expedient by Pepin. Two bishops were therefore despatched to Italy to gain the papal sanction. Just at that crisis, Rome was in imminent peril from many enemies, and needed the strong arm of Pepin and his Franks for its defence. Under these circumstances, the pope promptly replied to Pepin's messenger, that the decision of the nation had been arrived at by heavenly inspiration, and empowered them to substitute for the old line of monarchs one which should discharge the duties as well as bear the name of king. Pepin was thereupon anointed and crowned by Boniface,* and the ceremony was subsequently repeated by the pope himself. Eginhardt quaintly adds, “ With regard to Childeric, who
* For a life of this remarkable man see “Lives of Eminent Anglo-Saxons,” in this series.