There's been a couple of times via German political chat shows over the past year when they had Islamic guests on.....that they wanted to always inject the crusades and how everything seems to start at that point.
I sat this weekend....watching a pretty decent historical piece on the ARTE Channel (I know....it's a lousy state-run network in Germany which is built for the intellectual of the intellectual type, and you sometimes wonder how much dope that show-planners smoke while identifying their schedule for each month). The whole discussion for this three-piece show was Karl the Great, Charles the Great, and Charlemagne. He was.....King of the Franks, and the first real ruler of Europe. He also started the exit from the dark ages.
The show started with some things, which seemed odd to miss and I had to go back and reread this whole era because it's not exactly the period that history professors will cover to any degree.
In the late part of the seventh century.....the Muslim caliphate, who came after Muhammad's death....went into a rapid growth period where Islam was supposed to emerge as "the" religion of the world and civil war was a key component of this effort.
So, around 647.....somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 thousand Muslims rode through North Africa and created a wave of violence....where kingdoms and territories had to submit. You might want to note for practical purposes....this is 250 years ahead of the crusades.
Several efforts were made to counter the wave.....some successful to a degree....most unsuccessful.
In 711, this crowd of Islamic members crossed over into Spain and started a new territory expansion movement....all in the name of Islam and Muhammad. As much as some people would like the topic to stay on the crusades being the first interaction between the two groups....no, it started in 711....in Spain.
For roughly twenty years.....the Moors had Islamic control over Spain, and at some point....felt that Europe was weak enough....so they invaded into southern France.
On 10 October 732.....the Moors came up to Tours, France and were to meet up with a Frankish force led by Charles "the Hammer" Martel.
If you were looking for some ultra dynamic Frankish guy.....who had been gifted the best nickname in history.....then "the Hammer" fits the profile.
The Battle of Tours resets the whole ambition of the Moors, where rapid retreat is mandated.
It should be noted that historians today argue over the strength of each side. Charles supposedly had at best....around 15,000 men....who a great percentage were simply farmers who came to join the army only weeks prior. The Moors? It's believed that they were at a strength of 25,000.
If you were talking about the top ten battles where winning changed the face of history in a dynamic way....the Battle of Tours fits the profile.
Was the Crusades the initial step of the bad Europeans walking into Muslim territory? No. The invasion of Spain was the initial step, and the Battle of Tours was the point where the Moors were forced to step back. The gimmick of some idiot picking dates to fit his argument....ought to be pushed back a back.