Muslims campaign in France
On October 10, 732 AD, the Battle of Tours, near Poitiers in France, southwest of Paris, ended in the defeat of the Omayyad forces and the killing of their commander, Abdur-Rahman al-Ghafiqi, the governor of the Spanish region of Cordoba, by a huge army of Franks and Germans, led by Charles Martel (an illegitimate son of the German chief, Pepin), whose barbaric nature as marauder of the frontiers of the Roman Empire the Muslims failed to properly estimate. Another reason for the defeat of the Arab army was its preoccupation with war booty, as well as squabbles between various ethnic and tribal factions. Al-Ghafiqi, who had been appointed by the Omayyad tyrant of Damascus, Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik, as commander of the Muslims in France in 730, after the deaths in the Battle of Toulouse of Samh ibn Malik in 721 and of Anbasa ibn Suhaym in the Battle of Gaul in 726, crossed the Pyrenees mountains with 50,000 cavalry composed primarily of Arabs and Berbers.
He swiftly took Bordeaux and Aquitaine after defeating the Christian forces and was poised for a decisive victory when Tours turned out to be a debacle that also claimed his life. The Battle of Tours is considered a strategic win for the Christians, since their defeat would have led to the conquest of all France and Germany by the Muslims and the possibility of their crossing the English Channel for subjugation of the British Isles. However, the debacle at Tours did not stop the Muslim advance elsewhere in Europe. Muslim presence continued in southern France for over a century.
In 734, the Muslims took Arles, St. Remy, Avignon, and retook Lyons and Burgundy. Successful raids were conducted on the western (Atlantic) coast of France throughout the 8th and 9th centuries. In 889 Muslims established a presence in western Switzerland, which lasted almost two centuries. During the reign of Abdur-Rahman III of Spain, Fraxinetum, Valais, Geneva, Toulon and Great St. Bernard were taken (939-942). The Muslim armies then swung around Lake Geneva in 956 and established themselves in the mountain passes leading into northern Italy. At the same time, Sicily and parts of southern Italy were firmly in the hands of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi’ite Dynasty of North Africa.
Thereafter, Muslim military power began to decline, not because of the superiority of the Europeans but due to infighting. Taking advantage of this chaos, Christian armies ejected the Muslims from southern France, Italy and the Mediterranean islands during the early Crusades (1050), persecuting, massacring and enslaving the civilian population.