Famous Men of the Middle Ages HTML version

Charles Martel and Pepin
Charles Martel, 714-741 A.D.; Pepin, 741-768 A.D.
After the death of Mohammed the Saracens, as Mohammedans are also called, became
great warriors. They conquered many countries and established the Mohammedan
religion in them. In 711 the Saracens invaded and conquered a great part of Spain and
founded a powerful kingdom there, which lasted about seven hundred years.
They intended to conquer the land of the Franks next, and then all Europe.
They thought it would be easy to conquer the Franks, because the Frankish king at that
time was a very weak man. He was one of a number of kings who were called the "Do-
nothings." They reigned from about 638 to 751. They spent all their time in amusements
and pleasures, leaving the affairs of the government to be managed by persons called
The mayors of the palace were officers who at first managed the king's household.
Afterwards they were made guardians of kings who came to the throne when very young.
So long as the king was under age the mayor of the palace acted as chief officer of the
government in his name. And as several of the young kings, even when they were old
enough to rule, gave less attention to business than to pleasure, the mayors continued to
do all the business, until at last they did everything that the king ought to have done.
They made war, led armies in battle, raised money and spent it, and carried on the
government as they pleased, without consulting the king.
The "Do-nothings" had the title of king, but nothing more. In fact, they did not desire to
have any business to do. The things they cared for were dogs, horses and sport.
One of the most famous of the mayors was a man named Pepin (Pep'-in). Once a year, it
is said, Pepin had the king dressed in his finest clothes and paraded through the city of
Paris, where the court was held. A splendid throng of nobles and courtiers accompanied
the king, and did him honor as he went along the streets in a gilded chariot drawn by a
long line of beautiful horses. The king was cheered by the people, and he acknowledged
their greetings most graciously.
After the parade the king was escorted to the great hall of the palace, which was filled
with nobles. Seated on a magnificent throne, he saluted the assemblage and made a short
speech. The speech was prepared beforehand by Pepin, and committed to memory by the
king. At the close of the ceremony the royal "nobody" retired to his country house and
was not heard of again for a year.