Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-66nw2 Total loading time: 0.239 Render date: 2021-12-04T11:42:40.673Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

The Battle of Tours and the US Southern Border

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 August 2020

Get access

Summary

When I wrote about the political weaponizing of the medieval, I meant for the concept to be a colorful metaphor. But in March 2019, the Middle Ages were quite literally weaponized by the white supremacist Australian terrorist who murdered fifty-one civilians in horrifying attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Scrawled across his rifles were words of hate scribbled alongside numerous references to the Middle Ages: to battles between Christian and Muslim forces across medieval and early modern centuries and to medieval European military leaders who are lionized by the far right for their “defense” of Europe against Islamic enemies. The scrawled notes on these rifles will surely outrage and disgust every medievalist scholar. Yet what makes the revelations of these scribblings on weapons of terror so frightening is that they are hardly unexpected. We have been here before.

On his rifle were the words “Tours 732.” This phrase is a reference to the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers) which has a long history of being cheered, in the West, as a decisive historical event that “saved” Europe and Christendom from destruction by Muslim invaders. Since the eighteenth century, some historians and poets have celebrated Tours. The battle and 732 are commonly mustered as crucial pivot points for European and Christian identity and have taken hold among the far right in North America, Europe, and Australia as memes and models. Despite the reservations and doubts a number of contemporary historians hold about the degree to which Tours had an effect on religious and political affairs beyond Francia, the notion of the single world-changing battle – the idea of Tours as a decisive, world-changing showdown between Christianity and Islam – proliferates in both mainstream right-wing thought and on its farther reaches. The Battle of Tours is regularly deployed as an example of how Muslims must be confronted in the West today and what the fallout would be should they be permitted to settle and thrive in majority-Christian regions. For some on the right, often but not always on its far fringes, Tours reveals the underpinnings of a timeless and insatiable desire for Islamic missionizing expansionism, and Tours continues to serve, whether as exemplar or meme, as a model for an appropriate and necessary militaristic response to Islam.

Type
Chapter
Information
Studies in Medievalism XXIX
Politics and Medievalism (Studies)
, pp. 21 - 30
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×