Echo of the Battle of Toulouse, 721

Barrie Brill

The Liber Pontificalis provides a rather muddled account of the early incursions of the Muslims of Spain across the Pyrenees. Eudo, Duke of Aquitaine, had played a role in the struggles that pitted Charles Martel against the Neustrians. Ragamfred, the Neustrian mayor of the palace, had gained the support of Eudo in this struggle with Charles Martel, but after the Neustrians were defeated by Charles in 719 Eudo withdrew to Aquitaine taking with him Chilperic II, the King of Neustria. Eudo negotiated with Charles and in return for recognition of his status as Duke of Aquitaine, he turned over Chilperic II to Charles. Eudo needed to make peace due to the Muslim incursions that resulted in the seizure of Narbonne in 720 and the siege of Toulouse in 721. Eudo was victorious against them at Toulouse and had sent word of the victory to Rome. The numbers that supposedly were involved in the battle are extreme exaggerations, as was the pious invention of the liturgical sponges[1] mentioned in the account, as a shield against the Muslims. Eudo was faced with continuous pressure from the Muslims who continued to occupy Narbonne and other towns and launched numerous raids northward.


The Liber Pontificalis

At this time the noxious people of the Saracens before had invaded the whole province of Spain for ten years already. The eleventh year, they endeavoured to cross the Rhône by occupying Francia whose head was Eudo.[2] The latter called for a general mobilization of the Franks against the Saracens, whom they surrounded and killed. Three hundred and seventy-five thousand were exterminated in one day, according to the letter that Duke Eudo sent to the pontiff. It was also read that there were only 1,500 killed among the Franks. He also added that the previous year, there had been sent to them by the holy man as evidence of blessing three sponges[3] used at the pontifical table at the moment when the war had been declared. This same Eudo, prince of Aquitaine, had then distributed small pieces of them to his people to protect them and [they worked] so well that among those who had participated in the battle, none had been wounded had neither been wounded nor killed.


  1. A small piece of sponge used to collect the remnants of the Eucharist and thus believed to be invested with the sacred power of the Eucharist
  2. Eudo, Duke of Aquitaine (ca. 681-735).
  3. As above, small pieces of sponge that had been used to capture fragments of the Eucharist - the consecrated bread


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