It happened today - March 21, 2016

Sometimes you do history a big favour by losing a battle. For instance Ragenfrid. Mind you he seems to have had a lot of practice. But the key moment was when he flopped against Charles Martel at Vincy on March 21 of 717 AD. I’d shake his boney hand if anyone was sure where it was, because if he’d beaten Martel it might have meant no Battle of Tours 15 years later.

The latter, it might not be politically correct to point out even if it is factually accurate, stopped the Muslim invasion of France just 240 kilometres from Paris or, in those unenlightened times, 150 miles. It’s not obvious, to me at least, what exactly the Muslims were doing invading France. Doubtless some grievance deeply rooted in history, possibly involving Israel and the United States.

You know. The usual. But whatever the cause, Charles Martel was there to stop them and drive them back into Spain, where they remained for almost eight more centuries.

Formally his title was Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, the latter essentially chief of staff to the king. Informally I think it was “the guy who convinced people he could do the job”. But he was only in a position to do so because he’d seen off various rivals including Ragenfrid who had been Mayor of the Palace of Neustria and Burgundy, one of many fragmentary Frankish kingdom-like objects clonking together in the area at the time. By 718 Charles Martel was basically master of the whole mess.

Ragenfrid himself didn’t defeat easily. Or perhaps he did since it seemed to happen a lot before he finally and decisively threw in the towel. I’m not sure if anyone knows a whole lot about him, including whether he was actually called Ragenfred, Raganfrid, Ragamfred or just “that guy fleeing the battlefield” except that after finally admitting he was not winning battles in 720, and again in 724, he lived until 731 as a count in Anjou. Maybe he wasn’t worth getting a sword dirty to kill.

Martel was another story. Although he never formally declared himself king, he did make his son Pepin the first Carolingian king and his son you’ve certainly heard of: Charlemagne or “Big Chuck”. But none of that would have happened, nor a great deal else either, if it hadn’t been for the hapless Ragenfrid’s defeat at Vincy.

Worth him showing up for, I’d say.