Siege of Narbonne (737)

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The Siege of Narbonne was fought in 737 between the forces of Yusuf ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri, Umayyad governor of Narbonne, and a Frankish army led by Charles Martel.

The city of Narbonne was captured by Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani, governor of Al-Andalus,[1] in 719 or 720. The city was renamed Arbūnah and turned into a military base for future operations.[2] Following his success at the Siege of Avignon in 737 Charles Martel besieged Narbonne, but his forces were unable to take the city. However, when the Arabs sent reinforcements from Spain the Franks intercepted them at the mouth of the River Berre, in the present-day département of Aude, and scored a significant victory, after which they marched on Nîmes.

Muslim troops leaving Narbonne to Pépin le Bref, in 759, after 40 years of occupation.


Charles may have been able to take Narbonne had he been willing to commit his army and full resources for an indefinite siege, but he was not willing or able to do so. Probably he found that the duke of Aquitaine Hunald was threatening his line of communication with the north. Furthermore, Maurontius, patrician of Provence, from his unconquered city of Marseille, raised a revolt against him from the rear.[3] The Frankish leader may have considered accomplished his primary goals by destroying the Arab armies, and leaving the remaining Arabs confined to Narbonne. On his way back out of the region of Septimania, his army destroyed a string of cities and strongholds (Avignon, etc.) that failed to support him against the Muslims.

A second Frankish expedition was led later in 739 to expel the inconvenient count Maurontius, who couldn't expect this time Andalusian relief, from Marseille and regain control of Provence. According to Paul the Deacon's Historia gentis Langobardorum the Arabs retreated when they learned that Martel had formed an alliance with the Lombards, leaving the Umayyad forces stationed in the area and Maurontius himself too weak to meet in open battle.


  1. ^ Christys, Ann (2002). Christians in Al-Andalus (711-1000). London: Routledge, ISBN 0-7007-1564-9, p. 28.
  2. ^ Holt, P. M., Lambton, Ann K. S. and Lewis, Bernard (1977). The Cambridge History of Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29135-6, p. 95.
  3. ^ Lewis, Archibald R. (1965). The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society, 718–1050. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 23. Retrieved June 15, 2012.

Coordinates: 43°11′03″N 3°00′11″E / 43.184277°N 3.003078°E / 43.184277; 3.003078