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The surname given to Charles, natural son of Pépin dʹHéristal, for his victory over the Saracens, who had invaded France under Abd-el-Rahman in 732. It is said that Charles “knocked down the foe, and crushed them beneath his axe, as a martel or hammer crushes what it strikes.”

Judas Asmonæus for a similar reason was called Maccabæus (the Hammerer).

M. Collin de Plancy says that Charles, the palace mayor, was not called Martel because he martelé (hammered) the Saracens, but because his patron saint was Martellus (or Martin). (Bibliothéque des Légendes.)

Avoir se mettre martel en tête. To have a bee in one’s bonnet, to be crotchety. Martel is a corruption of Martin, an ass, a hobby-horse. M. Hilaire le Gai says, but gives no authority, “Cette expression nous vient des Italiens, car en Italien martello signifie proprement ‘jalousie.ʹ


“Ils portent des martels, des capriches.”—Brantome: Des Dames Gallantes.

“Telle filles… pourroient bien donner de bons martels à leurs pauvres marys.”—Brantome: Des Dames Gallantes.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Marseilles Good Bishop
Marsh [Le Marais]
Marsham (Men of)
Marsiglio or Marsilius
Martano (in Orlando Furioso)
Marteau des Heretiques
Martello Towers
Martext (Sir Oliver)
Martha (St.)
Martian Laws
Martin Drunk
Martin of Bullions (St.)
Martin’s Running Footman (St.)