King Marsile

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Marsile (often spelt Marsilius, Marsilion, Marcilie, Marsille, Marsilies, Marsilun, or Marsiluns) is a character in the French heroic poem The Song of Roland. He is the pagan king of the Saracens. He first appears in Stanza 1, asking his barons for counsel because he is losing the war against Charlemagne. He readily accepts Blancandrin's proposal of surrender (Stanzas 1–6), and agrees to Ganelon's scheme after testing his worth and persuasion from his wife Bramimonde and his nobility (32–52). He takes part in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass, kills Bevon, Lord of Beaune and Dijon, Yvoire, Yvon and Gerald of Roussillon, before Roland takes his right hand and his son, Jurfaleu the Blond and is forced to flee (142) to Saragossa (187). Bound to his bed with his injuries, he summons help from Baligant (189), places Spain in Baligant's care (202), and later dies of his wounds, his army having been destroyed.

There is no historical evidence for King Marsile's existence; he is possibly only a petty king in any case, but the last of the Spaniards to make a stand against the Franks. Indeed, the battle of Roncevaux appears in very few historical records.[1]


  1. ^ Narbaitz, Pierre. Orria, o la batall de Roncesvalles. 778.