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Murgleys, or Murgleis (possibly "Death brand"[1]) is the sword of Ganelon, a traitorous French (Frankish) count and nemesis to the titular hero of the epic La chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland).[1]

According to the French version, its "gold pommel"[2] held some kind of a "holy relic".[3] In the Middle High German adaptation (Konrad der Pfaffe's Rolandslied) the sword is called Mulagir, touted to be the "best seax (type of sword) in all of France", described as having a carbuncle shining on its pommel, and forged by a smith named Madelger in Regensburg.[4]


Dorothy L. Sayers, a translator of The Song of Roland suggests the sword means "Death brand"[1] (See #Similarly named swords below). Belgian scholar Rita Lejeune gave the meaning "Moorish sword,"[5] but Arabist James A. Bellamy proposed the Arabic etymology māriq ʾalyas meaning "valiant piercer".[6]

Similarly named swords[edit]

At least three swords bearing the similar name Murglaie occur in other chansons de geste.[7]

  • Murglaie - sword of Elias, the Swan Knight of the Crusades cycle,
  • Murglaie - sword of Cornumarant, the Saracen king of Jerusalem, taken by Baudouin de Syrie (the historical Baldwin I of Jerusalem)
  • Murglaie - sword of Boeve de Haumtone; better known as Morglay of Bevis of Hampton.

Note that "Morglay" has been given the etymology morte "death" + "glaive"[8] coinciding with the conjectural meaning of "Death brand" for Ganelon's sword, proposed by Sayers.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Sayers, Dorothy L., translator (1957). The Song of Roland (preview). Hammondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books. p. 38. ISBN 0-14-044075-5.
  2. ^ Song of Roland, v. 466
  3. ^ Song of Roland, v. 607
  4. ^ Rolandslied vv. 1585–8; Thomas, J. W. (translator) (1994), Priest Konrad's Song of Roland / translated and with an introduction by, Columbia, S.C.: Camden House
  5. ^ Lejeune, Rita (1950), "Les noms d'épées dans la Chanson de Roland", Mélanges de linguistique et de littérature Romances, offerts à Mario Roques, p. 163, cited (and given in English) by Bellamy 1987, p. 274, note 34
  6. ^ Bellamy, James A. (1987), "Arabic names in the Chanson de Roland: Saracen Gods, Frankish swords, Roland horse, and the Olifant", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 197 (2): 274, JSTOR 602835
  7. ^ Langlois, Ernest, ed. (1904), Table des noms, Paris: Emile Bouillon
  8. ^ Bailey, Nathan (1731), An Universal Etymological English Dictionary