Swords from the Matter of France: Murgleys (also Murgleis)

Murgleys, or Murgleis (possibly “Death brand”) 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).

According to the French version, its “gold pommel” held some kind of a “holy relic”. 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.

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

This artifact is a part of SwordTemple Library

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