The Song of Roland



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Emperor Charlemayn / Carlon / Charles

Charlemagne, spelled “Charlemayn” in Sayers’s text, is also frequently called “Carlon” or “Charles” throughout the poem. He is the emperor of the Franks, or French, whose capital is at Aix. Charlemayn is described as having… read analysis of Emperor Charlemayn / Carlon / Charles

Count Roland

Roland, a mighty baron of France, is Charlemayn’s nephew and Ganelon’s stepson. He is the bravest of knights, but also reckless and rash. At the beginning of the poem, he favors ongoing war… read analysis of Count Roland

Count Ganelon (Guènes)

Count Ganelon is also called Guènes in the poem. He is married to Charlemayn’s sister and is therefore Roland’s stepfather. He also has a son named Baldwin. Ganelon is a treacherous and seemingly… read analysis of Count Ganelon (Guènes)

King Marsilion

Marsilion, the king of pagan/“Paynim” (Saracen) Spain, is also called “Marsile” throughout the poem. He reigns at Saragossa with his wife, Queen Bramimond. He is a rash, hot-tempered king. Instead of submitting to Frankish… read analysis of King Marsilion


Baligant is the emir of Babylon, whose help Marsilion requested seven years earlier. After Charlemayn chases the Saracens back to Saragossa, Baligant finally arrives with his massive navy to face Charlemayn on the dying Marsilion’s… read analysis of Baligant
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Oliver is Roland’s most faithful friend and a fellow knight. He is among those appointed to the rear-guard at the Roncevaux Pass alongside Roland. He is prudent and wise, advising Roland to blow his… read analysis of Oliver


Besides being a mighty knight, Blancandrin is described as the wisest among the pagans and is a trusted advisor to King Marsilion. Blancandrin suggests and leads the envoy to Charlemayn, lying that Marsilion… read analysis of Blancandrin


Pinabel is Ganelon’s friend, a fierce and articulate warrior, whom Ganelon summons to his own defense at his trial. Pinabel promises that if Ganelon is sentenced to death by anyone, Pinabel will face that… read analysis of Pinabel
Minor Characters
Queen Bramimonda (Bramimond)
Queen Bramimonda is King Marsilion’s wife and the queen of Saracen Spain. After Charlemayn conquers Saragossa, she accompanies him back to Aix and ultimately converts to Christianity. She is baptized and rechristened Juliana.
Duke Naimon
Naimon is Charlemayn’s wisest vassal; he counsels peace at the beginning of the poem when Roland favors war. Naimon faithfully supports and comforts Charlemayn throughout the ensuing battles. With Count Jozeran, he also helps marshal Charlemayn’s 10 columns before the battle with Baligant. He kills Baligant’s son Malpramis.
Count Walter Hum
Along with Roland, Oliver, and Archbishop Turpin, Count Walter Hum is appointed to the rear-guard which holds the Roncevaux Pass. He is one of the last three men standing at the Pass before Charlemayn arrives.
Thierry is Geoffrey of Anjou’s brother. When most of the Franks decide to let Ganelon off, intimidated by Pinabel, Thierry demands that justice be done and slays Pinabel.
Adelroth is King Marsilion’s nephew. He requests and is granted the honor of striking the first blow in the ambush of the Franks, but he is swiftly killed by Roland.
Marsilion’s godfather and a particularly vicious Saracen who’s committed sacrilege in Jerusalem.
Duke Samson
A member of the rear-guard at the Roncevaux Pass, killed by Valdabron.
Oliver’s sister who is engaged to Roland. After the battle, she learns that Roland has been killed and promptly dies of grief.
Marsilion’s son, whom Roland beheads in battle.
Marsilion’s uncle, who commands a column of African soldiers in the Saracen army. He gives Oliver his death-blow and is then promptly beheaded by Oliver in return.
Emir Baligant’s envoy to King Marsilion.
Emir Baligant’s envoy to King Marsilion.
Geoffrey d’Anjou
One of Charlemayn’s trusted barons. He initiates the mass burial of Franks killed at Roncevaux Pass.
A knight who, after Roland’s death, occupies Roland’s spot at the battle against Baligant.
A knight who, after Oliver’s death, occupies Oliver’s spot at the battle against Baligant.
Count Jozeran
Count Jozeran, along with Duke Naimon, helps marshal the 10 French columns before the battle with Baligant.
Ogier the Dane
An especially valiant baron at the battle against Baligant. He knocks the latter from his horse, allowing Charlemayn to take him down in single combat.
Baligant’s son, who requests the honor of striking the first blow in battle against Charlemayn’s army. He is slain by Duke Naimon.
A member of the rear-guard at the Roncevaux Pass.
A member of the rear-guard at the Roncevaux Pass.
A member of the rear-guard at the Roncevaux Pass.
A member of the rear-guard at the Roncevaux Pass.