The action at Mallen, 13 June 1808, was the second of three Spanish attempts to stop a French army under General Lefebvre-Desnouettes from reaching Saragossa. The first, on 8 June, had seen a force of Spanish levies under the command of the Marquis of Lazan suffer a heavy defeat at Tudela. Lazan, the older brother of Joseph Palafox, the Captain-general of Aragon, retreated to Mallen with the survivors from Tudela. There he was reinforced by more levies from Saragossa.
Lazan placed his troops in a vulnerable position, which offered them no protection from the French artillery or from Lafebvre’s Polish cavalry. A charge by the Polish lancers helped break the Spanish lines. The Spanish were forced to retreat for a second time, this time after suffering heavy casualties. In the aftermath Palafox himself led a third army out of Saragossa, for one final attempt to stop the Spanish, at Alagon on 14 June.