Meriadoc Brandybuck 

by Rogorn

Meriadoc Brandybuck (hobbit name Kalimac Brandagamba)

One of the most distinguished Hobbits of history, remembered in the Annals of the Shire not only for his deeds in the year of the War of the Ring, but for his deep interest in the origins of the Hobbits themselves, as shown by his many contributions to the sum of Hobbit-scholarship.

More usually known as ‘Merry’, he was born in 2982 Third Age, the only child of Saradoc ‘Scattergold’ Brandybuck, Master of Brandybuck Hall, and Esmeralda Took, sister of Thain Paladin II. He was therefore cousin to his great friend and companion-in-adventures Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took. He was also second cousin to his other good friend and comrade Frodo Baggins.

As his nickname perhaps implies, his disposition was cheerful, even irrepresible, with a strong strain of the Fallohidish adventurous temperament. Yet, even in the midst of his adventures he was already showing signs of his developing interests in deeper matters. Of the two younger hobbits in the Company of the Ring (him and Pippin), he was undoubtedly the more mature, and he took the Quest seriously from the first, characteristically spending a good deal of time in the libraries of Rivendell, studying maps of the lands which lay far beyond his knowledge.

The Brandybuck family was one of the most prominent in the Shire, and the most important family in Buckland, so much so in fact that the head of the Brandybuck clan was called the ‘Master of Buckland’ and his authority over that strip of wooded country, east of the river Baranduin, was widely respected. Being therefore of aristocratic background, from the start he was able to address the high characters he was to meet in the most appropriate manner, going even to the length of formally pledging his service to King Théoden of Rohan. This gesture greatly pleased the late ruler, though doubtless Théoden continued to regard him more as a ward than a warrior. Nonetheless, he accompanied the Riders of Rohan on their epic journey towards the besieged city of Minas Tirith to the aid of Gondor during the War of the Ring. Once there, in the Pelennor Fields, in front of the walls of the famed White City, he stood by Théoden once his sire had been struck down by the Chief Nazgul, and together with Théoden’s sister-daughter, Éowyn, brought about the Witch-king’s downfall.

For these deeds he won great honour and renown among the Rohirrim, who named him ‘Holdwine’ [pronounced Hold-vee-neh] in their language, and gave him rank and much esteem in their land. After the war’s end, he became a close friend of Théoden’s successor, his sister-son Éomer, and remained greatly attached to Rohan for the rest of his long life, visiting the Mark often.

He also learned its language, for he fancied that he could detect many names and words in it akin to his own Hobbit-speech (which was correct – a form of the language spoken in Rohan was common enough among Men of the Northern valleys of the Anduin, near his part of the Shire). Eventually he produced at least one short treatise on the subject, ‘Old words and names in the Shire’.

Another subject which later captured his interest was the calculation of years and the forms of calendar reckoning in Western Middle-Earth. Finally, he also seemed to have been a fair botanist, with yet another scholarly work to his credit, ‘Herblore of the Shire’. It seems quite likely that his initial work in this particular field grew out of his great interest in (and fondness for) pipeweed, the origins of which obviously held a special fascination for him.

Nonetheless, in the eyes of the Shire-folk, while these varied academic accomplishments and greater deeds on foreign fields doubtless earned him respect, this could not compare with the great honour brought on himself with his adroit handling of the police action known as ‘the Scouring of the Shire’. In this he captained the Hobbitry-in-arms against the last remnants of the evil brought on to the Shire by the War of the Ring, with professional skill and admirable attention to detail.

In 1432 SR, King Elessar of Arnor and Gondor appointed the holders of the three most important offices in the Shire (the Thain of the Shire, the Mayor of Michel Delving and the Master of Buckland) as permanent counsellors of Arnor, the North-kingdom. The fact that at the time of this decision the holders of these positions were Peregrin Took, Samwise Gamgee and Meriadoc himself (he had spent only two years as Master, suceeding his father) was surely more than a simple coincidence. These three remarkable hobbits, together with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, might have been the reason King Elessar took particular notice of this part of his new realm, but all halflings as a whole became benefited by their deeds beyond the duration of their lives.

For some 50 years these old comrades continued to work together, shouldering the civil responsibilities of the Shire. Finally, in 63 Fourth Age he took counsel with Peregrin and both resigned their offices, handing over their chattels and estates to their sons (he had one from his wife Estella Bolger, but his name and deeds are not known), and riding away South, leaving the Shire forever. First they travelled to Edoras, the capital city of Rohan, where he saw his old friend King Éomer for the last time (Éomer died that autumn). Then they continued journey to Gondor, where they dwelt with King Elessar in great honour and splendour for some years before they too passed away and were laid to rest in the Hallows, in the House of the Kings.

(thanks to JAE Tyler's Companion)