About Rohan

compiled by Rogorn


Rohan: ‘Land of horses’ in the Sindarin tongue. A wide and spacious realm north of Gondor, east and south of the White Mountains, and west of the Gap and the Mouths of Entwash. Famed for its leagues of grassland, rich and abundant, where the local horses, who were unmatched for grace, beauty and lineage anywhere in Middle-earth, ran free in great herds, watched over by their proud masters. These were a people of Men, known in Gondor as the Rohirrim, ‘the masters of horses’, traditionally friendly to the Dúnedain and much respected for their bravery, loyalty and nobility of soul.

Rohan had indeed been once part of Gondor, as a province called Calenardhon, ‘the great green region’, but it became depopulated during the long wars of the Third Age. In 2510 it was threatened from the east (towards where it was wide open and difficult to defend) by a host of Easterlings called the Balchoth, allied to a host of Orcs. The Gondorian army was defeated and forced to retreat into an untenable position, but at the eleventh hour the Northmen of the Éotheod, allies of the Dúnedain of the South-kingdom, arrived after a great ride down all the leagues of Wilderland, and scattered the invaders with a trademark cavalry charge in the Fields of Celebrant. In gratitude for the Riders’ heroism, the Ruling Steward of Gondor ceded the land they had saved to them. They renamed it the Riddermark, ‘land of the knights’, in their own Northern tongue. The Gondorians also stopped using the old name of Calenardhon (which described the land) and called it Rohan (which described the people living in it). The stirring story can be read fully in the ‘Unfinished Tales’

The land was tailor-made for the Men of the Éotheod’s horse-breeding habits, and they soon prospered. They dwelt mainly in the West-emnet (the East-emnet being low-lying and marshy), scattered in small settlements upon the great wold, following the herds from pasture to pasture. Their chief town, and capital, was Edoras (‘the courts’), built by their second king upon a green hill at the feet of the White Mountains. There the kings of the Mark dwelt, save in wartime, when the royal household moved to Dunharrow, an ancient fortress-plateau in the mountains. The chief stronghold in the west of the land was the Hornburg.

The alliance with Gondor indeed benefited both realms alike, and on many occasions aid rendered by one to the other preserved both, as they shared the same enemies: Orcs, Easterlings, pirates from Umbar, Wild Men of the hills, and of course, Sauron of Mordor. On a few occasions at the end of the Third Age Rohan was gravely threatened by all these, but its lack of centralisation made it difficult to subdue. Sauron then adopted another strategy that lead to the weakening of the leadership in both monarchies and the de facto severing of the 500-year alliance between the peoples. Added to this, a new peril then came from the West, from the misguided Wizard Saruman, who had coaxed the Men of both nations into letting him take possession of the strategically-important land of Isengard, only to then turn against his landlords. Only an extraordinary succession of events, described in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ allowed for the alliance to be renewed and for the two great nations of Men to save their own lands and utterly destroy all their enemies combined in the space of a few prodigious days in the spring of 3018.

The lessons learnt, the alliance was renewed and strengthened (even by means of royal intermarriage) and the race of Men prospered through them into the following ages.

Théoden Ednew, The Renewer.

17th King of Rohan, 8th and last of the second Line of the Mark, from 2980 to 3019 Third Age. Born in Gondor, he never knew his grandfather Fengel, the 15th king. Fengel died when he was five years old, and it was only then when his father, Thengel, went back to Rohan to become the 16th king. Théoden’s turn to rule the Rohirrim would come to him at 32. He married to Elfhild, but she died during the childbirth of their son Théodred.

Later, his youngest and most beloved sister, Théodwyn, wed Marshal Éomund of Eastfold, and she bore him two children, Éomer and Éowyn. Then Éomund was slain by Orcs and only one year later Théodwyn also died, leaving the two children orphaned. Théoden took them under his care, calling them son and daughter.

In his youth he was said to be as tall and proud as any of his forebears, but having reached the middle years of his reign, he sank into a physical decline later exacerbated by the evil advice of his chief counsellor, Gríma son of Galmód, who, won over by the misguided Wizard Saruman, keeper of Isengard, was charged to ensure that Théoden’s torpor and despondency continued. Gríma even resorted to speaking with Saruman’s famed honeyed voice in the process.

At last Saruman made his move against Rohan, and on 25 February 3018 his combined troops of Dunlendings and Orcs attacked the Fords of Isen, where Théodred, Rohan’s heir, was slain. Then, as is told in ‘The Lord of the Rings’, in the very nick of time, on the very morning of the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen, where Erkenbrand was defeated and the Westfolders scattered into darkness, an extraordinary quartet arrived in Edoras, and by the power of its leader, the Wizard Gandalf the White, the spells of Saruman were broken, King Théoden was healed from his largely imagined sickness, and Gríma the Wormtongue was exposed as a traitor and banished from the Mark.

So swiftly was Théoden revived that on the same day he himself led the host of Edoras westward to the help of Erkenbrand. The reverses on the Isen were atoned for with a crushing victory over the armies of Isengard at Helm’s Deep. Then, Théoden achieved true greatness when, accepting the desperate summons of their old Dúnadan allies, he rode on to Gondor’s besieged stronghold of Minas Tirith at the head of 6000 cavalry. In fact, the greatest military encounter of the age, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, may be said to have commenced with the classic cavalry charge executed by the Rohirrim at dawn on 17 March. He personally led this onset, and was one of the first to fall, with just enough time to name Éomer as his successor before taking his right place in the last barrow of the Second Line in Edoras.

Éomer Éadig

18th King of Rohan, from 3019 Third Age to 63 Fourth Age. In addition to what has been said above in connection with Théoden, it can be noted the great friendship and alliance that linked him to Aragorn Elessar. At the Pelennor Fields, the two Kings-to-be fought in league so fiercely that none dared to stand against them. After the victory that day and the subsequent breaking of Barad-dur, he reigned over a happy and prosperous nation. Married to Lothíriel, daughter of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, he was succeeded by his son Elfwine the Fair.

(thanks to JAE Tyler’s Complete Tolkien Companion)