The history of the proud Lords of Horses by Thanassis Constantopoulos aka Eärendil the Mariner.
Long before Men reached Beleriand on their way to the West, they stopped at the shores of the Sea of Rhûn. There, the people of the House of Balan and some members of the House of Marach chose to remain, while the people of Bëor went forth. These Men settled in the valley of the great river Anduin and for long centuries lived separated from their brothers, who had continued the journey west. When the Dúnedain returned to Middle earth and found them, they named then “Middle-Men”, because they had neither been influenced by Morgoth, nor had they gone to Númenor. The most significant realm of these Men was the Kingdom of Rhovanion and from there begins their history, which continues on till the days of the War of the Ring.
Map 1: The march of Men and the occupation of the Vale of Anduin.
Let us take things from the beginning: In the year 1249 of the Third Age, Prince Minalcar of Gondor won a battle against the Easterlings east of the Greenwood and pushed them away beyond the Sea of Rhûn with the help of the Northmen. For this victory, during his coronation he took the name Rómendacil ΙΙ (Victor of the East). The chieftain of the Northmen, who helped Minalcar, was Vidugavia, who named himself King of Rhovanion. Due to this alliance against the Easterlings, Valacar, the son of Rómendacil ΙΙ, married Vidumavi, daughter of King Vidugavia. Their son, Vinitharia, took the name Eldacar, when he inherited the throne.
Map 2: The Kingdoms of Gondor (blue) and Rhovanion (orange)
But Eldacar had been brought up by the Northmen and many Gondorians reacted to a “foreign” king. Among them there was Castamir, a member of the royal family, who took the dissent to its limits, plunging the country into civil war (Kin-Strife). He occupied the capital city of Osgiliath with his army and during the battle, Ornendil, the heir of Eldacar, was killed. Ten years later, with the aid of the Northmen, Eldacar returned and avenged this death by killing the usurper. Shamed, the sons of Castamir escaped to Umbar, which from then on was considered an enemy of Gondor.
The years passed and the two kingdoms kept in contact. To the west, the Shire was established and later the bitter war with Angmar was fought. The great plague came and decimated the Northmen. In the year 1851 of the Third Age, during the reign of Narmacil II in Gondor, there appeared a new race of easterners, called Wainriders. Very quickly, they subjugate Rhovanion using war chariots and went on to threaten Gondor. Narmacil ΙΙ gathered his army to face them. The remaining Northmen, under the command of Marhari, a distant descendant of Vidugavia, joined the ranks. The defeat was devastating. The Wainriders attacked from north-northeast and dominated the battle, Marhari was killed in the rearguard and Narmacil II soon after.
The Northmen refugees headed north towards Dale and south towards Gondor. Some of them, putting aside their fear, headed west through Mirkwood and settled around the river. Specifically, it was Marhwini, son of Marhari, who gathered all they folk he could find and led them west to an area between the Anduin, Mirkwood, the Carrock and the Gladden Fields. More refugees escaping enslavement by the Wainriders joined them. Due to their common love for horses, they named themselves Éothéod (People of the Horses).
Map 3: The march of Marhwini and the area where the Éothéod were formed.
Receiving alarming reports that the Wainriders were regrouping, Forthwini, son of Marhwini, warned Gondor. The attack came on year 1944 and the Haradrim attacked simultaneously from the South. Ondoher of Gondor gathered an army and divided it in two parts. The smaller part he gave to Earnil and he led the greater part of the army north. He left behind Faramir, so there would be an heir to the throne. But Ondoher was defeated and killed in the battle known as the “Disaster of the Morannon”. It is said that he left his last breath in the arms of Forthwini. Earnil won against the Haradrim at the Crossings of Poros and turned north. On the way, he met Prince Adrahil of Dol Amroth, who was retreating. They regrouped and attacked together. He routed the Wainriders while they were celebrating their victory and pushed them into the Dead Marshes.
Map 4: The march of Frumgar and the new settlement of the Éothéod
The following years are the best for the Éothéod. Angmar is destroyed in the year 1975 by Earnur II and so the North is safer. Frumgar, grandson of Forthwini moved the Éothéod north, between the rivers Greylin and Langwell, where many strong horses are to be found. They built a city named Framsburg, for Fram, the hero who slew the dragon Scatha and took his treasure. This action had then complicated relations with the Dwarves of the Gray Mountains, who had asked that the treasure be handed to them, as it was from them that the dragon had stolen it. But Fram, instead of the treasure, had send them a necklace made from the dragon’s teeth with the message “Jewels such as these you will not match in your treasuries, for they are hard to come by”.
For the next 500 years the Éothéod keep the background of History. Minas Ithil is occupied by the servants of the Enemy, the Dwarves have abandoned Moria, Erebor has been established and already abandoned once, the Line of Kings has been broken in Gondor, the Sleepless Peace has begun and ended and the One Ring has been found by Gollum. Léod, lord of the Éothéod, was killed by an untamed horse. His 16-year-old son tames it and names it Felaróf. The youngster’s name is Eorl the Young. This horse was the first of the Mearas, the horses that only the lord of the Éothéod could ride. Tradition said that these horses were brought out of the West by Béma the Hornblower (Orome).
In the year 2509 of the Third Age, a messenger brought to Eorl a Red Arrow from Cirion of Gondor. The Balchoth, an Eastern people, in cooperation with the Orcs, had entered the Wold and had already defeated the Northmen, who lived by the Forest. They had surrounded Cirion between the rivers Anduin and Limlaith, while many Orcs issued from Moria. It was then that the horns of the Éothéod were sounded. Unlooked for by both friends and foes, they crossed the Anduin and totally destroyed the army of the Balcoth.
Map 5: The charge of Eorl in the aid to Cirion
After the battle, Cirion and Eorl separated but arranged to meet again in three months’ time on the banks of a river in Anorien. There, Cirion announced to Eorl that he would offer him the area of Calenardhon in exchange for a permanent alliance. Before Eorl answered, Cirion led him by a secret path to the nearby mountaintop Hallifirien of the White Mountains. There Cirion revealed to Eorl the hidden tomb of Elendil and there it was that they gave an Oath of Alliance. Cirion spoke in Quenya and bade the Valar and Eru to witness this Oath. Later, Cirion had the tomb of Elendil moved to Rath Dínen in Minas Tirith, so that he laid in the center of the kingdom.
The first capital of the Éothéod was Aldburg in Folde. After Eorl’s death in 2454, Brego, his son, completed Meduseld and the seat of the King was moved to Edoras. Aldburg was held by his third son, Eofor, whose descendent was Eomund. The people renamed themselves Eorlingas, but the Gondorians referred to them as the Rohirrim and their land was called Rohan or Riddermark. The population movements and the exploration of the area of Rohan continued all through the days of Brego. Together with his son, the king discovered Harrowdale and then his son was lost trying to explore the Paths of the Dead. The throne went to Aldor, who completes the settling of Rohan by pushing the Dunlendings east of the river Isen. The Dunlendings had spread into the area of Rohan, when Gondor had practically abandoned the area. Aldor’s people multiplied and occupied even the valleys of the Ered Nimrais. He was succeeded by his son Fréa, who reigned in peace. After him come the kings Fréawine and Goldwine.
Map 6: Rohan
When Déor was king, the Dunlendings raided the herds and homesteads of the Rohirrim in the western parts of the realm. The king led a campaign to discover their stronghold and discovered that they had occupied the Ring of Isengard. Egalmoth of Gondor could not help them at the time, so the Rohirrim place a permanent garrison at the Westfold. Deor was succeeded by his son Gram and he by his son Helm, called the Hammerhand.
Freca of the Westmarch, who was dark haired and possessed land on both sides of the river Adorn, thus being part Dunlending, wanted to marry his son Wulf with Hild, the daughter of Helm. He threatened the king, he refused to give his daughter and Freca called him fat. Then, Helm struck him with his fist and Freca died. Then the king banished Wulf from the land. Wulf gathered an army, made an alliance with the Corsairs and attacked from Isengard and the Fords of Isen. Helm could not hold the Fords and retreated to Súthburg, an old Gondorian fortress. Wulf advanced, conquered Edoras, killed Haleth, the heir and last defender of Meduseld and proclaimed himself King. Háma, the second son, was lost trying to find help. Then followed the Long Winter and Rohan was buried under snow for five months. Helm came out of the fortress and killed enemies with his bare hands, dressed in white and blowing his great horn. Thus, the fortress was named Hornburg and the gorge it built against, Helm’s Deep. It is said that Helm died from the cold standing, after having blown his horn one last time. And there was a legend, that his ghost lived on and one day would take his revenge. Then his horn would be again heard in the gorge.
Helm’s nephew, Fréaláf, had been blocked by the snow in Dunharrow. From there he attacked Wulf, killed him and liberated Edoras. After these events and in order to secure the defense of Rohan, Steward Beren of Gondor gave the keys of Orthanc to the wizard Saruman. Brytta, son of Fréaláf during his reign fought both the Dunlendings and the Orcs, that wanted to reach the White Mountains. The next king, Walda, was killed by Orcs in Dunharrow. Folca avenged his death by killing every Orc he could find in his land one by one. He himself was killed while hunting the great Boar of Everholt. Folcwine was the 13th King of the Mark. He reoccupied the land between the rivers Adorn and Isen and he honored the Oath of Eorl by sending his two elder sons to fight for Gondor in Harad.
Map 7: Provinces of Rohan
Fengel, son of Folcwine, became too pampered. He neglected his people and amassed riches for himself. His son, Thengel, disgusted by this behaviour left and went to live in Lossarnach with his beloved Morwen Steelsheen of the House of Dol Amroth. It was from her that their son Théoden got his height. When Thengel returned unwillingly to Meduseld after his father’s death, he decided to abandon the Rohirric language. During his reign, he met Thorongil and they fought side by side. His son, Théoden, loved his sister Théodwyn very much and adopted her children when she and her husband Éomund of Eastfold died. Beside Éomer and Éowyn he had a son of his own, Théodred. His wife, Elfhild, died giving birth. Before the War of the Ring, Gríma son of Gálmód, a secret agent of Saruman, posoned the Kings mind and he became weak and incapable of ruling.
When Gandalf escaped Orthanc, he sought refuge in Edoras. He was not well received, so he departed taking with him, Shadowfax, the great Meara. The Nazgul learn from Gríma the location of the Shire and five months later Théodred is killed in an ambush at the Fords of Isen and Éomer attacks the Orcs that had abducted Merry and Pippin. Aragorn meets Éomer and two days later Gandalf. This meeting is so important that he forgets his 88th birthday. Meanwhile Elfhelm gives aid to Grimbold, but the 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen is lost and Erkenbrand falls back to the northern part of Westfold.
Ο Gandalf cured the King. The King decided to seek protection in Helm’s Deep, where his forces were besieged by the army of Saruman’s Uruk Hai. The Ents annihilated Isengard. Gandalf found Erkenbrand, Elfhelm and Grimbold and together they broke the siege.
After visiting Isengard, King Théoden went to Harrowdale. It is there that Hirgon found him and handed him them Red Arrow. Gondor calls for aid! The army of Rohan started for Anórien. But the armies of Mordor had already crossed the river at Cair Andros and awaited them. Other troops invaded the Wold from the north, but the Ents decimated them. Théoden avoided the Orcs by taking paths indicated by the Woses. Minas Tirith was already under siege. During the Battle of Pelennor, King Théoden was crashed and trapped under his steed, Snowmane. The Witch-King is slain by a woman and a hobbit, thus fulfilling the words of Glorfindel, while Eomer seeing his fallen sister, renewed his attack. A while later came the Battle at Morannon and the destruction of the Ring.
After the war, Eomer, the new King of the Mark, renewed the Oath with Aragorn and they fought together many times. He married Princess Lothíriel, daughter of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. His sister, Eowyn, had already married Faramir, Steward and Prince of Ithilien. Eomer had a son. Elfwine, who looked very much like his grandfather.
From the First to the Third Age of Middle earth, this is the history of one of its bravest people, the Riders of Rohan.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (2007). The two towers. London, Harper Collins Publishers.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (2007). The return of the king: being the third part of The lords of the rings, London, HarperCollins.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. and Tolkien C. (2000). Unfinished tales, “Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan“, “The Battles of the Fords of Isen“,London, HarperCollins.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. and C. Tolkien (2002). The History of Middle-Earth. London, HarperCollins.
- Tolkien Gateway (tolkiengateway.net)
- Illustrations by Ted Nasmith.
- Maps are from project “Ennorath” by KrisKowal.