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On the Fate of the Leaders of the Rohirrim

by Irmo-(Valar)[i]
May 1, 2021

In the game Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) we meet the leaders of the Rohirrim in their towns and villages. They are called Thanes (leaders of towns or villages), Reeves (leaders of regions) or Aldor[ii] (leader of multiple regions)[iii].

After having giving us the pleasure of fulfilling many quests for them, we meet some of them again, on the way to and on the battlefield of the Pelennor. We get the quest of finding the bodies of the slain and helping the few survivors. Are they all accounted for and are some of them actually mentioned in the Trilogy? This is what we know, in order of appearance in game:

1. The Eastemnet

In the Wold, Thane Uthred of Langold died defending his village and Thane Radwig of Floodwend is still very young. So on the Pelennor we find only Reeve Harding of Harwick, Aldor of the Eastemnet. He dies valiantly on the Pelennor. He is mentioned as such in the books, at the end of the chapter on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (p. 883).

In the Norcrofts, we find Thane Mildrith of Elthengels and Reeve Athelward of Cliving deeply involved with the troubles of their own lands. It is up to old Thane Elfmar of Faldham to lead the Norcrofts on the Pelennor, where he falls in battle. Special mention should, however, be made of his son Elfhelm, who is one of Theoden's Marshals, and as such leads the right flank éored in the battle if the Pelennor, which he survives. We meet him multiple times in the trilogy, as he leads the éored in which Éowyn/Dernhelm and Meriadoc are riding.

The Entwash Vale is represented on the Pelennor by old Reeve Ingbert of Eaworth and his son Horn. His other son Ingmar is still heavily wounded, while Thane Béortnoth of Thornhope has to focus on rebuilding his town. Ingbert not only succeeds in surviving the Pelennor, but is also mentioned in game as surviving the Battle of Morannon. The only one mentioned in the Trilogy is Horn, at the end of the chapter on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (p. 883).

From the Sutcrofts Reeve Fastred of Snowbourn and the sons of Thane Gisil of Garsfeld, Gisling and Déorwine (husband to Thane Wilsig of Walstow) fight on the Pelennor. Only Gisling survives. Fastred and Déorwine are mentioned in the books as having fallen, at the end of the chapter on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (p. 883).

In Wildermore, Thane Cynegar of Scylfig and Reeve Garwig of Forlaw have their hands full repairing their lands from the onslaught of Nurzum. These lands are represented on the Pelennor by Thrymm Redbeard, who survives, but -- disappointingly for him -- is not mentioned in the books.

2. The Westemnet

In Kingstead, Thane Edric of Entwade and Thane Magla of Middlemead have basically lost their people to the onslaught of the enemy. So on the Pelennor we find only Dunhere, Thane of Underharrow. There he is slain, which is confirmed in the Trilogy at the end of the chapter on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (p. 883). Also we actively meet Dunhere in the books earlier, indeed as the "chieftain of Harrowdale" (p.824 and 828).

Arcil of Aldburg is basically a placeholder for Éomer as Reeve of the Eastfold, so he stays at home. Thane Cutha of Beaconwatch fights on the Pelennor and survives. For the Fenmarch the son of Thane Sparhafoc, Guthlaf, dies on the Pelennor, which is mentioned in the books, at the end of the chapter on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (p. 883).

The fate of theBeaconwatch is harsh indeed. Even before the Battle of the Pelennor, Reeve Frithild of Stoke (by Ordlac), Thane Ordlac of Oserley (by us) and Thane Tordag of Torsbury (by orcs) have already been killed. So on the Pelennor we only find Tordag's son, Torferth, but alas he dies there. None of the Beaconwatch leaders occur in the Trilogy.

The Stonedeans are represented on the Pelennor by Reeve Herubrand and his son Herefara, who are confirmed in the books as having perished there, at the end of the chapter on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (p. 883). The Thane of Brockbridge, Leoferth,is too severely wounded to partake in the Pelennor, but Thane Nothmar of Gapholt is there and actually survives, but is not mentioned in the books.

3  3.  Others

The Lords of the Westfold are not called thanes or reeves, as they administrate the King's domains. Of these Grimbold of Grimslade stands out. He is mentioned in the books as the Marshal of Theoden's left wing éored, and dies valiantly on the Pelennor at the side of Theoden King.

It is nice that Gléowine, a central persona in the game, is confirmed to be Theoden's minstrel in the books (p.1012). He survives the Pelennor.

Concluding remarks:

Researching the data, I was twice pleasantly surprised. Firstly with how meticulously precise the game deals with the fates of all these characters we meet in game. But even more so with the fact that from almost all of the regions of Rohan at least one of the Thanes or Reeves is actually mentioned in the Trilogy! The fact that the ones who died are more likely to be in the Books than the ones who survived is the result of the fact that many of the fallen were remembered in the Song of the Mounds of Mundburg (p.883).

Let the valour of the Eorlingas in the saving of Middle-earth never be forgotten!

Ref. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Harper Collins 1991 (Single Volume Hardcover Edition)

[i] The inspiration for this article came from a conversation I had with Varda inside the LOTRO-game. Is the fate of all Rohirrim on the Pelennor accounted for? And are some of them actually mentioned in the book?

[ii] There is actually only one Aldor leading the Eastemnet (Eastern Rohan). Harding is Thane of Harwick, Reeve of the Wold and Aldor of the Eastemnet. We must assume that Théoden was not only King but also acting as the Aldor of the Westemnet in the game.

[iii] These ranks are not mentioned in the books. They are to some extent historically grounded in early Anglo-Saxon hierarchy. The title of Thane was also given to Landlords in medieval Scotland. The titles of Reeve (Gerefa) and Aldor (Ealdorman) were given to nobles who fulfilled administrative roles in pre-feudal Saxon Britain. In feudal Britain (from the 11th century) these ranks developed into e.g. baron, margrave, count, and earl.