The Chronicle of Cirion and Eorl begins only with the first meeting of Cirion, Steward of Gondor, and Eorl, Lord of the Éothéod, after the Battle of the Field of Celebrant was over and the invaders of Gondor destroyed. But there were lays and legends of the great ride of the Rohirrim from the North both in Rohan and in Gondor, from which accounts that appear in later Chronicles (such as the Book of the Kings), together with much other matter concerning the Éothéod, were taken. These are here drawn together briefly in chronicle form.
The Éothéod were first known by that name in the days of King Calimehtar of Gondor (who died in the year 1936 of the Third Age), at which time they were a small people living in the Vales of Anduin between the Carrock and the Gladden Fields, for the most part on the west side of the river. They were a remnant of the Northmen, who had formerly been a numerous and powerful confederation of peoples living in the wide plains between Mirkwood and the River Running, great breeders of horses and riders renowned for their skill and endurance, though their settled homes were in the eaves of the Forest, and especially in the East Bight, which had largely been made by their felling of trees. The East Bight, not named elsewhere, was the great indentation in the eastern border of Mirkwood.
These Northmen were descendants of the same race of Men as those who in the First Age passed into the West of Middle-earth and became the allies of the Eldar in their wars with Morgoth. The Northmen appear to have been most nearly akin to the third and greatest of the peoples of the Elf-friends, ruled by the House of Hador. They were therefore from afar off kinsmen of the Dúnedain or Númenóreans (they accounted themselves kinsmen, descended from Eldacar), and there was great friendship between them and the people of Gondor, and they were in origin close akin to the Beornings and the men of the west-eaves of the forest. They were in fact a bulwark of Gondor, keeping its northern and eastern frontiers from invasion; though that was not fully realized by the Kings until the bulwark was weakened and at last destroyed. The waning of the Northmen of Rhovanion began with the Great Plague, which appeared there in the winter of the year 1635 and soon spread to Gondor. In Gondor, the mortality was great, especially among those who dwelt in cities. It was greater in Rhovanion, for though its people lived mostly in the open and had no great cities, the Plague came with a cold winter when horses and men were driven into shelter and their low wooden houses and stables were thronged; moreover they were little skilled in the arts of healing and medicine, of which much was still known in Gondor, preserved from the wisdom of Númenor. When the Plague passed, it is said that more than half of the folk of Rhovanion had perished, and of their horses also.
They were slow to recover; but their weakness was not tested for a long time. No doubt the peoples further east had been equally afflicted, so that the enemies of Gondor came chiefly from the south or over sea. But when the invasions of the Wainriders began and involved Gondor in wars that lasted for almost a hundred years, the Northmen bore the brunt of the first assaults. King Narmacil II took a great army north into the plains south of Mirkwood, and gathered all that he could of the scattered remnants of the Northmen; but he was defeated, and himself fell in battle. The battle in which King Narmacil II was slain in the year 1856, was said to have been “beyond Anduin.” The remnant of his army retreated over the Dagorlad into Ithilien, and Gondor abandoned all lands east of the Anduin save Ithilien.
The escape of the army of Gondor from total destruction was in part due to the courage and loyalty of the horsemen of the Northmen under Marhari (a descendant of Vidugavia, “King of Rhovanion”) who acted as rearguard. But the forces of Gondor had inflicted such losses on the Wainriders that they had not strength enough to press their invasion, until reinforced from the East, and were content for the time to complete their conquest of Rhovanion. It is told that Vidugavia, who called himself King of Rhovanion, was the most powerful of the princes of the Northmen; he was shown favor by Rómendacil II, King of Gondor (died 1366), whom he had aided in war against the Easterlings; and the marriage of Rómendacil’s son Valacar to Vidugavia’s daughter Vidumavi led to the destructive Kin-strife in Gondor in the fifteenth century.
As for the Northmen, a few, it is said, fled over the Celduin (River Running) and were merged with the folk of Dale under Erebor (with whom they were akin), some took refuge in Gondor, and others were gathered by Marhwini son of Marhari (who fell in the rearguard action after the Battle of the Plains). Passing north between Mirkwood and Anduin they settled in the Vales of Anduin, where they were joined by many fugitives who came through the Forest. This was the beginning of the Éothéod (as was the form of the name in later days), though nothing was known of it in Gondor for many years. It is made clear here that it was after the Battle of the Plains that the Éothéod, one of the remnants of the Northmen, became a distinct people. Most of the Northmen were reduced to servitude, and all their former lands were occupied by the Wainriders.
Nothing is said here of the war fought against the Easterlings in the thirteen century by Minalcar (who took the name of Rómendacil II) or the absorption of many Northmen into the armies of Gondor by that king.
But at length, King Calimehtar, son of Narmacil II, being free from other dangers, determined to avenge the defeat of the Battle of the Plains. His grandfather Telumehtar had captured Umbar and broken the power of the Corsairs, and the peoples of Harad were at this period engaged in wars and feuds of their own. The taking of Umbar by Telumehtar Umbardacil was in the year 1810. Messengers came to Calimehtar from Marhwini warning him that the Wainriders were plotting to raid Calenardhon over the Undeeps (the great westward bends of the Anduin east of Fangorn Forest); but they said also that a revolt of the Northmen who had been enslaved was being prepared and would burst into flame if the Wainriders became involved in war. Calimehtar therefore, as soon as he could, led an army out of Ithilien, taking care that its approach should be well known to the enemy. The Wainriders came down with all the strength that they could spare, and Calimehtar gave way before them, drawing them away from their homes. At length, battle was joined upon the Dagorlad, and the result was long in doubt. But at its height, horsemen that Calimehtar had sent over the Undeeps (left unguarded by the enemy) joined with a great éored led by Marhwini, and assailed the Wainriders in flank and rear. The victory of Gondor was overwhelming – though not in the event decisive. When the enemy broke and were soon in disordered flight north towards their homes, Calimehtar, wisely for his part, did not pursue them. They had left well nigh a third of their host dead to rot upon the Dagorlad among the bones of other and nobler battles of the past. But the horsemen of Marhwini harried the fugitives and inflicted great loss upon them in their long rout over the plains, until they were within far sight of Mirkwood. There they left them, taunting them: “Fly east not north, folk of Sauron! See, the homes you stole are in flames!” For there was a great smoke going up.
The revolt planned and assisted by Marhwini had indeed broken out; desperate outlaws coming out of the Forest had roused the slaves, and together had succeeded in burning many of the dwellings of the Wainriders, and their storehouses, and their fortified camps of wagons. But most of them had perished in the attempt; for they were ill-armed, and the enemy had not left their homes undefended: their youths and old men were aided by the younger women, who in that people were also gained in arms and fought fiercely in defense of their homes and their children. Thus in the end, Marhwini was obliged to retire again to his land beside the Anduin, and the Northmen of his race never again returned to their former homes. Calimehtar withdrew to Gondor, which enjoyed for a time (from 1899 to 1944) a respite from war before the great assault in which the line of its kings came near to its end.
Nonetheless, the alliance of Calimehtar and Marhwini had not been in vain. If the strength of the Wainriders of Rhovanion had not been broken, that assault would have come sooner and in greater force, and the realm of Gondor might have been destroyed. But the greatest effect of the alliance lay far in the future which none could then foresee: the two great rides of the Rohirrim to the salvation of Gondor, the coming of Eorl to the Field of Celebrant and the horns of King Théoden upon the Pelennor, but for which the return of the King would have been in vain.
In the meanwhile, the Wainriders licked their wounds, and plotted their revenge. Beyond the reach of the arms of Gondor in lands east of the Sea of Rhûn from which no tidings came to its Kings, their kinsfolk spread and multiplied, and they were eager for conquests and booty and filled with hatred of Gondor which stood in their way. It was long, however, before they moved. On the one hand, they feared the might of Gondor and knowing nothing of what passed west of Anduin, they believed that its realm was larger and more populous than it was in truth at that time. On the other hand, the eastern Wainriders had been spreading southward, beyond Mordor, and were in conflict with the peoples of Khand and their neighbors further south. Eventually a peace and alliance was agreed between these enemies of Gondor, and an attack was prepared that should be made at the same time from north and south.
Little or nothing, of course, was known of these designs and movements in Gondor. What is here said was deduced from the events long afterwards by historians, to whom it was also clear that the hatred of Gondor, and the alliance of its enemies in concerted action (for which they themselves had neither the will nor the wisdom) was due to the machinations of Sauron. Forthwini, son of Marhwini, indeed warned King Ondoher (who succeeded his father Calimehtar in the year 1936) that the Wainriders of Rhovanion were recovering from their weakness and fear, and that he suspected that they were receiving new strength from the East, for he was much troubled by raids into the south of his land that came both up the river and through the Narrows of the Forest. The Narrows of the Forest must refer to the narrow “waist” of Mirkwood in the south, caused by the indentation of the East Bight. But Gondor could do no more at that time than gather and train as great an army as it could find or afford. Thus when the assault came at last it did not find Gondor unprepared, though its strength was less than it needed.
Ondoher was aware that his southern enemies were preparing for war, and he had the wisdom to divide his forces into a northern army and a southern. The latter was the smaller, for the danger from that quarter was held to be less. Justly. For an attack proceeding from Near Harad – unless it had assistance from Umbar, which was not at that time available – could more easily be resisted and contained. It could not cross the Anduin, and as such it went north passing into a narrowing land between the river and the mountains. The southern army was under the command of Eärnil, a member of the Royal House, being a descendant of King Telumehtar, father of Narmacil II. His base was at Pelargir. The northern army was commanded by King Ondoher himself. This had always been the custom of Gondor, that the King, if he willed, should command his army in a major battle, provided that an heir with undisputed claim to the throne was left behind. Ondoher came of a warlike line, and was loved and esteemed by his army, and he had two sons, both of age to bear arms: Artamir the elder, and Faramir some three years younger.
News of the oncoming of the enemy reached Pelargir on the ninth day of Cermië in the year 1944. Eärnil had already made his dispositions: he had crossed the Anduin with half his force, and leaving by design the Fords of the Poros undefended, had encamped some forty miles north in South Ithilien. King Ondoher had purposed to lead his host north through Ithilien and deploy it on the Dagorlad, a field of ill omen for the enemies of Gondor. At that time the forts upon the line of the Anduin north of Sarn Gebir that had been built by Narmacil I were still in repair and manned by sufficient soldiers from Calenardhon to prevent any attempt of an enemy to cross the river at the Undeeps. But the news of the northern assault did not reach Ondoher until the morning of the twelfth day of Cermië, by which time the enemy was already drawing near, whereas the army of Gondor had been moving more slowly than it would if Ondoher had received earlier warning, and its vanguard had not yet reached the Gates of Mordor. The main force was leading with the King and his Guards, followed by the soldiers of the Right Wing and the Left Wing which would take up their places when they passed out of Ithilien and approached the Dagorlad. There they expected the assault to come from the North or North-east, as it had before in the Battle of the Plains and in the victory of Calimehtar on the Dagorlad.
But it was not so. The Wainriders had mustered a great host by the southern shores of the inland Sea of Rhûn, strengthened by men of their kinsfolk in Rhovanion and from their new allies in Khand. When all was ready, they set out for Gondor from the East, moving with all the speed they could along the line of the Ered Lithui, where their approach was not observed until too late. So it came to pass that the head of the army of Gondor had only drawn level with the Gates of Mordor (the Morannon) when a great dust borne on a wind from the East announced the oncoming of the enemy vanguard. At this period the Morannon was still in the control of Gondor, and the two Watchtowers east and west of it (the Towers of the Teeth) were still manned. The road through Ithilien was still in full repair as far as the Morannon; and there it met a road going north towards the Dagorlad, and another going east along the line of Ered Lithui. Neither of these roads is marked on the later maps. The eastward road extended to a point north of the site of Barad-dûr; it had never been completed further, and what had been made was now long neglected. Nonetheless its first fifty miles, which had once been fully constructed, greatly speeded the Wainriders’ approach. This was composed not only of the war-chariots of the Wainriders but also of a force of cavalry far greater than any that had been expected. Ondoher had only time to turn and face the assault with his right flank close to the Morannon, and to send word to Minohtar, Captain of the Right Wing behind, to cover his left flank as swiftly as he could, when the chariots and horsemen crashed into his disordered line. Of the confusion of the disaster that followed, few clear reports were ever brought to Gondor.
Ondoher was utterly unprepared to meet a charge of horse men and chariots in great weight. With his Guard and his banner, he had hastily taken up a position on a low knoll, but this was of no avail. Historians surmise that it was the same hill as that upon which King Elessar made his stand in the last battle against Sauron with which the Third Age ended. But if so, it was still only a natural up-swelling that offered little obstacle to horsemen and had not yet been piled up by the labour of Orcs. The main charge was buried against his banner, and it was captured, his Guard was almost annihilated, and he himself was slain, as was his son Artamir at his side. The bodies were never recovered. The assault of the enemy passed over them and about both sides of the knoll, driving deep into the disordered ranks of Gondor, hurling them back in confusion upon those behind, and scattering and pursuing many others westward into the Dead Marshes.
Minohtar took command. He was a man both valiant and war-wise. The first fury of the onslaught was spent, with far less loss and greater success than the enemy had looked for. The cavalry and chariots now withdrew, for the main host of the Wainriders was approaching. In such time as he had, Minohtar, raising his own banner, rallied the remaining men of the Center and those of his own command that were at hand. He at once sent messengers to Adrahil of Dol Amroth, the Captain of the Left Wing, commanding him to withdraw with all the speed he could both his own command and those at the rear of the Right Wing who had not yet been engaged. With these forces he was to take up a defensive position between Cair Andros (which was manned) and the mountains of Ephel Dúath, where owing to the great eastward loop of the Anduin, the land was at its narrowest, to cover as long as he could the approaches to Minas Tirith. Minohtar himself, to allow time for this retreat, would form a rearguard and attempt to stem the advance of the main host of the Wainriders. Adrahil should at once send messengers to find Eärnil, if they could, and inform him of the disaster of the Morannon and of the position of the retreating Northern Army.
When the main host of the Wainriders advanced to the attack, it was then two hours after noon, and Minohtar had withdrawn his line to the head of the great North Road of Ithilien, half a mile beyond the point where it turned east to the Watch-towers of the Morannon. The first triumph of the Wainriders was now the beginning of their undoing. Ignorant of the numbers and ordering of the defending army, they had launched their first onslaught too soon, before the greater part of that army had come out of the narrow land of Ithilien, and the charge of their chariots and cavalry had met with a success far swifter and more overwhelming than they had expected. Their main onslaught was then too long delayed, and they could no longer use their greater numbers with full effect according to the tactics they had intended, being accustomed to warfare in open lands. It may well be supposed that, elated by the fall of the King and the rout of a large part of the opposing Center, they believed that they had already overthrown the defending army, and that their own main army had little more to do than advance to the invasion and occupation of Gondor. If that were so, they were deceived.
The Wainriders came on in little order, still exultant and singing songs of victory, seeing as yet no signs of any defenders to oppose them, until they found that the road into Gondor turned south into a narrow land of trees under the shadow of the dark Ephel Dúath, where an army could march, or ride, in good order only down a great highway. Before them it ran on through a deep cutting….
Men of the Éothéod fought with Ondoher; and Ondoher’s second son Faramir was ordered to remain in Minas Tirith as regent, for it was not permitted by the law that both his sons should go into battle at the same time. But Faramir did not do so; he went to the war in disguise, and was slain. It seems that Faramir joined the Éothéod and was caught with a party of them as they retreated towards the Dead Marshes. The leader of the Éothéod, Marhgavia, came to their rescue, but Faramir died in his arms, and it was only when he searched his body that he found tokens that showed that he was the Prince. Marhgavia then went to join Minohtar at the head of the North Road in Ithilien, who at that very moment was giving an order for a message to be taken to the Prince in Minas Tirith, who was now the King. It was then that Marhgavia gave him the news that the Prince had gone disguised to the battle, and had been slain.
The presence of the Éothéod and the part played by their leader may be an account of the beginnings of the friendship of Gondor and the Rohirrim, as is this elaborate story of the battle between the army of Gondor and the Wainriders.
The host of the Wainriders were about to receive a check to their exaltation and elation as they came down the highway into the deep cutting; but they were not long held up by the rearguard defense of Minohtar.
The Wainriders poured relentlessly into Ithilien, and late on the thirteenth day of Cermië they overwhelmed Minohtar, who was slain by an arrow. He is said to have been King Ondoher’s sister-son. His men carried him out of the fray, and all that remained of the rearguard fled southwards to find Adrahil. The chief commander of the Wainriders then called a halt to the advance, and held a feast.
So it was that in 1944 King Ondoher and both his sons, Artamir and Faramir, fell in battle north of the Morannon. But Eärnil, Captain of the Southern Army, won a great victory in South Ithilien and destroyed the army of Harad that had crossed the River Poros. Hastening north, he gathered to him all that he could of the retreating Northern Army and came up against the main camp of the Wainriders, while they were feasting and revelling, believing that Gondor was overthrown and that nothing remained but to take the spoil. Eärnil stormed the camp and set fire to the wains, and drove the enemy in a great rout out of Ithilien. A great part of those who fled before him perished in the Dead Marshes.
In the Tale of Years, the victory of Eärnil is called the Battle of the Camp. After the deaths of Ondoher and both his sons at the Morannon, Arvedui, last king of the northern realm laid claim to the crown of Gondor; but his claim was rejected, and in the year following the Battle of the Camp, Eärnil became King. His son was Eärnur, who died in Minas Morgul after accepting the challenge of the Lord of the Nazgûl, and was the last of the Kings of the southern realm.
While the Éothéod still dwelt in their home in the Vales of Anduin between the Carrock and the Gladden Fields, they were well-known to Gondor as a people of good trust, from whom they received news of all that passed in that region. In the days of the great Kings, they had been their allies and contributed much of their blood to the people of Gondor. It was thus of great concern to Gondor when the Éothéod removed into the far North, in the days of Eärnil II, last (save one) of the Kings of the southern realm. The Éothéod loved best the plains, and delighted in horses and all feats of horsemanship, but there were many men in the middle vales of Anduin in those days, and moreover the shadow of Dol Guldur was lengthening; when therefore they heard of the overthrow of the Witch-king (in the year 1975), they sought more room in the North, and drove away the remnants of the people of Angmar on the east side of the Mountains. But in the days of Léod, they had grown to be a numerous people and were again somewhat straitened in the land of their home.
The new land of the Éothéod lay north of Mirkwood, between the Misty Mountains westward and the Forest River eastward. Southward it extended to the confluence of the two short rivers that they named Greylin and Langwell. Greylin flowed down from Ered Mithrin, the Grey Mountains, but Langwell came from the Misty Mountains, and this name it bore because it was the source of Anduin, which from its junction with Greylin they called Langflood. These rivers are marked but often unnamed on maps. The Greylin is there shown as having two tributary branches.
Messengers still passed between Gondor and the Éothéod after their departure; but it was some four hundred and fifty miles between the confluence of Greylin and Langwell (where was their only fortified burg) and the inflow of Limlight into Anduin, in a direct line as a bird might fly, and much more for those who journeyed on earth; and in like manner some eight hundred miles to Minas Tirith.
The Chronicle of Cirion and Eorl reports no events before the Battle of the Field of Celebrant; but from other sources they may be made out to have been of this sort.
Many lords and warriors, and many fair and valiant women, are named in the songs of Rohan that still remember the North. Frumgar, they say, was the name of the chieftain who led his people north to Éothéod; and in the Tale of Years the date is given as 1977. Of his son, Fram, they tell that he slew Scatha, the great dragon of Ered Mithrin, and the land had peace from the long-worms afterwards. Thus Fram won great wealth, but was at feud with the Dwarves, who claimed the hoard of Scatha.
Fram would not yield them a penny, and sent to them instead the teeth of Scatha made into a necklace, saying: “Jewels such as these you will not match in your treasuries, for they are hard to come by.”
Some say that the Dwarves slew Fram for this insult. There was no great love between Éothéod and the Dwarves.
The wide lands south of Mirkwood, from the Brown Lands to the Sea of Rhûn, which offered no obstacle to invaders from the East until they came to Anduin, were a chief source of concern and unease to the rulers of Gondor. But during the Watchful Peace (from the years 2063 to 2460, when Sauron was absent from Dol Guldur), the forts along the Anduin, especially on the west shore of the Undeeps, had been unmanned and neglected. After that time, Gondor was assailed both by Orcs out of Mordor (which had long been unguarded) and by the Corsairs of Umbar, and had neither men nor opportunity for manning the line of Anduin north of the Emyn Muil.
Léod was the name of Eorl’s father. He was a tamer of wild horses; for there were many at that time in the land. He captured a white foal, and it grew quickly to a horse strong, and fair, and proud. No man could tame it. When Léod dared to mount it, it bore him away, and at last threw him, and Léod’s head struck a rock, and so he died. He was then only two and forty years old, and his son a youth of sixteen.
Eorl vowed that he would avenge his father. He hunted for the horse, and at last he caught sight of him; and his companions expected that he would try to come within bowshot and kill him.
But when they drew near, Eorl stood up and called in a loud voice: “Come hither, Mansbane, and get a new name!”
To their wonder the horse looked towards Eorl, and came and stood before him, and Eorl said: “Felaróf I name you. You loved your freedom, and I do not blame you for that. But now you owe me a great weregild, and you shall surrender your freedom to me until your life’s end.”
Then Eorl mounted him, and Felaróf submitted; and Eorl rode him home without bit or bridle; and he rode him in like fashion ever after. The horse understood all that men said, though he would allow no man but Eorl to mount him. It was upon Felaróf (Felaróf, “very valiant, very strong,”) that Eorl rode to the Field of Celebrant; for that horse proved as long-lived as Men, and so were his descendants. These were the mearas, who would bear no one but the King of the Mark or his sons, until the time of Shadowfax. Men said of them that Béma (whom the Eldar call Oromë) must have brought their sire from West over Sea.
Cirion became Steward of Gondor in the year 2489. The menace from the North was ever in his mind, and he gave much thought to ways that might be devised against the threat of invasion from that quarter, as the strength of Gondor diminished. He put a few men into the old forts to keep watch on the Undeeps, and sent scouts and spies into the lands between Mirkwood and Dagorlad. He was thus soon aware that new and dangerous enemies coming out of the east were steadily drifting in from beyond the Sea of Rhûn. They were slaying, or driving north up the River Running and into the Forest, the remnant of the Northmen, friends of Gondor that still dwelt east of Mirkwood (one gains the impression that there were no Northmen left in the lands east of Mirkwood after the victory of Calimehtar over the Wainriders on the Dagorlad in the year 1899). But he could do nothing to aid them, and it became more and more dangerous to gather news; too many of his scouts never returned.
It was thus not until the winter of the year 2509 was past that Cirion became aware that a great movement against Gondor was being prepared: hosts of men were mustering all along the southern eaves of Mirkwood. They were only rudely armed, and had no great number of horses for riding, using horses mainly for draught, since they had many large wains, as had the Wainriders (to whom they were no doubt akin) that assailed Gondor in the last days of the Kings. But what they lacked in gear of war they made up in numbers, so far as could be guessed.
In this peril Cirion’s thought turned at last in desperation to the Éothéod, and he determined to send messengers to them. But they would have to go through Calenardhon and over the Undeeps, and then through lands already watched and patrolled by the Balchoth before they could reach the Vales of Anduin. So these people were then called in Gondor: a mixed word of popular speech, from Westron balc “horrible” and Sindarin hoth “horde,” applied to such peoples as the Orcs. This would mean a ride of some four hundred and fifty miles to the Undeeps, and more than five hundred thence to the Éothéod, and from the Undeeps they would be forced to go warily and mostly by night until they had passed the shadow of Dol Guldur. Cirion had little hope that any of them would get through. He called for volunteers, and choosing six riders of great courage and endurance, he sent them out in pairs with a day’s interval between them. Each bore a message learned by heart, and also a small stone incised with the seal for the Stewards (the letters R ND R surmounted by three stars, signifying arandur, king’s servant, steward.), that he should deliver to the Lord of the Éothéod in person, if he succeeded in reaching that land. The message was addressed to Eorl son of Léod, for Cirion knew that he had succeeded his father some years before, and though now no more than five and twenty, was praised in all such tidings as reached Gondor as a man of great courage and wise beyond his years. Yet Cirion had but faint hope that even if the message were received it would be answered. He had no claim on the Éothéod beyond their ancient friendship with Gondor to bring them from so far away with any strength that would avail. The tidings that the Balchoth were destroying the last of their kin in the South, if they did not know it already, might give weight to his appeal, if the Éothéod themselves were not threatened by any attack. Cirion said no more, and ordered what strength he had to meet the storm. He did not speak of the thought that he had also in mind: that the Éothéod were, as he had learned, restless, finding their northern lands too narrow and infertile to support their numbers, which had much increased. He gathered as great a force as he could, and taking command of it himself, made ready as swiftly as might be to lead it north to Calenardhon. Hallas, his son, he left in command at Minas Tirith.
The first pair of messengers left on the tenth day of Súlimë; and in the event it was one of these, alone of all the six, who got through to the Éothéod. He was Borondir, a great rider of a family that claimed descent from a captain of the Northmen in the service of the Kings of old. His name was long remembered in the song of Rochon Methestel (Rider of the Last Hope) as Borondir Udalraph (Borondir the Stirrup-less), for he rode back with the éoherë at the right hand of Eorl, and was the first to cross the Limlight and cleave a path to the aid of Cirion. He fell at last on the Field of Celebrant defending his lord, to the great grief of Gondor and the Éothéod, and was afterwards laid in tomb in the Hallows of Minas Tirith. Of the others no tidings were ever heard, save of Borondir’s companion. He was slain by arrows in ambush as they passed near Dol Guldur, from which Borondir escaped by fortune and the speed of his horse. He was pursued as far north as the Gladden Fields, and often waylaid by men that came out of the Forest and forced him to ride far out of the direct way. He came at last to the Éothéod after fifteen days, for the last two without food; and he was so spent that he could scarce speak his message to Eorl.
It was then the twenty-fifth day of Súlimë. Eorl took counsel with himself in silence; but not for long. Soon he rose, and he said: “I will come. If the Mundburg falls, whither shall we flee from the Darkness?” Then he took Borondir’s hand in token of the promise.
Eorl at once summoned his council of Elders, and began to prepare for the great riding. But this took many days, for the host had to be gathered and mustered, and thought taken for the ordering of the people and the defense of the land. At that time the Éothéod were at peace and had no fear of war: though it might prove otherwise when it became known that their lord had ridden away to battle far off in the South. Nonetheless Eorl saw well that nothing less than his full strength would serve, and he must risk all or draw back and break his promise.
At last the whole host was assembled; and only a few hundreds were left behind to support the men unfitted for such desperate venture by youth or age. It was then the sixth day of the month of Víressë. On that day in silence the great éohere set out, leaving fear behind, and taking with them small hope; for they knew not what lay before them, either on the road or at its end. It is said that Eorl led forth some seven thousand fully-armed riders and some hundreds of horsed archers. At his right hand rode Borondir, to serve as guide so far as he might, since he had lately passed through the lands. But this great host was not threatened or assailed during its long journey down the Vales of Anduin. Such folk of good or evil kind as saw it approach fled out of its path for fear of its might and splendor. As it drew southward and passed by southern Mirkwood (below the great East Bight), which was now infested by the Balchoth, still there was no sign of men, in force or in scouting parties, to bar their road or to spy upon their coming. In part this was due to events unknown to them, which had come to pass since Borondir set out; but other powers also were at work. For when at last the host drew near to Dol Guldur, Eorl turned away westward for fear of the dark shadow and cloud that flowed out from it, and then he rode on within sight of Anduin. Many of the riders turned their eyes thither, half in fear and half in hope to glimpse from afar the shimmer of the Dwimordene, the perilous land that in legends of their people was said to shine like gold in the springtime. But now it seemed shrouded in a gleaming mist and to their dismay the mist passed over the river and flowed over the land before them.
Eorl did not halt. “Ride on!” he commanded. “There is no other way to take. After so long a road shall we be held back from battle by a river-mist?”
As they drew nearer they saw that the white mist was driving back the glooms of Dol Guldur, and soon they passed into it, riding slowly at first and warily; but under its canopy all things were lit with a clear and shadowless light, while to left and right they were guarded as it were by white walls of secrecy.
“The Lady of the Golden Wood is on our side, it seems ,” said Borondir.
“Maybe,” said Eorl. “But at least I will trust the wisdom of Felaróf. He scents no evil. His heart is high, and his weariness is healed: he strains to be given his head. So be it! For never have I had more need of secrecy and speed.”
Then Felaróf sprang forward, and all the host behind followed like a great wind, but in a strange silence, as if their hooves did not beat upon the ground. So they rode on, as fresh and eager as on the morning of their setting-out, during that day and the next; but at dawn of the third day they rose from their rest, and suddenly the mist was gone, and they saw that they were far out in the open lands. On their right the Anduin lay near, but they had almost passed its great eastward loop (between the inflow of the Limlight and the Undeeps), and the Undeeps were in sight. It was the morning of the fifteenth day of Víressë, and they had come there at a speed beyond hope. In nine days they had covered more than five hundred miles in a direct line, probably more than six hundred as they rode. Though there were no great natural obstacles on the east side of Anduin, much of the land was now desolate, and roads or horse-paths running southward were lost or little used; only for short periods were they able to ride at speed, and they needed also to husband their own strength and their horses, since they expected battle as soon as they reached the Undeeps.
A great host of wild men from the North-east swept over Rhovanion and coming down out of the Brown-lands crossed the Anduin on rafts. At the same time by chance or design, the Orcs (who at that time before their war with the Dwarves were in at strength) made a descent from the Mountains. The invaders overran Calenardhon, and Cirion, Steward of Gondor, looked north for help. In the valley of the River, men were now few and scattered, and slow to render such aid as the could.
When Eorl and his Riders came to the Field of Celebrant, the Northern Army of Gondor was in peril. Defeated in the Wold and cut off from the south, it had been driven across the Limlight, and was then suddenly assailed by the Orc-host that pressed it towards the Anduin. All hope was lost when, unlooked for by all but Cirion, the Riders came out of the North, having passed over the Undeeps then crossed the Limlight, and broke upon the rear of the enemy at the Field of Celebrant, for that was the name of the green land that lay between Silverlode and Limlight. Then the fortunes of battle were reversed, and the enemy was driven with slaughter back over Limlight, southwards into the Wold. Eorl led his men in pursuit, and so great was the fear that went before the horsemen of the North that the invaders of the Wold were also thrown into panic, and the Riders hunted them over the plains of Calenardhon. From this deadly peril, which would have brought ruin upon Gondor, the coming of Eorl the Young and the Rohirrim rescued the realm. Eorl the Young was so named because he succeeded his father in youth and remained yellow-haired and ruddy to the end of his days.
When the war was over, men wondered in what way the Steward would honor Eorl and reward him, and expected that a great feast would be held in Minas Tirith at which this would be revealed. But Cirion was a man who kept his own counsel. As the diminished army of Gondor made its way south he was accompanied by Eorl and an éored of the Riders of the North.
According to the Rohirrim, the éored had no precisely fixed number, but in Rohan it was only applied to Riders, fully trained for war: men serving for a term, or in some cases permanently, in the King’s Host. Any considerable body of such men, riding as a unit in exercise or on service, was called an éored. But after the recovery of the Rohirrim and the reorganization of their forces in the days of King Folcwine, a hundred years before the War of the Ring, a ‘full éored’ in battle order was reckoned to contain not less than 120 men (including the Captain), and to be one hundredth part of the Full Muster of the Riders of the Mark, not including those of the King’s Household. The éored with which Éomer pursued the Orcs had 120 Riders: Legolas counted 105 when they were far away, and Éomer said that fifteen men had been lost in battle with the Orcs. No such host, of course, had ever ridden all together to war beyond the Mark; but Théoden’s claim that he might, in this great peril, have led out an expedition of ten thousand Riders was no doubt justified. The Rohirrim had increased since the days of Folcwine, and before the attacks of Saruman a Full Muster would probably have produced many more than twelve thousand Riders, so that Rohan would not have been denuded entirely of trained defenders. In the event, owing to losses in the western war, the hastiness of the Muster, and the threat from North and East, Théoden only led out a host of some six thousand spears, though this was still the greatest riding of the Rohirrim that was recorded since the coming of Eorl.
The full muster of the cavalry was called éoherë. These words, and also Éothéod, contain as their first element eoh “horse.” Éored’s second element derived from rád “riding;” in éoherë the second element is herë “host, army.” Éothéod has théod “people” or “land,” and is used both of the Riders themselves and of their country.
When they came to the Mering Stream, Cirion turned to Eorl and said, to men’s wonder: “Farewell now, Eorl, son of Léod. I will return to my home, where much needs to be set in order. Calenardhon I commit to your care for this time, if you are not in haste to return to your own realm. In three months’ time I will meet you here again, and then we will take counsel together.”
“I will come,” Eorl answered; and so they parted.
As soon as Cirion came to Minas Tirith he summoned some of his most trusted servants.
“Go now to the Whispering Wood,” he said. “There you must re-open the ancient path to Amon Anwar. It is long overgrown; but the entrance is still marked by a standing stone beside the Road, at that point where the northern region of the Wood closes in upon it. The path turns this way and that, but at each turn there is a standing stone. Following these you will come at length to the end of the trees and find a stone stair that leads on upwards. I charge you to go no further. Do this work as swiftly as you may and then return to me. Fell no trees; only clear a way by which a few men on foot can easily pass upwards. Leave the entrance by the Road still shrouded, so that none that use the Road may be tempted to use the path before I come there myself. Tell no one whither you go or what you have done. If any ask, say only that the Lord Steward wishes for a place to be made ready for his meeting with the Lord of the Riders.”
In due time, Cirion set out with Hallas his son and the Lord of Dol Amroth, and two others of his Council, and he met Eorl at the crossing of the Mering Stream. With Eorl were three of his chief captains.
“Let us go now to the place that I have prepared,” said Cirion. Then they left a guard of Riders at the bridge and turned back into the tree-shadowed Road, and came to the standing stone.
There they left their horses and another strong guard of soldiers of Gondor; and Cirion standing by the stone turned to his companions and said: “I go now to the Hill of Awe. Follow me, if you will. With me shall come an esquire, and another with Eorl, to bear our arms; all others shall go unarmed as witnesses of our words and deeds in the high place. The path has been made ready, though none have used it since I came here with my father.”
Then Cirion led Eorl into the trees and the others followed in order; and after they had passed the first of the inner stones their voices were stilled and they walked warily as if unwilling to make any sound. So they came at last to the upper slopes of the Hill and passed through a belt of white birches and saw the stone stair going up to the summit. After the shadow of the Wood the sun seemed hot and bright, for it was the month of Úrimë; yet the crown of the Hill was green, as if the year were still in Lótessë.
At the foot of the stair there was a small shelf or cove made in the hillside with low turf-banks. There the company sat for a while, until Cirion rose and from his esquire took the white wand of office and the white mantle of the Stewards of Gondor.
Then standing on the first step of the stair he broke the silence, saying in a low but clear voice: “I will now declare what I have resolved, with the authority of the Stewards of the Kings, to offer to Eorl son of Léod, Lord of the Éothéod, in recognition of the valor of his people and of the help beyond hope that he brought to Gondor in time of dire need. To Eorl I will give in free gift all the great land of Calenardhon from Anduin to Isen. There, if he will, he shall be king, and his heirs after him, and his people shall dwell in freedom while the authority of the Stewards endures, until the Great King returns. No bond shall be laid upon them other than their own laws and will, save in this only: they shall live in perpetual friendship with Gondor and its enemies shall be their enemies while both realms endure. But the same bond shall be laid also on the people of Gondor.”
“Until the Great King returns” was always said in the days of the Stewards, in any solemn pronouncement, though by the time of Cirion (the twelfth Ruling Steward) it had become a formula that few believed would ever come to pass.
Then Eorl stood up, but remained for some time silent. For he was amazed by the great generosity of the gift and the noble terms in which it had been offered; and he saw the wisdom of Cirion both on his own behalf as ruler of Gondor, seeking to protect what remained of his realm, and as a friend of the Éothéod of whose needs he was aware. For they were now grown to a people too numerous for their land in the North and longed to return south to their former home, but they were restrained by the fear of Dol Guldur. But in Calenardhon they would have room beyond hope, and yet be far from the shadows of Mirkwood. The people of that region had become few since the Plague, and most of those that remained had been slaughtered by the savage Easterlings.
Yet beyond wisdom and policy both Cirion and Eorl were moved at that time by the great friendship that bound their people together, and by the love that was between them as true men. On the part of Cirion the love was that of a wise father, old in the cares of the world, for a son in the strength and hope of his youth; while in Cirion Eorl saw the highest and noblest man of the world that he knew, and the wisest, on whom sat the majesty of the Kings of Men of long ago.
At last, when Eorl had swiftly passed all these things through his thought, he spoke, saying: “Lord Steward of the Great King, the gift that you offer I accept for myself and for my people. It far exceeds any reward that our deeds could have earned, if they had not themselves been a free gift of friendship. But now I will seal that friendship with an oath that shall not be forgotten.”
“Then let us go now to the high place,” said Cirion, “and before these witnesses take such oaths as seem fitting.”
Then Cirion went up the stair with Eorl and the others followed; and when they came to the summit, they saw there a wide oval place of level turf, unfenced, but at its eastern end there stood a low mound on which grew the white flowers of alfirin, and the westering sun touched them with gold. Alfirin: the simbelmynë of the Kings’ mounds below Edoras, and the uilos that Tuor saw in the great ravine of Gondolin in the Elder Days. Then the Lord of Dol Amroth, chief of those in the company of Cirion, went towards the mound and saw, lying on the grass before it and yet unmarred by weed or weather, a black stone; and on the stone three letters were engraved.
Then he said to Cirion: “Is this then a tomb? But what great man of old lies here?”
“Have you not read the letters?” said Cirion.
“I have,” said the Prince, “and therefore I wonder; for the letters are lambe, amdo, lambe, but there is no tomb for Elendil, nor has any man since his day dared to use that name.”
The letters were L ND L: Elendil’s name without vowel marks, which he used as a badge, and a device upon his seal.
The Lord of Dol Amroth had the title Prince. It was given to his ancestors by Elendil, with whom they had kinship. They were a family of the Faithful who had sailed from Númenor before the Downfall and had settled in the land of Belfalas, between the mouths of Ringló and Gilrain, with a stronghold upon the high promontory of Dol Amroth (named after the last King of Lórien). Elsewhere it is said that according to the tradition of their house the first Lord of Dol Amroth was Galador (c. Third Age 2004-2129), the son of Imrazór the Númenórean, who dwell at Belfalas, and the Elven-lady Mithrellas, one of the companions of Nimrodel. This family of the Faithful settled in Belfalas with a stronghold on Dol Amroth before the Downfall of Númenor; and if that is so, the line of the Princes, and indeed the place of their dwelling, went back more than two thousand years before Galador’s day, and Galador was called the first Lord of Dol Amroth because it was not until his time (after the drowning of Amroth in the year 1981) that Dol Amroth was so named.
“Nonetheless, this is his tomb,” said Cirion; “and from it comes the awe that dwells on this hill and in the woods below. From Isildur who raised it to Meneldil who succeeded him, and so down all the line of the Kings and down the line of the Stewards even to myself, this tomb has been kept a secret by Isildur’s command. For he said: ‘Here is the mid-point of the Kingdom of the South, and here shall the memorial of Elendil the Faithful abide in the keeping of the Valar, while the Kingdom endures. This hill shall be a hallow, and let no man disturb its peace and silence, unless he be an heir of Elendil.’ I have brought you here, so that the oaths here taken may seem of deepest solemnity to ourselves and to our heirs upon either side.”
Amon Anwar was in fact the high place nearest to the center of a line from the inflow of the Limlight down to the southern cape of Tol Falas; and the distance from it to the Fords of Isen was equal to its distance from Minas Tirith.
Then all those present stood a while in silence with bowed heads, until Cirion said to Eorl: “If you are ready, take now your oath in such manner as seems to you fitting according to the customs of your people.”
Eorl then stood forth, and taking his spear from his esquire he set it upright in the ground. Then he drew his sword and cast it up shining in the sun, and catching it again he stepped forward and laid the blade upon the mound, but with his hand still about the hilts. He spoke then in a great voice the Oath of Eorl. This he said in the tongue of the Éothéod, which in the Common Speech is interpreted (though imperfectly; for it was in ancient terms and made in the forms of verse and high speech that were used by the Rohirrim, in which Eorl had great skill):
Hear now all peoples who bow not to the Shadow in the East, by the gift of the Lord of the Mundburg we will come to dwell in the land that he names Calenardhon, and therefore I vow in my own name and on behalf of the Éothéod of the North that between us and the Great People of the West there shall be friendship for ever: their enemies shall be our enemies, their need shall be our need, and whatsoever evil, or threat, or assault may come upon them we will aid them to the utmost end of our strength. This vow shall descend to my heirs, all such as may come after me in our new land, and let them keep it in faith unbroken, lest the Shadow fall upon them and they become accursed.
There seems not to be any other version of the Oath of Eorl extant apart from that in the Common Speech.
Then Eorl sheathed his sword and bowed and went back to his captains.
Cirion then made answer. Standing to his full height he laid his hand upon the tomb and in his right hand held up the white wand of the Stewards, and spoke words that filled those who heard them with awe. For as he stood up the sun went down in flame in the West and his white robe seemed to be on fire; and after he had vowed that Gondor should be bound by a like bond of friendship and aid in all need, he lifted up his voice and said in Quenya:
Vanda sina termaruva Elenna-nóreo alcar enyalien ar Elendil Vorondo voronwë. Nai tiruvantes i hárar mahalmassen mi Númen ar i Eru i or ilyë mahalmar eä tennoio.
And again he said the Common Speech:
This oath shall stand in memory of the glory of the Land of the Star, and of the faith of Elendil the Faithful, in the keeping of those who sit upon the thrones of the West and of the One who is above all thrones for ever.
Such an oath had not been heard in Middle-earth since Elendil himself had sworn alliance with Gil-galad, King of the Eldar. And was not used again until King Elessar returned and renewed the bond in that same place with the King of the Rohirrim, Éomer the eighteenth descended from Eorl. It had been held lawful only for the King of Númenor to call Eru to witness, and then only on the most grave and solemn occasions. The line of the Kings had come to an end in Ar-Pharazôn who perished in the Downfall; but Elendil Voronda was descended from Tar-Elendil the fourth King, and was held to be the rightful lord of the Faithful, who had taken no part in the rebellion of the Kings and had been preserved from destruction. Cirion was the Steward of the Kings, descended from Elendil, and so far as Gondor was concerned had as regent all their powers – until the King should come again. Nonetheless his oath astounded those who heard it, and filled them with awe, and was alone (over and above the venerable tomb) sufficient to hallow the place where it was spoken.
Elendil’s name Voronda, “the Faithful,” which appears also in Cirion’s Oath, was first written Voronwë, which in the Oath is a noun, meaning “faithfulness, steadfastness.” But Mardil, the first Ruling Steward of Gondor, is called Mardil Voronwë “the Steadfast;” and in the First Age, the Elf of Gondolin who guided Tuor from Vinyamar was named Voronwë, which is likewise translated “the Steadfast.”
When all was done and shadows of evening were falling, Cirion and Eorl with their company went down again in silence through the darkling Wood, and came back to the camp by the Mering Stream where tents had been prepared for them. After they had eaten, Cirion and Eorl, with the Prince of Dol Amroth and Éomund, the chief captain of the host of the Éothéod, sat together and defined the boundaries of the authority of the King of the Éothéod and the Steward of Gondor.
The bounds of the realm of Eorl were to be: in the West the river Angren from its junction with the Adorn and thence northwards to the outer fences of Agrenost, and thence westwards and northwards along the eaves of Fangorn Forest to the river Limlight; and that river was its northern boundary, for the land beyond had never been claimed by Gondor. In the east its bounds were the Anduin and west-cliff of the Emyn Muil down to the marshes of the Mouths of Onodló, and beyond that river the stream of the Glanhír that flowed through the Wood of Anwar to join the Onodló; and in the south its bounds were the Ered Nimrais as far as the end of their northward arm, but all those vales and inlets that opened northwards were to belong to the Éothéod, as well as the land south of the Hithaeglir that lay between the rivers Angren and Adorn.
These names are given in Sindarin according to the usage of Gondor; but many of them were named anew by the Éothéod, being alterations of the older names to fit their own tongue, or translations of them, or names of their own making. Thus Angren is Isen and Angrenost is Isengard; Fangorn (which is also used) is Entwood; Onodló is Entwash; Glanhír is Mering Stream, though both mean “boundary stream.” The name of the river Limlight is perplexed. Whatever the original Sindarin name may have been, it is at least clear that the Rohan form was an alteration of it and not a translation, and that its meaning was not known, although the name Limlight is said to be a partial translation of Elvish Limlint “swift-light.” The Sindarin names of the Entwash and the Mering Stream are only found here; with Onodló compare Onodrim.
The most ancient people surviving in the Third Age were the Onodrim or Enyd. Ent was the form of their name in the language of Rohan. They were known to the Eldar in ancient days, and to the Eldar indeed the Ents ascribed not their own language but the desire for speech. The language that they had made was unlike all others: slow, sonorous, agglomerated, repetitive, indeed longwinded; formed of a multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity which even the lore-masters of the Eldar had not attempted to represent in writing. They used it only among themselves; but they had no need to keep it secret, for no others could learn it.
Ents were, however, themselves skilled in tongues, learning these swiftly and never forgetting them. But they preferred the languages of the Eldar, and loved best the ancient High-elven tongue. The strange words and names that the Hobbits record as used by Treebeard and other Ents are thus Elvish, or fragments of Elf-speech strung together in Ent-fashion, except where the Hobbits seem to have made some attempt to represent the shorter murmurs and calls made by the Ents; a lalla lalla rumba kamanda lindor burúme also is not Elvish, and is the only extant (probably very inaccurate) attempt to represent a fragment of actual Entish. Some are Quenya: as Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómëanor which may be rendered “Forest many shadowed, deep valley black. Deep valley forested. Gloomy land,” and by which Treebeard meant, more or less: “There is a black shadow in the deep dales of the forest.” Some are Sindarin: as Fangorn “beard of tree,” or Fimbrethil “slender-beech.”
In all these regions Gondor still retained under its own command only the fortress of Angrenost, within which was the third Tower of Gondor, the impregnable Orthanc, where was held the fourth of the palantíri of the southern realm. In the days of Cirion, Angrenost was still manned by a guard of Gondorians, but these had become a small settled people, ruled by an hereditary Captain, and the keys of Orthanc were in the keeping of the Steward of Gondor. The “outer fences” named in the description of the bounds of the realm of Eorl were a wall and dyke running some two miles south of the gates of Angrenost, between the hills in which the Misty Mountains ended; beyond them were the tilled lands of the people of the fortress.
It was agreed also that the Great Road which had formerly run through Anórien and Calenardhon to Athrad Angren (the Fords of Isen), and thence northwards on its way to Arnor, should be open to all travelers of either people without hindrance in time of peace, and its maintenance should from the Mering Stream to the Fords of Isen be in the care of the Éothéod. Athrad Angren: where the Sindarin name for the Fords of Isen is given as Ethraid Engrin. It seems then that both singular and plural forms of the name of the Ford(s) existed.
By this pact only a small part of the Wood of Anwar, west of the Mering Stream, was included in the realm of Eorl; but Cirion declared that the Hill of Anwar was now a hallowed place of both peoples, and the Eorlings and the Stewards should henceforward share its guard and maintenance. In later days, however as the Rohirrim grew in power and numbers, while Gondor declined and was ever threatened from the East and by sea, the wardens of Anwar were provided entirely by the people of Eastfold, and the Wood became by custom part of the royal domain of the Kings of the Mark. The Hill they named the Halifirien, and the Wood the Firienholt. Elsewhere the wood is always called the Firien Wood (a shortening for Halifirien Wood). Firienholt means the same: “mountain wood.”
The Halifirien was the highest of the beacons, and like Eilenach, the next in height, appeared to stand up alone out of a great wood; for behind it there was a deep cleft, the dark Firien-dale, in the long northward spur of Ered Nimrais, of which it was the highest point. Out of the cleft it rose like a sheer wall, but its outer slopes, especially northwards, were long and nowhere steep, and trees grew upon them almost to its summit. As they descended the trees became ever more dense, especially along the Mering Stream (which rose in the cleft) and northwards out into the plain through which the Stream flowed into the Entwash. The great West Road passed through a long cutting in the wood, to avoid the wet land beyond its northern eaves; but this road had been made in ancient days (it was the great Númenórean road linking the Two Kingdoms, crossing the Isen at the Fords of Isen and the Greyflood at Tharbad and then on northwards to Fornost; elsewhere called the North-South Road), and after the departure of Isildur no tree was ever felled in the Firien Wood, except only by the Beacon-wardens whose task it was to keep open the great road and the path towards the summit of the hill. This path turned from the Road near to its entrance into the Wood, and wound its way up to the end of the trees, beyond which there was an ancient stairway of stone leading to the Beacon-site, a wide circle leveled by those who had made the stair. The Beacon-wardens were the only inhabitants of the Wood, save wild beasts; they housed in lodges in the trees near the summit, but they did not stay long, unless held there by foul weather, and they came and went in turns of duty. For the most part they were glad to return home. Not because of the peril of the wild beasts, nor did any evil shadow out of dark day slime upon the Wood; but beneath the sounds of the winds, the cries of birds and beasts, or at times the noise of horsemen riding in haste upon the Road, there lay a silence, and a man would find himself speaking to his comrades in a whisper, as if he expected to hear the echo of a great voice that called from far away and long ago.
The name Halifirien meant in the language of the Rohirrim “holy mountain.” Before their coming it was known in Sindarin as Amon Anwar, “Hill of Awe;” for what reason was not known in Gondor, except only (as explained above) to the ruling King or Steward. For the few men who ever ventured to leave the Road and wander under the trees the Wood itself seemed reason enough: in the Common Speech it was called “the Whispering Wood.” In the great days of Gondor no beacon was built on the Hill while the palantiri still maintained communication between Osgiliath and the three towers of the realm (Minas Ithil, Minas Anor, and Orthanc) without need of messages or signals. In later days little aid could be expected from the North as the people of Calenardhon declined, nor was armed force sent thither as Minas Tirith became more and more hard put to it to hold the line of the Anduin and guard its southern coast. In Anórien many people still dwelt and had the task of guarding the northern approaches, either out of Calenardhon or across the Anduin at Cair Andros. For communication with them, the three oldest beacons (Amon Dîn, Eilenach, and Min-Rimmon) were built and maintained, but though the line of the Mering Stream was fortified (between the impassable marshes of its confluence with the Entwash and the bridge where the Road passed westward out of the Firien Wood), it was not permitted that any fort or beacon should be set upon Amon Anwar. It is said elsewhere that the full beacon system that was still operating in the War of the Ring can have been no older than the settlement of the Rohirrim in Calenardhon some five hundred years before; for its principal function was to warn the Rohirrim that Gondor was in danger, or (more rarely) the reverse.
It is said that when Isildur returned from the War of the Last Alliance he remained for a time in Gondor, ordering the realm and instructing Meneldil his nephew, before he himself departed to take up the kingship of Arnor. With Meneldil and a company of trusted friends he made a journey about the borders of all the lands to which Gondor laid claim; and as they were returning from the northern bound to Anórien they came to the high hill that was then called Eilenaer but was afterwards called Amon Anwar, “Hill of Awe.”
Eilenaer was a name of pre-Númenórean origin, evidently related to Eilenach. Eilenach was probably an alien name: not Sindarin, Númenórean, or Common Speech… Both Eilenach and Eilenaer were notable features. Eilenach was the highest point of the Drúadan Forest. It could be seen far to the West, and its function in the days of the beacons was to transmit the warning of Amon Dîn; but it was not suitable for a large beacon-fire, there being little space on its sharp summit. Hence the name Nardol “Fire-hilltop” of the next beacon westward; it was on the end of a high ridge, originally part of the Drúadan Forest, but long deprived of trees by masons and quarriers who came up the Stonewain Valley. Nardol was manned by a guard, who also protected the quarries; it was well-stored with fuel and at need a great blaze could be lit, visible on a clear night even as far as the last beacon (Halifirien) some hundred and twenty miles to the westward.
Amon Dîn ‘the silent hill’ was perhaps the oldest, with the original function of a fortified outpost of Minas Tirith, from which its beacon could be seen, to keep watch over the passage into North Ithilien from Dagorlad and any attempt by enemies to cross the Anduin at or near Cair Andros. Why it was given this name is not recorded. Probably because it was distinctive, a rocky and barren hill standing out and isolated from the heavily wooded hills of the Drúadan Forest (Tawar-in-Drúedain), little visited by men, beasts or birds.
Amon Anwar was near to the centre of the lands of Gondor. Isildur and Meneldil made a path through the dense woods of its northward slopes, and so came to its summit, which was green and treeless. There they made a level space, and at its eastward end they raised a mound; within the mound Isildur laid a casket that he bore with him. Then he said: “This is a tomb and memorial of Elendil the Faithful. Here it shall stand at the mid-point of the Kingdom of the South in the keeping of the Valar, while the Kingdom endures; and this place shall be a hallow that none shall profane. Let no man disturb its silence and peace, unless he be an heir of Elendil.”
They made a stone stair from the fringe of the woods up to the crown of the hill; and Isildur said: “Up this stair let no man climb, save the King, and those that he brings with him, if he bids them follow him.” Then all those present were sworn to secrecy; but Isildur gave this counsel to Meneldil, that the King should visit the hallow from time to time, and especially when he felt the need of wisdom in days of danger or distress; and thither also he should bring his heir, when he was full-grown to manhood, and tell him of the making of the hallow, and reveal to him the secrets of the realm and other matters that he should know.
Meneldil followed Isildur’s counsel, and all the Kings that came after him, until Rómendacil I (the fifth after Meneldil). King Ostoher rebuilt Minas Arnor in 420. It was in the days of Ostoher, the fourth king after Meneldil, that Gondor was first attacked by wild men out of the East in 490; but Tarostar, his son, defeated them and drove them out in the year 500, and took the name Rómendacil ‘East-victor;’ and lest the tradition should be broken because of war or sudden death or other misfortune, he caused the “Tradition of Isildur” to be set down in a sealed scroll, together with other things that a new King should know; and this scroll was delivered by the Steward to the King before his crowning. It was also Rómendacil I who established the office of Steward (arandur, “king’s servant”), but he was chosen by the King as a man of high trust and wisdom, usually advanced in years, since he was not permitted to go to war or to leave the realm. He was never a member of the Royal House. This delivery was from then onwards always performed, though the custom of visiting the hallow of Amon Anwar with his heir was maintained by nearly all the Kings of Gondor.
When the days of the Kings came to an end and Gondor was ruled by the Stewards descended from Húrin, the steward of King Minardil, it was held that all the rights and duties of the Kings were theirs “until the Great King returns.” But in the matter of the “Tradition of Isildur” they alone were the judges, since it was known only to them. They judged that by the words “an heir of Elendil” Isildur had meant one of the royal line descended from Elendil who had inherited the throne: but that he did not foresee the rule of the Stewards. If then Mardil had exercised the authority of the King in his absence, the heirs of Mardil who had inherited the Stewardship had the same right and duty until a King returned; each Steward therefore had the right to visit the hallow when he would and to admit to it those who came with him, as he thought fit. As for the words “while the Kingdom endures,” they said that Gondor remained a “kingdom,” ruled by a vice-regent, and that the words must therefore be held to mean “as long as the state of Gondor endures.”
Mardil was the first of the Ruling Stewards of Gondor. He was the Steward to Eärnur the last King, who disappeared in Minas Morgul in the year 2050. It was believed in Gondor that the faithless enemy had trapped the King, and that he had died in torment in Minas Morgul; but since there were no witnesses of his death, Mardil the Good Steward ruled Gondor in his name for many years.
Nonetheless, the Stewards, partly from awe, and partly from the cares of the kingdom, went very seldom to the hallow on the Hill of Anwar, except when they took their heir to the hill-top, according to the custom of the Kings. Sometimes it remained for several years unvisited, and as Isildur had prayed it was in the keeping of the Valar; for though the woods might grow tangled and be avoided by men because of the silence, so that the upward path was lost, still when the way was re-opened the hallow was found unweathered and unprofaned, ever-green and at peace under the sky, until the Kingdom of Gondor was changed.
For it came to pass that when Cirion, the twelfth of the Ruling Stewards, was faced by a new and great danger: invaders threatening the conquest of all the lands of Gondor north of the White Mountains. And if that were to happen the downfall and destruction of the whole kingdom must soon follow. As is known in the histories above, this peril was averted only by the aid of the Rohirrim; and to them Cirion with great wisdom granted all the northern lands, save Anórien, to be under their own rule and king, though in perpetual alliance with Gondor. There were no longer sufficient men in the realm to people the northward region, nor even to maintain in force the line of forts along the Anduin that had guarded its eastward boundary. Cirion gave long thought to this matter before he granted Calenardhon to the Horsemen of the North; and he judged that its cession must change wholly the “Tradition of Isildur” with regard to the hallow of Amon Anwar. To that place he brought the Lord of the Rohirrim, and there by the mound of Elendil he with the greatest solemnity took the Oath of Eorl, and was answered by the Oath of Cirion, confirming for ever the alliance of the Kingdoms of the Rohirrim and of Gondor.
In later times the day of the Oath-taking was reckoned as the first day of the new kingdom, when Eorl took the title of King of the Mark of the Riders. But in the event it was some while before the Rohirrim took possession of the land, and during his life Eorl was known as Lord of the Éothéod and King of Calenardhon. The term Mark signified a borderland, especially one serving as a defense of the inner lands of a realm. The Sindarin names Rohan for the Mark and Rohirrim for the people were devised first by Hallas, son and successor of Cirion, but were often used not only in Gondor but by the Éothéod themselves.
Their proper form was Rochand and Rochír-rim, and they were spelt as Rochand (or Rochan) and Rochirrim in the records of Gondor. They contain Sindarin roch “horse,” translating the éo- in Éothéod and in many personal names of the Rohirrim. In Rochand the Sindarin ending -nd (-and, -end, -ond) was added; it was commonly used in the names of regions or countries, but the -d was usually dropped in speech, especially in long names, such as Calenardhon, Ithilien, Lamedon, etc. Rochirrim was modeled on éohere, the term used by the Éothéod for the full muster of their cavalry in time of war; it was made from roch and Sindarin hír “lord, master.” In the names of people Sindarin rim “great number, host” (Quenya rimbë) was commonly used to form collective plurals, as in Eledhrim (Edhelrim) “all Elves,” Onodrim “the Ent-folk,” Nogothrim “all Dwarves, the Dwarf-people.” The language of the Rohirrim contained the sound here represented by ch, and, though it was infrequent in the middle of words between vowels, it presented them with no difficulty. But the Common Speech did not possess it, and in pronouncing Sindarin (in which it was very frequent) the people of Gondor, unless learned, represented it by h in the middle of words and by feat the end of them (where it was most forcibly pronounced in correct Sindarin). Thus arose the names Rohan and Rohirrim.
The day after the Oath-taking Cirion and Eorl embraced and took their leave unwillingly. For Eorl said: “Lord Steward, I have much to do in haste. This land is now rid of enemies; but they are not destroyed at the root, and beyond Anduin and under the eaves of Mirkwood we know not yet what peril lurks. I sent yestereve three messengers north, riders brave and skilled, in the hope that one at least will reach my home before me. For I must now return myself, and with some strength; my land was left with few men, those too young and those too old; and if they are to make so great a journey, our women and children, with such goods as we cannot spare, must be guarded, and only the Lord of the Éothéod himself will they follow. I will leave behind me all the strength that I can spare, well nigh half of the host that is now in Calenardhon. Some companies of horsed archers there shall be, to go where need calls, if any bands of the enemy still lurk in the land; but the main force shall remain in the North-east to guard above all the place where the Balchoth made a crossing of the Anduin out of the Brown Lands; for there is still the greatest danger, and there also is my chief hope, if I return, of leading my people into their new land with as little grief and loss as may be. If I return, I say: but be assured that I shall return, for the keeping of my oath, unless disaster befall us and I perish with my people on the long road. For that must be on the east side of Anduin ever under the threat of Mirkwood, and at last must pass through the vale that is haunted by the shadow of the hill that you name Dol Guldur. On the west side there is no road for horsemen, nor for a great host of people and wains, even were not the Mountains infested by Orcs; and none can pass, few or many, through the Dwimordene where dwells the White Lady and weaves nets that no mortal can pass. By the east road will I come, as I came to Celebrant; and may those whom we called in witness of our oaths have us in their keeping. Let us part now in hope! Have I your leave?”
Eorl appeared to have been unconvinced by the token of the White Lady’s goodwill.
“Indeed you have my leave,” said Cirion, “since I see now that it cannot be otherwise. I perceive that in our peril I have given too little thought to the dangers that you have faced and the wonder of your coming beyond hope over the long leagues from the North. The reward that I offered in joy and fullness of heart at our deliverance now seems little. But I believe that the words of my oath, which I had not forethought ere I spoke them, were not put into my mouth in vain. We will part then in hope.”
After the manner of the Chronicles, no doubt much of what is here put into the mouths of Eorl and Cirion at their parting was said and considered in the debate of the night before; but it is certain that Cirion said at parting his words concerning the inspiration of his oath, for he was a man of little pride and of great courage and generosity of heart, the noblest of the Stewards of Gondor.
But when this was done, and Eorl had returned to the North to bring back all his people to their new dwelling, Cirion removed the tomb of Elendil. For he judged that the “Tradition of Isildur” was now made void. The hallow was no longer “at the midpoint of the Kingdom of the South,” but on the borders of another realm; and moreover the words “while the Kingdom endures” referred to the Kingdom as it was when Isildur spoke, after surveying its bounds and defining them. It was true that other parts of the Kingdom had been lost since that day: Minas Ithil was in the hands of the Nazgûl, and Ithilien was desolate; but Gondor had not relinquished its claim to them. Calenardhon it had resigned for ever under oath. The casket therefore that Isildur had set within the mound Cirion removed to the Hallows of Minas Tirith; but the green mound remained as the memorial of a memorial. Nonetheless, even when it had become the site of a great beacon, the Hill of Anwar was still a place of reverence to Gondor and to the Rohirrim, who named it in their own tongue Halifirien, the Holy Mount.
Eorl and his people named Calenardhon anew the Mark of the Riders, and they called themselves the Eorlingas; but in Gondor their land was called Rohan, and its people the Rohirrim (that is, the Horse-lords). Thus Eorl became the first King of the Mark, and he chose for his dwelling a green hill before the feet of the White Mountains that were the south-wall of his land. There the Rohirrim lived afterwards as free men under their own kings and laws, but in perpetual alliance with Gondor.
The days of Eorl the Young were shortened by a renewed attack of the Easterlings. Eorl fell in battle in the Wold in 2545, and the first mound was raised. Felaróf was laid there also.
Brego (born 2512) drove the enemy out of the Wold, and Rohan was not attacked again for many years. In 2569 he completed the great hall of Meduseld. At the feast his son Baldor vowed that he would tread “the Paths of the Dead” and did not return. Brego died of grief the next year.
Aldor (born 2544) was Brego’s second son. He became known as the Old, since he lived to a great age, and was king for 75 years. In his time the Rohirrim increased, and drove out or subdued the last of the Dunlendish people that lingered east of Isen. Harrowdale and other mountain-valleys were settled. Of the next three kings (Fréa (2570-2659), eldest son, but fourth child of Aldor: he was already old when he became king; Fréawine (2594-2680); and Goldwine (2619-2699)) little is said, for Rohan had peace and prospered in their time.
In the time of Déor (2668-2718) the Dunlendings raided often over the Isen. In 2710 they occupied the deserted ring of Isengard, and could not be dislodged.
Of the Kings of the Mark between Eorl and Théoden most is said of Helm Hammerhand, born in 2691 to Gram (2668-2741). He was a grim man of great strength. There was at that time a man named Freca, who claimed descent from King Fréawine, though he had, men said, much Dunlendish blood, and was dark-haired. He grew rich and powerful, having wide lands on either side of the Adorn, which flows into Isen from the west of Ered Nimrais. Near its source he made himself a stronghold and paid little heed to the king. Helm mistrusted him, but called him to his councils; and he came when it pleased him. To one of these councils Freca rode with many men, and he asked the hand of Helm’s daughter for his son Wulf.
But Helm said: “You have grown big since you were last here; but it is mostly fat, I guess”; and men laughed at that, for Freca was wide in the belt.
Then Freca fell in a rage and reviled the king, and said this at the last: “Old kings that refuse a proffered staff may fall on their knees.”
Helm answered; “Come! The marriage of your son is a trifle. Let Helm and Freca deal with it later. Meanwhile the king and his council have matters of moment to consider.”
When the council was over, Helm stood up and laid his great hand on Freca’s shoulder, saying: “The king does not permit brawls in his house, but men are freer outside”; and he forced Freca to walk before him out from Edoras into the field.
To Freca’s men that came up he said: “Be off! We need no hearers. We are going to speak of a private matter alone. Go and talk to my men!” And they looked and saw that the king’s men and his friends far outnumbered them, and they drew back.
“Now, Dunlending,” said the king, “you have only Helm to deal with, alone and unarmed. But you have said much already, and it is my turn to speak. Freca, your folly has grown with your belly. You talk of a staff! If Helm dislikes a crooked staff that is thrust on him, he breaks it. So!” With that he smote Freca such a blow with his fist that he fell back stunned, and died soon after.
Helm then proclaimed Freca’s son and near kin the king’s enemies; and the fled, for at once Helm sent many men riding to the west marches.
Four years later (2758) great troubles came to Rohan, and no help could be sent from Gondor, for three fleets of the Corsairs attack it and there was war on all its coasts. At the same time Rohan was again invaded from the East, and the Dunlendings seeing their chance came over the Isen and down from Isengard. It was soon known that Wulf was their leader. They were in great force, for they were joined by enemies of Gondor that landed in the mouths of Lefnui and Isen.
The Rohirrim were defeated and their land was overrun; and those who were not slain or enslaved fled to the dales of the mountains. Helm was driven back with great loss from the Crossings of Isen and took refuge in the Hornburg and the ravine behind (which was ever after known as Helm’s Deep). There he was besieged. Wulf took Edoras and sat in Meduseld and called himself king. There Haleth Helm’s son fell, last of all, defending the doors.
Soon afterwards the Long Winter began, and Rohan lay under snow for nearly five months (November to March). Both the Rohirrim and their foes suffered grievously in the cold, and in the dearth that lasted longer. In Helm’s Deep there was great hunger after Yule; and being in despair, against the king’s counsel, Háma his younger son led men out on a sortie and foray, but they were lost in the snow. Helm grew fierce and gaunt for famine and grief; and the dread of him alone was worth many men in the defense of the Burg. He would go out by himself, clad in white, and stalk like a snow-troll into the camps of his enemies, and slay many men with his hands. It was believed that if he bore no weapon, no weapon would bite on him. The Dunlendings said that if he could find no food, he ate men. That tale lasted long in Dunland. Helm had a great horn, and soon it was marked that before he sallied forth, he would blow a blast upon it that echoed in the Deep; and then so great a fear fell on his enemies that instead of gathering to take him or kill him, they fled away down the Coombe.
One night, men heard the horn blowing, but Helm did not return. In the morning there came a sun-gleam, the first for long days, and they saw a white figure standing still on the Dike, alone, for none of the Dunlendings dared come near. There stood Helm, dead as a stone, but his knees were unbent. Yet men said that the horn was still heard at times in the Deep and the wraith of Helm would walk among the foes of Rohan and kill men with fear.
Soon after the winter broke. Then Fréaláf, son of Hild, Helm’s sister, came down out of Dunharrow, to which many had fled; and with a small company of desperate men he surprised Wulf in Meduseld and slew him, and regained Edoras. There were great floods after the snows, and the vale of Entwash became a vast fen. The Eastern invaders perished or withdrew; and there came help at last from Gondor, by the roads both east and west of the mountains. Before the year (2759) was ended, the Dunlendings were driven out, even from Isengard; and then Fréaláf Hildeson became king.
It was at the crowing of Fréaláf that Saruman appeared, bringing gifts, and speaking great praise of the valor of the Rohirrim. All thought him a welcome guest. Soon after he took up his abode in Isengard. For this, Beren, Steward of Gondor, gave him leave, and not part of Rohan. Beren also gave into Saruman’s keeping the keys of Orthanc. That tower no enemy had been able to harm or to enter.
In this way Saruman began to behave as a lord of Men; for at first he held Isengard as a lieutenant of the Steward and warden of the tower. But Fréaláf was as glad as Beren to have this so, and to know that Isengard was in the hards of a strong friend. The Rohirrim at first profited by his friendship in the days of dearth and weakness that followed. A friend he long seemed, and maybe in the beginning he was one in truth. Though afterwards there was little doubt in men’s minds that Saruman went to Isengard in hope to find the Stone still there, and with the purpose of building up a power of his own. Certainly after the last White Council (2953) his designs toward Rohan, though he hid them, were evil. He then took Isengard for his own and began to make it a place of guarded strength and fear, as though to rival the Barad-dûr. His friends and servants he drew then from all who hated Gondor and Rohan, whether Men or other creatures more evil.
When Helm was brought to Edoras from the Hornburg, he was laid in the ninth mound. Ever after the white simbelmynë grew there most thickly, so that the mound seemed to be snow-clad. When Fréaláf died (in 2798), a new line of mounds was begun.
The Rohirrim were grievously reduced by war and dearth and loss of cattle and horses; and it was well that no great danger threatened them again for many years, for it was not until the time of King Folcwine that they recovered their former strength.
Brytta (2752-2842) was called by his people Léofa, for he was loved by all; he was openhanded and a help to all the needy. In this time there was war with Orcs that, driven from the North, sought refuges in the White Mountains. When he died, it was thought that they had all been hunted out; but it was not so.
Walda (born 2780) was king only nine years. He was slain with all his companions when they were trapped by Orcs, as they rode by mountain-paths from Dunharrow.
Folca (2804-64) was a great hunter, but he vowed to chase no wild beast while there was an Orc left in Rohan. When the last orc-hold was found and destroyed, he went to hunt the great boar of Everholt in the Firien Wood. He slew the boar, but died of the tusk-wounds that it gave him.
When Folcwine (2830-2903) became king, the Rohirrim had recovered their strength. He reconquered the west-march (between Adorn and Isen) that Dunlendings had occupied. Rohan had received great help from Gondor in the evil days. When, therefore, he heard that the Haradrim were assailing Gondor with great strength, he sent many men to the help of the Steward. He wished to lead them himself, but was dissuaded, and his twin sons Folcred and Fastred (born 2858) went in his stead. They fell side-by-side in battle in Ithilien (2885). Túrin II of Gondor sent to Folcwine a rich weregild of gold.
Fengel (born 2870) was the third son and fourth child of Folcwine. He is not remembered with praise. He was greedy of food and of gold, and at strife with his marshals, and with his children.
Thengel (2905-80), his third child and only son, left Rohan when he came to manhood and lived long in Gondor, and won honor in the service of Turgon. He took no wife until late, but in 2943 he wedded Morwen of Lossarnach in Gondor, though she was seventeen years the younger.
She was known as Morwen of Lossarnach, for she dwelt there; but she did not belong to the people of that land. Her father had removed thither, for love of its flowering vales, from Belfalas; he was a descendant of a former Prince of that fief, and thus a kinsman of Prince Imrahil. His kinship with Éomer of Rohan, though distant, was recognized by Imrahil, and great friendship grew between them.
Morwen bore Thengel three children in Gondor, of whom Théoden (born 2948), the second, was his only son. When Fengel died (in 2953), the Rohirrim recalled him, and he returned unwillingly. But he proved a good and wise king; though the speech of Gondor was used in his house, and not all men thought that good. Morwen bore him two more daughters in Rohan; and the last, Théodwyn, was the fairest, though she came late (2963), the child of his age. Her brother loved her dearly.
It was soon after Thengel’s return that Saruman declared himself Lord of Isengard and began to give trouble to Rohan, encroaching on its borders and supporting its enemies.
In 2989 Théodwyn married Éomund of Eastfold, the chief marshal of the Mark. Her son Éomer was born in 2991, and her daughter Éowyn in 2995. At that time Sauron had arisen again, and the shadow of Mordor reached out to Rohan. Orcs began to raid in the eastern regions and slay or steal horses. Others also came down from the Misty Mountains, many being great uruks in the service of Saruman, though it was long before that was suspected. Éomund’s chief charge lay in the east marches; and he was a great lover of horses and hater of Orcs. If news came of a raid he would often ride against them in hot anger, unwarily and with few men. Thus it came about that he was slain in 3002; for he pursued a small band to the borders of the Emyn Muil, and was there surprised by a strong force that lay in wait in the rocks.
Not long after Théodwyn took sick and died to the great grief of the king. Her children he took into his house, calling them son and daughter. He had only one child of his own, Théodred his son, then twenty-four years old; for the queen Elfhild had died in childbirth, and Théoden did not wed again. Éomer and Éowyn grew up at Edoras and saw the dark shadow fall on the halls of Théoden. Éomer was like his fathers before him; but Éowyn was slender and tall, with a grace and pride that came to her out of the South from Morwen of Lossarnach, whom the Rohirrim had called Steelsheen.
Théoden was called Théoden Ednew in the lore of Rohan, for he fell into a decline under the spells of Saruman, but was healed by Gandalf, and in the last year of his life (3019) arose and led his men to victory at the Hornburg, and soon after to the Fields of Pelennor, the greatest battle of the Age. He fell before the gates of Mundburg. For a while he rested in the land of his birth, among the dead Kings of Gondor, but was brought back and laid in the eighth mound of his line at Edoras. Then a new line was begun.
When still young, Éomer became a marshal of the Mark (in 3017) and was given his father’s charge in the east marches. In the War of the Ring, Théodred fell in the battle with Saruman at the Crossings of Isen. Therefore, before he died on the Fields of the Pelennor, Théoden named Éomer Eadig his heir and called him king. In that day Éowyn also won renown, for she fought in that battle, riding in disguise; and was known after in the Mark as the Lady of the Shield-arm. For her shield-arm was broken by the mace of the Witch-king; but he was brought to nothing, and thus the words of Glorfindel long before to King Ernur were fulfilled, that the Witch-king would not fall by the hand of man. For it is said in the songs of the Mark that in this deed, Éowyn had the aid of Théoden’s esquire, and that he also was not a Man but a Hafling out of a far country, though Éomer gave him honor in the Mark and the name of Holdwine. This was none other than Meriadoc the Magnificent who was Master of Buckland.
Éomer became a great king, and being young when he succeeded Théoden, he reigned for sixty-five years, longer than all their kings before him save Aldor the Old. In the War of the Ring he made the friendship of King Elessar, and of Imrahil of Dol Amroth; and he rode often to Gondor. In the last year of the Third Age, Éomer wedded Lothíriel, Imrahil’s daughter, and their son Elfwine the Fair, had a striking likeness to his mother’s father.
In Éomer’s day, in the Mark men had peace who wished for it, and the people increased both in the dales and the plains, and their horses multiplied. In Gondor, the King Elessar now ruled, and in Arnor also. In all the lands of those realms of old he was king, save in Rohan only; for he renewed to Éomer the gift of Cirion, and Éomer took again the Oath of Eorl. Often he fulfilled it. For though Sauron had passed, the hatreds and evils that he bred had not died, and the King of the West had many enemies to subdue before the White Tree could grow in peace. And wherever King Elessar went with war, King Éomer went with him; and beyond the Sea of Rhûn and on the far fields of the South, the thunder of the cavalry of the Mark was heard, and the White Horse upon Green flew in many winds until Éomer grew old.