MORE ROHAN: SOME FOLK TALES AND ANECDOTES

Then we get a few stories about the Rohirrim.

During the original migration into the North, funny story, there used to be a particular dragon up in the mountains north of Mirkwood (notoriously dragon-haunted, that’s where Smaug came from).  Fram son of Frumgar, a hero of the Men of Eotheod, killed him!  Boom, dead dragon!  There are not very many named dragonslayers in the Tolkien canon — Turin Turambar, Bard the Bowman, and this guy.  After Scatha, that was the name of the dragon, Scatha, after he died, the dwarves of the area sent a delegation to Fram asking for some of their treasure back; Scatha had stolen a lot of its horde from the dwarves.  Fram laughed this claim off, and sent the dwarves a dragon-tooth necklace, which he said must be worth more than anything in the treasuries of the dwarves, as you have to kill a dragon to make one.

“There was no great love between Eotheod and the Dwarves,” writes Tolkien.

Second story: once Eorl the Young’s father tried to break a wild stallion, which killed him, but then Eorl managed to tame the stallion, and named him Felarof, and this was Shadowfax’s ancestor, and the ancestor of a whole long line of horses that had near-human intelligences and human lifespans, too.

Third story: once there was a Lord of the Mark named Helm, who had to put up with another aristocrat building an independent power base from him.  This other guy, Freca, was collecting his own taxes and building his own castle and so on.  These are defensible actions under the feudal system, but Freca was real reluctant to give proper respect and honor and taxes to King Helm.  The tension grew to a head when Freca rode to Helm’s court to ask for Helm’s daughter to marry Freca’s son.

Helm thought this was a crap idea, and called Freca fat, which antagonized Freca because he was in fact pretty fat.  Freca wanted to start a brawl, but Helm said they should take it outside.  So they went outside, where Freca’s men were ready to fall on Helm and kill him, but that didn’t work out inasmuch as Helm had a bunch more men around (it was his castle after all). So that planned attack didn’t go off, and the next thing you know, Helm and Freca were in the boxing ring, and Helm talked a little smack and then beat Freca to death.

Four years later, Rohan was attacked by a force of Dunlendings, the wild men whom Saruman recruited much later on, and who are ethnically closer to the Breelanders than to the Rohirrim.  Their chieftain: Wulf, son of Freca.  Helm retreated into a citadel built for this purpose — you might remember it, it’s called Helm’s Deep — and Wulf declared himself the King of the Mark.  That winter Helm died while out hunting Dunlendings, and his son died before that in battle, and afterwards his sister and her children attacked and overthrew Wulf, restoring the House of Eorl.

A couple of generations after that, in the era of Theoden’s grandfather, Saruman arrived, and tried to make friends with the Rohirrim by offering them gifts, and moved into Orthanc in Isengard, his citadel, which he secured from Gondor.

Then Tolkien moves into future history, what happens after the War of the Ring ends.  Eomer becomes Lord of the Mark, and rules for 65 years.  Aragorn is King of Gondor and Arnor, and the whole of the realm of Elendil is under Aragorn’s banner with the exception of Rohan, which remains an allied state.

Eomer marries Lothiriel, the daughter of Imrahil the Prince of Dol Amroth, a couple of years after the War of the Ring ends. Eomer and Aragorn ride out together and attack Umbars and Haradrim and Easterlings and orcs many, many times over the rest of Eomer’s life.


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Primary Sources: the Return of the King Appendices, Part 9 of 15 — No Comments

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