The Rohirrim retained much of their old Eotheodan character, however, the benevolent influence of the land itself encouraged them to abide by some of the customs that had characterized their life on the plains of Rhovanion. Once again, they lived as a semi-nomadic people, folk who spent most of their time on horseback. The majority of Riders, like their Éothrym ancestors, shunned towns and villages except in winter, or on market or festival days. Unlike the Eothrym, though, the Rohirrim were one people. They were subjects of the Mark and loyal to one Lord, and they were the heirs of the united Eotheod. No longer did they live on the frontier of western Middle-earth; their realm was central to trade and travel. Numerous and relatively rich, they counted more settlements than their forefathers. Rohan's towns reflected the influences of the years in the Anduin Vales. Most habitations nestled along the flanks of the White Mountains and in the sheltered mountain valleys and generally perched atop defensible hillocks or beside impregnable mountain walls. Much of Framsburg was in the character of Edoras. Built of stone and nurtured by thundering freshwater tumults, these villages recalled the memories of the Eotheod, while incorporating the technological gifts from Rohan's allies in neighboring Gondor. Although comfortable in the villages, the Riders were happier in the saddle. Those that owned town-homes still spent most of their waking hours in the countryside, herding or farming, thus their name. A Rohirric town of a few thousand folk had a year-round population of only a few hundred.
- 1 The People
- 2 Economy
- 3 Society
- 4 Politics and Power
- 5 Rohirrim of Renown
- 6 See also
The Rohirrim were tall and fair, most of them given to very light, straw-colored hair and blue or grey eyes. Both men and women were strong, lithe and very handsome — beautiful in most cases. Their clear skin and angular features gave them an enchanting quality, as if they existed as part of the land and not just as mortal visitors. This aura was magnified by their serious, almost austere manner. Only the scarlet shading in their cheeks and glint in their eyes betrayed the fire behind their cool facades. They remained a noble Northman race, born of vigorous lifestyle.
Men wore trousers and high shoes or boots to protect their legs from the grasses, the pollen and seeds and continuous chafing could spawn rashes and hidden beasts and roots could immobilize an unguarded leg. Long-sleeved cotton shirts and wool jerkins also warded off the often unpredictable elements as well, although heavy garb was rarely required. When it was, the Rohirrim wore woolen cloaks and surcoats. These cloaks were usually charcoal grey, dark blue, forest green or black. Women favored lighter grey material and sometimes wore richly embroidered cloaks dyed bright blue or light green. Decorated tunics covered their shirts and trousers when they rode, but they generally changed to a cotton or woolen gown when at home. Most Rohirrim owned a shield and armor of some type. Chainmail was universally prevalent and even the average man had a chain shirt stored away somewhere. Warriors employed chain hauberks or suits of mail. The Riders liked to travel light and preferred unrestricted movement to the confines of armor, so few wore their war-covering on a regular basis. Armored horsemen were generally restricted to the border marches.However, most of the Rohirrim carried a lance and bow as a matter of course, as well as a good-sized knife and broadsword.
The Rohirric economy was vibrant, despite the fact that barter reigned in most rural areas. Trade was brisk and everyone was at work. Along the Great West Highway (S. "Tarmen-i-Numen"), commerce was among the strongest in western Endor, despite the fall of Arnor and its successor states in Eriador. Ties with Gondor remained deep and Rohan's strategic position made it the natural conduit for trade between the Anduin Valley, Gondor, and Rhovanion to the east and Minhiriath, the Westmarch, and the depressed, but ever-present Eriadoran towns to the west. Rohan used Gondorian currency and, in rare cases, the coin of Dol Amroth and Arnor. The Riders maintained no active mints, although victories and crown-events were frequently commemorated with specially-commissioned offerings of silver Rohirric Pening. Embued with the Running Horse of Rohan on the obverse and the Certar celebratory inscription on the reverse, these quarter-ounce coined were the equivalent of Gondor's silver penny. Peningas, like all good coinage, brought their worth when used but the Rohirrim always preferred goods to currency, unless they planned to travel. The Riders were practical folk.
Farming, Herding, and Hunting
Manors, farming hamlets and farm sites harbored nearly half of Rohan's 1.000.000 people. The richness of the deep black soil on the Rohirric plains encouraged farming on a fairly large scale in the Westfold and the Eastfold. Oats, rye, barley, wheat, berries, and hay were the principal crops. Hay was reaped in autumn and heaped in stacks for winter storage, even though the winters were such that the Rohirrim had no pressing need for hay in most years. The Riders learned the necessity of laying by winter forage in the North Country and were careful to maintain a reserve to combat famine in the lean, cold seasons that occasionally seized the land, particularly in times when the Shadow reached forth. Piled up around a pit sunk into the ground, stored hay rose as high as twenty-four feet. The roof of the stack was made of tightly rolled bundles of hay fastened with ropes and a cleaver cross-hatched lashing helped the stack preserve its shape. Generally, however, Rohan's herds fed on nutritious grass. Cattle and sheep abounded — the sheep mostly in the Emnets and the Wold, and the cattle mostly in the Westfold. Farming augmented a diet of fish, fowl and, meat, for although the Rohirrim could easily live by hunting in most years, their grain fed their herds and rounded their diet. Oats and rye from the lowlands yielded fine flour for bread, while the highland barley was an essential ingredient in their ale and made good soups. Still, the vast grasslands were for the most part reserved for horses. Rohan provided room enough for many horses and the equine herds had increased dramatically in size since T.A. 2510. Women, once again, took a major part in riding, training, and caring for the horses, as they had in Rhovanion. Although they all owned houses or halls in the mountains, they held great delight in following the horse herds — but they returned frequently to the shelter of their settlements in times of strife or bad weather. The heart of Rohan was far from the borders of the realm and was relatively safe from the hazards of war when compared to the vulnerable North Country, so it was no surprise that the chief pastimes were riding, racing and hunting. Skill at arms was highly valued, however, and many of the young men served in the Gondorian cavalry.
The Rohirric life-cycle was much like that of their ancestors. A small town population provided constant activity in village trade centers, while the majority of the families moved with their herds on far-flung pasture circuits or, in some cases, managed their herds from manorial centers spread throughout the countryside. In tough weather or at holiday time the people headed to their homes in towns and hamlets, swelling the urban population by three- to ten-fold. The Rohirrim also abandoned the pasture whenever there was an outbreak of hostilities but, unlike the Eothraim and Eotheod, they did not seek shelter in walled towns or hill-forts (Old Rh. "baurgs"). Better defenses insured the Riders' safety. The mountain valleys in Rohan provided well-protected refuges, natural fortresses for the Rohirrim to retreat to in times of dire need. Ancient Dunharrow, near Edoras, and Helm's Deep in the Westfold were the greatest of these mountain bastions and provided most of the population's accessible wartime shelter. Numerous smaller coombes along the edge of the White Mountains permitted more localized defense, but most of these were fortified pastures and only accommodated small numbers of Riders. Nonetheless, the entire citizenry of the more populous Eastfold and Westfold regions of Rohan could hole up in these often-stunning highland nooks.
The White Mountains and Misty Mountains both yielded plenty of timber and a seemingly unlimited treasury of good building stone. Wealthy folk lived in stone houses with comfortable wood interiors, enjoying both strength and fine insulation. Half-timbered houses, constructed partly of mortared stone and partly of hewn timbers, were also common. Poorer dwellings, particularly larger barns, were built of logs. Steep roofs of stone, wood, or thatch were the norm and every home had wood shutters on the inside and the outside of its smallish windows. Modern Rohirric houses invariably used stone chimneys and interior hearths, although larger hall-structures and traditional ceremonial centers recalled the older forms, where smoke escaped through louvers in the roof. Ancient architectural accents also appeared in the shape of columns, in the roof pattern and throughout the decor.
Villages and Homesteads
With the presence of natural refuges, the towns of the Mark were free to serve their natural purpose. Commerce and comfort prevailed in the villages of the Riddermark.Town walls provided defense against bandits and surprise assaults, no more. Land was less critical, since the placement of walls was no longer a dominant concern. The Rohirrim were perfectly justified in building their houses a little way apart from their neighbors and often did so, and yards for prized animals frequently lay within the village proper. Conservative people, the Riders held old forms dear. Towns were still laid out on terraced hillocks or high ground, always above a stream, and were organized according to the circular form adopted by the Eotheod. The chief hall rested atop the hill, with a commanding view of the countryside. A ditch and an earthen wall crowned with a stone rampart surrounded the site.Aside from the less-formidable nature of the walls and the less-crude construction, a Rohirric village showed a startling resemblance to those of Eorl's people.
Tribes or Clans
While the Rohirrim as a people referred to themselves as the Eorlingas, the same term was also used to refer only to the royal House, the direct descendants of Eorl the Young, other Clans or Tribes of Rohan included the Alhyllingas, Andsacas, Beadoingas, Eorthingas, Eotacynn, Haliheorotingas, Leofingas and Treowingas of eastfold and east-emnet and the Helmingas ,Slawsuningas and Grimingas of Helm´s deep,Juggler´s close and Grimslade. Other, though less clannish groups included the more mixed populance of the Stonedeans, the Gáselas and Wulfingas of Westmarch,the men of the wold and Isendale as well as the men of Wildermore, the Mouths of the Entwash and the Dale-folk of Rohan.
Kinship and Family
Kinship groups remained strong, but the extended family and not the clan was the basic element of Rohirric society. Just as tribal affiliations blurred or disappeared in the Anduin vales, clan ties had loosened in Rohan. Both tribal and clan functions were amalgamated into the new system of military command used by the nation. Still, houses built near each other tended to belong to close kin-folk. More than one related family was working a manor and town quarters often resembled the clan areas of ancestral villages. A Rohirric family was a patrilineal affair; the eldest able-bodied male was master and descent was traced through the male line. Women moved to their husband's homestead, becoming part of his extended family. Property, however, was held by the individual, be they male or female, and women held the right to vote, speak at the Thing or Moot, and unilaterally divorce their mate.The Rohirrim did not live alone unless forced into solitude. Families stayed together, with the extended family serving as the core. Elder males remained in their father's home, with their own brood, if they had one. Younger males moved out of the house with the birth of their first child. Women, of course, left if they married. Rites of passage occurred at age 6, 12, 18, 36 and 72.At six a child began learning the basic skills of survival and tested his interests. Twelve-year-olds started military training. A Rohir reaches young adulthood at eighteen and becomes a full adult at thirty-six. Seventy-two was the minimum age for an elder.
Politics and Power
Eorl the Young, Allthane of the Eotheod, was crowned King of the Rohirrim on Yule, T.A. 2510. He was the first of the First Line and with his ascension, his united Tribe became the citizenry of a sovereign Kingdom. With the establishment of the Riddermark, the power of the King increased and politics, not kinship, became the preeminent factor in ordering social status and military structures. Personal and familial bonds remained important, but they were no longer paramount. A man's head-price no longer determined his worth to society. Of course, the Allthane (later Éo. "Cyning") still derived his power partly from his ownership of many horses, as he had in the North, but his main strength came from the increased authority of his office; in Rohan he was King. Recognized and respected by his very powerful counterpart in Gondor, he became the official (junior) partner in a grand alliance central to the affairs of the Free Peoples of western Endor. On the other hand, the elevation of their Lord further curtailed the power of the Heahthanes of the six major Tribes. Once, autonomous masters of their own people, they became a small, but important societal class after the development of the Eotheod. Their principal function before 2510 was as military commanders; afterward, they became advisors and administrators and, in some cases, the King's envoys.However, many of the Riddermark's Marshalls (those outside the King's family) had been Heahthanes. The Freothing of Rhovanion gave birth to the Eallthing of the Eotheod, which in turn was the predecessor of the Rohan's yearly parliament — the Eallgemet — the Midyear (S. "Loende") gathering of the citizens of the Mark. As always, the Lord's Council presided over this congress, although the Rohirric King's Council (R. "Cyningemet" or "Snotor-meten" or "Thanemetheling") was quite a bit stronger than its ancestors. The Council not only served as the conscience of the King, it acted as guardian of the nation. Their word was based on deep-seated authority and while not absolute, could be quite binding, even on the King. An heirless King, for instance, was interdicted from going to war.
The position of heir to the throne grew out of the Council's resolutions following the death of Helm in T.A. 2759. Formalized after the War of the Ring, it had provided stability for the Riddermark for hundreds of years. Local political structures also provided for continuing strength and well-organized and responsive rule.Beneath the King, his family, and the six Heathanes, were the Aldormanas. These men formed a class of noble freemen who administered the Near-marks (R. "Neahmarks"), or local counties. Each Nearmark was reckoned according to the distance "a stout horse can ride on an average day at an even pace" and Rohan had one hundred of these localities. Thanes circulated the King's word and served on twelve-man courts (R. "Twelf Waiten") which arbitrated or dictated local civil settlements and resolved cases involving "wrongs to men" (torts). Their other duties included overseeing tax collection, training the local Muster, and leading the Eoredas.
Rohirric Military Organization
In the north, the division between men actually serving on military duty and men merely available for such service had often been blurred. Though theory cited that the Thegenas, Ceorlas, Burgweardas, and Cnihtas were the only constantly-ready warriors, war had forced the common Fyrd to be more or less continuously at arms. The distinction was clear among the host of the Riddermark. The military command of Rohan devolved directly upon the King. The King in turn appointed three Marshalls of the Mark. These men were often — but not always — members of the King's own family, doughty warriors possessed of great experience or excellence in battle. The First Marshall's command comprised the capital, Edoras, and the adjacent King's Lands, including Harrowdale and a good portion of the Eastfold down to Aldburg. Men from the eastern Westfold also mustered at Edoras when convenient. Usually, the King delegated this command to his heir, but sometimes he himself held the First Marshall's post; in other cases, the honor went to a younger son or trusted champion. Under ordinary circumstances, the Second Marshall's bailiwick included command of the Hornburg and the defense of the military district called the West Mark. This responsibility included wardship of all the territory in the Westmarch, Westfold and West Emnet, save that by Edoras and Harrowdale. The East Mark, which encompassed East Emnet and the Eastfold, was the province of the Third Marshal. He shared equal status with his counterpart in the West Mark (These Marks were only military in nature and their boundary ran down the Snowbourne to the Entwash and then north along the larger stream to Fangorn Forest). As was true in the Anduin Vales, the principal military unit was the Eored (Eo."Horse-riding"), or troop of cavalry. Among the Eotheod, however, there were no precisely fixed limits regarding the size of these units. Any large body of mounted men from a given clan might be referred to as an Eored. Typical Eoreds of Eorl's era numbered 60-120 warriors. The Rohirric Eored was a more regularized unit. No longer tied to clans or tribes, it was a troop of 120 Riders. One hundred of these units composed the full muster of all the Rohirrim — which was named, as in the time of the Eotheod, the Eohere (Eo."Horse-army"). Together with the 120 man House-guard (R. "Husceorlas") of the King, these twelve thousand warriors made up the Eohere or "Muster" of the Riddermark.
Arms and Armor
The close alliance with the men of Gondor had a strong effect on the arms born by the Riders of Rohan. Not only had stallions from the Gondorian stud added size to their horses, but the arms and the armor carried by the Rohirrim had undergone considerable evolution. Weapons were now generally stouter and standardized according to the requirements of heavy and light cavalry. All warriors now wore chainmail and steel helmets, and bore a round shield.
The Riddermark's heavy cavalry included the 100 Thaneas, 120 Husceorlas, 400 Ceorlas and 4400 Cnithas or Ridderas (R. "Knights"). These heavily-armed men were experienced fighters who wore suits of chainmail or full-length chain hauberks. Their helms had a nose or faceguard or incorporate a visor. Most were peaked, but some were flatter on top. The weight of the casque rested on the shoulders of the Rider. Heavy cavalrymen rode large warhorses mounted with reinforced saddles and extremely strong, flexible stirrups in order to absorb the impact of a full charge. Iron horseshoes were always employed. Their twelve-foot long lances were essentially heavy ash or yew spears, each with a varying diameter of two to three inches. Along with the lance, these Riders carried a composite bow and a hefty broadsword designed for slashing through the heaviest of coverings. Lightly-armed Riders were less experienced or less wealthy than their heavily-armed compatriots. Their arms were of the traditional type carried by their Eotheod forefathers: a two-inch diameter nine-foot lance, a broadsword, and a large knife. Most carried lighter shields and wore only chain shirts or light chain hauberks, together with unvisored Spangenhelms, often with skirts of chain mail hung down from the bottom of the helms' backs to protect the warriors' necks. Horse-archers, another class of light-armed fighter, carried composite bows and two quivers of arrows in lieu of lances.
Rohirric battle tactics were rather simple, yet exceptionally effective. High morale, fine equipment, and solid training enabled them to best almost any foe in open melee, despite stiff odds. For the Rohirrim, then, the idea was to close on and crush an enemy. Lighter Riders acted as scouts and patrol in force, dropping back to cover the army's flanks when engaged. Then the horse archers rained arrows on the corresponding wings of the opposing force, keeping them at bay or preventing them from supporting the enemy. Lighter lancers bolstered the Rohirric flanks against attack. Meanwhile, the heavier Riders assembled in the center, each Eored forming a vee-formation. These knights stroke en masse with lances drawn, smashing the enemy center with one, punishing charge launched at an appointed moment. One to three waves made the assault. Once through their foe's line, they turned and charged again but, if they were tied down in melee or elected to stay engaged, they drew their long broadswords and started hacking. Should the enemy flee, or should a small group become detached from the main body of the opposing army, the lighter-armed Riders moved forward and hunted them down. A similar situation arose when the enemy collapsed on their own center in order to fend off the Rohirric heavy horse, thereby prompting the Riders' light horse to encircle their prey. Naturally, the majority of the Riddermark's armies were half-Musters of about 6,000 horsemen. Led by a Marshall of the Mark, they might be joined by the King and his Husceorls, the rest of the Riders stayed in reserve for home defense and emergencies. The Rohirrim were conservative folk and preferred to risk no more than half their available men-at-arms, which in most cases was more than sufficient to tackle the task.
|Unit||# of Units||# of Men/Unit||Commander|
Rohirrim of Renown
Ainwyn Aldor of Hornburg Aldor the Old Baldor Brego the old Brytta Léofa Céorl of Westfold Dréor Dúnhere of Underharrow Déor of Edoras Déor the Wild Déorwine of Walstow Ecglaf Elfhelm of Faldham Elfhild of Eastfold Elfwine the Fair Eofor Éogil Éomer Éadig Éomund of Aldburg Éomund of Framsburg Eorl the Young Éothain of Eaworth Éowyn Dernhelm Éowyn Ethelfléd Erkenbrand Fastred son of Folcwine Fastred of Sutcrofts Fengel of Rohan Folca the Hunter Folcred Folcwine of Rohan Fréa the Old Fréalaf Hildeson Fréamund Fréawine Fréason Fréawyn Helmsdóhtur Freca the Fat Frumgar of Gladden Gamling the Old Gárulf of Folde Gléowine Goldwine Gram the Fierce Grima Wormtongue Grimbold of Grimslade Guma Guthláf of Fenmarch Gálmód the Dour Haethen Haleth son of Helm Harding of Harwick Helm Hammerhand Herefara Herubrand of Stonedeans Hild Hlafwine Horn of Stangard Hrethel Háma son of Helm Háma the Doorward Léofric Meorling Léod the Herdsman Léowyn Sigewulf Thengel Théoden Ednew Théodred Théodwyn Unferth Wéland Widfara of the Wold Wulf son of Freca Wulf Gredig
- Dale-folk of Rohan
- Men of the Wold