Tolkien Gateway


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Revision as of 23:40, 31 October 2012

Michael Kaluta - Theoden Espies the Serpent Banner.jpg
Biographical Information
Other namesEdnew, Horsemaster
TitlesKing of Rohan
LanguageRohirric and Westron
BirthT.A. 2948
RuleT.A. 2980 - 3019
Death15 March T.A. 3019 (aged 70)
Battle of the Pelennor Fields
HouseHouse of Eorl
ParentageThengel & Morwen
SiblingsThéodwyn, 3 unnamed sisters
Physical Description
Hair colorLong, thick, braided white hair[2]
Eye colorBlue[2]
GalleryImages of Théoden
"Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day's rising
he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
Hope he rekindled, and in hope he ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.

Théoden (Third Age 2948 – March 15, 3019, aged 71 years) was the seventeenth King of Rohan, ruling for 39 years, from T.A. 2980 until his death. He was the last of the Second Line.[1]



Early Life

Théoden was the only son of Thengel, and became king after the death of his father in T.A. 2980. Théoden spoke Sindarin and Westron rather than Rohirric, for he had been born in Gondor and spent his youth there.

Théoden loved his sister Théodwyn most of all. After she and her husband both died he adopted her children Éomer and Éowyn as his own. He had a son, Théodred, whose mother Elfhild died in childbirth.[1]

In T.A. 3014 Théoden's health began to fail. This may have been due to natural causes (he was sixty-six) or it may have been induced or increase by subtle poisons administered by Gríma. Gríma (or Wormtongue as most others in the Mark called him), was secretly in the employ of Saruman the White.[4]

War of the Ring

As the war approached Théoden was increasingly misled by his chief adviser Gríma. In the last years before the War of the Ring, Théoden let his rule slip out of his hands completely, and Gríma became increasingly powerful. Rohan was troubled again by Orcs and Dunlendings, who operated under the will of Saruman, ruling from Isengard. On Gríma's orders Éomer had been arrested and imprisoned after Éomer's foray to destroy the Orcs that had crossed Rohan.[2]

When Gandalf and Aragorn appeared before him, the Wizard healed the king. He then restored his nephew, took up his sword, and led the Riders of Rohan into battle at Helm's Deep. After this he became known as Théoden Ednew, the Renewed,[1] because he had thrown off the yoke of Saruman.

He led the Rohirrim to the aid of Gondor at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. In that battle he challenged the Black Serpent of the Haradrim, and slew him and his standard-bearer. The Lord of the Nazgûl attacked him, and he was mortally wounded when his horse Snowmane fell upon him after being frightened by the Ringwraith's Fell beast. He was immediately avenged by Éowyn and the Hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck, both of whom had ridden to war in secret. He claimed to Merry at his death on the field that he was satisfied, for he had felled the Black Serpent.[5]


The Old English word þeoden, means "lord, king", and contains the element þeod "people" (éothéod "horse-people"). It is related to the Old Norse word þjóðann, meaning "Leader of the People" (i.e. "King").[source?]

In Tolkien's fictional etymology, the name Théoden is an Old English translation of the original Rohirric Tûrac, an old word for King.[source?]

Other versions

In one of Tolkien's early drafts, Théoden also had a daughter by the name of Idis, but she was eventually removed when her character was eclipsed by that of Éowyn.

Portrayal in Adaptations

1955: The Lord of the Rings (1955 radio series):

Valentine Dyall voiced the part of Théoden.

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

The voice of Théoden was provided by Philip Stone.

1979: The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series):

Erik Bauersfeld provided the voice of Théoden.

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

Théoden appears in this film, but does not speak; his death is narrated by John Huston as Gandalf.

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

Théoden's death is described in song rather than dramatised conventionally, which tends to lessen its impact. In this adaption he is voiced by Jack May.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

This film deviates from Tolkien's story by having Théoden (played by Bernard Hill) actually possessed by Saruman rather than simply deceived by Gríma. He then goes to Helm's Deep to take his people to safety rather than to make a stand against the enemy.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

Théoden at first refuses to come to the aid of Gondor saying that Gondor did not come to the aid of Rohan at the Battle of the Hornburg. His death is placed after the coming of the Haradrim, and is depicted differently; he is not crushed by Snowmane, but wounded by the fell beast. In general, his personality is changed from a "kindly old man" to that of a callous and somewhat obstinate character, though he has several tender moments at the grave of his son and near Éowyn.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

Théoden is a hero in the Rohan faction. He is voiced by Phil Proctor.

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Théoden is a hero in the Men faction. He is voiced by Phil Proctor.

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

Théoden is voiced by Brian George.


House of Eorl
Born: T.A. 2948 Died: T.A. 3019
Preceded by:
17th King of Rohan
T.A. 29803019
Followed by:

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The King of the Golden Hall"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Many Partings"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"