Tolkien Gateway


Revision as of 18:40, 7 November 2007 by Narfil Palùrfalas (Talk | contribs)
Michael Kaluta - Theoden Espies the Serpent Banner.jpg
Biographical Information
Other namesEdnew
PositionKing of Rohan
BirthT.A. 2948
RuleT.A. 2980 - T.A. 3019
DeathT.A. 3019
ParentageThengel, Morwen
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Théoden

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



Early Life

Théoden was the oldest son of Thengel, and became king after the death of his father in Third Age 2980. Théoden spoke Sindarin and Westron rather than Rohirric, and in his youth spent time in Gondor.

His sister Théodwyn lived with him in Edoras, and 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. 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.

War of the Ring

By the time of the War of the Ring, Théoden had been king for nearly 30 years, and was getting old and tired. He was increasingly misled by his chief advisor Gríma (or Wormtongue as most others in the Mark called him), who was secretly in the employ of Saruman the White; Gríma may even have been poisoning his lord. He also had a minstrel called Gleowine.

In the last years before the War of the Ring, Théoden let his rule slip out of his hands, and Gríma became increasingly powerful. Rohan was troubled again by Orcs and Dunlendings, who operated under the will of Saruman, ruling from Isengard.

When Théodred was mortally wounded at a Battle at the Fords of Isen with the Orcs of Saruman, his nephew Éomer became his heir. Éomer was out of favour with Wormtongue, however, and was eventually arrested.

When Gandalf the White and Aragorn appeared before him, Théoden initially rebuffed Gandalf's advice to ride out against Saruman, but after being healed by the Wizard, he 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, 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.


"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
This article or section is a stub. Please help Tolkien Gateway by expanding it.


In Tolkien's fictional etymology, the name Théoden is a translation of the original Rohirric Tûrac, an old word for King, showing influence from the Elvish stem tur- ("power/mastery"), also present in Turgon and related names. The name is probably taken from the Anglo-Saxon word "þeoden", meaning "Lord". It is related to the Old Norse word þjóðann, meaning "Leader of the People" (i.e. "King"). Théoden's sword was called Herugrim.

Portrayal in Adaptations

In Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings, the voice of Théoden was provided by Philip Stone. Théoden also appears in Rankin/Bass's attempt to complete the story left unfinished by Bakshi in their television adaptation of The Return of the King, but does not speak; his death is narrated by John Huston as Gandalf.

In the 1981 BBC Radio 4 version of The Lord of the Rings , 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 of The Archers fame.

Peter Jackson's The Two Towers (2002) 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. In Peter Jackson's The Return of the King (2003), Théoden is aware of Éowyn's presence at his death, whereas in the book he says his farewells to Merry and does not know that Éowyn is also there. 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.

See Also

Preceded by:
17th King of Rohan
III 2980 – 3019
Followed by: