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Angelo Montanini - Men of Northern Rhovanion.jpg
"Men of Northern Rhovanion" by Angelo Montanini
General Information
LocationsRhovanion, Mirkwood, Vales of Anduin, Dale, Lake-town, Rohan
LanguagesWestron, Rohirric, Dalish
MembersRohirrim (Eorl, Helm, Théoden, Éomer, Éowyn), Éothéod (Marhwini, Fram), Woodmen, Beornings (Beorn, Grimbeorn), Men of Dale (Girion, Bard, Brand), Lake-men (Master of Lake-town)
Physical Description
Lifespanshorter than Númenórean
GalleryImages of Northmen

The Northmen were Men that lived in the north of Rhovanion in Middle-earth, and were friendly to Gondor.

The Northmen who dwelt in Greenwood the Great and other parts of Rhovanion were friendly to the Dúnedain and were after the Dúnedain the most noble Men on Arda, counted as Middle Men by the Dúnedain, and believed to have been descended from the same group of Men as the Edain, the Atanatári. The only difference was that they didn't cross the Ered Luin into Beleriand and therefore didn't go to Númenor. The result of them not participating in the War against Morgoth was their considerably shorter lifespan if compared to the lifespan of the Dúnedain, whose lifespan was enhanced by the Valar after the War of Wrath.

The Men of Dale and Esgaroth were also counted under the Northmen, as were the woodsmen of Mirkwood. Most of Rhovanion had been depopulated after the wars of the Easterlings and the Great Plague.


[edit] History

[edit] Origins

The Northmen descended from the group of the Edain who left their kin to reach the West, being always at war with the Men of Darkness.[1] Somewhere in northern Rhûn, they had met the Dwarves.[2]

There they were divided in two folks, who would later become House of Bëor and House of Marach, to the north-east of the Sea of Rhûn where they dwelt in the woods. The ancestors of the Hadorians dwelt in the north-east of the Sea, in the woods that there came near to the shores. The ancestors of the Beorians had reached the feet of the high hills to the south-west. Because of that distance, they both developed a craft of boat-building but met seldom[3].

The ancestors of the Beorians had been mingling with Men of other kinds and their dialect of Taliska seemed to the rest to contain alien elements.[1]

The ancestors of the Beorians fled first and the ancestors of the Hadorians learned that only afterwards and followed on their trail through the Misty Mountains in the North (close to the dreadful Iron Mountains). Many sub-tribes of both peoples stayed behind, and when the shrinking teams (now led by Bëor and Marach) reached Beleriand, those who stayed behind occupied many parts of Eriador and northern Rhovanion[1].

Already in the First Age those Men settled near the lands of the Longbeards and they began dealing with them establishing an economy in which Men chiefly provided food in exchange for Dwarven work in building, road-construction, mining, and the crafting of tools and weapons. The Men looked at the Dwarves with awe and were eager to learn from them. This system benefitted mostly the Dwarves, as the services they provided to Men required less effort than those offered in exchange.[4]

Those centuries many Men wandered or settled the empty lands between the Iron Hill, the Greenwood and the Inland Sea.[5]

[edit] Second Age

After the War of Wrath, former Orcs of Morgoth, now leaderless and reckless, but still numerous, armed and cruel, returned to the East and started harassing the lands again, as well as the more numerous Men who settled between the Grey Mountains and Mirkwood (those could be related to the former House of Hador far in Beleriand[6]). Those men settled small towns and could defend themselves only with bows and dykes. Once more, the Dwarves provided the Men with metal weapons and defensive measures in exchange for their skill in taming and riding horses, consisting them scouts and mounted archers. Thus the Alliance of Dwarves and Men was formed, resulting to mutual respect and aso warm friendship.[4] During this period the Longbeards adopted the speech of Men, keeping their own language to themselves.[7][4]

The Alliance ended in the Dark Years when Sauron sent Orcs to invade the peoples. The Northmen had war also with savage tribes of Easterlings. The war scattered them and the diminished numbers who remained there were impoverished, living in caves or in the borders of Greenwood.[4]

Rhovanion fell under the dominion of Sauron before being liberated by Gil-galad.

[edit] Third Age

The Kings of Gondor showed them great favor because of their Edainic ancestry. For a time many of them even became subjects of Gondor, as the realm extended beyond the river Anduin. They were given wide lands south of Greenwood the Great to serve as a buffer against the Easterlings around T.A. 1000[8]. They increased greatly during Gondor's golden age.[9] East of Greenwood the Great was the kingdom of Rhovanion, and this became the most important nation of the Northmen.

However some Northmen were hostile to Gondor and often assailed the kingdom for a long time.[10] In the days of Narmacil I, some Northmern joined the Easterlings who resumed their attacks, either because of feuds, or because of greed for spoil, as Regent Minalcar found out. In the fourteenth century of the Third Age, Minalcar, now as King of Gondor ensured their loyalty by crushing the Easterlings in T.A. 1248 with the help of Prince Vidugavia, and took many Northmen as officers in the army of Gondor (although the high men of Gondor looked askance at them)[8][9]. He sent his son Valacar as an ambassador to Vidugavia, the so-called "King of Rhovanion". Valacar loved Rhovanion and the daughter of the King, Vidumavi. He married her. and she bore him a son whom she called Vinitharya in her mother tongue. In Gondor Vinitharya became known as King Eldacar and caused a civil war, the Kin-strife because of his mixed Dúnadan/Northmen blood in T.A. 1447.

Their existence was a bulwark of Gondor, keeping its northern and eastern frontiers from invasion. When they were weakened and at last destroyed, first with the Great Plague, which appeared there in the winter of T.A. 1635 and soon spread to Gondor. The Horsemen suffered since the Plague came with a cold winter and they had only low wooden houses and thronged stables, little skilled in the arts of healing and medicine. When the Plague passed more than half of the foil of Rhovanion had perished, and of their horses also. They were slow to recover, but they were undisturbed, since the people further east had been equally afflicted.[6]

When the invasions of the Wainriders began against Gondor, the Northmen suffered the first assaults. Their scattered remains were recruited by King Narmacil II who took a great army north into the plains south of Mirkwood. They were defeated in the Battle of the Plains (T.A. 1856) where Narmacil and Marhari were killed. The remnant of his army retreated over the Dagorlad into Ithilien. A few Northmen fled to Gondor, others over the Celduin and were merged with their kin, the folk of Dale under Erebor and others followed Marhwini to the Vales of Anduin and became the ancestors of the Éothéod. Most of the Northmen were reduced to servitude, and all their former lands were occupied by the Wainriders.[6]

In T.A. 1899 Marhwini prepared an outbreak against the Wainrider occupation. After helping Calimehtar in fighting them in Dagorlad, desperate poorly-armed outlaws came out of Mirkwood and roused the slaves. They burned many Wainriders dwellings, storehouses and fortified camps of wagons. Most of them perished in the attempt fighting the Wainriders' youths, women and old men. Marhwini retired to his land beside the Anduin, and the Northmen of his race never again returned to their former homes.[6] Afterwards they battled with the enemies alone since Gondor could not help them. Still they joined the forces of Gondor and many comprised the army of the Battle of Fornost (T.A. 1975)[8].

After the evil Kingdom of Angmar was defeated by Gondor and the remains of Arnor in T.A. 1977, these Northmen moved north and began to call themselves the Éothéod. They were skilled horsebreeders and horsemen. In T.A. 2510 they responded to a plea of help from the trapped Gondorian army at the Field of Celebrant. After they helped Gondor win this important victory they were rewarded the province of Calenardhon and became known as the Rohirrim.

The later centuries it is mentioned that the Northmen were allied with Erebor and with Dwarven weapons drove the enemies back to Rhûn. However they did not prevent the enemies to reach the gates of Erebor during the War of the Ring.[8]

In the Fourth Age, they obviously retained their alliance with the Reunited Kingdom.[8]

[edit] Inspiration

Tolkien was possibly inspired by the ancient Northmen of northern Europe, the speakers of Old Norse. These "Northmen" appear in his poem "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son".[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Problem of Ros"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 293-4
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Window on the West"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, "II. The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son"