Law, Government, and Society in J.R.R. Tolkien's Works

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Law, Government, and Society in J.R.R. Tolkien's Works
Law, Government, and Society in J.R.R. Tolkien's Works.jpg
AuthorJosé María Miranda Boto
Foreword byTom Shippey
PublisherWalking Tree Publishers
Released23 May 2022
SeriesCormarë Series
Preceded byTolkien and the Classics
Followed byMiddle-earth, or There and Back Again

Law, Government, and Society in J.R.R. Tolkien's Works is a book by José María Miranda Boto on the role of law and government in the legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien. It was published as No. 43 in the Cormarë Series.


  • Introduction
  • Part One: Law and Tolkien
    • Is there a place for Law in Tolkien's works?
    • Moral Law, Natural Law, and Positive Law
    • Common Law vs. Civil Law
    • Law vs. Justice
    • Between Law and Sin: The Doom of the Noldor and the Ban of Men to Set Foot in Valinor
    • Modern Law: 'Leaf by Niggle'
  • Part Two: Law and Government in Arda
    • We, the Kings
    • The Powers of Kings: Legislators, Administrators, Judges
    • 'Thou shalt be King hereafter!': On the Rules of Succession to the Throne
    • 'Shalt thou be Queen hereafter?': Women and the Throne
    • Legal Remarks on the Stewards of Gondor
    • All the King's Men (and One Woman)
    • Assemblies, Meetings and Moots
    • Informal Judgements and the Absence of Lawyers
    • Crime and Punishment
  • Part Three: Law and Society
    • Feudalism and Gondor's Nobility
    • Nulli secundus: About the Princes of Dol Amroth
    • Marriage as Key Element of Society
    • The Laws of Marriage
    • Family Matters
    • The Passing of Time
    • Economy, Trade and Money
    • On Property
    • Rank and File
  • Part Four: Law as a Joke in Tolkien's Works
    • Tolkien's Anachronistic Use of Law
    • Challenging Arcadia: The Enigma of the Government of the Shire
    • Max Weber in the Shire: On the Use of Physical Coercion by Hobbits
    • Farmer Giles of Ham and the Mocking Use of Law
  • Epilogue: The Lord of the Rings as a Tool to Teach Labour Law
  • Appendix: Law in Tolkien's Personal Life
    • “A Hobbit in all but size”: His Personal Life from a Legal Perspective
    • “He had many other things to do”: University and its Surroundings
    • “Memorable events occured very frequently”: Contractual and Financial Issues

From the publisher[edit]

Law and government are aspects of J.R.R. Tolkien's works that have not received much scholarly attention. However, they are present in many facets of his sub-creation. In describing the various societies that populate it, Tolkien addressed aspects of their legal and governmental systems, such as the succession of kings, rules of inheritance, or the function of the Mayor of Michel Delving. In many cases, he did so to add a further thread to the rich tapestry of his descriptions.

But in other cases, law appears as an important narrative element, functioning as a test of character for the protagonists who encounter it. Thus, the trial of Beregond reveals Aragorn's justice, while Turgon's ordering the execution of Ëol shows his ruthlessness.

Law and philology appear together in several passages of Tolkien's work. It is no coincidence that the most relevant objects of his sub- creation, the One Ring and the Silmarils, are described in archaic legal terms. In parallel, law and the tools of government are used as humorous elements in other fragments.

Law and government are, in short, omnipresent in Tolkien's work. They are not a central element, but, without what is studied in this book, Arda would have been much poorer.

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