Long Winter

From Tolkien Gateway
R. Ward Shipman - Long Winter.jpg
Long Winter
LocationEriador, Dunland, Rohan
DateNovember T.A. 2758 to March 2759
ResultThousands of lives lost in Rohan and The Shire
ParticipantsHobbits, Dunlendings, Rohirrim
DescriptionLong, cold winter; Rohan covered in snow for five months

The Long Winter (November T.A. 2758 to March 2759[1]) was an extremely cold and long-lasting winter in Middle-earth, covering Eriador, Dunland and Rohan.

The Winter came as cold and great snows from the north and the East. It lasted for 5 months. There was misery and death in Eriador and Rohan but it affected less the region of Gondor south of the White Mountains.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

In T.A. 2758, Easterlings and Dunlendings (led by Wulf) attacked Rohan from both the north-west and east. Meanwhile, three great and long-prepared fleets of Corsairs and Haradrim began to assail the coasts of Gondor as far north as the River Isen, and some of them sailed up to Isen and Lefnui into Rohan and strengthened the Dunlendings. Because of the multiple problems, the two kingdoms were unable to help each other.[2]

Rohan[edit | edit source]

The Rohirrim were defeated by the invasion of the Dunlendings; King Helm Hammerhand's son, Haleth, was killed; and Wulf sat in Meduseld declaring himself King.[1]

The Long Winter compounded the problems: Rohan was under snow for five months with both the Rohirrim and their enemies suffering grievously from famine. Meanwhile, King Helm took refuge in the Hornburg and the ravine behind (becoming known as Helm's Deep); at Yule a great counsel was held, and, against the King's advice, Háma, Helm's younger son, went out in a sortie and was lost in the snow. King Helm himself would always blow his great horn, striking fear into the hearts of his enemies, and discreetly go out to enemy camps to slay enemies with his bare hands. During one of such sorties he died, standing upright.[1]

After the winter, the melted snow caused great floods with the Entwash becoming a vast fen. Rohan recovered very slowly.

Gondor[edit | edit source]

Although the Long Winter did not affect Gondor directly, it did have an indirect effect: in T.A. 2758, three fleets of Corsairs and Haradrim began to assail the coasts of Gondor as far north as the River Isen;[2] due to the dual perils of the Long Winter and the war with the Dunlendings, the Rohirrim were unable to send help.[3]

The Shire[edit | edit source]

The Long Winter resulted in the deaths of many thousands of Hobbits in The Shire.[4] Although the wizard Gandalf came to the aid of the Hobbits,[5] a dreadful famine followed the Long Winter, known as the Days of Dearth, which lasted into T.A. 2760.

The Long Winter had a more indirect effect on the history of The Shire and Middle-earth: it was during the Long Winter that Gandalf first became fond of Hobbits and their affairs, which indirectly led to Gandalf's selection of Bilbo Baggins to go on the Quest of Erebor:

"And then there was the Shire-folk. I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter, which none of you can remember. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. I wanted them to survive. [...] And anyway you must begin at some point, with some on person. I dare say he was "chosen" and I was only chosen to choose him; but I picked out Bilbo."
Gandalf speaking to Pippin[6][7]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Before the spring, Beregond had defeated the Corsair invaders of Gondor and afforded to send help to Rohan.[2] Come March T.A. 2759, the Long Winter ended and Fréaláf Hildeson, Helm's sister-son, came from Dunharrow and took back Edoras, catching the Dunlendings unaware and killing Wulf; the Dunlendings and Easterlings were driven out of Rohan (including Isengard).

Gondor began to recover to its former power, but it wasn't so easy for Rohan. In T.A. 2758, the Steward, Beren gave the keys to Orthanc to the wizard Saruman, hoping that he would help the Rohirrim.[2]

See also[edit | edit source]


Preceded by:
War of the Dwarves and Dragons
Major events of Middle-earth
T.A. 2758 - T.A. 2759
Followed by:
War of the Dwarves and Orcs