From Tolkien Gateway
"Theoden King" by Jenny Dolfen
Biographical Information
Other namesEdnew, Horsemaster
TitlesKing of Rohan
LanguageRohanese, Westron, Sindarin
BirthT.A. 2948
RuleT.A. 2980 - 3019
Death15 March T.A. 3019 (aged 71)
Battle of the Pelennor Fields
HouseHouse of Eorl
ParentageThengel & Morwen
SiblingsThéodwyn, three unnamed sisters[1][note 1]
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 ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.

Théoden 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, the heir of king Fengel of Rohan, and Morwen of Lossarnach, a descendant of a former prince of the fief of Belfalas.[1][3] His father left Rohan when he came to manhood and lived long in Gondor. Théoden had been born in Gondor and spent at least the first five years of his life there with his mother and father until his father was called back to Rohan after the death of Théoden's grandfather, Fengel. The "speech of Gondor" was used in his father's house in Rohan.[1] As a result, Théoden probably spoke Westron and Rohanese as his native languages and he possibly spoke Sindarin as an acquired language.

Théoden loved his sister Théodwyn dearly. 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]

Théoden became king after the death of his father in T.A. 2980.[1]

In T.A. 3014 Théoden's health began to fail. This was caused by the spells of Saruman the White.[1] This may also have been due to natural causes (he was sixty-six) or it may have been induced or increased by subtle poisons administered by Gríma. Gríma (or Wormtongue as most others in the Mark called him), was secretly in the employ of Saruman.[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.

His only son, Théodred, had only recently been slain by Saruman's forces during the First Battle of the Fords of Isen. Théoden ordered Éomer against hunting Orcs that crossed Rohan but Éomer went to the foray against his orders.[5] On Gríma's orders Éomer had been arrested and imprisoned for this.[2]

When Gandalf and Aragorn appeared before him on 2 March, the Wizard healed the king. He then restored his nephew, who would become his heir, took up his sword, and led the Riders of Rohan to the Fords of Isen, against Saruman.[5]

On their way, they received news that the border was lost and he retreated into Helm's Deep where they were attacked by Saruman's forces on 3 March.[5] Théoden won the Battle of the Hornburg and after this he became known as Théoden Ednew, the Renewed,[1] because he had thrown off the yoke of Saruman.

After the battle he visited Isengard where he witnessed as Gandalf deposed Saruman from their order. On their way back to Rohan, they stopped by the Helm's Deep, where he noticed that the lonely Hobbit of their company, Meriadoc Brandybuck felt out of place, and offered to ride with him for the rest of the journey. The hobbit was delighted, as he felt useless among the Riders and offered Théoden his sword in service of Rohan.[6]

On 6 March Théoden and the Riders left Hornburg for Harrowdale taking a safe path to Edoras, and soon after Aragorn left the Rohirrim's company for Dunharrow.[5] Near the outer hills of Rohan, Théoden dismissed Éomer's urge not to go to the war, and with the remaining Riders he rode to the Hold of Dunharrow where his people took shelter at Dunharrow.[7]

Fulfilling the Oath of Eorl

Paula DiSante - The Red Arrow

After reuniting with Éowyn and while resting, a Gondorian named Hirgon entered his tent, bringing the Red Arrow from Denethor II. Théoden responded to him that 6000 Riders would reach Minas Tirith in the week. Indeed they set off the next morning; before leaving he ordered his squire, Meriadoc, to stay behind at Edoras.[7]

On their way to Minas Tirith, Théoden's forces were alerted to a host of Orcs upon the road from the city moving towards them. A leader of the Woses, Ghân-buri-Ghân, offered to lead the Rohirrim by secret paths through the Drúadan Forest so they could avoid the Orcs. Taking the forgotten road down Stonewain Valley the riders of Rohan were able to come to the Pelennor Fields undetected.

Abe Papakhian - The Ride of the Rohirrim

To his dismay, they found Hirgon dead and understood that the Gondorians were unaware of their arrival; Minas Tirith was being destroyed. Théoden was reinvigorated by a sudden great flash of light from the city. He ordered to charge as the Darkness was fading. He led the Rohirrim to the aid of Gondor at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. In that battle he challenged a chieftain of the Haradrim who led their cavalry and had a standard with a "black serpent upon scarlet", and unhorsed him and hewed down his standard-bearer. [8]

Angus McBride - Eowyn against Witch-king

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.[9]


The body of Théoden the Renowned remained in the Hallows of Minas Tirith[10] while Snowmane was buried where they fell.

His nephew Éomer succeeded him as King of Rohan. In July he returned to Minas Tirith and brought Théoden's body back to Edoras. On 10 August, the funeral of Théoden took place. Gléowine composed a poem for him and other Kings of the line of Eorl.[11]


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?]

The epithet Ednew in Old English means "renewed, restored", because he was freed from the spells of Saruman.

In Tolkien's fictional etymology, the name Théoden is an Old English translation of the original Rohanese Tûrac, an old word for King.[12]


2870 - 2953
two daughters
2905 - 2980
Morwen Steelsheen
b. 2922
d. 2978
2948 - 3019
three daughters
2963 - 3002
d. 3002
2978 - 3019
b. 2999
2991 - Fo.A. 63
b. 2995
2983 - Fo.A. 82

Other versions of the legendarium

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 is voiced by Don Messick, though he speaks very little. His death is narrated by John Huston as Gandalf.

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

Theoden played by Jack May appears much earlier in the narrative than in the book, allowing Gandalf to borrow a horse on his escape from Isengard.

1992: Der Herr der Ringe (1992 German radio series):

Théoden is played by Werner Rundshagen.

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.

2002-2003: Pán prsteňov (2001-2003 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Théoden is provided by Ladislav Chudík.

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.


  1. Under Thengel in Appendix A it states: "She bore him three children in Gondor, of whom Théoden, the second, was his only son. [...] Morwen bore him two more daughters in Rohan"


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

Kings of Rohan
First Line: Eorl the Young (T.A. 2510 - 2545) · Brego (2545 - 2570) · Aldor the Old (2570 - 2645) · Fréa (2645 - 2659) · Fréawine (2659 - 2680) · Goldwine (2680 - 2699) · Déor (2699 - 2718) · Gram (2718 - 2741) · Helm Hammerhand (2741 - 2759)
Second Line: Fréaláf Hildeson (2759 - 2798) · Brytta Léofa (2798 - 2842) · Walda (2842 - 2851) · Folca the Hunter (2851 - 2864) · Folcwine (2864 - 2903) · Fengel (2903 - 2953) · Thengel (2953 - 2980) · Théoden Ednew (2980 - 3019)
Third Line: Éomer Éadig (T.A. 3019 - Fo.A. 63) · Elfwine the Fair (63 - unknown)
The Lord of the Rings film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films The Fellowship of the Ring (extended editionThe Two Towers (extended edition) · The Return of the King (extended edition)
Music The Fellowship of the Ring (The Complete Recordings) · The Two Towers (The Complete Recordings) · The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings) · "May It Be" · "Gollum's Song" · "Into the West"
Tie-in books Official Movie Guide · The Making of the Movie Trilogy · Complete Visual Companion · Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic · There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale · Weapons and Warfare · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Sketchbook
The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion · The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers Visual Companion · Photo Guide · The Art of The Two Towers
The Return of the King Visual Companion · The Art of The Return of the King
Video games The Two Towers · The Return of the King · The Third Age · Tactics · Conquest · Aragorn's Quest · Lego The Lord of the Rings
Characters Frodo · Bilbo · Gandalf · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Boromir · Legolas · Gimli · Elrond · Galadriel · Théoden · Éomer · Éowyn · Saruman · Sauron · Witch-king · Denethor · Faramir · Gollum · Gríma · Treebeard · Celeborn · Haldir · Lurtz · Sharku · Grishnákh