The Rules

From Tolkien Gateway

The Rules were the laws that the Shire-hobbits followed within the Shire.[1]


During the time of the Kings of Arthedain, the Shire-hobbits were obliged to acknowledge their lordship, to speed their messengers, and to maintain the Shire's bridges and roads.[2] Possibly their obligations included allowing the King to visit the land three times a year for hunting, as the woods and moorlands of the Shire had been a royal park.[3] The Shire-hobbits kept these Rules of their own free will long after Arthedain fell, recognizing their justness and antiquity, though they still attributed them to the old King of Arthedain, never forgetting that they gave them the Rules.[1]

Throughout the history of the Shire, the Shirriffs of the Watch had no need to enforce thes Rules.[1]

During the War of the Ring, after Frodo Baggins sold Bag-End to the Sackville-Baggins, Lotho Sackville-Baggins took advantage of the lack of enforcement and established himself as the Chief Shirriff after locking up Will Whitfoot. He then had his own version of The Rules written with multiple copies posted on every wall in every building within the Shire. Anyone who did not follow these new rules got sent to the Lockholes. He also added an unknown number of Shirriffs to the Watch to enforce his rules and established the First Eastfarthing Troop.[4]

Some of Lotho's new rules included "Gate-breaking, and Tearing up of Rules, and Assaulting Gate-keepers, and Trespassing, and Sleeping in Shire-buildings without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food". Most of Lotho's new rules were broken by the Travellers when they returned to the Shire. Peregrin Took in particular broke Rule 4 by using the majority of the next day's wood allowance that very night.[4]

After the Shire was retaken, Lotho's new Rules were never mentioned again,[4] possibly implying that the Shire removed all of Lotho's contributions to the Rules.