Woodmen

From Tolkien Gateway
Woodmen
People
"Woodmen" by Angelo Montanini
General Information
OriginsNorthmen
LocationsMirkwood
Physical Description
Lifespanshorter than Númenórean
GalleryImages of Woodmen

The Woodmen were those Northmen who dwelt in Greenwood the Great in the Third and Fourth Ages.

Despite being troubled by evil creatures of Dol Guldur such as Orcs and Spiders, they survived until the War of the Ring and the Fourth Age.

Origins

See also: Northmen

The Woodmen were descended from the Edain who migrated to the West or from Men who were closely related to the Edain. As a consequence, their language was related to Adûnaic.[1]

At the end of the First Age some of those Men had settled in the northern and eastern borders of Greenwood.[2] Some migrated from the east of the Greenwood along its southern edge and up the vales of the river Anduin or between its northern edge and the Grey Mountains. During the First and Second Age the Northmen, such as the ancestors of the Woodmen, had been allies of the Longbeards and the Dwarves of the hills surrounding the Greenwood, and were enemies of the Orcs and Easterlings.[3] The Woodmen maintained friendly relations with the Elves of the Greenwood.[4]

History

On 4 October[5][6] in T.A. 2,[7] the Woodmen noticed the disastrous battle between the Dúnedain and the Orcs at the Gladden Fields. They sent runners to Thranduil and assembled a force to ambush the Orcs in order to rescue the Dúnedain, but by the time they arrived at the site of the battle it was too late: Isildur and almost all his Guards had been killed. All the Woodmen could do was to drive away the surviving Orcs, before they could mutilate the bodies of the dead. It was probably those Woodmen who found the stunned Estelmo alive under his master Elendur's dead body.[4]

In T.A. 1636 the Great Plague spreaded north from Gondor,[8] but it is not recorded how the Woodmen fared.

The Eagles used to feed on the Northmen's sheep, who defended them with their bows of yew; thus they were afraid to fly anywhere near where men lived. The Wargs and the Orcs of the Misty Mountains also usually did not dare to approach as they were brave and well-armed.[9]

At the time of the Quest of Erebor in T.A. 2941[10] the Woodmen settled in Mirkwood south of the Old Forest Road near the western edges of the forest.[11] Around this time some bold Woodmen and their families were attempting to make their way back to the north, cutting down trees, and building settlements among the woods in the valleys and along the river-shores. This time Orcs and Wargs started planning a joint raid against them to capture slaves. When the Orcs discovered Thorin and Company, they thought they were spies of those Woodmen and hunted them down, fearing they would warn their people.[9]

Obviously the raid never took place, thanks to the subsequent events, including the Battle of Five Armies where Orcs and Wargs were devastated. After the Battle, Men could travel without fear and many came to Beorn's home to celebrate Yule, and some gathered under him as a chieftain.[12]

A couple of years later, Gollum traversed Mirkwood in search for his Ring and its thief; this terrified the Woodmen who talked about "a ghost that drank blood", that even crept into houses to steal babies.[13]

It is possible that the Woodmen fought against forces of Sauron from Dol Guldur in Mirkwood during the War of the Ring, because Frodo Baggins had a vision on the Seat of Seeing on Amon Hen of a fight of Elves and Men and fell beasts under the branches of Mirkwood[14] and some of the Woodmen were living in the western edge of Mirkwood north of Dol Guldur and east of the Gladden Fields.

After the cleansing of the forest, the Woodmen and the Beornings were given the central portion of Eryn Lasgalen, between the Narrows of the Forest and the Woodland Realm.[15]

Other versions of the legendarium

Messengers from the Woodmen of Mirkwood[16] came to Rohan after they had received a message that all who hate Mordor should come there[17] in three manuscript versions of what would later become the chapter The Muster of Rohan.

Portrayal in adaptations

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Gandalf mentions at the meeting of the White Council that Greenwood the Great is now called "Mirkwood" by the Woodmen.

2019: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Woodmen in The Lord of the Rings Online
The Woodmen live in the Vales on both sides of the river Anduin. They are self-reliant and very isolated people, with even the nearby villages having very little contact with one another. Woodmen settlements include the larger town of Hultvís, the smaller villages of Blómgard and Arhaim, the recently-destroyed Waldfast and the long-abandoned Audaghaim. During the closing weeks of the War of the Ring the Woodmen were attacked by the Orcs and Wargs of the Misty Mountains, but a united force of Beornings and Woodmen pushed back and eventually defeated them at the Battle of the Old Ford.
The Woodmen are deeply superstitious due to the long years of living under the darkness of Mirkwood, but many of their folk tales bear a seed of truth in them. For example, the real events of Gollum stealing Woodmen babies have been attributed to "Úbil the Snatcher", who over the years have transformed into the hunger-crazed "Old Mad Ubb" used to scare the children.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men", p. 1129
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages", first paragraph
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men", third, fourth and seventh paragraph
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", The sources of the legend of Isildur's death, first paragraph
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Notes", note 9, Isildur started his journey on 5 September and was killed on the thirtieth of his journey
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", sixth paragraph
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2, p. 1085
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1634, p. 1086
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2941, p. 1089
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Map of Wilderland"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past", p. 58
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship", p. 400
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", p. 1094
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Three: Minas Tirith", "II. Book Five Begun and Abandoned", p. 242
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Three: Minas Tirith", "II. Book Five Begun and Abandoned", pp. 247, 249