- "Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he was ever before them."
- —Description of Théoden at the charge of the Rohirrim
Théoden was the oldest son of Thengel, and became king after the death of his father in TA 2980. Théoden spoke Sindarin and Westron rather than Rohirric, and in his youth spent time in Gondor. His name comes from the Anglo-Saxon þéoden meaning "king of a 'þéod or a nation."
His sister Théodwyn lived with him in Edoras, and 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. 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.
War of the Ring and DeathEdit
By the time of the War of the Ring Théoden had been king for nearly 40 years, and was getting old and tired. He was increasingly misled by his chief advisor Gríma (or Wormtongue as most others in the Mark called him), who was secretly in the employ of Saruman the White. It was possible that Gríma may even have been poisoning Théoden.
In the last years before the War of the Ring, Théoden let his rule slip out of his hands, and Gríma gained an increasingly large hold over him. Rohan was troubled again by Orcs and Dunlendings as well as the new fighting Uruk-hai, who operated under the will of Saruman, ruling from Isengard.
When Théoden's son Théodred was mortally wounded at a battle at the Fords of Isen in skirmish with the Orcs of Saruman, his nephew Éomer became his heir. Éomer fell out of favor with Wormtongue and was eventually banished from Rohan.When Gandalf the White and Aragorn appeared before him, Théoden initially rebuked Gandalf's advice to resist Saruman, but after being released from the effects of Gríma, he commanded Hama to release his nephew and bring him his sword Herugrim, and led the Riders of Rohan into battle against Saruman but having found that Saruman's forces had broken through Rohan's outer defenses. Theoden, under advice from Gandalf, retreated and fought against Saruman's hordes at the Battle of Helm's Deep. After this he became known as Théoden Ednew, the Renewed, because he had thrown off the yoke of Saruman.
He led the Rohirrim to the aid of Gondor at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields bravely charging the legions of Sauron, where he won great glory by defeating "The Black Serpent," a chieftan of the Southrons, in single combat.
- "Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old"
- —Tolkien's description of Theoden charging the orcs
In that battle he challenged the Witch-king of the Nine Ringwraiths, and died when his horse Snowmane fell upon him after being spooked by the Ringwraith's fell beast. He was immediately avenged by his niece Éowyn and the Hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck (to whom Theoden spoke his final words), both of whom had ridden to war in secret.
Portrayal in AdaptationsEdit
In the The Lord of the Rings (1956 radio series) he was voiced by Valentine Dyall, and in The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series) he was voiced by Erik Bauersfeld, and in 1981 BBC Radio 4 version of The Lord of the Rings, Théoden's death is described in song rather than dramatised conventionally, which tends to lessen its impact. In this adaptation he was voiced by Jack May of the Archers frame.
Peter Jackson's film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) 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.In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), when on Pelennor Fields, Théoden is attacked by the Witch-King of Angmar and is tossed to the ground by his Fell Beast, and his own horse, Snowmane, seemingly pins Théoden down to the ground as it lies dead upon him. Shortly after the Witch-King is slain by Éowyn, Théoden dies. The movie also has Théoden aware of Éowyn's presence at his death, whereas in the book he says his farewells to Merry and does not know that Éowyn is also there. Peter Jackson added a bit more character to the king, making doubt the exodus of Edoras. He gave him a greater look and love towards his people, also. His doubts in Gandalf's plans even turn into almost hopeless despair at the climax of the battle of Helm's Deep.
Théoden also makes a brief appearance in The Lord of the Rings Online, in the Golden Hall of Edoras.
The name Théoden is probably taken from the Anglo-Saxon word "þeoden", meaning "lord". It is related to the Old Norse word þjóðann, meaning "leader of the people" (i.e. "King"). Théoden's sword was called Herugrim. He fought with his left hand.
- "Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden! Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter! Spears shall be shaken, Shields shall be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor! Death! Death! Death! Forth Eorlingas"
- —Théoden at the Pelennor Fields, to his great army
- "Farewell, my hobbits! May we meet again in my house! There you shall sit beside me and tell me all that your hearts desire: the deeds of your grandsires, as far back as you can reckon them; and we will speak also of Tobold the Old and his herb-lore, Farewell!"
- —Théoden departing from the Hobbits at Isengard
- "We will have peace, when you and all your works have perished-and the works of your dark master whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and corrupter of men's hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor."
- "Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountain... Like wind in the meadow. The days have come down in the west, behind the hills... Into shadow."
- —Théoden to Gamling at Helm's Deep
- "We shall have peace. We shall have peace when you answer for the burning of the Westfold, and the children that lie dead there. When the lives of the soldiers, whose bodies were hewn even as they lay dead against the Gates of the Hornburg are avenged! When you hang from a gibbet, for the sport of your own crows, we shall have peace."
- —Theoden King to Saruman
- "I will not end here, taken like an old badger in a trap. When dawn comes, I will bid men sound Helm's horn, and I will ride forth. Will your ride with me, then, son of Arathorn? At least...we may make such an end, as will be worth a song!"
|King of Rohan|
TA 2980 - TA 3019