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Tengwar Théoden


King Theoden 1
Théoden, as portrayed by Bernard Hill, The Lord of the Rings films.


Biographical information

Other names
Horsemaster,[1] Father of Horse-men, Théoden Ednew[2]
King of Rohan, Lord of the Mark, Lord of Rohan, Lord of the Rohirrim, Lord of the House of Eorl, Lord of the Golden House
Date of birth
Year ascended to the throne
Date of death
March 15, 3019 (aged 70)[3]
Realms ruled

Physical description

Hair color
White with braids (book),[4] Blonde (films)
Eye color
"Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
The Lord of the Rings, Book V, Chapter 5: The Ride of the Rohirrim

Théoden was the seventeenth King of Rohan, and last of the Second Line of the royal house of Eorl.


Earlier YearsEdit

Théoden was the only son of Thengel, and became king after the death of his father in TA 2980. Théoden spoke Sindarin and Westron more often than Rohirric, due to the influence of his father, and spent a part of his youth growing up in the mountain vales of Gondor, his mother's homeland.[2]

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.[2]

War of the RingEdit


Grima and Théoden in the Golden Hall of Meduseld.

By the time of the War of the Ring, Théoden had been king for nearly 40 years, and was becoming old and tired. He was increasingly misled by his chief adviser Gríma (or Wormtongue as most others in the Mark called him), who was secretly in the employ of Saruman the White. 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.[4]

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, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli 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, and led the Riders of Rohan into battle against Saruman but having found that Saruman's forces had broken through Rohan's outer defenses. Théoden, 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.

Before the battle, Théoden had made a favorite of Merry, and expressed great interest in hearing more about the Shire, especially Hobbits' lore surrounding pipe-weed. 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.[5]

"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 king of old"
Tolkien's description of Théoden charging the orcs
Theoden's death

King Théoden dies

He challenged the Witch-king of the Nine Ringwraiths, and was unconscious when his horse Snowmane fell upon him after being spooked by the Ringwraith's fell beast. He was quickly protected by his niece Éowyn and the Hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck both of whom had ridden to war in secret.[5]

Theoden's wounds were mortal and he perished on the plains of Pelennor. His body was preserved in the Hallows of Minas Tirith until Eomer returned to Rohan, and Theoden was buried in Edoras.[6]

After his death, a Rohirrim minstrel Gléowine composed a song for him and the other Kings of Rohan.[6]

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 he ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.


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").

It might have been translated from the original Rohirric Tûrac, an old word for "king".[7]

House of EorlEdit

Eorl the Young
Fréaláf Hildeson
Brytta Léofa


Other versions in the legendariumEdit

In one of Tolkien's early drafts, Théoden also had a daughter by the name of Idis. She often appeared alongside her cousin, Éowyn, though she never spoke and was always overshadowed by Éowyn.[8]

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

Radio versions (1956)Edit

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 healing 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.

Ralph Bakshi (1978)Edit

In the The Lord of the Rings (1978 film), Théoden was voiced by Philip Stone.

Rankin-Bass (1980)Edit

In the The Return of the King (1980 film), Théoden was voiced by Don Messick.

Peter Jackson (2002-2003)Edit

Theoden at helms deep

Théoden at the Battle of the Hornburg

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.  Éowyn is wounded but healed by Aragorn in the houses of healing. The movie also has Théoden aware of Éowyn's presence before her 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.

Video gamesEdit


Théoden in LOTRO

Voice Dubbing actorsEdit

Foreign Language Voice dubbing artist
Spanish (Latin America) Rogelio Guerra
Spanish (Spain) Jesús Díez
Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD) Carlos Campanile
German Reinhard Glemnitz
French (France) Roger Mollien
Japanese Katsuhiko Sasaki
Czech (Czech Republic) Jiří Plachý
Hungarian László Újréti
Italian (Italy) Stefano De Sando
Turkish Erhan Abir

Translations around the WorldEdit

Foreign Language Translated name
Chinese (Hong Kong) 希優頓


"Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden! 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."
Théoden 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
Preceded by
Théoden Succeeded by
Éomer Éadig
TA 2980 - TA 3019


  1. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter X: "The Voice of Saruman"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, II: The House of Eorl
  3. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Great Years"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VI: "The King of the Golden Hall"
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter VI: "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter VI: "Many Partings"
  7. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 12: The Peoples of Middle-earth, II: "The Appendix on Languages"
  8. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 7: The Treason of Isengard, XXVI: "The King of the Golden Hall"

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