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Things of Middle-earth

Riders of the Mark

Type: Miscellaneous

Other Names:
Riders of Rohan
Riders of Théoden
the King's Host


The cavalry of Rohan, consisting of fully-trained and well-equipped horsemen.
The horsemen... were riding like the wind....

Suddenly they swept up with a noise like thunder, and the foremost horseman swerved, passing by the foot of the hill, and leading the host back southward along the western skirts of the downs. After him they rode: a long line of mail-clad men, swift, shining, fell and fair to look upon.

Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed; their grey coats glistened, their long tails flowed in the wind, their manes were braided on their proud necks. The Men that rode them matched them well: tall and long-limbed; their hair, flaxen-pale, flowed under their light helms, and streamed in long braids behind them; their faces were stern and keen. In their hands were tall spears of ash, painted shields were slung at their backs, long swords were at their belts, their burnished skirts of mail hung down upon their knees.

In pairs they galloped by, and though every now and then one rose in his stirrups and gazed ahead and to either side, they appeared not to perceive the three strangers.... The host had almost passed when suddenly Aragorn stood up, and called in a loud voice:

'What news from the North, Riders of Rohan?'

With astonishing speed and skill they checked their steeds, wheeled, and came charging round. Soon the three companions found themselves in a ring of horsemen moving in a running circle, up the hill-slope behind them and down, round and round them, and drawing ever inwards....

Without a word or cry, suddenly, the Riders halted. A thicket of spears were pointed towards the strangers; and some of the horsemen had bows in hand, and their arrows were already fitted to the string. Then one rode forward...; from his helm as a crest a white horsetail flowed.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Rising] in his stirrups [Théoden] cried in a loud voice...:
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!
With that he seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder. And straightway all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains.
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
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 outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever before them. Éomer rode there, the white horsetail on his helm floating in his speed, and the front of the first éored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, but Théoden could not be overtaken. 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, even as Oromë the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and the darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 5, The Ride of the Rohirrim

Leaving three companies of Riders, together with horse-herds and spare mounts, on the east bank, [Théodred] himself passed over with the main strength of his cavalry: eight companies and a company of archers, intending to overthrow Saruman's army before it was fully prepared.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

He at once ordered a retreat. This the Riders, well trained in the manoeuvre, managed in good order and with little further loss; but the enemy was not shaken off or long outdistanced, for the retreat was often delayed, when the rearguard under Grimbold was obliged to turn at bay and drive back the most eager of their pursuers.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[Grimbold] could not hold the east bank, and withdrew from it, forming a great shieldwall about his camp. Soon it was surrounded, and the attackers cast torches among them... hoping to kindle fires among the stores and terrify such horses as Grimbold still had. But the shieldwall held. Then, since the Orcs were of less avail in such fighting because of their stature, fierce companies of the Dunlendish hillmen were thrown against it. But... the Dunlendings were... less skilled in warfare and less well armed. The shieldwall still held.

In vain Grimbold looked for help... At last... he determined to carry out... the plan that he had already made... [for] such a desperate position....

Grimbold was aware suddenly that... the fury of the assault had abated. He therefore at once mounted those riders for whom horses were available, not many more than half an éored.... The shieldwall was opened on the east side and the Riders passed through, driving back their assailants on that side; then dividing and wheeling round they charged the enemy to the north and south of the camp. The sudden manoeuvre was for a space successful. The enemy was confused and dismayed....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

Marshal of the Mark... was the highest military rank and the title of the King's lieutenants..., commanders of the royal forces of fully equipped and trained Riders. The First Marshal's ward was the capital, Edoras, and the adjacent King's Lands.... He commanded the Riders of the Muster of Edoras, drawn from this ward, and from some parts of the West-mark and East-mark for which Edoras was the most convenient place of assembly.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

According to a note on the ordering of the Rohirrim, the éored "had no precisely fixed number, but in Rohan it was only applied to Riders, fully trained for war: men serving for a term, or in some cases permanently, in the King's Host. Any considerable body of such men, riding as a unit in exercise or on service, was called an éored. But after the... reorganization of their forces in the days of King Folcwine, a hundred years before the War of the Ring, a 'full éored' in battle order was reckoned to contain not less than 120 men (including the Captain), and to be one hundredth part of the Full Muster of the Riders of the Mark... [Before] the attacks of Saruman a Full Muster would probably have produced many more than twelve thousand Riders.... In the event, owing to losses in the western war, the hastiness of the Muster, and the threat from North and East, Théoden only led out a host of some six thousand spears, though this was still the greatest riding of the Rohirrim that was recorded since the coming of Eorl."

The full muster of the cavalry was called éoherë....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 36

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 1Aug06, 4Aug06

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