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**UT – The Battles of the Fords of Isen** 3. “When the war with Saruman began Theodred without orders assumed general command.”

squire
Valinor


Mar 21 2014, 7:28pm

Post #1 of 6 (176 views)
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**UT – The Battles of the Fords of Isen** 3. “When the war with Saruman began Theodred without orders assumed general command.” Can't Post

Welcome back to our discussion of Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, specifically his Third Age essay “The Battles of the Fords of Isen.” Having worked through the main narrative of the battles themselves (see the previous two posts of this week), we will now see what we can make of the so-called Appendices.

Appendix (i) begins, “In writing associated with the present text some further particulars are given concerning the Marshals of the Mark in the year 3019 and after the end of the War of the Ring: …” There follows a long paragraph outlining who the three Marshals were (Theoden ex officio, Theodred, and Eomer), their jurisdictions and bases, and the confusion about military authority that followed from Theoden’s descent into incapacity under the influence of Grima Wormtongue. This led to Theodred’s assumption of command when Saruman threatened open war; without orders he called upon Elfhelm to lead many of the Riders of Edoras (nominally the King’s men) to aid him in the defense of the Westfold – as told in the preceding main narrative of the First Battle of the Fords of Isen.

Here are some questions about this first paragraph:

All I remember about the title of “Marshal” in European history is that Field Marshal is even higher than a General, and the rank is considered a rare and high honor for a military man.
A. So first off, what exactly is a Marshal, and why does Tolkien pick this particular title for Rohan’s top generals?

I’m confused about whether Rohan has what I think of as a “feudal” military system, or an “early modern” system. The difference in my mind is that in the former, the lords of the outlying estates owe service to the King, and wage war at his call and under his command but as individual subcommanders using their own fiscal and military resources. Starting with the early modern era, the national Kings organized a professional military with regional general officers directly responsible to, employed and supplied by, the central monarchy.
B. Given that this is fantasy, where is Rohan on this scale of feudal vs. centralized military organization?

C. Was Theoden the First Marshal, or not?

I seem to remember Theoden lecturing somebody in LotR about how things are done in wartime, or about what battle is like. But here it seems to imply that Rohan was at peace during his reign, until Saruman attacked.
D. Am I misremembering? What was Theoden’s battle experience, exactly?

E. Is Tolkien implying that Theodred “broke a few rules” (as Woody put it in Toy Story) when he presumed to command Elfhelm to leave Edoras and head to the Gap of Rohan? (And why didn't Grima have Elfhelm banished for leaving the King undefended etc.?)


F. Can anyone locate “Aldburg in the Folde”? As in, post a map from a reputable source? And can you imagine what Éomer’s ancestral home looked like?



Next, we hear about the eored system: the provision that “in times of war or unquiet” the Marshals kept “quartered under arms at his residence” a small force of Riders “ready for battle” to be used as needed.
G. Who decided when times were “unquiet”? Who decided when they were quiet again, and where did the Riders of the eored go then?

120 men and horses eat a lot, and need to be occupied and entertained as the weeks go by.
H. Does this arrangement speak to the relative amounts of wealth controlled by the aristocracy of Rohan? Was Eomer not just Third Marshal, but one of the richest men in the Mark after the King and his son?

This segues into a rehearsal of the indictment brought against Eomer by Grima in LotR, after he had led his eored out to pursue the raiding orcs in the East Emnet and the Wold.

“I led forth my eored, men of my own household…” – Eomer, in LotR III.2.

The way Eomer says it above, I always assumed they were permanently resident on his estate, but of course not always at Readiness One. This note in UT seems to say the opposite: they're not always resident, but when they are, they are on a hair-trigger.
I. What was the eored, really? Are there real-world examples we can look to?

Finally, we have a note about how Erkenbrand fit into the scheme at the time of the War of the Ring. “He had in youth been, as most lords, an officer in the King’s Riders, but he was so no longer. He was, however, the chief lord in the West-mark… He thus [after Theodred’s death] took command also of the Riders of the Western Muster…”
J. Wait, why didn’t he just become the new Second Marshal?

“An officer in the King’s Riders.” “The chief lord in the West-mark.” “Riders of the Western Muster.” I hate to be disloyal, but sometimes I feel Tolkien is just winging it.
K. What do you think?

Next comes a discussion of how things changed once Theoden was healed, and able to go to war. Eomer regains a kind of primary authority under the King (“virtually First Marshal…but the title was not used”). Elfhelm becomes “a Marshal”, but evidently not the Second one, and Grimbold (who had not existed before this mention) “had the function, but not the title, of the Third Marshal.” I note that before the war, Theodred in the West was Second Marshal, and Eomer in the East was Third Marshal.
L. Why then for the ride to Minas Tirith does Elfhelm as de facto Second Marshal lead the Riders of the East-mark, while Grimbold as de facto Third Marshal gets those of the West-mark?

Finally, we are told how the Mark reorganized its forces going forward into the Fourth Age under King Éomer. The ranking of the Marshals was abandoned, with a simple division between East and West maintained instead. Erkenbrand becomes the Marshal of the West-mark.
M. What does the abandonment of the First-Second-Third Marshal system imply? What has changed?


There is a complex explanation of the new office of “Underking”, which doubles the King’s authority when two leaders are needed, one on the battle-front and one back at the capital. The Underking could also take over for an old or sick King and so the office was most often held by the heir – but in a final “But”, there is the cryptic comment that the “Council” forbade the heir to an old King to go far abroad unless there was a second (male) heir.
N. Council?? What the heck?
"...while many like you demand maps, others wish for geological indications rather than places; many want Elvish grammars, phonologies, and specimens; some want metrics and prosodies ... Musicians want tunes, and musical notation; archaeologists want ceramics and metallurgy. Botanists want a more accurate description of the mallorn, of elanor, niphredil, alfirin, mallos, and symbelmynë; and historians want more details about the social and political structure of Gondor..." -- J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter 187, c. April 16, 1956. (bold by squire)
O. I mean really. I’m as loyal a Tolkien reader as any, but as one of those Gondor fans who misses a lot of info about that empire’s political economy, I often wonder what spurred the writing of this archaeopolitical fantasy about Fourth Age Rohan?

Next: the second Appendix to “The Battles of the Fords of Isen”!



squire online:
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Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
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noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Mar 22 2014, 5:09pm

Post #2 of 6 (98 views)
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Marshalling my thoughts... [In reply to] Can't Post

Looking at the wikipedia entry, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshal it looks like a Marshal(l) was initially the officer who looked after the stables. Horses being a very military thing in the Medieval period, this quickly became about organizing troops. Thence, I suppose it became about organizing things ("I marshalled my thoughts", or "I agreed to marshall a cross-country race for my son's school").

So, I suppose, "Marshall" makes a lot of sense for Rohan - both medieval and horsey.

Whatever you call them, you'd expect it would be pretty important to be clear about who had the authority to call out the troops, and who didn't. So, how was that working?

Rohan is also quite Anglo-Saxon-ish, and the Anglo-Saxons had quite a complex system of land-holding and military obligation (I have been finding out today).


Quote
The basic building block of the system was the hearth. On his land, the Lord owned a hearth-hall, within which he housed his retinue of warriors. His tenants brought their produce to this hall, feeding and maintaining the retinue. In return, the Lord provided all on his land with security. It was when he was unable to provide that security that the lord got worried: lack of security was the defining trait of 'bad' lordship.

This is best exemplified in the epic Saxon poem Beowulf, in which the adventurer Beowulf is drawn to the hearth of the Danish king Hrothgar by the king's famed generosity. There, he rids Hrothgar of the monsters which are threatening the security of his hearth and is generously rewarded. Beowulf finally dies trying to win a treasure hoard from a dragon threatening his own land - a potent combination of security and gold, the two driving forces of lordship in his time.

...Overlaid onto this was the old Germanic system of lordship and the hearth, but it had been altered almost beyond recognition by the demands of the previous two centuries.

Military service was still technically based on land 'loaned' from a lord in return for service. Yet by the 10th Century, this land had often been granted away in the form of 'bookland' which was a royal gift in perpetuity to a loyal retainer. Alfred and his successors had dealt with the problem by instituting the fyrd [a kind of militia, I think] and military obligation was measured in hides.

In essence, the Anglo-Saxon kings had bypassed the problem of lordship by imposing duties on the land itself. Large landowners were now expected to bring a retinue of thegns with them, based on the hideage of their land, and the very definition of a thegn was someone who could afford to arm himself as a warrior with the proceeds of his land. The more powerful thegns themselves had retinues of housecarls, old-style military retainers who served in the hope of being granted bookland and thegn status in return for their loyalty.

Dr Mike Ibeji, http://www.bbc.co.uk/...ans/society_01.shtml

[/quote

So, if we assume Rohan was a bit like that, one would certainly expect Eomer (or another lord) to call up his retainers and repel attackers or raiders affecting his own lands, without any expectation that this would need Royal authority. A Saxon or Norman Lord would see no choice in the matter: what good was he, if he didn't defend his lands? A general mobilization would be organized from the Throne, though.

Added to this, though, Tolkien writes the Rohirrim as a culture based on personal loyalties and personal initiative, rather than written law. I'm thinking of the episode where Hama makes the (ultimately fortunate) mistake of neglecting to confiscate Gandalf's staff. (by using his own initiative, rather than blindly following orders) Theoden jokes that Hama has proved unreliable as a Door Ward, and so can now be a messenger. Sent to get the pardoned Eomer, Hama also allows Eomer his sword. Initially Theoden asks sharply about this, but immediately relents when it is clear that his orders have not been deliberately flouted. I see this informality as a contrast to Gondor. There, Aragorn is not able to ignore or comute Beregond's crime of killing (done as part of trying to save Faramir). Clearly, though he is King, he is not above the law. Instead, Aragorn ingeniously turns the mandatory punishment of banishment into a reward and promotion (Beregond is banished, but to Ithilien, and as Captain of Farmir and Eowyn's Guard). It also doesn't seem that anyone from Rohan thinks it's appropriate to discipline Eowyn for disobeying King Theoden's direct orders to take command of Edoras in his absence, and heading off to battle incognito.

So, it could be that 'Marshal' or no Marshal, key Lords of the Rohirrim could command a following of warriors who simply decided that it was their duty to follow this person.

A further thought is "who is supposed to be writing this" (Tolkien is often up to his trick of pretending that he is translator or editor or collator of original works). If the answer is that this is supposed to be the work of a Gondorian historian (rolls off the tongue), then that person could, perhaps be struggling to understand ranks and military authority in Rohan at the time, because of assuming it would be like his (or her) more rule-bound society in Gondor. Certainly whether Anglo-Saxon England was 'feudal' seems to be a controversial question - largely, it looks because of people applying different definitions of 'feudal http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/...le/123/feudalism.htm

And yet a further thought is that Rohan could be a culture, like Anglo-Saxon England undergoing change - old local obligations giving way to increasing centralized Royal power (or vica versa) and some ideas borrowed from their Gondorian neighbours superimposed on the old ways. It might be not unreasonable for the results to be complex and messy, though that does look, in fantasy, like plot-holes, instead of realism!

...or, perhaps Tolkien was winging it! Wink

I have really enjoyed being prompted to do some research into English history: thanks Squire, for a most interesting week of posts!

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Mar 22 2014, 7:25pm

Post #3 of 6 (85 views)
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A few thoughts on Rohan's military [In reply to] Can't Post

In regards to their place in the continuum, the Rohan of this UT seems to me more on the feudal pole of organization, to the point where individual battalions seem to be kept on private lands (and at the expense of their battalion commander - so yes, I presume Eomer had a lot of resources.)


The shift from the numbered Marshals seems like a step towards centralization, but monarchal centralization: no more presumption of authority based on hierarchal, inherited (?) rank but a need for the commanders to negotiate policies and strategies within the bounds of the will of the King. The political landscape changing on Rohan on the more centrally concentrated monarchal role? (I see JRRT as a rather avowed monarchist, so this movement may have both reflected European real world histories as well as made him happy.)


The experience of Théoden doesn't seem directly stated; I take the experiences of Aragorn as Thorongil to stand for those tales. The attack on Umbar and Aragorn's (I believe) approximately 20+ years of service to Rohan seems to have given him a lot of battle experience - so presumably Théoden has some of this on the tail end (since Aragorn's service would cover Théoden's ages from ~9-32, based on what I see in Ardaic timelines.) The end of Aragorn's service is the year Thengel dies (which I cannot find any detail son. Was it during action with Thorongil? I don't know - does anyone else?)

Have an idea relating to the world of JRR Tolkien that you would like to write about? If so, the Third TORn Amateur Symposium will be running in the Reading Room April, 2014. *The Call for Submissions is up*!





(This post was edited by Brethil on Mar 22 2014, 7:31pm)


demnation
Rohan

Mar 24 2014, 4:45am

Post #4 of 6 (64 views)
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I have a theory about your very last question [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien writes once or twice in his letters about the dangers of the "game", that is falling into the traps of detail and world building. The Battles of the Fords of Isen and The Disaster of Gladden Fields contain details that seem a bit out of place with the rest of Tolkien's work. I'd like to think that these two pieces where just Tolkien exercising his world building muscles.

(And as a side note, I find the ups and downs of RR participation a bit perplexing. We ought to get all those Tolkien fans on Tumblr to come over here and give us their thoughts.)

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."

(This post was edited by demnation on Mar 24 2014, 4:47am)


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 24 2014, 6:57pm

Post #5 of 6 (52 views)
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"Cadres decide everything!" [In reply to] Can't Post

All I remember about the title of “Marshal” in European history is that Field Marshal is even higher than a General, and the rank is considered a rare and high honor for a military man.
A. So first off, what exactly is a Marshal, and why does Tolkien pick this particular title for Rohan’s top generals?


Like noWizardme points out it evolved into “commander” from its original meaning of “groom”. How could philologist Tolkien resist?


I’m confused about whether Rohan has what I think of as a “feudal” military system, or an “early modern” system. The difference in my mind is that in the former, the lords of the outlying estates owe service to the King, and wage war at his call and under his command but as individual subcommanders using their own fiscal and military resources. Starting with the early modern era, the national Kings organized a professional military with regional general officers directly responsible to, employed and supplied by, the central monarchy.
B. Given that this is fantasy, where is Rohan on this scale of feudal vs. centralized military organization?


The First Eored is a standing force at the capital, basically the Imperial Guard. The Second and Third Eoreds are probably garrisons of their resepective fortress/ HQs. The rest are citizens called up in time of war, like Greek, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon citizen/farmer/soldiers. As Stalin said, "Cadres decide everything!"


C. Was Theoden the First Marshal, or not?

No and yes. Normally the First Marshal was his councilor, but after the death of Éomund it was never filled and Theoden did double duty.


I seem to remember Theoden lecturing somebody in LotR about how things are done in wartime, or about what battle is like. But here it seems to imply that Rohan was at peace during his reign, until Saruman attacked.
D. Am I misremembering? What was Theoden’s battle experience, exactly?


He killed orcs for raiding, Dunlendings for land, and Woses for fun.


E. Is Tolkien implying that Theodred “broke a few rules” (as Woody put it in Toy Story) when he presumed to command Elfhelm to leave Edoras and head to the Gap of Rohan?

Theodred has basically assumed the military authority of King and if his authority is accepted he can summon his First Marshall and his eodred since both are under the direct command of the King. .


(And why didn't Grima have Elfhelm banished for leaving the King undefended etc.?)

As First Marshal Elfhelm is in command of all the military forces in Edoras and all the adjacent areas. Grima knows his limits.


F. Can anyone locate “Aldburg in the Folde”? As in, post a map from a reputable source?

http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/a/aldburg.html


And can you imagine what Éomer’s ancestral home looked like?

I’m thinking a well-fortified thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek and their brats roll on the floor with the dogs.

Exactly like the Meduseld, only different.


Next, we hear about the eored system: the provision that “in times of war or unquiet” the Marshals kept “quartered under arms at his residence” a small force of Riders “ready for battle” to be used as needed.
G. Who decided when times were “unquiet”?


The King.


Who decided when they were quiet again,…

The King.


…and where did the Riders of the eored go then?

Either thatched barns or a thatched Golden Hall.


120 men and horses eat a lot, and need to be occupied and entertained as the weeks go by.
H. Does this arrangement speak to the relative amounts of wealth controlled by the aristocracy of Rohan?


I seem to recall the Koran saying “horses are wealth”, but I can’t find the passage.


Was Eomer not just Third Marshal, but one of the richest men in the Mark after the King and his son?

If he’s a true Anglo-Saxon lord, then no. As Anthony Quinn as Auda Abu-Tayi channeling Beowulf said, “The Turks pay me a golden treasure. Yet I am poor, because I am a river to my people!” A ringthane is expected to be a ringgiver, otherwise bad things happen. Look at Theoden’s grandpa.


This segues into a rehearsal of the indictment brought against Eomer by Grima in LotR, after he had led his eored out to pursue the raiding orcs in the East Emnet and the Wold.

“I led forth my eored, men of my own household…” – Eomer, in LotR III.2.

The way Eomer says it above, I always assumed they were permanently resident on his estate, but of course not always at Readiness One. This note in UT seems to say the opposite: they're not always resident, but when they are, they are on a hair-trigger.
I. What was the eored, really? Are there real-world examples we can look to?


Supposedly the Greek hoplites, the Roman citizen/soldiers, and the Anglo-Saxon ceorls all farmed with their weapons and armor nearby, just in case they got called up for duty in mid-furrow.

Still, assuming that the HQ of the Second Marshal is Helm’s Deep, and the HQ of the Third Marshal is old capital of Aldburg, then each would be a fortress and 120 men would seem appropriate for a permanent if skeletal garrison.


Finally, we have a note about how Erkenbrand fit into the scheme at the time of the War of the Ring. “He had in youth been, as most lords, an officer in the King’s Riders, but he was so no longer. He was, however, the chief lord in the West-mark… He thus [after Theodred’s death] took command also of the Riders of the Western Muster…”
J. Wait, why didn’t he just become the new Second Marshal?


He assumed Theodred’s authority as acting king and appointed Grimbold as Second Marshal.


“An officer in the King’s Riders.” “The chief lord in the West-mark.” “Riders of the Western Muster.” I hate to be disloyal, but sometimes I feel Tolkien is just winging it.
K. What do you think?


I think as a military officer himself, in the trenches, with an often times quickly shifting Table of Organization (i.e., officers dying like flies), Tolkien was well aware of how ad hoc command structures became incredibly messy during a military campaign.



Next comes a discussion of how things changed once Theoden was healed, and able to go to war. Eomer regains a kind of primary authority under the King (“virtually First Marshal…but the title was not used”). Elfhelm becomes “a Marshal”, but evidently not the Second one, and Grimbold (who had not existed before this mention) “had the function, but not the title, of the Third Marshal.” I note that before the war, Theodred in the West was Second Marshal, and Eomer in the East was Third Marshal.
L. Why then for the ride to Minas Tirith does Elfhelm as de facto Second Marshal lead the Riders of the East-mark, while Grimbold as de facto Third Marshal gets those of the West-mark?


This does seem wacky, but it just might be a political move to balance the Eastfold and Westfold factions, kindasorta. On the other hand it does seem to signal an abandonment of the heritage of tsarism, er, that is, Eorlism, with the abolition of personal military ranks in favor of a system of positional rank. Did I miss the Revolution?


Finally, we are told how the Mark reorganized its forces going forward into the Fourth Age under King Éomer. The ranking of the Marshals was abandoned, with a simple division between East and West maintained instead. Erkenbrand becomes the Marshal of the West-mark.
M. What does the abandonment of the First-Second-Third Marshal system imply?


The Eastfold and Westfold are now politically equal.


What has changed?

The new king is from Eastfold.


There is a complex explanation of the new office of “Underking”, which doubles the King’s authority when two leaders are needed, one on the battle-front and one back at the capital. The Underking could also take over for an old or sick King and so the office was most often held by the heir – but in a final “But”, there is the cryptic comment that the “Council” forbade the heir to an old King to go far abroad unless there was a second (male) heir.
N. Council??


I knew there was an explanation for all those old guys standing around doing nothing in the Meduseld in the movie!


What the heck?

Not to mention the Council of Gondor.

(Considering the longwindedness of the Council of Elrond we should count ourselves lucky Tolkien merely mentioned these bozos in passing.)


"...while many like you demand maps, others wish for geological indications rather than places; many want Elvish grammars, phonologies, and specimens; some want metrics and prosodies ... Musicians want tunes, and musical notation; archaeologists want ceramics and metallurgy. Botanists want a more accurate description of the mallorn, of elanor, niphredil, alfirin, mallos, and symbelmynë; and historians want more details about the social and political structure of Gondor..." -- J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter 187, c. April 16, 1956. (bold by squire)
O. I mean really. I’m as loyal a Tolkien reader as any, but as one of those Gondor fans who misses a lot of info about that empire’s political economy, I often wonder what spurred the writing of this archaeopolitical fantasy about Fourth Age Rohan?


He probably had a big stack of papers to grade and hey, sometimes you’ll do anything rather than grading papers!


Next: the second Appendix to “The Battles of the Fords of Isen”!

I'm BSing as fast as I can!

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”


sador
Half-elven


Mar 25 2014, 11:50am

Post #6 of 6 (65 views)
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Should Hama be titled "the seneschal"? [In reply to] Can't Post

A. So first off, what exactly is a Marshal, and why does Tolkien pick this particular title for Rohan’s top generals?
A great noble and praiseworthy knight, such as William_Marshal was.

B. Given that this is fantasy, where is Rohan on this scale of feudal vs. centralized military organization?
It seems pretty feudal, with Eomer's eored of his personal household and the Westfold marshals all of a sudden accepting Erkenbrand's authority.

C. Was Theoden the First Marshal, or not?
At first, yes. And then as he grew old, he found a bright young officer in his household to take over his duties as a substitute Marshal.

D. Am I misremembering? What was Theoden’s battle experience, exactly?
"Much must be risked at war" is Denethor. Theoden does speak to Hirgon about needing to give thought for his own realm's safety.

Before that - I suppose he did have some, but the story doesn't tell. Aragorn states that he did know him (when as Thorongil, he was down south).

E. Is Tolkien implying that Theodred “broke a few rules” (as Woody put it in Toy Story) when he presumed to command Elfhelm to leave Edoras and head to the Gap of Rohan?
I'm not sure that's what he means, but in a way, yes.

And why didn't Grima have Elfhelm banished for leaving the King undefended etc.? Recall his words when Gandalf came to Meduseld, how few men would be left to defend the King, had Eomer been in charge. Grima doesn't want to punish Elfhelm - he has bigger fish to fry; but he does use this "desertion" for his own purposes.
And besides, Elfhelm hasn't returned to Edoras yet. When he comes back - who knows what would have happened?

F. Can anyone locate “Aldburg in the Folde”? As in, post a map from a reputable source? And can you imagine what Éomer’s ancestral home looked like?
Didn't Michael Martinez have something about this somewhere? Anyway, I cannot.

G. Who decided when times were “unquiet”? Who decided when they were quiet again, and where did the Riders of the eored go then?

Well, I guess Eomer thought he could use his own discretion with his eored.

H. Does this arrangement speak to the relative amounts of wealth controlled by the aristocracy of Rohan? Was Eomer not just Third Marshal, but one of the richest men in the Mark after the King and his son?

Must have been. He likely had extensive lands, tilled by serfs, or war-prisoners.

I. What was the eored, really? Are there real-world examples we can look to?
They might have been Eopmer's vassals.

J. Wait, why didn’t he just become the new Second Marshal?

Someone needs to appopint him formally. So far, he hasn't even taken his oath of fealty.

K. What do you think?

I see were you are coming from.

L. Why then for the ride to Minas Tirith does Elfhelm as de facto Second Marshal lead the Riders of the East-mark, while Grimbold as de facto Third Marshal gets those of the West-mark?
Well, this might be simply a matter of seniority; however, in The Riders of Rohan, Eomer clearly stated that the West-mark was the fief of the Third Marshal.

And by the way, if Aldburg was Eorl's home - for sure the marshal of the West-mark should have been second, if only as a mark of honour?

M. What does the abandonment of the First-Second-Third Marshal system imply? What has changed?
As a matter of fact, this seems to move towards a simpler feudal system, with no real hierarchy which would imply a central authority to determine the relative seniority of the Barons.

N. Council?? What the heck?

Umm... perhaps this concept was lifted from Gondor?

I often wonder what spurred the writing of this archaeopolitical fantasy about Fourth Age Rohan?
Well, if you assume that the Rohirrim are an idealised Anglo-Saxon culture, it seems obvious that Tolkien is more interested in them.
And who knows, had The New Shadow progressed beyond the first conversation, perhaps we would have learned more about Gondor as well.

 
 

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