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Realm borders at the time of TH

Cirashala
Valinor


Sep 6, 6:46pm

Post #1 of 7 (1072 views)
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Realm borders at the time of TH Can't Post

Hello, all!

So...I was looking at a map of Rhovanion/Wilderland drawn by Tolkien on the TORn FB page, and it got me to thinking- where exactly were the borders of the various realms in Middle-earth, at the time of TH? I have Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas, but she marks more regional generalities like Tolkien's maps did, not a firm borderline (plus, atm I can't find it...I don't remember where I put it...).

I'm looking at it, and I know Thranduil had removed his people to the northeastern corner-ish of Mirkwood by that time, BUT...the forest path goes across the whole northern wood. We also have another landmark, which might indicate a potential boundary- the Enchanted Stream. However, it stems from the Mountains of Mirkwood, which aren't within his Hobbit-era border until AFTER the War of the Ring and the 4th Age begins. Thirdly, we have the Forest River proper, and lastly, the actual tree-line, as potential boundaries.

So...does anyone happen to have a map where all the realm borders (including Thranduil's, but others as well) are marked out, circa the time of The Hobbit (ie TA 2941)? Or just Third Age in general, with time progression as boundaries and borders of lands and realms changed?

Thanks! Smile

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squire
Half-elven


Sep 6, 7:24pm

Post #2 of 7 (1062 views)
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I'm not sure borders were as literal as we are used to today [In reply to] Can't Post

If I remember, surveyed and mapped boundaries to states and kingdoms are a modern-day invention, which Tolkien would not have included on his maps so as to reflect the norms of a pre-modern world.

There are exceptions, per the settings: The Shire is a more modern world and seems to have had surveyed boundaries. Likewise Gondor and its fief Rohan seem to have had something like known boundaries, at least at some points of the landscape.

But more commonly a realm reckoned its property as the productive estates, and the hinterland needed to supply those estates (woods, waters, meadows) and to defend them. The further from the capital and its productive centers, the vaguer the boundaries were likely to be: a line of hills, a water feature, or a wasteland would suffice.

You knew you were in the realm when the king's word was honored and his law followed; the further from the king, the less clear it was just where his realm actually ended.



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Cirashala
Valinor


Sep 7, 12:07am

Post #3 of 7 (1047 views)
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That's a great explanation :) [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with geographic features being a boundary- you still see this in some areas, like how the Continental Divide separates Idaho and Montana, for example Smile

I do wonder how elven boundaries would work, IF there was a threat to be taken care of. For example, the giant spiders, and Sauron's infringement on Thranduil's realm as his people moved further and further north. I would imagine, with hostile neighbors (something I'm unfortunately dealing with right now, so a little forefront in my mind Pirate), there would be a greater delineation of boundaries- especially when you have a populace to protect!

A perpetual warfront, if you will, or something akin to that.

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Sep 20, 7:49am

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Yes, that's true [In reply to] Can't Post

One place that I find interesting is the woodlanders realm as it where between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood. When we read the Hobbit at least at first it seems that the woodmen are rather weak and prey to Goblin raids, but I wonder if they where a bit tougher than we imagined. After all, if they are related to the men of Rohan, they had to be a bit tough and used to Goblins one would have thought.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 20, 2:20pm

Post #5 of 7 (751 views)
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Did the Woodmen have Government? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
One place that I find interesting is the woodlanders realm as it where between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood. When we read the Hobbit at least at first it seems that the woodmen are rather weak and prey to Goblin raids, but I wonder if they where a bit tougher than we imagined. After all, if they are related to the men of Rohan, they had to be a bit tough and used to Goblins one would have thought.


The Woodmen in The Hobbit seem to be fairly unorganized and vulnerable, but we don't really learn enough about them to do much more than speculate.
There does not seem to have been any sort of Woodman king, but it may be that they at least had local chieftains if not some sort of loose confederation that could potentially become united under a single individual or a council. In fact, we could argue that the former is exactly what happens under Beorn.

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Felagund
Lorien


Sep 20, 8:58pm

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Woodmen and Beornings [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with your loose confederation idea, perhaps bringing together Woodmen and Beornings in times of need, such as against a common foe. In one of the rare bits of secondary world geopolitics in The Hobbit, we get the interesting tidings of Beorn becoming "a great chief afterwards in those regions and ruled a wide land between the mountains [the Misty Mountains] and the wood [Mirkwood]..." ('The Return Journey').

Taking the speculation a small step further, what else do the we know of the ethnonyms 'Woodman' and 'Beorning'? The Woodmen are named in The Hobbit a couple of times, in lower case, in the story itself ('Out of the Frying-pan into the Fire'); and, capitalised as a proper noun, on the map of the Wilderland. There's nothing to suggest that they're not one and the same group, although the map references strike me as doing a slight injustice to the range of the Woodmen, who are also described in the text as living "among the more pleasant woods in the valleys and along the [Anduin] river-shores", not just the western eaves of Mirkwood (as per the Wilderland map)

In the reference to Beorn becoming a 'great chief' that you alluded to, these Woodmen are the only Men in the story that reasonably fit the bill when it comes to who it is that Beorn comes to rule over. And these then become the best candidates for the eponymous 'Beornings', who make their first appearance as a titular group in LotR, when Glóin relates news of northern Wilderland to Frodo, during the latter's sojourn in Rivendell. In this 'debut', Beorn's son, Grimbeorn is described as " the lord of many sturdy men" between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood ('Many Meetings').

Was this the end of the Woodmen then, named in The Hobbit, unlike the Beornings, and therefore an older construct in the legendarium? As we know from LotR, not at all! The Woodmen survive into the Third Age and beyond, named as co-beneficiaries with the Beornings in the post-War of the Ring carve-up of the territory of Mirkwood, then renamed Eryn Lasgalen ('Appendix B', LotR). Collectively, they are "given" by Thranduil and Celeborn the forest between the Mountains of Mirkwood and The Narrows, amounting to approximately 50% of the entirety if this vast forest. I'll pause awkwardly on "given" for a moment, as the Wilderland map makes it clear that the Woodmen were already living in part of that territory - confirmed in later works such as LotR ('The Shadow of the Past') and Unfinished Tales ('The Disaster of the Gladden Fields'). I say awkwardly, as it looks a lot like the Elven lords were granting at least some land that wasn't exactly theirs to give!

Anyway, what does all this tells us or enable us to speculate? The Woodmen and the Beornings are still separate peoples in III.3019, although clearly closely aligned - certainly enough of one mind to take joint ownership of half of Mirkwood. They are certainly close in ethnicity too. As described in LotR ('Appendix B'), the Éothéod, ancestors of the Rohirrim, are "in origin close akin to the Beornings and the men of the west-eaves of the forest [Mirkwood]' - the latter being our Woodmen. In one short sentence then, we have three groups of 'Northmen', descendants of the distant kin of the Hadorian Edain, according to Gondor's scholars, all handily named and tied up together. As for the speculative bit, I'll put it that the Beornings were a relatively recent group, having only banded together under Beorn's chieftainship in III.2941 - Beorn hitherto being something of a loner. And this new group was derived from Woodmen 'stock', being that part of the Woodmen who moved further north into the Wilderland and had accepted the rule of Beorn and his descendants. That these Beornings remained closely aligned with their Woodmen kin, to the point that they jointly settled and ruled central Eryn Lasgalen, should therefore not be surprising.

There's no evidence that Beorn's descendants 'ruled' over their Woodmen kin, either before or after the War of the Ring, However, a looser political relationship, such as a confederation, seems likely. This certainly goes with the grain of their Northmen forebears, whose dispersed populations were ruled over by many different princes. Some groups within this larger 'Northmen' ethnos later coalesced around dynasts ruling over specific territories, eg. Vidugavic Rhovanion, Dale, Éothéod and Rohan, but this in turn underscores the diversity in play. The Northmen could, and indeed had, divided and subdivided on numerous occasions over the Third Age. The Beornings were possibly just the latest in this long process of 'foundations', with the Beornings and Woodmen maintaining distinct identities as well as close collaboration, against a backdrop of close kinship.

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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 21, 12:12am

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Beornings [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There's no evidence that Beorn's descendants 'ruled' over their Woodmen kin, either before or after the War of the Ring, However, a looser political relationship, such as a confederation, seems likely. This certainly goes with the grain of their Northmen forebears, whose dispersed populations were ruled over by many different princes. Some groups within this larger 'Northmen' ethnos later coalesced around dynasts ruling over specific territories, eg. Vidugavic Rhovanion, Dale, Éothéod and Rohan, but this in turn underscores the diversity in play. The Northmen could, and indeed had, divided and subdivided on numerous occasions over the Third Age. The Beornings were possibly just the latest in this long process of 'foundations', with the Beornings and Woodmen maintaining distinct identities as well as close collaboration, against a backdrop of close kinship.


The Beornings were literally named the followers of Beorn. My general assumption was that they were primarily (if not wholly) made up of Woodmen of the Anduin Vales (though perhaps other Northmen and some of his own original folk joined him as well). As to his descendants, Beorn's son, Grimbeorn the Old, was the leader of the Beornings at the time of the War of the Ring. We learn this from Gimli the Dwarf during the feast before the Council of Elrond. I do agree that there were likely still Woodman settlements that were unaffiliated with the Beornings, beyond the borders of their land (the upper Anduin Vales).

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