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The Riders of Rohan were traditionally led by three Marshals of the Riddermark, numbered in order of seniority. The Second and Third Marshals were assigned duties as circumstances determined, but the First Marshal always had the same responsibility, to command the Muster of Edoras and its surrounding lands. At the time of the War of the Ring, the First Marshal was King Théoden himself, while the Second Marshal was the King’s son Théodred, based in Helm’s Deep, and the Third Marshal was the King’s nephew Éomer, based in Aldburg, who had inherited the position of Marshal from his father Éomund.
After Théodred’s death at the Battle of the Fords of Isen, the traditional ranks were no longer strictly adhered to, and the post of the Second Marshal was effectively filled by Elfhelm, though he was never officially granted the title. The position of First Marshal was effectively vacated as Théoden King fell under the thrall of Gríma Wormtongue, and when Théoden regained mastery of himself he took command of Helm’s Deep during the Battle of the Hornburg. That battle was dark and dreadful, but on the dawn of the third day, Gandalf appeared with the éored of Erkenbrand, and his miraculous arrival turned the tide of the battle.
When the Rohirrim rode to Gondor, Théoden left Erkenbrand in command of those forces that remained behind. With Théoden were the King’s Riders, the personal éored of the King himself, led by the brave and faithful Déorwine. In the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Déorwine and six of his men fell defending their lord, and Théoden also perished, leaving his nephew Éomer to inherit the throne.
Upon the coronation of Éomer Éadig, the new King reorganized the duties of the Marshals. Instead of three Marshals differentiated by seniority, he appointed two Marshals, one for each half of the land; Elfhelm was given the title of Marshal of the East-mark, while Erkenbrand was named the Marshal of the West-mark. Éomer maintained leadership of the forces of Edoras, with the warrior Marhath as his second-in-command, and together these mighty soldiers of Rohan defended their people in the dawn of the Fourth Age.
26 notes · View notes