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Illustration of the Wilderland, or Rhovanion, from The Hobbit

Rhovanion or Wilderland was a large region of northern Middle-earth. The Great River Anduin flowed through it, and the immense forest of Greenwood the Great also lay within its borders.

Politically, Rhovanion referred to a smaller area east of Mirkwood,

History

Years of the Trees, and First Age

In the Years of the Trees the Elves passed through Rhovanion on their Great Journey. Much later during the First Age, the Atanatári (Fathers of Men) followed them. The region is not otherwise mentioned until tales of the Second Age.

Second Age

Rhovanion was host to two Silvan Elf kingdoms ruled by Sindarin lords: Northern Greenwood and Lórinand (later named Lórien). During the War of the Last Alliance both of these kings, Amdír of Lórinand and Oropher of the Greenwood perished in the Battle of Dagorlad.

Third Age

In TA 1248, Rómendacil II of Gondor destroyed all camps of the Easterlings even beyond the Sea of Rhûn, and a strong alliance with the Northmen princes of Rhovanion was forged. The strongest of these princes at this time was Vidugavia, and Prince Valacar of Gondor was sent as an ambassador to his court. Vidugavia's daughter Vidumavi married Valacar, and their son Vinitharya became King Eldacar in TA 1432, which led to the Kin-strife in TA 1437. Eldacar fled to Rhovanion, and he reclaimed his Kingdom with a Northmen army in TA 1447.

In the north of Greenwood lived the Silvan elves ruled by Thranduil, and in the south of Greenwood and across the river in Lórinand ruled Amroth. In the far south, near the rapids of Sarn Gebir, watched the northern guard of Gondor, and in the valleys of the Anduin lived Stoors (Hobbits).

In TA 1636 the Great Plague devastated Rhovanion, killing more than half its people. This left the Northmen weakened, and in TA 1856 the Wainriders overran and enslaved Rhovanion. For 43 years Rhovanion was enslaved, but in TA 1899 there was a revolt, coordinated with an attack by Gondor on the Wainriders from the west. Rhovanion was freed but left extremely weakened. Many Men of Rhovanion left for Gondor, where they were welcomed as distant relatives, or migrated to the vales of Anduin, where they became the Éothéod.

In the mid Third Age, Rhovanion was a quite populated area: in the north lay the Dwarven kingdoms of Erebor and the Dwarf halls in the Grey Mountains, and the Mannish kingdom of Dale, near the sources of the Great River Anduin lay the Mannish realm of Éothéod, and in and around the south and east of Greenwood the Great lived the Woodmen.

In c. TA 2460 Sauron returned as "the Necromancer", taking residence at Dol Guldur in the south of Greenwood, which became evil and was renamed "Mirkwood". The Dwarves of Erebor and Men of Dale were destroyed and scattered when the Dragon Smaug took Erebor, and Gondor retreated from its northern outposts. Some Men still lived along the forest, notably the Beornings, Woodmen and the Men of Esgaroth upon the Long Lake. The Men of Éothéod removed south at the invitation of Gondor, and settled the plains of Calenardhon, later Rohan. After being driven out of Erebor the Dwarves relocated, some went to the Iron Hills, but most went to the Ered Luin in Eriador.

At the end of the Third Age, the Kingdoms of Erebor and Dale were restored as a result of the death of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies, and Sauron was removed from Mirkwood by the White Council. During the War of the Ring fighting raged across Rhovanion, and after Sauron was defeated Mirkwood was made clean again, and renamed Eryn Lasgalen, or "Wood of Greenleaves". Early in the Fourth Age Gondor reclaimed large parts of it as part of its East-lands.

Inhabitants

Dwarves

The Dwarves of Durin's Folk at various times mined in Erebor and the Grey Mountains,

Men

The men of Rhovanion were known as the Northmen. These included the Woodsmen of Mirkwood, the Beornings, and the men of the Principalities of Rhovanion to the east of Greenwood. Easterling invasions destroyed these states, but their descendants became the people of Dale, Esgaroth and the Éothéod, who in turn became the Rohirrim.

Elves

Elves, most notably the Silvan Elves settled in the Greenwood when they first passed by it. They were later joined by Sindar who escaped the cataclysm of Beleriand and the dominion of the Ñoldor in Eriador. The Wood Elves of Mirkwood participated in the War of the Last Alliance, but later on, retreated into the northern parts of the forest to escape the power of Dol Guldur.

Hobbits (formerly)

An offshoot of the Northmen, the Halflings or Hobbits emerged in the Gladden Fields beside Greenwood. The threat of Dol Guldur led them to flee for Eriador, but some Stoor Hobbits remained behind for a while, becoming known as the River Folk.

Orcs

Orcs invaded Rhovanion beginning in the First Age, and continued to do so from the South during the Dark Days. In the early Third Age, Orcs came down from the North into the realm of Angmar and began invading Rhovanion. The Misty Mountains became filled with them, as were the Grey Mountains once the Dwarves fled.

Boundaries

  • To the west: the range of the Hithaeglir, or Misty Mountains.

Important rivers were the Anduin or Great River, the Celduin or Running, and the Carnen or Redwater.

Major features were the forest of Mirkwood, and the Long Lake of Esgaroth.

Portrayals in adaptations

The realms of the Wilderland were subjected to several attacks from Easterlings, as well as the threat of Angmar in the early Third Age. Orcs came down from the North and drove the Skin-Changers away from the Misty Mountains, raided the Woodland Realm (costing the lives of Tauriel's parents, as well as the Elvenqueen). Angmar's defeat and the instigation of the Watchful Peace stopped these raids. However, when the Necromancer settled in the ruins of Dol Guldur, Orcs (which have been replenishing their numbers in Gundabad and Moria) came down into the Wilderland again.

During the Quest of Erebor, Thorin and Company passed through the Wilderland during the Quest of Erebor as they were pursued by Azog under orders from The Necromancer. Gandalf left the company at Mirkwood to discover the identity of this sorcerer, a feat finally acheived during the Battle of Dol Guldur when Galadriel banished Sauron to Mordor.

After the battle of Dol Guldur, it led to the outbreak of the Battle of the Five Armies and War of the Ring, in which the Orc population in the Wilderland was decimated. Nevertheless, a force of Orcs and Easterlings marched on Wilderland again, attacking the Woodland Realm and Erebor during the Battle of Dale, but was defeated shortly before the War of the Ring ended.

Etymology

Rhovanion is Sindarin[1] for "wilderland" and contains rhovan, with the place-name ending -ion.

Wilderland was a Hobbit name.[2] Tolkien made Wilderland based on wilderness but with a side-reference to the verbs wilder, "wander astray" and bewilder.[3]

Translations

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ርሆቫኒኦን
Arabic روفانيون
Armenian Րհովանիոն
Belarusian Cyrillic Рhованіон
Bengali ৰহভানিওন
Bulgarian Cyrillic Рхованион
Catalan Rhovànion
Chinese 羅馬尼安
Danish Rhovanien
Georgian როვანიონი (Rhovanion)/ველურმიწეთი (Wilderland)
Greek Ροβάνιον
Gujarati ર્હોવનિઓન
Hebrew רהובאניון
Hindi रहोवनिओं
Italian Rhovanion a.k.a. Terre Selvagge
Kannada ರೋವನಿಯನ್
Kazakh Рһованіон (Cyrillic) Rhovanion (Latin)
Korean 로바 니온 ?
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Рhованион
Lao Rຫໂvະນິໂນ ?
Macedonian Cyrillic Рхованион
Marathi रोव्हनियन
Mongolian Cyrillic Рhованион
Nepalese ढ़ोवनिओन
Norwegian Rhovanion a.k.a. Villenland
Pashto رهووانیان
Persian رووانیون ?
Portuguese Rhovanion a.k.a. Terra Selvagem (Portugal)

Rhovanion a.k.a. Terras Ermas (Portuguese Brazil)

Sanskrit र्होवनिओन्
Sinhalese ර්හොවනිඔන්
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Rhovanion a.k.a. Tierras Ásperas
Russian Рованион
Serbian Рованион (Cyrillic) Rhovanion (Latin)
Tajik Cyrillic Рҳованион
Tamil ற்ஹொவநிஒந்
Telugu రహోవానిన్
Thai โรห์วานิออน
Ukrainian Cyrillic Рованіон
Urdu رہووانااون
Uzbek Рҳованион (Cyrillic) Rhovanion (Latin)
Yiddish רהאָוואַניאָן

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 78
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 14
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 779
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