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The Thain (not to be confused with the term Thane) was the title give to the traditional military leader of the Hobbits of the Shire after the fall of Fornost and the Dúnedain kingdom of Arthedain in the mid-Third Age. The Thain was Master of the Shire-moot and Captain of the Shire-muster.

History

The Hobbits first chose a Thain to rule them in TA 1979 (Shire Reckoning 379), four years after Arvedui, the last King of Arthedain perished. Over time, the Thain became a hereditary position, originally held by the Oldbuck Clan. Since TA 2340 (SR 740), the Thainship has remained within the powerful Took clan.

Other rulers of the Shire include the Master of Buckland and the Mayor of Michel Delving in the White Downs, as well as in the Fourth Age the Warden of Westmarch, a position created by King Aragorn II Elessar. The Thain's traditional duties involved the defence of the Shire from external attacks and presiding over meetings of the Shire-moot and Shire-muster. By the time of the War of the Ring most of the Thain's duties were ceremonial and the practical duties such as maintaining the Shire post were handled by the Mayor of Michel Delving.

Etymology

"Thain" is a variant spelling of the Old English "thegn", an Anglo-Saxon designation for a minor noble, probably best known for its use in Shakespeare's Macbeth. While more commonly spelled "thane" in modern English), Tolkien used the older variant to represent the ancestral speech of the Hobbits.

In the Fourth Age, the title in Sindarin was Ernil i Pheriannath ('Prince of the Halflings'), after Peregrin Took became the Thain.

Thains of the Shire

Third Age

Fourth Age

The line of Thains continued in the Fourth Age of Arda.

Translations

Foreign Language Translated name
Danish Thain (herredsfoged)
Dutch Dinghoofd
Hebrew תאין
Italian Conte della Contea
Polish Than
Russian Тан
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