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Old 10-24-2014, 08:10 PM   #1
The Mouth of Sauron
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Theoden's sisters' sons?

If I remember rightly from my reading of the Appendices, Théoden had sisters. If they had produced any sons, wouldn't those sons have had a better claim to the throne of Rohan than Eomer?
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Old 10-24-2014, 08:40 PM   #2
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Why, because the other sisters were older than Theodwyn?

-Also, maybe it's just the wording, Mouth, but you sound here as you think Eomer *wasn't* Theoden's sister's son, which is confusing me.
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Old 10-24-2014, 09:00 PM   #3
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Since Éomer was in fact the obvious heir in Théoden's mind, it seems that none of the other children of Thengel produced male offspring.
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Old 10-25-2014, 04:38 AM   #4
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I have wondered about this and there arecavfew possible answers. Even in our own world, not all monarchies have a strict line of succession. Rohan's culture with its origin in Eorl's military succes rather than in exalted blood lines like Gondor would probably choose the fittest to rule over the one who was most senior if push came to shove. I think Theoden instructed that they should choose a ruler as seemed best should he and Eomer both not return.

If Eowyn had survived and her brother had not, she might well have had the personal authority to rule. She certainly had the loyalty of Elfhelm who would have by virtue of his military prowess been a prime candidate to fill a power vacuum.

However to get back to the book situation, we know Theoden had no brothers or paternal uncles. He did have aunts and sisters. However it was stated that the House of Eorl ended with Eomer and Eowyn. It is unlikely that none of Theodens aunts or other sisters had children. More than likely some of the lords of Rohan were cousins in some degree to the king, though it is possible that the elder Gondor born sisters remained or returned to Gondor to marry and were thus discounted.

So I think that the likeliest situation is that membership of the House of Eorl was by male descent and that Eowyn and Eomer counted because Eomund was descended from a son of King Brego,
presumably in direct male descent

This and their being de facto adopted children of Theoden would have placed them higher than the offspring of senior royal ladies married to lesser lords. However had Eomund's line also failed, heir children may have been considered.
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Old 10-25-2014, 04:55 AM   #5
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Since Éomer was in fact the obvious heir in Théoden's mind, it seems that none of the other children of Thengel produced male offspring.
Éomer had also proven himself as a leader, and was obviously quite popular. I don't think the people of Rohan would have objected him as their king even if it broke the traditions.
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:02 AM   #6
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Since Éomer was in fact the obvious heir in Théoden's mind, it seems that none of the other children of Thengel produced male offspring.
Perhaps Eomer simply had any inconvenient offspring strangled -- a royal expedient often used in history.
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:14 AM   #7
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Perhaps Eomer simply had any inconvenient offspring strangled -- a royal expedient often used in history.
That would be such a plot twist. Eomer actually manipulating the political system of Rohan so he would inherit the throne.
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:52 AM   #8
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That would be such a plot twist. Eomer actually manipulating the political system of Rohan so he would inherit the throne.
Actually, it was Eomer who put Wormtongue in a position of power in the first place, and urged him to collaborate with Saruman, so that later he could use that to gain Theoden's trust and throne.

Oooh, maybe he even meddled with the Battle at the Fords to ensure a certain royal casualty!



But seriously, when Theoden prepared to leave for war, he asks his guards and noblemen whom the people trust, who should he leave in his place, and they reply the House of Eorl. Theoden says that he is taking Eomer to battle with him, and Eomer is the last of the House, at which point the people of course remind him about Eowyn. So If Theoden really does not think he has any such relatives that by blood or by virtue could be considered the House of Eorl, he probably didn't have any!
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:15 AM   #9
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There'd be more light to shed on this if we knew more about the FIRST sister-son to inherit the Mark: Fréaláf son of Hild, the sister of Helm Hammerhand. But alas, as with the children of Eómund, we know but little of that situation, and what little we know closely resembles the other situation: the king's sons predeceased their father during a great war and the crown passed to his sister-son, who also played a great role in the victory over the enemy threatening the Mark.

The chief difference from the later situation is that we don't know if Fréaláf's father was a descendent of the House of Eorl. Since Tolkien doesn't mention this, I incline to think there is no reason to think that he was, and if that were the case, it would shed light on the later situation by suggesting that Eómer and Eówyn's descent through their father was considered of little importance in the eyes of the Rohirrim, that it was their closer kinship through Théodwyn that was considered important. But, alas, Tolkien's silence is hardly definitive.
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Old 10-25-2014, 10:56 AM   #10
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The chief difference from the later situation is that we don't know if Fréaláf's father was a descendent of the House of Eorl. Since Tolkien doesn't mention this, I incline to think there is no reason to think that he was, and if that were the case, it would shed light on the later situation by suggesting that Eómer and Eówyn's descent through their father was considered of little importance in the eyes of the Rohirrim, that it was their closer kinship through Théodwyn that was considered important. But, alas, Tolkien's silence is hardly definitive.
I was about to mention myself that I think the only natural reading of the passage in the Appendices about Frealaf Hildeson is that he inherited through his mother Hild (hence his taking her name).

As for Eomund, how "official" is it that he is a direct descendent of Brego?
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Old 10-25-2014, 11:34 AM   #11
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Unfinished tales I think.
Aldburg was iirc Eomund's ancestral home rather than residence ex officio of. Being Marshal of ghat Mark which of itself suggests he had high standing.independent of his wife.
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Old 10-25-2014, 05:40 PM   #12
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I think another point to consider is that we seem to assume that Rohan runs on a Medieval European system of primogeniture, where the oldest son/male relative is the automatic heir. To me at least, Rohan is rather more similar to a Viking/Germanic type of civilization. And among them, that WASN'T necessarily how it was done. If I recall from my schooling (we actually covered this in high school while discussing Beowulf) amongst them it ran a lot looser. Basically ANY male relative had a decent claim to the throne. The King was free to pick whichever son (or other relative) he chose. He USUALLY picked his eldest son, but he was under no obligation to do so. And it was in the power of the kings nobles and council to overrule the king's decision. If they liked someone else better, he could wind up with the throne. I'm with Mithalwen on this one; had Eomer not survived, I think it entirely possible Eowyn could have wound up Lady of the Mark. (actually that could have made for a damn good story. Eowyn who is now married to the Steward of Gondor and who has renounced fighting now finds herself in a position where she is needed back home to rule (which probably means being separated from Faramir, since he is now in charge of Ithilien and presumably needs to be there, and with a title that more or less puts her as supreme military commander, amongst other things.)
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Old 10-26-2014, 07:24 AM   #13
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I think another point to consider is that we seem to assume that Rohan runs on a Medieval European system of primogeniture, where the oldest son/male relative is the automatic heir. To me at least, Rohan is rather more similar to a Viking/Germanic type of civilization.
The language of the Rohirrim, at least, is rendered as Anglo-Saxon, though the actual way of life they had could be similar to other cultures as well, I guess.
They, being in origin of the same mannish stock from which came the Edain and the Númenóreans, seem to have kept the same rules of inheritance.

Éomer, of course, would never have been king if not for the death of Théoden's son Théodred as part of Saruman's plot. It looks as if the plan was for Wormtongue to then arrange for Éomer's imprisonment and maybe, death, and then rule himself through Théoden.
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