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Old 11-20-2017, 09:30 AM   #1
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Tension between Rohan and Gondor in the fourth age

In the long history of the free people's there seemed to be not much in the way of tension between Gondor and Rohan. Except for the rohirrim' ancestors fighting in the kinstrife(correct me if I'm wrong on this).

In the fourth age after Eldarion and Eomer-could there be tension between Gondor and Rohan? If not necessarily war.

What sort of fault lines might exist between the allies especially as time went by and the elves and dwarves faded and memory of the alliance against Sauron and his allies faded?
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:52 AM   #2
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I don't foresee any wars between Rohan and Gondor, let alone any sort of rifts or tension. At least, not between Eldarion and Eomer, and not in the Fourth Age.

Rohan exists because of Gondor, what I mean is, the lands that would become Rohan was a territory under Gondor's control. When Eorl came to Gondor's aid in the TA 2510, the steward Cirion granted the lands to Eorl and the Rohirrim. Eorl and Cirion made an oath, that in return for Eorl coming to Gondor's aid and promise of lasting friendship that Rohan's enemies would be Gondor's enemies, Cirion granted them Calenardon and their sovereignty.

There's debate that since Cirion was a Steward could Aragorn reclaiming the Kingship of Gondor undo the oath between Cirion and Eorl? Why Aragorn would want to I don't know, but it doesn't matter because he didn't undo the oath. So for one side to break faith with their part of the oath (say King of Rohan siding with Gondor's enemies and taking up arms against Gondor, or the King of Gondor reclaiming the lands of Rohan and absorbing Rohan back into its empire) would be a terrible crime, and probably the worst thing they could do.
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Old 11-21-2017, 04:05 AM   #3
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The idea seems not wholly inconsistent with Professor Tolkien's view of the declining moral fibre of Men as the Fourth Age wore on, although in connection with Boromir88's post I think it would only be likely in a time when the events of the War of the Ring and so on had begun to pass into truly ancient history. Nonetheless I can imagine Gondor and Rohan becoming fractious with each other, perhaps even because of the Oath of Eorl and the gifting of Calenardhon. I could imagine those becoming a source of resentment on one side or another in time, when the memory of the honour and dignity of the friendship between the two kingdoms had been forgotten.

The Oath refers particularly to the mutual friendship between the kingdoms against "the Shadow in the East" and "the Shadow" in general; I can imagine in time arguments being raised as the realms became more 'political' that, with the defeat of the Dark Lord, the Oath no longer carried the same weight.

It's a depressing concept to imagine, but unfortunately I don't think it would necessarily be out of place thematically
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Old 11-21-2017, 06:05 AM   #4
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The Oath refers particularly to the mutual friendship between the kingdoms against "the Shadow in the East" and "the Shadow" in general; I can imagine in time arguments being raised as the realms became more 'political' that, with the defeat of the Dark Lord, the Oath no longer carried the same weight.
Both realms, though, had an incentive to remain friends beyond what may serve their respective peoples at a given moment.

The Oath, as voiced by Eorl, ends by saying:

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'This vow shall descend to my heirs, all such as may come after me in our new land, and let them keep it in faith unbroken, lest the Shadow fall upon them and they become accursed.'
As Zigûr noted, if the Shadow refers to Sauron only, then it's possible to interpret the Oath as being void after his fall. However, a footnote in the Unfinished Tales chapter Cirion and Eorl mentions that the Oath was renewed by Aragon and Éomer in the same hallowed place on Amon Anwar. Aragorn is said to have named Eru in witness to the Oath, which would then not have mentioned Sauron in particular.

I think the two realms would have kept that in mind, and as long as they existed as states as they were at the time of the Oath, would have remained faithful.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:20 AM   #5
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The Oath refers particularly to the mutual friendship between the kingdoms against "the Shadow in the East" and "the Shadow" in general; I can imagine in time arguments being raised as the realms became more 'political' that, with the defeat of the Dark Lord, the Oath no longer carried the same weight.
I disagree, I think the oath refers to any threat, not just specifically Sauron and an oath of eternal friendship:

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Hear now all peoples who bow not to the Shadow of the East, by the gift of the Lord of the Mundberg we will come to dwell in the land that he names Calenardhon, and therefor I vow my own name and on behalf of the Eotheod of the North that between us and the Great People of the West there shall be friendship for ever: their enemies shall be our enemies, and their need shall be our need, and whatever evil, or threat, or assault may come upon them we will aid them to the utmost end of our strength. This vow shall descend to my heirs, all such as may come after me in our new land, and let them keep it in faith unbroken, lest the Shadow fall upon them and they become accursed.~Unfinished Tales; Cirion and Eorl
"for ever" and "whatever evil, or threat, or assault" I believe means more than their current threats from "the Shadow of the East."

I do agree here:

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The idea seems not wholly inconsistent with Professor Tolkien's view of the declining moral fibre of Men as the Fourth Age wore on~Zigur
"Sworn oaths" lose their significance over time. They don't mean anything, because as you expertly put it Tolkien's view about "declining moral fibre."

I just don't see rifts/tensions/war between Rohan or Gondor occurring during Eomer and Eldarion's time, or Eldarion's and Elfwine's. It won't come until the point where Men's moral decline has fallen and sworn oaths mean nothing to Men. Such a time in unforeseeable, at least unforeseeable to happen during Eomer and Eldarion's time.
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Old 11-21-2017, 05:31 PM   #6
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I disagree, I think the oath refers to any threat, not just specifically Sauron and an oath of eternal friendship:
I don't mean that I think it refers specifically to Sauron. I don't think that. I mean that in later years Men might argue that it referred specifically to Sauron to try to negate its importance.
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I just don't see rifts/tensions/war between Rohan or Gondor occurring during Eomer and Eldarion's time, or Eldarion's and Elfwine's. It won't come until the point where Men's moral decline has fallen and sworn oaths mean nothing to Men. Such a time in unforeseeable, at least unforeseeable to happen during Eomer and Eldarion's time.
This what I was trying to say; I think it would take multiple generations, as the wisdom of Men failed.
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Old 11-22-2017, 05:52 PM   #7
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I see the Rohan/Gondor alliance/relationship similar to the Canada/U.S. one. A vast mostly undefended border and mutual interests. That said, if say Gondor get King Trumptamir, you could get the whole racial hatred thing going again ala Kin Strife.
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:17 AM   #8
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I don't think it is inconceivable though perhaps unlikely. The area makes better sense as two friendly countries rather than as a superstate given the white mountains between them. A lot would depend on population development and climate and also perhaps how long the direct lines of descent for the ruling families remained intact given the degree of intermarriage at the beginning of the Forth Age. In the real world, should Eomer's line fail maybe a Prince of Ithilien might claim the throne of Rohan (ok the Rohirrim seem to be less hung up on blood claims than the Gondorians but not impossible. An ambitious ruler of both Ithilien and the Mark might upset the power balance if a King of Gondor left a heir still a minor. It might be against the spirit of the victory over Sauron but it would not untypical of the race of men as we know them.
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Old 11-29-2017, 06:14 AM   #9
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"Sworn oaths" lose their significance over time. They don't mean anything, because as you expertly put it Tolkien's view about "declining moral fibre."

I just don't see rifts/tensions/war between Rohan or Gondor occurring during Eomer and Eldarion's time, or Eldarion's and Elfwine's. It won't come until the point where Men's moral decline has fallen and sworn oaths mean nothing to Men. Such a time in unforeseeable, at least unforeseeable to happen during Eomer and Eldarion's time.
I would have to disagree with the opening here: one of the themes of Tolkien is that sworn oaths have incredible power, acting almost as agents in their own right. The Oath of Fëanor is arguably the driver for the whole of the Beleriand segment of the Legendarium; when it reawakens and comes into direct conflict with the oath of Finrod to Barahir, it leads to the death of King Felagund, the rescue of a Silmaril, the founding of the line of the half-elven, and - arguably - the falls of Doriath and Nargothrond. Even in extremis, the sons of Fëanor were completely incapable of breaking it - any more than Finrod could break his own oath, even though it led to his death. As Finrod himself says: "The Oath of Fëanor is again at work. For the Silmarils are cursed with an oath of hatred, and he that even names them in desire moves a great power from slumber."

Similarly, the oath of the Dead Men of Dunharrow was broken at first, and they were cursed to three thousand years of undeath for it. Given that Isildur isn't exactly noted for his magical powers, you could easily make a case for it being the oath itself that held them in the mountains.

Húrin (and Huor) swore an oath to Turgon never to reveal the secrets of Gondolin, and he kept it - not only from his wife, who he could trust implicitly not to tell, but also from Morgoth himself! The swearing of an oath is treated throughout the Silmarillion as utterly ironclad: Lúthien was happy to bring Beren to her father on the basis of an oath not to harm him, and Beren describes his hunt for the Silmaril as an oath (which he keeps even though literally everyone tells him how stupid he's being).

The Oath of Cirion and Eorl - the one under discussion here - was held to for five hundred years, and there is no hint (in the books, rather than the movies) of anyone even considering breaking it. "Say to Denethor that even if Rohan itself felt no peril, still we would come to his aid!" In our world, mortal men are capable of breaking their oaths all the time, absolutely - but in Tolkien's world, an oath is far more powerful, and indeed tangible, than it is in ours. To reach a point where the kings of Gondor and Rohan would consider breaking their Oath would mean transforming Middle-earth into a place where history and nobility mean nothing - which, while 'realistic', would be (I argue) a complete change from the world Tolkien created.

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Old 11-29-2017, 09:11 AM   #10
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The Oath of Cirion and Eorl - the one under discussion here - was held to for five hundred years, and there is no hint (in the books, rather than the movies) of anyone even considering breaking it. "Say to Denethor that even if Rohan itself felt no peril, still we would come to his aid!" In our world, mortal men are capable of breaking their oaths all the time, absolutely - but in Tolkien's world, an oath is far more powerful, and indeed tangible, than it is in ours. To reach a point where the kings of Gondor and Rohan would consider breaking their Oath would mean transforming Middle-earth into a place where history and nobility mean nothing - which, while 'realistic', would be (I argue) a complete change from the world Tolkien created.
Certainly, the Old World Middle-earth canon of oaths and the dire consequences of oath-breaking were manifest throughout the first three Ages of Arda -- words have great potency and a power unto themselves; however, with the coming of the 4th Age Tolkien implies that Middle-earth is, for all intents and purposes, our world.

Therefore, although the grandeur and might of the kingship in Gondor may wane slowly, almost imperceptibly, through the first couple hundred years of the 4th Age, the decline would be inexorable if not precipitous at a certain point. We are now dealing solely with mortal empires unaided (or unhindered, as the case may be) by immortal agents of benevolence or evil. We are now simply men (and women), with all the virtues and vices this race is prone to having.

In The New Shadow, Tolkien himself speak of Sauron/Morgoth worship in the guise of a "Dark Tree" cult led by Herumor during the reign of Eldarion. So, we are speaking of a decline in moral fibre during the son of Elessar's reign, only a hundred years after the War of the Ring. As Tolkien states:

"I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men, it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse."

Unfortunately, the thought of oaths manifesting the sort of magical power they held in previous Ages no longer applies. In the 4th Age, an oath is only as good or bad as the individuals who profess it. We have come to an era where treaties are temporary, oaths are broken, and promises are as fickle as a vagrant breeze.
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:40 AM   #11
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Unfortunately, the thought of oaths manifesting the sort of magical power they held in previous Ages no longer applies. In the 4th Age, an oath is only as good or bad as the individuals who profess it. We have come to an era where treaties are temporary, oaths are broken, and promises are as fickle as a vagrant breeze.
... which demonstrates exactly why The New Shadow is so short (and along the way, why Tal-Elmar never went anywhere either). I read somewhere that Tolkien chose to write his version of what a novel would like like had it descended from the Old English/Norse literary tradition (ie, Beowulf), rather than the French/Latin 'Romances'. LotR in particular focusses on nobility and heroics - on rising above the world, where even Le Morte d'Arthur has a heavy focus on failure - Galahad aside, all of the famous knights (Lancelot, Gawain, Kaye, Tristan, even Arthur himself) fail, and fall.

Put another way: Beowulf's death is a victory. Arthur's is a defeat. And in Tolkien, even the greatest losses (the passing of the Lamps, Trees, Beleriand, Numenor, and the Elves) come across as 'victories', because they lead to something greater - the Trees, the Sun over Middle-earth, the Star of Eärendil, the victories of Elendil, and the Reunited Kingdom.

My line of argument runs directly into author/reader interactions, and I don't think that's avoidable. It's absolutely valid as a reader to suggest that Gondor and Rohan would eventually fall out on different sides* (though probably with some sort of capital-c Consequences for breaking an oath to the One); I think it would be very difficult to argue that it's anything Tolkien would have written, anticipated, or countenanced.

*Counterfactual digression! I'm not sure Gondor/Rohan is the best fight to pick here. What about the conflict between the Kings in Minas Anor and the Princes of Dol Amroth? "Are we not also of the half-elven? Elendil was never king in Númenor; our lineage is as noble as that of his line, and has ruled for longer by far." And in between you have the merchant-princes of Pelargir (wait, I think I just made that up... could've sworn I read that somewhere), and all the various fiefdoms of Gondor proper... and, yes, the Riders as well, loyal to the kings in Mundburg because of their oath, but dubious about their 'ivory tower' (sorry) approach...

It could make for a great story, no doubt about it. But it wouldn't be Tolkienesque.

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Old 11-29-2017, 12:51 PM   #12
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... which demonstrates exactly why The New Shadow is so short (and along the way, why Tal-Elmar never went anywhere either). I read somewhere that Tolkien chose to write his version of what a novel would like like had it descended from the Old English/Norse literary tradition (ie, Beowulf), rather than the French/Latin 'Romances'. LotR in particular focusses on nobility and heroics - on rising above the world, where even Le Morte d'Arthur has a heavy focus on failure - Galahad aside, all of the famous knights (Lancelot, Gawain, Kaye, Tristan, even Arthur himself) fail, and fall.

Put another way: Beowulf's death is a victory. Arthur's is a defeat. And in Tolkien, even the greatest losses (the passing of the Lamps, Trees, Beleriand, Numenor, and the Elves) come across as 'victories', because they lead to something greater - the Trees, the Sun over Middle-earth, the Star of Eärendil, the victories of Elendil, and the Reunited Kingdom.

My line of argument runs directly into author/reader interactions, and I don't think that's avoidable. It's absolutely valid as a reader to suggest that Gondor and Rohan would eventually fall out on different sides* (though probably with some sort of capital-c Consequences for breaking an oath to the One); I think it would be very difficult to argue that it's anything Tolkien would have written, anticipated, or countenanced.

*Counterfactual digression! I'm not sure Gondor/Rohan is the best fight to pick here. What about the conflict between the Kings in Minas Anor and the Princes of Dol Amroth? "Are we not also of the half-elven? Elendil was never king in Númenor; our lineage is as noble as that of his line, and has ruled for longer by far." And in between you have the merchant-princes of Pelargir (wait, I think I just made that up... could've sworn I read that somewhere), and all the various fiefdoms of Gondor proper... and, yes, the Riders as well, loyal to the kings in Mundburg because of their oath, but dubious about their 'ivory tower' (sorry) approach...

It could make for a great story, no doubt about it. But it wouldn't be Tolkienesque.

hS
Tolkien stated, "I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing [my emphasis]. It proved "sinister and depressing" because the waking world dawned on Tolkien's starlit fantasy. He cut the story short precisely because the 4th Age was heartbreaking for him. The dim shadows cast in the corners of the now vacant and decrepit Last Homely House and the end of the line of kings in Gondor were too real and too terrible to contemplate further; but Tolkien foretold the doom as far back as when he curved the earth and the straight road was no longer navigable to Faery, save for the return of those few exiles who knew the way.

"the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse."

So, like Byzantium or Rome, Gondor would fall into a long period of increasing decadence, ruled by weak-willed kings and guileless boy-emperors, puffed up by frilly sycophants and bullied by unscrupulous charlatans. This is the way of all earthly empires far removed from angelic aid.

The eventual breaking of the oath of Eorl would certainly have dire consequences, but nothing that could not be readily foreseen in an historical context. In all likelihood, the oath may be broken and renewed and broken again in waves of wars, revolts and an influx of new tribes and races from the East, until all the the 3rd Age kingships finally succumb to the crushing weight of inevitability.

Tolkien saw that inevitability and wisely put down his pen when he realized the depressing consequences of the eucatastrophe that ended the 3rd Age. He dwelt in the 4th Age just long enough to tie up some loose ends, character-wise, and aborted a 4th Age tale that demeaned and lessened the heroic ages of the passing Middle-earth. He could not bear to contemplate the mundanity of a Middle-earth full of middling and mediocre Men.

And here we are. Some valor and heroism remains among the flawed descendants of former kings, like those undaunted men who filled the stinking trenches along the Somme and fell in the barbed and brutal chaos of No Man's Land. But the epitaph of that conflict was a League of Nations that could not find a lasting peace, followed by an even graver conflict and a United Nations that is nowhere near united. The old oaths are broken.
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Old 11-30-2017, 05:24 AM   #13
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Morthoron - that got pretty bleak! But I can't argue the broad strokes (though the idea of a Gondorian Caligula is... kind of hard to grasp). I still think that, in a universe where Iluvatar is proven to exist and prone to 'magical' intervention (such as making the new White Tree sprout on cue... not the big stuff, but the little interventions), breaking of an oath to Him is going to have consequences, though.

So, going back to the original question: what sort of fault lines do I think might form between Gondor and Rohan?

To start with, I don't think it's accurate to speak of 'Gondor' at all. The House of Telcontar ruled the Reunited Kingdom, and did so from both Minas Anor and Annuminas. Gondor was undoubtedly the more urban half - but Arnor was the home of both Elessar and Arwen. If we're following the Roman model, the kings of Gondor would be exceptionally proud of their Elvish ancestry, so would likely spend rather more time in Arnor than they should (particularly if they have access to the libraries of Rivendell).

There seem to be as many as thirteen named lordships of Gondor, with two (Ithilien and Dol Amroth) being full principalities. Both of those would have a strong claim to authority in Gondor, and I can think of a few stories that might spread discord. Who says the House of Telcontar is even legitimate? What, we're supposed to believe it stayed intact for a thousand years in the wilderness? Please. The Line of the Stewards is truly ancient, and would be far better rulers than the absentee kings. Oh, sure, the legendary King Elessar married an elf-maid - but elves are just myths made up by villagers on the borders of Lorien, aren't they? ['Lorien' here including East Lorien, and roughly marking the north boundary of Gondor's influence.] Besides, the Princes of Dol Amroth have elvish blood too - proper Elvish blood, not the half-elven Arwen - and again, they're here...

With the stage set for a Gondorian civil war, Rohan would be at the forefront of everyone's minds. I don't think the kings of the Mark would break the Oath first - they're much less cosmopolitan than Gondor, so will believe more keenly in the consequences. But an arrogant king of House Telcontar, who believes his elvish blood makes him superior to basically everyone, could well ignore a plea for aid from Rohan - particularly if he happened to be in the north when they were attacked (from the east? New Wainriders, maybe?). And if the Kings have broken their oath, then the Stewards will be right there to point out that it was their line that swore it first, and that they have no intention of breaking the trust...

I think this is one of those scenarios that can't really go any further, because it becomes about the personalities, and those would be completely invented. Would the Lord of Lossarnach side with the King or the Princes? That depends on how well he got on with the king, and whether the House of Telcontar had recently intermarried with his. One thing that can be considered, though, is the enclaves: the Drúadan Forest, the Shire, and the Treegarth of Orthanc/Fangorn Forest. All three are supposed to be inviolate, and all three are capable of defending themselves vigorously at need. The Shire is probably safe; there's no-one in the north to attack them. But Rohan would probably like to cut wood in Fangorn, and the Gondorians in Anorien would love access to their own local wood supply... unless, of course, the King had already attempted to reclaim it.

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