Main town of Bree-land where men and Hobbits lived. At the time of the WotR there were about a hundred stone houses. The inn there is called The Prancing Pony.
Names, also found in the Shire:
Bree stood at the meeting of the North-SouthRoad (or Greenway) and the Great East Road. Although the Bree-folk claimed to have lived in the area since the Elder Days, it was probably settled in the Second Age by men related to the Dunlendings. It is told that in the Dark Years the ancestors of the Bree-folk, having been driven out of their former homes in the White Mountains by the Men of Shadow (see Oathbreakers), moved to the southern vales of the Misty Mountains, and from there spread into empty lands as far north as the Barrow-downs. Hobbits, moving into the Eriador from across the Misty Mountains, began to settle in the Bree-land around 1300 years into the Third Age. The Men (and Hobbits) of Bree were doubtless loyal but independent subjects of Arnor--in any case their civilisation survived the downfall of that kingdom. Bree-hobbits settled the Shire in 1601.
- Underhill (from Staddle)
According to Shire herblorist Meriadoc Brandybuck, the art of pipe-smoking was invented in Bree: pipe-weed having been introduced to the region from Gondor where it grew wild.
|"And certainly it was from Bree that the art of smoking the genuine weed spread in the recent centuries among Dwarves and such other folk, Rangers, Wizards, or wanderers, as still passed to and fro that ancient road-meeting. The home and centre of the art is thus to be found in the old inn of Bree . . .".|
|Meriadoc Brandybuck, "Prologue," Fellowship of the Ring|
After the fall of Arnor, the surviving Dunedain were determined to preserve their ancient realm in anticipation of the return of their King, and secretly and closely guarded the Bree-land and the Shire--oases of civilisation in an increasingly wild and dangerous land. But while Bree-landers tended to be more welcoming of strangers than Shire-folk, especially of Dwarves, they tended to regard the Rangers (as they called the Dunedain) with disdain and even contempt.
Things took a turn for the worse in Bree towards the end of the Third Age, just as they seemed to be improving. Increasing numbers of Dwarves on the Great East Road must have proved a boon for trade--and the region would have positively thrived after the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, which opened up the HighPass, and the Battle of five Armies, which re-esatblished the Dwarf-kingdom in Erebor. But with war brewing in the south, increasing numbers of other folk were making their way into Eriador, seeking refuge. To the disquiet of the Bree-folk, many of these newcomers established themselves in the district, not all of them well-meaning: one might chance upon a half-Orc or Dunlending among the usual crowd of Men, Hobbits and Dwarves in the common room at The Prancing Pony. In late September, 3018, Black Riders assailed the town and the inn, pursuing the Ringbearer. And when the Rangers departed from the North in search of their Chieftain the following year, the Bree-landers--in fear of dark things in the woods and wolves howling on the borders--appreciated just how sheltered from the world they had been. Violence erupted (evidently an uncommon event) when Saruman's agents and ruffians allied themselves with the more unsavoury inhabitants of Bree, although most of these were eventually driven into the countryside or the Shire.
After the fall of Saruman and the return of the King, peace and order were restored to the Bree-land. With the North-SouthRoad once again a major thoroughfare, Bree would most likely have flourished in the Fourth Age.
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