|Brief description |
Name for the lands between the MistyMountains and RiverRunning (in this sense "Rhovanion" is coterminous with "Wilderland"). Also the name of a realm (or collections of realms) of Northmen in the early-to-middle ThiA?, located between Mirkwood and the RiverRunning.
It is not recorded exactly when the various princedoms collectively known as "Rhovanion" were established, but their origins appear to lie in the spread of Northmen, who had originally dwelt under the northern eaves of Mirkwood, southwards along the eastern borders of the forest at the beginning of the Third Age. Rhovanion's people were therefore Edain, distantly related to the folk of Gondor to whom they were often allied in war. So cherished was this alliance that Gondor ceded its territories south of Mirkwood, and Rhovanion became a powerful bulwark against invasion from the East.
Unfortunately, many in Gondor disapproved of the favour shown by their King Rómendacil II to their northern neighbours, whom they considered inferior. The marriage of the King's son Valacar to Vidumavi, the daughter of Vidugavia, a powerful prince of Rhovanion, would ultimately lead (in 1432) to civil war in Gondor: after five years on the throne, Valacar's son Eldacar was overthrown by the forces of Castamir, leader of the rebellion. Eldacar took refuge in Rhovanion, but ten years later he marched south with a great following of Northmen and Dúnedain, slew Castamir and re-assumed the Kingship. Many folk of Rhovanion removed to Gondor during Eldacar's reign.
Centuries later, in 1856, Rhovanion itself was attacked and occupied by Wainriders from beyond the Sea of Rhûn. Marhari, prince of Rhovanion and a descendant of Vidugavia, died in defence of Gondor and his own land; his son Marwhini led a great following of Northmen to safety in the Vale of Anduin. Others fled north and joined their kin in Dale. Those who remained were enslaved by the Easterlings, and Gondor lost its eastern territories. But the spirit of the peoples of Rhovanion was not crushed entirely. In 1899, they plotted the overthrow of their enemy occupiers, and sent word of their designs through Marwhini's people to Calimehtar, King of Gondor. Since the messages to Gondor also contained warnings about planned Wainrider incursions into Calenardhon, Calimehtar decided to deal with the Easterling threat once and for all. His open march north through Ithilien mobilised the Wainriders, who met the army of Gondor upon Dagorlad, but Marwhini's Riders fell upon their rearguard and flank, and they were soundly defeated.
Meanwhile, the enslaved Northmen of Rhovanion were now in full revolt, and destroyed many of the homes and buildings of the Easterlings, who fiercely resisted. There was great loss on both sides, and (according to Unfinished Tales) the Northmen again withdrew beyond Anduin, never to return to their ancestral lands.
It is at this point that Rhovanion all but vanishes from the histories of Middle-earth. Wainriders appear to have used the region as a staging point for minor raids into the lands of the Éothéod, and for subsequent campaigns against Gondor in 1944. And in the days of Cirion, Steward of Gondor, the region was briefly occupied by the Balchoth, who frequently raided the lower Vale of Anduin and invaded Calenardhon in 2510. But with their defeat by the combined forces of Eorl and Cirion, Rhovanion (or Rhovanion proper--the East-bight of Mirkwood and its surrounds) was finally abandoned.
For more information see the following Michael Martinez articles: