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First used by Vidugavia from around III 12401
Associated with a kingdom between Greenwood the Great and the river Celduin
Established by Minalcar, then Regent of Gondor
Rhovanion is pronounced 'rovah'nion'
Rhovanion appears to be equivalent to English 'Wilderland'
Title of
Vidugavia and his descendants


About this entry:

  • Updated 8 October 2017
  • This entry is complete

King of Rhovanion

A title claimed by Vidugavia

King of Rhovanion
(Unnamed son)

At the beginning of the second millennium of the Third Age, the wide lands of Rhovanion were peopled by scattered clans and tribes of Northmen. Among these the most powerful were the people led by Vidugavia, who extended his domain across the lands between the darkening forest of Mirkwood to the west and the long river Celduin, or Running, to the east and north. Though not truly the ruler of all Rhovanion, the peoples and lands under Vidugavia's control were great enough that he came to style himself 'King of Rhovanion'.

During the reign of Narmacil I in Gondor, certain of the lesser rulers in this region began to stir against his kingdom, joining with Easterling raiders against the South-kingdom. Vidugavia himself remained loyal to Gondor, and allied himself with Narmacil's regent Minalcar. Together these two allies won a great victory against the Easterlings and rebellious Northmen westward of the Sea of Rhûn, and ranged eastward beyond the Sea, destroying enemy encampments and settlements. Thus Gondor secured itself against the raiders out of the East, while Vidugavia entrenched his position as King of Rhovanion.

In the year III 1304 Minalcar succeeded to the throne of Gondor, ruling as King Rómendacil II (that is, 'East-victor') in recollection of his exploits in the East. He maintained strong ties with Vidugavia, sending his son Valacar as ambassador to the court of the King of Rhovanion. Valacar's mission was to build closer ties with Vidugavia's Northmen, but he went further than his father had intended when he wedded Vidugavia's daughter Vidumavi.

Valacar and Vidumavi had a son - the grandson of both the King of Gondor and the King of Rhovanion - whom they named Vinitharya. Indeed he was the direct heir of Rómendacil II of Gondor through his father, though not of Vidugavia.2 This fact would cause great dissension in the future: after Valacar's own reign, Vinitharya succeeded to the throne of Gondor. He took the Kingship under the name of Eldacar, but many of the people of Gondor were resistant to a King with non-Númenórean blood. This led to the civil war of the Kin-strife, in which Eldacar was temporarily deposed before re-establishing himself as King.

The validity of Vidugavia's claim on the title of 'King of Rhovanion' is far from clear. Certainly he claimed this title for himself, but in records of his time from other sources, the claim tends to be couched in rather sceptical terms. For example, Appendix A (iv) to The Lord of the Rings records, rather equivocally, that '[Vidugavia] called himself King of Rhovanion, and was indeed the most powerful of the Northern princes...' (our emphasis), while elsewhere the title tends to be given in quotation marks. There is a clear implication that his claim to Kingship was not widely accepted, but nor is it ever explicitly denied. Perhaps the suggestion is that the Kings of Gondor did not seriously consider Vidugavia a peer to their own ancient line, but were prepared to humour him with the title for political convenience.

It's also rather unclear whether the title 'King of Rhovanion' was claimed by any of Vidugavia's descendants. This question is complicated by the fact that we have no records of the potential royal line for the period between Vidugavia himself and his descendant Marhari, spanning a period of about six centuries. It is thus quite possible that Vidugavia's immediate descendants were also self-styled 'Kings of Rhovanion', but that the title later fell out of use. Marhari himself is not recorded as claiming the title, and though this is circumstantial, it certainly cannot have continued after his time. Marhari fell in the Battle of the Plains, and the loss of that battle saw the conquest of his lands by the Wainriders. The remnant of his people were driven out of their ancestral lands into the Vales of Anduin, and thus any surviving realm of Rhovanion must have come to an end at this time.3



Vidugavia established his realm to the east of Greenwood the Great about this time. We know that he had a line of successors, and they may have continued to style themselves 'King of Rhovanion' after Vidugavia's time. The use of the title, at least by the direct line, could not have continued past III 1856, when Vidugavia's descendant Marhwini led his people out of Rhovanion to resettle in the Vales of Anduin.

This speculative dating is confused somewhat by a reference to Eärnur's arrival at Mithlond in III 1975, when he was stated to have with him 'proud princes of Rhovanion' (The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, I (iv)). These could not have been direct descendants of Vidugavia (whose realm had ceased to exist more than century beforehand) so perhaps some other line claimed the Kingship after Marhwini abandoned Rhovanion.


We have only minimal detail about Vidugavia's line of descent, but it is established that Vinitharya did not lie on the direct line of succession. Most likely this indicates that Vidumavi had a brother, or at least an elder sister, whose line would take precedence over her own children.


These exiles of Rhovanion would eventually give rise to the northern people known as the Men of the Éothéod. Perhaps tellingly, the Lords of these people claimed descent from the '...kings of Rhovanion...' according to Appendix II to The Lord of the Rings. The use of the plural 'kings' here suggests that Vidugavia was not the only claimant of the title.


About this entry:

  • Updated 8 October 2017
  • This entry is complete

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