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Established after the foundation of Rohan in III 2510; the only specifically recorded calling of the Muster was in III 3019; replaced by the Muster of the West-mark after the War of the Ring
The Muster gathered at the Hornburg
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 13 February 2024
  • This entry is complete

Muster of Westfold

A gathering of the western Rohirrim

The armed forces of the Rohirrim were organised by musters, gatherings of Riders to meet threats to the land. The full force of Rohan was known as the éoherë or 'horse-host', but this Full Muster was rare. Instead, the Riders were divided into three separate commands, each led by a Marshal of the Mark, which could be called to react to dangers as they arose.

One of these three musters called the Riders from lands westward of Rohan's capital of Edoras, especially from the Westfold, the populated valleys of the White Mountains. The chief fortress of this region was the Hornburg in Helm's Deep, and it was here that the commanding marshal would gather the Muster of Westfold. The Hornburg had originally been built by the Gondorians to guard the Gap between the White Mountains and the Misty Mountains to the north, and thus the Muster of Westfold would typically be called to deal with invaders threatening this Gap, and especially the crossing-point at the Fords of Isen.

For much of the history of Rohan, such western troubles were commonplace. This was due to the Dunlendings, who had begun to settle the western fringes of Calenardhon before the Rohirrim settled there, and saw those lands as their own. Brego the second King of Rohan, having subdued his enemies to the east, turned his attention to these Dunlendings, and his son Aldor subdued or expelled the last of them from his realm. Rohan then had peace for a while, but by the time of King Déor, just decades later, the Dunlendings were once again raiding through the Gap, and they went so far as to occupy Isengard. Thus Rohan's Western Muster was forced to remain in the field, permanently on watch for raiders from the west and north.

Matters came to a head in III 2758 when Wulf, a lord of the West-march with a measure of Dunlending blood, led an invasion of Rohan from the west. The Muster of Westfold is not directly mentioned in the accounts of this invasion, but its Riders must have been at the forefront of resisting the incoming Dunlendings. They failed, and Wulf was able to occupy Edoras itself, driving the true King, Helm Hammerhand, into hiding. Helm died during the Long Winter that followed, but as the winter receded, his nephew and surviving heir, Fréaláf, was able to oust Wulf and reclaim the kingdom with aid from Gondor. Nonetheless, unrest and conflict continued in the west of the land.

In the time of King Folcwine, the western armies of Rohan succeeded in reconquering the West-march, that part of their realm that lay between the rivers Isen and Adorn, and which had long been occupied by the Dunlendings. This victory laid the foundation for troubles to come, however, when the aggrieved Dunlendings allied themselves with Saruman as the Wizard began to plot the overthrow of his former allies in Rohan.

Saruman's plans were revealed when he went to open war in the Battles of the Fords of Isen early in III 3019. At this time Théodred, son of King Théoden, was the Second Marshal and commanded the Muster of Westfold from the Hornburg, and he led his Riders to defend the Fords of Isen. Saruman had already worked to render the leadership of Rohan ineffective, and his primary aim in the battle was to eliminate Théodred, one of Rohan's most effective commanders. In this the Wizard succeeded: at the First Battle of the Fords of Isen, the Riders held the Fords, but the King's son was slain.

The loss of Théodred complicated the command structure of the surviving Riders. The command of the Western Muster now fell to Erkenbrand the lord of Westfold, who in turn placed Grimbold in command of the troops in the field. Among those Riders, however, were some who belonged to the Muster of Edoras, and those were now under the command of Elfhelm. Although the two commanders disagreed over strategy, they knew each other well, and were able to work together in organising their defences. In the event, nonetheless, their strategies failed. In the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen, Saruman sent troops to attack the Fords from both sides, preventing the two commanders from reinforcing each other, and ultimately driving them from their position.

The invaders moved on to reduce the keep of the Hornburg in Helm's Deep, but there they met with greater resistance. Hearing of events at the Fords, the King of Rohan had ridden there with many warriors, and the Hornburg was strongly defended. The Battle of the Hornburg that followed was hard-fought, but ultimately the Men of Rohan were victorious. The King then called for a Full Muster, in which all three of the musters of Rohan would gather to ride to war in the east.

When this Full Muster set out, its western contingent would, by rank, have fallen under the command of Erkenbrand. King Théoden wished to leave that experienced officer in Rohan, however, to take general command in his own absence. Thus the Muster of Westfold was led to Gondor by Grimbold, who had taken charge in battle at the Fords of Isen. The Muster of Rohan reached the Pelennor Fields and aided in the relief of Minas Tirith, but Grimbold, field commander of the Muster of Westfold, was slain in that battle.

King Théoden was also lost in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, and he was succeeded by his nephew Éomer. After the War of the Ring, Éomer revised the military organisation of the Rohirrim, and where formerly the Western Muster had been assigned a Marshal as circumstances required, it now acquired a permanent Marshal of the West-mark. Erkenbrand, who had been in effective command of the Muster of Westfold since the Battles of the Fords of Isen, was appointed as the first of these Marshals of the West-mark.


About this entry:

  • Updated 13 February 2024
  • This entry is complete

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