the battle of bywater


Meriadoc Brandybuck was a hobbit of the Shire, He is a Brandybuck but also half Tookish through his mother. He is best friends with Frodo Baggins and first cousins with Peregrin Took. The hobbits of Buckland were different from others in that they were fond of boats, and some could swim. Before the events of the Lord of the Rings he was a respected hobbit of Brandy Hall, and he knew of the Ring’s existence having seen Bilbo use it to avoid the Sackville Bagginses. He was greatly involved in Frodo’s conspiracy to leave the Shire, including finding him a hideout home in Crickhollow and using his knowledge of the paths to escape unheeded. He helped lead the party through the Old Forest, and with them was captured by Old Man Willow. Rescued by Tom Bombadil, and captured again in the Barrow Downs by the Wights - and following Frodo’s call to Tom rescued again. Here he received a Barrow Blade, which to a man was simply a dagger. It was forged in Westernesse which gave it ancient power. In Bree he was attacked by a Black Rider but not injured, he was rescued by Nob. He accompanied the hobbits to Rivendell, where he was then appointed as a member of the Fellowship Of The Ring, for his cunning and loyalty to Frodo. He had to be carried by Aragorn in the failed attempt to pass Caradhras. At the entrance to Moria he was credited with helping Gandalf remember the pass through the Doors of Durin. In Lothlorien he was gifted a silver belt from Galadriel. During the Skirmish at Amon Hen Merry and Pippin were captured by the Orcs, after Merry had slew a few goblins. They were spared because the orcs’ orders were to capture halflings, in pursuit of the Ring. Outside of Fangorn Forest they escaped during a battle between the Orcs and the Riders of Rohan. Their journey through Fangorn included Merry and Pipping drinking the Ent-Draught, making them the tallest hobbits in legend. In Fangorn they met Treebeard and accompanied the Last March of the Ents, which engaged in the destruction of Isengard. Upon reuniting with The Three Hunters and the Rohirrim he rejoined the remnants of the Fellowship. Here he was separated from Pippin, and wanting to contribute to the war effort swore fealty to Theoden of Rohan. He was made a squire in a ceremonial sense. As they marched to Gondor to aid Minas Tirith he was denied the ability to fight as he was not big enough to ride a horse. However a knight named Dernhelm took him upon his horse, and he went to the Battle of Pelennor. During the Battle the Witch-King scared Merry’s horse, causing him to fall, however he remained next to the duel between Dernhelm and the Witch-king, fighting over the body of Theoden. Dernhelm reveals herself to be Eowyn, but is almost defeated by the Nazgul, until Merry uses his ancient sword to stab the Witch-king down the back, undoing his armor and he pierced the Ringwraith’s ethereal form, but by doing this he is gravely injured by the Black Breath. He is healed by Aragorn after the battle. After the destruction of the Ring he returned to the Shire and lead the hobbits in the Battle of Bywater, ensuring success and a reconquest of the Shire. He became the Master of Buckland, married a Bolger, and had no children. He visited Gondor with Pippin where they both died peacefully and were buried in the King’s Tomb, next to King Aragorn Elessar.

“You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin - to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours - closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid - but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.” - Merry speaking for the hobbits and their loyalty after revealing they have known about Frodo’s plans. Fellowship of the Ring, A Conspiracy Unmasked.

Battle of Bywater
poplitealqueen, goldberry-in-the-rushes
Battle of Bywater

Weed your gardens while you sing this tune
Big furry toes in black muddy pools .
Remember the Bywater,
Remember the Brave.
Daffadowndilly di-la-day

Sweet air gone from your flower patch
As the Old Man’s crooks rode down the path.
Shadow they brought, and hunger they sowed
They trapped us down in deep Lockholes.

Party Tree bent and prized plants burned.
Saw every hill become cracked and churned.
That baleful man, he’ll gobble ya whole!  
Unless we fight! Protect our own!

O there called the Magnificent’s Horn!
FOOOmRAHooom, it broke the morn!  
Hailed each Hobbit, each strong lass and lad-
To battle the darkness, protect their land!

Da grabbed a pitchfork, Mum grabbed her pan,
Gammer her hammer, and Gaffer his hands
And fought, they did in all of that fray
On Bywater Bridge, they won the day!

There was no cease, there was no  tire ,
Till every foe was gone from the Shire.  
Lockholes pried open. Crack, pull and boom,
Spelled the end of Sharkey’s Doom!

Stabbed in the back like the turncloak he were
A proper good mornin’ for Sharkey the Cur!
His foul blood black soaked the ground of Bag End,
But Brave Mayor Sam just continued to tend.

Sweetness returned and we Shirelings learned
That quiet and gladness are things that are earned.
And when all is gloom, defend what is yours
Fight for the Shire, give ‘em what for!

Remember the Bywater,
Remember the Brave.
Whenever you pass Sharkey’s End today
Quiet our fields now, and white our Tree,
Like a Daffadowndilly di-la-dee

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A War in the North Movie

Hey, like I’ve said before: my personal policy on Tolkien adaptations is The More Middle Earth, The Better. So I will basically be happy with any further movies that anyone (not necessarily limited to Peter Jackson) decides to make.

I’m pretty sure these are two different Anons, but I think we should do something amazing and combine your ideas: a War in the North movie.

  • In Erebor/Dale, Dain Ironfoot has been approached by an emissary of Mordor, trying to convince him to ally himself with Sauron. Worried, he sends Gloin and Gimli to Elrond for advice. By the time Gloin returns, war seems pretty eminent.
  • In Lorien, Galadriel is informed about the Council of Elrond and Frodo’s quest (thanks to a quick visit from her grandsons), and so is prepared when the fellowship arrives in Lorien. After learning of Gandalf’s fall, she sends Gwaihir out to look for him in the mountains. When Gwaihir returns with the new-and-improved Gandalf the White, she directs him south towards Rohan.
  • In the Shire, after the mysterious disappearance of Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, as well as Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, the hobbits start running into trouble. Lotho Sackville-Baggins creates a food shortage by buying up all the farmland. Then men from the south basically take over Hobbiton, and eventually the Shire falls under the control of the mysterious Sharkey (who we know to be Saruman.)
  • Things escalate all over. An army from Mordor attacks Erebor and Dale. The two communities band together to fight off the invaders. In the fight, both kings (Dain Ironfoot and Brand) die, though they manage to win the battle. Meanwhile, an army from Dol Guldur attacks the elves of Lorien and Mirkwood. After the elves win their battle, Galadriel, Celeborn, and Thranduil lead a direct assault on Dol Guldur, where the fortress is finally destroyed for good.
  • After Sauron’s defeat, Frodo and his friends return to the Shire. When they find the state it’s in, they quickly organize a rebellion, and lead their fellow hobbits in the Battle of Bywater, which they win (with no hobbit casualties.) Saruman and Grima are killed, and peace returns to the Shire.

A full-on Lord of the Rings sidequel. I would definitely pay to see that.


  • what she says: I'm fine
  • what she means: I'm still incredibly conflicted about The Hobbit trilogy and the entire commercialization of JRR Tolkien's works. I don't mean to say "ugh if you only watched the movies and didn't read the books then you are lame trash" because I think that there is merit in the movies as their own story and, even as an avid fan, I admit that much of Tolkien's writing can be very difficult to read. If you liked the movies, the video games, the board games, and all the rest of the stuff that came out of Peter Jackson adapting Tolkien's work, then i'm happy for you. If all that is true and you have no intention of reading Tolkien's works, then I still am honestly very happy for you. But I struggle over how certain aspects of Peter Jackson's adaptations change people's views of Tolkien's work. And yeah I get it it sounds very cry baby "my movie adaptation isn't word for word the details of my favorite book" but it's honestly more than that. Tolkien codified so many tropes and so many mechanisms so prevalent in modern fantasy where it's almost impossible to imagine how different modern fantasy would be without his presence, or if it would even exist at all. Every small change that Jackson made to the narrative had ripples in people's perception of fantasy and is changing the landscape for modern fantasy literature more and more as the narrative that the movies present becomes the base of fantasy and new writers keep choosing drier and drier plot molds to work with. Peter Jackson made an executive decision to make the Lord of the Rings movies about the race of Men and subsequently The Hobbit about the Dwarves, Elves, and Men, removing viewers from the hobbits themselves, the intended in-universe avatar for the audience. Throughout all of the movies there are dissonant undertones of hobbits being the audience's eye into Middle Earth and the story being overly focused upon everything else. The effects aren't as blatant in Jackson's version of the Lord of the Rings as Frodo and Sam's story arc is too pivotal to change too drastically, but from the removal of The Battle of Bywater and even to smaller details such as having the Siege of Osgiliath be the climax for The Two Towers rather than Sam's fight with Shelob all end up changing the final message of the stories. The Lord of the Rings movies tell the audience that to change the world you need to either be living in places of conflict or be chosen by the conflict to see it to its end, and that if you succeed nearly all evil will be gone from the world. But the books are much more solemn and show that we cannot live as a people divided in a single world; that events seeming far off will find themselves bleeding outside our front door. The books remind us that evil is never gone, and that once a knife is taken out there still must be healing. And even after the healing, things won't be the same they were. Jackson's telling of The Lord of the Rings is far more fanciful than the narrative it's based on; the narrative that revived fantasy itself in the modern era. And while this isn't a bad thing (the Lord of the Rings movies were phenomenal), we find ourselves in a state where new writers see how fanciful the movies are, take their own stories and make them grittier, only to end up with nearly the same thing that Tolkien wrote only without the depth and detail because no author can be as skilled as Tolkien. And new authors aren't trying to be him nor should they try to be because they have their own story. But the skewed sense of fantasy we have as a culture has left the whole genre in a hole that George RR Martin has only begun to dig us out of. And goodness if Peter Jackson only made the Lord of the Rings then we still would have this problem, but with the adaptation of The Hobbit I'm starting to become afraid that we aren't even close to being done with the problem. And obviously the struggles modern fantasy is facing can't ALL be attributed to Peter Jackson as him and his crew have done a remarkable job of rendering Tolkien's universe, but The Hobbit movies took everything bad about the fantasy genre and supplanted itself as the base of fantasy right out from under Bilbo's large hairy feet! There are narrative loose ends all over the place (What happens to the Arkenstone? The town of Dale? Who rules in Erebor after The Battle of the Five Armies?), the main plot of the movie was switched from being a quirky picaresque to about an unnecessary love triangle (two of the characters in the love triangle not even appearing in the original work), the Dol Guldur sideplot was ruined by effects that looked like they came out of a 2005 desktop knock-off fantasy game, and the final battle stretched out so long that people are left tired before it was half over. It seems like Peter Jackson put in every overused fantasy trope he could find into The Hobbit trilogy and now everyone's freshest memory of fantasy is more flimsy and broken than some of the worst fantasy novels coming off of he shelves. All this being said, I don't hate the movies. I love the movies and I love just about anyone else who loves the movies. But is this what Tolkien would've wanted? He said himself that he thought the fanaticism surrounding his works failed to take into account the literal millennia of history that are in his world that he spent his entire life working on. Tolkien's works act not just as stories to make us think about far away and fictional places: they're vehicles we can use to analyze the way we live as a people, to see our history in a broader sense. I'm critical of Peter Jackson's adaptions of Tolkien's work because I honestly don't think I would've found Tolkien without Jackson's movies. I struggle over the fact that these movies, despite my love for them, are likely exactly what Tolkien wouldn't want to see his series become. I struggle because more and more movies keep fantasy in the white-cishet-male-glorification-in-northwestern-europe gutter far past it's expiration date. I struggle because authors who try to write fantasy that doesn't take place in a medieval europe carbon copy get laughed at and ignored because publishers think it won't sell because "Fantasy is White". I struggle because my love for Tolkien was only possible by him being the standard bearer of a consumerist engine he abhorred and honestly I'm scared that Tolkien's memory will be trapped this way forever.
Holidays in the Shire

(For a more general description of holidays in Middle Earth, see this post, and for a more specific look at Third Age elvish holidays, see this post.)

The vast majority of the information we have on Shire holidays can be found in Appendix D of Lord of the Rings, where Tolkien talks about the different calendar systems in Middle Earth. From this text we get a decent idea of hobbit holidays (though keep in mind that not all of them are unique to the Shire):

  • March 25: In the new calendar system introduced in the Fourth Age, the years began on March 25. This was in memory of the fall of Sauron, which also occurred on March 25. However, Tolkien actually says that “there is no record of the Shire-folk commemorating either March 25 or September 22.” (we’ll get to September 22 later.) So, while it apparently wasn’t a very celebrated holiday in the Shire, it’s still possible that there might have been some sort of more private/family tradition (for example, an extra-fancy dinner or something.)
  • April 6: This was a holiday celebrated in the Westfarthing, especially around Hobbiton. On this day the hobbits had a “custom of making holiday and dancing in the Party Field.” Why exactly they did this apparently depended on who you asked, as Tolkien says “Some said that it was old Sam Gardner’s birthday, some that it was the day on which the Golden Tree first flowered in 1420, and some that it was the Elves’ New Year.” Though the holiday was specific to Hobbiton and the Westfarthing, it seems likely that hobbits from other areas would travel there for the celebration, as earlier Tolkien says of the mallorn tree growing in Hobbiton: “In after years, as it grew in grace and beauty, it was known far and wide and people would come long journeys to see it.
  • Lithedays: Also called Summerdays, these were the three days surrounding midsummer. Tolkien says that “The Lithedays and Yuledays were the chief holidays and times of feasting.” Also, on leap-years a fourth Litheday was added, called Overlithe, and “was a day of special merrymaking.” The Lithedays would have been especially important in the White Downs and especially Michael Delving, as this is where the Free Fair was hosted every seven years. The Free Fair would have been a huge event that attracted travelers from all over the Shire, as it was free to set up stalls, and it was at this fair that the Mayor of Michael Delving (the de facto leader of the Shire) was elected.
  • September 22: In the Reunited Kingdom, September 22 was celebrated as a holiday in Frodo’s honor (September 22 being his birthday.) But, as previously mentioned, Tolkien says that there was no record of this day being celebrated in the Shire itself. Again, though, there might have been a more private tradition for this day, so it’s worth mentioning.
  • November 2: This was a holiday specific to Buckland. Tolkien mentions that “In the Buckland the Horn of the Mark was blown at sundown every November 2 and bonfires and feastings followed.” This was in memory of the November 2 of 3019 when the horn was blown by Merry Brandybuck to call the hobbits to arms against Saruman and the ruffians, starting the Battle of Bywater.
  • Yuledays: The Yuledays were the mid-winter celebration. While on the calendar they appeared as only two days (in the pre-Fourth Age system, they were the last and first days of the year), in practice Tolkien says that they were celebrated as a six day festival, “including the last three and first three days of each year.” Like the Lithedays, the Yuledays were one of the major holidays in the Shire.
  • Birthdays: Also keep in mind that birthdays were a huge affair for hobbits. I wrote a whole post about birthday-related customs in the Shire in this post.