The Battle of Helm’s Deep is certainly one of the most iconic moments from The Lord of the Rings, whether you’ve just read the books or likewise seen the movies. But, the topic of today’s article is not going to be the battle itself, but rather a conversation between Rhoan’s King Théoden and Aragorn in wake of the battle. Aragorn warned Théoden that the Uruk-Hai would destroy them and that he should call for help, stating that Gondor would come to help, to which Théoden famously replies: “Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell?” This famous question is going to be the topic of today’s article so keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
The rivalry between Gondor and Rohan was much more emphasized in the film version of The Two Towers, where King Théoden implies that Gondor betrayed Westfold when it fell earlier, meaning that it will do the same to Rohan.
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English writer J.R.R. Tolkien. Set in the fictional Middle-Earth, the series consists of several books and tells different stories from the past, present and future of Middle-Earth. The chief narrative was presented in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which follows a Hobbit, Frodo Baggins, and the Fellowship of the Ring, on their quest to Mordor, where Frodo has to destroy Sauron’s ring and finally defeat the evil tyrant. It is among the most popular fantasy franchises ever and has been adapted several times, as an animated film, as a feature film trilogy and as a series of various video games.
How did the Westfold fall?
Westfold is a large region within Rohan, located on the west. It extends along the White Mountains to Helm’s Deep and to the Gap of Rohan. The Westolf is famous as the centre of the two important Battles of the Fords of Isen, fought in T.A. 3019. Although the battles have a big role in the books, they have a much smaller role in the movies.
The First Battle of Westfold was fought between Rohan’s forces led by , Théoden’s son, who was a very capable commander and warrior. But Saruman’s forces were better in the first skirmish – they did not succeed in capturing the region, but they managed to kill Théodred, which was Saruman’s goal all along. After having killed Théodred, Saruman’s forces retreated.
But that was just a temporary tactical moves, as Saruman’s forces invaded again several days afterwards. This time, they completely crushed Rohan’s forces and took over Westfold, advancing further into the Kingdom of Rohan. Rohan’s army in Westfold was left to themselves and the fact that they did not have any help was an important one for what happened at Helm’s Deep.
Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell?
In the movie version of The Two Towers, King Théoden, after having been saved by Gandalf, asked Aragorn where Gondor had been when the Westfold fell. It was a bitter question through which Théoden expressed the pain of losing his son and demonstrated just how bitter the rivalry between Gondor and Rohan was. The scene can be seen here (albeit in a meme-like style):
Théoden implied that Rohan was alone and that no one would help them, to which Aragorn affirmed that Gondor would help them. This angered Théoden, as he knew that Gondor did not help his son’s army, which means that he implicitly blames Gondor for his son’s death. But, can he really do that?
It is true that Gondor did not intervene when Westfold was falling, but the rivalry was augmented in the movie, with the books portraying the situation much more realistically. If you look at the movie, it seems like Rohan asked for help, but Gondor just ignored them and let Théoden’s son be killed. But the fact is, it didn’t really happen like that and Gondor was… well, in Gondor when the Westfold fell, but you cannot really blame them.
Keep reading to find out why.
Why didn’t Gondor help Westfold?
There are two main reasons why Gondor didn’t help Théodred’s army during the Battles of the Fords of Isen. The first reason is – and the books really explain all the details relating to this – that Rohan never really asked for Gondor’s help. The kingdoms were much divided because of different machinations and plots, so the communication between them wasn’t all that good. On the other hand, Théodred was an extremely skillful commander and his father had full faith in him. This is why the Westfold did not ask for help, but what they did not know was that Saruman’s forces would be so numerous.
And that is why the Westfold actually fell – they were simply outnumbered and once Théodred was out of the way, Saruman’s powerful forces had a relatively easy task. Not because of Gondor, but because they were outnumbered.
The fact that Rohan didn’t even ask for help resulted in Gondor not knowing anything about the battle and the impending invasion. It wasn’t Gondor’s fault for not knowing what was happening 300-400 miles and two mountain ranges away. You can’t really blame them for not knowing that.
But even if they did know – and that brings us to our second reason – it is highly questionable whether they could’ve arrived on time to help Rohan. Probably not, as the distance was between 300 and 400 miles and Gondor’s army would have had to cross two mountain ranges. Since time was scarce, we highly doubt that Gondor would have even been able to arrive on time to help Rohan fight the Orcs.
In the books, Théoden is quite aware of this, but the movies emphasized this moment for its own dramatic purposes, which is why we have explained everything related to the quote here.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!