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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:29 pm 
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Today is the 1558th anniversary of Attila the Hun's eruption into Gaul, then still a province of the faltering Western Roman Empire. In 451 the Huns would sack and burn their way across Gaul until June, when at Chalons near Orleans (Aurelianum) they were met and defeated by an allied force of Romans under Flavius Aetius and Visigoths under their king Theodoric.

The aged Theodoric fell at the head of his victorious cavalry and was trampled by his own onrushing horsemen, who swept away Attila's camp and drove the survivors in headlong flight until dark. This very likely was the inspiration for Théoden's charge and death as Tolkien wrote it.

(The rest of the Ride of the Rohirrim owes far more to the breaking of the Siege of Vienna on September 12, 1683: the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and bulwark against the expansionist empire to the south and east had been invested by the largest army Europe had seen since Classical times. The (scimitar-armed) attackers had just completed undermining the main bastion of the city wall when, in the red light of sunset, the Holy League relief force launched 20,000 knights in the largest cavalry charge in history, led by Poland's King Jan III Sobieski with his own Winged Hussars. The mass charge shredded and routed the Turks, and the West was saved.)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:28 pm 
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The historical analogy for the Pelennor fields or at least Théoden's part in it that sprang to my mind was Bosworth Field. Henry Tudor saw Richard III and his guard cross the field (probably to find out why the Duke of Norfolk was sitting on his hands). Henry Tudor with his own guard rode into the field to waylay the party and Richard was killed.
I expect there were many military incidents that brewed away in the prof's mind but ultimately it was the demands of the narrative that formed the sequence of events. I think it is real life mirroring fiction rather than the other way round but all the same they bring richness (and authenticity) to the story.

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