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The Thain's Book
An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor

Meriadoc Brandybuck

Important Dates
Names & Titles

Vital Statistics:

Race: Hobbits
Date of Birth: 2982 of the Third Age
Date of Death: Sometime after the year 64 of the Fourth Age
Residence: Brandy Hall in Buckland
Parents: Saradoc Brandybuck and Esmeralda Took
Siblings: None
Spouse: Estella Bolger
Children: At least one son (name unknown)
Hair color: Brown
Sword: A sword of Westernesse
Pony: Stybba
Galadriel's gift: Silver belt with gold flower-shaped clasp

Dominic Monaghan as Merry
Dominic Monaghan as Merry
in the New Line Cinema film
Merry by Alan Lee
Merry captured by Uruks
by Alan Lee


Meriadoc Brandybuck was a sensible Hobbit whose concern for his cousin Frodo Baggins led him to mastermind the "conspiracy" that ensured that Frodo embarked on his quest with his friends at his side. Merry became a Knight of the Riddermark and played a significant role in the War of the Ring. Through his loyalty and courage he helped to defeat one of the Dark Lord's most terrible servants.

Merry was born in 2982 of the Third Age. He was the only son and heir of the Master of Buckland, Saradoc Brandybuck, who was known as "Scattergold." The Brandybucks were a wealthy and respected family who lived in Buckland across the Brandywine River, though some folk in the Shire thought them rather queer. Through his mother, Esmeralda Took Brandybuck, Merry was first cousin to Pippin Took, who was his closest friend and companion on the quest.

A year before Bilbo left the Shire, Merry found out about the old Hobbit's magic ring. He saw Bilbo use it one day to evade the Sackville-Bagginses, and later Merry managed to take a quick look at Bilbo's memoirs about his adventures. Merry kept the knowledge to himself for seventeen years until the spring of 3018, when Frodo became restless and seemed preoccupied after a visit from Gandalf. Merry decided that he had to do something to help his friend, so he joined forces with Pippin and Sam Gamgee to uncover the truth. When they discovered that Frodo intended to leave the Shire on a quest of great danger, Merry was determined to go with him.

"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."
The Fellowship of the Ring: "A Conspiracy Unmasked," p. 115-16
Merry was very organized and efficient. He had already helped Frodo move out of Bag End, and at Crickhollow Merry had ponies and supplies ready for their journey. He led the party through a gate in the High Hay into the Old Forest, where he had been before on occasion. But his familiarity with the forest could not prevent him from succumbing to the spell of the Withywindle valley. He fell asleep and woke to find himself trapped in the crack of a willow tree's trunk while Pippin was trapped inside the tree. They were rescued from Old Man Willow by Tom Bombadil.

Tom came to the Hobbits' rescue a second time on the Barrow-downs. The Hobbits became disoriented in the fog and were lured into a barrow by a Barrow-wight. When Merry awoke from the spell, he had a memory of a Man who had fought the Witch-king of Angmar long ago. From the barrow, Merry acquired the sword of Westernesse that would later play a crucial role in the Witch-king's downfall.

In Bree, Merry decided not to go to the common room of the Prancing Pony with the other Hobbits but took a walk instead. He saw a Nazgul and tried to follow but was overcome by the Black Breath. The inn was attacked during the night and Merry's ponies were set loose. Barliman Butterbur, the innkeeper, bought Bill the Pony as compensation for Merry's loss. They left Bree in the company of Strider the Ranger.

At Rivendell, while Frodo recovered from his Morgul-wound, Merry took the opportunity to study maps and learn about the places where Frodo's quest might lead him. When Frodo's companions were chosen, Merry was determined to be one of them. Although Elrond wanted to send Merry and Pippin back to the Shire to warn their people, Gandalf's wisdom prevailed and the four Hobbit friends, along with five other companions, set out from Rivendell on December 25.

At the Moria Gate, while Gandalf tried to find the spell to open the doors, Merry's observation about the writing on the doors provided Gandalf with the clue he needed.

"I was wrong after all," said Gandalf, "and Gimli too. Merry, of all people, was on the right track. The opening word was inscribed on the archway all the time! The translation should have been: Say 'Friend' and enter. I had only to speak the Elvish word for friend and the doors opened. Quite simple."
The Fellowship of the Ring: "A Journey in the Dark," p. 321-22
On the journey down the Anduin, Merry's knowledge of boats proved useful. When the Fellowship reached Amon Hen, they tried to determine their next course of action. Aragorn suggested that Merry and Pippin accompany Boromir to Minas Tirith. Merry refused to leave Frodo but feared for his friend if they continued to Mordor.
"That won't do at all!" cried Merry. "We can't leave Frodo! Pippin and I always intended to go wherever he went, and we still do. But we did not realize what that would mean. It seemed different so far away, in the Shire or in Rivendell. It would be mad and cruel to let Frodo go to Mordor. Why can't we stop him?"
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Breaking of the Fellowship," p. 419
Merry and Pippin realized Frodo was missing and they set out to look for him, but they ran straight into a band of Orcs and Uruk-hai. Merry gave a good accounting of himself and cut off several of their hands and arms, but he received a head wound for his trouble and he and Pippin were carried off toward Isengard.

The forced march was long and hard. Ugluk gave Merry a dose of Orc medicine and put a salve on his wound that healed him but left him with a brown scar on his forehead for the rest of his life. The Rohirrim surrounded the Uruk-hai, and Grishnakh, a Mordor Orc, tried to take the Hobbits for himself. Pippin realized that Grishnakh knew about the Ring and pretended he and Merry could help him in hopes of contriving a means of escape. Merry quickly caught on to Pippin's ploy. Grishnakh carried them away from the others but was killed by a Rider of Rohan, and the Hobbits were able to crawl to safety in Fangorn Forest. Merry's study of the maps in Rivendell proved useful and he was able to figure out where they were.

In Fangorn, the Hobbits met Treebeard, an Ent who guarded and cared for the trees of the forest. When the Hobbits told Treebeard their story, he was roused to take action against Saruman, who had been destroying the trees of Fangorn. He called an Entmoot to decide a course of action. An Ent named Quickbeam kept Merry and Pippin company while the Entmoot lasted. At last the Ents decided to go to war, and Merry and Pippin went with them as they marched on Isengard.

After the Ents had taken control of Isengard, Treebeard left Merry and Pippin to keep watch at the gates. When King Theoden arrived, Merry greeted him. King Theoden knew of Hobbits only as a legend of the people of Rohan, and he was quiet surprised to meet two in person. He was even more surprised by the pipe Merry was smoking, and Merry was happy to tell the King the history of pipe-weed, but other matters were more pressing. Theoden and Gandalf went off to find Treebeard while the Hobbits provided the Three Hunters, who had sought them long and hard, with food and pipe-weed that they had found in the storerooms of Isengard.

Merry and Pippin were separated that night after Pippin looked into the palantir and was confronted by Sauron. Gandalf took Pippin to Minas Tirith, while Merry remained with the Rohirrim. He was uncertain what would become of him.

"Don't leave me behind!" said Merry. "I have not been of much use yet; but I don't want to be laid aside, like baggage to be called for when all is over. I don't think the Riders will want to be bothered with me now. Though, of course, the king did say that I was to sit by him when he came to his house and tell him all about the Shire."
"Yes," said Aragorn, "and your road lies with him, I think, Merry."
The Return of the King: "The Passing of the Grey Company," p. 46
Aragorn had his own path to follow, and with him went Legolas and Gimli. King Theoden asked Merry to be his esquire, and Merry laid his sword on the king's lap and pledged his fealty to him. "As a father you shall be to me," Merry said. (Rotk, p. 51)

Merry was given a pony named Stybba and he rode with the King to Dunharrow, where the forces of Rohan had mustered. There Theoden received the Red Arrow from Gondor requesting the aid of the Rohirrim. So Theoden led his Riders to war and bade Merry stay behind with his niece Eowyn. Merry was dismayed, but then a mysterious Rider called Dernhelm offered to take Merry up on his horse.

They rode into battle on the Pelennor Fields outside Minas Tirith. There Theoden fell when his horse Snowmane was pierced by a dart and crushed the King under him. Then the Witch-king of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgul, descended onto the battlefield mounted on a Fell Beast. Merry saw that only Dernhelm remained beside the fallen King of Rohan. Merry was terrified but he remembered his oath to the King and stood his ground. The Witch-king taunted Dernhelm, saying, "No living man may hinder me!" (RotK, p. 116) To Merry's amazement, Dernhelm was revealed as Eowyn, the King's niece.

Pity filled his heart and great wonder, and suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke. He clenched his hand. She should not die, so fair, so desperate! At least she should not die alone, unaided.
The Return of the King: "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields," p. 116
Eowyn slew the Fell Beast, and the Witch-king smote her shield with his mace then raised his arm to deliver a death blow. At that moment Merry, unnoticed, pierced the sinew of the Witch-king's knee with the blade of Westernesse that had been wrought for the war against Angmar long ago. The Witch-king stumbled forward, and Eowyn thrust her sword between the Nazgul's crown and mantle. Her sword shattered and she fell, but the Witch-king was vanquished. Merry went to Theoden's side and was with him when he died.

Eowyn and Theoden were borne off the battlefield into Minas Tirith, but Merry remained unnoticed. He felt dazed and his sword arm was cold and numb. He wandered the streets of the city until he was found by Pippin.

"Are you going to bury me?" said Merry.
"No, indeed!" said Pippin, trying to sound cheerful, though his heart was wrung with fear and pity. "No, we are going to the Houses of Healing."
The Return of the King: "The Houses of Healing," p. 135
Merry and Eowyn were healed by Aragorn, who used athelas to revive them. To the relief of his friends, Merry immediately asked for food and a pipe. But the thought of smoking reminded him of Theoden and he would have changed his mind had not Aragorn told him to have a pipe in memory of the King. So Merry and Pippin sat and reflected on how far they had come.
"Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can't live long on the heights."
"No," said Merry. "I can't. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not."
The Return of the King: "The Houses of Healing," p. 146
Merry was made a Knight of the Riddermark by King Eomer. In King Theoden's funeral procession, Merry bore the King's arms and rode upon the wain bearing his golden bier.

When the Hobbits returned to the Shire and found it occupied by ruffians, Merry used the Horn of the Mark given him by Eowyn to rally the Hobbits. He organized the Hobbitry at the Battle of Bywater and slew one of the leaders of the ruffians who appeared to be part Orc. Merry and Pippin's names were at the top of the Roll honoring those who had fought in the battle.

To their fellow Hobbits, Merry and Pippin were heroes. They looked like princes as they rode through the Shire in their livery, and the Ent-draughts they had drunk in Fangorn had caused them to grow taller than four feet, five inches - the record Hobbit height previously held by Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took.

Merry and Pippin traveled to the Grey Havens to bid farewell to their friend and companion Frodo in 3021. Merry lived with Pippin at Crickhollow for a time. In the year 11 of the Fourth Age, Merry became Master of Buckland and was known as Meriadoc the Magnificent. Two years later, Merry was named a Counsellor of the North-kingdom by Aragorn, King Elessar. He married Estella Bolger and they had at least one son.

At Brandy Hall, Merry established a library of books on the histories of Eriador and Rohan. He wrote several books and treatises himself, including The Reckoning of Years, Old Words and Names in the Shire, and, most notably, Herblore of the Shire. He visited Rivendell on occasion and used the information he gathered there to contribute to The Tale of Years. Merry also periodically travelled to Rohan and Gondor, where he visited Eowyn in Ithilien.

When Merry was 102, he received a message from King Eomer. He turned over the office of Master of Buckland to his son and traveled with Pippin to Rohan. Merry was with Eomer before the King died in the autumn of 63. Merry and Pippin then retired to Gondor in the year 64 and lived out the rest of their days there. When they died they were laid to rest in Rath Dinen among the great of Gondor. When King Elessar died in 120, it is said that the beds of Pippin and Merry were set beside his.

Important Dates:

Third Age:

Birth of Merry.

Merry learns about Bilbo's ring.

September 22: Merry attends the Farewell Party.
September 23: Merry helps Frodo sort out Bilbo's possessions.

Spring: Merry enlists the help of Pippin and Sam to figure out why Frodo is troubled.

Summer: Merry helps Frodo buy a house at Crickhollow.

September 23: Merry goes ahead to Crickhollow to prepare for Frodo's arrival.
September 25: Merry meets the three Hobbits at the Bucklebury Ferry. That evening he tells Frodo what he knows about the Ring and that he intends to come with him.
September 26: Merry leads the Hobbits into the Old Forest, where they are trapped by Old Man Willow and rescued by Tom Bombadil.
September 28: The Hobbits are captured by a Barrow-wight.
September 29: The Hobbits are rescued by Tom. Merry acquires a sword of Westernesse from the barrow. In Bree, Merry takes a walk and sees a Nazgul. He follows but is overcome by the Black Breath.
September 30: Merry's ponies are lost. The Hobbits leave Bree with Strider and Bill the Pony.

October 25: Merry learns of Frodo's acceptance of the Quest of the Ring and is determined to come along.

December 18: Merry is chosen as a member of the Fellowship.
December 25: The Fellowship leave Rivendell.

January 13: Merry provides the clue to open the Doors of Moria.

February 26: Breaking of the Fellowship. Merry tries to defend himself and Pippin from the Uruk-hai but they are captured.
February 28: The Riders of Rohan surround the Hobbits' captors.
February 29: The Riders attack the Orcs. Merry and Pippin escape into Fangorn and meet Treebeard.
February 30: Entmoot begins. The Hobbits meet Quickbeam and spend the night at his house.

March 1: Entmoot continues. The Hobbits remain at Quickbeam's house.
March 2: Entmoot ends. The Ents march on Isengard. The Hobbits ride on Treebeard's shoulders.
March 3: Destruction of Isengard continues. The Hobbits are reunited with Gandalf the White.
March 5: The Hobbits are reunited with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Merry meets King Theoden and tells him about pipe-weed.
March 6: Merry swears fealty to King Theoden and sets out with him for Dunharrow.
March 9: Merry arrives at Dunharrow with Theoden.
March 10: Theoden rides to war tells Merry to stay behind. Merry rides in secret with Dernhelm.
March 15: Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Merry and Eowyn defeat the Witch-king and are taken to the Houses of Healing.
March 25: Destruction of the Ring and the downfall of Sauron.

August 14: Merry takes leave of King Eomer and Lady Eowyn and is given the Horn of the Mark.

October 30: The Hobbits return to the Shire and find it overrun by ruffians.

November 2: Merry sounds the Horn of the Mark to rally the Hobbits.
November 3: Merry and Pippin command the Hobbit troops at the Battle of Bywater and expel the ruffians.

September 29: Pippin and Merry arrive at the Grey Havens to say goodbye to Frodo.

Fourth Age:

Merry becomes Master of Buckland.

Merry is made a Counsellor of the North-kingdom.

King Elessar comes north and meets with Merry, Pippin, and Sam.

Merry turns over the office of Master of Buckland to his son. Merry and Pippin travel to Rohan and meet with King Eomer before his death.

Merry and Pippin travel to Gondor, where they live until their deaths.

Death of King Elessar. Pippin and Merry's beds are placed beside the bed of the King.

Names and Titles:

Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck:
Meriadoc and Merry were chosen as translations for the true Hobbit name Kalimac, which in its short form Kali means "jolly, gay." 
The name Brandybuck contains elements of the Brandywine River (which is in turn a corruption of the Sindarin Baranduin, meaning "long gold-brown river") and the family name Oldbuck. Buck refers to a male deer or goat.
Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, p. 414
"Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings," entries for Brandybuck and Baranduin

Master Holbytla:
Merry was called this in Rohan. Holbytla means "hole-builder" in the language of Rohan.
The Return of the King, p. 74, 117
Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, p. 408

Master Perian:
Bergil called Merry this while they watch the Host of the West depart. Perian is Sindarin for "Hobbit."
The Return of the King, p. 160
Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, p. 408

Esquire of Rohan:
Merry became King Theoden's esquire when he pledged his fealty to him.
The Return of the King, p. 50

Knight of the Riddermark:
Merry was made a Knight of the Riddermark for his valor in defense of Theoden and Eowyn.
The Return of the King, p. 144

Holdwine of the Mark:
Merry was called this by King Eomer. In Old English hold means "loyal" or "faithful" and wine means "friend" or "protector." Possible translations might therefore be "loyal friend" or "faithful knight."
The Return of the King, p. 256

Master of Buckland:
Merry became Master of Buckland in the year 12 F.A. on his father's death.
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, p. 377

Meriadoc the Magnificent:
As Master of Buckland, Merry came to be called "the Magnificent."
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, p. 377

Counsellor of the North-kingdom:
King Elessar made Merry a Counsellor of the North-kingdom in the year 14.
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, p. 377

Kalimac Brandagamba:
This is the Hobbit name of Meriadoc Brandybuck.
Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, p. 414, 416


Family tree of Meriadoc Brandybuck:

Brandybuck family tree

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