In “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “The Silmarillion,” J.R.R. Tolkien conjured an entire universe called Middle Earth in extreme detail. If he created a real, spoken language for the Elves, complete with grammar and phonology, you better believe he added a few governing laws.
To the best of our nerdy abilities, Business Insider has compiled some of the most important ones:
1. Hobbits call their police “Shirrifs,” according to the Lord of the Rings Wiki. Also known as The Watch and not to be confused with the Bounders, who protect the Shire from outsiders, they wear no uniforms and carry no weapons — not even gardening tools.
2. The trusty LOTR Wiki also tells us that most successions of power on Middle-Earth follow equal primogeniture, meaning the first-born, regardless of gender, inherits the kingdom. But only three women ever come to power in Tolkien’s trilogy. Most royal ladies had sons, we guess.
4. According to the terms of “acquisition by gift” under property law, Gollum has no legal claim to the One Ring after “The Hobbit.” He and Bilbo Baggins face off in a riddle contest and mutually agree on the stake — the ring. To read more of the legality behind the ring’s ever-changing ownership, visit The Volokh Conspiracy, a legal blog from a libertarian perspective.
5. According to J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “Laws and Customs Among the Eldar,” the Eldar, an immortal Elvish race, can only marry once. They mate for eternal life, kind of like penguins.
6. In Gondor, one of the kingdoms of men, swim at your own risk. Gollum’s dip in the Forbidden Pool, which conceals one of the two entrances to the den of the rangers of Ithilien, is punishable by death.
7. In Ithilien, a fiefdom of Gondor, releasing a prisoner forfeits your own life. In “The Two Towers,” Faramir, captain of Ithilien and son of the Steward of Gondor, sacrifices himself for Frodo in a tear-jerking scene. (Don’t worry. He lives.)
8. Again in “The Two Towers,” Gandalf tries to enter King Theoden’s hall in Rohan, but a soldier mentions “The Law of the Golden Hall.” He then confiscates the troupe’s weapons. In the Hall of Edoras, you cannot possess a weapon.
9. Most of Sauron’s combat strategies violate the various laws of war set by the Geneva Convention. These laws govern acceptable wartime conduct and forbid attacking civilians’ homes. Considering the orcs burn entire villages, that wouldn’t fly today.
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