By tradition, the Riders of Rohan were led by three marshals named, in descending order of seniority, the First, Second and Third Marshals. In the early years of Théoden's reign, he had taken the role of First Marshal himself, but in the years of his decline there was effectively no Rider in this post. The next rank, that of Second Marshal, was held by Théoden's son Théodred, whose command was based at Helm's Deep.
Théodred's men were defeated by Saruman's forces at the First Battle of the Fords of Isen, in which Théodred himself was slain. After that time, the traditional ranks were no longer strictly adhered to. Théodred's post as Second Marshal was effectively filled by Elfhelm, though he was never given the official title. After the War of the Ring, the new King Éomer completely revised the old tradition of the three marshals, and instead gave Elfhelm the title of Marshal of the East-mark.
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