As you probably know, a lot of time passed between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. And I don't mean between the release of the movie trilogies, while the wait for the second one was quite significant for us, Tolkien fans. I am talking about the time that passed in the fictional universe of wonders that the father of fantasy created. Between the Battle of the Five Armies and Bilbo's infamous 111th birthday, a grand total of sixty years passed. For that time, our world changed significantly, especially in the last century. So, just imagine all the things that happened in Tolkien's fantasy world, which is the home of countless many wonders and is almost always torn by conflict between good and evil.
Just to put it in perspective, Theoden, the mighty king of Rohan, was not even born when Bilbo found the One Ring. And his father, Thengel, was not even a king yet. Between Bilbo's return to The Shire and Frodo receiving the ring, most territories in Middle-earth went through at least two different rulers. Considering the average lifespan of the men of Arda is far greater than that of any other medieval society I have ever heard of, that's quite the grim accomplishment.
Long story short, a lot happened between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. So, let us examine those times and see the most important events that transpired in Arda back then. I bet you didn't know most of them.
20 Frodo Was Born Ten Years Before Boromir
I caught you by surprise right off the bat, didn't I? But it is true. According to the books' timeline (which Peter Jackson took some liberties with), Frodo was not that young when he left on his grand adventure. He was already 33 years old when Bilbo left The Shire. Another 17 years passed before Frodo embarked towards Bree. So, when he got to Rivendell and met Boromir, Frodo was already 50 years old. Boromir, on the other hand, was only 40 years old.
And yet, the illusion that Boromir is the older one was probably due to two factors. First, his height is far greater, which people associated with authority and we also associate authority with age. And second, Frodo's lack of experience with the world outside The Shire made him look like a naive young man and not a 50-year-old Hobbit.
19 Most Of The Fellowship Was Born
Sixty years is a lot of time, even by the Tolkien standards. Some elves and dwarves might disagree, but still. So, it only makes sense that a big portion of The Fellowship of the Ring was not born when the Battle of the Five Armies happened. The ones that first saw the light of day between the events of The Hobbit and the adventure of The Lord of the Rings are Frodo, Boromir, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, in that order. That's more than half of the Fellowship. And yes, admittedly, it is all the Hobbits and the one that dies first, but this doesn't change the maths.
Furthermore, Gimli was only 63 years old when Bilbo returned to The Shire, which is not much, considering he lived for at least 198 years more. Legolas was just over 1,700 years old, and Aragorn was eleven. Gandalf was the oldest member of the Fellowship, but his age cannot be calculated because he was born before the creation of Arda and time itself.
18 Sauron Returned To Mordor And Announced His Presence
During Bilbo's adventure with Thorin and company, Sauron was still lurking in the shadows. He had made Dol Guldur his home and was trying to gather strength before returning to his dark throne in Mordor. By the time Gandalf manages to convince the White Council to attack Dol Guldur and put an end to the enemy, he had already fled, though.
The Grey Wizard was a bit late...
I am pretty sure you already guessed where he went - he returned to his own land of Mordor. There, he began amassing his huge army and declared his presence to the world, proving Gandalf right (because when was he wrong?) and pushing Middle-earth towards another great war. But this wasn't the only thing that happened on his side of the border.
17 Mount Doom Became Active Again
With Sauron in his throne, his lands started bowing before their lord. And I don't mean the creatures alone, no. The very earth beneath his huge fiery eye bent under his will and Mount Doom, previously dormant for many years, began spitting fire and brimstone once more.
This is one impressively loyal piece of rock if you ask me.
Just to put it in perspective, Mount Doom was last active when Elendil, Gil-galad, and Isildur defeated Sauron, ending the Second Age. So, the mount, also called Amon Amarth by some, stayed quiet for over 3,000 years, waiting for the return of its master.
16 The South Turned Evil
With Sauron ruling over Mordor once more and Mount Doom reawakening, the world was at a crossroads. The men of Middle-earth had a choice to make and not all of them chose the light like Rohan and Gondor. When Sauron announced his presence in Barad-dur openly, both the men of Umbar from the south and the Easterlings from the east pledged their allegiance to the Dark Lord. And they were far greater enemies to other Men than the Orcs.
The fate of the Easterlings is unknown past the events of The Lord of the Rings. However, Umbar was defeated by the Men of the west twice and Aragorn led the charge both times. The first time he did it under a false name and much before he met Frodo and company, but we will talk about that later.
15 The Bowman Turned King
If you have watched The Hobbit, then you already know who Bard the Bowman is. And you probably guessed that after his surprising rise to fame, he would continue to play an important role in his local community, at the very least. And your guess would be correct.
Bard the Bowman became King of Dale shortly after wiping Smaug out.
But it wasn't just because he vanquished the dragon that Bard was crowned king. In fact, he is a descendant of Lord Girion, the last Lord of Dale that ruled the town alongside the dwarves of Erebor before Smaug attacked. When the dragon was put down, Bard returned to Dale and founded the New Kingdom of Dale. He dropped the old title of Lord and chose that of King instead.
14 Aragorn Had To Grow Up First
Bilbo Baggins is pretty old during the events of The Lord of the Rings. By Hobbit standards, he's ancient, even. He is so old, in fact, that when he found the One Ring, one of the most important Men in Middle-earth was just a child.
Aragorn, who would later play a vital role in the War of the Ring, was just ten years old when Bilbo met Gollum. And yet, he was already under Elrond's protection at Rivendell. However, he was known under the name of Estel, so the enemies of his kin would have a harder time finding him.
If they did, he would most likely suffer the same fate as his father, Arathorn II, who took an arrow to the eye when Aragorn was merely two years old.
13 He Didn't Know He Is King
The name "Estel" was the only one Aragorn knew for a very long time. By request of his mother, Elrond concealed Aragorn's true heritage even from himself. His true name and identity were only revealed to him when he became twenty years old.
Accidentally, this is also when he fell in love with Arwen, who had just returned from a long visit to Lorien, her mother's homeland.
This is when Aragorn assumed his true name.
Also, Elrond presented him with the Shards of Narsil and the Ring of Barahir. He then returned to his people and took the role of Sixteenth Chieftain of the Dunedain and the Rangers of the North. However, there were a lot of adventures waiting for Aragorn before he would meet Frodo in Bree.
12 He Fought For Two Kings...
Aragorn already knew of his heritage when he went back to the Dunedain, but the world didn't know of his existence. In order to keep it that way, he assumed another false name which he would use in front of everyone other than his own people.
Aragorn was called Thorongil.
Under that name, he became quite renowned in both Rohan and Gondor. For a period of 23 years, he undertook many tasks for King Thengel of Rohan and Steward Ecthelion II of Gondor. His missions helped raise the morale of Men and counter the growing Sauron threat. This is why he was sorely missed on the battlefield when he left after crushing the Umbar rebellion and putting their leader down for good. Thorongil ventured east and was never heard of again.
11 ... But Still Had Time For His Lady
Shortly after destroying the majority of the Umbar fleet and leaving the battlefield, he journeyed to Lorien. This is where he met Arwen for the second time and, as a sign of his undying love, he gave her one of the oldest heirlooms of his kin - the Ring of Barahir.
In turn, Arwen responded to his love.
On the hill of Cerin Amroth, the two got engaged. For Arwen, this meant that she would have to renounce her elvish heritage and accept mortality.
Naturally, Elrond, her father, was not happy with that. And he refused to give Aragorn his daughter's hand until he became king of both Gondor and Arnor. We all know how that ended, though.
10 Times (And Kings) Were Changing
While Aragorn was basically saving Middle-earth singlehandedly, while also having enough time to pay attention to Arwen, the rest of the world didn't stand still. Times were changing, Sauron was growing in power, and Middle-earth was moving on.
This meant that rulers would also change and, believe it or not, Theoden was not King of Rohan at the end of The Hobbit. Between Bilbo returning to The Shire and Theoden becoming king, 38 years passed. However, Theoden was 32 years old at the time, which meant that he was not even born when Smaug was vanquished.
Bilbo sure looks much older now, doesn't he? Just imagine what stories he told the young Hobbits of The Shire.
9 So Were Stewards
Unlike Theoden, Denethor II, Ruling Steward of Gondor during the majority of the War of the Ring, was actually born when Smaug was shot down by Bard the Bowman. However, he was only a child back then.
When Bilbo's grand adventure concluded, Denethor was only 12 years old.
And yet, so much time passed between Bilbo's and Frodo's journeys through Middle-earth that Denethor not only had enough time to become Ruling Steward of Gondor, but he also managed to make plenty of mistakes along the way. One of them was to pick up a Palantir, similar to that Saruman had at Orthanc. However, due to the Palantiri's power to sense their owners, Denethor had no problem submitting the stone to his will. Using it, though, slowly corrupted the Steward and drove him to the state he is in during The Lord of the Rings.
8 The Shire Had Constant Guard
Gandalf didn't twiddle his thumbs during this time either. After Bilbo's adventure, he continued to travel across Middle-earth, which is when he met Aragorn too. It appears the two quickly learned to trust each other, as Aragorn eagerly accepted a task Gandalf gave him.
Shortly after meeting Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn agreed to guard the borders of The Shire, alongside the rest of his Rangers. This is the time when he also became known as Strider just outside The Shire's borders.
The guardsmen kept the land of Hobbits safe in secret.
So, no one knew that the Dunedain are actually keeping watch on the peaceful Shire. Only Gandalf and the Rangers were aware of the task, and it was best to keep it that way, in order to avoid any unwanted attention.
7 Sauron Became Bolder
While Sauron was growing in power for quite some time already, he had yet to make any major strikes against his enemies. He was mostly trying to organize his forces and prepare for the war against the Free Peoples. However, when he did launch an assault, he did so against a city that was already hotly contested in the past.
Osgiliath marked the portion of the Anduin river that was easiest to cross. This is why Gondor and Mordor have been fighting over it for the majority of the Third Age. A few decades before the War of the Ring, the forces of Men managed to recapture the east bank of Osgiliath, and since then, the abandoned city was a constant battleground with the Uruk-hai on the Western side and the Men on the Eastern one.
However, before Frodo left The Shire with the One Ring, Sauron attacked Osgiliath once more, forcing Gondor's armies, led by Boromir and Faramir, to fall back and give up on the entire city for some time.
6 Moria Was Reestablished... For A Bit
Balin, the old and wise friend of Thorin Oakenshield, was not one who would sit idly and do nothing. So, about four decades after Smaug was defeated, he set out on an expedition to the abandoned mines of Moria. He wanted to reclaim them from the Orcs and Goblins that lurked there and reestablish the once-great Dwarven fortress. And he actually succeeded.
He was the first Lord of Moria in a long time.
However, then disaster struck. The Orcs rallied once more and attacked Moria. Balin's newly-created kingdom managed to withstand the dark forces of the Orcs for five years, but in the end, the Dwarves fell and Moria was overrun once more.
25 years later, the Fellowship finally arrived in Moria and learned of Balin's fate.
5 The White Council's Final Meeting
Remember when Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman met during The Hobbit to discuss The Necromancer at Dol Guldur? This meeting of the White Council did not actually happen when Peter Jackson decided to show it.
This was the last meeting of the White Council and it occurred well over 10 years after Bilbo returned from Erebor. The rest of the details portrayed by Peter Jackson were pretty accurate, though. Saruman made sure to dispel any doubts that The Necromancer could be Sauron. He also made sure to convince the Council that the One Ring was actually washed away and is on the bottom of the sea.
However, Saruman was well aware that both of these claims were false. In fact, he had his minions searching for the ring at that very same time.
4 Gandalf Had An Epiphany
For an immortal being, created before time itself, Gandalf sure is not the sharpest tool in the shed. If we believe Peter Jackson's movies, it the Grey took just a couple of weeks to research the One Ring and come to the realization that Frodo's ring is it. However, that is not how Tolkien envisioned it.
The dark arts Sauron practiced were Saruman's job to research.
And so were the rings of power. So, Gandalf knew very little about either of those subjects. He did believe that Bilbo might have such a ring, but he had no proof of any kind, so he had to make sure he is correct.
Researching Sauron's arts and the history of the ring took Gandalf 17 years and not two weeks. Which explains why a random librarian didn't find that scroll in Minas Tirith before the wizard.
3 But Gollum Had To Be Questioned First
During those 17 years, Gandalf left no stone unturned, trying to find whatever information he could about the One Ring. This included questioning witnesses and potential ring bearers. Naturally, Gollum was the most likely creature to know anything of value, so Gandalf had to find him.
Of course, it was Aragorn who was given this task, as Gandalf did not trust anyone else enough to keep the mission secret. For eight years, Aragorn tracked any traces of Gollum across Middle-earth. In the end, he finally caught him in the Dead Marshes, but not before Mordor's forces had tortured him for information about the One Ring.
Gollum was then taken to Mirkwood, where he was questioned by Gandalf. However, during an Orc attack, the creature managed to escape his Elvish prison and continued looking for the ring.
2 Gollum Did Not Send The Nazgul To The Shire
Despite giving the forces of Mordor whatever information he had on Bilbo and The Shire, Gollum did not know much. Therefore, he couldn't send the Nazgul straight to Hobbiton. However, another lowly creature did know about The Shire.
Grima Wormtongue, Saruman's minion and councilor in the halls of Theoden, was familiar with the White Wizard's plans. This is what led the Ringwraiths to Frodo in the end, as they caught Grima in the fields of Rohan. At the time, he was traveling between Edoras and Orthanc, in order to meet his master.
The Nazgul questioned Grima about The Shire and not only did he give up its location, but he also spilled the beans on Saruman's entire plan. This led the Ringwraiths straight to Hobbiton and Frodo.
1 Frodo's Parents Suffered An "Accident"
Frodo didn't have any siblings. He was the only child of Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck and, after their tragic demise, he was put under the protection of his father's second cousin - Bilbo Baggins.
However, there is some debate over what caused his parent's untimely passing. The official version is that the two went boating after dinner. However, Drogo had eaten so much that his weight alone was enough to sink the boat, so both of them drowned.
The second (and less-popular theory) is that Primula had other plans for her life. She, allegedly, tried to push Drogo off the boat. However, he managed to drag her with himself to the bottom of the river, where both of them drowned.
Unfortunately, no one will ever know the truth about this one.