Théoden was the king of the realm of Rohan, and ruled over the Rohirrim (Riders of Rohan). Théoden died in the battle of the Pelennor fields, defending Minas Tirith against the enemy as it was attacked and burnt in the background. As the Nazgûl flew over, bearing the Witch-King, Theoden's horse reared, was struck by a black dart and fell, crushing Théoden beneath it, shown at the right of the painting. The Lord of the Nazgûl landed his beast on the fallen horse, adding more weight to that borne by the fallen king.
Dernhelm and Merry were the only living soldiers remaining near the king, and Dernhelm stepped forward to defend the King. The Lord of the Nazgûl laughed, saying that no man could kill him, but when Dernhelm revealed himself to actually be Éowyn, Théoden's niece, and not a man at all he set the Nazgûl to attack her. She cleaved its head from its neck before the Lord of the Nazgûl swung his mace at her, shattering her shield and her arm. Merry then launched himself forward and stabbed the Lord in the knee, giving Éowyn the opportunity to thrust her sword into the space between the Lord's crown and mantle, where his head would have been had he been physically manifest. The crown rolled away, and the mantle fell empty to the ground; the Lord was destroyed. Before Théoden died from his injuries, he hailed his nephew Éomer as the new king, and asked that he bid Éowyn farewell, unknowing that she was lying wounded only a few feet away.