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Númenóreans

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Númenóreans
Race
DominionsNúmenor, Eriador, Harad, Umbar, Pelargir, later Arnor and Gondor
LanguagesAdûnaic (native tongue), Quenya, Sindarin
Average heightTaller than other Men
DistinctionsAlliance with the Elves, advanced technology, longer lifespan
LifespanLine of Elros, 400 years. Other lines, 200 years
MembersElros, Aldarion, Ar-Pharazôn, Elendil, Isildur
"So great was the might and splendor of the Númenóreans that Sauron's own servants deserted him."
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

Númenóreans were the Men of Númenor, descendants of the Edain of the First Age, who were granted the island of Elenna as a dwelling place. They turned against the Valar, and their island home was destroyed in the last years of the Second Age.

Contents

History

Prologue

When the Sun rose for the first time upon Middle-earth, a new race began its existence in the land called Hildórien. They were the race of Men, Secondborn from the Children of Ilúvatar. Those that marched West into Beleriand during the First Age were called the Edain and proved themselves to be allies of the Elves, from whom they gathered knowledge of all things surrounding them. Three were the main Houses of the Edain: House of Bëor, first to cross Ered Luin, House of Haleth and House of Hador, last to cross the mountains towards West, each having distinct features and different ways of life.

In the events that took place during the First Age, the two kindred races of Ilúvatar, Men and Elves, fought together against the one common enemy, Morgoth and great were the casualties on either side. When the last battle of the First Age was won by the forces of Valinor, the Valar rewarded the Edain by giving them a place to dwell outside the troubled land of Middle-earth. It was called Elenna and later became known as the Island of Númenor. Set halfway between Endor and Aman, it was there that the descendants from the three houses of Edain established the Kingdom of Númenor in S.A. 32, which would last and dominate all other mortal peoples throughout the entire Second Age.

Line of Elros

Two couples formed between Men and Elves are of great importance for the history of Númenóreans. Lúthien and Beren was the first one. Their son, called Dior Eluchíl, married Nimloth of Doriath and Elwing was born. Idril and Tuor, the second of the two couples between Men and Elves, were parents of Eärendil. Elwing and Eärendil met at the Havens of Sirion and from their union twins were born: Elros and Elrond. To the two half-elves, the Valar gave a choice: to either live as Men or as Elves. While Elrond chose to live among the Firstborn of Ilúvatar, Elros joined the race of Men and he became the first King of Númenor.

Númenóreans from the Line of Elros had right to inherit the Sceptre and thus become Rulers of Númenor. From the creation until the destruction of the Kingdom, twenty-five Kings and Queens succeeded to the throne, all descendants of Elros. This blood line was also gifted with longer life than others. While the rest of the Númenóreans lived around 200 years, royal kindred had double life span, 400 years. In front of their names, the Quenya word Tar was added, which meant "royal" or "noble". The language of it was not random, for it shown once more their loyalty and alliance with the Eldar. When relations between the two races grew colder, the prefix was kept only for the sake of superstition, until finally it was dropped and in his place Ar was used, with the same meaning, only that the language was Adûnaic.

Númenóreans from the Line of Elros influenced their era in various ways:

Lords of Andúnië

After the Line of Elros those who held the most power in Númenor were the Lords of Andúnië. The eldest descendant of the fourth king Tar-Elendil was a woman, Silmariën. Due to the fact that during her time the law of agnatic primogeniture existed, she could not succeed her father and instead her brother took up the Sceptre as Tar-Meneldur. In her honor was created the title "Lord of Andúnië", which was set upon her descendants. Valandil was her first son and the first to bear that title. Eighteen Lords of Andúnië there were in total, the last one being Amandil, father of Elendil. Renowned for their friendship with the Eldar, they were considered leaders of the political party named Elendili.

Law

Of great importance was the Law of Succession in Númenor, a set of rules meant to legally establish who would be the heir to the throne. It started out as an inherited custom, which gave exclusive rights to the male descendants of Elros. Tar-Aldarion, the sixth ruler of Númenor, due to the fact that he only had one daughter, replaced the principle of exclusive male heir with that of eldest progeny, of any gender and in S.A. 1075 Tar-Ancalimë became the first ruling queen in the history of Númenor.

Not an actual law, but respected as one was the Ban of the Valar, which stated that Númenóreans should never sail West more than the limit of their sight when looking after the shores of Elenna. As the Second Age drew towards its end and the fear of death filled more and more the hearts of the Númenóreans, they sailed further away from the island, until finally the last king, Ar-Pharazôn, broke the Ban of the Valar in his attempt to reach Tol Eressëa out of the false belief that dwelling in that place granted immortality.

Politics

Númenor was a monarchy, which meant that the head of the state was the King or Queen. It was he who held the power of decision over the affairs of the state. However, there was also the executive branch, called the Council of the Sceptre, composed from the Heir of the King and the lords from the six regions of Númenor: Forostar (Northlands), Andustar (Westlands), Hyarnustar (Southwestlands), Hyarrostar (Southeastlands), Orrostar (Eastlands) and Mittalmar (Inlands).

There were two main political parties: Elendili was the first one, the Faithful they were also called. Led by the Lords of Andúnië, they were loyal to the Elves. Towards the end of Númenor they became a small group, subject to oppression by the opposing party: the King's Men. They were the ones to rebel against the Valar and their ban. To compensate for these restrictions, they set dominions among the Men of Middle-earth and laid heavy tribute upon them. As the number and the power of the King's Men increased, they forced the Elendili to move from Andúnië, where they lived until then, to the eastern side of the island, at Rómenna. Pelargir was a harbor built where the river Sirith met Anduin and it was founded by the Faithful in S.A. 2350.

Religion and Tradition

Dúnedain at War by Jan Pospisil.

Towards the middle of Mittalmar stood the Holy Mountain Meneltarma, the sacred place on which Eru was worshiped. Its flattened top was wide enough to contain a great crowd during the ceremonies. These took place three times per year, in an absolute silence while climbing its slopes. Prayers were uttered during the feasts of Erukyermë, Erulaitalë and Eruhantalë. Soon after S.A. 3262 these religious beliefs were abandoned and the worshiping of Melkor began. It was done in a cylindrical temple near the city of Armenelos built especially for this, and it involved sacrificing men and women over a great fire, whose first flames were lit from the White Tree of Tol Eressëa.

Whenever ships sailed from Númenor, the custom of the Green Bough of Return took place. A branch from the Fragrant Tree Oiolairë was set at the prow as a symbol of good fortune by a Númenórean woman, close relative to the captain of the ship. Erendis, wife of Tar-Aldarion, refused to do so in disagreement with her husband's frequent voyages towards Middle-earth, breaking this tradition for the first time.

Daily Life

The Dúnedain were skilled in riding and they loved horses beyond measure. It was said that in the beginning they could even call them in their thoughts, if the man and the beast were bound by friendship. Because of this, Númenor had no paved roads, so that the carriages could move on them more easily. From the Noldor they learned the art of forging terrible weapons: swords, axes, spears, knives, but mostly bows with which they loved to practice. Later, in the wars of Middle-earth, their arrows resembled dark clouds falling upon the enemies.

But the greatest love of the Númenóreans was the sea and the building of ships. Theirs were the largest ones built in all the Arda, save for those of Círdan himself. Many were built at the command of Tar-Aldarion, a great mariner king of his time, who also established the Guild of Venturers. The very headquarters of this organization were located on a ship called Eämbar. As they were surrounded by water, many of the inhabitants of Númenor were fishermen. Along with the grains cultivated in Orrostar, fish was the main food source for the Númenóreans.

Kinship with the Elves

At the foundation of Númenor all the Dúnedain held the Eldar in friendship. From the island of Tol Eressëa white ships sailed towards the Bay of Andúnië, bringing with them many gifts: birds, flowers, and healing herbs. They also brought a branch from Celeborn, the White Tree of Tol Eressëa, and it grew at the court of the king of Armenelos.

As the fear of death crept into the hearts of the Dúnedain, the Firstborn Children of Ilúvatar became envied for their immortality. Tar-Atanamir was the first to speak against the Eldar and the Ban of the Valar. Little by little the Númenóreans abandoned the use of the Eldarin tongues. It was during the time of his son, King Tar-Ancalimon, that the two parties were formed, the Elf-friends and the King's Men. The twentieth king, Ar-Adûnakhôr openly chose an Adûnaic name and began to persecute the Faithful, punishing all those who would speak the Elven tongues openly. In the end the Eldar came no more to the land of Númenor.

Dominion over the Men of Middle-earth

Ar-Pharazon Defies by Paula DiSante.

Due to the fact that the Ban of the Valar restricted them from sailing West, the Númenóreans began to explore the eastern part of the world, reaching the shores of Middle-earth in S.A. 600 in Lindon and met with Gil-galad. The news spread swiftly and the Middle Men in Eriador were filled with wonder. The sailors met with twelve messengers on the Tower Hills[1].

The Númenóreans began to cultivate their new friends who were into their Dark Years, grown weak and fearful, and taught them agriculture, stonecraft, smithying and their language Adûnaic but failed to recognize the Pre-Númenórean forest-folk of Minhiriath as ‘kinsmen’, and confused them with Men of Shadow because it was not related to theirs[2]

The Middle Men were comforted, populated the western shores. They revered the memory of the tall Sea-kings whom they remembered as gods hoping each time for their return[3]

More and more Númenor became a great naval power and the Guild of Venturers established Vinyalondë (early 9th century)[4] The Pre-Númenórean were patient until the tree-felling by Aldarion became devastating[5] and slowly, hostility was growing and dark men out of the mountains were thrusting into Enedwaith in support of their kinsmen[6] In S.A. 820 Vinyalondë was overthrown by great seas and plundered by hostile men. Men near the coasts were growing afraid of the Númenóreans, or were openly hostile and Aldarion heard rumours of some lord in Middle-earth who hated them. As Gil-galad warned Tar-Meneldur that this instigator was a servant of the Enemy.[6]

Aldarion's successors continued his works and even fought with the pre-Númenóreans[7] until they attacked and ambushed the Númenóreans when they could. They became their enemies giving no thought to husbandry or replanting. The Númenóreans wrecked the banks, the shorelines, great tracks and roads whom they drove into the forests northwards and southwards from the Gwathló[5] and continued battling and destroying what lied ahead of them, pushing into Minhiriath and Enedwaith, establishing themselves inland as far as the river Glanduin (the southern boundary of Eregion), beyond which pre-Númenóreans and hostile peoples lived, a remnant of the peoples that had dwelt in the vales of the White Mountains in ages past[8][5] The natives overcame their fear of the Elves and fled from Minhiriath into the dark woods of the great Cape of Eryn Vorn (south of the mouth of Baranduin). Those from Enedwaith took refuge in the eastern mountains (Dunland)[5]

Sauron recruited pre-Númenóreans and in the early second millennium he increased pressure on the West, left his stronghold in Rhûn and relocated in Mordor, drawing closer to the Númenórean sphere of influence. Sauron welcomed by the natives and used the haters of Númenor as spies and guides for his raiders who caused havoc and burned their settlements. He had not enough force to assault the forts at the Haven or along the banks of the Gwathló. However his regular troops attempted to conquest Eriador, hunting and killing Middle Men and the Elves and by S.A. 1700 had mastered all Eriador, up to the River Lhûn and besieged Rivendell.[5]

Eriador was already ruined when the Númenórean fleet sent by king Tar-Minastir catched Mordor's troops in the rear and utterly defeated them, but brought peace in the Westlands had peace.[5]

They explored the coasts of Middle-earth far southward establishing landing and trading posts that grew into cruel vice-kingdoms which left many rumours in the legends of Men, although the Eldar did not know about them[9] In the south they found a useful natural haven already called Umbar by the natives.

The Númenóreans founded Pelargir in S.A. 2350 and discovered the pre-Númenóreans Men of the Mountains near Dunharrow[10] who eventually repented when Sauron left from Mordor and the power of Gil-galad had grown great[11]

As the shadow spread over Númenor, Tar-Ciryatan sailed to Middle-earth, bringing numerous treasures back to Númenor. Later more lands were occupied, plundered or forced to pay heavy tribute in return for the lives of their inhabitants. Towards the end of the kingdom, when their religion had changed and human sacrifices were made towards Melkor, many of the victims were people of Middle-earth taken as prisoners. Because of these acts they were looked upon in fear, called the "Death" itself and the Men of Middle-earth trembled at the sight of a mighty Númenórean ship on the waters of Belegaer. However, the Faithful shared not the behavior of the King's Men and though they also built a port in Middle-earth, named Pelargir, it was not for the sake of plundering, but meant to be a haven far from those of the opposing party.

When the Elendili established the Realms in Exile, many Men turned from evil and became subject to them although the pre-Númenóreans were not friendly to them and never learned to distinguish between King's Men and Faithful, while many remembered Sauron's influence.[11] The King of the Mountains first swore allegiance to Isildur

When Sauron returned Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfill their oath, they would not because they were afraid of Sauron. They hid in the mountains isolated till slowly dwindled in the barren hills and became the Dead Men of Dunharrow.

Sauron's Influence

The only daughter of the king Tar-Palantir, a friend of the Eldar who tried to restore the old ways, was Tar-Míriel. According to the New Law she had the right to inherit the throne, but her cousin Pharazôn forced her into marriage, and took the Sceptre for himself, becoming known as Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, the most proud and powerful of all the kings. He desired not only immortality as the ones before him had, but also the dominion over the entire world. For this he gathered a great fleet and opposed the greatest opponent in the path of his task: Sauron.

So mighty were the Númenóreans that the servants of Sauron fled even before the battle began and their leader was taken as a prisoner back to the island of Elenna. Through numerous lies he poisoned the mind of the king and became master of his council, changing even the religion of the Númenóreans and turning them into servants of the dark Morgoth. And because he assured Ar-Pharazôn that if he ever reached Aman he would become immortal, the last king gathered once more a great host of ships and sailed to break the Ban of the Valar.

Downfall

Queen Tar-Miriel and the Great Wave by Ted Nasmith.

Pharazôn's attempt to reach Valinor and his previous preparations for war with the Eldar raised the anger of Manwë who sent his eagle-shaped storm clouds to Númenor. Lightning struck the land, including the temple of Melkor, where human sacrifices were made. Because Sauron himself stood in their path and was not hurt by them, the Númenóreans were deceived even more into thinking he was their rightful god.

Ar-Pharazôn sailed at the head of his fleet known as the Great Armament, led by the flagship Alcarondas, set course towards Valinor and reached Tol Eressëa. His pride fooled him into thinking that the inhabitants of Aman would not stand in his way, because the land was quiet and peaceful, and thus he set camp near the Túna hill. But Manwë, the Elder King, was aware of what transpired, and the Valar then laid down the Guardianship of Arda. Ilúvatar responded by catastrophically changing the shape of Arda. The Númenóreans present in Valinor were buried under the hills which felt upon them, and on the great island fire was erupted from the top of Meneltarma. The land crumbled into pieces and a great wave swept over it and buried the island at the bottom of the sea. Its people were taken by the waters, and this tragedy brought an end to the Númenórean realm, in S.A. 3319.


Epilogue

The only ones to survive the Downfall of Númenor were Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anárion, along with the few people of the Elendili. They escaped the Akallabêth with nine ships, a seedling of Nimloth, which Isildur had rescued the night before its destruction and the Seven Seeing-stones. Cast ashore by the storm on the western lands of Middle-earth, they founded the Númenórean realms in exile: Arnor and Gondor. Their war with Sauron continued in the lands of Middle-earth. Fighting side by side with the Elves and the Dwarves they opposed and defeated him during the War of the Last Alliance.

Long after the Fall there was a belief among those who survived it that the Holy Mountain Meneltarma was not swallowed by the waters, but instead raised to be a new island of its own. The heirs of Elendil built great ships once more and set on its search, not only because they yearned for their home, but also because from that point, the top of Meneltarma, Tol Eressëa could be spotted and their hearts still desired to reach the West, against all warnings. But they never found the top of Meneltarma and their voyages served only to discover that Arda was a round world.

Names

The Númenóreans were also known as High Men.[12][13] (Cf. Middle Men.)

See also

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
  4. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  5. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The History of the Akallabêth"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King
  10. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, pp. 312, 427
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 101