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Ruling Queens of Númenor

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The Ruling Queens of Númenor were women who ruled the kingdom of Númenor. Out of Númenor's twenty-five rulers, only three were female, but the existence of Ruling Queens under Númenórean law was remarkable in a society and a world dominated by male rulers.




In the early days of Númenor, succession followed the principle of agnatic primogeniture—that is, rule passed to the oldest male offspring of the King. A similar principle was used by the High Kings of the Ñoldorin Elves, with whom the Edain of Númenor had had extensive dealings.

Silmariën (born S.A. 521[note 1]), the progenitor of the line of the Lords of Andúnië — from which the Kings of Gondor and Arnor later sprung—was the oldest child of King Tar-Elendil. Under the laws at the time, women were not allowed to rule, so she was passed over in favour of her younger brother, Tar-Meneldur. Nevertheless, Silmariën is one of the most significant of Númenor's royal family, as she presumably inherited both the sword Narsil and the Ring of Barahir from Tar-Elendil, her father, as these were handed down to her descendants, the Lords of Andúnië and later the Kings of Gondor and Arnor. Silmariën also probably commissioned the creation of other precious heirlooms to survive into the Fourth Age: the Sceptre of Andúnië, which after the Downfall became the Sceptre of Arnor and the Star of Elendil, which likewise became the token of royalty in Arnor.

Tar-Aldarion, the sixth ruler of Númenor, had only one child: a daughter, Ancalimë. To prevent the throne from passing to his nephew, Soronto, he changed the law to allow full cognatic primogeniture, under which rule would pass to the oldest child of the ruler, whether male or female.

Gondor and Arnor

After the destruction of Númenor, the suriving Númenóreans (led by descendents of Silmariën) founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth. At that point, cognatic primogeniture seems to have been abandoned; none of the rulers of Arnor or Gondor were women, and in the case of Anárion's children the youngest child Meneldil received the throne, as his older siblings were women. Queen Berúthiel of Gondor, although certainly formidable, was a Queen-consort, and therefore did not rule, at least officially.

In T.A. 1945, Arvedui of Arthedain—who was married to Fíriel, daughter and only surviving child of King Ondoher—invoked the old Númenórean law to claim that he (not his wife) should be granted the throne. Instead, the Steward Pelendur gave the throne to Eärnil II, a prominent general. Ironically, the Kingship did eventually pass to Fíriel's line, in the person of King Aragorn Elessar.


  1. The Tale of Years as published in The Lord of the Rings gives Silmariën a birthdate of S.A. 548, but it is clear that Silmariën was the oldest child of Tar-Elendil, while that of her sister Isilmë is fixed at 532 and her brother at 543. The reason for this apparent error is that her birthdate was changed from 548 to 521, but this revision was missed in the Tale of Years (see Timeline).