Exile of the Noldor

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The name Exiles refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Exiles (disambiguation).
Exile of the Noldor
Other namesFlight of the Noldor
LocationAlqualondë, Helcaraxë, Beleriand
DateY.T. 1495[1] to Y.T. 1500[2]
ResultThe Noldor reach Middle-earth and settle in Beleriand
Part ofFall of the Noldor
ParticipantsNoldor (excluding Finarfin and others)

The Exile of the Noldor, also known as the Flight of the Noldor, refers to the historical period near the end of the First Age[3] when many of the Noldor, seeking revenge, departed from Valinor to Middle-earth.


Prelude to Exile

Melkor had previously been taken to Aman following his defeat in the Battle of the Powers. Following three ages of imprisonment, he was released but forced to stay within Valinor on probation. During this time, he began to stir the hearts of the Noldor against the Valar, especially targeting the Noldo known as Fëanor due to his fiery spirit. Melkor lied to them, saying the Valar were afraid of the Noldor and wished to have them remain there so Middle-earth would be ruled by Men, who were supposedly much easier for the Valar to control. He quietly succeeded in turning the Noldor against the Valar, though until the Darkening of Valinor the Noldor did not openly rebel against the Valar.

Flight from Valinor

After the Darkening of Valinor and the murder of Finwë by Melkor, Fëanor rebelled against the Valar, and set out from Aman with most of his fellow Noldor. His aim was to make war on Melkor for the recovery of the stolen Silmarils, and his hatred and pride were so great that he swore an Oath that bound himself and his sons to destroy any who held them from their goal.

From this Oath stemmed the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, and aboard the stolen ships of the Teleri Fëanor and his sons set out to gain their vengeance in Middle-earth. Left behind by Fëanor, Fingolfin and his people had to make their way into Middle-earth across the treacherous wastes of the Helcaraxë. The Valar allowed them to depart, but their actions were not unpunished: The Valar proclaimed a doom upon the rebels, forbidding any return and promising that they would receive no aid from the Valar. Furthermore, once they had departed, the Valar raised up new barriers to waylay any who tried to return. Thus the Noldor were indeed exiled and cut off from Aman.


From the closing of Aman until the end of the First Age, any Noldor who tried to return by sailing back from Middle-earth would find that the land of Aman was now defended by the Enchanted Isles and other hazards, barring any who tried to return from reaching it. During this time, the only one who was able to make the journey successfully was Earendil, and he only succeeded due to having a Silmaril to guide him.

The Noldor were only allowed to return to the Blessed Realm following the War of Wrath. Yet even after this, not every exile would return immediately. Many Noldor would remain in Middle-earth living under Gil-galad in Lindon or with Celebrimbor in Eregion, and later with Elrond in Rivendell during the Third Age. However, by the beginning of the Fourth Age, even many of these exiles finally returned to Valinor. Among the last of these was Galadriel, who had been part of the ancient rebellion, but was forgiven at last because of her actions in the War of the Ring.

Other names

The Noldor who left Aman called themselves the Etyañgoldi ("Exiled Ñoldor") in Quenya, or simply the "Noldor" because few of their clan chose to remain in Aman. Although the exiled Noldor claimed that they were Amanyar ("Those of Aman"), in practice the term Amanyar came to refer to only those Elves who remained in Aman.[4] But unlike all other Elves of Middle-earth (except Thingol), the Exiles were counted among the Kalaquendi ("Light-elves") because they had experienced the light of the Two Trees of Valinor.[5]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman": §129-150
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part One. The Grey Annals": §52
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniv. Ed.), Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of the Elves", p. 1128
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: B. Meanings and use of the various terms applied to the Elves and their varieties in Quenya, Telerin, and Sindarin", pp. 374-375
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: B. Meanings and use of the various terms applied to the Elves and their varieties in Quenya, Telerin, and Sindarin", p. 373