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"Gil-galad" by Kimberly
Biographical Information
PronunciationS, [eˈreɪnjon ˈɡilɡalad]
Other namesEreinion (S, fn), Gil-galad (an)
Artanáro/Rodnor (Q/S)
Finellach, Finwain (S)
TitlesHigh King of the Noldor
Havens of Sirion
AffiliationLast Alliance of Elves and Men
LanguageQuenya and Sindarin
BirthAround F.A. 455 (see below)
RuleF.A. 510 - S.A. 3441
DeathS.A. 3441 (aged 3576+)
Siege of Barad-dûr
Notable forDefeating Sauron at the Siege of Barad-dûr alongside Elendil
HouseHouse of FinarfinNB
ParentageOrodreth & his unnamed wifeNB
SpouseNever married
Physical Description
Hair colorSilver[1]
GalleryImages of Gil-galad

Gil-galad was an Elven-king
Of him the harpers sadly sing
The last whose realm was fair and free
Between the Mountains and the Sea.

Ereinion Gil-galad was the fourth and last High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth.


First Age

Gil-galad was eitherNB the son of Orodreth and grandson of Angrod and Eldalótë,[2] or the son of Fingon and thus grandson of Fingolfin,[3] since there were different accounts about his actual parentage, while the precise year and place of his birth invariably remained murky (see below).

In any case, he was still an elven-child at the time of the Dagor Bragollach when Morgoth broke the Siege of Angband in F.A. 455. As a result, shortly after the fall of Fingolfin a year later, his father sent his wife and son to Círdan at the Havens of the Falas for safekeeping. After the capture of Minas Tirith by the forces of Sauron, the Pass of Sirion was open to Morgoth's hosts, although they were still kept at bay by the still mighty realm of Hithlum and also the power of Nargothrond.[3][4]

But at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad in F.A. 472, the Union of Maedhros was utterly defeated and Fingon, High King of the Noldor, slain by Gothmog the Lord of Balrogs, so the crown passed to Fingon's brother Turgon in Gondolin. After Hithlum was destroyed and occupied by the Easterlings, there was no power left that could withstand the enemies, and the ports at the Falas were besieged and captured by the Orcs in 473. Yet Círdan, Gil-galad, and many other Elves could flee from death on ship and established a refuge upon the Isle of Balar.[5][6]

Gil-galad and Idril with Eärendil by Marya Filatova

Gil-galad finally received the Kingship of the Noldor in F.A. 510, when Gondolin was lost and Turgon died.[7] Beside the refuge upon Balar, he and Círdan also maintained the small, hidden port at the Mouths of Sirion, where many refugees from Nargothrond, Doriath, and Gondolin were sheltered, until the War of Wrath ravaged between 545 and 587 at the very end of the First Age.[8][9]

Second Age

After the destruction of Beleriand during the War of Wrath, which marked the beginning of the Second Age, Gil-galad founded a kingdom in Lindon in the far north-west of Middle-earth, roughly between the Blue Mountains and the Great Sea around the Gulf of Lhûn and the havens of Forlond, Harlond, and Mithlond were founded in S.A. 1. Gil-galad was the last heir of the kings of the Noldor in exile, and acknowledged as High King of the Elves of the West. Many Elves, both the Sindar and the Noldor, joined him. But soon, there was again unrest among the Noldor, and many of them left Lindon. Led by Celebrimbor, grandson of Fëanor, they founded the realm of Eregion, probably also stirred up by the finding of mithril in Khazad-dûm, in c. 750. Also, some of the Sindar and many of the Nandor did not wish to live alongside the Noldor, who had done them a great evil, and migrated eastwards to Lothlórien or Greenwood the Great.[10][11]

When Prince Aldarion of Númenor came to Middle-earth, they established friendship with the Elves. In S.A. 882 Gil-galad gave him a letter for his father, the King of Númenor, Tar-Meneldur. He warned him that a new shadow had arisen in the East and besought him for aid.[12]

Gil-galad by Irsanna

Around S.A. 1000, Sauron tried to make contact with the Elves under the name of Annatar, the "Lord of Gifts", but Gil-galad and Círdan did not trust him and rejected his proposals. However, Sauron was welcomed in Eregion and the Rings of Power were forged. Around S.A. 1600, Sauron forged the One Ring in secret, and then the Elves of Eregion found out that they were betrayed. Sauron demanded the Rings, and when they refused, in S.A. 1693 the War of the Elves and Sauron began. Celebrimbor had rescued the Three Rings of the Elves in time, sending Vilya and Narya to Gil-galad and Círdan in Lindon, respectively, while the third ring Nenya was given to Galadriel.

As Sauron invaded Eriador, Gil-galad sent Elrond to aid Eregion and also called on Númenor for aid. Elrond was unable to avert Sauron and retreated to Imladris with some survivors. Eriador was being overrun until a great fleet of the Númenóreans sent by Tar-Minastir arrived at Lindon. With united forces, Sauron's army was driven back and defeated in S.A. 1701. After this war, the Elves were not further troubled by Sauron for a long time, and Gil-galad appointed Elrond as his vice-regent, passing the ring Vilya to him.[10][11][13]

Gil-galad was an Elvenking by Jenny Dolfen

When Ar-Pharazôn captured Sauron and took him to Númenor in S.A. 3262, the Westlands at last found peace, and Gil-galad was free to extend his dominion to the north, south, and east beyond the Anduin.

After the Downfall of Númenor in 3319, Elendil and his sons came to Middle-earth and founded the realms of Gondor in the south and Arnor in the north. To honour Elendil, Gil-galad built the White Towers, which housed one of the Palantiri.

But Sauron also escaped, and Gondor was soon attacked; Elendil's son Isildur had to flee, and sailed north to his father. Elendil and Gil-galad then formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men against Sauron in S.A. 3431.[10][11] It was said that the hosts of Gil-galad joined Elendil at Amon Sûl.[14]

Last Alliance by Abe Papakhian

In the following years, the Allies marched to Imladris where they camped for three years. Then they crossed the Misty Mountains and marched south, where they defeated a great army outside Mordor. They broke through Cirith Gorgor and besieged Sauron's Dark Tower.[10][11] Gil-galad fought with his long sword and his spear Aeglos that was much feared by the enemy.[14][15]:243

When the siege had lasted for seven years, it became so pressing that Sauron himself sallied forth. By his power, the siege was broken, and his army advanced to the slopes of Orodruin in S.A. 3441. There he was engaged by Elendil and Gil-galad in a single combat. In the end of the Siege of Barad-dûr, Sauron was defeated but both Gil-galad and Elendil were killed in the act.[10][11] In the Scroll he wrote in Minas Anor before riding north, Isildur wrote that Gil-galad was killed by the heat of Enemy's fiery hand.[15]:253

Elrond Recalls the Host of Gilgalad by Michael Kaluta

Thus died the last High King of Noldor, and this title was never claimed by any other Noldo of Middle-earth.[16]


Gil-galad is a Sindarin name, meaning "Star of Radiance",[1][2] "Starlight"[14] or "Star of bright light". The name consists of the elements gil ("star") + galad ("radiance").[17]

According to early version, 'Gil-galad' was in fact his mother-name.[18] However, later version explains it was an epessë given to him because his armour and shield were overlaid with silver and set with a device of white stars, shone from afar like a star in sunlight or moonlight and could be seen by Elvish eyes at a great distance if he stood upon a height; by this name he was chiefly remembered in legend.[2]

Gil-galad already appears in The Etymologies as Noldorin for "Starlight".[19]

Other names

As a descendant of kings, the Sindarin birth name of Gil-galad was Ereinion ("Scion of Kings"),[2][20] from plural aran ("king") + -ion (patronymic suffix).[21]

According to early version, Gil-galad's Quenya father-name was Artanáro, or in Sindarin Rodnor.[18] Paul Strack explains it can be translated as "Noble Fire".[22]

An unclear name is Finellach, which was included in Gil-galad's letter to Tar-Meneldur (but omitted by Christopher Tolkien).[12][18] David Salo explains it can mean "Flame of Hair and Eye".[23]

Another isolated name was Finwain,[1] clearly Sindarin, a combination of fin (Sindarin for Finwë) + gwain ("young").

Revised genealogy

Gil-galad's heraldic device by J.R.R. Tolkien
d. Y.T. 1495
b. Y.T.
b. Y.T.
b. Y.T.
Y.T. 1190 - F.A. 456
b. Y.T.
b. Y.T. 1230
b. Y.T.
unknown sons
Y.T. 1300 - F.A. 465
d. F.A. 455
b. Y.T.
d. F.A. 455
b. Y.T. 1362
b. F.A.
d. F.A. 495
b. F.A. 532
b. S.A. 300
F.A. 272 - 495
d. S.A. 3441

Other versions of the legendarium

Earlier versions

Gil-galad appears for the first time in the second version of The Fall of Númenor written c. 1937, along with Elendil (in the previous conception, Elrond is the leader of the Elves who remained behind). Both characters create a great league of Elves and Men and fight Thû in Mordor, but both are slain by him. In that text he is mentioned as a descendant of Fëanor and an Elven king of Beleriand.[24]

In a marginal note of §28 of the conclusion of Quenta Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien pencilled the names Gilgalad and Lindon.[25] This note was probably used by Christopher Tolkien to introduce Gil-Galad at the end of chapter 24 of the published version of The Silmarillion, beside Círdan, Celeborn, and Galadriel.[26]


Scion of Kings son of Orodreth by Karolina Węgrzyn

In the initial drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien still considered Gil-galad to be a descendant of Fëanor.[27]

Later, through the further writing of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien reconsidered Gil-galad to be a son of Finrod Felagund. In additions of uncertain date made to the later Quenta Silmarillion it was told that Felagund sent away both his wife and son from Nargothrond to the Havens of the Falas for their safety.[28] In the late 1950s, he decided that Felagund was unmarried and childless, since Amarië the Vanya whom he loved remained in the West, and suggested in a marginal note to the Grey Annals that Gil-galad might be the son of Fingon (under the name Findor).[29]

However, in the early 60s, Tolkien returned to an idea of Finrod having wife and child, and thus he moved Orodreth down a generation, making him Finrod's son instead of his brother. Apparently recalling the story in the Grey Annals,[30] Tolkien spotted the contradiction and moved Orodreth to become in the same generation the son of Finrod’s brother Angrod (who with Aegnor held the heights of Dorthonion and was slain in the Battle of Sudden Flame), changing his Quenya name from Artanáro to Artaresto. Finally in August 1965, Tolkien concluded that the best solution to the problem of Gil-galad's parentage was to shift him into the son of Orodreth who escaped in Nargothrond after Angrod was slain and dwelt there with his uncle Finrod, later succeeding him. Orodreth married a Sindarin lady of the North, and their children were Finduilas and Gil-galad.[18]

Tolkien's son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien had no doubt that this was his father's last word on the subject, but since nothing of this late and radically altered conception ever touched the existing narratives, he made the editorial decision not to incorporate this revision into the published version of The Silmarillion and chose instead to present Gil-galad as a son of Fingon; otherwise, all aspects of the move would have required considerable reworking of the story. For a consistency with the published Silmarillion, Christopher also edited a line in Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife that originally referred to Gil-galad as a dynast of the House of Finarfin.[12]

Scion of Kings son of Fingon by Karolina Węgrzyn

Many years later in The Peoples of Middle-earth he regretted about his past decision and stated it was a mistake on his part and did not in fact represent his father's conception of the character, suggesting that it would have been better to have left Gil-galad's parentage obscure in The Silmarillion.[18]

Renée Vink of the Dutch Tolkien Society suggests that the only good reason for making Gil-galad son of Fingon is the correspondence of the colours, blue and silver, of Gil-galad's heraldic device and Fingolfin's banner, noting that the publication of The Silmarillion, based on a limited "grasp of the material", created a "virtually unshakeable" tradition for this parentage. She argues that Orodreth has a better claim to paternity, for several reasons: the crown of the Noldor in exile (in Middle-earth) then comes to a descendant of Finarfin, king of the Noldor in Valinor; a descendant of Finarfin would fight Sauron to avenge Finarfin's son Finrod; and as brother to Finduilas, he (alone of the Noldorin Kings) would fight with a spear, the weapon that killed his sister.[31]

Date of birth

In a 1959 manuscript on chronology published in The Nature of Middle-earth, Tolkien contemplated various revisions to the years of birth of various characters in the legendarium in accord with a new conception of how Elves aged over time. In a rough note appended to this manuscript, he suggested that "Gilgalad" became King in Lindon "under" Galadriel c. S.A. 10-20, and that in order to be of suitable age to rule he must have been born in Y.T. 1481/V.Y. 4981 in Aman.[32] Of course, this would be incompatible with the later revision of Gil-galad's genealogy made in August 1965, since his mother is explicitly mentioned to be a Sindarin lady, as described above in the previous section.[18]

Portrayals in adaptations

Gil-galad in adaptations
Gil-galad in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Gil-galad in The Lord of the Rings Online
High King Gil-galad in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power


2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

In the prologue, Gil-galad is shown as one of the bearers of the three Elven rings. Later, he is present at the Battle of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men wielding his spear Aeglos. His death is not shown, and he does not take down Sauron. He is played by Mark Ferguson.
The bodies of Gil-galad and Elendil can be seen on the mural depicting the Siege in the House of Elrond.


2022: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:

September 1: A Shadow of the Past:
High King Gil-galad (Portrayed by Benjamin Walker)[33] first appears during a ceremony in Lindon, giving a speech to honor the survivors of Galadriel's company of Elves who were attacked by a Snow-troll in Dúrnost. He announces that they are going to go home to the Undying Lands for them to dwell for all eternity. However, later on, he revealed to Elrond that his true purpose in doing this was so that Galadriel did not become the very evil that she sought to destroy.


2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (video game):

Gil-galad appears briefly in the game's first level as a non-playable character, where he has the likeness of Peter Jackson's movie counterpart.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Gil-galad appears in several flashbacks depicting the the War of the Last Alliance. His ultimate fate is more accurate to the books than the film version, showing Elendil and Gil-galad both battling and defeating Sauron at the cost of their lives.

2010: Lego The Lord of the Rings:

Gil-galad appears in the prologue holding one of the Elf-rings. He is also an unlockable character, despite never playing into the storyline. He can be found in a cave in south-west Gorgoroth. His gear is not accurate, however; he wields an Elven sword (instead of Aeglos) and golden shield in the game, though The Fall of Gil-Galad describes a silver shield.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Two. Body, Mind and Spirit: IV. Hair", p. 186
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor", "The names of Finwë's descendants", pp. 346-8 & 364
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part One. The Grey Annals": §145-59, pp. 52-6
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part One. The Grey Annals": §217-57, pp. 71-80
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Three. The Wanderings of Húrin and Other Writings not forming part of the Quenta Silmarillion: V. The Tale of Years", p. 346
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", pp. 1082-4
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", pp. 218-20
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn", 257-61
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark", p. 185
  15. 15.0 15.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Númenor", p. 1034
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Notes and Translations", in The Road Goes Ever On (J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Swann), p. 73
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor", "The parentage of Gil-galad", pp. 349-51
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "GIL"
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names", entry "Gil-galad"
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entry ar(a)
  22. Paul Strack, "Q. Artanáro m.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 5 November 2020)
  23. David Salo (2004), A Gateway to Sindarin, p. 349
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part One: II. The Fall of Númenor, (iii) The second version of The Fall of Númenor", pp. 28-9 & 31
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", p. 337
  26. Douglas C. Kane, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion, Part II: Quenta Silmarillion (The History of the Silmarils), Chapter 23 "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin", p. 235
  27. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: XII. At Rivendell", pp. 215-7
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin (Chapter 15)", p. 242-3
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part One. The Grey Annals": §157, p. 56
  30. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part One. The Grey Annals": §108-9, p. 44
  31. Renée Vink, "The Parentage of Gil-galad: A Textual History", (accessed 22 June 2013)
  32. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: XI. Ageing of Elves", p. 82
  33. Amy Ratcliffe, "Meet High King Gil-galad From THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER" dated 30 June 2022, Nerdist (accessed 9 July 2022)
House of Finarfin
Cadet branch of House of Finwë
Born: Before F.A. 455 Died: S.A. 3441
Preceded by:
4th High King of the Noldor
F.A. 510 - S.A. 3441
Title abandoned
Celebrimbor, as its creator
Keeper of Vilya
c. S.A. 1600 - 1701
Followed by: