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From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Men of Westernesse)
"Ar-Pharazôn" by Steamey
General Information
Other namesAdûnâi (A), Núnatani (Q), Dúnedain (S), Go-hilleg (D), Tarkildi (Q)
Kings of Men, Men of Númenor, Men of the Sea, Men of Westernesse, Mighty of the West, Sea-kings, Tall Men
OriginsEdain of Beleriand granted a new homeland by the Valar after the War of Wrath
LocationsNúmenor, Eriador, Harad, Umbar, Pelargir, later Arnor and Gondor
AffiliationFaithful, King's Men, Realms in Exile, Last Alliance of Elves and Men
LanguagesAdûnaic, Númenórean Sindarin, Quenya
MembersElros, Tar-Aldarion, Ar-Pharazôn, Elendil, Isildur
Physical Description
LifespanNúmenóreans - c. 200+ years[1]
Kings of Númenor - c. 400 years (later diminished)[1]
See below
DistinctionsThe mightiest of Men in both nobility and body
Average HeightTall, typically 7 feet.[2]
GalleryImages of Númenóreans

So great was the might and splendour of the Númenóreans that Sauron's own servants deserted him.

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


The Númenóreans were descendants of the Edain of the First Age, who proved themselves great allies of the Elves, from whom they gathered knowledge of all things surrounding them. The two races fought together against Morgoth.

During that Age, unions of Elves and Men were made; Lúthien and Beren whose son, Dior Eluchíl, married Nimloth of Doriath and Elwing was born. Idril and Tuor, the second couple, 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: Elros chose to join the race of men, whereas Elrond chose to join the elves.

The Edain fought with the Host of Valinor in the War of Wrath and were victorious, the Edain were honoured and blessed by Eönwë in body and mind for their part in the war and the Valar rewarded the Edain by giving them a place to dwell outside the troubled world of Middle-earth. Ulmo raised an island halfway between Endor and Aman which the Edain named Elenna, later known as the island of Númenor.[4]

The first ships of the Edain arrived to their new home in S.A. 32 by following the Star of Eärendil.[1] The fleet of Elros initially brought probably between 5,000 to 10,000 Edain to the island,[5] he established the Realm of Númenor and became the first King of Númenor.[1] After a migration period that lasted at least 50 years, between 200,000 and 350,000 Men (the majority of the Edain in Middle-earth[6]) had gradually emigrated to Númenor.[5]


Númenórean Armor (early Second Age) by Turner Mohan

Early history

The Númenóreans built a mighty seafaring civilisation, their lore and craft were advanced and enriched by the knowledge of the Eldar and their body and mind grew in stature, gaining long life thrice more than the Men in Middle-earth.[1] They excelled in 'ship-building and sea-craft' and became skilled mariners.[4]

They held the Eldar in close friendship and the white ships from Tol Eressëa brought many gifts to Númenor such as birds, flowers, and healing herbs. One notable gift was a seedling of Celeborn, the White Tree of Tol Eressëa which grew at the courts of the King in Armenelos and it was named Nimloth.[4]

Return to Middle-earth

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.[7] They sailed to Lindon and established a friendship with Gil-galad and the Elves of Lindon.[8]

The Men in Eriador were filled with wonder at their coming for the Men of Middle-earth had long lived under the Shadow, a period known as the Dark Years, and because of this they grew weak and fearful. The Númenóreans began to cultivate their new friends teaching them agriculture, stonemasonry and smithying.[4] They also discovered that while their languages were different, they both had a common origin and were able to converse with each other over simple matters.[8] The Númenóreans never dwelt long in the shores of Middle-earth, but the Men, who populated the western shores, were comforted. They revered the memory of the tall Sea-kings whom they remembered as gods hoping each time for their return.[4]

Erendis by Eric Faure-Brac

In the following decades there was increased activity between Númenór and Middle-earth, mariners returning from their voyages brought with them ore and jewels. In S.A. 750 the Guild of Venturers was founded by Aldarion and many young and eager men joined.[9] Their vessels grew greater and larger and were now able to make far and long voyages.

Aldarion established Vinyalondë at the mouth of the Gwathló, a haven for the purpose of repairs, ship building and collection of timber. The Númenóreans began to escalate their tree felling around the dense forests of Minhiriath and Enedwaith, but their enterprise created animosity between them and the native men living there and the forest-dwellers attacked and ambushed the Númenóreans when they could until they were expelled from their forest homes. The Númenóreans wrecked the banks, the shorelines, great tracks and roads whom they drove into the forests northwards and southwards from the Gwathló and continued battling and destroying what lied ahead of them, pushing into Minhiriath and Enedwaith.[10]

In S.A. 882 Gil-galad warned Tar-Meneldur that a new shadow is rising in the East, instigated by a servant of Morgoth, and asked for aid when the time comes to help defend Eriador against this new threat.[11]:199–200 The Númenóreans began the preparation of force and supplies for war.[12]

A millennium after the foundation of the Realm, the population seemed to have slightly exceeded 2 million Númenóreans.[5]

In the early thirteenth century of the Second Age, the Númenóreans began establishing permanent settlements in Middle-earth.[7] Later these settlements were under increased pressure from raiders as Sauron drew closer to the Númenórean sphere of influence. He recruited the natives that had a hatred of Númenór and used them as spies and guides. Though Sauron had not enough force to assault the forts at the Haven or along the banks of the Gwathló his raiders wreaked havoc on the fringes of the forests, burning trees and wood-stores of the Númenóreans.[10]

The Númenóreans participated in the War of the Elves and Sauron, though they arrived late to the conflict in S.A. 1700[7] due to delays[12] and when most of Eriador was already ruined. Tar-Minastir's fleet turned the tide of the war and Sauron was decisively defeated in the Battle of the Gwathló. Sauron was forced to retreat to Mordor and vowed vengeance upon the Númenóreans and there was peace in the Westlands.[12]

Shadow falls

Númenórean Armor (late Second Age) by Turner Mohan

The first sign of the Shadow falling upon Númenór was said to have begun in the reign of Tar-Minastir, he loved the Eldar - and aided them in their most desperate hour against Sauron - but he also envied them.[1] Over time, the Númenóreans began questioning the Ban of the Valar and the Gift of Men, and the fear of death crept into their hearts, so the Firstborn became envied for their immortality.[4]

About S.A. 1800, the Númenóreans began establishing dominions on the coasts of Middle-earth and their attitude towards the Men of Middle-earth changed, where once they were teachers and friends they now subjugated them and levied heavy tribute to the native populace, desiring wealth and power. This occurred during the reigns of Tar-Ciryatan and his son Tar-Atanamir.[7] It was during the reign of Tar-Atanamir that the Shadow upon Númenór was on its noontide. The Númenóreans that followed his lore spoke openly against the Valar and Eldar[1] though they still feared retaliation from the Valar if they broke the ban.[4]

During the reign of Tar-Ancalimon, the Númenóreans became divided into two parties; the Faithful or Elf-friends and the King's Men.[1] Those that followed the King abandoned the use of the Eldarin tongues and were estranged from the Eldar and Valar while the Faithful were still friends with the Eldar.[13] The King's Men 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,[14] such as Umbar.[note 1] The Faithful Númenóreans played no part in this and in S.A. 2350 Pelargir was built by them and it became their chief haven.[7]

When Ar-Adûnakhôr ascended to the throne in S.A. 2899,[7] he was the first king to choose 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.[13] However there was some respite for the Faithful under the rule of Tar-Palantir who sought to repent the actions of his predecessors and gain back the favour of the Valar.[1]

Tar-Palantir's policies were met with opposition by his brother Gimilkhâd who led the King's party, when he died his son Pharazôn returned to Númenór and led a rebellion against the king. When Tar-Palantir died his daughter Míriel, according to the New Law, had the right to inherit the throne, but Pharazôn forced her into marriage, and usurped the Sceptre for himself, becoming known as Ar-Pharazôn.[4]

Sauron's corruption

In S.A. 3261[7] Ar-Pharazôn returned to Middle-earth with a mighty host to challenge the threat of 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 lord Morgoth.[4]


Queen Tar-Miriel and the Great Wave by Ted Nasmith

As the shadow of death approached Ar-Pharazôn Sauron now urged the king to take immortality by force and invade Aman. The Númenóreans now began preparations for war with the Valar and this 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.[4]

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 fell upon them, and on the great island, fire 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.[4]


Out Of The Sea I am Come by Turner Mohan

Few of the remaining Númenóreans in the island survived the Downfall, these were the Elendili led by Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anárion. 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.[4]

Other Númenóreans survived the Downfall, these were of the King's Men that settled in Middle-earth. They continued to serve Sauron and were later known as the Black Númenóreans. Their chief haven was Umbar.[15]

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.[4]



The Númenóreans spoke Adûnaic, a Mannish language that descended from the Mannish languages spoken in Beleriand. However, their forefathers, the Edain, had learned Sindarin which was passed on to Númenor. As a language of lore, it changed only a little with the millennia. Educated Númenóreans also studied Quenya, having a prestige above all other tongues.[16]

Religion and tradition

Isildur by Liz Danforth

Towards the middle of Mittalmar stood the Mountain Meneltarma, the sacred place on which Eru was worshipped. Its flattened top was wide enough to contain a great crowd during the three yearly ceremonies (Erukyermë, Erulaitalë and Eruhantalë). These took place in absolute silence while climbing its slopes. Soon after S.A. 3262 these religious beliefs were abandoned and the worshipping 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 logs of Nimloth the Fair, white tree of Númenor, when Sauron ordered it felled.

Every autumn they observed the Great Bear-dance.[17]

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

Númenórean helmet by J.R.R. Tolkien

Many of the inhabitants of Númenor were fishermen. Along with the grains cultivated in Orrostar, fish was the main food source for the Númenóreans.

The Dúnedain were skilled in riding and loved horses. They could even call them in their thoughts if bound by friendship. Númenor had no paved roads so that the carriages could move on them more easily. From the Noldor they learned the art of forging swords, axes, spears, knives, but mostly bows; their arrows resembled dark clouds falling upon the enemies.

The Númenóreans, were skilled in the art of husbandry, breeding great horses that roamed across the open plains in Mittalmar.

The greatest love of the Númenóreans was the sea and the building of the largest ships. Most were built at the command of Tar-Aldarion, who also established the Guild of Venturers. The ship Eämbar was their headquarters.


Tar-Míriel by Turner Mohan

The average Númenórean was taller than two Rangar or 6'4". Elendil was the tallest of Men who escaped the Downfall, mentioned to be almost 2.5 rangar tall, 7'11" or 2.41 m.[18]

Númenóreans were granted especially long lives when compared to that of other Men, with the average lifespan in the beginning ranging from 350 years to as much as 420. Those of the line of Elros in particular often lived 400 years or even more, while those who were outside of the royal line only rarely managed to reach 400.[19]

Númenóreans were also those who best understood the Gift of Ilúvatar and were blessed in that they did not share the same fear of death that other men had. Often in the beginning of Númenor, Men who at last began to feel the first signs of weariness of mortal life would voluntarily give up their spirits and die of their own free will. This usually would only occur in the latter years of their lifespan, such as around year 400 for the particularly long lived.[19]

However, as part of the decay brought on by the Shadow, many Númenóreans began to fear death rather than accept it. During the twilight of the realm, many Númenóreans would cling to life for as long as possible, becoming senile and decrepit like other Men. Additionally, lifespans began to decline as the Shadow further grew. The lifespans of those of the house of Elros began to fall to the point where many would live for less than three centuries.[1]

Other names

In their own language, the Númenóreans were named Adûnâi.[20]

They were also known as High Men; Tarkildi in Quenya.[2]:312, 427[16][21] (Cf. Middle Men). They were also known as "Sea-kings", "Men of the Sea" and "Lords of the Sea".[22]

In Quenya they were known as Núnatani ("Western Men") as well, and Dúnedain in Sindarin.[23] The Silmarillion is explicit in noting that "Númenoreans" and "Dúnedain" are synonymous terms, meaning the same thing. Nevertheless, it seems more usual to call those born in Númenor "Númenoreans" and their descendants living in Middle-earth post-Downfall "Dúnedain".

They were known as Go-hilleg by the Dunlendings.[24]

Other versions of the legendarium

In the earlier drafts of the Akallabêth, it introduced the notion of the Númenóreans using aerial craft.[25] After the destruction of their island they devise ships that 'sail in the air of breath'.[26] The mechanics is not explored and was discarded in the story later.[27]

Christopher Tolkien noted that Tolkien developed his thinking on the longevity of Númenóreans: originally he suggested that Númenóreans not of the Line of Elros lived for 200 years - or three times normal men - with royal kindred living 400 years. However, in later writings this was changed to a smaller difference between royals and non-royals, with Númenóreans living "five times" that of normal men, or 300–350 years. Those of the House of Elros were consistenly at c. 400 years, although this was later diminished due to their rebellion.[1] This longer lifespan resulted in an older age of adulthood: 25 years.[11]:174

In another writing from circa 1965, Tolkien postulated that even Númenóreans who were not of the royal house lived around 350–420 years, though non royals managing to reach 400 was not a common event.[19]

Portrayal in adaptations

Númenórean characters as seen in The Rings of Power
2022: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Season One:

Several Númenórean characters appear from episode 3 forward. As the production has license to utilize material only from The Lord of the Rings, other sources such as Akallabêth, which provide more details on the Númenóreans, can't be used. As such, particular Númenórean characteristics, such as high stature and longevity, or their concerns about immortality or collonialist expansion aren't taken into consideration. The Númenórean people is portrayed as easy to influence, turning from a hatred towards Elves (unexplained on screen), represented by Galadriel, to join battle under the command of her.

See also

External links


  1. It is unclear when Umbar was founded, in Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings it is mentioned that it was fortified in S.A. 2280 which means that it had existed in some form prior to that date.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor"
  2. 2.0 2.1 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, "A Description of the Island of Númenor", p. 170
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", p. 339
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "V. The History of the Akallabêth", §5
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  8. 8.0 8.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", note 3
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", Notes, Chronology
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix D: The Port of Lond Daer"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Númenor"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "V. The History of the Akallabêth", §28
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", p. 335
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Appendix: Númenórean Linear Measures"
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XI. Lives of the Númenóreans", p. 317
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part Two: The Notion Club Papers Part Two: Night 66", p. 247
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 101
  22. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 297
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 18
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Index", entry "Go-hilleg"
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part One: II. The Fall of Númenor, (i) The original outline"
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part One: II. The Fall of Númenor, (ii) The first version of The Fall of Númenor", §12
  27. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part One: II. The Fall of Númenor, (ii) The first version of The Fall of Númenor", Commentary on the first version of The Fall of Númenor, §12