Statute of Finwë and Míriel

From Tolkien Gateway
Statute of Finwë and Míriel
Steamey - Finwë Mourning Míriel.jpg
"Finwë mourning Míriel" by Steamy
CreatorManwë & Mandos
Valinor, Y.T. 1182
Notable forEstablishing the precedent of an Elven divorce
Severing the marriage of Finwë and Míriel
Allowing Finwë to remarry
"For a union that was for the life of Arda is ended, if it cannot be resumed within the life of Arda"
― Namna Finwë Míriello

The Statute of Finwë and Míriel was a judgment made by the Valar concerning Elvish marriage following a great debate. This ruling would ultimately have a major effect upon the history of the Noldor and the Children of Ilúvatar in general.

History[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

Finwë, the first King of the Noldor, and his wife Míriel Þerindë had their first child, Fëanor. Unfortunately, the strain of bearing Fëanor caused Míriel to become weary and die. She left her body and went to the Halls of Mandos. For a while Finwë was patient with her, but eventually he became deeply saddened by her absence. He also wished to have more children. Míriel continually refused to return to life, however, so Finwë went to the Valar for their wisdom and councel.

Míriel in Lórien by Lady Elleth

Finwë's petition proved very difficult to aid, because the Valar knew that it was against the design of Ilúvatar for the Elves to marry more than once. Míriel's death itself, moreover, was a quite abnormal event in a blessed land like Aman, and the Valar were perturbed both by it and her refusal to return.[1]

Proclamation[edit | edit source]

The Valar made the Statute regarding the severance of marriage among the Eldar in the case of Finwë and Míriel and, after a great debate, it was proclaimed by Mandos from the Doom-hill. The debate was recorded among the books of Law, known as Namna Finwë Míriello.

When the spirit of a spouse, husband or wife, shall for any cause pass into the keeping of Mandos, then the living may be permitted lawfully to take another spouse, if the former union be dissolved for ever.

Mandos explained that this dissolution of the marriage only happens by the will of the Dead or because a soul has been condemned to be in the Halls of Mandos till the end of Arda. Remarriage could only occur in this manner because, if the dead spouse returned to life and found his or her partner remarried, strife would result. Furthermore, because Elvish males and females were equal, the simultaneous union of one to more than one of the opposite sex was seen as unnatural. Because marriage was chiefly a union of the body, remarriage could occur only if one of the spouses was unbodied, and intended to remain so until the end of time (since marriage was supposed to be a life-long union). Since it was deemed wrong for the living spouse to constrain the dead one to remain unbodied, the living could not remarry unless the dead permitted them to.

The judgment was made known to Míriel, and she refused to return to life, even after being summoned and warned by Mandos. Nonetheless, Mandos proclaimed that twelve years had to pass till the disunion was official.[2]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

The story is presented several times throughout Morgoth's Ring, the tenth volume of The History of Middle-earth, and in The Peoples of Middle-earth, the twelfth volume.

In The Earliest Version of the Story of Finwë and Míriel, Finwë seeks counsel from the Valar two years after Míriel's death and Mandos proclaims the Statute with the following terms for disunion: after the giving of the consent ten years of the Valar shall pass ere Mandos confirms it. Within that time either party may revoke this consent; but when Mandos has confirmed it, and the living spouse has wedded another, it shall be irrevocable until the end of Arda. Míriel is informed and confirms her choice. Ten years later the doom of disunion is spoken and after another three years Finwë weds Indis.[3] It is this version of the story which has dates that align with the Annals of Aman.

In Laws and Customs Among the Eldar, the events remain similar, though Finwë seeks counsel after ten years, the Debate of the Valar is introduced, and it is not explicitly stated that the choice is irrevocable after the living spouse's second marriage. Míriel's body remains unmarred until she retakes it with the abnegation of Finwë, following his death, as her ransom.[4]

In the Later Versions of the Story of Finwë and Míriel, Finwë's seeks counsel after twelve years, and the time between the declaration of the will of the Dead and pronouncement of the doom of disunion is also increased to twelve years. The living spouse getting remarried is also restated as a condition to make the decision irrevocable.[2]

In The Shibboleth of Fëanor, Finwë, after his "sorrow having became embittered", takes the initiative in reclaiming his life and in his wanderings meets, and subsequently desires to wed, Indis. At this point he seeks counsel with the Valar, they have their great debate, and the marriage is sanctioned. Once he is married Míriel's body is to swiftly wither and pass away with the Valar not to restore it.[5]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Later versions of the Story of Finwë and Míriel", pp. 256-262
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: The Earliest Version of the Story of Finwë and Míriel", pp. 205-207
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Laws and Customs among the Eldar, Of the Severance of Marriage", pp. 236-238
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor", "The case of the Quenya change of Þ to s", pp. 333-335