From Tolkien Gateway
Lourdes Velez - King Thranduil.jpg
"King Thanduil" by Lourdes Velez
Biographical Information
Other namesThe Elvenking
TitlesKing of the Silvan Elves in northern Mirkwood[1]
LocationDoriath, Lindon, Woodland Realm
AffiliationLast Alliance of Elves and Men
LanguageSilvan, Sindarin, Westron
BirthBefore F.A. 507 or early S.A.[2][note 1]
See below
RuleFrom S.A. 3434
Physical Description
Hair colorGolden[3]
GalleryImages of Thranduil
"In a great hall with pillars hewn out of the living stone sat the Elvenking on a chair of carven wood. On his head was a crown of berries and red leaves, for the autumn was come again. In the spring he wore a crown of woodland flowers. In his hand he held a carven staff of oak."
The Hobbit, "Barrels Out of Bond"

Thranduil, also known as the Elvenking, was a Sindarin Elf[2] and King of the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood of the Woodland Realm. Thranduil was son of Oropher and father of Legolas.

The Elvenking is a name used for the ruler of the Woodland Realm, the realm of the Silvan Elves in the far northeast of Mirkwood by the late Third Age.[note 2]

History[edit | edit source]

Early History[edit | edit source]

See also: #Other versions of the legendarium

Thranduil's birth date and early life are not recorded. He may have been born in the First Age, or early Second Age. He was of Sindarin descent. His father Oropher was originally one of the Iathrim of Doriath.[2]

Thranduil and Legolas by Anna Lee

Many of the Sindar left Lindon and travelled eastward before the building of the Barad-dûr in S.A. 1000.[4] Thranduil is first recorded in this event, when he and his father, Oropher, arrived "with only a handful of Sindar"[2] in S.A. 750, in Greenwood the Great.[5] Oropher was taken by the Silvan Elves as their lord and founded the Woodland Realm.[2]

The Elves of Mirkwood joined the Last Alliance and in S.A. 3434, Thranduil followed his father and numerous lightly armed Elves in the War of the Last Alliance. In the Battle of Dagorlad, Oropher was slain in the first assault upon Mordor, "rushing forward at the head of his most doughty warriors before Gil-galad had given the signal for the advance."[2] His son survived, but over the course of the war, two-thirds of his people had perished. After the Siege of Barad-dûr in S.A. 3441, when Sauron was defeated, Thranduil led the remainder of his people north back to the Woodland Realm, where he was crowned king.[2]

Third Age[edit | edit source]

The Shadow Returns[edit | edit source]

Upon the return of Sauron - disguised as the Necromancer - in around T.A. 1050, southern Greenwood became increasingly dangerous; evil creatures such as the great spiders came to dwell in it and the forest soon came to be known as "Mirkwood".[6] Thranduil's folk retreated to the north of the forest, where they established themselves near the Forest River. Thranduil had his halls delved underground, fashioned partly in memory (it was said) of the mighty, but long-lost, Menegroth of Doriath.[note 3][7][2] In north-eastern Mirkwood, they were near the Forest River behind great, stone gates.

Battle of Five Armies[edit | edit source]

Thorin and Thranduil by Anke Eißmann

In T.A. 2941, Thranduil and some of his folk were feasting in the woods when they were repeatedly disturbed by a party of Dwarves. After the third disturbance, the Elves captured Thorin who refused to reveal to Thranduil the reason for their journey through Mirkwood.[8] Following their battle with the spiders, the rest of the company was also captured by the Elves. Following their repeated failure to explain their presence in Mirkwood, Thranduil placed all the Dwarves under lock and key. They escaped, however, with the aid of a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. Baggins had evaded capture by Thranduil's people through the use of his magic ring.

After the Dwarves' escape, Thranduil received word of what had transpired from the Raft-elves who returned up the Forest River. Thus he was now aware of the Dwarves' quest. Upon learning this, he stated, "no treasure will come back through Mirkwood without my having something to say in the matter."[9] He believed the Dwarves were incapable of slaying the Dragon. However, he soon heard from his own messengers (including the birds) that the Dragon Smaug had been felled (and the Lake-town was destroyed).

Thranduil was aware that Smaug had a massive hoard of treasure. Believing the Dwarves to be dead, and desiring a share of the treasure, he set out towards the Lonely Mountain with a company of Elves. On the way, they met messengers from Bard who was seeking aid for his destroyed town. Thranduil gave aid to these Men, as the Lake-men had been friends with the Wood-elves, and left elven craftsmen to aid in the labour and building of huts to fortify them against the coming winter.[10] Together, Thranduil and Bard led their forces towards the Lonely Mountain and were surprised when they found out that the Dwarves not only survived Smaug's attacks, but had taken possession of the Mountain and its treasures; the King under the Mountain had returned.

The Arkenstone by Ted Nasmith

As Thorin refused to give away any part of the treasure for Dale and Lake-town under armed threat, Thranduil and Bard besieged the mountain. After a few days, a Dwarvish host led by Dáin II Ironfoot, who had been summoned by raven messengers, approached to support Thorin. But, two evenings before his arrival, Bilbo came before Thranduil and Bard bringing the Arkenstone, a great jewel that Thorin valued above all, in order to make Thorin open to negotiations again. Thranduil was impressed by Bilbo and urged him to remain in order to avoid Thorin's wrath, but Bilbo returned to his friends. The next morning Bard and Thranduil entered into negotiations with an angered Thorin, who agreed to pay one-fourteenth share of the treasure in exchange for the stone. Thranduil was reluctant to start a war over gold, but when the forces of Dáin arrived the next day, before the trade had been made for the Arkenstone, the Dwarves proceeded to attack.

The Battle by Anke Eißmann

At that moment, the Orcs of the Misty Mountains and Grey Mountains under Bolg were using the opportunity to march after the hoard, and he was accompanied by a cloud of great bats. After skirmishing among themselves, under the council of Gandalf, the three commanders agreed that the Goblins were the enemies of all. So the Battle of Five Armies began, "upon one side were the Goblins and the Wild Wolves, and upon the other were Elves and Men and Dwarves."[11] Thranduil's host was positioned on the southern side of the Mountain, and they were the first to charge. Many Elves and allies were slain and things looked grim when the Eagles and Beorn arrived on the battlefield. They turned the tide and the battle was won.

Thorin died soon after the battle. Thranduil laid Orcrist on Thorin's tomb, where it was said to glow in warning when foes approached.

The victors divided the treasure, with Bard giving Thranduil the emeralds of Girion. When Bilbo and Gandalf bade farewell to Thranduil, Bilbo gave him a necklace of silver and pearls. Thranduil gave the hobbit the title Elf-friend and returned with the remainder of his host to his realm in Mirkwood.

War of the Ring[edit | edit source]

On 21 March, T.A. 3018 Aragorn and Gandalf delivered Gollum as a prisoner to Thranduil; but in June he later escaped. Thranduil sent his son Legolas to Rivendell to inform Elrond, and during the Council of Elrond Legolas was selected as one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.[12] Another member of the Company was the Dwarf, Gimli, the son of Glóin of Thorin's company, who had previously been imprisoned by Thranduil. The unprecedented friendship between Elf and Dwarf helped to reconcile Thranduil's people and the Dwarves.

On 15 March, T.A. 3019, Sauron's army from Dol Guldur attacked Mirkwood. There was a long battle under the trees and the woods were set on fire, but in the end Thranduil was victorious. And after the passing of Sauron, the forces of the Lord and Lady of Galadhrim stormed Dol Guldur and threw down its walls, finally cleansing the forest.[13]

On 6 April[14] (the day of the Elven New Year), the Elvenking met with Celeborn in the midst of Mirkwood and renamed it Eryn Lasgalen, "The Wood of the Greenleaves". With the forest cleansed and Sauron's forces destroyed, the forest was divided; Celeborn claimed the southern part of the forest north to the Narrows, Thranduil took the northern part of the forest south to the Mountains, and the two Elf-lords granted the middle to the Beornings and Woodmen.[13]

Fourth Age[edit | edit source]

The partition of Eryn Lasgalen is the last reference to Thranduil in the histories of Middle-earth. It is not said that he joined his son Legolas in settling Ithilien or in departing over the Sea.[15] Presumably, he continued to rule the re-established Woodland Realm into the Fourth Age, but nothing of this is known for certain, as he could have sailed to the West at some unknown date.[source?][note 4]

Personality[edit | edit source]

Thranduil by Marya Filatova

Although his concern was primarily for his realm, the memory of the end of the Second Age and what lay outside his borders haunted him:

But there was in Thranduil's heart a still deeper shadow. He had seen the horror of Mordor and could not forget it. If ever he looked south its memory dimmed the light of the Sun, and though he knew that it was now broken and deserted and under the vigilance of the Kings of Men, fear spoke in his heart that it was not conquered for ever; it would arise again.
Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix B: The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves"

Thranduil lived in atunement with nature, wearing a crown of woodland flowers, or autumn berries and red leaves, according to the season.[16] His banner was green in colour.[17] He loved the forest, though it was dark and dangerous in many parts; and enjoyed hunting and feasting among the trees with his people.[8] He was distrustful of strangers for the most part, although he had business dealings with the men of Lake-town.[16] He was mostly unconcerned with affairs of the world beyond Mirkwood unless a common enemy was shared or for trade with "their kinsfolk in the South, or [...] Men in distant lands."[16]

He had a particular fondness for white gems and wanted to acquire more: "if the elf-king had a weakness it was for treasure, especially for silver and white gems; and though his hoard was rich, was eager for more, since he had not yet as great a treasure as other elf-lords of old."[8] Despite this weakness, he was wise and would not wantonly go to war, risking his people's lives, over treasure. This was evidenced when the Elvenking said, "long will I tarry, ere I begin this war for gold [...] let us hope still for something that will bring reconciliation."[11]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The name Thranduil means "Vigorous spring" in Sindarin, from tharan ("vigorous") and lenited tuil ("spring"). Though the name is said to be of Silvan origin, Tolkien's notes on tharan state it was used only in Sindarin.[18]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

The published Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, as well as one of its drafts,[5] mention Thranduil as King of the Woodland realm, founded in S.A. 750, suggesting (but not explicitly mentioning) that he was possibly its founder and first king.

His father Oropher was invented later, while Tolkien was fleshing out the background of Thranduil and the history of the Silvan realms, given a far older origin, explicitly clarifying that Thranduil was not the founder of the realm, and he only succeeded his father after the War of the Last Alliance. Oropher and Thranduil's backstory were never incorporated in more "canonical" narratives, and the drafts exploring them were published in the Unfinished Tales.[2][note 1]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

d. S.A. 3434
Sailed West Fo.A. 120

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Thranduil in adaptations
The "Elvenking" in The Hobbit (1977 film)  
Thranduil in The Hobbit (film series)  
Thranduil's description in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum  

Films[edit | edit source]

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

Thranduil is voiced by Otto Preminger. For some reason, in the movie, the Elves of Mirkwood are portrayed as squat and ugly, as opposed to the noble Elves of Rivendell. Like Fenton before him, Preminger's Thranduil speaks with a German accent.

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Thranduil is played by Lee Pace in the Hobbit film trilogy.[19] Thranduil is first seen in the prologue paying homage to King Thrór inside within the Lonely Mountain, though leaves in a huff when the Dwarves refuse to give him a box of white jewels. He is next seen with an army outside of Erebor riding an elk, seemingly ready to help during the Sack of Erebor. However, he decides not to help and turns away.

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

Mentioning his past, Thranduil is portrayed as a widower and also an isolationist king who isn't concerned with the evil that happens beyond his borders. He has generously raised Tauriel for the last 600 years, and also mentions that he has fought the "serpents of the North".
When Thorin is taken before Thranduil in the Elvenking's Halls, he surmises that he and his Company are going to try to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug (unlike in the book, where he had no idea as to their purpose). He offers a deal to Thorin, saying he will let the Company go if they will pay him the white jewels he desires inside the Mountain. When the Dwarf refuses and chastises him for not offering aid to the Dwarves the day of the Sack, the Elven-king reveals a large disfigurement on his face underneath his skin, mentioning his fighting against the 'great serpents of the North.'
Later, an invisible Bilbo Baggins spies his discussion with Tauriel, having ordered her company of Elves to destroy the spiders's nests, but not beyond the borders of the Woodland Realm, displaying his disregard for the outside world.
He and Legolas interrogate Narzug, a captured Orc who claims that "The One" is returning, and will unleash a powerful weapon (possibly Smaug). Despite his own promise to "set him free", he beheads the orc, and orders the kingdom to be completely sealed off from the outside world.

2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

After learning of Smaug's demise, Thranduil leads his Elven army to claim the white jewels from the Dwarves of Erebor, even by force. It is revealed that these jewels were meant for his wife, who had been taken to Gundabad and tortured by Orcs to death many years prior. When the army arrives in Dale, he forges an allegiance with Bard, also offering the Lake-town refugees food and supplies. When Gandalf arrives at Erebor to warn them of the impending attack by the approaching Orc army, the Elven-king refuses to listen. Thranduil's soldiers come to clashes with those of Dáin Ironfoot right before the Orcs arrive, leading to the Battle of Five Armies. Thranduil himself fights in the battle against the Orcs, but withdraws his forces when defence of Dale results in many Elven casualties. This leads to a confrontation between him and Tauriel before she and Legolas go to Thorin's aid at Ravenhill. The event causes a rift between Thranduil and his son, to the point where Legolas decides not to return to the kingdom. Thranduil then advises him to go and find the Ranger known as "Strider" among the Dúnedain. The Elven-king also accepts Tauriel's love for Kíli when he finds her mourning over the Dwarf's death.

Radio series[edit | edit source]

1968: The Hobbit (1968 radio series):

Leonard Fenton provided the voice of Thranduil. He provides him with a Germanic accent.

1980: Der Hobbit (1980 German radio series):

The Elven-king is played by Martin Hirthe.

1989: Hobit (1989 Slovak radio series):

The voice of the Elven-king is provided by Alfréd Swan. He is not identified by his personal name, in keeping with the original novel.

Games[edit | edit source]

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

Thranduil is referred to as "Elvenking Thranduil", using both his title from The Hobbit and his name from The Lord of the Rings, to accommodate players who have only read The Hobbit. Thranduil first appears in the level "Barrels Out of Bond", in which he can be overheard speaking about the White Council and their attack on Dol Guldur. He returns as a conversation partner in the last level, "The Clouds Burst", in which he and Gandalf ask the player, in the persona of Bilbo, to deliver a message to Bard. No voice actor is specified for this part.

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Thranduil is a hero for the Elven faction. In the good campaign, he shows up after the Battle of Dale, and participates in the Siege of Dol Guldur.

2017: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Thranduil's earliest appearances are during the War of the Last Alliance. He can be found during the Battle of Dagorlad and later is seen during the Siege of Barad-dûr.
In the present time, Thranduil is first encountered fighting in Mirkwood during the last days of the War of the Ring. He joins the forces of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel and their combined host moves on Dol Guldur where Galadriel brings down the fortress. Afterwards he and Celeborn renamed the forest Eryn Lasgalen and divide it into three parts, giving the middle section to the Woodmen. Thranduil then returns to his halls in Felegoth where his son Legolas and the player join him after the One Ring is destroyed. Thranduil's people have to deal with an unexpected situation when most of spiders in Mirkwood, except for the very young or very old ones, suddenly depart the forest en masse, travelling south to answer the call of their mother. In their place come the Wood-trolls from the north and Thranduil tasks the player with finding the source of the new threat and preventing it from reaching his borders.

2021: The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War:

Thraduil is a flawless rarity commander for the Elves Faction and is extremely hard to get loyalty for.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Thranduil's birth is unknown, but some things can be deduced from two passages in Unfinished Tales taken together: "Before the building of the Barad-dûr many of the Sindar passed eastward, and some established realms in the forests [...] Thranduil, king in the north of Greenwood the Great, was one of these," and "Oropher had come among them [the Elves of the Greenwood] with only a handful of Sindar, and they [...] came from Doriath after its ruin." Since Oropher's Sindar journeyed east from Doriath after its ruin and Thranduil was one of the Sindar who made the journey, Thranduil must have had his origins in Doriath prior to its ruin or somewhere in Middle-earth in the early Second Age.
  2. While he is nameless throughout the The Hobbit, his name is first revealed in The Council of Elrond chapter of The Lord of the Rings as the father of Legolas.
  3. In The Lord of the Rings, it is stated by Gimli that the Dwarves aided in the making of Thranduil's halls. However, in the Unfinished Tales, it is stated that Thranduil's halls "were not to be compared with Menegroth. He had not the arts nor wealth nor the aid of the Dwarves."
  4. Thranduil's deeds during the Fourth Age are completely unknown and his fate remains uncertain; yet the later can be deduced by combining the conjecture made in regards of his birth (which is displayed in [note 1]) and a passage from Fellowship of the Ring. "[...] but there is no record of the day when at last he [Celeborn] sought the Grey Havens, and with him went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth." If Thranduil had been born in Doriath prior its ruin, then it would be certain that he had journeyed to the West; being born during the "Elder Days". However, had he been born in the early Second Age, his possible departure would remain undetermined.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix B: The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands)
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VI. The Tale of Years of the Second Age"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Warm Welcome"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring"
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Barrels Out of Bond"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 27, 187
  19. Peter Jackson, "Casting news!" dated 30 April 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
Born: Before F.A. 507
Preceded by:
2nd King of the Woodland Realm
S.A. 3434 - after Fo.A. 171
Heir apparent: Legolas
The Hobbit film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films An Unexpected Journey (extended editionThe Desolation of Smaug (extended edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition)
Music An Unexpected Journey (Special Edition) · The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) · "Song of the Lonely Mountain" · "I See Fire" · "The Last Goodbye"
Tie-in books An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2013 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Creatures & Characters · The World of Hobbits
The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2014 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers · Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon · Activity Book · Sticker Book · Ultimate Sticker Collection
The Battle of the Five Armies Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2015 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: The Art of War · Activity Book
Video games Kingdoms of Middle-earth · Armies of The Third Age · Lego The Hobbit
Characters Bilbo · Thorin · Gandalf · Balin · Fíli · Kíli · Dwalin · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Smaug · Radagast · Elrond · Galadriel · Saruman · Azog · Bolg · Thranduil · Legolas · Tauriel · Bard · Bain · Tilda · Sigrid · Master of Lake-town · Alfrid · Dáin Ironfoot · Necromancer · Bert · William · Tom · Beorn · Thráin · Thrór · Goblin King · Gollum · Frodo