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Map of Númenor, with its principal cities
|J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location|
|Other name(s)||See below|
|Type||Island (or continent)|
|Ruler||Kings and Queens of Númenor|
|First appearance||The Lord of the Rings|
|Location||The Great Sea, west of Middle-earth|
|Lifespan||Land raised early in the Second Age;|
realm established S.A. 32;
downfall S.A. 3319
Númenor //, also called Elenna-nórë or Westernesse, is a fictional place in English author J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. It was a large island located in the Sundering Seas to the west of Middle-earth, the main setting of Tolkien's writings, and was known to be the greatest civilization of Men. However many of the inhabitants ceased to worship the One God, Eru Ilúvatar, and ultimately rebelled against the Valar, resulting in the destruction of the island and death of the majority of its population. Tolkien had intended Númenor to be an allusion to the legendary Atlantis.
Númenor first appeared in print in The Lord of the Rings, which is set thousands of years after Númenor's destruction. Within the story of The Lord of the Rings, Númenor looms as a fabulous lost civilization.
An unfinished story, Aldarion and Erendis, is set in the realm of Númenor at the time of its zenith, and another, Akallabêth, summarizes its history and downfall. Otherwise only compendious or abandoned writings of Tolkien deal with Númenor, such as the appendices to The Lord of the Rings and several accounts published in Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth series.
Originally intended to be a part of a time-travel story, the tale of the fall of Númenor was for some time viewed by Tolkien as a conclusion to his The Silmarillion and the "last tale" about the Elder Days. Later, with the emergence of The Lord of the Rings, it became the link between these two works and a major part of his legendarium.
- 1 Literature
- 1.1 History
- 1.2 Names and etymology
- 1.3 Geography
- 1.4 Flora and fauna
- 1.5 Culture
- 1.6 Politics
- 2 Númenórean descendants in The Lord of the Rings
- 3 The many names of Númenor
- 4 Other literature
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Land of Gift
The island of Númenor was raised from the sea as a gift from the Valar to the Edain, the Fathers of Men who had stood with the Elves of Beleriand against Morgoth in the wars of the First Age. Númenor was offered as a reward, a "rest after the war" for the Edain. Early in the Second Age the greater part of those Edain who had survived the wars left Middle-earth and journeyed to the isle, sailing in ships provided and steered by the Elves. The migration took fifty years and brought 5,000 to 10,000 men, women and children.
The realm was officially established in S.A. 32, and Elros Half-elven, son of Eärendil, and brother of Elrond and descendant of all the royal houses of Elves and Edain, became the first King of Númenor. Under his rule, and those of his descendants, the Númenóreans rose to become a powerful people.
For a long time, Númenor remained friendly with Elves, both of Eressëa and of Middle-earth. The Elves of Eressëa brought further gifts to add to the island itself, including skills and wonderful plants. Among these gifts were seven palantíri, marvellous crystal balls, but they were only given to the Lords of Andúnië; thousands of years later these artefacts played a key part in the story of The Lord of the Rings.
Númenor was surrounded by the sea, and the sea had a profound influence on Númenor's culture and history.
From the earliest times in its history, fish from the sea was a significant part of Númenórean diet; those providing this food were Númenor's first sea-farers. The Númenóreans swiftly developed great skills in ship-building, and they also became skilled mariners, with a desire to explore and master the ocean with their great sailing-ships.
There was one limitation on this activity: the Ban of the Valar. When the island of Númenor had been gifted to the Edain, they were strictly "forbidden to sail west out of sight" of the island. This was because the Undying Lands lay, tantalizingly, not too far west of Númenor, and the Undying Lands were prohibited for mortals.
So the Númenóreans began exploring the seas to the north, east and south. In S.A. 600 they reached Middle-earth (which lay generally eastwards of Númenor), and began to explore all its coasts; eventually they even reached the Eastern Sea on the far side of Middle-earth. The Númenóreans brought the gifts of their superior civilization to the Men of Middle-earth, who referred to the Númenóreans as the Sea-kings. News of Númenórean sea-farers spread far inland in Middle-earth; even the reclusive Ents heard of the coming of "the Great Ships", and accounted it as a major event in Middle-earth's own history.
By S.A. 725, Númenóreans had established good relations with Gil-galad, the king of the High Elves of Middle-earth. Gil-galad's realm was located in the north-west of Middle-earth, and his own maritime base was the Grey Havens.
In S.A. 750 Aldarion (later the sixth King of Númenor) founded the Uinendili, the prestigious guild of sea-farers. This marked the ascendancy of Númenor's mariner-class, although the story of Aldarion and Erendis shows that not all Númenóreans were fond of the sea.
Aldarion succeeded to the Sceptre in S.A. 883 and became known as the Mariner-king. He established Vinyalondë (later called Lond Daer), the first Númenórean settlement in Middle-earth. This port provided access to the great forests of Eriador, which the Númenóreans needed for ship-building: supplies of timber on Númenor itself had become insufficient.
Between S.A. 1693-1701, the Númenóreans assisted Gil-galad in Middle-earth's War of the Elves and Sauron, which broke out after the forging of the Rings of Power, in particular the One Ring. Tar-Minastir, (later?) the eleventh King of Númenor, assembled an armada, and sent it to Gil-galad's aid. The forces of Númenor were without peer in war, and together with the Elves, they were able to temporarily defeat Sauron, the Dark Lord based in Mordor.
The Shadow looms
The increasing power of the Númenóreans had an increasingly dark side.
Even before the time of Minastir, the forestry operations which Aldarion had founded had continued to expand, and had devasted large regions of Eriador.
The Númenóreans also established other settlements in Middle-earth besides Lond Daer, and soon they came to rule a great coastal empire that had no rival. At first they had engaged with the Men of Middle-earth in a friendly manner, but in the reigns of Minastir's immediate successors, Tar-Ciryatan (ruled S.A. 1869-2029) and Tar-Atanamir 'the Great' (2029-2221), they became increasingly tyrannical, oppressing the Men of Middle-earth and exacting heavy tribute.
In S.A. 2280 the Númenóreans made Umbar, the harbour-city in the south of Middle-earth, into a great fortress. In S.A. 2350 they also greatly expanded Pelargir, a landing in Gondor near the Mouths of the Anduin.
Over time increasing numbers of Númenóreans became jealous of Elves for their immortality, and began to resent the Ban of the Valar and to rebel against their authority, seeking everlasting life. Those of this persuasion were the "King's Men", while those who remained loyal to the Valar and friendly to the Elves were the "Faithful". In the reign of Tar-Ancalimon (S.A. 2221-2386) the King's Men became a dominant majority, and the Faithful an increasingly-persecuted minority.
In the year 3255 of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazôn, the 25th monarch of Númenor, sailed to Middle-earth to challenge Sauron. Sauron, who was known to the Númenóreans as Zigûr, had claimed to be the King of Men and overlord of Middle-earth. Ar-Pharazôn landed at Umbar, but seeing the might of Númenor, Sauron's armies fled, and Sauron himself surrendered without a fight.
Sauron was brought back to Númenor as a prisoner, but he soon seduced the king and many other Númenóreans, promising them eternal life if they worshipped Melkor, the equivalent of Satan. With Sauron as his advisor, Ar-Pharazôn had a 500-foot (150 m) tall temple erected in Armenelos, the capital. In this temple human sacrifices were offered to Melkor (those selected to be sacrificed were Elendili, Númenóreans who were still faithful to the Elves).
During this time, the White Tree Nimloth, which stood before the King's House in Armenelos and whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was chopped down and burned as a sacrifice to Melkor at Sauron's direction. Isildur, heroically and at great personal risk, rescued a fruit of the tree which became an ancestor of the White Tree of Gondor, preserving the ancient line of trees.
Prompted by Sauron and fearing old age and death, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the West to make war upon the god-like Valar, intending to seize the Undying Lands, and by so doing achieve immortality. Sauron remained behind. This force was quoted by Tolkien as the 'greatest force ever assembled on Arda'. In S.A. 3319, Ar-Pharazôn landed on the shores of Aman. As the Valar were forbidden to take direct action against Men, Manwë, chief of the Valar, called upon Eru Ilúvatar, the One God.
The result for Númenor was cataclysmic. Its great island sank beneath the ocean. The whole population on the island, with one notable exception, was drowned. Many Númenóreans were absent from the island, but most of them were with Ar-Pharazôn and his armada, and they too met their doom in the Change of the World.
The Downfall of Númenor was thus a literal descent as well as a moral one. The moral downfall of Númenor was the second fall of Men, the first being when the race of Men first awoke and many fell swiftly under the dominion of Melkor.
Melkor’s chief acolyte, Sauron, was also caught in the cataclysm he had helped bring about. He was the only being to directly survive the submergence of Númenor, but his body perished, and he was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms. This was the second humiliation for Sauron in connection with the Númenóreans, and he fled back to Middle-earth as a monstrous "spirit of hatred borne upon a dark wind", returning to Mordor.
Some Númenóreans also survived, having left the island before its cataclysm. Elendil, a leader of the Faithful, had foreseen the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and had set sail, with his sons and followers, in nine ships. They landed in Middle-earth, and founded the two Kingdoms in Exile: Arnor in the north, and Gondor near Mordor, where Sauron was smouldering, setting the scene for a struggle lasting thousands of years. The two kingdoms endeavoured to emulate and revere the positive aspects of Númenórean culture. Gondor in particular flourished, and “for a while its splendour grew, recalling somewhat of the might of Númenor”. Gondor long defended the west against the threat of Sauron, but the seeds of Sauron’s ultimate destruction were in Arnor. Yet despite the great achievements of the two realms, they never surpassed the glory of “Númenor that was”.
Names and etymology
The name of the island derives from Quenya, a High-elven tongue devised by Tolkien and credited to have been used by the Númenóreans on solemn occasions and for geographical designations. Literally Númenor, or in full form Númenórë, means both 'West-land' and 'West-folk', and was often translated by the author as Westernesse.
Among Quenya kennings are recorded Andor or "the Land of Gift", which refers to the isle's being a gift of the Valar to Men, and Elenna or "Starwards", which was given because Men first journeyed to it following the Star of Eärendil and because the island was in the shape of a rough five-pointed star. The last name was also recorded by Tolkien as Elenna-nórë and rendered "the Land of the Star" or "the land named Starwards".
Tolkien also provided several names for the island in Adûnaic, the language of the Númenóreans themselves: Anadûnê is a translation of Númenor, Yôzâyan corresponds to Andor, In other writings of Tolkien, the Elven-king Gil-galad called Númenor "the Isle of Kings", and the inhabiting Drúedain referred to it as "the Great Isle".
The spectacular destruction of Númenor earned it some new names. In Quenya it was recalled as Atalantë "the Downfallen"; Tolkien described his invention of this additional allusion to Atlantis as a happy accident when he realized that the Quenya root talat- "to fall" could be incorporated into a name referring to Númenor, although some suspect that the name was intended as an elaborate pun the whole time. The Adûnaic word for Atalantë is Akallabêth, the name of the story of the Downfall.
The first appearance of Númenor in Tolkien's published writings is in The Lord of the Rings, where it is initially introduced as Westernesse. At this point little is said of Westernesse, except to indicate it was vaguely west over the Sea, had existed long ago, was an advanced civilization of Men, and was the ancestral home of the Dúnedain of Middle-earth.
Thus Westernesse is initially presented as somewhat of an enigma, imbued with myth, legend and nostalgia. The name 'Westernesse' itself is later said to be the translation of a name with the same connotations in Westron, a language widely used among the peoples of Middle-earth. Thus 'Westernesse' is not a literal translation of 'Númenor' ('West-land'), but has an additional layer of meaning.
Tolkien deliberately chose the name 'Westernesse' to have these connotations, in particular a resonance with 'Lyonesse'. However he acknowledged he did not invent the name, but adopted it from the Middle English romance King Horn, where the name refers to an unknown western land reached by sea.
The nature of the land itself is most fully related in A Description of the Island of Númenor, a text published in Unfinished Tales. Within the fiction, this text is said to have been derived from the archives of Gondor.
The large island of Númenor was situated in the midst of the Great Sea, closer to the Blessed Realm in the West than to the continent of Middle-earth in the east. In shape it resembled a five-pointed star, with five large peninsulas extending from the central region. The latter is stated to have been around 250 miles (400 km) across, and the promontories were nearly of the same length each. The island itself was "tilted southward and a little eastward".
Númenor was divided into six main regions: five corresponding to the promontories plus the central area.
- Mittalmar or "the Inlands"
- The central part of Númenor, land-locked except for a small coast around the haven of Rómenna in the east. The Mittalmar is described as "raised above the promontories"; higher still, at its centre, stood the great mountain of Meneltarma. Much of the region consisted of grasslands, pastures and low downs with few trees. Númenor's main rivers, Siril and Nunduinë, arose in Mittalmar, on or near Meneltarma.
- Andustar or "the Westlands"
- A generally fertile and wood-covered region, which became rocky to the north. The western coastline of the peninsula was formed by high cliffs, which were cut by three bays, including the Bay of Andúnië; several harbours were built in these bays, upon thin shelving land at the feet of steep hills. The northern highlands were covered by fir-woods, while in the south the forests consisted mainly of birches and beeches upon the upper ground and of oaks and elms in vales. The Andustar was separated from the Hyarnustar in the south by the wide Bay of Eldanna and a small borderland called the Nísimaldar.
- Hyarnustar or "the Southwestlands"
- This promontory-region was noted for the great vineyards and fertile farmlands in its eastern half, which in the southwest gave way to highlands with great cliffs along the coast. In the far east were "wide white beaches and grey shingles", with numerous villages such as Nindamos, and the marshes formed by the river Siril.
- Hyarrostar or "the Southeastlands"
- The most low-lying peninsula of Númenor, with long gentle shores, especially in the west. The region was noted for the variety of trees that grew there, and in this land were situated the greatest plantations to supply timber for shipbuilding.
- Orrostar or "the Eastlands"
- A cool but fertile region of the island, rising to highlands in the north and flat to the south. In the south-western parts of the Orrostar were vast plantations of grain.
- Forostar or "the Northlands"
- The northern peninsula of Númenor, described as rocky and the least fertile region. Most of the landscape was formed by "high heather-covered moors", which in the north rose to rocky hills. The only trees in the Forostar were firs and larches that grew upon the westward slopes of the moors; the stone quarried in the region was the most esteemed for building. It is also stated that in this land "the airs were clearest", and that for this reason King Tar-Meneldur built in the northern parts of Forostar a tall tower to watch the stars.
Several smaller provinces were loosely defined within the main regions.
This is a list of all individual geographical objects of Númenor named in Tolkien's writings.
Bays, lakes and rivers
It is stated that there were several rivers on the island of Númenor, but all except Siril and Nunduinë (which are featured in the list below) were "short and swift torrents hurrying to the sea".
- Bay of Eldanna
- The westernmost and greatest bay of Númenor, between the arms of the Andustar and Hyarnustar peninsulas. The land about its shores, including the Nísimaldar, was the most fertile in the island due to the warm climate and high rainfall. The name Eldanna literally means 'Elf-wards', referring to the bay's facing towards the distant Tol Eressëa.
- The haven of Eldalondë was located at the innermost part of the bay, by the mouth of the river Nunduinë.
- A little lake formed by the river Nunduinë shortly before issuing into the sea. The name, apparently meaning 'fragrant water', is said to derive "from the abundance of sweet-smelling shrubs and flowers that grew upon its banks".
- The main river on the west of the island. It arose near Meneltarma, and most of its course lay in the Mittalmar region. Before it left that region it flowed into the lake Nísinen; from there its last several miles ran through the small region of Nísimaldar and issued into the Sea at Eldalondë.
- The chief river of Númenor. It began in the valley of Noirinan beneath Meneltarma and flowed south, issuing into the sea near the settlement of Nindamos. Within the Mittalmar region, Siril was a swift stream, but in its lower course it widened and slowed down, forming at last a wide marshy delta. The paths of its mouths often wandered, flowing through wide sands and dispersing into numerous meres.
- The lowest 70 or so miles of the river formed the boundary between the regions of Hyarnustar on the west and Hyarrostar on the east.
- At the centre of the island of Númenor stood a massive mountain, known as Meneltarma or the "Pillar of the Heavens" in Quenya and as Minûl-Tarîk in Adûnaic. It was the highest location of Númenor, and it was said that the "farsighted" could see Tol Eressëa from its summit. After the Downfall it was believed by the remnants of the Dúnedain that the top of Meneltarma rose once more above the sea level as the Isle of Meneltarma, "a lonely island lost in the great waters."
- The mountain is described as rising gently from the plain at first, with five long low grass-covered ridges, called Tarmasundar or the "Roots of the Pillar", extending in the direction of the five peninsulas. Towards the summit the slopes became more vertical and could not have been ascended easily; a spiral road up the mountain was made, beginning at the south-western Tarmasunda and reaching the top in the north.
- The summit of Meneltarma was "flattened and depressed, and could contain a great multitude". It was considered the most sacred place of Númenor as a shrine to Eru Ilúvatar; nothing was built there, and "no tool or weapon had ever been borne". Only the Kings were allowed to speak on the summit, when they said the Three Prayers to Ilúvatar; otherwise people were free to ascend the mountain, but none broke the silence in awe. The only animals to dwell there were the Eagles, believed by the Númenóreans to have been sent by Manwë to watch upon the hallow and the land.
- Noirinan, the royal Valley of Tombs, was located at the southern feet of Meneltarma. Armenelos, Númenor's capital, was situated about 20 miles away, on or near the south-east Tarmasunda; Meneltarma dominated the city's north-west skyline.
- A high hill in the west of the Andustar peninsula, not far away from Andúnië. Upon it a tall tower was built by King Tar-Minastir, to gaze westward as his longing for the Blessed Realm grew stronger.
- Its name is Quenya for 'high end', signifying it stands prominently at the end of a range; it is also near the end of the peninsula. The element 'oro' is the base of the Elvish word for 'mountain'.
Other natural features
- A shallow dale, also called by the translation of its name: "the Valley of Tombs". It was located between the south-western and south-eastern ridges at the feet of the great mountain of Meneltarma. At its head were situated the tombs of the Kings and Queens, in chambers cut in the rock of the mountain.
- North Cape
- The North Cape was the northernmost headland of the Forostar peninsular, and the northernmost point of the island of Númenor. Here the great mountain Sorontil "rose sheer from the sea in tremendous cliffs."
- Tol Uinen
- A little island situated in the Bay of Rómenna, the long firth between the promontories of Orrostar and Hyarrostar. Tol Uinen was believed by the Númenóreans to have been set there by the Maia Uinen.
Several towns, ports and cities of Númenor are described in Tolkien's writings. He stated that the most populous towns were situated by the shores, often connected by dirt roads. A paved highway ran across the island of Númenor from east to west, connecting Rómenna, Armenelos, the Valley of Tombs, Ondosto and Andúnië.
- The capital and (in later years) the largest city of Númenor, also called Armenelos the Golden (Armenelos being Quenya for 'royal heaven(wards) citadel'), Arminalêth (the name in Adûnaic), and the City of Kings. It was situated inland, near the centre of the Arandor region, and about 20 miles from the great mountain Meneltarma, which dominated the city's north-west skyline. The closest coast to Armenelos was some 50 miles to the east, where the harbour-city of Rómenna was located.
- Armenelos contained the royal palace, the King's House, reportedly built with the help of the Maiar. A tall tower was constructed there by Elros (the first King of Númenor), and the White Tree Nimloth was planted in the days of Tar-Aldarion (the sixth king).
- During the reign of Ar-Pharazôn (the 25th monarch) a giant temple to Morgoth was built in Armenelos; its circular temple, which dwarfed the ancient tower of Elros, is described in The Silmarillion as being over five hundred feet in diameter and as much in height to its cornice line, above which a silver dome rose. The dome had an oculus, from which the smoke of numerous burned sacrifices rose, tarnishing the silver soon after its completion.
- A haven located on the eponymous Bay in the western headlands of the Andustar peninsula-region. Initially the most important city of Númenor, as there the ships of the Eldar of Tol Eressëa would most often land. Its name means 'sunset' in Quenya. Valandil, eldest grandchild of the fourth King of Númenor, was first granted the title of the Lord of Andúnië, and though his successors were the leaders of the Faithful, they still played an important role in Númenórean policies.
- However, as the Shadow was falling over Númenor, Armenelos became larger and more important than Andúnië. Towards the end of the realm, the remaining Faithful were labelled as dissidents by the King's Men, with many having been deported to Rómenna and other eastern regions, including the heirs of the former Lords.
- A great haven situated at the head of the long firth on the eastern shores of Númenor. Being nearer to the centre of the realm than other ports, it gradually increased in size as the importance of shipbuilding and seafaring grew, especially since the reign of Tar-Aldarion. The name means 'eastwards' in Quenya, referring to the fact that most ships heading to Middle-earth sailed from this haven.
- A seaport on the western coast of Númenor, where the river Nunduinë emptied into the Bay of Eldanna. Its name is also recorded as "Eldalondë the Green" and can be translated as 'Elf-haven'. It was the primary haven by which the Elves would arrive from Tol Eressëa, before the relationship with them was cooled. Eldalondë was located in the Nísimaldar region, and is described as "the most beautiful of all the havens of Númenor", said to have been compared by the Elves to a town in Eressëa.
- The fiefdom of Hallacar, a descendant of the second King of Númenor. It was situated in the south of the Mittalmar region. In the index to Unfinished Tales, Christopher Tolkien glossed it as "lands"; however, the tale of Aldarion and Erendis creates an impression that it was rather a detached settlement in the district of Emerië.
Flora and fauna
The plant and animal life in Númenor is stated to have been abundant and diverse, with many species being unique to different regions. In addition, the island contained many life forms that could not have been found in Middle-earth, many of them having been brought by the Valar or Elves from Aman. The most famous of these was the White Tree, Nimloth, that grew in the King's Court at Armenelos. Many other unique trees throve in the southern regions, among which Tolkien recorded were oiolairë, lairelossë, nessamelda, vardarianna, taniquelassë, yavannamírë, laurinquë, lissuin and the renowned mallorn-trees (see List of Middle-earth plants). Mallorn trees were subsequently introduced by Númenóreans to Middle-earth, along with pipe-weed and the healing herb athelas.
The most numerous kind of animals in Númenor (in comparison to other lands) were the sea-birds. Lifeforms were abundant in the surrounding seas, and indeed fish was the chief source of food for the human inhabitants of the island. Of unique animal species only the kirinki are recorded. Great Eagles, present in many parts of Tolkien's legendarium, also resided in Númenor.
Names of the Númenórean people
The human inhabitants of Númenor are usually called the Númenóreans or Men of the West. The latter name translates into Sindarin as Dúnedain, but this term was more usually applied to certain Númenórean descendants in Middle-earth in the Third Age.
Ancestry, appearance, characteristics, languages and demographics
The Númenóreans were descended from the Edain, a renown population of Men who dwelt in Beleriand, a region of north-west Middle-earth in the First Age. The Edain consisted of three clans: the people of Hador, the people of Bëor, and the Folk of Haleth.
The majority of the Númenóreans descended from the people of Hador, were fair-haired and blue-eyed. The settlers of the western regions, especially Andustar, came mostly from the people of Bëor, resulting in their darker hair and grey eyes. It is also recorded that a few remnants of the Folk of Haleth had journeyed to Númenor and that they were accompanied by a few families of the Drúedain. The Drúedain, who were Men of a different ethnicity, at first increased in number, but they departed back to Middle-earth over time.
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).
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 consistently at c. 400 years, although this was later diminished due to their rebellion. This longer lifespan resulted in an older age of adulthood: 25 years.
As a result of this composition, the common language of the Númenóreans—Adûnaic—was mainly derived from the speech of the Hadorians. According to some of Tolkien's writings, the descendants of the people of Bëor spoke an accented form of Adûnaic, while in others it is stated that they had dropped their own tongue before coming to the island and used the Grey-elven Sindarin as daily speech in Númenor. All texts, however, agree that Sindarin was known to the majority of the Númenóreans, and was widely used in noble families; the latter also knew the High-elven Quenya, employing it in "official documents", works of lore and nomenclature. The situation changed when the friendship with the Elves was broken. The usage of both Sindarin and Quenya gradually lessened, until at last King Ar-Adûnakhôr forbade to teach them, and the knowledge of the Elven-tongues was only preserved by the Faithful.
Tolkien even described the demographics of the Númenóreans as being typical of an advanced society; "their numbers increased slowly on the land, for they married late, and their children were few."
Skills and crafts
The ancestors of the Númenóreans had already become the most advanced mortal culture. After their settlement in the isle, the knowledge and skills of the Númenóreans were further developed through the teachings of the Valar and of the Elves of Tol Eressëa.
The Númenóreans were extremely skilled in many arts, but in later centuries their chief industries were shipbuilding and seafaring. They became great mariners, exploring the world in all directions save for the west, where the Ban of the Valar was in force. They often travelled to the shores of Middle-earth, teaching the men there the arts and crafts, and they introduced farming to improve their everyday lives. The best mariners joined the Uinendili, who honoured Uinen, goddess of the Sea.
The veneration of the sea was combined with the Númenóreans' astronomical and chronological skills. Among their enhancements of the calendar, they standardized the day to begin when the sun rose out of the eastern sea, and they added a seventh day to the week, which they named Eärenya (Quenya; Sindarin Oraearon), meaning 'Sea-day'.
Another skill-set highly developed by the Númenóreans was architecture and engineering: they constructed great cities, towers, walls, harbours and highways. Their descendants in early Gondor continued these crafts.
Before the coming of the Shadow, the Númenóreans maintained several traditions connected with the worship of Ilúvatar and respect to the Valar. Among them are recorded the setting a bough of oiolairë upon the prow of a departing ship, the ceremonies concerned with the passing of the Sceptre, and laying down one's life.
- Erukyermë, held at the beginning of spring, the prayer for a good year;
- Erulaitalë in the middle of summer, the prayer for a good harvest;
- Eruhantalë in the autumn, the thanksgiving for a good harvest.
In the history of Númenor, a number of power bases and political factions emerged.
- see also List of rulers of Númenor
The kingdom of Númenor was an absolute monarchy, although there was an advisory Council. In addition to presiding over military and civil administration, the monarchs also led Númenor's main religious rituals, such as the Three Prayers.
The Court of the Kings was located in the capital city, Armenelos. Here also was the royal residence, the King's House. The kings and queens of Númenor were buried about 20 miles out of the city, in the Valley of the Tombs at the foot of the great mountain Meneltarma.
The heir apparent was titled the King's Heir. Initially this was the king's eldest son, but the sixth king, Tar-Aldarion, changed the succession law so that the eldest child would succeed, irrespective of gender; his daughter thus became the first Ruling Queen.
During most of Númenor's history, its monarchs bore the title 'Tar-' before their names (for example, Tar-Telperien), literally meaning 'high'. However the twentieth monarch renounced the Quenya language in favour of Adûnaic, in which the equivalent prefix is 'Ar-'; he thus held the Sceptre as Ar-Adûnakhôr. This policy was followed by most of his successors.
Council of the Sceptre
The Council of the Sceptre was an institution in Númenor comparable to a privy council. It could be influential, but it had no vested powers, and could at best only advise the monarch, who had the final say. The Council included the King's Heir, and members from Númenor's regions, including the Lords of Andúnië.
Lords of Andúnië
The rulers of a noble house of Númenor, the Lords of Andúnië were named for their ancestral home and fief of Andúnië. They were members of the Council of the Sceptre, and later became leaders of the Faithful.
The Lord of Andúnië were descended from Silmariën, daughter and oldest child of Tar-Elendil the fourth King of Númenor. The laws of Númenor at that time would not allow females to succeed to the monarchy, and she wedded Elatan of Andúnië and took up residence there. Their son Valandil would be named the first Lord of Andúnië.
Throughout the Second Age, the Lords of Andúnië became leaders of the Elendili, or Elf-friends, who remained faithful to the Valar. Their continued importance is reflected by the Lords' ownership of some of Númenor's most precious heirlooms: the sword Narsil, the Ring of Barahir, and the palantíri. This was despite opposition and eventually persecution from the King's Men. The names of most of the Lords of Andúnië are not known, though Eärendur is mentioned at one point.
At the end of the Second Age, Númenor's estrangement from the Elves and the Valar under the evil guidance of Sauron corrupted Númenórean society. Seeking pardon of the Valar for the wickedness of the Númenóreans, Amandil the Faithful (son of Númendil), the last Lord of Andúnië, sailed into the west but was never heard of again. His son and heir, Elendil, did not join Ar-Pharazôn's grand armada to attack Valinor, and instead fled with his own sons Isildur and Anárion and many of the Faithful (Elendili) in nine ships to Middle-earth. With them they took the heirlooms of the Lords of Andúnië.
In Middle-earth in the Third Age and the Fourth Age, the Kings of Arnor and the Kings of Gondor, including Aragorn, were directly descended from Isildur and Anárion, and therefore from the Lords of Andúnië. The kings of Arnor inherited the silver rod of the Lord of Andúnië; this rod was renamed the Sceptre of Annúminas, and was the chief symbol of Arnor's kingship.
According to ancient traditions, the Princes of Dol Amroth were descended from a family of The Faithful from Númenor who had ruled over the land of Belfalas since the Second Age. This family of Númenóreans were akin to the Lords of Andúnië, and thus related to Elendil and descended from the House of Elros.
The Uinendili, also called the Guild of Venturers, were a prestigious and influential association of skilled mariners. The Guild was founded in S.A. 750 by Aldarion in honour of Uinen, the goddess of the Sea. He located the guildhouse of the Uinendili aboard his ship Eambar. Tolkien's drawing of the karma (helmet) worn by captains of the Uinendili features on the front cover of Unfinished Tales; the book includes tales of the Uinendili, and Aldarion in particular. In S.A. 850 the celebrations for the centenary of the Uinendili were hosted in Andúnië by Aldarion's cousin Valandil, the first Lord of Andúnië.
Also called the Elf-friends, the Elendili were a faction of Númenóreans who advocated continued friendship with the Elves and the use of Elvish languages. They were also called the Faithful for their continued devotion and obedience to the Valar. The Lords of Andúnië, who later founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth, were generally the leaders of the Elendili.
By the third millennium of the Second Age, Númenóreans had become split between the Elendili and the King's Men — a faction that strove to assert Númenórean supremacy over other peoples, and to overcome the mortality placed on Men. With Númenor reaching the apex of its might, the King's Men eventually espoused open defiance of the Valar. This would eventually precipitate the Fall of Númenor. The Elendili, however, not only preserved their ancient friendship with the Elves, they also regarded the burgeoning arrogance of the King's Men as blasphemy.
But the King's Men became more powerful and Númenor with them. Towards the end of the Second Age the King's Men had begun to persecute the Elendili as rebels and 'spies of the Valar.' Fearing their influence early on, the King's Men secured the Faithful's deportation from their strongholds in the western regions, notably around the western port city of Andúnië, and relocated to them to the eastern port city of Rómenna. There many departed to the Hither Lands (Middle-earth) and founded settlements that would later become part of the faithful Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. Many others would remain until the downfall of Númenor.
The Elendili enjoyed a brief respite when Elf-friend Tar-Palantir assumed kingship and began to turn Númenor back to the ways of the Faithful. But after Tar-Palantir died, his nephew Ar-Pharazôn usurped the throne and the Elendili were more vigorously oppressed, this time with the help of the Dark Lord Sauron, who had established an evil cult on the island to corrupt and eventually destroy Númenórean society. The Eldar tongue was forbidden. When Sauron corrupted Ar-Pharazôn, the last King of Númenor, some Elendili were murdered and burned as sacrifices to Melkor. Burned too was Nimloth the Fair, the White Tree of the King that was the ancestor to the White Tree of Gondor, and the tree for which it was foretold to be bound to the fate of the Kings. Isildur, son of Elendil and one of the Elendili obtained perilously a seedling from Nimloth the Fair and thus bound the fate of the Tree to the fate of the Heirs of Elendil.
As Ar-Pharazôn led his grand armada to Aman to challenge the Ban of the Valar, Elendil was warned by his father Amandil, Lord of Andúnië, not to interfere in the upcoming war, but to prepare for a swift departure from the island. Amandil then sailed to Aman to beg the Valar for forgiveness, but was never heard from again. Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anárion, heeded Amandil's advice and prepared nine ships laden with goods and their Elendili followers. They were thus spared the downfall of Númenor when, as punishment for an attempt to defy the Ban of the Valar, Ilúvatar sank the island kingdom into the ocean.
The Elendili, under the leadership of Elendil and his sons, were carried to Middle-earth by great winds and great waves, sparing them from the cataclysm. This implied that the Valar sympathized with Amandil's pleas, or that Ilúvatar himself saved them, knowing that the Elendili had always remained faithful. The Elendili refugees established the Dúnedain kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in the northwest of Middle-earth.
The King's Men, also called the King's Party, were a faction that came to dominate Númenor in the latter part of its history. Their policy was essentially anti-Valar and anti-Elves, so despite the title King's Men they did not support any king who revered the god-like Valar or things Elvish. The opponents of the King's Men were the Faithful.
In time the King's Men openly rebelled against the Valar because of their desire for immortality. As the power and knowledge of the Númenóreans had grown throughout the course of the Second Age, all had become increasingly preoccupied with the limits placed on their contentment—and eventually their power—by mortality, the purpose of which they began to question. This growing wish to escape death, known as 'the doom of Men', also made most of the Númenóreans envious of the immortal elves, or Eldar, who they had come to physically resemble as part of their reward from Ilúvatar for having been their allies. The Eldar sought ever to remind the men of Númenor however, that death was a Gift from Ilúvatar to all Men, and to lose faith in Ilúvatar would be heretical. Nevertheless, after S.A. 2221, when Tar-Ancalimon became King of Númenor;
- ...the people of Númenor became divided. On the one hand was the greater party, and they were called the King's Men, and they grew proud and were estranged from the Valar and the Eldar. ('Akallabêth' ~ The Silmarillion)
- ...back to the worship of the Dark, and of Melkor the Lord thereof, at first in secret, but ere long openly and in the face of his people. ('Akallabêth' ~ The Silmarillion)
Within Númenor, the majority immediately followed suit, and this worship quickly passed across the ocean to most of Númenor's colonies in Middle-earth;
- ...for in the days of the sojourn of Sauron in that land the hearts of well nigh all its people had been turned towards darkness. Therefore many of those who sailed east in that time and made fortresses and dwellings upon the coasts were already bent to his will... ('Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age' ~ The Silmarillion)
Their corruption led the King's Men to disaster as they followed Ar-Pharazôn in his suicidal invasion of Aman, in consequence of which Númenor, the mightiest realm of men that had ever been, was destroyed and swallowed up into the ocean. Some Númenóreans survived this cataclysm because they were residing in Middle-earth; but many of these survivors failed to learn from the disaster, continuing to serve Sauron as the Black Númenóreans.
Númenórean descendants in The Lord of the Rings
Descendants of the various Númenórean factions appear in some chapters of The Lord of the Rings. In Chapter 5 of Book Four, Sam says to Faramir soon after their first meeting: "You have an air, sir, that reminds me of, of—well, wizards, of Gandalf". To which Faramir responds: "Maybe you discern from afar the air of Númenor". Throughout this chapter, Faramir tells Frodo and Sam much of the history of Númenor and of its descendants, his ancestors. The Stewards of which Faramir was the heir did have some Númenorean ancestry, but their lifespans tended to average about 100-120 years, noticeably shorter than pure Númenóreans such as Aragorn but longer than regular Men, and more or less the same as that of Hobbits.
Later in the book, in "The Black Gate Opens", there appears a representative of the opposite faction, the Black Númenóreans.
- The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr was he; he had entered the service of the Black Tower when it arose again, and because of his cunning he grew ever higher in the Lord's favour; and he learned great sorcery, and knew much of the mind of Sauron; and he was more cruel than any orc. ( ~ The Return of the King)
In Appendix A at the end of The Return of the King, Tolkien recounts the death of Aragorn, when he tells Arwen "I am the last of the Númenóreans, and to me has been given not only a span thrice that of Men of Middle-earth, but also the grace to go at my will and give back the gift". But the grieving Arwen, unreconciled to the impending death of her beloved—however long his life had been by normal human standards—responds: "But I say to you, King of the Númenóreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last".
The many names of Númenor
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At the end of Númenor's tragic story, the painstaking philologist Tolkien provides the list of names by which the lost land was known during its existence and after its loss:
(...) Even the name of that land perished, and Men spoke thereafter not of Elenna, nor of Andor the Gift that was taken away, nor of Númenórë on the confines of the world; but the exiles on the shores of the sea, if they turned towards the West in the desire of their hearts, spoke of Mar-nu-Falmar that was whelmed in the waves, Akallabêth the Downfallen, Atalantë in the Eldarin tongue.
According to Tolkien,
The similarity between the words Atalantë and Atlantis is noteworthy, writes J.E.A. Tyler, particularly because both are names of vanished civilizations. For if we can assume Atlantis and Númenor are the same, then the time of the fictional Númenor can be dated in real world terms. The myth of Atlantis comes from the writings of Plato, who himself learned it from an earlier scholar named Solon, who himself heard the tale in Egypt, during the sixth century B.C. The story was dated by the Egyptian to be 9,000 years before the telling, so the story of Númenor can be placed about the time of the ending of the last Ice Age, nowadays thought to have been a time of great inundations on a massive scale.
- C. S. Lewis's 1945 novel That Hideous Strength makes reference to "Numinor and the True West", which Lewis credits as a then-unpublished creation of J. R. R. Tolkien. According to the novel, Merlin of the Arthurian Legend was the last in a long line of wizards familiar with the magic of Middle-earth, brought to the shores of prehistoric Britain by refugees from the sunken continent. Merlin's body was preserved for 1,500 years until the N.I.C.E. established an excavation in Bragdon Wood of Edgestow, England searching for the body in the mid-twentieth century. This is one of many examples of cross-overs between the novels of Lewis and Tolkien, both of whom were members of The Inklings, a literary discussion group at Oxford University and often shared with each other their literary work in progress.
- Pauwels and Bergier talk about Numinor and its relevance in both Celtic myths and the history of European and Indo-European culture in their 1972 book: De eeuwige mens which is Dutch for The everlasting/eternal human. There is also a reference to the works of both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and a mentioning of Atlantis.
- In the Marvel 1602 limited series comic book 1602: Fantastick Four (2006), Númenor is the name of the 1602 world analogue of Namor; Namor the Sub-Mariner is the ruler of Atlantis in the mainstream Marvel Universe.
- List of rulers of Númenor
- List of Númenóreans
- List of Númenórean ships
- Timeline of Arda: Second Age
- Grotta, Daniel; Greg Hildebrandt; Tim Hildebrandt (March 2001). J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth. Running Press. ISBN 978-0-7624-0956-3.
- Letters, ##154, 156, 227.
- Lost Road, "The early history of the legend", pp. 7–10.
- Unfinished Tales: Part Two, II Aldarion and Erendis, "The Further Course of the Narrative"
- Peoples, p.145.
- Day, David. Tolkien The Illustrated Encyclopedia. p. 108.
- Unfinished Tales: "The Line of Elros".
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. 1 p. 171; ISBN 0-04-823179-7
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth' p. 263; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Two Towers, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 3 ch. IV p. 76; ISBN 0 04 823046 4
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. 2 p. 174; ISBN 0-04-823179-7
- Most of Tolkien's writings on the event refer to "Tar-Minastir", indicating he was the king at the time. However one of Tolkien's writings, 'The Line of Elros', states that Minastir did not receive the Sceptre until S.A. 1731. The discrepancy is noted in Christopher Tolkien (1980, editor), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. 3 p. 226 note 9; ISBN 0-04-823179-7
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1992), Sauron Defeated, Harper Collins, e.g. part 2 'The Notion Club Papers' p. 250 & p. 284 note 17; p. 437 notes the name is Adûnaic for 'wizard'; ISBN 0-261-10240-0
- The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth"
- Robert Foster (1978), The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, Unwin Paperbacks, 'Change of the World'; ISBN 0-04-803001-5
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, appendix A (i) p. 317; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 2 ch. 2 p. 257; ISBN 0 04 823045 6
- Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems NDOR-, NDŪ-, NŌ-.
- Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems ANA1-, NDOR-, NŌ-.
- The Silmarillion: "Akallabêth". (For the Isle of Meneltarma, cf. Poseidonis.)
- Unfinished Tales: "Cirion and Eorl" (iii) and note 43.
- Unfinished Tales: "Aldarion and Erendis".
- Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain", note 7.
- Letters, #257.
- Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems MBAR-, NDŪ-, PHAL-.
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1967), 'Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings', published in Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (2005), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, Harper Collins, p. 778; ISBN 0 00 720308 X
- Letters, #276.
- Unfinished Tales: "A Description of Númenor".
- Karen Wynn Fonstad (1994), The Atlas of Middle-earth, revised paperback edition, Harper Collins, Appendix, p. 191; ISBN 0 261 10277 X
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, Appendix A §I(i) p. 315; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
- Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems THORON-, TIL-.
- Peoples, "The History of the Akallabêth", pp. 140–165.
- The Silmarillion: Appendix, entries elda and lond.
- Unfinished Tales: Introduction (Part Two, I).
- Unfinished Tales: Index, entry Ondosto.
- The Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems GOND-, OS-.
- Unfinished Tales: Index, entry Hyarastorni.
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth' p. 263; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 2 ch. 2 p. 255; ISBN 0 04 823045 6
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Appendix: Númenórean Linear Measures"
- 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
- The Silmarillion, Ch. 18 "Of the Coming of Men into the West", p. 148.
- Peoples, "The Problem of Ros", p. 368 and note 5.
- Peoples, "Of Dwarves and Men" note 71, pp. 329–30.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Later Quenta Silmarillion" Ch. 14, p. 217, ISBN 0-395-71041-3
- Unfinished Tales: "Aldarion and Erendis", note 19.
- Christopher Tolkien (1977, editor), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, Appendix p. 364; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. 2 pp. 216-217, note 23; ISBN 0-04-823179-7
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, Appendix A §I(iii) p. 323 footnote 1; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
- Unfinished Tales, Introduction, Part Three, II: "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, pp. 171 & 176; ISBN 0-04-823179-7
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth', p. 281; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
- The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, No. 257, footnote
- Tyler, J.E.A. (1976). The Complete Tolkien Companion. Thomas Dunne Books. pp. 45–46. ISBN 978-1-250-02355-1.
- General references
- The Silmarillion: Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-25730-1
- Unfinished Tales: Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-29917-9
- Lost Road: Tolkien, J. R. R. (1987), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-45519-7
- Peoples: Tolkien, J. R. R. (1996), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-82760-4
- Letters: Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
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