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In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Ñoldor (meaning those with knowledge) are the second clan of the Elves. According to legend, the clan was founded by Tata, the second Elf to awake at Cuiviénen, his spouse Tatanyë and their 54 companions, but it was Finwë, the first Ñoldo to come to Valinor with Oromë, who became their king, and led most of them to Valinor. They speak Quenya.
They are also known as Deep Elves, Tatar, Gnomes, Golodhrim and Golug. The singular form of the noun is Ñoldo and the adjective is Ñoldorin. They are the Second Clan of the Elves in both order and size, the other clans being the Vanyar and the Teleri. They typically had dark hair (except for those who had Vanyarin blood, most prominently the members of the House of Finarfin).
The Ñoldor are accounted the greatest of the Elves in lore and smithcraft. Fëanor (son of Finwë by Míriel) was the greatest of their craftsmen, and their second and briefest-reigning High King. When Melkor killed Finwë and stole the Silmarils, Fëanor renamed Melkor: Morgoth ("Dark Lord"), and persuaded the Ñoldor to pursue him to Middle-earth and wage war against him.
The Ñoldor led by Fëanor went north and demanded that the Teleri let them use their ships. When the Teleri refused, the Ñoldor led by Fëanor destroyed the port of Alqualondë, which had been built by the Teleri, committing the Kinslaying. The Ñoldor led by Fëanor then took possession of the ships. A messenger from the Valar came and delivered the Prophecy of the North, pronouncing doom on the Ñoldor for the Kinslaying and warning that if they continued they would not recover the Silmarils and moreover that there would be great grief in the tragedy that would befall them. At this, some of the Ñoldor who had no hand in the Kinslaying, including Finarfin son of Finwë by Indis, returned to Valinor, and the Valar forgave them. Other Ñoldor led by Fingolfin son of Finwë by Indis (some of whom were blameless in the Kinslaying) remained determined to leave Valinor for Middle-earth. Prominent among these others was Finarfin's daughter, Galadriel.
The Ñoldor led by Fëanor crossed the sea to Middle-earth leaving those led by Fingolfin, his half-brother, behind. Upon his arrival in Middle-earth, Fëanor had the ships burned. When the Ñoldor led by Fingolfin discovered their betrayal, they went farther north and crossed the sea by means of the Grinding Ice. Many of them died while crossing the ice. The departure of the Ñoldor out of the Undying Lands marked the beginning of the First Age, and the years of the Sun.
Because Fëanor had taken the ships and left the Ñoldor led by his half-brother on the west side of the sea, the royal houses of the Ñoldor were feuding, but Fingon son of Fingolfin, whom Fëanor had left behind, saved Maedhros, son of Fëanor, from Morgoth's evil and the feud was settled. Maedhros was due to succeed Fëanor, but he regretted his part of the Kinslaying and left the High Kingship of the Ñoldor to his uncle Fingolfin, who became the third High King of the Ñoldor. His brothers did not agree to this, and began to refer to themselves as the Displaced, because the High Kingship had passed them by.
Fingolfin reigned long in the land of Hithlum, and his younger son Turgon built the hidden kingdom Gondolin. Fingolfin's reign was marked by warfare against Morgoth and in the year 75 of the First Age the Ñoldor started the siege of Angband, the great fortress of Morgoth. But in the year 455 the siege was broken by Morgoth (in the Dagor Bragollach), and Fingolfin rode to Angband and challenged Morgoth to single combat with him. He dealt Morgoth seven wounds but perished, and he was succeeded by his eldest son Fingon, who became the fourth High King of the Ñoldor.
In the year 471, Maedhros organized an all-out attack on Morgoth and this led to the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. The battle was a great disaster for the Ñoldor, and Fingon the Valiant was slain. He was succeeded by his brother Turgon.
Turgon had withdrawn to Gondolin and tried to keep the kingdom hidden from Morgoth. He was so successful that even most of the Ñoldor didn't know where it was located, and he was High King in name alone. In 510, Gondolin was betrayed by Maeglin and sacked. During the attack Turgon was killed; however many of his people escaped and found their way south. Turgon had had no sons, so Gil-galad, last surviving male descendant of a prince of the Ñoldor, became the sixth and last High King of the Ñoldor.
Finally the Valar came down to Middle-earth and in the year 583 the War of Wrath was fought and Morgoth was cast into the Void. But Beleriand sank into the sea, except for a part of Ossiriand (Lindon), and a few isles. The defeat of Morgoth marked the start of the Second Age.
Gil-galad founded a new kingdom at Lindon, and ruled throughout the Second Age, longer than any of the High Kings except for Finwë. He was also accepted as High King by the Ñoldor of Eregion. But at the end of the Second Age his allies in Númenor lost their island and Elendil, Isildur and Anárion came to Middle-earth and they founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.
Sauron by this time had replaced his master Morgoth as the Dark Lord. He had deceived the Númenóreans and managed to return from Númenor to his refuge of Mordor. He hated the Númenóreans and Ñoldor, and attacked Eregion, destroying it, and tried to do the same to Gondor before it could take root. But he didn't count on the growing power of Gil-galad. Both Elendil and Gil-galad set out for Mordor and defeated Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad and finally in the Siege of Barad-dûr. There Gil-galad perished, and so ended the High Kingship of the Ñoldor. No new High King was elected, as no one claimed the throne. For this reason the High Kingship of the Ñoldor was said to have passed overseas, to the Ñoldor of Valinor, ruled by Finarfin, the third son of Finwë who had never left. Because Tuor had been adopted by Turgon as a son, and had married his daughter Idril, Tuor's mortal descendants claimed the title High King: therefore Elros became first High King of Númenor, signifying this with the prefix Tar- (and later in Adûnaic Ar-). After the Downfall of Númenor, Elendil and his heirs of the older, northern line named themselves High Kings of Arnor, later signifying this with the royal prefix Ar(a)- in their names. Tuor's heirs did not however have a valid claim to the High Kingship of the Ñoldor, although his heir Elrond, who chose Elvish immortality, later was reckoned as a leader of the Ñoldor.
- Finwë, first High King
- Fëanor, first son of Finwë (de jure only) After Fëanor's death Maedhros gave up his rights to Fingolfin, ending Fëanor's line.
- Fingolfin, second son of Finwë.
- Fingon, first son of Fingolfin.
- Turgon, second son of Fingolfin. Turgon was Fingolfin's last male descendant.
- Gil-galad, last male descendant of Finwë in Middle-earth.
At Gil-galad's death, the High Kingship in Middle-earth under the Ñoldor came to an end. The Mannish descendants of Elros (the Kings of Arnor) now claimed the title High King, alhough there is no indication that this referred anything other than a High Kingship over the Dúnedain. It is unclear whether Elros and his brother Elrond were considered eligible, but Elrond never claimed Kingship, implying that they were not.
As Finwë was never allowed to take bodily form again within Arda (as per the rules of the Statute of Finwë and Míriel), exactly who — if anyone — succeeded him as High King of the Ñoldor in Aman is in doubt. One possibility is that Finarfin, who had ruled over the Ñoldor of Tirion ever since the majority of the Ñoldor under Fëanor had left, now held the title. It is not known if Fingolfin or one of his sons were ever allowed to leave the Halls of Mandos after their death. However, even if they had been allowed to return to life it is not likely that they regained the title. Another possibility is that in Aman there was no High King other than Ingwë.
The House of Finwë and the Ñoldorin descent of Aragorn and Arwen
(Version deviates from the published Silmarillion — see note at end. High Kings are numbered.)
(1) Míriel = Finwë1 = Indis (2) | | | -------------------------------------------------- | | | | | Nerdanel = Fëanor2 Findis Anairë = Fingolfin3 Irimë Finarfin = Eärwen | | | | --------------------------- --------------------------- | | | | | | | | | Seven Sons of Fëanor Fingon4 Turgon5 = Elenwë | Argon Finrod Angrod Aegnor | : | | | | Celebrimbor | Aredhel = Eöl Orodreth Celeborn = Galadriel | | | | Tuor = Idril Maeglin ------------- | | | | | Eärendil = Elwing Gil-galad6 Finduilas | | | ----------------------------------------- | | | | Elros Elrond = Celebrian : | : ------------------------ : | | Aragorn = Arwen Elladan and Elrohir | ---------------------- | | Eldarion Numerous daughters : Kings of Reunited Kingdom
Other versions of the legendarium
In the early versions of Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium (see: The History of Middle-earth), the Ñoldor were most often called Noldoli (not Ñoldoli) or Gnomes. They were still called Gnomes in early editions of The Hobbit. They were also the ones who spoke the language that later became Sindarin (then called Gnomish).
The spelling Ñoldor rather than Noldor is used in later writings, but even in earlier versions the name Ñoldo came from a Primitive Quendian stem *NGolodō, which led to NGoldo (Ñoldo) in Quenya and 'Golodh' in Sindarin.
The family tree given above is correct in the placement of Orodreth and Gil-galad: Orodreth was Angrod's son, and Gil-galad was Orodreth's son, thus the grandson of Angrod and great-grandson of Finarfin, and brother to Finduilas. These are wrongly placed in the published Silmarillion. (See Orodreth and Gil-galad articles for details). Argon, the third son of Fingolfin, does not appear in the published Silmarillion at all.
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