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Gil-galad was the last of the High Kings of the Ñoldor in Middle-earth. An Elf of the house of Finarfin, he was named High King of the Ñoldor in Beleriand after the fall of the city of Gondolin and the death of the last High King, Turgon. Gil-galad's father was Orodreth, son of Aegnor son of Finarfin, and his mother was a Sindarin Elf. His sister was Finduilas.¹
His father-name in Quenya was Artanáro, Sindarinized to Rodnor, but he was best known by his mother name Gil-galad ("Star of Radiance") and his epessë (honourary title) Ereinion, meaning "Scion of Kings".
During the assault on Nargothrond, Gil-galad, still a youth in the eyes of the Elves, stayed behind when the company of Nargothrond set out to fight Glaurung. He managed to escape the sack of the city although his sister was captured, and fled to the refuge at the Mouths of Sirion or possibly on the Isle of Balar. After the death of Turgon, the High Kingship of the Ñoldor passed to him as the last surviving male member of the House of Finarfin. (His great-aunt Galadriel was still alive, but women could not inherit the title.)
After the War of Wrath and the end of the First Age, Gil-galad founded a realm in the coastal region of Lindon along the shores of Belegaer, the Great Sea. During most of the Second Age, Gil-galad enjoyed the friendship of the Númenóreans. A great Númenórean force helped him to repulse an onslaught by Sauron after the forging of the One Ring.
After the Downfall of Númenor and the establishment by the Elendili of the Dúnedain kingdoms in exile, Gil-galad formed the Last Alliance with Elendil, High King of the Dúnedain, against the evil Sauron. The armies of Elves and Men, victorious after the Battle of Dagorlad, laid siege to Sauron in Mordor. During the siege, however, both Gil-galad and Elendil were slain.
The story of Gil-galad lived on through the Third Age, particularly as told in The Lord of the Rings. He is also mentioned in song in The Hobbit, making him one of the few characters to be referenced in all of Tolkien's published Middle-earth books.²
His spear was named Aiglos or Aeglos, meaning "snow-point" or "snow-thorn" (aeg: sharp, pointed; los: snow).
Other versions of the legendarium
¹ The Silmarillion, which was published after Tolkien's death, stated that Gil-galad was the son of Fingon, but Christopher Tolkien later said in The Peoples of Middle-earth that this was a mistake, and Gil-galad's father was actually Orodreth. Gil-galad's name in the chapter "Aldarion and Erendis" in the Unfinished Tales was also changed by Christopher Tolkien in order to keep consistency with the published Silmarillion.
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