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  • Updated 14 February 2010
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Belecthor II

The twenty-first Ruling Steward of Gondor

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Beregond
Belecthor II
Thorondir

Stewards of Gondor

The son of Steward Beregond, who succeeded his father to rule Gondor during the twenty-ninth century of the Third Age. He is noted as the last of the line of Stewards to live past his one hundredth year. Nonetheless, he is most remembered in history because of his death, which also saw the death of the White Tree in the courts of Minas Tirith.3 Belecthor was succeeded by his son Thorondir, who left the Dead Tree standing in place.


Notes

1

The date of Belecthor's birth appears only in The History of Middle-earth volume XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth. It cannot therefore be considered completely reliable.

There is also some confusion over the date of his death, which is wrongly shown as III 2852 in many earlier editions of The Tale of Years (presumably due to confusion with his birth date of III 2752). This dating has been corrected in later editions of The Lord of the Rings.

2

Belec- is presumably derived from beleg, 'great', but the -thor element is less certain. It typically relates to things which come rushing downwards (as in the river name Brilthor, 'glittering torrent'), and appears to be connected with the swooping of Eagles, so Belecthor might mean something like 'great one who descends like an Eagle'. This connection is perhaps reinforced by Belecthor's choice of the name Thorondir (meaning 'Eagle-man') for his son and successor.

3

It is unclear precisely what connection there was between Belecthor's death and that of the White Tree. It would be natural to take this as mere coincidence, but the text of The Lord of the Rings seems to imply some kind of causal connection: 'When Belecthor II, the twenty-first Steward, died, the White Tree died also...' (The Lord of the Rings Appendix A I (iv), The Stewards).

The idea of a tree failing as a great leader dies is not an uncommon one (for instance, according to Roman legend the deaths of the earlier Emperors were marked by the wilting of certain laurel trees). There is, however, no record that Belecthor II was a particularly outstanding leader in any field, so the implication of the loss of the White Tree is something of a mystery. It may be that Belecthor was in fact a great military hero, or a benefactor of his people, or even a specially selfish or villainous Steward (the Roman legend was tied most strongly to Nero's death, so this last possibility is at least plausible). History has forgotten the story of Belecthor's rule, however, and the full reason for the White Tree's death - if there was any reason at all - can never now be known.

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