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  • Updated 25 April 2019
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Captain of Ships

Commander of the navies of the Dúnedain

A title used among the Dúnedain for the commander of the royal navies, a shortened version of the fuller title 'Captain of the King's Ships'. The rank was an ancient one, going back to the early centuries of the island nation of Númenor. The first recorded holder of the title was Vëantur, who famously made the first crossing of the Great Sea from Númenor to Middle-earth, in the year II 600. Even after the Downfall of Númenor, the Dúnedain in Middle-earth maintained the position of Captain of Ships, at least in the South-kingdom of Gondor.1

The last recorded holder of the post proved unreliable, to say the least. This was Castamir, who in III 1432 gathered support from the coastal strongholds of Pelargir and Umbar and raised a rebellion against the rightful King, Eldacar. This led to the period of Gondorian civil war known as the Kin-strife in which Eldacar was deposed and Castamir ruled for a decade.

The fact that Castamir was in a position to launch a coup against the King shows the power of the Captain of Ships in Gondorian government in that period. It is unclear whether the Captaincy continued after Castamir's time; after his overthrow, we have no direct references to any further Captains of Ships. Nonetheless, the King would still have needed a commander for his fleet, and so it seems likely that the rank was filled in some manner even after Castamir's rebellion.


Notes

1

We have numerous references to the ships and ports of Gondor, but nothing equivalent for the North-kingdom of Arnor. It's unclear whether Arnor even possessed a navy, and therefore whether there was any need for a Northern Captain of Ships. Arnor was not entirely landlocked (indeed the old Númenórean harbour of Lond Daer lay on its southern borders), but the coastlands of Cardolan were far from the major cities of the land. If Arnor possessed any kind of fleet, then, it played so little part in history that no record of it or its Captains has survived.

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About this entry:

  • Updated 25 April 2019
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