In the year III 1974 Arthedain, the last Kingdom of the Dúnedain in the North of Middle-earth, was overrun by its enemy Angmar. The capital at Fornost was lost to the invaders, and King Arvedui fled into the snows of the far North. Arvedui's son Aranarth persuaded the Elves to send a ship in search of his father, a ship that succeeded in finding the lost King, but sank in the cold seas with him aboard. Thus the line of the Kings of Arthedain was brought to an end.
Though the line of Kings was ended, Arvedui's heir Aranarth survived. In the following year he saw his father's loss avenged by the forces of Gondor, who drove the people of Angmar out of Fornost and brought an end to that realm of the Witch-king. After their long war against Angmar, however, Aranarth's people were too diminished to attempt the refounding of their kingdom. From this time the Northern Dúnedain became a wandering people, but they maintained the tradition of the royal line among their leaders. Aranarth, eldest son of the last King Arvedui and direct descendant of Isildur, thus took the title of the Chieftain of the Dúnedain, or Chieftain of the North.
Aranarth, having inherited his rule young for one of the long-lived Dúnedain, led his people for a hundred and thirty years after the fall of his father's kingdom. He was succeeded by his own son Arahael, and thus the House of Isildur continued to survive in Eriador. There would be a total of sixteen Chieftains of the North, ruling the Northern Dúnedain through the last millennium of the Third Age. The last of these was Aragorn II, son of Arathorn II, a great leader and adventurer who eventually re-established the High Kingship and reunited the ancient lands of the Dúnedain in Middle-earth.
For a list of the Chieftains to the rule the Northern Dúnedain, see the entry for Chieftain of the Dúnedain.
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