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  • Updated 3 October 2015
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Chronology of the Westlands

The Tale of Years

The long and detailed chronicle describing the events of at least1 the Second and Third Ages of the history of Middle-earth, as well as some of the early events of the Fourth. The annals of the Chronology are generally associated with the Westlands (that is, the northwestern parts of Middle-earth) though the history of Númenor is also described. The Chronology's origin is not established with certainty, but it appears to have been compiled in Great Smials under the direction of Peregrin Took, with assistance from Meriadoc Brandybuck and drawing on the knowledge held at Rivendell.

The Chronology starts with a relatively brief summary of the history of the Second Age from the foundation of Lindon in II 1 to the end of the War of the Last Alliance in II 3441. The chronicle for the Third Age is considerably more detailed, especially for the centuries leading up the War of the Ring at the end of that Age. For significant parts of the years III 3018 to III 3021, the closing years of the Age, the document moves from a chronicle of years to a day-by-day account.

The Chronology ends by listing events of the early Fourth Age, but at least some of this material appears to have been appended to the original Chronology. Notably, the Fourth Age section switches to a different dating system, preferring the Shire-reckoning over the common notation used elsewhere. It also includes an annal for the departure of Peregrin and Meriadoc from the Shire, showing that it must have been added by some other hand. The Chronology ends with the death of Aragorn Elessar in IV 120 (or S.R. 1541).



The version of the Chronology that appears in Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings is said in that book's Prologue to be 'much reduced in form', though we're given no details about the events omitted. It is perhaps relevant that the published Tale of Years goes into almost no detail about the First Age, doing no more than summarise its ending in a single paragraph. The 'reduction' of the chronicle possibly represents (at least in part) the removal of a more detailed chronology of the First Age (which would be less directly relevant to the story of The Lord of the Rings).

A detailed (but incomplete) chronology of the First Age does exist. For events relevant to the Westlands, this is to be found in The Grey Annals in volume 11 of The History of Middle-earth, which recounts events from the ancient past up to the year I 499, about a century before the end of the First Age. The tone and style is quite different from the Chronology of the Westlands in The Lord of the Rings, and it appears to represent a separate work rather a lost segment of the Tale of Years.

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