A people of the Silvan Elves, originally members of the Teleri who broke away from the Great Journey into the West during the Years of the Trees. They dwelt beneath the stars, among the trees of Greenwood the Great, through long ages of the World. In those early times they lived mainly in the southern parts of their vast forest, across the Great River from their fellows in the land that would become known as Lórien.
During the Second Age a group of Sindar arrived in the Greenwood from the far west, and the Elves of the Wood accepted their leader, Oropher, as their King (it's unclear whether these Silvan Elves had any lord or king before the Sindar arrived). At the end of that Age, Oropher led a force to the War of the Last Alliance, and was lost. So his son Thranduil became King in his place.
After many years of the Third Age had passed, a shadow began to fall on the forest home of these Elves, and Greenwood the Great was renamed Mirkwood. The Elves of the Wood were forced gradually northward through the trees, away from the darkness emanating from Dol Guldur. At last they were driven to the extreme northeastern skirts of the Forest. They remained friendly to the opponents of Sauron, but were nonetheless naturally suspicious of strangers, and imprisoned Thorin and his company for a time during the Quest of Erebor.
The Elves of the Wood later played an active part in aiding Gandalf, when their dungeons held Gollum for a time after he had been captured by Aragorn. Gollum escaped, and Thranduil sent his son Legolas to report this unhappy event. Thus Legolas was present at the Council of Elrond, and came to represent his people within the Fellowship of the Ring.
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