The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien

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  • Updated 17 October 2017
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Elvish World

The time before the Dominion of Men

From the time of their awakening beside Cuiviénen, the Elves had been the foremost of the Children of Ilúvatar. They predated the Secondborn Children, Men, by millennia, and in that time they not only spread through Middle-earth but many of them were taken across the Great Sea to reach Aman. For this period of about four thousand years, Arda was truly the Elvish World.

It was not until after the fall of the Two Trees and the return of the Noldor to Middle-earth that Men awoke in the distant East of Middle-earth, as the Moon and the Sun rose into the sky for the first time. Some of these Men found their way into Beleriand and fought alongside the Elves there against the power of Morgoth, but during this period the Elves remained in the ascendancy. The fall of Morgoth in the War of Wrath marked the end of the First Age of Elvish World, the time that would later be known as the Elder Days.

After Morgoth's downfall, many of the Eldar left Middle-earth and passed into the West. Though their numbers were reduced, the Elves nonetheless continued to hold the strongest dominions in Middle-earth. The Edain, those Men who allied themselves with the Elves during the First Age, had for the most part departed for Númenor, and for Men in Middle-earth these were the long Dark Years, in which the Elves of the western lands struggled with the Dark Lord Sauron. After millennia, Númenor fell, and the Faithful Dúnedain who remained friendly to the Elves returned to Middle-earth to found their own Kingdoms. Together Elves and Men formed the Last Alliance in defiance of Sauron. The Dark Lord was overthrown, and the Second Age of the Elvish World came to an end.

Now the power of the Elves in the World had truly begun to wane. Their last King, Gil-galad, was lost in the War of the Last Alliance, and outside Lindon few strongholds of this people remained. As time passed, more and more of the Elves departed for the West, while Men spread and their lands grew stronger, especially Gondor the South-kingdom of the Dúnedain. After the War of the Ring, the greatest remaining Elves boarded the White Ship and departed Middle-earth, bringing an end to the Third Age of the Elvish World.

The end of the Third Age brought an effective end to the Elvish World itself. From the Fourth Age onward, the Dominion of Men took hold, in which the Younger Children of Ilúvatar held greater and greater sway in Middle-earth. Eventually those few Elves who remained east of the Sea faded away, leaving the Hither Lands under the power of Men, with the Elvish World lost in distant history.


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About this entry:

  • Updated 17 October 2017
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