After the departure of the last of the Teleri to set out across the Great Sea, many of their kin were left in Beleriand on the Sea's eastern shores. Elu Thingol became their overlord, and dwelt with his Queen, Melian the Maia, within the central forests of Beleriand. This realm lasted long in peace under the starlight in the years before the making of the Sun and Moon.
After Melkor escaped Valinor and returned to Middle-earth, he launched a great force of Orcs from his northern stronghold of Angband that swept through Beleriand. The Elves defeated part of this force in the First Battle, but many of the Orcs still remained at large, and at this time Melian created her famous Girdle: a shield of enchantment that surrounded Thingol's forest realm. With the Girdle of Melian in place, the land was guarded against the Orcs or any other enemy. Thus it gained the Elvish name Doriath, 'land of the fence', and it was also commonly known as the Guarded Realm.
Quite apart from its magical protection, the realm had true guards as well. This was especially true along its northern borders, where the Girdle came close to the dark powers of Ered Gorgoroth. These northern marches were watched by the marchwardens, of whom the best known were Beleg Strongbow and Mablung of the Heavy Hand.
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