The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
The original High Kings ruled between II 3320 and III 2; the line was re-established in III 3019
Location
The Two Kingdoms covered large tracts of land in the North and South of Middle-earth
Race
Division
Cultures
Family
Settlements
The capital of the High King was at Annúminas on Lake Evendim
Other names
Title of
Elendil and Isildur, and later Aragorn, Eldarion and their heirs

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About this entry:

  • Updated 14 October 2009
  • This entry is complete
Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
Elendil
Isildur
Anárion
Elendur
Aratan
Ciryon
Valandil
Three unnamed children
Meneldil
Kings of
Arnor

Kings of
Gondor

Kings of
Arthedain

Kings of
Cardolan
Kings of
Rhudaur
Chieftains of
the Dúnedain

Aragorn
Elessar

Eldarion
Further
Kings

The descent of the High Kings, whose names are shown here in bold text. After the loss of Isildur at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, there was no High King for more than three thousand years until Aragorn succeeded in reestablishing the line.

A title used by the Dúnedain for their ultimate ruler. Normally, 'High King' would refer to a king who ruled over other lesser kings and lords, but this is not necessarily the case with the High King of the Dúnedain. The term seems to date back to the early days of Númenor, where Tar-Meneldur the fifth King was addressed as 'High King', though he had no other rulers in his service.

The more common use of the title, though, came at the end of the Second Age, with the establishment of the Realms in Exile in Middle-earth. In their earliest years, the Two Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor fell under the ultimate rule of one man, Elendil, who dwelt in Arnor as the High King. The South-kingdom of Gondor was ruled jointly by his sons, but only under his suzerainty.

With Elendil's loss in the Siege of Barad-dûr, his elder son Isildur inherited the High Kingship. Isildur ruled for only two years, though, before he too was lost in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. After his death, historical events conspired to separate the Two Kingdoms, each of which took Kings of their own. The High Kingship should in principle have fallen on Isildur's heir Valandil, but in practice Valandil became King of Arnor only, and had no power over the South-kingdom.

More than three thousand years were to pass before Aragorn reunited Elendil's realms. In doing so, as the direct descendant of Isildur through many generations, he also resurrected the High Kingship.

Elendil (Ruled for 121 years to II 3441)
The founder of both Arnor and Gondor, Elendil ruled the Two Kingdoms as High King from Annúminas on Nenuial in the North-kingdom. He gave the joint rule of the South-kingdom to his sons Isildur and Anárion, who in turn acknowledged Elendil as High King.
Isildur (Ruled for 2 years to III 2)
Elendil was lost in the War of the Last Alliance, and so his elder son Isildur inherited the High Kingship. After ordering the South-kingdom as he wished, Isildur set out for Annúminas in the north, leaving Gondor under the rule of Meneldil son of Anárion (Anárion himself had also been lost in the War). As he travelled in the wilds of Middle-earth, Isildur's army was assaulted and destroyed. As a result, the lines of the Kings split: Meneldil and his descendants ruled in Gondor, while Isildur's son Valandil continued his line in Arnor.
Interregnum For most of the Third Age - a total of 3,017 years altogether - the lines of the Kings were divided, and there was no High King of the Dúnedain. The breach came close to being healed in III 1944 when Arvedui of Arthedain sought the Crown of Gondor, but his bid failed, and Arthedain was destroyed soon afterwards.
Aragorn Elessar (Ruled for 122 years to IV 120)
Aragorn was the direct descendant of Isildur through thirty-nine generations. After the loss of Steward Denethor II, and the great part played by Aragorn himself in the War of the Ring, the people of Gondor eagerly accepted him as King of Gondor and Arnor. Thus the High Kingship was re-established after a period of nearly an entire Age.
Eldarion Eldarion was Aragorn's heir, who succeeded him to become the fourth High King of the Dúnedain. Almost nothing is known of his life or rule, though he seems to have left heirs of his own to inherit the title of High King in turn.

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