The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Founded II 3320; the North-kingdom was divided in III 861 and lost III 1974; reunited III 3019
Locations
Origins
Founded by Elendil and his sons
Race
Division
Cultures
Family
Ruled by the House of Elendil
Settlements
Numerous; the capital in the North was at Annúminas and later Fornost; in the South the capital was at Osgiliath and later Minas Tirith
Pronunciation
Dúnedain is pronounced 'doo'nedine'
Meaning
Other names

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About this entry:

  • Updated 25 May 2015
  • This entry is complete

Kingdoms of the Dúnedain

The realms of the Exiles of Númenor

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
Map of the Kingdoms of the Dúnedain
Map showing the geography of the Kingdoms of the Dúnedain in Middle-earth; see note 1 below for further explanation.

After the Downfall of Númenor in II 3319, the Great Sea cast up a handful of survivors on the shores of Middle-earth. These were Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anárion, who had fled from the port of Rómenna and were aboard ship when Númenor was swallowed by the Sea. The raging waters that followed the Downfall had driven their ships eastward until they came to the ruined shores of Middle-earth.

Elendil and his people landed in the northern land of the Elves, Lindon, and from there they spread out across Eriador. Their great cities were at Annúminas on Nenuial, and Fornost on the North Downs, and they thus established a realm that came to be known as Arnor, 'land of the King', because High King Elendil dwelt there by Lake Evendim.

Elendil's sons Isildur and Anárion were driven southwards by the Sea, and found their way at last up through the Mouths of Anduin into the Great River in a region where a great Númenórean port, Pelargir, had stood for centuries. They founded their own southern realm in this region, named Gondor, 'land of stone', for the great feats of stonework they performed. Their main city was named Osgiliath, built on the river on which they had entered their new land, but each of the brothers also had a fortress of their own: Minas Ithil for Isildur and Minas Anor for Anárion.

In these early days Elendil's sons in the South-kingdom of Gondor acknowledged the overlordship of their father, the High King in the North. If history had proceeded otherwise than it did, the two realms would have remained joined in this way, with Isildur succeeding Elendil to rule as High King over both the Kingdoms of the Dúnedain. Isildur did indeed succeed, but his loss at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields caused a division between the two realms. At that time Isildur's nephew Meneldil became King of Gondor in his own right, and the two kingdoms would remain separate until the time of Aragorn Elessar, more than three thousand years later.

Arnor
The North-kingdom
Founded II 3320
Divided III 861
(982 years)

The realm founded by Elendil in the North of Middle-earth after the Downfall of Númenor, from which he ruled both the Kingdoms of the Dúnedain as their High King. The loss of Elendil's direct heir Isildur after the War of the Last Alliance led to the division of the Kingdoms, but Isildur's line persisted through his son Valandil down to Eärendur the tenth King of Arnor. After Eärendur's time Arnor became divided into three lesser realms:
Arthedain III 861 - III 1974
(1,113 years)

The northern and western regions of Arnor were held by Eärendur's eldest son Amlaith of Fornost, and thus the true line of the Heirs of Isildur continued through its Kings. Of the three remnant realms of Arnor, the Dúnedain survived longest in Arthedain - for more than a thousand years - but in III 1974 the land was overrun by Angmar and the last kingdom of the Northern Dúnedain came to an end.
Cardolan III 861 - III 1409
(548 years)

The southern regions or Arnor became the foundation of Cardolan, a realm that extended southwestward between the rivers Baranduin and Gwathló through the region known as Minhiriath. It was ruled by princes descended from the Dúnedain, but an assault from Angmar in III 1409 wiped out its royal line and decimated the land. A handful of survivors lasted for two further centuries among the Barrow-downs (at that time a northern enclave of Cardolan) but that last remnant were lost in the Great Plague of III 1636.
Rhudaur III 861 - c.III 1356
(c.495 years)

The northeastern segment of divided Arnor lay between the Weather Hills and the Misty Mountains. There were few of the Dúnedain in this region, and the line of Isildur's descendants soon came to an end there. After the rise of Angmar, a lord of the Hill-men in league with the Witch-king seized power. At this point, Rhudaur ceased to be a Kingdom of the Dúnedain and instead became an ally of Angmar in its long war against the Dúnedain of Arthedain and Cardolan.
Gondor
The South-kingdom
Founded II 3320
Survived into the Fourth Age

At the same time that Elendil founded Arnor in the North, his sons Isildur and Anárion established Gondor in the South. The division of the Two Kingdoms after Isildur's death left Gondor an independent realm ruled by Anárion's nephew Meneldil. The heirs of Meneldil ruled as Kings of Gondor for more than two millennia, until the last King Eärnur was lost in Minas Morgul. After his time the rule fell on the Stewards (and thus Gondor was arguably not a true kingdom at all for the last part of the Third Age). The line of Kings was re-established after the War of the Ring by Aragorn Elessar, a direct descendant of Isildur.

Notes

1

Arnor's borders remained fixed throughout its history, but Gondor's expanded and contracted as the fortunes of the realm waxed and waned. The solid line shows the approximate borders of Gondor at the end of the Third Age, while the dashed line shows the South-kingdom's boundaries at their greatest historical extent. Gondor extended across this vast area at the end of the reign of King Hyarmendacil I, who died in III 1149, nearly two thousand years before the War of the Ring.

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