Elwë was an ancient lord of the Teleri, one of the Elves that awakened at Cuiviénen at the dawn of that race. He had been an ambassador to Valinor, and had seen the light of the Two Trees. On returning to Middle-earth he set out to lead his people on the Great Journey westwards across the Sea back to the land of the Valar. As they paused in Beleriand, however, he encountered Melian and fell under her enchantment. His people searched for him, but he was lost to them. At last, they divided: many were led across the Sea to dwell in Aman by Elwë's brother Olwë, but many more remained in Beleriand.
When he emerged at last from the woods of Nan Elmoth, Elwë had been transformed, so that he was said to resemble a lord of the Maiar rather than an Elf. With Melian as his Queen, he became King Elu Thingol of Doriath. All the peoples of Beleriand, from the Elves of the Falas on the western shores to the Green-elves of the eastern valleys, acknowledged Thingol as the Lord of Beleriand, and he ruled under starlight for many centuries.
His claim to the lordship of all Beleriand was challenged when the Noldor returned to Middle-earth. Through Angrod, he sent a message to the Noldor permitting them to dwell only in the lands to the north and east of Beleriand. Maedhros scornfully rejected this, and insisted that the Noldor would settle wherever they wished outside Doriath itself, as indeed they did. Nonetheless, Thingol still claimed the title 'Lord of Beleriand' until the time of his own death and the end of his realm.
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