The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
The first line of Kings ruled in a broken line between II 3320 and III 2050 (2,171 years); the Ruling Stewards held the realm between III 2050 and III 3019 (969 years) after which the Kingship was restored
Location
Race
Division
Culture
Settlements
The Kings originally ruled from Osgiliath; King Tarondor moved the royal seat permanently to Minas Anor (later renamed Minas Tirith)
Pronunciation
Gondor is pronounced 'go'ndorr' ('rr' indicates that the final 'r' sound should be pronounced)
Meaning
Gondor means 'land of stone'
Other names
Lord of Gondor (an apparently equivalent title held by Kings and Stewards alike)
Title of
At least thirty-five Kings and twenty-six Ruling Stewards of Gondor

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About this entry:

  • Updated 26 June 2020
  • This entry is complete

Ruler of Gondor

Title of Kings and Stewards

The general term for one of the Men of the Dúnedain who ruled over Gondor from its foundation in II 3320 to the restoration after the War of the Ring and beyond. Broadly the term 'Ruler' includes two classes: the Kings who ruled until III 2050, and the Ruling Stewards who led the realm from that point until III 3019, when the Kingship was restored.

The first Rulers of Gondor were not independent Kings in their own right: Isildur and Anárion ruled the kingdom jointly under the authority of their father and High King, Elendil. After the War of the Last Alliance and the loss of Elendil, this system quickly broke down. His direct heir Isildur was slain soon afterwards, and Meneldil son of Anárion became the first King to rule an independent Gondor.

Thereafter the heirs and descendants of Meneldil were Rulers of Gondor for the next two thousand years or more. There were several breaks in the line of descent, but a successor was always found until the time of Eärnur, who was lured into Minas Morgul by the Witch-king, and whose fate was unknown. Eärnur's Steward, Mardil took on the role and responsibility of the King, and from that time the Rulers of Gondor were the Ruling Stewards. From Mardil rose a line of twenty-six Rulers of whom the last, Denethor II, was lost during the War of the Ring.

During the War, Aragorn, leader of the Rangers of the North, was revealed to be a direct Heir of Isildur and thus rightful successor to the throne of Elendil the High King. After the victory against Sauron, he was crowned in Minas Tirith and a new line of High Kings was begun that continued into the Fourth Age.

Subject Kings of Arnor (II 3320 to III 2, 123 years)
From its foundation, Gondor was ruled as a client kingdom of Arnor, where Elendil held the High Kingship in the North. For most of this period, the South-kingdom was ruled jointly by Elendil's sons Isildur and Anárion, until the climactic War of the Last Alliance that brought the Second Age to its end. With both Elendil and Anárion slain in that War, Isildur became High King and Anárion's son Meneldil became the new Ruler of Gondor. This arrangement lasted for just two years, until Isildur himself was slain as he travelled north to take up his new throne.
Independent Kings (III 2 to III 2050, 2,048 years)
Isildur's three elder sons died with him at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, leaving his youngest son, thirteen-year-old Valandil, as heir to the High Kingship. Young Valandil was far away in Rivendell, and this left his cousin Meneldil as de facto independent King of Gondor. Meneldil established a line of Kings who would rule Gondor for the next two thousand years and more. This royal line survived civil war and military disaster, but came to an end with Eärnur, thirtieth descendant of Meneldil to wear the Crown in his own right. Lured into Minas Morgul, the lost King left no heir, and the rule of the realm fell to the hereditary Stewards.
Ruling Stewards (III 2050 to III 3019, 969 years)
With the Royal House of Gondor at an end, there was no obvious heir to the Kingship. Even the line of Kings of Arthedain in the North had recently fallen, so the re-establishment of a High Kingship (which had at one time been briefly considered) was now impossible. So Eärnur's Steward Mardil took on the role of ruler, taking the title only of Ruling Steward rather than King. The Stewardship was already hereditary, and so it was natural for Mardil to give rise to a line of Ruling Stewards, and his descendants ruled Gondor in the name of the lost King for nearly a millennium. In the time of the twenty-fourth Ruling Steward, Denethor II, a Ranger out of the North appeared to fight in the War of the Ring. This was Aragorn, a direct descendant of the earliest High Kings in Arnor, and thus rightful King of Gondor.
Restored High Kings (II 3019 into the Fourth Age)
With the accession of Aragorn Elessar after the War of the Ring, the royal lines of the North- and South-kingdoms were reunited, and a King reigned again in Gondor for the first time in nearly a thousand years. While the High Kings of ancient times ruled from Arnor, it seems that Aragorn instead established the seat of the restored High Kingship at Minas Tirith.1 After Aragorn's death, the rule of Gondor passed to his son Eldarion, and so the royal line of Elendil and Isildur continued into the Fourth Age.

Notes

1

It's nowhere stated outright that Aragorn ruled from Minas Tirith, but this is implied by multiple lines of evidence (and indeed would only make sense, since there was at first no kingdom left in the North to rule). Though we have an account of Aragorn travelling to Annúminas for a time, and eventually re-establishing the North-kingdom, he nonetheless spent most of his rule in the South, and is known to have died in Minas Tirith.

See also...

Gondorians

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 26 June 2020
  • This entry is complete

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