A line of Kings descending from Elendil, the first High King of the Dúnedain in Middle-earth. The Southern Line descended through Elendil's younger son Anárion, and was thus in principle subordinate to the Northern Line, which descended from Isildur the elder son.
After the War of the Last Alliance Isildur became King of Gondor and Arnor. At this time Anárion was already dead (he had been slain in the Siege of Barad-dûr) and so when Isildur went north to take up the High Kingship, he left Gondor in the keeping of Anárion's heir, Meneldil. Isildur never reached his destination; he was slain on the northward road, and Meneldil established the Southern Line as the hereditary Kings of Gondor.
Though the direct line was broken several times, and the realm at one point descended into civil war between two of Meneldil's descendants, it nonetheless survived for thirty generations spanning more than two thousand years. It came to an end with the loss of King Eärnur in the year III 2050, but Gondor continued without a King, under the rule of the Stewards, for nearly a thousand years more. The Kingship was eventually re-established, and the realms reunited, by Aragorn Elessar; he was a direct descendant of the Northern Line that had split from the Southern some three millennia earlier.
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