The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Dated back to no earlier than III 19001
Location
The White Tower stood in the Citadel at the summit of Minas Tirith
Race
Division
Culture
Family
The known Captains both descended from the House of Húrin1
Settlements
Associated with Minas Tirith
Meaning
The White Tower contained the throne room of Gondor, associating this captain with the guard of the King or Steward
Other names
Possibly synonymous with the title High Warden of the White Tower3
Title of
Boromir and Faramir, and potentially many other Captains before them

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About this entry:

  • Updated 18 August 2020
  • This entry is complete

Captain of the White Tower

Commander of the forces of Minas Tirith

Denethor II
Finduilas
Boromir
Faramir

The two recorded Captains of the White Tower (shown here in bold text) were the sons of Steward Denethor II. When Boromir left Gondor to search for Imladris, the title passed to his younger brother Faramir, implying that it was typically held by the heirs of the Ruling Steward.

The title given to the leader of the military forces of Minas Tirith. In the years leading to the end of the Third Age, the title was held by Boromir, elder son of Steward Denethor. When Boromir went north to seek Imladris and ultimately join the Fellowship of the Ring, the role of Captain fell on his younger brother Faramir.

The fact that the Captaincy transferred from Boromir to his brother Faramir implies that it was traditionally taken by the heir of the Ruling Steward, but we have no earlier historical references to confim this. Though the title referred to the White Tower in the Citadel of Minas Tirith, the Captain clearly held command over the soldiers of Minas Tirith, and perhaps farther afield. It was apparently used interchangeably 'Captain of Gondor', suggesting that the Captain held overall command of Gondor's military forces, or at least those in direct service to the Steward.4


Notes

1

We have almost no historical detail about the title 'Captain of the White Tower', so it is realistically impossible to guess when the role came into being, but it necessarily cannot have predated the White Tower itself. That was originally built by King Calimehtar in III 1900, so that would be the earliest possible date for the first Captain to be appointed. In later years, the position was held by the son of the ruler of Gondor, and if this pattern held when the White Tower was first built - something that is very far from certain - then the first Captain of the White Tower would have been Calimehtar's son and heir, Ondoher.

2

We only know of two Captains, the sons of Denethor II, and as sons of the Ruling Stewards these were both descended from the House of Húrin. On that basis, it is possible that, like the Stewards, the Captains of the White Tower were hereditary, with the post being held by the Ruling Steward's son. Our sample of two Captains is hardly adequate to state that with certainty, however, and it may simply be coincidence that Boromir and his brother Faramir both happened to hold the Captaincy in the last years of the Third Age.

3

Boromir is variously described as holding both the titles of 'Captain of the White Tower' and 'High Warden of the White Tower'. These titles are similar enough that they might very well refer to the same role (etymologically, 'warden' means 'guard'). While we cannot state categorically that the Captain and the High Warden had the same responsibilities, the fact that they could be held simultaneously by the same person shows that there must have been a great deal of overlap in their duties.

4

At least in military terms, Gondor seems to have had something of a feudal arrangement, in that individual lords would retain control over their own soldiery, an arrangement that had significant effects during the War of the Ring. In that war many of the coastal lords sent relatively small contingents to the defence of Minas Tirith, keeping back substantial elements of their forces to defend their own fiefs against raiders. The Captain of the White Tower, then, clearly did not hold direct command over all of Gondor's soldiers, but was apparently the overall commander of those defending Minas Tirith.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 18 August 2020
  • This entry is complete

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