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  • Updated 11 July 2020
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Steward of the King

A title for the Stewards of Gondor

A fuller version of the title 'Steward of Gondor', which had originally belonged to the chief counsellor and deputy to the true Kings of Gondor. The tradition developed that this position should become hereditary, and after the loss of Eärnur the last King, Mardil of the House of Húrin became the first Ruling Steward of Gondor. Mardil's line continued for nearly a thousand years, but each Steward claimed that his authority descended from the Crown of Gondor, and thus the title 'Steward of the King' (or occasionally 'Steward of the Great King') persisted even centuries after the line of Kings had reached its end. Though there was no foreseeable way for the royal line to be re-established, the Stewards claimed to hold power only until the King should return, and this in fact happened during the War of the Ring with the emergence of Aragorn the Heir of Isildur. At that time Faramir, heir to the line of the Stewards, did indeed give up his claim to the rule of Gondor, though he retained the position of Steward to the new King Elessar.

Most of the known Stewards of Gondor held the title of Ruling Steward, but we do have records of a number of Stewards who served under Kings of Gondor at various times in history.

Húrin of Emyn Arnen Steward to King Minardil, who reigned from III 1621 to III 1634

The first Steward had been appointed by King Rómendacil I in the sixth century of the Third Age, but none of the earlier Stewards are known by name until Húrin of Emyn Arnen, who served more than a thousand years later. Húrin established the line of hereditary Stewards, and all the Stewards of Gondor who followed him descended in some degree from the House of Húrin.

Pelendur Steward to King Ondoher,1 who reigned from III 1936 to III 1944, and to Eärnil II until III 1998

Just a few years after acceding to the Kingship of Gondor, Ondoher was lost in battle, as were both of his natural heirs. There followed a year without a King in Gondor, during which Steward Pelendur was instrumental in arranging the succession. Arvedui of Arthedain laid claim to the throne as a direct descendant of Isildur, but Pelendur moved the Council of Gondor to reject this claim, instead elevating the successful Gondorian general Eärnil to the throne as Eårnil II.

Vorondil Steward to King Eärnil II from III 1998 to III 2029

On Pelendur's death, the title of Steward passed to his son Vorondil. The Stewards had traditionally been selected from the old House of Húrin, but this was the first time the title had been directly inherited in this way. The precedent having been established, the title and duties of the Steward would pass from father to son through the remainder of the Third Age.

Mardil Voronwë Steward to King Eärnil II until III 2043, and to Eärnur from III 2043 to III 2050; Ruling Steward thereafter until III 2080

Mardil son of Vorondil succeeded his father to serve King Eärnil II, and afterward Eärnil's son Eärnur. The reign of the latter King was brief indeed: though Mardil sought to restrain him, he went to meet a challenge from the Witch-king, and was never seen again. Since the fate of the King was not known with certainty, Mardil ruled in his name for the next thirty years, and thus the tradition of the Ruling Stewards came into being.

Ruling Stewards III 2050 to III 3019 (969 years)

Mardil was thus the last of the Stewards to serve a King until the return of Isildur's Heir Aragorn, nearly a thousand years later. Mardil was succeeded as Ruling Steward by his son Eradan, and his line continued until the end of the Third Age. Altogether there were twenty-six Ruling Stewards of Gondor, down to Denethor II who took his own life during the War of the Ring.

Faramir Steward to King Elessar from III 3019

The presumed heir of Ruling Steward Denethor II was his eldest son Boromir, but Boromir was slain by Orcs while part of the Fellowship of the Ring, making Faramir the heir to the Stewardship. During the events of the War of the Ring, the Heir of Isildur - a Man known as Aragorn - returned to Gondor, and was recognised as the High King. Denethor died by his own hand during that War, and Faramir did briefly rule the South-kingdom in his place, but ultimately Faramir became the first Steward to serve a King for nearly a thousand years.

Elboron Steward to King Elessar from IV 82

A genealogical chart reproduced in volume XII of The History of Middle-earth identifies Faramir's successor as Prince of Ithilien (and therefore presumably also as Steward) by the name Elboron. This is from draft material that was never formally published, so its canonicity is unclear, but if Elboron was truly Faramir's heir, then he would have succeeded to his father's duties in the year IV 82. This means that he might potentially have served the long-lived King Aragorn Elessar for as long as thirty-seven years.

Barahir All we know for sure about Barahir is that he was a grandson of Faramir and the author of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. This does not confirm that he was a Steward of the King (since he may not have been Faramir's direct heir), but his line of descent and association with royalty imply that Barahir was the last of the Stewards to appear in records.

For a genealogical chart of the Stewards of the King, see the entry for Steward of Gondor.



Given Ondoher's extremely short reign, it is not unlikely that Pelendur also served as Steward to his predecessor Calimehtar, though this is not explicitly stated.


About this entry:

  • Updated 11 July 2020
  • Updates planned: 1

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