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Castamir lived III 12591 - III 1447 (188 years); he usurped the throne of Gondor in III 1437, and held it for ten years until III 1447
Descended from the House of Anárion
A 'usurper' is one who illegally takes power from its legitimate holder (in this case King Eldacar)
Title of


About this entry:

  • Updated 6 September 2023
  • This entry is complete

The Usurper

The title of Castamir, the deposer of Eldacar

Rómendacil II
Unnamed father
The Usurper
Unnamed sons

The descent of Castamir the Usurper from the Royal House of Gondor, showing his relationship to Eldacar, the rightful King whose throne he usurped for ten years between III 1437 and III 1447.

The title given to Castamir, a descendant of King Calmacil who led a revolt against Gondor's true King, Eldacar, and usurped his throne. Over the ten years of Castamir's rule, he proved to be a cruel and heartless King. His reign came to violent end when Eldacar returned from exile at the head of an avenging army.

A Leader of the Kin-strife

Strife within Gondor began to emerge in the later years of King Valacar's reign, in the early fifteenth century of the Third Age. Against the traditions of the Royal House, Valacar had chosen a wife who was not one of the Dúnedain. After dwelling for a time among the Northmen of Rhovanion, he had wed Vidumavi, the daughter of their chieftain Vidugavia. His son and heir Eldacar (who had been born with the Northern name of Vinitharya) was thus not fully of the Dúnedain by blood. There were those in Gondor who saw this as a diminishment of the nobility of the royal line, and not least among these was Castamir, Gondor's Captain of Ships.

When King Valacar died in III 1432, and his mixed-blood heir Eldacar succeeded, the dissent in the realm broke out into open rebellion. Castamir was at the forefront of this rebellion. Not only did he have strong support in the coastal cities of Pelargir and Umbar (which at that time was a possession of Gondor), but he was also of high noble birth, being a great-grandson of King Calmacil. These factors made him a natural leader among the rebels, who made gains over the next five years as they began to threaten the royal city of Osgiliath itself. The fighting in this time of civil war was terrible, and many of the nobles of the realm were lost.

In III 1437 the rebels besieged Osgiliath and breached its defences. The city burned, and the destruction was widespread. It was at this time that one of Gondor's four palantíri was lost, when the Tower of the Dome that held it was broken. King Eldacar's son Ornendil was captured by the rebels, and in an act of cruelty Castamir ordered him to be put to death. Eldacar himself, with many of his followers, fled from the city and escaped, but Gondor was now held by Castamir and his rebels.

The Usurper King, III 1437 - III 1447

Castamir's noble descent and strong support within Gondor made him the clear candidate to replace the exiled Eldacar. He therefore ascended the throne, becoming the twenty-second King of Gondor, known to history as Castamir the Usurper. He proved to be a haughty and callous King, and his support in Gondor began to fall away.

The Usurper held the throne of Gondor for ten years, during which discontent grew in Gondor, especially when it was learned that Castamir planned to break tradition and remove the King's seat to Pelargir. Meanwhile, Eldacar bided his time among the Northmen of Rhovanion, as his forces were bolstered by Gondorians fleeing the Usurper's cruel régime.

In III 1447, Eldacar returned out of exile, bringing a force of Northmen and Gondorians. The hard rule of the Usurper caused many of the Men of Gondor to abandon him and join Eldacar, especially those of Anórien, Ithilien and Calenardhon. Eldacar's force marched through Gondor, driving the Usurper and his followers out of Osgiliath. The armies met at the Crossings of Erui, where Castamir was slain by Eldacar himself, and his followers fled the field. So the decade-long reign of Castamir the Usurper came to an end, and the rightful King, Eldacar, was restored to the throne.

The Aftermath of the Kin-strife

Although Castamir had only held the throne of Gondor for ten years, the repercussions of the Kin-strife and the usurpation would be felt in Gondor for centuries to come. The most immediate and direct effect was the loss of the Haven of Umbar, which had long been a stronghold of Gondor on the coasts of the Harad. Those followers of Castamir who had escaped the Battle of the Crossings of Erui, including Castamir's sons, succeeded in reaching Pelargir. They sailed away to Umbar, which had supported the Usurper during the Kin-strife, and took control. Thus Umbar became a renegade city, giving rise to the Corsairs that would trouble Gondor throughout the remaining Third Age. Gondor's power over the Haradrim was also diminished, and they too would become implacable foes.

The actions of Castamir the Usurper would also have profound effects on the society of Gondor. Many of its noble class had been lost in the fighting of the Kin-strife, including lesser members of the Royal House. After the civil war, the air of distrust that pervaded the realm also meant that those of high birth would often abandon Gondor for Umbar if they felt themselves under suspicion.

The results of this erosion of nobility would be felt far in the future. When King Ondoher fell in battle with both his heirs in III 1944 (nearly five centuries after the Usurper's death) it proved difficult to find a suitably qualified heir. Eventually the Crown was given to the general Eärnil, who was distantly descended from the Royal House, but his brief line failed with his son Eärnur, who was lost in Minas Morgul, leaving no suitable heir to the Kingship. Thus the line of Gondorian Kings came to an end, and would not be renewed until the coming of Aragorn, nearly a thousand years later.



The date of the Usurper's birth appears only in The History of Middle-earth volume XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth. It cannot therefore be considered completely reliable.


About this entry:

  • Updated 6 September 2023
  • This entry is complete

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