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Early Second Age to approximately II 32901
The King's Court in Armenelos, the royal city of Númenor
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  • Updated 10 July 2009
  • This entry is complete

White Tree of Númenor

Nimloth, the White Tree that grew in Armenelos

In the early days of Númenor, its people still had the friendship of the Elves of Eressëa. Among the gifts the Eldar gave to the early Númenóreans, one of the greatest was a white seedling of the tree Celeborn that stood in the middle of their island. Planted in the King's Court in Armenelos, the seedling grew into a fine White Tree that came to be known as Nimloth. Its blossoms appeared as the Sun set, and their perfume filled the night in Númenor's royal city.

The tree of Tol Eressëa, Celeborn, was itself descended from Galathilion, the White Tree that stood in Tirion that was made by Yavanna herself. Its descendant Nimloth stood in the courts of Armenelos for thousands of years, but when Sauron gained control of Númenor's government, he saw the White Tree as a link to his enemies the Valar, and ordered it destroyed. So the White Tree of Nûmenor was cut down and burned on the altar-fire of Sauron's temple.

The line of Galathilion did not end in Sauron's flames. Isildur the son of Elendil had stolen a fruit from the Tree before it was lost. The fruit grew into a seedling that Isildur carried to Middle-earth with him after the Downfall of Númenor. That seedling was planted in Minas Ithil, and was destroyed before the end of the Second Age. Its seedling in turn grew into the first of the White Trees of Minas Tirith, a line that was to outlast Sauron himself.



In principle, dating the destruction of Nimloth should be a simple matter. After acceding to Sauron's demands that the tree be cut down and burnt, we're told that King Ar-Pharazôn '...turned then wholly away from the allegiance of his fathers' (Akallabêth in The Silmarillion). That seems to tie in with an entry in the Tale of Years: '3262-3310 Sauron seduces the King and corrupts the Númenóreans'.

On a direct reading, it would be natural to see Ar-Pharazôn's 'turning wholly away' as the completion of Sauron's corruption, so dating the fall of the White Tree at II 3310. However, the Tale of Years confuses this simple picture, because it shows Ar-Pharazôn commencing with the Great Armament immediately after Sauron completes his corruption, and indeed within the same year. In the Akallabêth account, though, there's an evident delay of many years between the burning of the White Tree and the building of the Great Armament.

The combined implication of these sources seems to be that the burning of Nimloth and the complete corruption of the King took place within the period shown in the Tale of Years, not at the end (a date of approximately II 3290 seems to fit the facts). After that Sauron continued to corrupt the Númenórean people in the period to II 3310, at which point Ar-Pharazôn was persuaded to begin the building of his armada.


About this entry:

  • Updated 10 July 2009
  • This entry is complete

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