Who Were the High Kings and what they rule?

Who Were the High Kings and what they rule?

This raises a concern that used to vex individuals enough to argue backward and forward for days, although I would not call it one of the “Excellent Dispute” questions. The list of the High Kings is supplied in Appendix A to The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien compared the (High) Kings of Arnor and the Kings of Arthedain in two methods.

Initially, he noted them under those world names (Arnor and Arthedain).

32475254b971f97e4c807265f8e5d4b6Arnor. Elendil † S.A. 3441, Isildur † 2, Valandil 249, Eldacar 339, Arantar 435, Tarcil 515, Tarondor 602, Valandur † 652, Elendur 777, Eärendur 861.

Arthedain. Amlaith of Fornost (eldest child of Eärendur) 946, Beleg 1029, Mallor 1110, Celepharn 1191, Celebrindor 1272, Malvegil 1349, Argeleb I † 1356, Arveleg I 1409, Araphor 1589, Argeleb II 1670, Arvegil 1743, Arveleg II 1813, Araval 1891, Araphant 1964, Arvedui Last-king † 1974. End of the North-kingdom.

Second, as you’ll see above, the kings of Arthedain took their names in Sindarin, whereas the kings of Arnor took their names in Quenya (a truth Tolkien mentioned in among the footnotes).

It holds true that Isildur was the only other king besides Elendil who was acknowledged as a King of Gondor however the High Kingship, as it were, continued through Eärendur. This truth is established in the first sentence of the narrative section entitled “The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain”:

After Elendil and Isildur there were 8 High Kings of Arnor. After Eärendur, owing to dissensions amongst his kids their world was divided into three: Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan. Arthedain remained in the North-west and consisted of the land in between Brandywine and Lune, and also the land north of the Great Roadway as far as the Weather condition Hills. Rhudaur remained in the North-east and lay in between the Ettenmoors, the Weather Hills, and the Misty Mountains, however consisted of also the Angle between the Hoarwell and the Loudwater. Cardolan was in the South, its bounds being the Brandywine, the Greyflood, and the Great Road.

Hill of Tara in Ireland, ancient seat of Irish High Kings.
Hill of Tara in Ireland, ancient seat of Irish High Kings. Legend states High Kings ruled here approximately 5,000 years back.
The title of “High King” is, in Middle-earth, peculiar just to Tolkien’s Elvish and Dunadan cultures. We find the title no place else among his various cultures, although that does not suggest he planned it to be limited to those cultures. It’s just that he never ever utilized the title for any other peoples.

High Kings are understood from our own history, particularly in the British Isles. The Irish and Scots called High Kings. The Anglo-Saxons had a number of Bretwaldas, who have been compared with High Kings by some historians (and many individuals with an interest in history).

A high king is generally named or acknowledged among several closely connected people, clans, or communities. They are joined by language, culture, law, custom, and most likely likewise blood. In some cultures the high king may wield considerable authority by right of conquest or careful bargaining. Agamemnon apparently held substantial power over lower Achaean kings, for example.

In Middle-earth we understand about the High Kings of the Noldor-in-Exile. These were, in succession, Fingolfin, Fingon, Turgon, and Gil-galad. Gil-galad was the last of the High Kings of the Exiles. Thingol was also acknowledged as a High King however he was likewise Lord of Beleriand and King of Doriath. He wielded real authority over all Beleriand, whereas the High Kings of the Exiles appeared to be more ritualistic until Gil-galad. Gil-galad likewise became High King of the Fairies of the West. Readers do not always agree on what that title indicates, however both Noldor and Sindar lived in Gil-galad’s realm and Tolkien makes it clear that some Sindar (especially Cirdan) continued to live in Lindon or other lands that acknowledged Gil-galad’s authority even after the “Sindarin adventurers” passed eastward to establish realms beyond the Misty Mountains. In this context I believe Gil-galad’s title implies “Elves of the West (of Middle-earth)”, not “Elves of the Uttermost West” or Valinor.

Gil-galad wielded genuine power over all the Elven lands in Eriador and Beleriand (which Lindon was the last residue). It’s not universally concurred that he wielded much power over the Noldor of Eregion, although he sent out Elrond with an army to Eregion’s aid, and Elrond in turn ran away north with survivors of Eregion to establish Imladris, where he became Gil-galad’s viceroy in Eriador.theonering

For this reason, prior to Elendil became High King of the Dunedain-in-Exile (or High King of Arnor and Gondor as some design it), Tolkien had actually already developed some precedents for how high kingships might be acknowledged according to the laws and custom-mades of the Eldar. The Numenoreans had no requirement for high kings prior to the facility of the Realms in Exile.

I believe exactly what Tolkien may have wanted was that Elendil and his children, being separated, chose individually to develop worlds among the Dunedain and friendly peoples in Middle-earth. Obviously, they had the palantiri by which they stayed in communication however their realms were initially inapplicable. Over the course of the 100 years before Sauron revealed himself (by assaulting Gondor) the kingdoms established the highway system that connected Osgiliath with Annuminas. Together they bigger the city of Tharbad and established dual garrisons there.

The truth both worlds preserved garrisons on their particular sides of the river appears to imply that the authority of each world was respected by the other however not dealt with as secondary. They kept a shared border, as it were. If Tolkien meant this to indicate there were practical limitations to Elendil’s power and authority he does not offer other assistance for such an idea.

On the other hand, Elendil was plainly the senior commander of Dunadan forces in the War of the Last Alliance. Isildur marched with his father while Anarion protected Gondor. Hence, when push pertained to push Elendil exercised the highest authority among men.

Offered these few realities about Elendil and Isildur we have to ask exactly what the ramifications of Isildur’s actions were when he “dedicated to [Meneldil] the rule of the South Kingdom” (as Boromir put it in Rivendell). Isildur actually passed his local authority as (Co-) King of Gondor to Meneldil (Anarion’s boy). In Incomplete Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth Tolkien recommends in “The Catastrophe of the Gladden Fields” that Meneldil did not desire Isildur or his children to stay in Gondor as joint kings, but that is insufficient proof to support much of a supposition. However, we could infer from these passages, along with the story of Arvedui and the Council of Gondor, that Meneldil translated Isildur’s action as a fait accompli for all future generations: that guideline of the South Kingdom was only to be worked out by the Line of Anarion. Meneldil appears to have passed this interpretation to his successors and their counselors.

Isildur and his heirs could have had an alternate analysis of the circumstance. In Isildur’s mind he was still senior king and rightful Lord of Gondor. Meneldil’s authority came down from Isildur along with from his daddy. Thus, Isildur’s beneficiaries kept this point of view but they officially yielded usage of the “High King” title when they divided Arnor into three worlds. Nonetheless, Arvedui attempted to assert that perspective when he claimed the throne of Gondor. However Gondor’s council turned down that interpretation of the law, despite the fact that they just chose not to respond to Arvedui’s last communication on the matter.

For my part I acknowledge the line of the High Kings due to the fact that Tolkien developed that precedent. But I can not tell you whether anybody after Isildur would have had the ability to intervene in Gondor’s affairs. I question they would have captivated such a believed after Arnor was divided into three realms. At that point I think Amlaith and his siblings knew the High Kingship had actually ended.