|Members||Finwë, Fëanor, Fingolfin, Finrod, Fingon, Gil-galad, Turgon, Galadriel, Indis, Celebrimbor, Orodreth.|
|Distinctions||Great skill with metal and gems, deep knowledge.|
|Gallery||Images of Noldor|
The Noldor were those of the second clan of the Elves who came to Aman. They were highly skilled in crafts and gained much knowledge, which they passed on to Men after their Exile. Their King was originally Finwë, but he was slain by Morgoth, leading his son Fëanor to avenge him and the theft of his jewels by making war upon Morgoth in Middle-earth. The war of the Noldor against Morgoth comprises many of the tales of the First Age.
According to legend, the clan was founded by Tata, the second Elf to awake at Cuiviénen, his spouse Tatië and their 54 companions, but it was Finwë, the first Noldo to come to Valinor with Oromë, who became their King, and led most of them to Valinor.
The Noldor in Valinor
The Noldor were accounted the greatest of the Elves and all the peoples in Middle-earth in lore, warfare and crafts. In Valinor "great became their knowledge and their skill; yet even greater was their thirst for more knowledge, and in many things they soon surpassed their teachers. The Noldor were changeful in speech, for they had great love of words, and sought ever to find names more fit for all things they knew or imagined". They were beloved of Aulë the Smith, and were the first to discover and carve gems. Their chief dwelling-place was the city of Tirion upon Túna. Among the wisest of the Noldor were Rúmil, creator of the first writing system and author of many books of lore. Fëanor, son of Finwë and Míriel, was the greatest of their craftsmen, "mightiest in skill of word and of hand", and creator of the Silmarils.
The Noldor earned the greatest hatred of Melkor, who envied their prosperity and, most of all, the Silmarils. So he went often among them, offering counsel, and the Noldor hearkened, being eager for lore. But amid his seemingly good advice, Melkor sowed lies to turn one House of the Noldor against another, and in the end the peace in Tirion was poisoned. After threatening his half-brother Fingolfin, Fëanor was banished from Tirion by the Valar, and with him went Finwë his father. Fingolfin remained as the ruler of the Noldor of Tirion.
But Melkor had yet other designs to accomplish. Soon after with the aid of Ungoliant he destroyed the Two Trees, and coming to Formenos he killed Finwë, stole the Silmarils, and departed from Aman. Fëanor, driven by grief and desiring vengeance, rebelled against the Valar by coming back into Tirion and making a speech before the Noldor, in which he persuaded them to leave Valinor, follow Melkor to Middle-earth, and wage war against him for the recovery of the Silmarils. He swore a terrible oath, as did his sons, to pursue Melkor and reclaim the Silmarils at all costs. Fëanor then claimed the title of the High King since his father was dead, but though the greater part of the Noldor still held Fingolfin as King, they followed Fëanor into Exile due to their valor.
The Noldor led by Fëanor demanded that the Teleri let them use their ships. When the Teleri refused, they took the ships by force, committing the first kinslaying. A messenger from the Valar came later and delivered the Doom of Mandos, pronouncing judgment on the Noldor for the Kinslaying and rebellion and warning that if they proceeded they would not recover the Silmarils and moreover would be slain or tormented by grief. At this, some of the Noldor who had no hand in the Kinslaying, including Finarfin son of Finwë and Indis, returned to Valinor, and the Valar forgave them. Other Noldor led by Fingolfin (some of whom were blameless in the Kinslaying) remained determined to leave Valinor for Middle-earth. Prominent among these others was Finarfin's son, Finrod.
Exile to Middle-earth
The Noldor led by Fëanor crossed the sea to Middle-earth, leaving those led by Fingolfin, his half-brother, behind. Upon his arrival in Middle-earth, Fëanor had the ships burned. When the Noldor led by Fingolfin discovered their betrayal, they went farther north and crossed the sea at the Grinding Ice which cost them many lives.
Fëanor's company was soon attacked by Morgoth. When Fëanor rode too far from his bodyguard during the Dagor-nuin-Giliath, several Balrogs, including their Lord Gothmog, fought him. Despite battling valiantly, Fëanor was mortally wounded and would have been captured and taken to Angband had it not been for the swift arrival of his sons. However, Fëanor died whilst being taken back to his own people.
Because Fëanor had taken the ships and left the Noldor led by his half-brother on the west side of the sea, much enmity remained between the royal Houses of the Noldor. Fingon son of Fingolfin, saved Maedhros Fëanor's son from Morgoth's imprisonment, however, and the feud was settled. Maedhros was due to succeed Fëanor, but he regretted his part of the Kinslaying and left the High Kingship of the Noldor to his uncle Fingolfin, who became the first High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth. His brothers did not agree to this, and began to refer to themselves as the Dispossessed, because the High Kingship had passed them by.
Kingdoms of the Noldor
In the north-west of Middle-earth the Noldor made alliance with the Sindar, the Elves of Beleriand, and later with Men of the Three Houses of the Edain. Fingolfin reigned long in the land of Hithlum, and his younger son Turgon built the Hidden City of Gondolin. The Sons of Fëanor ruled the lands in Eastern Beleriand, while Finrod Finarfin's son was the King of Nargothrond and his brothers Angrod and Aegnor held Dorthonion. Fingolfin's reign was marked by warfare against Morgoth and in the year 60 of the First Age after their victory in Dagor Aglareb the Noldor started the Siege of Angband, the great fortress of Morgoth. In the year 455 the Siege was broken by Morgoth in the Dagor Bragollach, in which the north-eastern Elvish realms were conquered. Fingolfin in despair rode to Angband and challenged Morgoth to single combat. He dealt Morgoth seven wounds but perished, and he was succeeded by his eldest son Fingon, who became the second High King of the Noldor in Beleriand.
The Nirnaeth Arnoediad
In the year 472, Maedhros organised an all-out attack on Morgoth and this led to the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Betrayed by the new-come Easterlings, the forces of the Noldor, Sindar and Edain were utterly defeated. Fingon the Valiant was slain; he was succeeded by his brother Turgon.
Morgoth scattered the remaining forces of the Sons of Fëanor, and in 495 Nargothrond was also overridden. Turgon had withdrawn to Gondolin which was kept hidden from both Morgoth and other Elves. In 510, Gondolin was betrayed by Maeglin and sacked. During the attack Turgon was killed; however, many of his people escaped and found their way south. Turgon had no sons, so Gil-galad, last surviving male descendant of Finarfin, became the fourth and last High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth.
Finally the Valar came down to Middle-earth and in the years 545-583 the War of Wrath was fought and Morgoth was cast into the Void. But Beleriand sank into the sea, except for a part of Ossiriand (Lindon), and a few isles. The defeat of Morgoth marked the end of the First Age and the start of the Second.
The Second Age
Most of the Noldor sailed back to Aman at the End of the First Age; but some, like Galadriel daughter of Finarfin or Celebrimbor grandson of Fëanor, refused the pardon of the Valar and remained in Middle-earth. Gil-galad founded a new kingdom at Lindon, and ruled throughout the Second Age, longer than any of the High Kings except for Finwë. He was also accepted as High King by the Noldor of Eregion. But after a while Sauron had replaced his master Morgoth as the Dark Lord. With the aid of the Ruling Ring he fortified Mordor and began the long war with the remaining Elves. He attacked Eregion, destroying it, but was withstood in Rivendell and Lindon. With the aid of the Númenóreans, the Noldor managed to defeat him for a time.
However, in the year 3319 of the Second Age Númenor fell due to Ar-Pharazôn's rebellion against the Valar, in which Sauron had a great part. When Elendil with his sons escaped to Middle-earth and established the realms of Arnor and Gondor, Sauron tried to conquer Gondor before it could take root. Both Elendil and Gil-galad set out for Mordor in the Last Alliance of Men and Elves and defeated Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad and finally in the Siege of Barad-dûr. There Gil-galad perished, and so ended the High Kingship of the Noldor. Of the descendants of Finwë in Middle-earth, only Galadriel and Elrond Half-elven remained (and the Númenórean Kings through Elrond's twin brother Elros).
The Third Age
In the Third Age, the Noldor in Middle-earth dwindled, and by the end of the Third Age the only big communities of Noldor remaining in Middle-earth were in Rivendell and Lindon. Their further fate of fading utterly from the World was shared by all Elves.
High Kings of the Noldor
- In Valinor:
- Finwë, first High King.
- Fëanor, first son of Finwë; claimed the title after his father's death.
- Fingolfin, second son of Finwë; held to be the High King by the majority of the Noldor.
- Finarfin, third son of Finwë; ruled the Noldor remaining in Aman.
- In Middle-earth:
- Fingolfin, after Maedhros son of Fëanor gave up his claims.
- Fingon, first son of Fingolfin.
- Turgon, second son of Fingolfin.
- Gil-galad, son of Orodreth, son of Angrod.
It is not known exactly how Finwë became High King: he may have been a descendant of the Noldorin primogenitor "Tata", or simply have been accepted as leader based on his status as ambassador to the Valar. The Noldor had many princely houses besides that of Finwë: Glorfindel of Gondolin and Gwindor of Nargothrond, while not related to Finwë, were princes in their own right. These lesser houses held no realms, however: all the Noldorin realms of Beleriand and later Eriador were ruled by a descendant of Finwë.
The Mannish descendants of Elros (the Kings of Arnor) called themselves High Kings, although their authority was only over the Dúnedain. As descendants through the female line Elros and his brother Elrond were not considered eligible, and Elrond indeed never claimed Kingship.
It is perhaps notable that Galadriel, the last of the House of Finwë in Middle-earth (other than the Half-elven) and Gil-galad's great-aunt, likewise never claimed a title, let alone that of High Queen. Indeed the only known Elven "kingdom" in Middle-earth after the Second Age was the Silvan realm of Mirkwood, ruled by the Sinda Thranduil.
The House of Finwë
The leaders of the Noldor were all members of the House of Finwë. The descendants of this house were also many of the major historical figures of the Second and Third Ages, culminating in Aragorn II and his wife Arwen. Below is a family tree showing the lines of descent from Finwë to the kings of Elves and Men in Middle-earth and Númenor. The names of the High Kings of the Noldor are in bold.
(1) Míriel = Finwë = Indis (2) | | | -------------------------------------------------- | | | | | Nerdanel = Fëanor Findis Anairë = Fingolfin Irimë Finarfin = Eärwen | | | | --------------------------- --------------------------- | | | | | | | | | Seven Sons of Fëanor Fingon Turgon = Elenwë | Argon Finrod Angrod Aegnor | : | | | | Celebrimbor | Aredhel = Eöl Orodreth Celeborn = Galadriel | | | | Tuor = Idril Maeglin ------------- | | | | | Eärendil = Elwing Gil-galad Finduilas | | | ----------------------------------------- | | | | Elros Elrond = Celebrían : | : ------------------------ : | | Aragorn = Arwen Elladan and Elrohir | ---------------------- | | Eldarion Numerous daughters : Kings of Reunited Kingdom
The Noldor were the Second Clan of the Elves in both order and size, the other clans being the Vanyar, a smaller group, and the Teleri, a much larger one. The Noldor typically had grey eyes and dark hair (except for those who had Vanyarin blood, most prominently the members of the House of Finarfin).
However, the Noldor were the proudest of the Elves; in the words of the Sindar, they came to Middle-earth because "they needed room to quarrel in". It was this pride that Melkor used to turn the Houses of Fëanor and Fingolfin against each other. The pride of the Noldor also led to their Fall and Exile (and their continued quarrels in Middle-earth, as noted by the Sindar).
The singular form of the Quenya noun is Noldo and the adjective is Noldorin.
Other Versions of the Legendarium
In the early versions of Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium (see: The History of Middle-earth), the Noldor were most often called Noldoli or Gnomes. They were still called Gnomes in early editions of The Hobbit. They were also the ones who spoke the language that later became Sindarin (then called Gnomish or Noldorin).
The spelling Ñoldor rather than Noldor was used by Tolkien in his later writings (the character ñ signifying the velar nasal, the sound found in the English word "sing"), but even in earlier versions the name Ñoldo came from a Primitive Quendian stem *ñolodō, which led to Ñoldo in Quenya and Golodh in Sindarin.
The family tree given above is correct in the placement of Orodreth and Gil-galad: Orodreth was Angrod's son, and Gil-galad was Orodreth's son, thus the grandson of Angrod and great-grandson of Finarfin, and brother to Finduilas. These are wrongly placed in the published Silmarillion. (See Orodreth and Gil-galad articles for details). Argon, the third son of Fingolfin, does not appear in the published Silmarillion at all.