Tolkien Gateway


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m (Adding the Haradrim category to Berúthiel based on Tolkien's commentary.)
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[[Category:Third Age characters]]

Revision as of 16:31, 6 October 2021

Paula DiSante - Reporting to Beruthiel.JPG
"Reporting to Beruthiel" by Paula DiSante
Biographical Information
TitlesQueen of Gondor
Notable forher cats; spying on people of Gondor
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Berúthiel

Berúthiel was a Queen of Gondor in the early part of the Third Age. She was the wife of King Tarannon Falastur, and was noted as being "nefarious, solitary, and loveless".[1] It is therefore of no surprise that she and Tarannon produced no heirs.[2]



Berúthiel was a Black Númenórean.[3] It is possible that Berúthiel was from an inland city that was located further to the south than Umbar.[note 1][3][1]

Tarannon's reason for marrying her is not known. It is possible that the marriage was in connection with his extensions of the realm of Gondor along the coasts south of the mouths of the Anduin[2] to maintain peaceful relations with the realm that she came from.

Tarannon brought her to live with him in his house south of Pelargir next to the mouths of the river Anduin near the Sea. She hated Pelargir (loathing the smell of the sea, and fish, and the gulls), however, and dwelt in the King's House in Osgiliath instead. There she decorated the courtyard with strange and disturbing sculptures but kept the inside of the house mostly bare. She herself wore dark, drab clothing and "hated all making, all colors and elaborate adornments".

Berúthiel loathed cats, but they became attracted to her for precisely that reason. They followed her around, and eventually she took advantage of their company by enslaving and torturing them. In total she had ten cats, nine black and one white. Berúthiel set the black cats to spy on the Men of Gondor and the white cat to spy on the black ones. She managed to learn many dark secrets about the realm and its people by conversing with them and "reading their memories". These cats were infamous among the Gondorians, but they dared not touch them; however, Men would curse whenever they saw one pass by them.

Eventually, Tarannon exiled Berúthiel from Gondor and her name was erased from the Book of the Kings. He had her set on a ship that "was last seen flying past Umbar with a cat at the masthead and another as a figurehead on the prow".[1]


No wars with Umbar or Harad are mentioned during the reign of King Tarannon.[2] It is possible that the setting Berúthiel on a ship that was last seen flying past Umbar offended the realm that Berúthiel was from. The conquest of Umbar took place during the reign of King Eärnil 23 years after the death of King Tarannon.[4]

Despite the erasure of her name from Gondor's records, Berúthiel and her cats were so notorious that they were held in the memory of Gondorians for centuries; Aragorn alluded to them more than 2,000 years after her death.[5]


The name Berúthiel is Sindarin. It seems to mean "Angry Queen", incorporating ber(eth) ("queen, spouse") + rúth ("anger") + feminine suffix -iel. Since the Black Númenóreans did not use the Elven tongues, this title was probably given to her by the Gondorians and is not her real name.


Atanatar I
480 - 748
570 - 830
Tarannon Falastur
654 - 913
Eärnil I
736 - 936
820 - 1015


In an interview from 1966, Tolkien likened Berúthiel to the giantess Skaði of Norse mythology, since they both shared a dislike for "seaside life".[3][6]


  1. It is mentioned that she loathed the smell of the sea, fish and gulls. She was compared to the giantess Skadi who married Njord, the sea-god and got fed up with the seaside life, and was kept awake by the gulls and finally went back to live in Jotunheim. Since King Tarannon had her set on a ship and set adrift on the sea before a north wind and the ship was last seen flying past Umbar it is possible that she went back to the inland city with this ship and that this inland city was to the south of Umbar. Being the descendents of the King's Men most of the Black Númenóreans lived in Umbar and in other former Númenórean colonies in the south of Middle-earth.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari", "Notes", note 7
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for King Tarannon
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Daphne Castell, "The Realms of Tolkien", The Realms of Tolkien (accessed 15 January 2021).
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for King Eärnil
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark"
  6. Humphrey Carpenter, The Inklings, "Thursday evenings", pp. 137-8