29 May 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 333: Gondor

Gondor (S. ‘Stone-land;’ called Stonelending and Stoningland by the Rohirrim, and often referred to as the South-kingdom) was one of the two Realms in Exile founded by Elendil the Tall following Númenor’s Downfall. For many centuries it remained the most powerful Kingdom anywhere in western Middle-earth.

Founding and History

Founded in 3320 SA, Gondor consisted of most of the lands around the feet of the White Mountains (excluding the far western dales beyond the river Lenfui). She extended north to Celebrant, east to the Sea of Rhûn, south to the River Harnen (inland) and Umbar (coast), and west to Gwathlo. Her greatest cities were Minas Anor (Tower of the Sun), Minas Ithil (Tower of the Moon), and Osgiliath (Citadel of the Stars).

Believing Sauron the Great to have perished in the Downfall, the survivors had built Gondor upon the borders of his ancient realm, which brought many attacks upon Gondor from Sauron (who had survived) and his allies in Rhûn, Harad, and Umbar. In secret, Sauron had returned to Mordor, where he openly declared himself and waged war on the Dúnedain. However, he struck too late and with too little strength (he had underestimated his foes), and when the Last Alliance banded against him, he was defeated in battle and driven back to Barad-dûr.

Gondor’s Height of Power

The South-kingdom grew more powerful at this time; in its Golden Age, it was ruled by the Ship-kings. Under Hyarmendacil’s reign, Gondor’s borders and influence had reached as far as the Greyflood and the Sea of Rhûn. For many centuries, Gondor had peace as a result of her military might. But the people of Gondor grew too content with this peace, and fell into a time of luxury and pretention.

The Decline of Gondor

Her decline was slow, however; by the middle of the Age, assaults began upon her frontiers – mainly from the East and South. Though the Dúnedain were victorious, driving back the assaults cost many lives. The Line of Anárion (who had ruled Gondor since Elendil’s death in SA 3441) slowly began to wither, and eventually one of the Kings took a wife of lesser race, an act which later precipitated the Kin-strife (TA 1432-48), Gondor’s civil war, which destroyed much of the fairness of the South Kingdom and the numbers of the Dúnedain dwindled further. In the devastation of Osgiliath, the palantír was lost.

In 1636 Gondor was struck by the Great Plague, which left her so crippled that had there been an attack by the Haradrim or Easterlings, the realm would have fallen. Between 1851 and 1954, Gondor was in conflict with invading Wainriders, who destroyed the Northern Army of Gondor. The survivors banded with the Southern Army of Gondor to destroy the Wainriders as they celebrated their victory in the Battle of the Camp.

After the Line of Anárion failed altogether in TA 2050, the Dúnedain of the South were ruled by Stewards, who remained true to their trust and never once claimed the Crown for themselves. Under the rule of the Stewards, the Dúnedain slowly regained some of their power. Though they were never again able to prevent war from happening on their borders, they did succeed in building a protective system of alliances and defensible frontiers which were strong enough to withstand Sauron’s return to power.

Gondor During the War of the Ring

During the War of the Ring, Gondor was the strongest of those free nations in opposition to Sauron. Thus it was his primary strategic goal. Though Gondor was nearly defeated, they were assisted by the Rohirrim and came out victorious. From there, the Army of the West took the battle directly to Sauron at the Battle of the Morannon; this distraction allowed Frodo the opportunity to destroy the One Ring in Mount Doom, causing the destruction of Sauron and his armies.

Following the War of the Ring, Gondor was delivered from peril and reunited with her sister-realm of Arnor. Aragorn II became King of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor. Faramir, the last heir of the Ruling Stewards, retained his office as steward and was made Prince of Ithilien. During absence or illness, he would serve as the King’s representative, and also became the chief counsellor of the Council of Gondor.

1 comment:

  1. Edmond Dantès30 May, 2012 20:22

    Great summary, keep up the great work.