Gondor was the greatest kingdom of Men in Middle-earth, bordered by Rohan to the north, Harad to the south, the cape of Andrast and the Sea to the west, and Mordor to the east. Its first capital was Osgiliath, moved to Minas Tirith in TA 1640. The city of Minas Tirith remains the capital of Gondor; other major fortresses include Dol Amroth in Belfalas and Osgiliath, which is a city on the Anduin.
Gondor was founded by the brothers Isildur and Anárion, exiles from Númenor. Gondor was an allied kingdom with Arnor, whose line of kings chieftains came from Isildur, while the Line of the Kings of Gondor was from Anárion. Gondor was at the height of its power in its early years due to the ships and the military might that its armies possessed. However, continued attacks by allies of Sauron, civil war, and a devastating plague caused it to gradually decline over the course of the Third Age.
Like Arnor to the north, Gondor is a Mannish kingdom founded by Anárion, the youngest son of Elendil, after the Downfall of Númenor. It is located to the South of Rohan and to the West of Mordor, on the Bay of Belfalas.
Before the Downfall of Númenor, Gondor was home to many Númenórean colonists, who either mixed blood with the indigenous Middle Men if they were friendly, or dispersed them into Ras Morthil, Dunland, and Drúadan Forest. Gondor was a more fertile region than Arnor to the north, and therefore it already had a larger population before the ships of Elendil's sons arrived, including a well-established city, Pelargir.
The Faithful or Elendili from Númenor were given a warm reception upon their arrival by those that had already colonized Middle-earth, including a colonial branch of Númenorean royalty at Dor-en-Ernil. The colonists north of Anduin accepted Elendil's claim to kingship over them. South of the Great River, however, the newly exiled Númenoreans did not recognize Elendil's claim.
The newly founded kingdom of Gondor was then part of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men which overthrew Sauron for the first time at the very end of the Second Age, and when Isildur cut the finger of Sauron.
After the war, Gondor's power and wealth grew steadily (only interrupted by an Easterling invasion in TA 492). Its power would continue to grow into the 9th century Third Age. While the power of Gondor's sister kingdom Arnor peaked during the 9th century, when it broke into various successor states, Gondor's greatest glory was yet to come. Gondor's great cities Minas Anor, Minas Ithil, Osgiliath and Pelargir only grew and the Dunedain of Gondor started to rule over more and more of the lesser people.
Gondor's Golden AgeEdit
Gondor's power reached its Golden Age under the four "Ship-kings":
- Tarannon Falastur r. TA 830 – TA 913. First of the Ship-Kings, died childless.
- Eärnil I r. TA 913 – TA 936. Nephew of Tarannon.
- Ciryandil r. TA 936 – TA 1015
- Hyarmendacil I (Ciryaher) r. TA 1015 - TA 1149. Last of the Ship-Kings. In the reign of the powerful king, Hyarmendacil I (c. 12th century TA) Gondor reached the height of its power. During Hyarmendacil's reign, Gondor's borders reached their furthest extent. The Kingdom extended east to the Sea of Rhûn, south to the nearest lands of the Haradrim, as far north as Mirkwood, and west towards the borders of Arnor.
Such was Gondor's wealth during the period that men from other lands would say in envy: "In Gondor precious stones are but pebbles for the children to play with." Gondor would also enjoy several centuries of peace due to its military might.
The Decline of GondorEdit
However, after decadence spread under the Kings of Gondor and a long period of decline began (although Gondor experienced several revivals). Three great calamities struck Gondor during the second millennium of the Third Age, which are held to be the chief reasons for its decline: the Kin-strife, the Great Plague, and the invasion of the Wainriders (a tribe of Easterlings).
In the 15th century TA a great civil war named the Kin-strife tore the nation apart. The current King Eldacar was of mixed blood: his mother was of the Northmen. Popular displeasure at this led to the overthrow of King Eldacar by Castamir, the admiral of all of Gondor's naval forces who possessed some royal blood. Eldacar's son was slain, and he fled north. Castamir was afterwards known as Castamir the Usurper. During his ten-year rule, he proved to be very cruel, and because of his love of his old fleet, he lavished attention on the coastal regions while the interior provinces were ignored and left to rot. Eldacar then returned with an army of his Northman kinsmen, and the armies of the Men of Gondor joined them from interior provinces such as Anórien. Osgiliath was devastated during this conflict, its great bridge destroyed and its Palantíri lost. Eldacar slew Castamir and reclaimed his throne, but Castamir's sons and their forces were besieged in Pelargir, the great port of Gondor. They eventually retreated to Umbar, where they joined with the Corsairs, and troubled Gondor for many years, until their descendants died out.
The Great PlagueEdit
Later, the Great Plague struck and the White Tree died. This Plague was no localized event: the Plague swept through all of Middle-earth, reaching the successor states of Arnor and the Hobbits of the Shire in the North. King Tarondor found a sapling of the White Tree, and moved the capital from Osgiliath to Minas Anor, the City of Anárion. During this time, Gondor was so depopulated that the fortifications guarding against the re-entry of evil into Mordor were abandoned. It is believed that had the Haradrim or Easterlings been capable of attacking Gondor at this time, it would have fallen. However, the Plague left Gondor's enemies in no better condition than Gondor itself, and neither side was capable of mounting new offensives.
The Invasion of the WainridersEdit
Following the sapping of Gondor's strength by the plague, it did recover but then the Wainrider (Easterlings) invaded and devastated Gondor, and the conflict lasted for almost a century. The Wainriders destroyed the Northern Army of Gondor, but survivors linked up with the victorious Southern Army of Gondor which destroyed the Haradrim as they crossed the river Poros, led by a general named Eärnil II , and they destroyed the Wainriders as they celebrated their victory, during the Battle of the Camp.
The Line of the Kings FailsEdit
In TA 1944 Gondor faced a succession crisis when King Ondoher was slain in battle with both his sons. Arvedui, Prince of Arthedain, Ondoher's son-in-law, and the victorious general Eärnil, who was a distant blood-relative of Ondoher, claimed the throne. Arvedui's claim lay mainly in the reintroduction of the old Nùmenorean law of accession, which stated the eldest (remaining) child should succeed the king. If the law was reintroduced, then Arvedui's wife Fíriel, Ondoher's daughter and last remaining child, would become Ruling-Queen, making their descendants Kings of both Arnor and Gondor. Arvedui also tried to put weight behind his claim, as he was Isildur's heir. The council of Gondor recognised that the name of Isildur was held in honour in Gondor, but they dictated that the South-Kingdom must be ruled by an Heir of Anarion. Due to his ancestry from Fíriel and Arvedui, more than a millennium later, Aragorn Elessar put forward his claim as the heir of both Isildur and Anarion.
Eärnil laid his claim as being a direct descendant of King Telumehtar Umbardacil. His claim was also greatly bolstered by the popularity he had gained as the victorious general who saved Gondor from the Wainriders after winning the southern theatre of the war. Steward Pelendur who was temporarily ruling Gondor as serving as arbiter of succession, intervened in favour of Gondor's victorious general who would rule as Eärnil II .
The Last Heir of AnárionEdit
During the Battle of Fornost, Eärnil II's heir Eärnur led Gondor's forces to victory over the Witch-king of Angmar, who was actually the Lord of the Nazgûl. Although Eärnur wished to fight him, Eärnur's horse was terrified and fled the battle against his wishes. By the time, he mastered his horse and returned the Witch-king had fled. Glorfindel the Elf then prophesied to him that it was better that he not fight the Lord of the Nazgûl because "never by the hand of man shall he fall".
Eärnur later ascended to the throne, ruling from Minas Anor (Tower of the Sun). During this time, the Ringwraiths captured Minas Anor's sister city, Minas Ithil (Tower of the Moon), renaming it Minas Morgul (Tower of Sorcery) and taking it as their lair. Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith (Tower of Guard) as a result. The Lord of the Nazgûl repeatedly sent messengers to Minas Tirith challenging Eärnur to single combat, taunting him that he had fled out of cowardice from facing him during the Battle of Fornost. Eventually, King Eärnur was overcome by wrath and rode with a small company of knights to Minas Morgul, to accept the challenge. They were never heard from again and so ended the Line of Anárion.
The Stewards of GondorEdit
The Ruling StewardsEdit
A long line of hereditary Stewards governed the realm after the disappearance of Eärnur, son of Eärnil, since there was no proof that the last king was dead, and no claimant had enough support to be accepted as his successor. The line of Anárion was held to have failed, and Gondor was not willing to risk to another Kin-strife, which would surely have destroyed it. Whenever there was a new Steward, he would swear an oath to yield rule of Gondor back to the King, in essence only an heir of Isildur, if he should ever return. In Gondor, there was no one who could claim descent from Isildur in direct line, and the northern line of Arnor had effectively disappeared, so this oath was not considered seriously. The line of Stewards ruled as Kings, without having the title.
Cirion and EorlEdit
In TA 2510 when Steward Cirion ruled over Gondor, the nation faced one of its greatest perils: an Easterling tribe named the Balchoth invaded Gondor with mass force. Gondor's army marched to fight the Balchoth but were cut off from Minas Tirith and pushed back in the direction of the Limlight.
Messengers were sent to get help from the Éothéod, a tribe, which lived in the northern vales of the Anduin, but nobody expected the messengers to reach their destination. When certain peril came upon Gondor, however, the Éothéod turned the tide of the Battle of the Field of Celebrant. After the victory the Éothéod were awarded the fields of Calenardhon north of the White Mountains from the Gap of Rohan at the southern end of the Hithaeglir, Fangorn Forest, rivers Limlight to Anduin, western Emyn Muil, and the Mering Stream, where they established the kingdom of Rohan with Eorl the Young as their first king. A permanent alliance between Gondor and Rohan was established by the oath Eorl swore to Cirion.
Gondor in the Present TimeEdit
Turgon is the twenty-fourth Ruling Steward of Gondor.
Born in TA 2855, Turgon was the son of Túrin II. Túrin II died in TA 2914 and Turgon succeeded to the Stewardship of Gondor. Turgon's rule has been, until this day, largely peaceful.
The alliance between Rohan and Gondor came into existence in TA 2510. In that year the Easterlings launched a massive invasion of Gondor. The army of Gondor was defeated and trapped between the Limlight and the Celebrant. Then Eorl the Young and his fierce Éothéod Riders unexpectedly took the field during the Battle of Celebrant and turned the tide in the favour of Gondor.
As a reward Cirion, the Steward of Gondor, gave Eorl the depopulated province of Calenardhon for his people to settle, while fulfilling Gondor's need for a strong ally.
The Oath of Eorl was sworn by both Cirion and Eorl. Neither nation has broken the alliance ever since. Rohan has gone through great lengths to fulfill its part of the treaty including sacrificing two of its heirs when Gondor was under threat from the Haradrim in TA 2885, when Fastred and Folcred, the twin sons of King Folcwine, were killed during the Battle of Crossings of Poros. King Théoden once again honoured the alliance in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Gondor's armies prevent Mordor and its allies from overwhelming the rest of Middle-earth. Because of Gondor's proximity to Mordor, its military forces have to be proficiently trained and vigilantly on guard at all times. Because of this, they were arguably the strongest country that opposed Sauron. During the Third Age, most of Minas Tirith's armies were/are trained and drilled to fight in tight infantry formations, supported by archers and cavalry. Their armaments consist of a chainmail undercoat with either a black tabard or plate armor over it. Their standard weapons are long spears, longswords, and longbows, complimented by tower shields.
Minas Tirith's immediate defenses are comprised by thousands of infantrymen stationed throughout Osgiliath, Cair Andros, and the Rammas Echor. These units are temporary detachments from the city. Minas Tirith also has at least three companies of the elite Guards of the Citadel, tasked to defend the upper levels of the city. They wear black robes, surcoats and winged silver crowns. Additionally, the sixth level of the city houses stables for a small force of horsemen. Beyond Anduin and the defenses of Minas Tirith operates a secretive group of soldiers called the Rangers of Ithilien. Armed with longbows, swords, and spears, these men watch and harass the enemy throughout Ithilien, much akin to guerrilla warfare.
The defense of Gondor's fiefdoms are the responsibility of the respective lords of these territories. Their training, strength in numbers, and armaments vary from each fief (Lossarnach brings Axemen to the aid of Minas Tirith while the men of Morthond Vale consist of Archers). The greatest of these fiefs is Dol Amroth, which brings forth the largest force to Minas Tirith, made up of men-at-arms and arguably the best cavalry in Middle Earth- the elite Swan Knights.
Gondor's fleet at the present time is docked at Pelargir. This port and the Anduin River is essential in the defense of Minas Tirith. As made evident by the fiefdom's dire need to defend their coasts and many rivers of Gondor, a majority of the fleet is concentrated at Pelargir.
The full force of Gondor's army is around 30.000 Gondorian soldiers.
Regions of GondorEdit
Gondor is divided between several nearly autonomous regions. These are:
- Ithilien - Is the only part of Gondor on the eastern side of the Anduin .
- Anórien - It lay north of the White Mountains, surrounds Minas Tirith.
- Lossarnach - It is a fertile region lying south of eastern end of the White Mountains.
- Lebennin - Is a sourthern region of the realm of Gondor, it is also highly populated.
- Belfalas - It is a region of southern Gondor, encompassing a part of the coast.
- Dor-en-Ernil - It is a coastland region of southern Gondor.
- Lamedon - Is another region of southern Gondor, also one of the most densely populated regions.
- Anfalas - It is a coastal region, south of Pinnath Gelin .
- Ethir Anduin - It is the delta of the river Anduin, south of Pelargir in Gondor.
Cities, Fortresses and Strongholds in Gondor include:
- Minas Tirith - City of the Kings, the capital and largest city of Gondor.
- Cair Andros - an island-fortress in the river Anduin, roughly 40 miles north of Osgiliath.
- Calembel - A town located on the road between Erech and Pelargir, at the fords of the river Ciril.
- Dol Amroth - It is a city in Belfalas ruled by the Princes of Dol Amroth.
- Osgiliath - The old capital, located southwest of Minas Tirith.
- Henneth Annûn - Hidden Gondorian outpost, northeast of Cair Andros.
- Linhir - A town located at the juncture of both river Gilrain and river Serni, north of the Mouths of Anduin.
- Pelargir - It is a great city on the river of Anduin, and the main harbour of Gondor.