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Gondor was the most prominent 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 remained the capital of Gondor for the rest of the Third Age and into the Fourth Age; other major fortresses included Dol Amroth in Belfalas and Osgiliath, which was 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 king chieftains came from Isildur, while the Line of the Kings of Gondor descended 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 until Sauron's final defeat and the crowning of Aragorn II Elessar. Following that time the power of Gondor once again expanded, and the former lands of Arnor were united with it under the banner of the Reunited Kingdom

In all, there were thirty-one kings of Gondor after Anárion, who was slain before Barad-dûr at the Siege of Barad-dûr

History

Gondor was one of the two kingdoms founded by the Faithful Dunedain after Numenor's downfall

Like Arnor to the north, Gondor was a Dúnedain kingdom founded by Isildur and Anárion, the sons of Elendil, after the Downfall of Númenor. It was located to the South of Rohan and to the West of Mordor, on the Bay of Belfalas.

Early years

Elendil, the first King of Gondor

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, at a latitude comparable to Venice, 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, led by Elendil, were met in peace by the old colonists in Gondor

The Faithful, or Elendili, from Númenor were given a warm reception upon their arrival by those that had already colonized Middle-earth. The colonists north of Anduin accepted Elendil's claim to kingship over them. South of the Great River, however, the former King's Men did not accept his claim, becoming the Black Númenóreans.

Gondor joined the Last Alliance of Men and Elves against Sauron

Centred on the Anduin river, the newly founded kingdom of Gondor was the closest to Mordor and was the first to be attacked in SA 3429. Sauron's forces overran Minas Ithil but failed to capture Osgiliath. Gondor participated in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men which overthrew Sauron for the first time at the very end of the Second Age, when Isildur cut the ring from the finger of Sauron.

Gondor prospers

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 of the Third Age. While the power of Gondor's sister kingdom Arnor peaked at this time, before 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 Dúnedain of Gondor ruled over more and more of the lesser people.

Golden Age

The Argonath, monument to the earliest Kings of Gondor

Gondor's power reached its Golden Age under the four "Ship-kings":

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 enjoyed several centuries of peace due also to its military might.

Decline

However, decadence set in and a long period of decline began (although Gondor experienced several revivals, notably under Rómendacil II in the 13th century.). 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).

Kin-strife

In the 15th century TA a great civil war named the Kin-strife tore the nation apart. 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 Captain of the Ships and a junior member of the House of Anárion. 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 tired of Castamir's cruelty, many Men of Gondor joined them from inland provinces such as Anórien. Osgiliath was sacked during this conflict, the Dome of Stars burned and its Palantír 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 retreated a year later to Umbar, where they joined with the Haradrim, and troubled Gondor for many years, even killing King Minardil in TA 1634.

The White Tree of Gondor, originally planted in Minas Tirith by Isildur, was a symbol and coat of arms of Gondor

The Great Plague

Just as his successor King Telemnar was preparing to attack Umbar, the Great Plague struck and the White Tree died. This Plague was no localized event: it 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 many settlements and garrisons were abandoned, including the fortifications guarding against the re-entry of evil into Mordor. 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.

By TA 1810 Gondor had begun to recover and King Telumehtar led an assault on Umbar, recapturing the city and ending the line of Castamir and for a time the Corsair threat was ended, until a fresh disaster befell Gondor.

Invasion of the Wainriders

Wainrider raids on Gondor started in TA 1851 and five years later a great invasion resulted in the defeat and death of Narmacil II and the loss of all territories east of the Anduin save only Ithilien. After years of skirmishing, in TA 1899 King Calimehtar led a large army to victory in the Second Battle of Dagorlad, although the Waindriders were only defeated and not destroyed. They returned in TA 1944, linking up with the Haradrim to attack Gondor from north and south. The Wainriders destroyed the Northern Army of Gondor, but survivors linked up with the victorious Southern Army of Gondor, which had destroyed the Haradrim as they crossed the river Poros, led by a general named Eärnil, and they destroyed the Wainriders as they celebrated their victory during the Battle of the Camp.

The Line of the Kings Fails

Reunification Rejected

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 upon the old Nùmenorean law of accession, which stated the eldest (remaining) child should succeed the king. If the law was upheld, 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 and thus by rights High King of all the Dúnedain. 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. 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 Anárion

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".

In TA 2002, the Nazgûl captured the city of Minas Ithil ("Tower of the Moon"), renaming it Minas Morgul ("Tower of Dark Sorcery") and taking it as their lair. Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith (Tower of Guard) as a result. With the accession of Eärnur, 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 in TA 2050, 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 Gondor

The Ruling Stewards

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 or clear enough link to the royal house 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, if he should ever return. As the Line of Isildur was believed to be extinct as was that of Anárion, the oath was not considered likely to be fulfilled. The line of Stewards ruled as Kings, without having the title. During the War of the Ring, the ruling Steward of Gondor was Denethor II, and his two sons were Boromir and younger Faramir- the latter being the last Ruling Steward of Gondor.

Watchful Peace

The early Stewards enjoyed a long period of uneasy quiet known as the Watchful Peace. This was shattered in TA 2975 by the sudden appearance of new Black Uruks out of Mordor, who attacked Osgiliath and captured it, driving out the last people and destroying the Great Bridge. The city was swiftly reclaimed by Boromir but in the centuries afterward Gondor was to be constantly at war.

Cirion and Eorl

In TA 2510 when Steward Cirion ruled over Gondor, the kingdom faced one of its greatest perils: an Easterling tribe named the Balchoth invaded Gondor with great 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 had been 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. With the army of Gondor facing destruction, however, the Éothéod arrived to turn the tide of the Battle of the Field of Celebrant. After the victory the Éothéod were awarded the (mostly deserted) province of Calenardhon, 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.

During the Long Winter of 2758-9 Gondor was attacked by three great fleets from Umbar. These invasions were repelled by Beregond and aid sent to Rohan which had been overrun by Dunlendings and Easterlings. In TA 2885 therefore when the Haradrim invaded Ithilien, King Folcwine sent his sons Folcred and Fastred to repay the debt, defeating the invaders at the Battle of the Crossings of Poros at the cost of their own lives.

Sauron Returns

In TA 2901 Orc raids from Mordor intensified, forcing the abandonment of Ithilien by its inhabitants. The Steward Túrin II built refuges including Henneth Annûn for the Rangers of Ithilien to harry the forces of Mordor and also fortified Cair Andros. The Rammas Echor was also built around this time to protect the Pelennor fields from Orc raids. In TA 2954, after Sauron had declared himself openly in Mordor, Mount Doom burst into flame and the last hardy inhabitants of Ithilien fled west over the Anduin.

During the time of Ecthelion II a great captain named Thorongil appeared in Gondor and in TA 2980 he led a raid on the city of Umbar, destroying the Corsair fleet and burning the port.

The War of the Ring and the Restoration

Sauron had prepared for the final conquest, and in TA 3018 his forces took the eastern half of Osgiliath. The attack was ended with the destruction of the last bridge across the Anduin. The following year Minas Tirith faced a larger attack from Mordor, with the additional threat of the Corsairs of Umbar. Aragorn summoned the Dead Men of Dunharrow to destroy the Corsairs, freeing forces in the south of Gondor to come to the aid of Minas Tirith. Gondor then defeated the army of Mordor with the aid of the Rohirrim in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, though with heavy losses. The combined army of the West then carried the battle to Sauron at the Battle of the Black Gate, a feint to distract Sauron's attention from Frodo Baggins' quest to destroy the One Ring in Mount Doom, thus causing Sauron's destruction and the allies' ultimate victory.

After the second and final defeat of Sauron, the Kingship was restored, with Aragorn crowned as King Elessar of the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor. Faramir, last heir of the Ruling Stewards, retained his office as the Steward to the King, and ruled over Gondor's eastern region of Ithilien; a fair land between the river Anduin and the Ephel Dúath. The oaths between Gondor and Rohan were renewed, and several joint campaigns were fought in the east and south against the Easterlings and Haradrim; all former territories of the South-kingdom were won back during the following centuries, and its power and wealth were restored. Several Tolkien's writings state that "...of Eldarion son of Elessar it was foretold that he should rule a great realm, and that it should endure for a hundred generations of men after him, that is until a new age brought in again new things; and from him should come the kings of many realms in long days after".[1]

Song of Gondor

Gondor! Gondor, between the Mountains and the Sea!

West Wind blew there; the light upon the Silver Tree

Fell like bright rain in gardens of the Kings of old.

O proud walls! White towers! O wingéd crown and throne of gold!

O Gondor, Gondor! Shall Men behold the Silver Tree,

Or West Wind blow again between the Mountains and the Sea?

This was sung by Aragorn on his trip with Legolas and Gimli to find Pippin and Merry.

Etymology

Gondor means 'Land of Stone', from Sindarin gond (stone) + (n)dor (land), most likely given to it because of the White Mountains (Ered Nimrais) and other mountain chains in the land (hypothetical Quenya name Ondonórë).

Regions of Gondor

Map of Gondor

Anórien

Gondor was divided into numerous regions, which consisted of the following:

The long cape of Andrast was not populated (by the descendants of Númenóreans, but evidence from the Unfinished Tales suggests that a small group of Púkel-men inhabited it.)

Additionally, Gondor held or had held the following regions at certain points in its history:

Major sites

Minas Tirith

Cities and strongholds in Gondor included:

  • Cair Andros, an island-fortress in the river Anduin roughly 40 miles north of Osgiliath. Gondor maintained a garrison here, as it was of paramount importance during the long war with Mordor, in order to keep the enemy out of Anórien.
  • Calembel, a town in Lamedon
  • Dol Amroth, a city in Belfalas ruled by the Prince of Dol Amroth
  • Ethring, a ford and a large township built on either side of the river Ringló
  • Henneth Annûn, a hidden refuge of the Rangers of Ithilien in the northern part of Ithilien.
  • Linhir, a port city in Lebennin
  • Minas Tirith (originally Minas Anor), City of the Kings, after the mid-Third Age the capital and largest city of Gondor
  • Osgiliath, a city and former capital of Gondor on the river Anduin, largely destroyed and abandoned by the end of the Third Age. During the War of the Ring, Gondor kept a garrison on the west bank to prevent the Enemy from crossing the river and assaulting Minas Tirith. Osgiliath was the key to besieging Minas Tirith because of its location at a narrow point of the great river. The massive Morgul-host led by the Witch-king to besiege Minas Tirith overwhelmed the garrison and gained the passage of the Anduin, precipitating the Siege of Gondor that would conclude with the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
  • Pelargir, the great southern harbour captured by the Corsairs in the War of the Ring
  • Tarnost, a hill-town in Belfalas

    The ruined city of Osgiliath

Additionally, Gondor had held the following locations at certain points in its history:

  • Amon Hen and Amon Lhaw, seats were built upon these hills and garrisoned in the days of Gondor's power.
  • Angrenost (Isengard), one of the three original fortresses of Gondor and held within it one of the realm's Palantiri. Its location in Nan Curunir (valley at the end of the Misty Mountains), was at the northwestern corner of the Southern Kingdom of Gondor, guarding the Fords of Isen from enemy incursions into Calenardhon, and together with the fortress of Aglarond to its south protected the Gap of Rohan. After Calenardhon was given to the Éothéod by Cirion, Steward of Gondor and became Rohan, Isengard remained part of Gondor, and the company of Aglarond removed to the northern fortress, although the rest of Gondor almost forgot about it. The small guard intermarried much with the Dunlendings, until the place became a Dunlending fortress in all but name. Orthanc, however, remained closed, as the Steward of Gondor still held the keys. Isengard was then gifted to Saruman, who held it as a Warden of Gondor, until he took it for his own in TA 2953.
  • Argonath, great statues which marked the northern border of Gondor on the river Anduin.
  • Durthang, the largest fortress in Mordor, originally built to guard the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow).
  • Erech, a town of Gondor that was abandoned by the end of the Third Age. To the north lay the Paths of the Dead.
  • Minas Ithil, a city founded by Isildur that was originally the sister city of Minas Anor. Located in an upland valley at the feet of the Mountains of Shadow, it was built as a fortress city to defend Gondor from Sauron in Mordor. It was conquered by the Nazgûl in TA 2002 and renamed Minas Morgul. Following the War of the Ring it was demolished.
  • Tharbad, a city on both sides of the river Greyflood, (at one time held by Gondor in the south and Arnor in the north) but abandoned as Gondor's borders recessed through Enedwaith to the Isen following the Great Plague, later ruined.
  • Tower of Cirith Ungol, a Tower Fortress in western Mordor built by Gondor to guard the pass of Cirith Ungol from any evil creature trying to enter -or leave- Mordor. The Great Plague wiped out the garrison located here, so it was easily captured when Sauron's minions re-entered Mordor.
  • Towers of the Teeth, two towers situated on either side of the Black Gate. The two towers, called Carchost and Narchost, that stand on either side of Cirith Gorgor, the Haunted Pass, which lies between the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow), and the Ash Mountains. Originally built by Men of Gondor following the downfall of Sauron at the end of the Second Age, the Towers of the Teeth were eventually taken over by the servants of the Dark Lord. They were then repaired and fortified and were incorporated into the defenses of the pass and gate.
  • Umbar, the far southern harbour, held between TA 933-TA 1448 and again for a time in the 19th century. The home of the Black Númenóreans and the Corsairs of Umbar.
  • Undeeps, forts were built in this region to protect the province of Calenardhon from invasion.

See also

Translations

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ጎንዶር
Arabic غوندور
Armenian Գոնդոր
Belarusian Cyrillic Гондар
Bengali গনডোরে
Bulgarian Cyrillic Гондор
Catalan Góndor
Chinese (Mainland) 刚铎
Chinese (Hong Kong) 剛鐸
Danish Gondor ("Stenlandet")
Georgian გონდორი
Greek Γκόντορ
Hebrew גונדור
Hindi गॉन्डॉर
Japanese ゴンドール
Kannada ಗೊಂಡೋರ್
Kazakh Гондор (Cyrillic) Gondor (Latin)
Korean 곤도르
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Гондор
Macedonian Cyrillic Гондор
Marathi गोन्दोर
Mongolian Cyrillic Гондор
Nepalese गोनदोर
Pashto ګوندور
Persian گاندور
Punjabi ਗੋਂਡੋਰ
Russian Гондор
Serbian Гондор (Cyrillic) Gondor (Latin)
Sindhi خوبصورت
Sinhalese ගොඳොර්
Tajik Cyrillic Гондор
Tamil கொண்டோர்
Telugu గొండోర్
Thai กอนดอร์
Ukrainian Cyrillic Гондор
Urdu گونداور
Uzbek Гондор (Cyrillic) Gondor (Latin)
Yiddish גאָנדאָר


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