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Lord of the Rings - the Kingdom of Arnor
By Rider, 5 August 2007; Revised
Category: History and Fiction
Arnor is a kingdom in the northwest of Middle-Earth. It was created by Elendil at the end of the Second Age (Year 3320) when he fled from Númenór. Arnor held the seat of the High King of Gondor and Arnor. Arnor was friendly to the surrounding Elvish lords (Gil-Galad, Cirdan and Elrond) and Elendil marched with them to the Last Alliance. After the Last Alliance (in which Elendil was slain and Isildur became the High King), Arnor remained the strongest presence in the north (also partly because the Elves had been weakened considerably), but it was only a shadow of its previous glory. After Isildur left the southern throne to Meneldil (his brother Anarion’s son), he wished to return to Arnor, but was ambushed and slain at the Gladden Fields. From that time, the rule of Arnor went on to Valandil, son of Isildur, and his successors after his death.
Arnor was quite far to the north – population was mostly scarce and the Dunedain founded few cities. The capital of Arnor was Annuminas, later it was moved to Fornost Erain. Other important cities included Tharbad. There were some smaller establishments (Bree).
Annuminas was the capital and the seat of the High King of Arnor was in that city. Most likely, it was a magnificent and beautiful city resembling Osgiliath of Gondor. The name Annuminas itself means ’West Tower’. In time, the city was deserted and with the fall of Arnor (division), it was deserted.
The later seat of the kings of Arthedain, Fornost, was constructed most likely as a fort (the name itself means the Northern-fortress of the Kings). It is likely that Fornost was taken as the seat of the throne some time in the 9th century of the Third Age. During the second millenia, Fornost witnessed many attacks upon itself and was taken in 1974. It is unlikely that Fornost ever became largely populated after that, even though the city was retaken. By the beginning of the Fourth Age, Fornost was long in ruins and it was surrounded by mysteries and legends (for the common people).
Tharbad (meaning ’the Crossing Road’) was situated at the Fords of Gwathló. It had a strong fort and was situated upon one of the main communication ways between Arnor and Gondor. It was also the main harbor of Arnor and was rebuilt several times to accomodate the needs. Tharbad decayed along with Arnor and it was of no importance after the fall of the successor states of Arnor.
Not much is there to explain the systems of Arnor, although it would be logical to assume they are similar to Gondor and Númenor – meaning the King had absolute power, most likely a regent too, and a council which could be summoned for assistance and counsel. The kings of Arnor entitled themselves as the High King of Arnor. The symbol of the rule was the Sceptre of Annuminas.
As noted before, Arnor was created in 3320 Second Age. During the rule of the eight kings after Valandil, Arnor steadily declined because of a smaller population and evil at its borders. It remained in (occasionally) close ties with Gondor and when it asked for help, then Gondor sent it (although help was late). Arnor was divided in three after the death of King Eärendur in 861 – Arthedain, Rhudaur and Cardolan were the successor states and they continued the decline of Arnor. These soon fell to foreign invasions and, although the line of the kings was continued (through the Kings of Arthedain), the previous glory was never restored. Rhudaur soon fell to enemy influence and afterwards supported the wars against Arthedain and Cardolan. Cardolan also fell and Arthedain was the last.
Elendil (3320 – 3441 Second Age)
Isildur (3441 Second Age – 2 Third Age)
The friendship of Arnor and Gondor, one of these falling soon and the other living along, civil wars (Gondor faced these in the Third Age) and being divided in three creates a pretty unique situation. It is clear that Tolkien thought of several different places and times when he wrote Arnor and, perhaps, none have been those that I’ll bring out here.
Charlemagne and his Empire is the first to come to mind. Charlemagne carved a large empire and, later on, his three sons divided it between themselves. The three successor states in time left behind all memories of being together (although they allied sometimes) and didn’t hesitate to fight each other. Though the Kingdom of Italy soon fell, the German Kingdom (later Holy Roman Empire) and the Kingdom of France continued their grudges and often waged wars agaisnt each other (not for the first or last time, in the 16th century, more than 600 years after being divided). This would indicate a similarity between these and Rhudaur/Cardolan/Arthedain. Placing certain names to the individuals of the three kingdoms might become difficult, however, since we don’t know much about the histories.
Likewise, in this equation, the part of Gondor can be filled either by Papal States or the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium). Papal States would be better since it was Charlemagne who created it (officially) as it was Elendil who created Gondor and Arnor. Also, the disputes between Papal States and the successors of Charlemagne’s Empire were common and these would indicate the arguments between Gondor and Remnant of Arnor (who sometimes presented a claim to the throne of Gondor after the line of the kings had ended there).
The Empire of Alexander the Great is another half-fit to the criteria. Alexander carved out a huge empire (being perhaps the figure for Elendil) and then died. His successors were mostly generals who grabbed themselves as large a piece of land as they could. Of these successors, the primary ones were the Seleucids, the Ptolemaic Empire and the Antigonid besides several others. The Seleucid one would do well representing Arthedain while Ptolemaic is Rhudaur (and Antigonid is Cardolan) due to the constant wars these places waged over lands in the Eastern Mediterranean. Gondor would be played by the Mauryan Empire in this act. The Seleucids and Mauryans had close ties, especially when it came to trading. It is told that the Mauryans gave Seleucids elephants (similar to the war-aid Gondor provided for Arnor and later Arthedain).
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