Please Help me Understand Gondor Stewardship and Kingship

Discussion in 'The Hall of Fire' started by 1stvermont, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

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    What is the difference between a steward and a king in authority? Why did Aragorn wait to become king and why did not earlier ancestors take the crown in Gondor.
     
  2. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    Small question, long answer.

    After the loss of Númenor,

    Elendil and his sons [...] established in the North-west the Númenorean realms in exile, Arnor and Gondor. Elendil was the High King and dwelt in the North at Annúminas; and the rule in the South was committed to his sons, Isildur and Anárion.

    Since both Elendil and Anárion fell in the war of the Last Alliance, Isildur became the sole ruler of both Arnor and Gondor. He appointed his nephew Meneldil to rule Gondor before he headed north to join his youngest son Valandil in Rivendell and then to assume the rule of Arnor but he perished along with his three oldest sons in the battle of the Gladden Fields in T.A. 2.

    In short, the last king in Gondor, Earnur, disappeared (assumedly waylaid by the Lord of the Nazgul) childless in T.A. 2050. Mardil was made ruler "until the return of the King" and thus became the first of the "Ruling Stewards of Gondor". Besides, in T.A. 3019 this provision "until the return of the King" was fulfilled with the coming of Aragorn, of unbroken descent from Valandil, the only surviving son of Isildur. Valandil and his bloodline had stayed in Arnor, as Elendil had done before.

    A steward is (Wikipedia is our friend!) "an official who is appointed by the legal ruling monarch to represent them in a country, and may have a mandate to govern it in their name".

    A symbol of his lower status is typically found in Book 3, where Denethor is seated at the lower end of the dais and sideways of the royal throne in the Tower Hall of the White Tower. His governance has the same legal power during the absence of the ruler. This absence is supposed to be temporary and upon return of the ruler the steward must account for his actions and surrender power. Thus Faramir did.

    I hope I have summarized this reasonably well... any amendments/corrections welcome.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019

  3. Inziladun

    Inziladun New Member

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    Why did no heir of Isildur preceding Aragorn come to be king? Was it all just part of the prophecy? I suppose it really did have to be the right time. A mighty blow to the enemy, almost like a dragon, but with wisdom and lore, instead of gold and jewels.
     
  4. Halasían

    Halasían Dunedain Ranger

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    Good summary Merroe! I'll expand on it some.
    1stvermont and Inziladun, I think the missing piece of the puzzle for you lies in the source of lore...

    In the books, there were two sister kingdoms that were united by the blood of Elendil as presented in the very beginning of the Fellowship of the Rings movie. What isn't presented in Peter Jackson's interpretation is that Elendil was High King of both kingdoms, Arnor in the North, and Gondor in the South. The northern kingdom was ruled by Elendil where he resided, and Gondor was ruled by his son Isildur, and his younger brother Anárion lived there with him. Anárion was also slain in that same battle his father Elendil was killed and Isildur cut the ring from Sauron's finger with Elendil's broken sword. Being he was the only royal survivor, this made Isildur High King of both Arnor and Gondor.

    So far the movie is following along the book story reasonably well. After that point Isildur takes the One Ring, the whole story is altered by Peter Jackson in the name of 'cinematic license'. There is no mention of Arnor whatsoever, or that Isildur being High King after the battle, had left the rule of Gondor to Anárion's son Meneldil while he went north to rule Arnor. It was in this journey that Isildur was waylaid in the Gladden Fields and the One Ring betrayed him and he was slain.

    So here you now have two lines of Elendil, one in Gondor, and another in Arnor. Since three of Isildur's sons were slain with him in the ambush, it only left his young son Valandil back in Arnor as the line of Isildur in the north. It would be I think seven years after the death of Isildur that Valandil would become king of Arnor, and through him the line of Elendil was carried from father-to-son through the generations to Aragorn II.

    In Gondor, the line of Elendil was carried through the younger son of Elendil, but the eldest line was broken several times through the centuries, until when King Earnur went off east to challenge the Witch King and was lost. It was at this point the ruling Stewards of Gondor of the House of Hurin assumed governing Gondor. Though there was a claim made by King Arvedui of Arthedain, which was all that remained of Arnor of old at the time that he had a rightful claim to the throne of Gondor by being both the heir of Isildur and being married to Firiel, the daughter of King Ondoher of Gondor, Arvedui's kingdom in the north was still locked in a centuries-long struggle with the Witch King who resided in Angmar in the north Misty Mountains and was vastly depleted. His claim was rejected by the Steward of Gondor, and King Arvedui would later perish after Angmar's armies overran Arthedain.

    Arvedui's sons survived and got away, but there was no more northern kingdom, and it was thought by the Witch King and Sauron that the line of Elendil had perished. So it was in secret that the line of Elendil was nurtured in Rivendell through the years, with the heir being the 'Chieftain of the Dunedain of the North'. It was the title Aragorn had when he met up with the Hobbits in Bree, though he kept his heritage secret and went by other names, which at the time he used a local Bree nickname of Strider.

    I ge tthat it would have been harder to get this into the movie, but a simple narrative at the beginning would have gone a long way in removing one of the most blatant inconsistancy that Peter Jackson introduced in the movies and reared itrs ugly head repeatedly through them all...... that Aragorn ran off relenquishing his kingship of Gondor in pursuit of some hot Elven babe in Rivendell.

    Anorian's descendants of Gondor
    Isildur's descendants of Arnor
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019

  5. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

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    In Faramir’s conversation with Frodo and Sam in “Window on the West” in Two Towers, he recounted,
    In Letter 156 to his friend Robert Murray, SJ (SJ means “ Societas Jesu”, Society of Jesus: Murray was a Catholic Jesuit priest), Tolkien wrote,
    The difference between the Steward and the King was the King’s recognized lineal descent from Lúthien Tinúviel (“The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known.”), as well as from the Kings of the Three Houses of the Eldar (Finwë of the Noldor, Ingwë of the Vanyar, and Elwë Thingol and his brother Olwë of the Sindar-Teleri) and the Chieftains of the Three Houses of the Edain (Eärendil, Chieftain of the Third House; Beren, Chieftain of the First House; and through Hareth daughter of Holmir, mother of Húrin and Huor (Tuor’s father, Eärendil’s grandfather), the only surviving descendents of the Masters of the Haladin, chieftains of the Second House).

    Technically, Elros Peredhil brother of Elrond was Chieftain of the Third House, but he was also the only surviving descendent of the Chieftains of the First and Second Houses. Since the Third House was the most numerous, besides having the only surviving Chieftain, Elros became King of Númenor; but as he was also a descendent of the Kings of the Eldar, and a descendent of Lúthien (and thus of her mother Melian the Maia) as well, he occupied a particularly august position. (Note that Elrond and his children also held this distinction, but they were accounted among the Eldar until Elrond departed Middle-earth.)

    Only the Kings could perform the three religious ceremonies of the Númenóreans: the offering prayer for the coming year at the beginning of spring, the offering of the first fruits at midsummer, and thanksgiving to Eru at the end of autumn. When Tar-Ancalimon became king in Second Age 2221, he neglected the offerings; but the Númenóreans were still free to climb Meneltarma and worship on their own until Sauron came to Númenor and persuaded Ar-Pharazôn to bar the way on pain of death.

    No doubt Elros had many descendants among the Númenóreans, but outside the royal house, only the Lords of Andúnië, descendants of Silmariën, oldest child and daughter of the fourth king, Tar-Elendil, seem also to have been recognized as descendants of Lúthien. With the Downfall of Númenor, Elendil the Tall, son of the last Lord of Andúnië, and his sons Isildur and Anárion took up the royal authority.

    No doubt also that daughters of the Kings of Gondor were foremothers in the House of the Stewards; but the Stewards made no claim on the throne: Appendix A of RotK says,
    Aragorn’s forefather Arvedui, Last King of Arthedain at Fornost, married Fíriel, daughter of Ondoher who with both his sons was killed in battle with the Wainriders. Arvedui claimed the crown of Gondor in an attempt to reunite the Dúnedain, but his claim was rebuffed, and Gondor chose the victorious general Eärnil as king. Eärnil’s son Eärnur was the last king in Gondor.

    Arvedui was so-named “Last King” because as Malbeth the Seer (who also prophesied about Aragorn’s coming to the Dead Men of Dunharrow) foresaw,
    The rejection of Arvedui’s claim and selection of Eärnil was led by Ondoher’s steward Pelendur, to whose descendents Eärnil permanently gave the stewardship of Gondor. (Sounds like a quid-pro-quo to me.)

    Pelendur’s opposition to Arvedui’s claim in part underlies Faramir’s offer to surrender the Stewardship before Aragorn, besides the fact that a new King had the right to name his own Steward; but it is the reason Aragorn reaffirmed Faramir as Steward (besides ensuring a smooth transition!) for his faithfulness. Compare Faramir’s humility to his father Denethor’s arrogance and defiance to Gandalf:
    Only Aragorn and the Sons of Elrond could cure the Black Breath that afflicted so many of the soldiers of Gondor after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, including Faramir, who immediately recognized Aragorn as King when he first awoke. That alone set Aragorn apart from the Stewards, whatever their lineage might be.

    Exactly! Peter Jackson told an entertaining story, but his own, not Tolkien’s story.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  6. Halasían

    Halasían Dunedain Ranger

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    I wasn't going to go into it that deep, but glad you did. :)
    I still bugs me that the Lord of the rings story has been compromised by Peter Jackson and his interpretation and cinimatic license that 'much that was known, has been forgotten'.
     
    Ithilethiel likes this.
  7. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

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    I agree. Of all the “liberties” Jackson took with the tale, his corrupting the character of Aragon is the worst to me.