The Númenórean Realms In Exile
Amandil, the Lord of Andúnië, and the leader of the Faithful at the time of the Downfall of Númenor, foresaw the war that the King of Númenor and his followers would make against the Valar. Against hope he set out for the Undying Lands to plead with the Valar for his people. He asked his son Elendil to gather to him his sons, and the remainder of their people who were still faithful to the Eldar and Valar, and to await his return in their ships in the Bay of Rómenna.
Elendil followed his father’s wishes and with his two sons, Isildur and Anárion, boarded their nine ships. There were four ships for Elendil, three for his eldest son Isildur, and two for Anárion. When the land of Númenor was covered by the great wave, the ships of the Faithful were taken by a strong wind that broke their masts, leaving the ships uncontrollable, and washed them across the sea.
Elendil was taken into the North-west of Middle-earth and was cast upon the shores of the land of Lindon where he was befriended by Gil-galad, the High King of the Noldor. Elendil passed up the River Lhûn and beyond the Ered Luin (Blue Mountains) where he founded his realm of Arnor. His people settled there in the lands of Eriador around the River Lhûn and the River Baranduin (Brandywine River).
Elendil’s chief city was at Annúminas by the waters of Lake Nenuial. In the city of Fornost upon the North Downs some of his people dwelt, and in Cardolan and Rhudaur. In those lands towers were raised for them by the folk of Gil-galad at Emyn Beraid and upon Amon Sûl. In later years many barrows and ruined works remained, but the towers at Emyn Beraid still looked toward the sea.
Isildur and Anárion were borne away to the South where remained a settlement of the Faithful of Númenor who had fled in prior years because of their persecution by the King’s Men. They welcomed the sons of Elendil, and soon Isildur and Anárion turned their ships and sailed up the River Anduin where they founded the realm of Gondor. They settled in their chief city of Osgiliath where they built a great stone bridge that spanned the river. Upon this bridge were built great houses and towers of magnificence.
Elendil was the High King of the exiles, but the rule of Gondor was given to his two sons. The sons of Elendil built two towers in which they dwelt near to Mordor, for they believed that Sauron had been destroyed in the Downfall of Númenor. In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur and in Minas Anor was the house of Anárion. These two towers were situated on either side of Osgiliath and in that city sat both of their thrones, side by side. They shared the rule of the south equally between them.
In Gondor the Númenórean exiles built a great many things that were beautiful to behold such as at Erech, the great statues of the kings at the Argonath*, and the fortresses at Aglarond. Also at the great circle of Angrenost (Isengard) they built the pinnacle of Orthanc. (* The time of the building of the Argonath is questionable, for in The Lord of the Rings it is said to have been requested by Rómendacil I, but in The Silmarillion it seemed more likely that it was built earlier on, possibly at the request of Isildur and Anárion. Since The Lord of the Rings in the more clearly canonical resource, we can suppose that the Argonath was built indeed during Rómendacil I’s reign, but neither can be said with certainty).
The Seeing-Stones and the White Tree
When the Exiles escaped the Downfall of Númenor, they brought with them a great many heirlooms and treasures from their land. The most renowned of these treasures were the seven Seeing-Stones and the White Tree which were all gifts from the Eldar to the Faithful.
The White Tree was grown from the last fruit of Nimloth, which had lived and flowered in the city of Armenelos upon Númenor in the courts of the king. Nimloth was a seedling of Celeborn of Eressëa, which was descended from Galathilion, the Tree of Tirion. Galathilion was itself an image of the Eldest of Trees, Telperion. The White Trees had leaves of green whose underside was silver and when they bloomed, their flowers filled the air with a glorious fragrance. Nimloth came to be a symbol of the line of the Kings of Númenor, and in Middle-earth the White Tree of Minas Tirith came to be viewed in the same way.
When Sauron had succeeded in influencing the last King of Númenor to do his will, he convinced him to abandon the care of the Nimloth and then to destroy it altogether. Before it could be destroyed, Isildur crept into the court in the dark and plucked from the tree a fruit and returned to his father with it. When the king and Sauron discovered that someone had stolen a fruit from the tree, they threw it onto the fire and burned it. But in the care of Elendil and his father Amandil, the fruit sprouted into a seedling of the burned tree. Isildur took this seedling on his ship when he escaped the Downfall and it was planted inside Minas Ithil. It was after called the White Tree of Gondor.
The Seeing-Stones (palantíri) were gifted to the Faithful of Númenor by the Eldar for their comfort in the days when the shadow of Sauron descended upon their lands and their people. The Elves would no longer come there during the dark days, and the palantíri allowed them to see the far shores of Aman where their friends dwelt.
The Stones had the ability to allow those who looked into them to see things far off whether in place or time. For the most part the Stones revealed only things near to another kindred stone because each of the stones called to one another. Those who possessed great strength of will and of mind were able to learn to bend the Stones to their will, and see where they would. In this way the Númenóreans were aware of many things that happened in and around their lands, and they saw much that their enemies wished to conceal.
When the Faithful readied their ships to leave Númenor, Elendil took with him three of the palantíri and Isildur and Anárion each took two. Elendil placed his Stones in Emyn Beraid, upon Amon Sûl, and in his city of Annúminas. Isildur and Anárion placed theirs in Minas Ithil, Minas Anor, Osgiliath, and at Orthanc. There was one other stone at the Tower of Avallónë upon Eressëa, the Masterstone, and at times when Elendil would gaze into his stone from within the tallest tower of Elostirion at Emyn Beraid, it is said that he could see the area around that Masterstone across the western sea.
Sauron and the Exiles
Sauron had of course not perished in the Downfall of Númenor, and after a time he returned to Middle-earth and bided his time until he was ready to challenge the Exiles of Númenor, for he hated them above nearly all others. When he saw his chance, he assailed Gondor and took Minas Ithil and destroyed the White Tree. Isildur escaped in a boat and took with him his wife and sons and a seedling of the Tree. He sailed down the river to seek for Elendil while Anárion held Osgiliath against their enemies.
Elendil and Gil-galad took counsel together and they formed what came to be called the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. They marched together upon Middle-earth and gathered to them many Elves and Men before coming into the east of Middle-earth. They stopped for a time in Imladris (Rivendell) and it was said that ” the host that was there assembled was fairer and more splendid in arms than any that has since been seen in Middle-earth, and none greater has been mustered since the host of the Valar went against Thangorodrim. “
After their time in Rivendell the Last Alliance passed over the Misty Mountains and marched down the River Anduin coming at last upon the forces of Sauron upon the Dagorlad (Battle Plain). There began the Battle of the Last Alliance and on that day all living things in Middle-earth were divided. Even birds and beasts fought on both sides; only the Elves were sided wholly with one group under Gil-galad, their lord. Few Dwarves fought on either side, but notably those of the line of Durin fought against Sauron.
At last, the Last Alliance had the victory, for few could stand against Aeglos, the spear of Gil-galad. Nor could any abide the fury of Narsil, the sword of Elendil, which shone with the light of the sun and moon. The enemy was filled with fear.
Gil-galad and Elendil and their host poured into the very heart of Mordor and there they laid siege to the Barad-dûr for seven years. Anárion and many others were slain in the valley of Gorgoroth during that time. At last Sauron’s fury reached it’s height, and he came forth and he wrestled with Elendil and Gil-galad until both lay dead. When Elendil fell Narsil broke beneath him, but Sauron was also thrown down. With the hilt of Narsil, Isildur cut the finger which wore the One Ring from Sauron’s hand, and the Dark Lord was for a time vanquished.
Isildur would not relinquish the Ring to Elrond and Círdan as they begged of him. They told the Man to take the Ring into the Cracks of Doom and return it to the fiery depths from whence it had been made, but Isildur refused. Had he done so, and the Ring perished, Sauron would have been forever diminished and would have been subject to an existence as a shadow of malice in the wilderness. Instead, Isildur took the Ring for his own, making it an heirloom of his house, and declaring that the fates of all who would come after him in his line would be bound to its fate. He returned to Minas Anor just long enough to plant a seedling of the White Tree there in memory of his brother, and to counsel Meneldil, son of Anárion, in the rule of Gondor.
Once the rule of Gondor had been committed to Meneldil, Isildur forsook the south, and with the One Ring in his possession he marched north to take over the kingship of Arnor for his father. He made it as far north as the Gladden Fields before he was waylaid by a band of Orcs that had come down out of the Misty Mountains. Many of his folk were slain, including his three eldest sons, Elendur, Ciryon, and Aratan. Isildur escaped by using the One Ring to avoid being seen, but the Orcs were able to hunt him by scent. He fled and at last plunged into the River Anduin where the Ring betrayed him, slipping from his finger. The Orcs saw Isildur and they shot him with many arrows, killing him. The Ring was lost in the Great River.
After the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, only three of Isildur’s folk remained. One of these was Ohtar who carried with him the shards of Narsil. The three men returned to Rivendell where Isildur’s youngest son, Valandil, had remained with Isildur’s wife when the men went off to war. Narsil was given to Valandil, but it was broken and its light extinguished. Lord Elrond foretold that the sword would not be reforged unless the One Ring was found again and Sauron returned. Most hoped that that day would never come but that was not to be.
Valandil took up his home in Annúminas, the chief city of Arnor, while Meneldil remained on the throne in Gondor. Gondor’s strength carried on for many long years though the line of kings failed. But in Arnor the line of kings endured and though they were scattered, and their realm was destroyed, it was from Arnor that the hope for the future of Middle-earth would come.
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
Researched by Nienna-of-the-Valar