Turgon of Gondolin
Turgon was born in Eldamar and was the second son of Fingolfin.
When Fëanor and his sons swore their oath to recover the Silmarils, Turgon spoke forcefully against them with his father. However, when the Noldor did not heed them, Turgon became part of the crossing to Middle-earth over the Helcaraxë. it was during this treacherous journey that his wife, Elenwe, died.
After having been in Middle-earth for some time, Turgon and Finrod, while travelling together, were each given a dream from Ulmo. It seemed to them that they were meant to prepare for a day of evil, to make a place of retreat lest the forces of Morgoth burst forth from Angband and overwhelm them. However, the two did not speak of this to one another, each believing the message had been given to him alone.
After searching for a while, Turgon could not find what he sought, and stayed thereafter in his realm on the shores of the sea in Nevrast. There, Ulmo appeared to him, and, under his guidance, Turgon discovered the hidden vale of Tumladen in the Encircling Mountains. Returning to Nevrast he took council and began planning a city in the likeness of Tirion across the sea, which his heart yearned for in exile.
For many years Turgon remained in Nevrast and dwelt under Mount Taras by the sea. However following the Dagor Algareb (the third of the great battles in the wars of Beleriand), the promptings of Ulmo were awoken again inside of Turgon. He led some of his hardiest and most skilled folk to the hidden vale, where they began the building of his city in secret. A watch was set about it and the power of Ulmo that ran the Sirion protected them. Turgon called the city Onolinde meaning ‘Rock of the Music of Water’ and in the Sindarin tongue it was known as Gondolin ‘the Hidden Rock.’
Once the city was ready, Turgon and his people departed secretly, company by company, and none marked their going. Before he left, Ulmo spoke once more to Turgon, promising to use his powers to protect the city while he may and prophesying that, of all the realms of the Eldar, Gondolin would longest stand against Morgoth. He also reminded Turgon of the Doom of Mandos and said that eventually treason would awake within his walls. He then instructed Turgon to leave behind arms and a sword in the halls of Nevrast saying that these would be worn by one who would come out of Nevrast to warn him when the peril of treason was near.
So Turgon departed to Gondolin and the city grew great and fair, sand none save Huor and Hurin after passed through its gates. Morgoth did not discover this hidden dwelling place of Turgon and this troubled him greatly.
Turgon also began sending out ships to search for Valinor and to ask for pardon of the Valar. However, for many years none returned, save one sailor who was rescued from the fury of Ossë by Ulmo and was then chosen to guide Ulmo’s messenger to Gondolin.
In the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Turgon led an army ten thousand strong against Morgoth. In this battle he fought along side his brother Fingon and their meeting in the midst of the battlefield was glad. Due to the treason of Men and the forces of Morgoth the Eldar were eventually forced back.
While fighting alongside Huor and Hurin, Hurin spoke to him saying:
“Go now, lord, while time is! For in you lives the last hope of the Eldar, and while Gondolin stand Morgoth will know fear in his heart.’ But Turgon answered: ‘Not long now can Gondolin be hidden; and being discovered it must fall.’ Then Huor spoke and said: ‘Yet if it stands but a little while, then out of your house shall come the hope of Elves and Men. This I say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here for ever, and I shall not look on your white walls again, from you and me a new star shall arise. Farewell!” (The Silmarillion, ch. 20)
So Turgon took the council of Hurin and Huor, and, summoning his remaining host, he retreated back to Gondolin. His captains Ecthelion and Glorfindel guarded the flanks to the right and left, and behind the guard of Hurin and Huor, Turgon passed down Sirion and escaped, vanishing once again into the mountains.
The Fall of Gondolin
As Ulmo had warned, Turgon could not escape the Doom of Mandos, and treachery awoke within the walls of Gondolin. Tuor, son of Huor, was then led to Gondolin as foretold by Ulmo to warn Turgon that the time of peril was at hand. However, Turgon paid little attention to his warning and trusted rather in the secrecy of his city.
But even though his words were not heeded, Tuor then married Idril, the daughter of Turgon, and gained great favour with the King. Idril then bore a son and they named him Eärendil which means ‘Lover of the Sea’.
Maeglin, Turgon’s nephew, was jealous of this union and greatly envied the favour shown to Tuor. One day, whilst outside the walls of Gondolin, Maeglin was assailed by Orcs. He told them that he knew the entrance to Gondolin and was bought before Morgoth. There he told all he knew of the city, its defences, army size and how it might best be assailed. Morgoth then sent Maeglin back so as no one would suspect anything, and so he could aid the overthrow from within. After Maeglin returned to Gondolin, Idril’s heart misgave her and she and Tuor began delving a secret escape. The news of this did not reach the ears of Maeglin.
Finally Morgoth made ready his armies and when Eärendil was seven years old, the dark lord came against the city with a large host of Balrogs, dragons, wolves and Orcs.
Many deeds of surpassing valour were done that day.Tuor slew Maeglin and and Ecthelion of the Fountain slew Gothmog, captain of the Balrogs. However, despite the strength of Gondolin and the valour of its people, Morgoth’s armies prevailed.
Turgon perished with the city – for he refused to leave, saying
“Let Tuor be your guide… But I Turgon will not leave my city, and will burn with it.” (Book of Lost Tales 2, ch 3)
His people escaped through the secret way that Idril had prepared, and Tuor led the remaining Gondolindrim from the city. But still he words of Huor proved true, and from Turgon and Huor came the hope of Elves and Men – Eärendil.
Written by Elvishmusician
– The Silmarillion
– The Book of Lost Tales 2