The race of men were the younger children of Ilúvatar. They were put into the world at the first rising of the sun.

Men were at first not much different from Elves and the two races soon learned that they had much to learn from each other, and many skills of Men were taught to them by the Noldor or others of the firstborn race.

Morgoth, and later Sauron, found Men easier to corrupt and control. Through the workings of Morgoth, the relationship between Men and Elves waned and many of the younger children started to distrust the elder.

After the First Age, those Men who fought alongside the enemies of Morgoth were given the kingdom of Westernesse (and they were called then the Dúnedain). Suffice it to say that many Dúnedain eventually fell away from the ways of the Valar and others of the Race of Men simply chose to follow Sauron.

Other groups of men included the People of Rohan (the Rohirrim), those descendants of the Dúnedain who resided in Gondor, as well as the Southrons who lived in the southern regions of Middle-earth and the Dunlendings. There were also those Men who in death haunted the Paths of the Dead, the Drúedain, and those of Bree, Dale, Lake-town and many other places about Middle-earth.

Men played an especially critical role in the finding and destruction of the One Ring, especially the Dúnedain. Elendil and Isildur were instrumental in wresting the Ring from Sauron's grasp, although Isildur soon fell to its power.

Among the Fellowship the race of Men was represented by Aragorn and Boromir, both of whom played some role in the guarding of the Ring and its bearer.

The Third Age ended with the end of the War of the Ring and the crowning of Aragorn as the king of Gondor. This ushered in the Fourth Age, the Age of Men.

From the time of Men's appearence in Middle-earth, they played an ever increasing role in fighting the progression of evil, as the power of the Elves faded and many retired across the sea. Although many Men aided the dark forces, Men also faced evil head on and prevented its spread.
Encyclopedia entry originally written by Gwaihir_Windlord