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"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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This article is about the inhabitants of Númenor. For the descendants they had on Middle-earth during the Third Age, see Dúnedain.
Liz Danforth - Isildur.png
"Isildur" by Liz Danforth
General Information
Other namesKings of Men, Men of Númenor, Men of the Sea, Mighty of the West, Sea-kings, Tall Men
OriginsDescendants of the Edain in Númenor
LocationsNúmenor, Eriador, Harad, Umbar, Pelargir, later Arnor and Gondor
AffiliationFaithful, King's Men
LanguagesAdûnaic (native tongue), Quenya, Sindarin
MembersElros, Aldarion, Ar-Pharazôn, Elendil, Isildur
Physical Description
LifespanNúmenóreans - c. 200+ years[1]
Kings of Númenor - c. 400 years (later diminished)[1]
See below
Average heightTaller than other Men
GalleryImages of Númenóreans
"So great was the might and splendour of the Númenóreans that Sauron's own servants deserted him."
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A

Númenóreans were the Men of Númenor, descendants of the Edain of the First Age, who were granted the island of Elenna as a dwelling place. They turned against the Valar, and their island home was destroyed in the last years of the Second Age.



The Númenóreans were descendants of the Edain of the First Age, who proved themselves allies of the Elves, from whom they gathered knowledge of all things surrounding them. The two races fought together against Morgoth.

During that Age, unions of Elves and Men were made; Lúthien and Beren whose son, Dior Eluchíl, married Nimloth of Doriath and Elwing was born. Idril and Tuor, the second couple, were parents of Eärendil. Elwing and Eärendil met at the Havens of Sirion and from their union twins were born: Elros and Elrond. To the two half-elves, the Valar gave a choice: Elros chose to join the race of men, whereas Elrond chose to join the elves.

When the last battle was won by the forces of Valinor, the Valar rewarded the Edain by giving them a place to dwell outside the troubled world of Middle-earth. Ulmo raised Elenna, later known as the Island of Númenor. Halfway between Endor and Aman, the descendants from the Three Houses established the Kingdom of Númenor in S.A. 32 and would last and dominate all other mortal peoples throughout the entire Second Age. Elros became the first King of Númenor.


Númenor was a monarchy. The King held the power of decision over the affairs of the state. However, there was an advisory body, the Council of the Sceptre, which consisted of the Heir of the King and lords from the six regions of Númenor: Forostar (Northlands), Andustar (Westlands), Hyarnustar (Southwestlands), Hyarrostar (Southeastlands), Orrostar (Eastlands) and Mittalmar (Inlands).

There were two main political parties: Elendili or the Faithful, led by the Lords of Andúnië, always loyal to the Elves. In the later years, they were a small group, oppressed by the opposing King's Men who rebelled against the Valar and their ban and set dominions among the Men of Middle-earth and laid heavy tribute upon them. As their number and power increased, they forced the Elendili to move from Andúnië to the eastern side of the island, at Rómenna. Pelargir was a harbour built where the river Sirith met Anduin and it was founded by the Faithful in S.A. 2350.


Main article: Line of Elros

Númenóreans from the Line of Elros had the right to inherit the Sceptre and thus become Rulers of Númenor. 25 Kings and Queens descendants of Elros ascended the throne. While the Númenóreans lived around 200 years, royal kindred had a double life span.

Of great importance was the Law of Succession in Númenor which established the heir to the throne. It started out as an inherited custom, which gave exclusive rights to the male descendants of Elros. Tar-Aldarion, the sixth ruler of Númenor, only had one daughter and replaced the principle of exclusive male heir with that of eldest progeny, of any gender; in S.A. 1075 Tar-Ancalimë became the first ruling queen in the history of Númenor.

Númenóreans from the Line of Elros influenced their era in various ways:

Lords of Andúnië

See also: Lords of Andúnië

During the time of princess Silmariën, the law of agnatic primogeniture existed. She could not succeed her father as his eldest child, and her brother took up the Sceptre. In her honour was created the title "Lords of Andúnië", which was set upon Valandil her first son and his 18 descendants; the last one was Amandil, father of Elendil. During the dark times of Númenor, the Lords were renowned for their friendship with the Eldar, and leaders of the Elendili.


At the foundation of Númenor, all the people held the Eldar in friendship. White ships from Tol Eressëa brought many gifts to the Bay of Andúnië: birds, flowers, and healing herbs, and a branch from Celeborn, the White Tree of Tol Eressëa, which grew at the court of the king of Armenelos.

As the fear of death crept into the hearts of the Dúnedain, the Firstborn became envied for their immortality. Tar-Atanamir was the first to speak against the Eldar and the Ban of the Valar. Little by little the Númenóreans abandoned the use of the Eldarin tongues. It was during the time of his son, King Tar-Ancalimon, that the two parties were formed, the Elf-friends and the King's Men. Ar-Adûnakhôr was the first to choose an Adûnaic name and began to persecute the Faithful, punishing all those who would speak the Elven tongues openly. In the end, the Eldar came no more to the land of Númenor.

Dominion over the Men of Middle-earth

Paula DiSante - Ar-Pharazon Defies

Due to the fact that the Ban of the Valar restricted them from sailing West, the Númenóreans began to explore the eastern part of the world, reaching the shores of Middle-earth in S.A. 600 in Lindon and met with Gil-galad. The news spread swiftly and the Middle Men in Eriador were filled with wonder. The sailors met with twelve messengers on the Tower Hills.[2]

The Númenóreans began to cultivate their new friends who were into their Dark Years, grown weak and fearful, and taught them agriculture, stonecraft, smithying and their language Adûnaic but failed to recognize the Pre-Númenórean forest-folk of Minhiriath as ‘kinsmen’, and confused them with Men of Shadow because it was not related to theirs.[3]

The Middle Men were comforted, populated the western shores. They revered the memory of the tall Sea-kings whom they remembered as gods hoping each time for their return.[4]

More and more Númenor became a great naval power, and the Guild of Venturers established Vinyalondë (early 9th century).[5] The Pre-Númenóreans were patient until the tree-felling by Aldarion became devastating;[6] slowly, hostility was growing, and the dark men out of the mountains were thrusting into Enedwaith in support of their kinsmen.[7]

Around that time, the Númenórean Drúedain became uneasy and urged Aldarion not to go, foreseeing the mischief to come. They did not succeed and one after another they took ships towards Middle-earth.[8]

In S.A. 820 Vinyalondë was overthrown by great seas and plundered by hostile men. Men near the coasts were growing afraid of the Númenóreans or were openly hostile and Aldarion heard rumours of some lord in Middle-earth who hated them. As Gil-galad warned Tar-Meneldur that this instigator was a servant of the Enemy.[7]

Aldarion's successors continued his works and even fought with the pre-Númenóreans[9] until they attacked and ambushed the Númenóreans when they could. They became their enemies giving no thought to husbandry or replanting. The Númenóreans wrecked the banks, the shorelines, great tracks and roads whom they drove into the forests northwards and southwards from the Gwathló[6] and continued battling and destroying what lied ahead of them, pushing into Minhiriath and Enedwaith, establishing themselves inland as far as the river Glanduin (the southern boundary of Eregion), beyond which pre-Númenóreans and hostile peoples lived, a remnant of the peoples that had dwelt in the vales of the White Mountains in ages past[10][6] The natives overcame their fear of the Elves and fled from Minhiriath into the dark woods of the great Cape of Eryn Vorn (south of the mouth of Baranduin). Those from Enedwaith took refuge in the eastern mountains (Dunland).[6]

Sauron recruited pre-Númenóreans and in the early second millennium he increased pressure on the West, left his stronghold in Rhûn and relocated in Mordor, drawing closer to the Númenórean sphere of influence. Sauron welcomed by the natives and used the haters of Númenor as spies and guides for his raiders who caused havoc and burned their settlements. He had not enough force to assault the forts at the Haven or along the banks of the Gwathló. However his regular troops attempted to conquest Eriador, hunting and killing Middle Men and the Elves and by S.A. 1700 had mastered all Eriador, up to the River Lhûn and besieged Rivendell.[6]

Eriador was already ruined by the time the Númenórean fleet was sent by king Tar-Minastir. They caught Mordor's troops in the rear and defeated them, bringing peace to the Westlands.[6]

They explored the coasts of Middle-earth far southward establishing landing and trading posts that grew into cruel vice-kingdoms which left many rumours in the legends of Men, although the Eldar did not know about them[11] In the south they found a useful natural haven already called Umbar by the natives.

The Númenóreans founded Pelargir in S.A. 2350 and discovered the pre-Númenóreans Men of the Mountains near Dunharrow[12] who eventually repented when Sauron left from Mordor and the power of Gil-galad had grown great.[13]

As the shadow spread over Númenor, Tar-Ciryatan sailed to Middle-earth, bringing numerous treasures back to Númenor. Later more lands were occupied, plundered or forced to pay heavy tribute in return for the lives of their inhabitants. Towards the end of the kingdom, when their religion had changed and human sacrifices were made towards Melkor, many of the victims were people of Middle-earth taken as prisoners. Because of these acts they were looked upon in fear, called the "Death" itself and the Men of Middle-earth trembled at the sight of a mighty Númenórean ship on the waters of Belegaer. However, the Faithful shared not the behaviour of the King's Men and though they also built a port in Middle-earth, named Pelargir, it was not for the sake of plundering but meant to be a haven far from those of the opposing party.

When the Elendili established the Realms in Exile, many Men turned from evil and became subject to them even though the pre-Númenóreans were not friendly to them and never learned to distinguish between the King's Men and the Faithful.[13] During this time the King of the Mountains first swore allegiance to Isildur even though he and many other men were still influenced by their old allegiance to Sauron.

When Sauron returned Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfil their oath, but they would not because they still feared Sauron. They hid in the mountains, isolated until slowly dwindling in the barren hills they became the Dead Men of Dunharrow.

Sauron's Influence

The only daughter of the king Tar-Palantir, a friend of the Eldar who tried to restore the old ways, was Tar-Míriel. According to the New Law, she had the right to inherit the throne, but her cousin Pharazôn forced her into marriage, and took the Sceptre for himself, becoming known as Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, the most proud and powerful of all the kings. He desired not only immortality as the ones before he had, but also the dominion over the entire world. For this, he gathered a great fleet and opposed the greatest opponent in the path of his task: Sauron.

So mighty were the Númenóreans that the servants of Sauron fled even before the battle began and their leader was taken as a prisoner back to the island of Elenna. Through numerous lies he poisoned the mind of the king and became master of his council, changing even the religion of the Númenóreans and turning them into servants of the dark Morgoth. And because he assured Ar-Pharazôn that if he ever reached Aman he would become immortal, the last king gathered once more a great host of ships and sailed to break the Ban of the Valar.


Ted Nasmith - Queen Tar-Miriel and the Great Wave

Pharazôn's attempt to reach Valinor and his previous preparations for war with the Eldar raised the anger of Manwë who sent his eagle-shaped storm clouds to Númenor. Lightning struck the land, including the temple of Melkor, where human sacrifices were made. Because Sauron himself stood in their path and was not hurt by them, the Númenóreans were deceived even more into thinking he was their rightful god.

Ar-Pharazôn sailed at the head of his fleet known as the Great Armament, led by the flagship Alcarondas, set course towards Valinor and reached Tol Eressëa. His pride fooled him into thinking that the inhabitants of Aman would not stand in his way, because the land was quiet and peaceful, and thus he set camp near the Túna hill. But Manwë, the Elder King, was aware of what transpired, and the Valar then laid down the Guardianship of Arda. Ilúvatar responded by catastrophically changing the shape of Arda. The Númenóreans present in Valinor were buried under the hills which fell upon them, and on the great island, fire erupted from the top of Meneltarma. The land crumbled into pieces and a great wave swept over it and buried the island at the bottom of the sea. Its people were taken by the waters, and this tragedy brought an end to the Númenórean realm, in S.A. 3319.


The only ones to survive the Downfall of Númenor were Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anárion, along with the few people of the Elendili. They escaped the Akallabêth with nine ships, a seedling of Nimloth, which Isildur had rescued the night before its destruction and the Seven Seeing-stones. Cast ashore by the storm on the western lands of Middle-earth, they founded the Númenórean realms in exile: Arnor and Gondor. Their war with Sauron continued in the lands of Middle-earth. Fighting side by side with the Elves and the Dwarves they opposed and defeated him during the War of the Last Alliance.

Long after the Fall, there was a belief among those who survived it that the Holy Mountain Meneltarma was not swallowed by the waters but instead raised to be a new island of its own. The heirs of Elendil built great ships once more and set on its search, not only because they yearned for their home, but also because from that point, the top of Meneltarma, Tol Eressëa could be spotted and their hearts still desired to reach the West, against all warnings. But they never found the top of Meneltarma and their voyages served only to discover that Arda was a round world.


The Númenóreans were extremely skilled in arts and craft, with the forging of weapons and armour; although they were a peaceful people, their weapons, armour, and horse-riding skills could not be contested anywhere else in Arda, save for the Valar. But the Númenóreans were not warmongers, hence the chief art on the island became that of ship-building and sea-craft. The Númenóreans became great mariners, exploring the world in all directions save for the westward, where the Ban of the Valar was in force. They often travelled to the shores of Middle-earth, teaching the men there the art and craft, and introduced farming as to improve their everyday lives.

The Númenóreans spoke Adunaic, a Mannish language that descended from the Mannish languages spoken in Beleriand. However, their forefathers, the Edain, had learned Sindarin which was passed on to Númenor. As a language of lore, it changed only a little with the millennia. Educated Númenóreans also studied Quenya, having a prestige above all other tongues.[14]

Respected as a law was the Ban of the Valar, which stated that Númenóreans should never sail West more than the limit of their sight when looking after their shores. As the fear of death filled more and more the hearts of the Númenóreans, they sailed further away from the island, until finally the last king, Ar-Pharazôn, broke the Ban in his attempt to reach Tol Eressëa out of the false belief that dwelling in that place granted immortality.

Religion and Tradition

Towards the middle of Mittalmar stood the Mountain Meneltarma, the sacred place on which Eru was worshipped. Its flattened top was wide enough to contain a great crowd during the three yearly ceremonies (Erukyermë, Erulaitalë and Eruhantalë). These took place in absolute silence while climbing its slopes. Soon after S.A. 3262 these religious beliefs were abandoned and the worshipping of Melkor began. It was done in a cylindrical temple near the city of Armenelos built especially for this, and it involved sacrificing men and women over a great fire, whose first flames were lit from the White Tree of Tol Eressëa.

Whenever ships sailed from Númenor, the custom of the Green Bough of Return took place. A branch from the Fragrant Tree Oiolairë was set at the prow as a symbol of good fortune by a Númenórean woman, close relative to the captain of the ship. Erendis, wife of Tar-Aldarion, refused to do so in disagreement with her husband's frequent voyages towards Middle-earth, breaking this tradition for the first time.

Daily Life

Ivan Ulicny - The Age of Númenor

Many of the inhabitants of Númenor were fishermen. Along with the grains cultivated in Orrostar, fish was the main food source for the Númenóreans.

The Dúnedain were skilled in riding and loved horses. They could even call them in their thoughts if bound by friendship. Númenor had no paved roads so that the carriages could move on them more easily. From the Noldor they learned the art of forging swords, axes, spears, knives, but mostly bows; their arrows resembled dark clouds falling upon the enemies.

The Númenóreans, were skilled in the art of husbandry, breeding great horses that roamed across the open plains in Mittalmar.

The greatest love of the Númenóreans was the sea and the building of the largest ships. Most were built at the command of Tar-Aldarion, who also established the Guild of Venturers. The ship Eämbar was their headquarters.


The average Númenórean was taller than two Rangar or 6'4". Elendil was the tallest of Men who escaped the Downfall (mentioned to be almost 2.5 rangar tall, 7'11" or 2.41 m)[15]

Christopher Tolkien noted that Tolkien developed his thinking on the longevity of Númenóreans: originally he suggested that Númenóreans not of the Line of Elros lived for 200 years - or three times normal men - with royal kindred living 400 years. However, in later writings this was changed to a smaller difference between royals and non-royals, with Númenóreans living "five times" that of normal men, or 300-350 years. Those of the House of Elros were consistenly at c. 400 years, although this was later diminished due to their rebellion.[1] This longer lifespan resulted in an older age of adulthood: 25 years.[16]


In their own language, the Númenóreans were named Adûnâim.[17]

The Númenóreans were also known as High Men.[18][19] (Cf. Middle Men). They were also known as Sea-kings, Men of the Sea and Lords of the Sea[20]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "V. The History of the Akallabêth"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Appendix: Númenórean Linear Measures"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, p. 426
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, pp. 312, 427
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 101
  20. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 297