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White Council

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The White Council
The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey - The White Council meets.jpg
Other namesThe Council of the Wise[1]
Date foundedT.A. 2463[2]
Notable membersSaruman[1]
DisbandedT.A. 2953[2]

The White Council, also referred to as the Council of the Wise, was a group of the wise in Middle-earth which met irregularly. Its purpose was 'to unite and direct the forces of the West, in resistance to the shadow.'[4]



The following individuals were clearly stated to have been members of the White Council. It should be noted, however, that 'other lords of the Eldar' did join them, but were not identified.[1]


The Second Age

A "White Council" first met in c. S.A. 1701.[note 1] At this meeting it was decided that Imladris should become the stronghold of the Elves in Eriador, rather in Eregion.[5] No members are mentioned explicitly, but it is implied that at least Gil-galad and Elrond were members because Gil-galad gave Vilya to Elrond 'At that time also'.[5] It seems likely that the "White Council" of the Third Age echoed this "White Council" of the Second Age.[6]

The Third Age

Dol Guldur by Angus McBride

In T.A. 2463,[2] following the return of Sauron and the end of the Watchful Peace in 2460,[2] Galadriel summoned the first meeting of the White Council.[3]

There are only four known meetings of the White Council:

  1. T.A. 2463[2]
  2. T.A. 2851[2]
  3. T.A. 2941[2]
  4. T.A. 2953[2]

At the first meeting in T.A. 2463,[2] it was mooted that Gandalf be the head of the Council, but to Galadriel's dismay he refused the office. Saruman was chosen as their chief instead and he begrudged Gandalf for being the desired candidate.[1]

At the second meeting in T.A. 2851,[2] the Council met at Rivendell.[7] Gandalf urged an attack on Dol Guldur following his discovery in the previous year that its master was indeed Sauron.[2] Saruman overruled him because in secret he had begun to desire the One Ring for himself.[2] Unusually for a White Council meeting, Gandalf sat apart from the others, in silence and smoking, whilst Saruman spoke against the attack on Dol Guldur.[7] This irritated Saruman and he spoke to Gandalf afterwards, asking him why he did not join in the discussion, and mocked his smoking.[7] Gandalf replied, saying that pipe weed gave him 'patience' and mentioned that it was a practice of the Halflings.[7] Saruman mocked him again.[7] In response Gandalf did not speak, but sent out many rings of smoke into the air and grasped them in his hand before they vanished.[7] Saruman read this gesture as suggesting that Gandalf suspected him of wanting to possess the One Ring, or that there was a connection between the rings of power and the Halflings.[7]

At the third meeting in T.A. 2941,[2] they agreed to attack Dol Guldur. Saruman finally submitted for he knew that Sauron was searching for the One Ring in the Anduin.[2] The White Council launched an attack on Dol Guldur, but Sauron, having already made plans, fled to Mordor.[2]

At the fourth and final meeting in T.A. 2953, following Sauron's open declaration in 2951,[2] there was a discussion on the rings of power. Saruman claimed to have knowledge that the One Ring had been lost down the Anduin and into the sea.[2]

Portrayal in adaptations

The White Council in adaptations
The White Council meets in Rivendell in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Having arrived at Rivendell with Thorin and Company, Gandalf met with Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman. It seems that Gandalf was unaware that the meeting would take place. Whilst this meeting is not explicitly called the "White Council", its membership and discussion points have much in common with the White Council in Tolkien's writings. Much of the history of the Third Age is conflated and substantially altered. Gandalf told the Council that Radagast had found Dol Guldur occupied by a Necromancer. Saruman was very sceptical of Radagast's story and dismissed Gandalf for believing him. Gandalf and Galadriel converse telepathically before the wizard showed the Council a morgul blade which belonged to the Witch-king; the blade and Nazgûl had been buried together many centuries previously following the downfall of Angmar.

See also


  1. In J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn" it states that 'At this time the first Council was held'. The 'At this time' follows on from the driving out of Sauron from Eregion, which occurred S.A. 1701 according to J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age". According to J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn", n. 10 'the first Council' was emended to 'the first White Council'.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Mirror of Galadriel"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Tale of Years of the Third Age"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn", n. 10
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", "(iii) Concerning Gandalf, Saruman, and the Shire"