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Chronology

The Thain's Book
An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor

Gil-galad

Biography
Important Dates
Names & Titles

Vital Statistics:

Race: Elves
Date of Birth: Mid-400s of the First Age
Date of Death: 3441 of the Second Age
Residences: Hithlum; Havens of the Falas; Isle of Balar; Lindon
Parents: Father - Fingon (see note below); Mother - name unknown
Siblings: None known
Spouse: None known
Children: None known
Weapon: Spear - Aeglos
Emblem: White stars on a blue background

Gil-galad
Mark Ferguson as Gil-galad
in the New Line film

Note:

Gil-galad's parentage is uncertain. In various accounts, Gil-galad is said to be the son of Finrod Felagund, Fingon, and Orodreth. The version with Orodreth was the last Tolkien wrote, but the version with Fingon was the one used by Christopher Tolkien in compiling The Silmarillion. That is the most widely known version - and one that has been incorporated with other storylines and characters - and therefore it is the one used here.

Biography:

Gil-galad was the High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth during the Second Age. He welcomed the mariners of Numenor who came to the shores of Middle-earth, and he befriended Elendil who escaped the destruction of Numenor. Gil-galad and Elendil formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men to oppose Sauron, and together they defeated him though it cost them their lives.

Gil-galad was the son of Fingon. He was born in Middle-earth in the mid-400s of the First Age. The name he was given at birth was Ereinion, but he came to be called Gil-galad, "Star of Radiance." Gil-galad lived at first with his family in Hithlum. Gil-galad's grandfather Fingolfin was the High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth.

In 455-56 of the First Age, Morgoth waged war across Beleriand in the Battle of Sudden Flame. Fingolfin was killed in single combat with Morgoth, and Fingon became High King of the Noldor. Gil-galad was still a young child, and Fingon sent him to live with Cirdan at the Havens of the Falas farther south on the coast of Beleriand.

Fingon was killed by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, during the Battle of Unnumbered Tears in 472. Fingon's brother Turgon became High King. It is not clear why Gil-galad did not inherit the title from his father. It may be that he was too young at the time.

The next year in 473, Morgoth's forces attacked the Havens of the Falas. Many Elves were killed or enslaved, but Cirdan escaped with Gil-galad and some others. They sailed southward and settled on the Isle of Balar. They maintained a foothold on the mainland nearby at the mouths of the River Sirion.

Turgon was killed in 510 when Morgoth's forces sacked the hidden realm of Gondolin. Gil-galad then became the High King of the Noldor of Middle-earth.

In 538, the settlement at the Havens of Sirion was attacked by the sons of Feanor, who wanted to reclaim one of the Silmarils made by their father that was in the possession of Elwing. Gil-galad and Cirdan sent ships to try to stop the attack, but they were too late. The Elves who survived the attack joined Gil-galad's people on the Isle of Balar.

Morgoth was defeated in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age. Beleriand was ruined and sank beneath the Sea. Many Elves went to the Undying Lands, but some stayed in Middle-earth, and Gil-galad was their leader.

Gil-galad and his people lived in Lindon, a coastal region west of the Blue Mountains which was all that remained of Beleriand. Gil-galad's people also dwelled east of the Blue Mountains as far as the River Lune and north as far as the Little Lune. Elrond and Cirdan were among the Elves who dwelled in Lindon with Gil-galad.

The northern part of Lindon was called Forlindon, and that was where Gil-galad lived. The southern part of Lindon - south of the Gulf of Lune - was Harlindon. Celeborn may have ruled a fiefdom in Harlindon under Gil-galad for a time at the beginning of the Second Age. Cirdan lived at the Grey Havens, a port on the Gulf of Lune founded in the year 1 of the Second Age from which Elves could set sail for the Undying Lands.

In the year 600 of the Second Age, ships arrived at the Grey Havens from Numenor. Gil-galad welcomed their captain, Veantur, and friendship was forged between the Elves of Lindon and the Men of Numenor. In 725, Veantur brought his grandson Aldarion to the Grey Havens to meet Gil-galad and Cirdan. Aldarion became friends with them, and over the years he made many voyages to Middle-earth.

Aldarion gave nuts of the mallorn-tree that grew in Numenor to Gil-galad. The nuts did not take root in Lindon, so Gil-galad gave them to Galadriel who later planted mallorn-trees in Lothlorien.

Gil-galad made Aldarion one of his counsellors. Aldarion's knowledge of Men and their languages was useful to Gil-galad, and he brought Gil-galad valuable information from his voyages.

Gil-galad was aware that a servant of Morgoth was gaining strength in the east of Middle-earth. He did not share this knowledge with Aldarion, but he sent a letter explaining his fears to Aldarion's father, Tar-Meneldur, King of Numenor. Tar-Meneldur was uncertain whether to prepare his people for war and send the aid requested by Gil-galad. He decided to pass the kingship - and the decision - on to Aldarion. But at the time when Aldarion became King, Numenor was not yet powerful enough to do battle against the growing evil. When Aldarion's daughter Tar-Ancalime succeeded him, she gave no further aid to Gil-galad.

The evil force growing in Middle-earth was Morgoth's former lieutenant Sauron. In 1200 of the Second Age, Sauron assumed a fair disguise and tried to gain entry into Lindon. He called himself Annatar, Lord of Gifts, and he claimed to be an emissary of the Valar. Gil-galad did not know he was Sauron, but he did not trust him and sent him away. Gil-galad sent warnings to other Elves, but they did not listen. The Elves of Eregion welcomed Sauron and under his instruction they began forging the Rings of Power.

Sauron returned to Mordor and around 1600 he forged the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power. The Elves of Eregion realized they had been deceived. They decided to hide the Three Rings, which they had made without Sauron's aid. In 1693, Gil-galad received Narya and Vilya. He gave Narya to Cirdan and kept Vilya himself for a time, eventually passing it to Elrond.

Sauron declared war on the Elves and his forces attacked Eregion. Gil-galad sent help led by Elrond, but they were greatly outnumbered. Eregion was destroyed and Sauron seized the Rings of Power he found there. But the Three Rings remained hidden, and Sauron guessed that some or all of them were in Gil-galad's possession.

Gil-galad had sent a request for aid to Numenor. Tar-Minastir, the King of Numenor, sent supplies and Men, but their main fleet was delayed. Sauron's forces reached the borders of Lindon in 1700. Gil-galad struggled to defend the River Lune until the Numenorean fleet finally arrived and Sauron's forces were driven back. Sauron's main force was defeated by the Numenoreans at the Battle of the Gwathlo in 1701. Elrond was besieged in Rivendell by another of Sauron's armies, but Gil-galad came to his aid and together they defeated the last of the enemy forces.

After the war, a Council was held. Gil-galad appointed Elrond as his vice-regent, and Elrond went to live at Rivendell which became a stronghold of the Elves in eastern Eriador. Gil-galad remained in Lindon in the west. In the centuries after Sauron's defeat, Gil-galad's power increased and expanded in northwestern Middle-earth.

The Men of Numenor became estranged from the Elves. Many were resentful because the Elves were immortal and could travel to the Undying Lands. Most of the Numenoreans stopped voyaging to Lindon. Instead, they avoided the northwest where Gil-galad ruled and headed southward seeking conquest and wealth. But a small group of Numenoreans known as the Faithful remained Elf-friends and maintained contact with Gil-galad.

In 3319, Sauron persuaded Ar-Pharazon of Numenor to sail to the Undying Lands in defiance of Valar, and as a result Numenor was destroyed. The Faithful led by Elendil escaped. Elendil's ship came to Lindon and he was befriended by Gil-galad. Elendil established the North-kingdom of Arnor east of Lindon, while his sons Isildur and Anarion dwelled in the Kingdom of Gondor in the South.

Gil-galad built the White Towers in the Tower Hills for Elendil. In the tallest tower, Elostirion, Elendil kept a palantir called the Elendil Stone that looked westward across the Sea.

In 3429, Sauron attacked Gondor. The next year, Gil-galad and Elendil formed an alliance to oppose Sauron which became known as the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

Gil-galad led an army of Elves eastward from Lindon. Elrond was his herald, and Cirdan accompanied him as well. For battle, Gil-galad wore shining mail and a helm, and he bore the great spear Aeglos and a silver shield set with white stars.

Elendil watched for Gil-galad's arrival from the Tower of Amon Sul on Weathertop and they proceeded to Rivendell in 3431. Their united armies were the greatest force assembled in Middle-earth since the Host of the Valar waged war on Morgoth, and nothing like it was ever seen again.

The armies of the Last Alliance crossed the Misty Mountains and marched southward along the Anduin. Gil-galad summoned the Wood-elves from the forests along the Anduin. The Alliance was joined by the forces of Amdir of Lothlorien and Oropher and Thranduil of Greenwood the Great.

In 3434, they came to the great plain before the Black Gate of Mordor. The Last Alliance defeated Sauron's forces in the Battle of Dagorlad. Gil-galad and Elendil led their armies into Mordor and laid siege to the stronghold of Barad-dur where Sauron dwelled. The Siege of Barad-dur lasted seven years and many Elves and Men were killed.

At last, Sauron himself came down from his tower. On the slopes of Mount Doom, he fought with Gil-galad and Elendil. Gil-galad was killed by the black hand of Sauron which burned like fire, and Elendil was also slain, but together they managed to cast down Sauron's physical body. Elendil's son Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand, and Sauron's spirit fled from his body and went into hiding for many years until he arose again.

Gil-galad left no heir, and no one succeeded him as High King, but he was long remembered in legend and song.


Important Dates:

Note: There is no definitive chronology of the First Age. These dates are based on "The Grey Annals" and "The Tale of Years" in The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels. Other chronologies differ.
 

First Age:

456
After the Battle of Sudden Flame, Gil-galad's grandfather Fingolfin challenges Morgoth to single combat and is killed. Gil-galad's father Fingon becomes High King of the Noldor of Middle-earth. Gil-galad - as a young child - is sent to live at the Havens of the Falas.

472
Death of Gil-galad's father Fingon in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Gil-galad's uncle Turgon becomes High King of the Noldor of Middle-earth.

473
Morgoth's forces attack the Havens of the Falas. Gil-galad escapes with Cirdan and others and they relocate to the Isle of Balar.

510
Turgon slain during the Fall of Gondolin. Gil-galad becomes High King of the Noldor of Middle-earth.

538
The sons of Feanor attack the Havens of Sirion. Survivors join Gil-galad's people on the Isle of Balar.

545-590
Morgoth is defeated in the War of Wrath (545-587). Many of the Noldor return to the Undying Lands, but Gil-galad remains and settles in Lindon. End of the First Age.
 

Second Age:

1
The Grey Havens are founded on the Gulf of Lune.

600
Gil-galad welcomes the first ship to arrive in Middle-earth from Numenor, captained by Veantur.

725
Gil-galad meets Veantur's grandson Aldarion.

882
Gil-galad sends a letter to Tar-Meneldur, King of Numenor, explaining his fear that a servant of Morgoth is rising to power in Middle-earth. Tar-Meneldur decides to pass the kingship to Aldarion.

1200
Sauron, disguised as an emissary of the Valar, tries to gain entry into Lindon but is refused admittance by Gil-galad. Sauron is welcomed by the Elves of Eregion despite Gil-galad's warnings.

1600
Sauron forges the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power.

1693
Gil-galad receives Narya and Vilya for safekeeping.

1695
Sauron invades Eriador. Gil-galad requests aid from Numenor and sends a force led by Elrond to help defend Eregion.

1697
Sauron's forces destroy Eregion.

1700
Sauron's forces reach the borders of Lindon. Gil-galad holds them off until the arrival of a fleet from Numenor.

1701
Sauron's forces are defeated in the Battle of the Gwathlo. Gil-galad appoints Elrond as his vice-regent.

3319
Downfall of Numenor. Elendil escapes and lands in Lindon, where he is befriended by Gil-galad.

3320
Foundation of Gondor and Arnor. Elendil, the High King, dwells in Arnor near Lindon.

3429
Sauron attacks Gondor.

3430
The Last Alliance of Elves and Men is formed by Gil-galad and Elendil.

3431
Gil-galad and Elendil march east to Rivendell.

3434
The Last Alliance defeats Sauron's forces in the Battle of Dagorlad. The siege of Barad-dur begins.

3441
Gil-galad and Elendil die in mortal combat with Sauron, but together they cast Sauron down. Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron's hand, and Sauron's spirit flees his body and goes into hiding.
 


Names & Etymology:

Gil-galad:
Gil-galad means "starlight" or "star of radiance." The word gil means "star." The element galad is derived from calad meaning "light." Gil-galad was not his original name. It was an epesse, or "after-name," which was given as a title of admiration or honor. Gil-galad was said to be so named because of his shining silver armor and shield, which could be seen from afar - though another source notes the brightness of his eyes as the reason for his name.
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entries for GIL and KAL
Unfinished Tales: "Aldarion and Erendis," p. 217 note 24; "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 266
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Later Quenta Silmarillion," p. 242

 

Ereinion:
Ereinion means "scion of kings" or "descendant of kings." The element erein is from erain meaning "kings"; the singular is aran, "king." The ending ion means "son." This was the name given to Gil-galad at birth. He was sometimes called by both names, Ereinion Gil-galad.
The Silmarillion: "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entry for ar(a)
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entry for YO, YON

 

High King of the Noldor:
Gil-galad became High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth in 510 of the First Age. He ruled for over 3,500 years until his death in 3441 of the Second Age. He was the last to hold the title.


Sources:

The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Shadow of the Past," p. 61; "A Knife in the Dark," p. 197-98, 203; "The Council of Elrond," p. 256-57, 266

Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Annals of the Kings and Rulers," p. 314, 318

Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 363-66

The Silmarillion: "Of the Ruin of Beleriand," p. 154; "Of the Fifth Battle," p. 196; "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin," p. 244; "Of the Voyage of Earendil," p. 247, 254; "Akallabeth," p. 267-68; "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," p. 286-87, 289-90, 292-94, 297-98

Unfinished Tales: "A Description of the Island of Numenor," p. 168; "Aldarion and Erendis," p. 174-75, 185, 199-200, 203, 206, 212, 213 note 3, 217 note 24; "The Line of Elros," p. 219-20; "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 236-39, 243-44, 247, 254, 258, 262, 266

The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Later Quenta Silmarillion," p. 242-3

The History of Middle-earth, vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "Of Dwarves and Men," p. 313, 317 note 7, 328 note 65; "The Shibboleth of Feanor," p. 347-51


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