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Minas Tirith Forums » Lord of the Rings » The Decline and Fall of Arnor (Page 1)
Author Topic: The Decline and Fall of Arnor
Roll of Honor Thorin
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The keeping of the line of Isildur pure and unbroken allowed King Elessar to reunite the thrones of Arnor and Gondor in T.A. 3019. However, my thesis for this thread is that the fall of Arnor was directly related to the Northern Numenorean’s refusal to intermarry and intermingle with indigenous Men of Middle-earth.

To make a case for this idea, I need to show that:
A) The Northern Line of Isildur did not intermarry with non-Numenoreans.
B) The Southern Line of Anarion did intermarry with non-Numenoreans.
C) The intermingling saved Gondor
D) The lack of intermingling caused the fall of Arnor.

The Northern Line did not intermarry
This is fairly straightforward and easy to confirm. Aragorn, the last of the purely Northern Line, is described as “the thirty-ninth Heir of Isildur in the direct line.”(1) Gandalf(2) and Elrond(3) confirm this as well. “It was the pride and wonder of the Northern Line that, though their power departed and their people dwindled, through all the many generations the succession was unbroken from father to son.”(4) If there still is any doubt of the lineage of the women these sons married, they are laid to rest with an account of the parents of King Elessar. His father Arathorn was directly descended from Isildur, of course, and his mother was Gilraen the Fair, daughter of Dirhael, who was descended from Aranarth, the First Chieftan, who was himself descended from Isildur.(5) The only trace of non-Numenorean blood that can be traced would be Arvedui’s wife Firiel, who was the daughter of King Ondoher of Gondor. Ondoher traced his lineage back to King Eldacar, who was half Rhonovianian.(6)

The Southern Line did intermarry
This is also easy to confirm. A great deal of information is given regarding Valacar’s marriage to Vidumavi, princess of Rhovanion. Their son, Eldacar (Vinitharya), came to the throne of Gondor and survived the Kinstrife. Yet other Numenoreans in Gondor had previously intermarried: “For the high men of Gondor already looked askance at the northmen among them; and it was a thing unheard of before that the heir to the crown, or any son of the King, should wed one of lesser and alien race.”(7) More explicitly, “after the return of Eldacar the blood of the kingly house and other houses of the Dunedain became more mingled with that of lesser Men.”(8)

The intermingling saved Gondor
This is the first of my ideas that may need some hard proofs to convince. To begin with, we know that war never ceased on their borders.(9) Gondor was mostly victorious, although their power waxed in the eleventh century. By the thirteenth, when the Kinstrife erupted over Eldacar, Gondor had faced two centuries of slow decline. Gondor never fully recovered from the Kinstrife. Many of the Dunedain were slain, and some fled to Umbar and Harad because they refused to acknowledge Eldacar. There were many Numenoreans killed or departed, and the records clearly state that “the people of Gondor were replenished by great numbers that came from Rhovanion.”(10)

Gondor clearly needed replenishing, because in the years that followed great evils rapidly followed upon the heels of one another. Plague, wars with Umbar, and the invasions of the Wainriders beset Gondor from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Things reached a low point in the twentieth, when the general Earnil of the Southern Army alone saved Gondor from being overwhelmed from the East and South.

Throughout this long time period the descendents of the Kings had become few. Some were killed in the ceaseless wars, some did not marry, some fled to Umbar out of fear, and some “renounced their lineage and taken wives not of Numenorean blood.”(11)

This intermingling had two effects. First, it ended up destroying the Southern Line. No claimant of pure blood could be found. Second, it saved the nation of Gondor. I have already quoted the “replenishment” statement. Gondor needed immigration and new blood to survive the constant threats and attacks. Immigration came from the North, as we know, but there was also intermingling that had gone on in Lamedon and other provinces of Gondor that were on the southern edge of the White Mountains.(12) Without this help and intermingling, there was little chance that the Exiles could have survived.

The lack of intermingling caused the fall of Arnor
The Numenoreans in the North had always been in lesser number than in the South. Before the Drowning, the colonies of the Faithful were at Tharbad in the North and at Pelargir and the surrounding areas in the South.(13) Pelargir was the main haven, as is clearly stated. During the Drowning, four ships of Elendil came to the North while five ships of Isildur and Anarion came to the South.(14) Moreover, after the Fall of Sauron and the End of the Second Age, a great deal of the Northern Dunedain were slain at the Gladden Fields.(15)

The Northern Kings therefore ruled over a lesser proportion of Numenoreans and a greater proportion of indigenous Men of Middle-earth, or Men of the Twilight. There had been Men in Eriador since the Elder Days, and the Numenoreans claimed lordship over them.(16) Since the Northern Dunedain were fewer in number, it is conceivable that they were more jealous of their lineage, and had been less likely to intermarry with those of non-Numenorean descent, and this may help explain why the Northern Line survived three thousand years.

It may also be the reason why the nation of Arnor fell. Arnor was beset from Angmar, as Gondor was from the East and South. However, Arnor never attempted to ask for aid, as Gondor did multiple times. Annuminas never attempted to contact the Men of Wilderland, as Minas Tirith did. It may have been impossible, as the Mountains were held by Angmar. Men to the South of Eriador were hostile to the Numenoreans.(17) The only help that was available was the remnant of the Noldor in Rivendell or the Havens. Not only were these Elves greatly diminished, the Elves had never intermingled with Men in any lasting form.

Arnor was alone and beset by external and internal calamities. The plague rolled through Eriador, the witch king attacked it from the East, and the sons of Earendur split Arnor into three because of “dissention.” This in and of itself may be the greatest calamity to befall the North, yet unfortunately the Professor gives us only a fragment of a sentence to explain it. Arnor faced nothing worse than Gondor did -–in fact Gondor may have faced worse challenges. Yet Gondor had something Arnor did not – the ability and the willingness to ask for immigration and outside aid from Men of non-Numenorean descent. This was the final ultimate cause of the fall of Arnor.

(1)Index, The Silmarillion.
(2)Many Meetings, The Lord of the Rings
(3)The Council of Elrond, The Lord of the Rings
(4)Appendix A (iii), The Lord of the Rings
(5)Appendix A (v), The Lord of the Rings
(6)Appendix A (ii), The Lord of the Rings
(7)Appendix A (iv), The Lord of the Rings
(8)Ibid.
(9)Ibid.
(10)Ibid.
(11)Ibid.
(12)The Passing of the Grey Company, The Lord of the Rings
(13)Unfinished Tales & Appendix A (i.), the Lord of the Rings
(14)Akallabeth, The Silmarillion
(15)Unfinished Tales
(16)At the Sign of the Prancing Pony, The Lord of the Rings
(17)Helm’s Deep, The Lord of the Rings

From: Helsinki | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
GLAMDRING The Foe Hammer
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Awesome post Thorin!

One thing I would throw in...

The native populations in the north also supplied the Witch King with his armies (which were mostly men and not orcs) but if Arnor had absorbed them and intermarried to begin with they would not have been available to the WK and would have instead strengthened Arnor (or Arthedain by that time).

Very good topic and a great job of putting it together. []

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Roll of Honor Thangail
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Yes, very good... but also think that a large part of the population of Arnor was lost during The Last Alliance AND at the Gladden Fields (particularly of men) and this meant that their population base was a lot smaller than Gondors (as well as being in a less clement climate). This would have not helped them in attempts to resist and recover from warfare.

Great post though!

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Roll of Honor Boromir's Woman
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I love historical research like this!

Would you also suggest, Thorin, that the lack of interbreeding contributed to a lack of fertility, or was the low birthrate intentional?

It is curious that such a reduced genetic field would not result in genetic abnormalities.

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Dark Lord Andúril
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I would also like to congratulate you on your post Thorin. It's threads like these that we need to help got the healthy discussion on Minas Tirith up again.

Now, I do see your argument, that the decreased population, ue to the lack of intermingling, would have made the nation weaker, however, I would not consider this the only reason for the low population, left to defend Arnor.

You must remember, that Gondor was a much more open land than Arnor was. Gondor would have had help from the Rohirrim, as they were beginning to gain strength in the province north of the White Mountains at this time, also, there would have been many Elves who would be able to help, such as the Elves of Lothlorien and southern Mirkwood, who might have been able to send some aid to their northern borders.

On the other hand, Arnor was literally surrounded by enemies, and was pretty much at a loss to call for help. Rivendell was not much of a military stronghold. It could not have had a very large population, as its prime defence was secrecy, and as we know from Tolkiens drawings, it was never intended to be a particularly large place. Therefore, the population of Elves that would have been avaliable to spare for the aid of Arnor would have been minimal.

Also, due to the large distances, there were very few other people who could lend much aid. Southern Arnor would practically deserted south of Tharbad, and that was a few hundred miles away from anywhere of particular strength in either Rohan or Gondor.

As well as this the Misty Mountians would have been much more difficult to cross for the Elves of Mirkwood and Lothlorien, as the increase of activity in Angmar would have undoubtedly meant that Orcs would have been multiplying in the Misty Mountians, in preparation for the oncoming invasion. The dwarves would have been able to offer little help as well, due to the fact that the ones in the Misty Mountains would have been fighting constantly with the ever strengthening Orcs.

The only real allies that the people of Arnor would have had, would have been the dwarves of the Blue Mountains, but I do not think that it would have been very likely to be much of a force. I do not recall it ever being mentioned that they would have been overly friendly with the people of Arnor, and I think that as their population in the Blue Mountians would not have been a particularly high one in consideration to the size of the forces of Angmar, I would have said that they would be more inclined to keep the defences of their own settlements as strong as possible, before sending aid to their neighbours.

So, all in all, I would agree with you, but there are certainly other considerations to be taken into account.

Dark Lord Andúril

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From: In Imladris I dwell... | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
CRAM it
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Fantastic job Thorin. Very well researched and good footnotes.

Questions: What was your purpose in posting your thesis? Did you want feedback or more information to support/disprove your thesis?

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Snöwdog
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Great post! I have some observations on this topic inwhich I will have to get into in more detail this weekend. For now I will make a comment on this:

The intermingling saved Gondor:
It was this intermingling that nearly destroyed Gondor in the Kin-Strife. The 'pure Numenorean blood' peoples from the coastal areas didn't like the fact King Eldacar was half Northman, his father King Valacar having married Vidumavi, a woman of Rhovanion. Eldacar was not recognized as King and there was rebellion in the southern provinces of Gondor and there was civil war. After much bloodshed, Castamir, the captain of the ships, took the crown and Eldacar was driven into exile to Rhovanion, the lands of his mother's kin. But Castamir cared not for Gondor save its harbors and fleet, and after 10 years, Eldacar came again south with a great army of Northmen. The people of Anórien, Ithilien, and Calenardhon flocked the the former King and there was battle in Lebennin at the Crossings of Euri. Eldacar slew Castamir, and Castamir's sons retreated upon their ships to Pelegir and there they withstood and contested with Gondor until the time of the Woar of the Ring and their overthrow by Aragorn and the Grey Company, and the Oathbreakers, the Army of the Dead whom Aragorn summoned at the Stone of Erech.

So, it was only the superior strength of the Southern Numenorean kingdom in exile of Gondor that kept it from falling during the Kin Strife.

From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Earendilyon
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quote:
So, it was only the superior strength of the Southern Numenorean kingdom in exile of Gondor that kept it from falling during the Kin Strife.
Snowdog, wouldn't it be more logical to say that the Southern pure-blooded Númenoreans almost brought the Kingdom of Gondor to its downfall? They caused the Kin Strife, because they didn't want to recognise their lawfull King and they revolted. After driving Eldacar off, they didn't care much for the preservation of the Kingdom, only for their part of it. Should Sauron have attacked in that time, Gondor would've been crushed.
Mind you: in App. B, LotR, Castamir c.s. are called "ursurpers" and "rebels'!

[ 09-06-2003, 04:23 AM: Message edited by: Earendilyon ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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Boromir’s Woman, I’ve often wondered about the lack of a “viable breeding population” for the Dunedain just prior to the War of the Ring. Thirty Dunedain traveled to Rohan in response to Galadriel’s summons. Only thirty to help their Chieftan fight a desperate war and perhaps be crowned King? I would assume that this means that the surviving Numenoreans were a very, very small number. Perhaps Aragorn was lucky that Arwen said yes – there may have been few Numenorean women to choose from! I would also guess that such a life in the “Wild” as so many of the Dunedain lived would have made it difficult to start and raise a family.

CRAM it, I like to craft essays from the point of view of a historian – it gives a different perspective on Tolkien’s works. I did one some time ago trying to “prove” that Isildur and Anarion were semi-bitter rivals. My point in posting this was simply to ignite some different ways to look at the Legendarium. People can disagree and prove me wrong, or agree and give more ideas that I hadn’t thought of – whatever they would like.

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Snöwdog
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quote:
(my quote) So, it was only the superior strength of the Southern Numenorean kingdom in exile of Gondor that kept it from falling during the Kin Strife.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
quote:
Snowdog, wouldn't it be more logical to say that the Southern pure-blooded Númenoreans almost brought the Kingdom of Gondor to its downfall?
It would, but I am taking it back another step and saying that if there was no intermingling in general, and no intermingled marriage between King Valacar of Gondor and Vidumavi of Rhovanion, the Kin-strife wouldn't have happened.
From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Earendilyon
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It was not the interracial marriage that caused the Kin Strife, IMO, but the almost racist ideas of the "pure-blooded" Númenoreans about purity of their race and blood.
Who were they afterall? Just descendants from their forebears who happened to meet Elves before they met Morgoth or his minions. So, they became the Elf-friends, just by coincidence, not by design. The Rhovanians (?) were descended from people who were not Elf-friends, but were not Morgoth-friends either. They had not as high a culture as the Númenoreans, nor as long a lifespan, but were also not evil (degraded?) like the Southrons or Easterlings. And, since they were as human as the Númenoreans, intermarriage between Men of the Middle and Númenoreans is nothing to be ashamed of. Since the Númenoreans of Southern Gondor thought it to be a shame, their theories on this matter can be considered as racist.

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Beleg
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quote:
Before the Drowning, the colonies of the Faithful were at Tharbad in the North and at Pelargir and the surrounding areas in the Sout
And at Lond Daer on Brandiun too.


The reasons are:

Lack of Mannish Population for Arnor to mingle with.
Their own domestic troubles.
The attack of Angmar.
Arnorians couldn't 'intermingle' with Dunlandings due to old quarells dating back to the tree felling times of second age.

quote:
Would you also suggest, Thorin, that the lack of interbreeding contributed to a lack of fertility, or was the low birthrate intentional?
Akallabeth tells us that Numenoreans possessed a lower fertility rate [Childrens In Numenor were few], so like Dwarves it would be difficult for them to survive in tough conditions or without intermingling.

quote:
On the other hand, Arnor was literally surrounded by enemies, and was pretty much at a loss to call for help
Which are your enemies? Dunlanding never attacked the Arnorians since they were in awe and fear of them except if they were single [And that too was during the second age]. They were protected from eastern Onslots by Misty Mountains. The only real enem[y] they had was the Witch King realm of Carn Dum away in the North.
Meanwhile they were also near two of the main Elvish Strongholds of Third age, Lindon and Imladris. Oh and they weren't at a loss to call for help, it was easy for the great navy of Gondor to fish an armada to Lindon [As they did in 1974 T.A]for Arnorian help. There were also Dwarves of Moria to call for help.
quote:
The only real allies that the people of Arnor would have had, would have been the dwarves of the Blue Mountains,
Can you prove that there were substantial amount of Dwarves present in Blue Mountains? If there were then why didn't they help during the wars of Elves and Sauron?

It was all due to limited Numenorean population, remoteness of other mannish tribes apart from Dunlandings who weren't exactly fond of Numenoreans. We also have to bear in mind that many Faithful had settled around Pelegir pre-fall, so their was considerablly more Numenorean population in Gondor then Arnor.

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Luthien
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Erlendil, this is probably the most interesting discussion on Arnor.

I also have a question... The 'hillmen' that were in Rhuadur... kin to the Dunlandings to the south? Also, the Stoors settled for a time in these areas before returning uver the Misty Mountains. There was alot that went on in this area, including Elrond establishing Rivendell in the foothills. Yes, quite interesting! []

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Erlendil
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Yes! I think have read this tread before, but very interesting!
From: Annuminas (or Trondheim, Norway) | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Thalion
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quote:
a great deal of the Northern Dunedain were slain at the Gladden Fields.(15)
Check UT again, it says after Sauron was defeated,
quote:
a greater part of the army of Arnor returned to Eriador...With Isildur went his three sons Elendur, Aratan, and Cirdyon, and his guard of two hundred knights and soldiers,
So they did not lose a greater part, just Isildur's Private Guard of two hundred.

[ 03-15-2004, 07:10 PM: Message edited by: Thalion ]

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Roll of Honor Thorin
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I don't want to get bogged down in semantics, but personally I would consider the slaughter of 200 people a "great deal" of people.

[ 03-16-2004, 07:38 AM: Message edited by: Thorin ]

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Erlendil
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Then the full army of Arnor couldn't be that great if 200 peoples was such a great loss for them...
From: Annuminas (or Trondheim, Norway) | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cernunnos
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I think that the whole army of Arnor (plus allies?) would have been much larger. Two hundred men was merely Isildur's personal escort.

A general point:

The most unaccountable thing about the history of Middle-earth throughout is the tendency of populations to fall, rather than rise, over time. So unlike the recorded history of the 'real' world, where even such an event as the Black Death was only a temporary setback in population rise.

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Orofacion of the Vanyar
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Wish I saw this thread before the other one...

It seems chance had a lot to do with how and why each kingdom survived. I'll elaborate.

As mentioned by the good Earendilyon, if Gondor had been attacked during the Kinstrife, or during the Great Plague, then they most certainly would have been destroyed, easily. I think we all agree to that. In the same token, if Arnor hadn't split into three, they would have endured far longer, being stronger to withstand Angmar.

Did the Northern line intermarry?

Yes. Sort of. The line of Arthedain was for the most part pure, except for the as-mentioned marriage of Arvedui and Firiel. But it would be a fraction of Rhovanion blood at that time. As for the rest of the two realms, Cardolan's geneology is never ellaborated, and it is rumored, probably stated in some minor line, that the last kings of Rhudaur weren't even Dunedain (I'll have to check this one). What it pretty much comes down to is that the Northern line was in complete chaos after the split. I always felt they never got a complete grip on their new kingdoms, establishing and thriving. Angmar attacked fairly early on, not giving the realms time to adjust.

I believe those were the factors behind the fall of Arnor, not blood line.

The southern line of course intermarried, but it was more so the allies and good leadership that contributed to the success of Gondor. Might does not make right, case in point the American Revolution. Gondor had come damn close, several times, to defeat. The Wainriders came very close to storming Minas Tirith had it not been for Eorl. That alliance, one could argue, was solidified further due to Eldacar, but that is not the sole reasoning behind it. Compare Gondor's kings, what they did to expand their realm, compared to Arnor. At its height, Gondor reached far south and east thanks to the great kings Hyarmendacil I and Atanatar. These men made the name Gondor mean something.

When it comes down to it, blood has little to do with might. Might is judged more on ability, in some cases thanks to blood, as well as good leadership, and good friends.

Ah, good to be back.

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From: Cincinnati, OH | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Éomer
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Gah, I wish I'd noticed this thread first, too. Oh well, basically this is all I had to say:

quote:
I honestly think that if neither Isildur or Elendur, or if just Isildur, had fallen at the Gladden Fields, Arnor would have had a very different fate.

No offense to Valandil or anything, it's just what I believe...

Probably not much of a contribution, but I'm big on "what if" scenarios... []
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Master of Doom
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quote:
Compare Gondor's kings, what they did to expand their realm, compared to Arnor. At its height, Gondor reached far south and east thanks to the great kings Hyarmendacil I and Atanatar. These men made the name Gondor mean something.
Arnor COULDN'T expand. To the West, they had the Eldar, their allies, and the ocean. To the North, they had ice. To the South, they had Gondor, their allies. And to the East, they had the longest Mountain chain in Middle-earth, which was inhabitted by dwarves, also allies, and to the east of the mountains, two elven-kingdoms, also their allies. They basically would have had to attack the Eldar or the other Dunedain to expand, and that would have made me cry.
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Orofacion of the Vanyar
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Master of Doom,

Since when did expansion require being directly connected geographically? The Numenoreans did it quite well, as did the Eldar, so it would be only logical that the people of Arnor could as well. Since they had so many allies in and around their immediate area, it would be advantageous to use those allies in support of eastward movement. Dorwinion still maintained, throughout the Wainrider invasion, their old Numenorean-like culture. This would be the best place if any to start.

The only reason I can see that they didn't set up colonies is that they were too small a people still. If given time, their borders would have to grow at some point, in some direction.

The Misty Mountains were by no means the longest mountain chain in Middle Earth, they were the most prominent western chain, and easily accessable.

[ 03-16-2004, 08:07 PM: Message edited by: Orofacion of the Vanyar ]

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Master of Doom
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quote:
Since when did expansion require being directly connected geographically? The Numenoreans did it quite well, as did the Eldar, so it would be only logical that the people of Arnor could as well.
The Numenoreans were the best navigators in all of Arda. They travelled to every continent in Arda, and travelled frequently from Numenor to Me, which is more than half the distance of the Great Ocean. The Men of Arnor probably hardly left Eriador, and when they did, it was probably to visit their fellow Dunedain in the South of their Eldarin friends.

And when did the Eldar expand to things not connected geographically, other than moving to uninhabitted lands in ME or into Valinor with the aid of the Valar?

quote:
The Misty Mountains were by no means the longest mountain chain in Middle Earth, they were the most prominent western chain, and easily accessable.
They were the longest mountain chain in the part of Middle-earth that mattered to the Men of Arnor.
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Asmodeus Lord ofthe Ninth
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That is fantastic research my good friend... You deserve congradulations.
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Tsutsi and Tisza
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Intermarriage with non-Númenoreans may have saved the population in Gondor and the city of Minas Tirith, but it is the direct reason given for the failure of the line of kings in Gondor.
'So it was that no claimant to the crown could be found who was pure blood, or who's claim all would allow..' Appendix A.
Apparently you can have quality or quantity.

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