‘The North-kingdom and the Dunedain
‘After Elendil and Isildur there were eight High Kings of Arnor. After Earendur, owing to dissensions among his sons their realm was divided into three: Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan. Arthedain was in the North-west and included the land between Brandywine and Lune, and also the land north of the Great Road as far as the Weather Hills. Rhudaur was in the North-east and lay between the Ettenmoors,the Weather Hills, and the Misty Mountains, but included also the Angle between the Hoarwell and the Loudwater. Cardolan was in the South, its bounds being the Brandywine, the Greyflood, and the Great Road.
‘In Arthedain the line of Isildur was maintained and endured, but the line soon perished in Cardolan and Rhudaur. There was often strife between the kingdoms, which hastened the waning of the Dunedain. The chief matter of debate was the possession of the Weather Hills and the land westward towards Bree. Both Rhudaur and Cardolan desired to possess Amon Sul (Weathertop), which stood on the borders of their realms; for the Tower of Amon Sul held the chief Palantír of the North, and the other two were both in the keeping of Arthedain.
‘It was in the beginning of the reign of Malvegil of Arthedain that evil came to Arnor. For at that time the realm of Angmar arose in the North beyond the Ettenmoors. Its lands lay on both sides of the Mountains, and there were gathered many evil men, and Orcs, and other fell creatures. [The lord of that land was known as the Witch-king, but it was not known until later that he was indeed the chief of the Ringwraiths, who came north with the purpose of destroying the Dunedain in Arnor, seeing hope in their disunion, while Gondor was strong.
‘In the days of Argeleb son of Malvegil, since no descendants of Isildur remained in the other kingdoms, the kings of Arthedain again claimed the lordship of all Arnor. The claim was resisted by Rhudaur. There the Dunedain were few, and power had been seized by an evil lord of the Hill-men, who was in secret league with Angmar. Argeleb therefore fortified the Weather Hills;23 but he was slain in battle with Rhudaur and Angmar.
‘Arveleg son of Argeleb, with the help of Cardolan and Lindon, drove back his enemies from the Hills; and for many years Arthedain and Cardolan held in force a frontier along the Weather Hills, the Great Road, and the lower Hoarwell. It is said that at this time Rivendell was besieged.
‘A great host came out of Angmar in 1409, and crossing the river entered Cardolan and surrounded Weathertop. The Dunedain were defeated and Arveleg was slain. The Tower of Amon Sul was burned and razed; but the palantír was saved and carried back in retreat to Fornost, Rhudaur was occupied by evil Men subject to Angmar,24 and the Dunedain that remained there were slain or fled west Cardolan was ravaged. Araphor son of Arveleg was not yet full-grown, but he was valiant, and with aid from Cirdan he repelled the enemy from Fornost and the North Downs. A remnant of the faithful among the Dunedain of Cardolan also held out in Tyrn Gorthad (the Barrowdowns), or took refuge in the Forest behind.
‘It is said that Angmar was for a time subdued by the Elvenfolk coming from Lindon; and from Rivendell, for Elrond brought help over the Mountains out of Lórien. It was at this time that the Stoors that had dwelt in the Angle (between Hoarwell and Loudwater) fled west and south, because of the wars, and the dread of Angmar, and because the land and clime of Eriador, especially in the east, worsened and became unfriendly. Some returned to Wilderland, and dwelt beside the Gladden, becoming a riverside people of fishers.
‘In the days of Argeleb II the plague came into Eriador from the Southeast, and most of the people of Cardolan perished, especially in Minhiriath. The Hobbits and all other peoples suffered greatly, but the plague lessened as it passed northwards, and the northern parts of Arthedain were little affected. It was at this time that an end came of the Dunedain of Cardolan, and evil spirits out of Angmar and Rhudaur entered into the deserted mounds and dwelt there.
‘It is said that the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad, as the Barrowdowns were called of old,are very ancient, and that many were built in the days of the old world of the First Age by the forefathers of the Edain, before they crossed the Blue Mountains into Beleriand, of which Lindon is all that now remains. Those hills were therefore revered by the Dunedain after their return; and there many of their lords and Kings were buried. [Some say that the mound in which the Ring-bearer was imprisoned had been the grave of the last prince of Cardolan, who fell in the war of 1409.
‘In 1974 the power of Angmar arose again, and the Witch-king came down upon Arthedain before winter was ended. He captured Fornost, and drove most of the remaining Dunedain over the Lune; among them were the sons of the king. But King Arvedui held out upon the North Downs until the last, and then fled north with some of his guard; and they escaped by the swiftness of their horses.
‘For a while Arvedui hid in the tunnels of the old dwarf-mines near the far end of the Mountains, but he was driven at last by hunger to seek the help of the Lossoth, the Snowmen of Forochel. Some of these he found in camp by the seashore; but they did not help the king willingly, for he had nothing to offer them, save a few jewels which they did cat value; and they were afraid of the Witch-king, who (they said) could make frost or thaw at his will But partly out of pity for the gaunt king and his men, and partly out of fear of their weapons, they gave them a little food and built for them snow-huts. There Arvedui was forced to wait, hoping for help from the south; for his horses had perished.
‘When Cirdan heard from Aranarth son of Arvedui of the king’s flight to the north, he at once sent a ship to Forochel to seek for him. The ship came there at last after many days, because of contrary winds, and the mariners saw from afar the little fire of drift-wood which the lost men contrived to keep alight. But the winter was long in loosing its grip that year; and though it was then March, the ice was only beginning to break, and lay far out from the shore.
‘When the Snowmen saw the ship they were amazed and afraid, for they had seen no such ship on the sea within their memories; but they had become now more friendly, and they drew the king and those that survived of his company out over the ice in their sliding carts, as for as they dared. In this way a boat from the ship was able to reach them.
‘But the Snowmen were uneasy; for they said that they smelled danger in the wind. And the chief of the Lossoth said to Arvedui: “Do not mount on this sea-monster! If they have them, let the seamen bring us food and other things that we need, and you may stay here till the Witch-king goes home. For in summer his power wanes; but now his breath is deadly, and his cold arm is long.”
‘But Arvedui did not take his counsel. He thanked him, and at parting gave him his ring, saying: “This is a dung of worth beyond your reckoning. For its ancientry alone. It has no power, save the esteem in which those hold it who love my house. It will not help you, but if ever you are in need, my kin will ransom it with great store of all that you desire.”
”Yet the counsel of the Lossoth was good, by chance or by foresight; for the ship had not reached the open sea when a great storm of wind arose, and came with blinding snow out of the North; and it drove the ship back upon the ice and piled ice up against it. Even the mariners of Cirdan were helpless, and in the night the ice crushed the hull, and the ship foundered. So perished Arvedui Last-king, and with him the palantíri were buried in the sea. It was long afterwards that news of the shipwreck of Forochel was learned from the Snowmen.
‘ The Shire-folk survived, though war swept over them and most of them fled into hiding. To the help of the king they sent some archers who never returned; and others went also to the battle in which Angmar was overthrown (of which more is said in the annals of the South). Afterwards in the peace that followed the Shire-folk ruled themselves and prospered. They chose a Thain to take the place of the King, and were content; though for a long time many still looked for the return of the King. But at last that hope was forgotten, and remained only in the saying When the King comes back, used of some good that could not be achieved, or of some evil that could not be amended. The first Shire thain was one Bucca of the Marish, from whom the Oldbucks claimed descent. He became Thain in 379 of our reckoning (1979).
‘After Arvedui the North-kingdom ended, for the Dunedain were now few and all the peoples of Eriador diminished. Yet the line of the kings was continued by the Chieftains of the Dunedain, of whom Aranarth son of Arvedui was the first. Arahael his son was fostered in Rivendell, and so were all the sons of the chieftains after him; and there also were kept the heirlooms of their house: the ring of Barahir, the shards of Narsil, the star of Elendil, and the sceptre of Annuminas.’
From the Annals discussing Gondor:
‘On the death of Ondoher and his sons, Arvedui of the North-kingdom claimed the crown of Gondor, as the direct descendant of Isildur, and as the husband of Firiel, only surviving child of Ondoher. The claim was rejected. In this Pelendur, the Steward of King Ondoher, played the chief part.
‘The Council of Gondor answered: “The crown and royalty of Gondor belongs solely to the heirs of Meneldil, son of Anárion, to whom Isildur relinquished this realm. In Gondor this heritage is reckoned through the sons only; and we have not heard that the law is otherwise in Arnor.”
‘To this Arvedui replied: “Elendil had two sons, of whom Isildur was the elder and the heir of his father. We have heard that the name of Elendil stands to this day at the head of the line of the Kings of Gondor, since he was accounted the high king of all the lands of the Dunedain. While Elendil still lived, the conjoint rule in the South was committed to his sons; but when Elendil fell, Isildur departed to take up the high kingship of his father, and committed the rule in the South in like manner to the son of his brother. He did not relinquish his royalty in Gondor, nor intend that the realm of Elendil should be divided for ever.
‘”Moreover, in Númenor of old the sceptre descended to the eldest child of the king, whether man or woman. It is true that the law has not been observed in the lands of exile ever troubled by war; but such was the law of our people, to which we now refer, seeing that the sons of Ondoher died childless.” To this Gondor made no answer. The crown was claimed by Eärnil, the victorious captain; and it was granted to him with the approval of all the Dunedain in Gondor, since he was of the royal house. He was the son of Siriondil, son of Calimmacil, son of Arciryas brother of Narmacil II. Arvedui did not press his claim; for he had neither the power nor the will to oppose the choice of the Dunedain of Gondor; yet the claim was never forgotten by his descendants even when their kingship had passed away. For the time was now drawing near when the North-kingdom would come to an end.
‘Arvedui was indeed the last king, as his name signifies. It is said that this name was given to him at his birth by Malbeth the Seer, who said to his father: “Arvedui you shall call him, for he will be the last in Arthedain. Though a choice will come to the Dunedain, and if they take the one that seems less hopeful, then your son will change his name and become king of a great realm. If not, then much sorrow and many lives of men shall pass, until the Dunedain arise and are united again.”
‘In Gondor also one king only followed Eärnil. It may be that if the crown and the sceptre had been united, then the kingship would have been maintained and much evil averted. But Eärnil was a wise man, and not arrogant, even if, as to most men in Gondor, the realm in Arthedain seemed a small thing, for all the lineage of its lords.
‘He sent messages to Arvedui announcing that he received the crown of Gondor,according to the laws and the needs of the South-kingdom, “but I do not forget the loyalty of Arnor, nor deny our kinship, nor wish that the realms of Elendil should be estranged. I will send to your aid when you have need, so far as I am able.”
‘It was, however, long before Eärnil felt himself sufficiently secure to do as he promised. King Araphant continued with dwindling strength to hold off the assaults of Angmar, and Arvedui when he succeeded did likewise; but at last in the autumn of 1973 messages came to Gondor that Arthedain was in great straits, and that the Witch-king was preparing a last stroke against it. Then Eärnil sent his son Earnur north with a fleet, as swiftly as he could, and with as great strength as he could spare. Too late. Before Earnur reached the havens of Lindon, the Witch-king had conquered Arthedain and Arvedui had perished.
‘But when Earnur came to the Grey Havens there was joy and great wonder among both Elves and Men. So great in draught and so many were his ships that they could scarcely find harbourage, though both the Harlond and the Forlond also were filled; and from them descended an army of power, with munition and provision for a war of great kings. Or so it seemed to the people of the North, though this was but a small sending-force of the whole might of Gondor. Most of all, the horses were praised, for many of them came from the Vales of Anduin, and with them.were riders tall and fair, and proud princes of Rhovanion.
‘Then Cirdan summoned all who would come to him, from Lindon or Arnor, and when all was ready the host crossed the Lune and marched norm to challenge the Witch-king of Angmar. He was now dwelling, it is said, in Fornost, which he had filled with evil folk, usurping the house and rule of the kings. In his pride he did not await the onset of his enemies in his stronghold, but went out to meet them, thinking to sweep them, as others before, into the Lune.
‘But the Host of the West came down on him out of the Hills of Evendim, and were was a great battle on the plain between Nenuial and the North Downs. The forces of Angmar were already giving way and retreating towards Fornost when the main body of the horsemen that had passed round the hills Came down from the north and scattered them in a great rout. Then the Witch-king, with all that he could gather from the wreck, fled northwards, seeking his own land of Angmar. Before he could gain the shelter of Carn Dum the cavalry of Gondor overtook him with Earnur riding at their head. At the same time a force under Glorfindel the Elf-lord came up out of Rivendell. Then so utterly was Angmar defeated that not a man nor an orc of that realm remained west of the Mountains.
‘But it is said that when au was lost suddenly the Witch-king himself appeared, black-robed and black-masked upon a black horse. Fear fell upon all who beheld him; but he singled out the Captain of Gondor for the fullness of his hatred, and with a terrible cry he rode straight upon him. Earnur would have withstood him; but his horse could not endure that onset, and it swerved and bore him far away before he could master it.
‘Then the Witch-king laughed, and none that heard it ever forgot the horror of that cry. But Glorfindel rode up then on his white horse, and in the midst of his laughter the Witch-king turned to flight and passed into the shadows. For night came down on the battlefield, and he was lost, and none saw whither he went.
‘Earnur now rode back, but Glorfindel, looking into the gathering dark, said: “Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.” These words many remembered; but Earnur was angry, desiring only to be avenged for his disgrace.
‘So ended the evil realm of Angmar; and so did Earnur, Captain of Gondor, earn the chief hatred of the Witch-king; but many years were still to pass before that was revealed.’