Have Island, Will Rebel
Of course, Tolkien says the Eldar of Tol Eressea visited the island almost from the very start, and the Elves taught the Dunedain many things. What things? Why didn't the Eldar teach the Edain all these neat ideas during the 140 or so years of relative peace that the Edain enjoyed in Beleriand before the Dagor Bragollach?
Well, there was the art of ship-building. Not that the Numenoreans needed ships, but the greater part of the population lived along the coasts in towns and villages which supported a great fishing industry. It just seems sort of odd that the Dunedain whose ancestors had lived happily in the highlands of Dorthonion and the woods of Brethil would have taken to life on the seashore.
Of course, every Dunadan family had to eat, and fishing should have been one of the easiest ways for the early arrivals to provide for themselves. You weave a few nets, carve out some boats, make a few spears, and go skidding across the waves to find a good shoal were the local fishies haven't figured out that Men are not good things (for the fishies, that is).
Tolkien tells us that most of the Dunedain lived in the eastern regions of Numenor, in fact the greatest population was in the Arandor, the Kings land. The Dunedain must have been brought to shore by Cirdan's mariners approximately where Romenna lay, and from there colonists moved inland and gradually spread throughout the island. The westernmost peoples appear to have been primarily of Beorian descent, and it was from them who came many of the Faithful centuries later.
The early society of the Dunedain must have been rather clannish, perhaps even multi-tribalish. In the essay on Numenor Tolkien writes that "the King and most of the great chieftains possessed swords as heirlooms of their fathers; and at times they would still give a sword as a gift to their heirs." Who were these "great chieftains"? Undoubtedly there must have been families of prominent men who became leaders in their communities in the absence of their rightful lords, whose families were finally represented only by Elrond and Elros.
For more than 50 years the vast majority of the Dunedain were separated from their rightful lords. Tuor was never raised among his people, although he spent three years as a slave among them after he had been captured. When Tuor finally left Hithlum, never to return, Turin was already a man set upon his doomed path. Tuor's deeds as an outlaw after his escape from slavery must have become legendary, for the Easterlings set a high price on his head.
So, at least two generations of Edain were raised in slavery after Tuor's departure. A lot can happen in the course of two generations. The slaves would develop leaders who would become important to them in some fashion. And from these leaders would have emerged their first commanders when they finally joined the Host of Valinor in the War of Wrath. Presumably Elrond and Elros also joined the army of Valinor, for how else could Elrond have recalled the Breaking of Thangorodrim? And why would Elros have been able to contemplate a kingship over the Edain?
The War of Wrath lasted for 42 years, and for another 35 years Elros prepared his people for eventual departure over Sea. Somewhere in those years the Edain of Beleriand became the Dunedain, and their leaders must have gathered about them various factions of people. Elros undoubtedly must have gathered his own following, people who had come to admire him and to serve him willingly. These would have included his captains and their families, and his chief warriors. Perhaps the bravest of the Dunadan warriors were all led by Elros by the end of the war.
The Edain of Dor-lomin consisted of Marachians and Beorians. The Marachians were the most numerous people, and the Beorians were the second most numerous folk. The Folk of Haleth had become scattered after the last of their rightful chieftains, Manthor, died. "The Wanderings of Hurin" says that "lesser men ruled in Brethil in the time that was left", but we also learn there that many of the Folk of Haleth chose to go with Hurin and his outlaws. The "Narn i Chin Hurin" tells us that other members of the Folk of Brethil had gradually spread southward from the forest.
In time there must have been small communities of Edain living scattered throughout Beleriand. And their leaders would have become at least some of the chieftains who led the Edain to Numenor with Elros. Elros led from five to ten thousand Edain in the first wave of colonization, but many thousands of other Edain came later. Most of these were probably absorbed into the population of Arandor, but one can well imagine the Beorians and Folk of Haleth moving westward to seek out the highlands and forests which would have been most like their older homes in Beleriand.
But these bands of colonists were not necessarily crude barbarians waiting to be culturally elevated by the Elves of Eressea. Tolkien notes in the essay on Numenor that "the Edain brought with them to Numenor the knowledge of many crafts, and many craftsmen who had learned from the Eldar, besides preserving lore and traditions of their own." Obviously there was plenty of opportunity for the Edain to learn from the Eldar during the War of Wrath and the years afterward, but the notion that they had preserved knowledge from before implies that their craftsmen must have been valued by the Easterlings.
And if the Easterlings had used slave craftsmen, then quite possibly Hurin did not lead all the men of Dor-lomin to war. We know from "The Wanderings of Hurin" that he was able to recruit a band of outlaws, some of whom had fought in the Nirnaeth. So the forces of Dor-lomin had been partially scattered. But older men and older boys too young to fight had to have been left behind. From these men would have emerged the craftsmen whom the Easterlings preserved as slaves.
One can imagine that a sort of master-apprentice schooling must have developed as the aged men passed on their knowledge. Edainic society, regardless of what it had been like before the Nirnaeth, had to be fundamentally altered by the generations of slavery. Hence, organized "schools" or "guilds" could not have existed, although perhaps the slaves would have maintained some secret groups for various purposes.
The idea of guilds may be a purely Numenorean convention, but was it necessarily developed along the same lines as medieval European guilds would have been? For inspiration they could have been exposed to or even tutored by the Eldarin "schools" (such as the Lambengolmor, the masters of tongues, the "school" of linguists established by Feanor in Aman). Elros, in particular, must have learned something of Noldorin culture from Maglor, his foster father, even though the Noldorin civilization had been destroyed. Elros could have prevailed upon all the craftsmen he found to come together to share knowledge and help build cities.
Hence, Romenna and Armenelos would have been founded quickly. Romenna with its great harbor would have received the ships of the Eldar and Armenelos would have become the center of exploration and colonization for the rest of Numenor. It must also have been a center of great learning, and though no mention is made of one Armenelos must have eventually (if not in Elros' time) have established a great library to preserve the lore of the Numenoreans. A road was built which ran from Romenna all the way to the haven of Andunie in northwestern Numenor, passing first through Ondosto, a region or city which Christopher Tolkien speculates was used for stone quarries.
Only two Numenorean guilds are actually named: the Guild of Weaponsmiths and the Guild of Venturers. The latter guild was founded by Aldarion while he was still just a prince, and it was a society devoted to exploration and travel. There seems to be no real evidence that the Guild of Venturers was anything like a medieval craft guild. The Guild of Weaponsmiths, on the other hand, was responsible for making the tools used by Numenor's craftsmen, and in the early centuries at least they spent more time making tools than weapons. It may be that the guilds were in fact sponsored by the kings, or other wealthy leaders.
If royal patronage gave a guild its income, the guild would have to take royal direction as well. Hence, Elros could decide where the cities would be built, where the mines would be dug, where the quarries would be established. All of early Numenor seems to have been laid out according to some well-conceived plan, and the logical conclusion is that Elros, who reigned in Numenor for 410 years, must have devoted a great deal of time toward organizing the kingdom.
And yet he doesn't seem to have been an arbitrary ruler, as his descendants
were not all arbitrary rulers. Tar-Meneldur, Aldarion's father, did not act
as an autocrat. In a note to "Aldarion and Erendis" Christopher Tolkien
writes that "In a note on the
Council of the Sceptre at this time in the
history of Numenor it is said that this Council had no powers to govern the
King save by advice...." And yet when Tar-Meneldur announced his intention to
abdicate he told his council that he would defer the action for a while if
they insisted. The Council was drawn from the leading men of various regions
of Numenor, and these were not always descendants of Elros.
So it appears that Elros must have governed by a sort of consensus at first, winning the support and acclamation of the various chieftains who agreed to sail over Sea to Numenor, but establishing where necessary whatever guilds were utilized in building the Numenorean civilization, which literally rose up under Elros' guidance. Royal patronage or at least royal charters and direction must have brought about the profound and broad powers of the kings.
And yet the members of the Council of the Sceptre appear to be wealthy men themselves. Where did their wealth come from? If they were the descendants of the original chieftains, those men may have organized lesser guilds, or established control over local economies. The people of Emerie were shepherds, and vineyards were grown in eastern Hyarnustar. Hyarastorni, another region in Mittalmar (perhaps bordering Emerie on the west), seems to have been a farming and sheep-raising region. Hallatan, son of Hallacar, was able to pass himself off as a shepherd when he was wooing Ancalime (who was passing herself off as a shepherdess).
The Council were able to prevail upon Ancalime to take a husband, and in one anecdote it is suggested that the Council tried to find Ancalime when she was in hiding, even though Aldarion worked to distract them. The Council members seem to have a measure of independence and influence that the kings could not simply ignore even if the laws of Numenor and the actual governance of the realm flowed directly from the throne. Even when Sauron was taken prisoner to Numenor by Ar-Pharazon the king was reluctant to move against Amandil in part because Amandil was still popular and held in great esteem by the people. Council members, at least in Tar-Meneldur's day, were selected because they were respected by the people in their regions.
So a reasonable inference is that the various regions of Numenor were led by a few families, the leaders of whom were the "chieftains" of the Dunedain, and from the most prominent of these families developed the eventual hereditary lordships. The Lords of Andunie, for example, were descended from Valandil, son of Silmarien, eldest daughter of Tar-Elendil the fourth king. Silmarien married Elatan of Andunie, who may have been a descendant of Beor from a lesser line. Erendis' father, Beregar, was a Beorian descended from Beleth, the sister of Baragund and Belegund, the nephews of Barahir, Beren's father.
Elatan's son may have been elevated to the lordship of Andunie because he was a king's grandson, but it could also be that Elatan was the most respected leader in Andunie and would himself have been made lord of that region if there had been a need for one. That Valandil was made the first Lord of Andunie seems to imply there weren't many people in that region until his day, or perhaps Tar-Meneldur expanded his council, or established the first Council of the Sceptre. Unfortunately, Tolkien doesn't say much about Numenorean history, because most of its historical records were lost.
Since at the end of Tar-Meneldur's reign only two members of his council (Valandil and Hallatan of Hyarastorni) were descendants of Elros, it may be that the various regions of Numenor were developed under the auspices of the wealthier chieftains. The initial wealth of these families could have come from land-grants made by the kings (Tar-Meneldur specifically gave extensive lands in Emerie to Erendis as a wedding gift), but it may be that Elros allowed men to claim lands they broke and settled. Any man who could establish a community would become its leader, and the leaders may have been the chief farmers, ranchers, and herdsmen in their regions. It would eventually become necessary for these chieftains to select a representative to speak for them on the Council of the Sceptre.
The idea that the lordships developed in part from independent chieftainships may help explain why Amandil and his predecessors could extend help to the Faithful Dunedain while retaining the good will of the Kings. The various lords must have obtained a degree of autonomy. Ar-Pharazon's reign may therefore have represented a remarkable period in which his personal charisma overcame the barriers of autonomy. That is, he established himself as a great captain in Middle-earth and thus won renown and widespread support from other Numenorean lords.
Hence, when Tar-Palantir died, Ar-Pharazon could take the sceptre and force Tar-Miriel to marry him because he already had the popular support of many of Numenor's lords. An appeal to their conservative values (only men should wield the sceptre in these dark times) or perhaps a simple declaration of "I should be the King!" might be all he required. Tar-Miriel would have found herself without sufficient support to gainsay Pharazon's ambitions. Worse, she may have lacked the personal wealth necessary to raise an army to assert her own power, or to patronize the guilds. She was the rightful Queen, and should have become the Ruler of Numenor, but precedent established in Tar-Ancalime's time required that she marry or give up the Sceptre.
Hence, Ar-Pharazon's ambition was buoyed by the ancient laws. Numenor needed a ruler who was wed, and if Tar-Miriel didn't marry him he should have become the rightful king (because his father, Gimilkhad, was Tar-Palantir's younger brother). At least as Pharazon's wife Tar-Miriel ensured that her father's line continued and she may have hoped to influence Ar-Pharazon (though in the end she didn't, and it's doubtful she even lived with him, since they had no children). That Tar-Miriel could have married someone else is only briefly dealt with in some material published in The Peoples of Middle-earth, but Ar-Pharazon seems to have been powerful enough to prevent that from happening.
If the lords of Numenor were largely autonomous then much of their later history would be easily explained. In time there would have been too few lands to bestow through inheritance or gift upon leading men in Numenor, either by the kings or the lords and chieftains. And Tar-Meneldur feared that the Guild of Venturers would encourage men to seek far lands outside of Numenor. Even when Aldarion was the Guild's chief patron and leader there were other captains who sailed to Mithlond, though these adventures seemed small by comparison with Aldarion's own voyages.
The initial efforts to colonize Middle-earth, therefore, may have resulted from the various noble families sending younger sons over Sea, funding expeditions. The potential for dissension among Numenor's wealthier families would thus have been reduced, and the Kings would have retained considerable power and influence because there would be less competition for their patronage over the essential guilds. It may be that economic power coincided with political power in Numenor because political power would depend on economic power.
The effect of the Numenorean colonization policies from Second Age 1200 onward would thus be to preserve the royal power and prevent the absolute dilution of royal prerogatives. Capetian France all but disintegrated the royal power because the kings had to continually bestow lands upon their supporters in order to retain their loyalty. The kings ended up with less land and economic power than many of their great magnates, who were themselves as powerful and influential as the kings, or more so. By the late 1100s, the so-called Angevin Empire allowed the Kings of England to directly govern about half of France because they were also the Dukes of Normandy and Henry II married Elanor of Aquitaine. Assorted other, smaller regions of France had been collected by the family over the generations, including Anjou, from which Historians adapted the phrase "Angevin Empire".
Numenor must therefore have produced an immense surplus population through the centuries, and the Kings allowed or encouraged the adventurous people to sail to Middle-earth. The early colonists may have been led by lords whose families were paying for the ships and supplies required to establish the colonies. In return, the families may have set up special trade routes whereby they retained exclusive control over traffic between their colonies and the homelands. By finding opportunities in Middle-earth for younger sons, the families avoided the necessity of breaking up their lands. Nothing like feudalism should ever have developed in Numenor, especially since the kingdom had no enemies which required strong local defense.
Royal prerogatives outside of the maintenance of Vinyamar, the haven founded by Aldarion, must have been extremely few overseas until the Numenoreans began to see how powerful they were in the War of the Elves and Sauron (1695-1701). From the period 1800 onward the Numenoreans began to conquer large territories in Middle-earth. But who commissioned the armies and authorized the conquests?
The answer must be the kings themselves. If their contemporary aristocracy were breaking new lands in Middle-earth peacefully, the kings must have realized that they were gradually being overtaken by their peers in wealth and prestige. What better way to reassert royal prerogatives than by commissioning military expeditions and wars of conquest? The younger sons of the noble families would be recruited into the navy and army and would serve the kings, not their families. The families might actually have welcomed or even encouraged the change in policy as the conflicts with Sauron would have made the breaking of new lands more difficult. So competition for opportunity in Middle-earth between sons coming from Numenor and sons born in Middle-earth would have arisen. Now the Numenoreans would advance into Middle-earth as liberators and defenders of their colonies, but in reality the Kings might have been setting limits to the expansion of the autonomous nobles. The Kings must have controlled the core guilds in Numenor, so they could decide whose armies were equipped and whose fleets were built.
Nonetheless, the extension of royal power into the Numenorean circles of Middle-earth may have alarmed some families. Perhaps this is why Sauron was able to ensnare several Numenorean lords with Rings of Power. The Eldar didn't bother to tell the Numenoreans why they were fighting a war with Sauron. Ignorant of the Rings of Power and the perils they represented, the Numenoreans could be seduced by Sauron into rebelling against their rightful kings, or at least in abandoning their places in Numenorean society. "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" says that those (nine) men who accepted the Rings "became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old."
Now younger sons of powerful families, whose ambitions had been dispossessed by kings eager to increase their own wealth and influence, would have been enticed to strike out on their own. They could have raised wealth and armies with the aid of their Rings, undoubtedly kept secret from the kings and their own families. At least three areas of Numenorean Middle-earth must have suddenly noticed rival powers rising up without explanation. The new kingdoms could have been used by Sauron to slow or check Numenorean progress.
In fact, it's conceivable that Sauron would have used the nine men (to whom he gave Rings of Power) at first to bar or impede Numenorean aggression throughout Middle-earth. Hence 9 sorcerer-kings must have risen fairly quickly, in lands close to the boundaries of Numenorean expansion. The various wealthy families would be proud of their successful sons and refuse to take up arms against them. In the long run they might have lost control over the colonies simply because the kings needed to ensure the new kingdoms didn't encroach upon Numenorean territory.
The autonomy of the nobles would explain why Amandil often acted with impunity, aiding the Faithful and eventually sailing west to try and rouse the Valar. He would have expected to be able to conduct his own business without much interference from the King. That would also explain why Ar-Pharazon would not have taken action against Elendil's fleet in Romenna harbor. The withdrawal of Elendil and his people might have been viewed as a mild form of rebellion, a sort of statement that they would rather seek their fortunes elsewhere than take part in the changes sweeping across Numenor. Tradition would have forbidden Ar-Pharazon from taking direct action against the Elendili. After all, he must have still owed something by then to the great families which had supported him.
The establishment of the fortress of Umbar and the city of Pelargir ("Royal garth of ships") within 100 years after the first appearance of the Nazgul seems to imply that Numenor felt it necessary to oppose Mordor militarily. The earlier kingdoms established by Sauron's Ringwraiths may have vanished or passed into the hands of other rulers. Now the Nazgul might more effectively serve their lord as captains of his armies, vassals in buffer regions between Mordor and the Numenorean colonies, and emissaries sent abroad.
Numenorean captains such as Ar-Pharazon had been in his youth were achieving victories against Sauron's armies in Middle-earth. The implication is that Numenor made territorial gains or repelled invasions launched by Sauron against the colonies. It would appear that Numenor's ability to finance large overseas expeditions prevented a feudal breakdown of authority. The Kings of Numenor became true imperials. Their wealthy aristocratic families, therefore, must either have become confined to traditional, non-expanding spheres of influence or else were incorporated into a growing Numenorean bureaucracy and military machine. The Kings would need administrators for their colonies and they would need auditors to make sure they got their taxes and fees from all enterprises in Middle-earth.
Ar-Pharazon effectively stripped Amandil of his lands and title. This reduction in autonomy, or increase in royal authority, could arguably be traced directly to Sauron's influence. Ar-Pharazon may have been the first and only King to set aside ancient traditions and boundaries. At least on the scale on which he acted as indicated by "Akallabeth" and related texts. But even where Amandil was concerned Ar-Pharazon may have had some precedent derived from events in Middle-earth. What if the autonomous families did resent the intrusion of the kings into the colonial world? Perhaps the kings, as they became more aggressive and militaristic, found reason and "just" cause to remove some colonial lords from their domains. The Numenoreans seem to have been very serious about following established precedent.
The adherence to precedence and tradition would have been a balancing factor in the early generations. Elros Tar-Minyatur was King of Numenor but he founded the kingdom with the help of Edainic peoples who had hundreds of years of traditions behind them. The Folk of Haleth, for example, had held folkmoots to decide great matters. Their chieftains led them in war, called the moots, and acted as judges, but they were not autocratic rulers. The lords of Dor-lomin and Ladros, on the other hand, were appointed vassals of Elven kings. They seem to have been given some autonomous rights in order to retain a division between cultures (and that was why these lordships were established, because the Elven kings felt that Men and Elves should not always live closely together).
The Lords of Ladros ended with Beren, technically, though he never governed his people, who had all left Dorthonion during his father's time. These Beorians became incorporated into the societies of Brethil and Dor-lomin, the latter group thus taking the Lords of Dor-lomin as their leaders. Had Barahir gone with his people to Dor-lomin, would he perhaps have been accepted as an equal by Galdor of Dor-lomin, or would Fingon have established a second lordship for Men in his kingdom? The implications of such a move would be serious. Beren would probably have never met Luthien, Dior would not have been born, Doriath would have survived, but Hithlum might still have been overcome in the end. What, then, would have become of the heirs of the dispossessed lords?
As matters progressed, however, the Edain of Hithlum were cut off from their rightful lords for generations, and in the absence of those lords they may have developed leaders who would have become strengthened in their prerogatives by custom and tradition. Hence, Elros would have needed to win the respect and support of these leaders, and he could not have ruled as autocratically as Ar-Pharazon eventually did. The Edain took to Numenor the custom of the folkmoot and the tradition of being led by many chieftains of smaller peoples. Somewhere in the process of building his kingdom Elros seems to averted the necessity of recognizing numerous separate "peoples" (as developed in Anglo-Saxon England, each leader giving his name to the community he founded) while retaining and perhaps enriching the folk traditions that provided for autonomy.
The retention of autonomous traditions may at first have been a stabilizing force in Numenorean society, but inevitably it seems to have led to a degree of instability. Tar-Meneldur was concerned that Aldarion's Guild of Venturers would foster ambitions for the conquest of foreign lands in the Numenoreans, but it seems that the inevitable competition between the Kings and the various aristocratic families would have brought on such colonization efforts anyway. The Guild of Venturers may have opened the door, but they could not have forced the Numenoreans to walk through it. So the dissensions which arose centuries later as the Kings and their supporters began to turn away from the Valar in resentment of their mortality may owe something to the autonomy enjoyed by the leading families. They were free to some extent to speak and live as they pleased. By the time Ar-Pharazon established near absolute control over Numenor, the Faithful had mostly fled to Middle-earth, where centuries of colonization afforded them a friendly base of support and the means of continuing their civilization in despite of the King's ill will.
Michael Martinez is the author of Visualizing Middle-earth, which may be purchased directly from Xlibris Corp. or through any online bookstore. You may also special order it from your local bookstore. The ISBN is 0-7388-3408-4.
And be sure to download your free copy of Parma Endorion: Essays on Middle-earth, 3rd edition at Free-eBooks.Net!