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The main part of this article relates to the last versions of Middle-earth's history, and as such may controvert parts of The Silmarillion. See Middle-earth canon for a discussion. This subject's portrayal in earlier or alternative versions is discussed in the other versions of the legendarium section.

Gli-Galad y Elrond

Elrond, Gil-Galad and an army of Ñoldorin elves

The Ñoldor (Quenya; IPA: [ˈŋoldor] or in Third Age Middle-earth [ˈnoldor]; meaning those with knowledge; adjectival Ñoldorin; [ˈŋoldorin] or TA [ˈnoldorin]) were the second clan of the Elves. According to legend, the clan was originally called the Tatyar ([ˈtacar]; meaning second ones; adjectival Tatyarin; [ˈtacarin]) and founded by Tata, the second elf to awake at Cuiviénen, his spouse Tatië, and their 54 companions, but it was Finwë, the first Ñoldo to come to Valinor with Oromë, who became their king and led most of them to Valinor. The Ñoldor who went to Aman speak Quenya, or more specifically the widely-known Ñoldorin dialect of it. However, fully half the Tatyar refused the call of the Valar, and became counted among the Avari.

They were also known as Deep Elves, Gnomes, Golodhrim, Aulendur ('Servant of Aulë')[1] and Golug. The singular form of the noun is Ñoldo and the adjective is Ñoldorin. They were the Second Clan of the elves in both order and size, the other clans being the Vanyar and the Teleri. They typically had dark hair (except for those who had Vanyarin blood, most prominently the members of the House of Finarfin).

The Ñoldor are accounted the greatest of the Elves in lore and smithcraft. Fëanor (son of Finwë by Míriel) was the greatest of their craftsmen, and their second and briefest-reigning High King. When Melkor killed Finwë and stole the Silmarils, Fëanor renamed Melkor: Morgoth ("Black Enemy"), and persuaded the Ñoldor to pursue him to Middle-earth and wage war against him.


WIP Lords of Noldor Finwe by aautio

Finwë, the first High King of the Ñoldor © Antti Autio, used with permission

In Valinor, the Noldor Elves were ruled by the High King Finwe. The Noldor became the friends and students of Aule, due to their love of craft and the knowledge Aule imparted to them. Then Finwe's wife Miriel gave birth to her only son, Feanor, and was spent in mind and spirit. Miriel's spirit passed to the Halls of Mandos, depriving Finwe of joy in Valinor. But Feanor proved to be a mighty Elf Lord; subtle in speech, and the most skilled craftsmen of the Elves. When he was come to his prime, Feanor wrought the Silmrails, the great jewels that contained the light of the Two Trees. But he was prideful and arrogant, and did not take kindly to when Finwe married a second time, this time to Indis of the Vanyar. From her Finwe fathered two more children who would found their own houses; Fingolfin and Finarfin. This was the first cause of disunion in the House of Finwe, as Feanor had little love for his half siblings.

When Melkor was released from captivity, he sought to exploit that disunion in a bid to gain the Silmarils and estrange the Noldor from the Valar. He spread lies amongst the Noldor, claiming that the Valar were keeping them in Aman so they would not be able to rule the lands of Middle-Earth, and that Fingolfin and Feanor were plotting against each other. When Feanor drew sword against Fingolfin, the Valar intervened and banished Feanor from Valmar. The Noldor grew restless as they began to hunger for the unguarded lands of Middle-Earth

But worse was to come. When Melkor destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor and slew Finwe, he also stole the Silmarils and fled to Middle-Earth. An enraged Feanor then spoke before all of the Noldor and gave an impassioned speech. He urged them to leave the land of the Valar and take up kingdoms in Middle-Earth, where they could rule as they wished. Many of the royal line, including Galadriel, wished indeed to see Middle-Earth and rule their own fair kingdoms. Feanor then swore a terrible Oath to reclaim the Silmarils, with the promise of retribution for any who should withold them. The Noldorin Host gathered, though the greater part followed Fingolfin, trusting his wisdom over Feanor's arrogance.

Before the First Age the Ñoldor led by Fëanor went north and demanded that the Solosimpi let them use their ships. When the Solosimpi refused, the Ñoldor led by Fëanor destroyed the port of Alqualondë, which had been built by the Teleri, committing the Kinslaying. The Ñoldor led by Fëanor then took possession of the ships. A messenger from the Valar came and delivered the Prophecy of the North pronouncing doom on the Ñoldor for the Kinslaying and warning that if they continued they would not recover the Silmarils and moreover that there would be great grief in the tragedy that would befall them. At this, some of the Ñoldor who had no hand in the Kinslaying, including Finarfin son of Finwë by Indis, returned to Valinor, and the Valar forgave them. Other Ñoldor led by Fingolfin son of Finwë by Indis (some of whom were blameless in the Kinslaying) remained determined to leave Valinor for Middle-earth. Prominent among these others was Finarfin's daughter, Galadriel.

The Ñoldor led by Fëanor crossed the sea to Middle-earth leaving those led by Fingolfin, his half-brother, behind. Upon his arrival in Middle-earth, Fëanor had the ships burned. When the Ñoldor led by Fingolfin discovered their betrayal, they went farther north and crossed the sea by means of the Grinding Ice. Many of them died while crossing the ice. The departure of the Ñoldor out of the Undying Lands marked the beginning of the First Age, and the years of the Sun.

Fëanor's company was soon attacked by Morgoth. When Fëanor rode too far from his bodyguard during the Battle under Stars (year 1 of the First Age) he was slain by Balrogs.

Because Fëanor had taken the ships and left the Ñoldor led by his half-brother on the west side of the sea, the royal houses of the Ñoldor were feuding, but Fingon son of Fingolfin, whom Fëanor had left behind, saved Maedhros, son of Fëanor, from Morgoth's evil and the feud was settled. Maedhros was due to succeed Fëanor, but he regretted his part of the Kinslaying and left the High Kingship of the Ñoldor to his uncle Fingolfin, who became the third High King of the Ñoldor. His brothers did not agree to this, and began to refer to themselves as the Displaced, because the High Kingship had passed them by. Nevertheless, the princes of the Noldor established great realms in Beleriand, and to many it seemed the words of Feanor were justified. Here the Noldor were migthy and lordly, rather than at the bottom of the hierachy in Valinor.

Fingolfin reigned long in the land of Hithlum, and his younger son Turgon built the hidden kingdom Gondolin. Fingolfin's reign was marked by warfare against Morgoth and in the year 75 of the First Age the Ñoldor started the siege of Angband, the great fortress of Morgoth. But in the year FA 455 the siege was broken by Morgoth (in the Dagor Bragollach), and Fingolfin rode to Angband and challenged Morgoth to single combat with him. He dealt Morgoth seven wounds but perished, and his eldest son Fingon, who became the fourth High King of the Ñoldor, succeeded him.

In the year 471, Maedhros organized an all-out attack on Morgoth and this led to the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. The battle was a great disaster for the Ñoldor, and Fingon the Valiant was slain. He was succeeded by his brother Turgon.

Turgon had withdrawn to Gondolin and tried to keep the kingdom hidden from Morgoth. He was so successful that even most of the Ñoldor didn't know where it was located, and he was High King in name alone. In FA 510, Gondolin was betrayed by Maeglin and sacked. During the attack Turgon was killed; however many of his people escaped and found their way south. Turgon had had no sons, so Gil-galad, last surviving male descendant of a prince of the Ñoldor, became the sixth and last High King of the Ñoldor.

Finally, the Valar came down to Middle-earth and in the year 583 the War of Wrath was fought and Morgoth was cast into the Void. However, Beleriand sank into the sea, except for a part of Ossiriand (Lindon), and a few isles. The defeat of Morgoth marked the start of the Second Age. The Noldor were once again summoned to Valinor and the Curse of Mandos was laid to rest. Some departed because they had grown weary of grief, but many refused to leave the lands they had laboured in for so long. The last of the great leaders was Galadriel, who stayed due to her pride, reasoning that her family had never done any wrong and that she was mightier in Middle-Earth.

Galadriel en su jardin

Galadriel, a notable member of the Ñoldor

Gil-galad founded a new kingdom at Lindon, and ruled throughout the Second Age, longer than any of the High Kings except for Finwë. He was also accepted as High King by the Ñoldor of Eregion. But at the end of the Second Age his allies in Númenor lost their island and Elendil, Isildur and Anárion came to Middle-earth and they founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

Despite their prosperity and power, the Noldor were not at peace. While they had refused Valinor in favour of retaining their lordship in the lands of Middle-Earth, they still desired the bliss that Valinor promised. It was at this time that Annatar, Lord of Gifts, came forth with the offer of the same bliss that the Elves desired. Annatar taught Celebrimbor the art of crafting Rings of Power. In secret Celebrimbor forged the three greatest rings; Narya, Nenya and Vilya. These rings had the power to protect and preserve all things unstained, warding of the effects of time. Thus the desire of the Elves was fulfilled in the making of these rings. But they were deceived, for Annatar had crafted the rings for a different purpose. Annatar was actually Sauron in disguise, and he treacherously forged a ruling ring to govern all the other rings and their respective bearers. The Elves narrowly avoided this trap and took off their rings. The three were secretly distributed to some of the High Elf Lords. Eregion was attacked and destroyed, and Celebrimbor perished.

Sauron by this time had replaced his master Morgoth as the Dark Lord. He had deceived the Númenóreans and managed to return from Númenor to his refuge of Mordor. He hated the Númenóreans and Ñoldor, and attacked Eregion; destroying it, and tried to do the same to Gondor before it could take root, but he didn't count on the growing power of Gil-galad. Both Elendil and Gil-galad set out for Mordor and defeated Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad and finally in the Siege of Barad-dûr. There Gil-galad perished, and so ended the High Kingship of the Ñoldor. No new High King was elected, as no one claimed the throne. For this reason, the High Kingship of the Ñoldor was said to have passed overseas, to the Ñoldor of Valinor, ruled by Finarfin, the third son of Finwë who had never left. Because Tuor had been adopted by Turgon as a son, and had married his daughter Idril, Tuor's mortal descendants claimed the title High King: therefore, Elros became first High King of Númenor, signifying this with the prefix Tar- (and later in Adûnaic Ar-). After the Downfall of Númenor, Elendil and his heirs of the older, northern line named themselves High Kings of Arnor, later signifying this with the royal prefix Ar(a)- in their names. Tuor's heirs did not however have a valid claim to the High Kingship of the Ñoldor, although his heir Elrond, who chose Elvish immortality, later was reckoned as a leader of the Ñoldor.

With Sauron defeated and the One Ring lost for the time being, the Elves used the three rings to create their enchanted kingdoms. In at least two realms, Rivendell and Lothlorien, the bliss of the Eldar was preserved. In the Third Age, the Ñoldor dwindled, and by the end of the Third Age the only Ñoldor remaining in Middle-earth were in Rivendell, with the exception of Galadriel in Lothlórien.[citation needed] With the One Ring's destruction and Sauron's permanent defeat, the power of the three rings faded and the last of the Noldor Elves grew weary. Eventually, Galadriel and Elrond took the ship for Valinor and departed Middle-Earth, and Lothlórien was abandoned. From the Fourth Age and beyond Rivendell was the only remaining Noldorian settlement left in Middle Earth, ruled by Elladan and Elrohir who remained behind when Elrond left.

High KingsEdit

  1. Finwë, first High King
  2. Fëanor, first son of Finwë
  3. Fingolfin, second son of Finwë. Though some supported Maedhros, the eldest son of Feanor, Maedhros himself laid aside his claim and supported Fingolfin instead.
  4. Fingon, first son of Fingolfin.
  5. Turgon, second son of Fingolfin. Turgon was Fingolfin's last male descendant.
  6. Ereinion Gil-galad, son of Orodreth, nephew of Finrod
Elf gil-galad

Gil-galad during the War of the Last Alliance

After Gil-galad's death, the High Kingship in Middle-earth under the Ñoldor came to an end. Of the descendents of Finwë, the descendants of Elros (the Kings of Arnor) did claim the title High King, but there is no indication that this referred anything other than a High Kingship over the Dúnedain. It is unclear whether Elros and his brother Elrond were considered eligible at all, but Elrond never claimed Kingship, implying that they were not. However, at this point, the number of Ñoldor remaining in Middle Earth was few, and Elrond might have deemed the question moot.

According to the Silmarillion, Finarfin took the kingship of those Noldor who remained in Aman during the Exile, though whether he was considered a "High King" or not (either at the time of the Exile and after the War of Wrath) is unclear. Another possibility is that in Aman there was no High King other than Ingwë. Although Miriel had renounced her right to re-embody (as per the rules of the Statute of Finwë and Míriel), there is no reason that Finwë might not have done so (and, in fact, the text of the Silmarillion implies that eventually he did). Similarly, as lineal heir to Turgon, Earendil the Mariner might have made a claim. The question of who held kingship over the Ñoldor after the War of the Last Alliance remains unanswered.

Much of this speculation stems from attempts to divine the rules of inheritance and succession for the Ñoldor. Among humans, the "divine right" implied by Tolkien follows the rules of primogeniture. On the other hand, elves are immortal, and can reincarnate even if they are physically killed. Iron-clad rules for succession may simply not exist. Supporting this viewpoint is the controversy between Fingolfin and Maedhros. It can be read that Maedhros had, but gave up, the "right" to High Kingship; on the other hand, these might have simply been the two strongest contenders for the position. Asserting but giving up a right would automatically forestall claims from his younger brothers, and provide legitimacy to Fingolfin that elves of every party would recognize.


Noldor is a Quenya term meaning 'those with knowledge'. Lachend was one Sindarin name that other Elves gave them, which translates as 'flame-eyed'. [2]

Other versions of the legendariumEdit

In the early versions of Tolkien's Middle-earth mythology (see: The History of Middle-earth), the Ñoldor were most often called Noldoli (not Ñoldoli) or Gnomes. They were still called Gnomes in early editions of The Hobbit. They were also the ones who spoke the language that later became Sindarin (then called Gnomish).

The spelling Ñoldor rather than Noldor is used in later writings, but even in earlier versions the name Ñoldo came from a Primitive Quendian stem *NGolodō, which led to NGoldo (Ñoldo) in Quenya and Golodh in Sindarin.

The family tree given above is correct in the placement of Orodreth and Gil-galad: Orodreth was Angrod's son, and Gil-galad was Orodreth's son, thus the grandson of Angrod and great-grandson of Finarfin, and brother to Finduilas. These are wrongly placed in the published Silmarillion. (See Orodreth and Gil-galad articles for details). Argon, the third son of Fingolfin, does not appear in the published Silmarillion at all.

Translations around the WorldEdit

Foreign Language Translated name
Chinese (Hong Kong) 諾多
Korena 놀도르

House of FinwëEdit

House of Finwe


(*Father of Celebrimbor)
(**Father of Orodreth)


  1. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: XI: "The Shibboleth of Fëanor"
  2. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: Part 4, "Quendi and Eldar"

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