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Doriath (Sindarin IPA: [ˈdorjaθ]) was an Elven realm, the land of the Sindar that existed during the latter-half of the Years of the Trees and most of the First Age of the Sun. For thousands of years it remained separate from the outside world under the rule of King Thingol (Elwë) and the protection of his wife Melian the Maia, until it was drawn into the war against Morgoth and the doom that lay on the Ñoldor, because of the Oath of Fëanor.

DescriptionEdit

Doriath was located in the middle of Beleriand between Ered Gorgoroth (Mountains of Terror) from the north and the Andram from south, and Talath Dirnen from the west and Estolad from the east. It was a realm of forests about the great river Sirion; within it were the forests Neldoreth (also Taur-na-Neldor, the northern beech forest), Nivrim (also West-march, an oak forest), and Region (pronounced Reh-gi-on, the main forest). Additionally, the forests of Brethil and Nan Elmoth were considered to be under the influence of Thingol, though not under his direct command and laying outside of the Girdle of Melian. Eöl the Dark Elf leased Nan Elmoth from Thingol, having paid with the sword Anglachel. The People of Haleth, or the Haladin, lived in Brethil with the permission of Thingol. They governed themselves, but cooperated with the march-wardens of Doriath. King Elu Thingol of Doriath, also High King of the Sindar, saw all of Beleriand as his realm, from the Gelion to the Belegaer (the Sea).[1]

HistoryEdit

Years of the TreesEdit

The Vanyar and Ñoldor had passed by it on the Great Journey, and had been ferried across on Tol Eressëa by the time the Teleri arrived. Then their lord Elwë was lost in Nan Elmoth, and when Ulmo returned for them a part remained behind. They became known as the Sindar or Grey Elves, and when Thingol returned he became their king, ruling from Doriath.

Map of Beleriand

Location of Doriath in Middle-earth - at the center

The forests of Neldoreth and Region were located in the center of Beleriand, and were the abode of King Thingol and Melian. Their people were the people of the Teleri who did not heed the call of the Valar to pass over the sea to Valinor. All the Elves of Beleriand, from the shipbuilders under Cirdan in the Falas to the hunters of the Blue Mountains held Thingol as their lord. During the First and Second Ages of the Chaining of Melkor, Beleriand was peaceful. However, by the end of the First Age, Melian forebode that evil was to come, and Thingol called on the aid of the Dwarves of Belegost to aid in constructing a city-fortress for the protection of his people. They also helped make for them a store of stronger and better weapons that were better able to deal with the orcs of north. This was built under ground along the southern side of the River Esgalduin, and was called Menegroth (The Thousand Caves), which became Thingol's capital.

For the most part, the Elves lived in scattered bands throughout Beleriand, only gathering in larger numbers in Neldoreth and Region (together called Eglador), and along the Falas. During the Third Age of the Chaining of Melkor, Thingol proceeded to arm his people with the aid of the dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost against the continued foreboding of Melian.

After Melkor's release, his attack on the Two Trees with Ungoliant, and flight to Middle-earth, the situation for Beleriand suddenly worsened. Ungoliant fled south from the Balrogs after her confrontation with Melkor, now Morgoth, and was only checked by the power of Melian. Some time after, the forces of Morgoth left the freshly delved Angband and assaulted Beleriand from east and west in the First Battle of Beleriand. In the east, King Thingol lead the forces of Beleriand, with the aid of Denethor and his Nandor and elves from Ossiriand, and completely defeated the orcs of the eastern army. Denethor was killed on Amon Ereb, and some of his people merged themselves to the Sindarin Elves under King Thingol. Upon returning to Menegroth, Thingol learned that the western army of Morgoth had overrun the Falas. Thingol recalls all of his people he can into Neldoreth and Region, and Melian puts forth her power and rings the region in a girdle of enchantment called the Girdle of Melian. At that point, the region formally called Eglador comes to be formally known as Doriath, the Guarded Kingdom.

The First Battle is the only time King Thingol leads his forces into battle outside of his realm for the entirety of the First Age of the Sun. Afterwards, the Elves of Doriath fight defensively, guarding their borders and the important river crossings nearby.

First AgeEdit

When the Ñoldor returned to Middle-earth at the beginning of the First Age, Thingol refused to allow them in Doriath, with the exception of the children of Finarfin, who were related to him by his brother Olwë.

When later Men arrived in Beleriand, they were also refused entry, but at Finrod's request the Haladin gives his permission for the People of Haleth to dwell in Brethil, who ally themselves with Doriath and aid them in its defense.

The Flutist of Doriath by Losse elda

A Sindarin flautist of Doriath by Losse elda.

Throughout the rest of the First Age, while the Noldor fight their wars with Morgoth, Doriath stands inviolate and generally aloof, refusing to take part in the wars. Ultimately, however, King Thingol is pulled into the doom surround the Noldor as is told in the Lay of Leithian, when Beren, son of Barahir and lord of the First House of Men, passed through the Girdle as Melian had foretold, and arrived in Neldoreth.

Realizing that his beloved daughter Lúthien had fallen in love with him, King Thingol decreed that he would not allow them to marry unless Beren would undertake a quest to recover a Silmaril from the Dark Lord Morgoth, and so begins the Quest for the Silmarils. After the Quest for the Silmaril, the Wolf Carcharoth also breached the Girdle, but Thingol, Beren, and Thingol's captains Beleg and Mablung hunted and killed the beast.

At the end of this, Thingol ended up in possession of one of the Silmarils. Beren and Luthien, wedded together by fate and returning from the dead, left Doriath to live in Ossiriand. After the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (Battle of Unnumbered Tears), only three elven kingdoms remained: Nargothrond, Gondolin, and Doriath. Nargothrond fell soon after, as told in the Narn i Chîn Húrin (Tale of the Children of Hurin).

Fearing that the cruel Easterlings would enthrall her only son Túrin of HithlumMorwen sent him to Doriath where he would be safe until he came of age, when he fled from the land. Later his mother and sister, Morwen and Nienor lived there, until they were lost.

Hurin, captured at the Nirnaeth and released from Angband after the death of his son Turin, recovers the Nauglamir from the ruin of Nargothrond. Traveling to Doriath, he throws it at the feet of Thingol in spite. Melian rebukes him, and Hurin, cured of the madness of Morgoth by Melian, lifts up the Nauglamir and presents it to Thingol before leaving Doriath, and vanishing from history.

Húrin brought the treasure of Nargothrond to Doriath after the fall of Finrod's realm, and Thingol enlisted the Dwarves of Nogrod to combine the Silmaril of Beren and Lúthien with the Nauglamir, the Dwarves' Necklace. The Dwarves then attacked Thingol and slew him, stealing the necklace, during the first Sack of Doriath. Melian then left, and with her, the protective Girdle thus ended the bliss of old that reigned in Doriath for thousands of years, and things would never be the same again.[2][3]

Fall of DoriathEdit

Thingol, in possession of the greatest work of the Elves (a Silmaril of Fëanor) and Dwarves (the Nauglamir) decides to merge the two. He convinces a large company of smiths from Nogrod to attempt to remake the Nauglamir to incorporate the Silmaril, which they succeed in doing. Once the work is complete, and the joint works of Elves and Dwarves sits glittering before Thingol, he moves to take it and put it on. The Dwarves stop him, demanding it in payment. Thingol rebukes them with haughty words, at which the Dwarves slay him. The Dwarves attempt to escape Doriath, but most are killed and the Nauglamir recovered. After Thingol's death, Melian departs Doriath in grief and withdraws her power from Doriath. After telling Mablung to send word to Beren, she vanishes from Middle-earth and returns to Valinor. Doriath now lies undefended.

Two Dwarves return from Doriath and tell a twisted version of the events to their king in Nogrod. The Dwarves of Nogrod raise an army and assault Doriath in retaliation. The slaughter is great on both sides, but the Dwarves end up victorious. Menegroth is ransacked, many of its people are killed, and the Dwarves begin the long trek for home laden with the spoils of war, including the Nauglamir. At Sarn Athrad, they are assaulted by a force of Green Elves led by Beren who, with the aid of the Ents of Ossiriand, annihilate the Dwarven force and recover the Silmaril.

Dior Eluchîl, son of Beren and Lúthien and heir to Thingol, returns to Doriath with his wife Nimloth, their two sons Eluréd and Elurín, and their daughter Elwing. He begins to rebuild the fortunes of the kingdom and it is briefly restored. Beren takes the Nauglamir to Lúthien, who wears it, enriching their home on Tol Galen. However, Beren and Lúthien soon die for the second time, leaving the world forever. The Nauglamir and its Silmaril are brought to Dior.

Soon after, the Sons of Fëanor, following the Oath, demand the return of the Silmaril. Dior refuses, and the Sons of Fëanor invade Doriath, at which point the Second Kinslaying occurs. Celegorm, Curufin, and Caranthir are killed, as is Dior, Nimloth, and Eluréd and Elurín. The people of Doriath are killed or scattered, with Elwing taking the Nauglamir and fleeing with a remnant of the people of Doriath to the Mouths of Sirion.

Doriath was never rebuilt and afterwards Doriath remained abandoned and unpopulated until it was sunk along with most of the rest of Beleriand.[4]

EtymologyEdit

Doriath was originally named Eglador, meaning either "Land of the Forsaken" or "Land of the Elves", but in the last years before the First Age attacks by Melkor's creatures (orcs) began to increase in Beleriand, and Melian fenced the forests of Neldoreth, Region, and Nivrim. It was then called Dor-iath, the Fenced Land for its queen, Melian, put a girdle of enchantment about it, so that nobody could enter without King Thingol's permission. Thingol then called all the Sindar to Doriath, but many remained in the wild. After the First Battle of Beleriand, many Laiquendi removed to Doriath.


Elven Realms of Middle-earth throughout the Ages
Years of the Trees Cuiviénen | Eglador | Havens of the Falas
First Age Doriath | Dorthonion | Gondolin | Havens of Sirion | Havens of the Falas | Himlad & Pass of Aglon | Hithlum | Maglor's Gap | March of Maedhros | Nargothrond | Nevrast | Ossiriand | Pass of Sirion | Thargelion
Second Age Eregion | Greenwood the Great | Lindon | Rivendell
Third Age Lindon | Lothlórien | Northern Mirkwood | Rivendell
Fourth Age Lindon | Lothlórien & East Lórien | Rivendell | Wood of Greenleaves


ReferencesEdit

  1. The Atlas of Middle-earth pgs. 12-5
  2. Unfinished Tales: Narn i Chîn Húrin
  3. The Children of Húrin
  4. The Silmarillion

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