The title came in being at about the time that the elves undertook their Great Journey to Aman with Finwë being its first. The title continued in Middle-earth after the Ñoldor returned in pursuit of Morgoth. Fëanor or the eldest of his sons could have claimed the title but with his death Maedhros waived his claim to the title and ceded it to House of Fingolfin, out of respect and friendship with them. There were four legitimate High Kings in Middle-earth beginning with Fingolfin and ending with Gil-galad at the end of Second Age, lasting over four-thousand years. Turgon's relatives Eärendil and then Elrond could have made a claim to the title but never did. It is possible that the High Kingship passed exclusively through the male line; if this is the case, then the title became effectively extinct with the death of Gil-galad in Middle-earth. Eärendil and his descendants belonged to the human House of Hador.
The succession of the kingship was never planned, likely because Elves could not die and there would be no need for succession. But in the worst case, the Elves followed the rule that the eldest child should succeed. Such was the case with Fëanor, who immediately claimed the title after Finwe's death at the hands of Morgoth. But he could not command the same respect, for greater love was given to Fingolfin for his wisdom and leadership, and the Ñoldor of Tirion refused to renounce him.
After the death of Fëanor, Maedhros was due to succeed by right, yet in repentance of his father's acts he waived his claim to Fingolfin. This move was recognised by all, and the Kingship belonged solely to the House of Fingolfin. Fingon was the elder son who succeeded his father. Strangely however, after Fingon's demise he was not succeeded by his son Gil-galad, but by Turgon his brother. Once again this would suggest loyalty and respect in such a decision, as Turgon was older and more experienced at the time. Nevertheless, the kingship passed back to Gil-galad after Turgon's fall.
Known High Kings of the ÑoldorEdit
- Finwë (undisputed)
In Aman onlyEdit
- Fëanor (de jure only)
- Maedhros (never crowned)
- Gil-galad (the last in Middle-earth)