Ithilien, or Moon-land, is the easternmost province of Gondor, the only part of Gondor across the Great River Anduin lying between the river and the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow), subdivided by the stream of Morgulduin into North and South Ithilien.
It was a fair and prosperous land during the Second Age and the first part of the Third Age, filled with many woods and gardens, when Gondor was strong and Mordor deserted. Of old its chief city was Minas Ithil, but when this was captured by Mordor in TA 2002 it was renamed Minas Morgul. After this the population gradually migrated across the Anduin to escape the looming threat of Ringwraiths from Minas Morgul.
Ithilien was reoccupied by hardy folk during the Watchful Peace, but in TA 2475 the Watchful Peace was broken when Uruks from Mordor devastated the province; and although they were driven back to the Morgul Vale by Boromir I, raids never entirely ceased after this time. Several centuries later attacks by Orcs and Haradrim continue and in TA 2901 the raids grew so severe that the remainder of the population of Ithilien fled across Anduin and Gondor withdrew from the province, and after the return of Sauron to Mordor the land was finally abandoned. However the Stewards of Gondor still kept scouts in Ithilien, based on secret locations such as Henneth Annûn, which were built shortly after 2901. In TA 2954 Mount Doom burst into flame and those few farmers who remained fled Westward over Anduin, leaving only the Rangers behind to harry the servants of Sauron.
In the narrative of The Lord of the Rings, Gollum leads Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee through Ithilien on the way to the pass of Cirith Ungol into Mordor. The land is described in the text as "a fair country of climbing woods and swift-falling streams", with gentle slopes, "shielded from the east by the Ephel Dúath and yet not under the mountain-shadow, protected from the north by the Emyn Muil, open to the southern airs and the moist winds from the Sea". It is also stated that "a wealth of sweet-smelling herbs and shrubs" and a vast array of tree species grew in Ithilien, some of them having been planted by men in days of peace, and that despite desolation the land "kept still a dishevelled dryad loveliness". After witnessing a battle with Southrons of Harad accompanied by Oliphaunts, the hobbits are found by the Rangers of Ithilien, under the command of Faramir, the son of the Steward Denethor II, but are allowed to continue when he is satisfied they are not agents of Sauron.
After the events of the War of the Ring, King Elessar granted to Faramir the Princedom of Ithilien and the Lordship of Emyn Arnen (Faramir also maintained the Office of the Steward, even after he tried to surrender it to King Elessar). Emyn Arnen, being the ancestral home of the Stewards of Gondor, became the official home of the Steward Faramir and his descendants.
During the Fourth Age, the region was ruled by the Princes of Ithilien, a line that started with Faramir and Éowyn (the White Lady of Ithilien). Minas Morgul was not repopulated, and Faramir ruled as Lord of Emyn Arnen. The Elves played a great role in the reconstruction of eastern Gondor and gained the respect of King Elessar. A colony was settled in Ithilien by the Elves of Mirkwood and former residents of Elven kingdoms in the north, welcomed there by Legolas, and "it became once again the fairest country in all the westlands", until after some time all Elves had departed over the Sea. The colony only lasted for about a century, because many Elves left for Valinor after Elessar's death in FO 120
Henneth Annûn was a hidden outpost of Gondor in North Ithilien, founded (like all of Gondor's hidden refuges in Ithilien) by the command of Steward Túrin II shortly after Ithilien was made desolate by the incursions of Orcs of Mordor around TA 2901 and maintained the longest of such refuges. Henneth Annûn was the longest-lasting of all the refuges of Ithilien.
This secret refuge (the name means Window of the Sunset in Sindarin) consisted of a cave behind a west-facing waterfall overlooking a pool, the "Window-curtain" stated to have been the "fairest of the falls of Ithilien." The cave had been excavated by the stream feeding the waterfall, which originally fell from the hole in the cliff constituting the window in the name, but that stream had since been diverted by the Men of Gondor to fall from doubled height, and the tunnel had been sealed, except for a concealed entrance along the brink of a deep pool beneath the waterfall.
Emyn Arnen is a series of hills at the centre of Ithilien, south of Osgiliath, standing opposite to Minas Tirith across Anduin and around which the river made a bend. Emyn Arnen means "Hills Beside the Water" in Sindarin, referring to its proximity to the Great River, Anduin.
From this place originated the line of later Stewards of Gondor. It was home to a family of Númenórean nobles, and from them came Húrin, chosen by King Minardil of Gondor to be his Steward. Later kings of Gondor only chose their stewards from among Húrin's descendants, and eventually the Stewardship of Gondor became hereditary (the stewards named themselves members of the House of Húrin).
After the War of the Ring the Lordship of the hills was granted to Faramir, Prince of Ithilien and Steward to the King Elessar. The element arnen in the name was stated by Tolkien to have been of pre-Númenórean origin, while emyn is a Sindarin word for "hills".
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- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter I: "Minas Tirith"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, I: The Númenórean Kings, (i): "Númenor"
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 12: The Peoples of Middle-earth, VII: "The Heirs of Elendil"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IV: "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, I: The Númenórean Kings, (iii): "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter IV: "The Field of Cormallen"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands)
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, I: The Númenórean Kings, (iv): "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter V: "The Window on the West"
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 5: The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies"