The Dúnedain of Gondor were the descendants of the Exiles of Númenor who settled in the southern lands of Middle-earth, and founded the southern kingdom of Gondor. Their first independent King was Meneldil, the nephew of Isildur, whose line ruled over Gondor for more than two thousand years. Unlike their cousins in the North, the Dúnedain of the South maintained their realm even after the loss of its Kings, and it survived under the rule of the Stewards until the time of the War of the Ring, when the Kingship was restored.
Description and Historical accountsEditBeing mostly of Númenórean stock and ruled by exiled Númenórean overlords, the Men of Gondor continued most of the customs and traditions of Númenór. However, over the centuries, they mixed more and more with the men of Middle-earth. One of these peoples was the Northmen who lived in Rhovanion, and Gondor, ever needing allies, began acquainting themselves with these men by the mid Third Age. Brave and valiant, but by the standards of the Dúnedain shorter lived, the Northmen gradually had more and more to do with Gondor, and one of its heirs to the throne, Valacar, who lived and worked with them in their own land as an ambassador, married one of their noble ladies, setting the stages for the Kin-strife.
Over the next few hundred years afterward, war, rebellion, and plague severally weakened the blood of the Dúnedain in Gondor. Their rulers though survived and retained many of the ancient customs. As the centuries rolled on into the late Third Age, the Men of Gondor accustomed to war and invasion became a hardy and stern people more likened to Middle-earth. They became summed up in the phrase, "when heads are at a loss, bodies must serve."
By the time of just before War of the Ring, the Men of Gondor grappled constantly with the forces of Mordor giving and regaining ground to the Dark Lord's armies. Their leader Denethor II could foresee nothing but a victory in single combat on the battlefield against him or total doom, so when it became clear that Sauron's lost Ring of Power had been found, he and people like his son and others wanted the Ring to be taken by Gondor and be used against the enemy as a weapon. The Men of Gondor were spared the folly of this choice when Denethor's youngest son Faramir let Frodo and Sam continue to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.
After the war was won and Aragorn II Elessar was crowned, the Men of Gondor were rekindled with the ancient tradition of the Dúnedain of old when Elendil founded the Two Kingdoms with his two sons: Isildur and Anárion. They thrived and prospered as part of the Reunited Kingdom into Fourth Age and beyond.