This website contains archives of the Tolkien Discussion Group from 2009 to early 2013.

The discussion group continues to meet
in Second Life in Alqualonde the Swanhaven. Contact AelKennyr Rhiano in Second Life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Minas Tirith

-->Timelinefor Minas Tirith (formerly called Minas Anor), and related events in the North and South Kingdoms
At the fall of Númenor (late Second Age), Elendil, his two sons Isildur and Anárion, and some followers, escaped by ship to Middle-Earth. They brought with them the Seven Seeing Stones, and a seedling of the White Tree, which was a gift from the Teleri to the Númenoreans.

Elendil and his followers built the cities of Minas Anor (Tower of the Sun), Minas Ithil (Tower of the Moon), and Osgiliath (Fortress of the Stars) in the south, and the city of Annúminas in the north. Elendil ruled in the North Kingdom (Arnor), at Annúminas; his sons Isildur and Anárion shared the rule of the South Kingdom (Gondor), from the capital at Osgiliath.

Second Age 3441(= Third Age 1)     Elendil dies. Isildur moves to the North to take his father's place, leaving his brother Anárion ruling the south.
Third Age ~492 King Ostoher (of the South Kingdom) rebuilds Minas Anor.
~1100   Height of the power of the South Kingdom.
1437       Osgiliath partly destroyed in civil war.
1636      Plague ravages Gondor.
~1800   King Tarondor moves the seat of government from partly-ruined Osgiliath to Minas Anor.
1944      King Ondoher and both his sons are killed in battle. “Arvedui of the North-kingdom claimed the crown of Gondor, as the direct descendant of Isildur, and as the husband of Fíriel, only surviving child of Ondoher.” The Council of Gondor rejected the claim, and the crown went to the general of the army, who was “of the royal house.”
1974      The Witch King of Angmar destroys the North Kingdom, and shortly after is defeated and retreats to Mordor.
1975      Arvedui, last king of the North, dies. His descendants take refuge in Rivendell, and continue the royal line as Chieftains of the Dúnedain.
2000      The Nazgûl besiege Minas Ithil.
2002      The Nazgûl capture Minas Ithil, take its palantir, and rename the city Minas Morgul.
2043      Minas Anor is renamed Minas Tirith, Tower of Guard.
2050      King Eärnur accepts the “King of Minas Morgul's” challenge to single combat, and is never seen again. His Steward Mardil rules in the King's name. To prevent any civil war, no new king is crowned, and Stewards continue to rule.
2655      The White Tree dies without a seedling to replace it.
3019 (= beginning of Fourth Age)     Aragorn takes the crown of the South and North Kingdoms.

Lihan Taifun           
Shawn Daysleeper 
AelKennyr Rhiano 

Note that the “Ages” are not millenia. They are periods of history, of varying lengths, set off by important major victories of the good guys over the bad guys.

Minas Tirith was originally called Minas Anor. Its sister-city Minas Morgul was originally named Minas Ithil. The capital of Gondor was originally in Osgiliath.

showing Minas Tirith (Minas Anor) in the foothills of the White Mountains, Minas Morgul (Minas Ithil) in the Mountains of Shadow on the border of Mordor, and Osgiliath between them, at the River Anduin.

A post at :;f=1;t=001768 proposes that the kingdom of Gondor survived better than the North Kingdom because the kings of Gondor intermarried with non-Númenorean Humans, and the kings of Arnor did not. While fresh genetic material probably was good for the royal line of Gondor, the prejudice against Prince Eldacar marrying a foreigner caused a civil war in Gondor, the “Kin-strife.” We don't really know how the populace reacted to Faramir marrying Eowyn of Rohan. Aragorn could marry Arwen because marrying an Elf Princess was the stuff of legend, and people still remembered the story of Lúthien and Beren.

About a generation after the Kin-strife, plague further stressed the kingdom of Gondor.

Why did it take over 360 years from the time Osgiliath was damaged until the capital was moved to Minas Anor? Perhaps this indicated how conservative and traditional the people of Gondor are. Perhaps before the move, Minas Anor was a smaller, less important town than it later became. Perhaps the plague had hit Minas Anor especially hard.

Minas Anor (Tower of the Sun) was renamed Minas Tirith (Tower of Guard), shortly after the Nazgûl captured Minas Ithil (Tower of the Moon) and renamed it Minas Morgul (Tower of Dark Sorcery). Minas Tirith was now the only center in Gondor of resistance to Mordor.

We don't know when the Rammas Echor, the defensive wall around the Pelennor Fields outside Minas Tirith, was built. A defensive wall could have been built any time during the city's history. At the time of the battle in Lord of the Rings, Minas Tirith did not have the manpower to defend the entire wall; they hardly had enough manpower to defend the city itself. If the orcs had blasted only a small hole in the wall, and defended the wall themselves, they could have made it much harder for the rescuers to come to the aid of Minas Tirith.

{Lihan hands out notecards with the timeline, which is reprinted above.}
Lihan Taifun:            That is from the back of Lord of the Rings. I was getting so confused reading, that I had to write it down
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I bet. So Minas Anor IS Minas Tirith.
Lihan Taifun:            yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ok
Shawn Daysleeper:  it looks like Osgiliath was the main city until later in the third age
Lihan Taifun:            yes, it was
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I have a very stupid question.
Shawn Daysleeper:  no question is stupid. Shawn Daysleeper grins
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Second Age 3441(= beginning of Third Age)   ..... So if the 3rd Age began in 3441...why was the year "3"-441? Instead of 3000? Well, 3001
Lihan Taifun:            no no, the Ages didn't mean millenia
AelKennyr Rhiano:  What does it mean?
Lihan Taifun:            each "age" ended with some decisive battle (meaning, a battle the good guys won)
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ooohhh D'oh! AelKennyr Rhiano smacks forehead. Now I knew that.
Shawn Daysleeper:  there seem to be different number of years in each age
Lihan Taifun:            yes, only about 600 years in the First Age
Shawn Daysleeper:  ya ages seem to start at a major event, not a fixed number of years
AelKennyr Rhiano nods, blushing.
Shawn Daysleeper smiles
Lihan Taifun:            and then the numbers start over, with each age
AelKennyr Rhiano:  sorry for the slip of the mind :P
Shawn Daysleeper:  it's confusing
Lihan Taifun:            So the Second Age ended, and the Third Age began, when Elendil and Gilgalad defeated Sauron; erm, I guess Isildur gets credit for defeating him
Shawn Daysleeper:  ok
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Lihan Taifun:            I included some of the history of the North Kingdom, so it shows where Aragorn fits in
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Why was Minas Anor built and where exactly is it located?
Lihan Taifun:            Minas Anor is Minas Tirith; do we need a map?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  um.....trying to fit this all in to a historical perspective for myself...reads the card again, slower.
Shawn Daysleeper:  I think it is just across from Minas Ithil, with Osgiliath on the river between
Lihan Taifun:            ((looking for a map))
Shawn Daysleeper:  thank you
Lihan Taifun:            there is a wider map
AelKennyr Rhiano:;f=1;DaysPrune=1000 There is a thread about Anor
Lihan Taifun:            somewhere
AelKennyr Rhiano:;f=1;t=001768
Lihan Taifun:            that intermarrying, or not, among the Kings was a decisive factor?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  that was the claim of the writer. I was just pointing it out. I don't think I really could debate that one way or another.
Lihan Taifun:            marrying outside the royal line was what started the civil war that was a big drain on Gondor
AelKennyr Rhiano:  the Civil War? in the first Age? the Kin-strife.
Lihan Taifun:            in the second age, around 1437
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Is that the Kin-strife?
Lihan Taifun:            yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  when...was it the son of the king married a foreigner?
Lihan Taifun:            yes, and the people didn't accept that, didn't accept their son as the heir
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Right...didn't they overthrow him?
Lihan Taifun:            right
AelKennyr Rhiano:  So Aragorn was the result of ...inbreeding?
Shawn Daysleeper:  lol
AelKennyr Rhiano:  So why did they accept Arwen then?
Lihan Taifun:            well, all the remnant of the Numenoreans moved to Rivendell
AelKennyr Rhiano:  She was definitely a stranger to them...
Lihan Taifun:            but marrying an Elf Princess is marrying up
AelKennyr Rhiano:  hmmm....but remember the attitude the Gondorans had in LOTR. Was that also in the books, too?
Lihan Taifun:            marrying a non-Numenorean Human is marrying down
AelKennyr Rhiano:  heh heh
Lihan Taifun:            which attitude?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Well, it could be just me, and I could be just remember the movies, but I thought that what we saw of the people of Gondor was a rather disdainful and haughty depreciation of strangers not too far from xenophobia.
Lihan Taifun:            I agree, they thought themselves superior to everyone else
AelKennyr Rhiano nods. Was that attitude apparent in the books, too? I thought it was.
Shawn Daysleeper:  ya I agree
Lihan Taifun:            but marrying an Elf Princess was the stuff of legend; they still remember the story of Luthien
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ok...I can see that. And thankfully it helps the blood line.
Lihan Taifun:            and that. I'm sure the bloodline was getting strained. Now Faramir could marry a princess from Rohan, because he wasn't the king
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But now, going back to Minas Tirith, which was Minas Anor...the prince who married outside the line was Eldacar, right? And eventually he came back and retook his throne. So, the prejudice was only about the royal bloodline.
Lihan Taifun:            right, about Eldacar. I think they were fanatical about the royal bloodline; only "prejudiced" about other lands in general
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ok
Lihan Taifun:            we do't really know whether people grumbled about Faramir and Eowyn; "why couldn't he have married a nice local girl?"
AelKennyr Rhiano:  lol! And they also had a plague, too, right?
Lihan Taifun:            and there was a plague about 200 years after the civil war, which, for Numenorean, would only be about a generation, so that would have hit the population hard
Shawn Daysleeper:  yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But I could be muddling this all up...those things affected the capital. Did they directly affect Minas Tirith?
Lihan Taifun:            I think both the civil war and the plague affected the whole kingdom of Gondor
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ok
Lihan Taifun:            what I think is interesting is that it isn't clear that a descendent of Isildur would be heir of Gondor; that question had already come up, when Arvedui tried to claim the crown, and the lawyers argued about it
AelKennyr Rhiano:  When did Minas Tirith replace Osgiliath as the capital city?
Lihan Taifun:            around 1800 I'm surprised it took that long to move the capital
AelKennyr Rhiano:  so it was just ruins by the time of LOTR..Why? I meant...why are you surprised?
Lihan Taifun:            that it took 360+ years between when the city was damaged in the civil war, before moving the capital
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Maybe Tolkien did that to make a statement about the people themselves.
Lihan Taifun:            maybe they liked tradition
AelKennyr Rhiano:  They seem very resistant to new ways, new things, change.
Shawn Daysleeper:  maybe Minas Anor was not as great as it was in LOTR times
Lihan Taifun:            That would make a lot of sense, Shawn; it would have grown, after it became the capital; and pretty much the only inhabitable city in that part of the kingdom
Shawn Daysleeper:  ya with Osgiliath so close and the capital maybe Anor was just a suburb; or the plague effect was stronger in Minas Anor
Lihan Taifun:            yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Now those are excellent points. And I completely forgot to factor in the effects of the plague. It would explain why it took so long to become the capital.
Shawn Daysleeper smiles. yes
AelKennyr Rhiano smiles
Lihan Taifun:            so eventually Minas Anor becomes the capital
AelKennyr Rhiano:  and it was already renamed by then?
Lihan Taifun:            let's see .... no, it wasn't renamed until 2043, shortly after the Nazgul captured Minas Ithil and renamed it Minas Morgul
AelKennyr Rhiano:  oh...right, because now it alone stood as guard against Mordor, right?
Lihan Taifun:            yes
Shawn Daysleeper:  ya that make sense
AelKennyr Rhiano:  and the two cities now were enemies, right?
Lihan Taifun:            right
AelKennyr Rhiano:  With attacks back and forth.
Lihan Taifun:            not very cozy, having the Nazgul's headquarters staring at you
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Is that when the Rammas Echor was built?
Lihan Taifun:            I don't know. I didn't see any mention of when it was built; there were so many battles, I wouldn't even guess when it was first built
AelKennyr Rhiano nods. But surely after the two cities became enemies.
Shawn Daysleeper:  and it was likely expanded as time went by
Lihan Taifun:            that would make a lot of sense, yes
Shawn Daysleeper:  I don't remember that wall in the films
AelKennyr Rhiano:  thinks... You know...I don't either.
Lihan Taifun:            hmmm, no, must have been on of the details that didn't make it into the film
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But in the books it didn't prove to be much of a barrier again the orcs.
Lihan Taifun:            wouldn't it need to be defended along the whole length, to be much use?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  They breech it in a manner of hours and laid siege.
Shawn Daysleeper:  yes, it is not very effective
Lihan Taifun:            a wall is good for protecting the army, but it won't last without the army
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Yes, I believe it was a question of manpower
Shawn Daysleeper:  it looks like it would be miles /km long to defend
Lihan Taifun:            right, and they didn't have the manpower to defend a wall of that size
AelKennyr Rhiano:  not at all.
Lihan Taifun:            they pulled all the troops back to the main city wall, and even that was difficult to defend
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But the orcs doomed themselves by destroying behind them.
Lihan Taifun:            how so?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  because when they blasted it, and left it in ruins, they cleared the way for any army behind them to attack their rear.
Lihan Taifun:            hmmm, good point
AelKennyr Rhiano:  If they could have blasted only a section that could be readily repaired, they could use the fortification to defend themselves
Lihan Taifun:            true
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I think that was how Rohan was able to attack them from behind.
Lihan Taifun:            they weren't nearly worried enough about the other armies