BobMoCo Middle-earth Glossary

Galadriel of Lóthlórien - Introduction

The Lady of Lóthlórien is the most noble, powerful and mysterious Elf encountered in The Lord of The Rings. She is also a complex character with a long and honourable history. The key to understanding her lies in that history, and the fact that she survived the slaughter of most of her kin in the First Age. For Galadriel was doomed to survive and play important, if unspectacular, roles in Middle-earth in the Second and Third Ages. Hence the amount of background included here and in the fuller version of her story.
~   Origins & The First Age   ~
Galadriel was born in Aman (the land of her Valar), the 5th child of Finarfin - King of the Noldor - and Eärwen, some 7500 years before she was first seen by hobbits. She became known by her nickname, Galadriel ("radiant garland"), due to her abundant golden locks. In her youth she was something of an Elvish tomboy, being unusually tall, strong and athletic for a woman. She also possessed a keen intellect and an enquiring, ambitious spirit. Having learned all she could from the Valar, she dreamed of returning to Middle-earth to create a kingdom and put her knowledge into practice. Though not a rebel against the Valar, she became caught up in the forbidden "Flight of The Noldor", in which a number of Noldor marched out of Aman to escape what some saw as captivity. She was one of the leaders of the march and was in the van of their struggles to cross the northern wastelands and perilous ice-floes - the Helcaraxë - between Aman and Middle-earth, a journey some did not survive. Her parents stayed in Aman.

On arrival the returning Noldor had little choice but to fortify 'free' Beleriand. They were unwelcome to many of the Teleri who had remained in Middle-earth. They were all blamed for the notorious Kinslaying (in which some of the wilder Noldor killed Teleri sailors in Aman to steal their ships). And they were accused of stirring up war between Elves and the evil Morgoth, a war which was unavoidable with or without the Noldor.

Initially Galadriel stayed with a brother, Finrod, King of Nargothrond. After some years she visited the Teleri kingdom of Doriath, met Prince Celeborn and they fell in love. She remained with him thereafter. Her four older brothers fought bravely and fell in battle. From shielded Doriath, however, Galadriel could foresee the inevitable ruin of Beleriand, and she and Celeborn left Doriath for Lindon before the Noldor capitals of Nargothrond and Gondolin were thrown down, and before the sack of Menegroth (capital of Doriath) by the Dwarves of Nogrod. They were followed by more Sindarin Elves from Doriath, and survivors of the War of Wrath (when the Host of The Valar descended upon Middle-earth and fought Morgoth with such violence that Beleriand was torn apart and drowned). Celeborn became aware of the killing of his kin by the Dwarves of Nogrod, and did not forget it. They were joined by Cirdan, Elrond and Gil-Galad, the Elven High-King of Middle-Earth.
~   The Second Age   ~
They did not remain long in Lindon with Gil-Galad. With a following of some Noldor and many Sindar exiles they moved across the Ered Luin, settling for a time by Lake Nenuial, whence they ruled the wide realm of Eriador. In SA 700 the signs of an evil presence to the east caused them to move to the province of Eregion, still as Lord and Lady of Eriador. At about this time they had a daughter, Celebrían. They probably lived in Tharbad on the Gwathló; certainly Galadriel was there in about SA 900. Eregion or Hollin also became the base of Celebrimbor, who began building the city of Elven Smiths at Ost-in-Edhil, close to the Dwarf-Hall of Moria, in SA 750. Galadriel herself passed through Moria, and discovered Lórinand and the Nandorin elves living in the Vale of Anduin.

Sauron, Morgoth's lieutenant, had survived the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age. Having begun the building of Barad-dûr in SA c 1000 he came west, posing as the friendly Annatar, Lord of Gifts. Though refused admittance to Lindon by Gil-Galad, by about SA 1350 Sauron had so beguiled the Noldorin smiths that they turned against Galadriel and Celeborn. Galadriel moved to Lórinand with Celebrían, the first of her several stays in the Golden Wood; though she assumed ruling power it was temporary, as always. Galadriel probably started the building of Caras Galadhon and the training of Wood-Elves with little experience of warfare. Celeborn remained in Eregion (allegedly because he would not enter Moria), to keep the eastern borders of Eriador as secure as he might.

In Hollin in the century and a half after SA 1500 the forging of the Nine and Seven Rings of Power proceeded in secret, initially under Sauron's guidance and with Galadriel too removed to detect what was happening. Celebrimbor discovered that the "Lord of Gifts" was anything but after he made the final Three Rings, which revealed the existence of the One Ring. He sought Galadriel's advice, and the Three were immediately removed from Eregion to Lindon and Lórinand (Nenya was kept by Galadriel). In SA 1695, alerted to the existence of the Three Rings and Celebrimbor's 'betrayal', Sauron invaded Eriador. Celeborn was first to join battle and proved himself a capable commander, managing to drive back the vanguard and join up with the force under Elrond sent from Lindon. But they could not hold long and were obliged to retreat, leaving Sauron to destroy Ost-in-Edhil, kill Celebrimbor, and seize the Nine and most of the Seven Rings. He then turned on Elrond and Celeborn, who were saved by a joint force of Dwarves and Elves from Lórinand, an unusual alliance which must have been Galadriel's work. In the second year of the campaign Elrond led the surviving Elven forces to the hidden valley at Imladris. Gil-Galad, besieged in Lindon, was saved by a fleet of Númenórean warriors, landing in 1700 at Mithlond and Lond Daer; the marauding Orcs were routed at the battles of Sarn Ford and Tharbad, the siege of Imladris was raised and Sauron hounded out of Eriador.

Galadriel rejoined Celeborn in Imladris, where she took part in a Council of The Wise. Elrond was appointed Vice-Regent of Eriador, relieving Celeborn and Galadriel for other duties. But they remained guests of Elrond for some time, during which Elrond first fell in love with Celebrían.

When Galadriel and Celeborn left Imladris, they took up another advance post, in Belfalas. There was already a small Sindarin presence there, at Edellond, and although a number of Silvan Elves from Lórinand joined them, their number cannot have been great. Galadriel and Celeborn lived quietly, almost anonymously, keeping Nenya well concealed. Galadriel passed out of history for a long while, as befitted the bearer of an Elven Ring close to Mordor. After a long vigil, the century taken by the Men of The West from Númenor to build the defences of the Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, and for Sauron to muster forces to attack Gondor was swift in comparison. Celeborn probably led a troop of Elves under the banner of Gil-Galad in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Galadriel no doubt sent Celebrían to Imladris for safety, and may have withdrawn there herself. Her whereabouts following the levelling of Barad-Dûr are unclear. However, with Gil-Galad lost, the remaining High-Elves few in number, the Kings of Gondor apparently safe and able to guard the borders of Mordor, there was little need for Galadriel's southerly watch. And Celebrían's parents would of course have been in Imladris for her wedding to Elrond in TA 109.
~   The Third Age   ~
They returned to Belfalas. Amroth, King of Lórinand, visited them there from time to time during the 1900 years before the unleashing of the Balrog in Moria, and they in turn paid two visits to his wooded realm. It was during one of these, maybe, that Galadriel planted the seeds of the great mallorn trees of Caras Galadhon. In TA 1981, when Amroth was drowned trying to leave Middle-earth via Edellond, he found the Elven settlement abandoned. Galadriel soon learned of the loss of Amroth, for she and Celeborn entered Lórien again - probably at the invitation of the leaderless Galadhrim - and were welcomed as the new Lord and Lady. The made it clear that they came once more as temporary rulers who would depart when their presence was no longer needed and a new King could take the vacant throne.

By the time of their return hopes raised by the victory of the Last Alliance had been dashed. The Witch-King's Angmar, though destroyed, had itself caused the ruin of Arnor, and orcs had spread into the Misty and White Mountains. The Dwarves of Moria had been forced to flee, and Gondor was continually threatened from the south and east. The defence of the west depended upon the defences of the Vale of Anduin and the plain of Calenhardhon. Aided by the power of Nenya, Galadriel was able to protect Lórien, which became feared as the Dwimordene - Haunted Valley.

Lothlórien became the base from which evil activity across the Anduin at Dol Guldur was observed. At the end of the Watchful Peace (TA 2063-2460) Galadriel called the first White Council. But under Saruman it was near fatally ineffectual. Celebrían was wounded by orcs in the Redhorn Pass in 2509; a year later Galadriel and Celeborn's only child left Middle-earth. In the same year Gondor was again attacked and near-overrun. This time Galadriel was able to help, casting a protective veil across the Anduin to ensure the Eorlingas reached the Field of Celebrant unhindered by Dol Guldur. By enabling these Northmen to get to what became Rohan, she also ensured that the plain north of the White Mountains, Eriador's southern entrance, was better guarded than in the Second Age. But she could do nothing about Saruman's treachery.
~   War and Departure   ~
As the War of The Ring reached its climax, Galadriel's purpose in Middle-earth came to a close. Victory or defeat in the Quest of The Ring were almost meaningless, for either way her part-fated, part-chosen role as the most eastern Elvish line of defence in Middle-earth had to end. It was time for the High-Elves to leave. She achieved her full potential whilst able to wield her Ring openly, but was only able to do so for a brief period to defend Lórien from assault in the final battles of the War, when no reason to conceal it remained. Her last act before leaving Middle-earth with the other surviving Noldor was the cleansing of Mirkwood.

Celeborn decided to remain in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age. Though one of the High-Elves, he was not a Noldo. He left the Vale of Anduin in the hands of Thranduil, and took over from Elrond as Lord of Imladris. Celeborn's long experience made him the obvious and only choice, apart from maybe Elladan & Elrohir.
For a more detailed look at Galadriel, see the extended
~ Galadriel, Lady of Lóthlórien ~

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