BobMoCo Middle-earth Glossary

High-Elves / Elves of the High Kindred


The Elf-Lords of the Third Age

To be wholly correct, the Tareldar (High Eldar) were the High Elves of Aman - those who lived or had lived there. Strictly speaking therefore, the High Kindred encountered in Middle-earth are Noldorin Elves, the 'Loremasters'.   During the Third Age the Elves of Middle-earth are roughly divided into High-Elves and "the rest". As Sam roughly puts it when describing the inhabitants of Rivendell: "Elves here, and Elves there! Some like kings, terrible and splendid; and some as merry as children."   Elven Middle-earth is still dominated by the remaining Noldor who came back from Aman at the beginning of the First Age, despite both the loss of their High King, Gil-galad (at the end of the Second Age) and being outnumbered by the Umanyar - Elves who never reached the Blessed Realm.
Elves are not classless.
  1. At the top come the Vanyar, but they only came back to Middle-earth to help the Valar fight the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, after which they returned to Eldamar.
  2. Next come the Noldor, a large number of whom 'escaped' from Aman and became the ruling Elves of western Middle-earth, a land known as Beleriand, lying west of the Ered Luin until drowned at the end of the First Age.
  3. Then come the Teleri who trekked late into Beleriand, but nevertheless eventually reached The West.
  4. Below them are the survivors of the Teleri who stayed in Beleriand and never reached Aman; they became known as Grey-Elves or Sindar.
    Alongside the Sindar are the Falathrim, a group of Teleri who remained on the shores of Middle-earth and become boat-builders and sailors.
  5. Next on the ladder are the Laiquendi - those of the Nandor who eventually reached Beleriand, and in effect merged with the Sindar.
  6. And almost on the bottom rung are the Nandor who trekked West only as far as the Vale of Anduin, and became the Silvan Elves of the woodlands. Somewhere in the East linger the Avari, whose fate is unknown.   (It may be helpful to look at the Migrations of Elves).
Within the Sindar there is also a ranking. At the top are Princes of Doriath, relatives of Elwe (one-time King of the Teleri in Beleriand). Below them come those who formed the lesser 'nobility' there.
Titles can be misleading. Legolas' father, Thranduil, is a King. He is, however a Sindarin King of the Wood-Elves, his family coming from the lesser nobles of Doriath, and thus ranks lower than the Elf-Lords. Celeborn and Galadriel are the Lord and Lady of Lorien, and though they are only its temporary rulers, they rank above Thranduil. As in any such social structure, below the nobility are the great majority of 'ordinary' Elves - for the most part a mix of Sindar and Nandor, though some Noldor went to live in Lorien and merged with the Silvan Elves.

Defining the Elf-Lords is further complicated by exceptions. It might be assumed that Elrond is the senior Noldo left in Middle-earth; but although he behaves like a Noldo his line of descent is very mixed - see Elrond's Ancestral Lines. He was appointed vice-regent of Eriador by Gil-galad in the Second Age and has ruled from Imladris under this authority ever since.   The other main exception is Cirdan The Shipwright, Lord of the Grey Havens and of the Falathrim, who has a long history of leading his people to war and aiding the Noldor; he doesn't just build boats.

Thus the High Kindred cannot be defined strictly by blood-lines. Marriages and other factors play a part.   Of the named Elves in LoTR, the majority are High-Elves:
Galadriel Noldo Lady of Lorien
Ereinion Gil-Galad Noldo Last High-King of the Elves in Middle-earth (SA)
Glorfindel Noldo An Elf-Lord
Erestor Noldo An Elf-Lord
Gildor Inglorion Noldo Leader of a Wandering Company
Celeborn Sinda Lord of Lorien. A former Prince of Doriath
Celebrian Sinda Wife of Elrond; daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn
Cirdan Teler Lord of Mithlond
Elrond Half-Elven Lord of Imladris and Eriador
Half-Elven Sons of Elrond. Elf-Lords due to their father's position
Of the un-named High-Elves most would be found in Rivendell. How many Noldor remain in Middle-earth by the time of the War of The Ring is unknown, but certainly not sufficient to form a force large enough to merit another military Alliance with Men, even were this thought desirable.
The remaining named Elves in LoTR are not of the High Kindred:
Arwen Half-Elven A Mortal by choice
Thranduil Sinda King of the Wood-Elves, North Mirkwood
Legolas Sinda Son of Thranduil
Galdor Teler Cirdan's representative, Council of Elrond
Rumil       }
Sindar/Nandor Elves of the Galadhrim, Lorien
Were female Elves able to rule in their own right, Galadriel would be the High-Queen (see Galadriel- A History). If Elladan and Elrohir did opt to become undying Elves, they would be primarily Sindar and hold a similar rank to Celeborn.

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