BobMoCo Middle-earth Glossary

Lord Elrond, Loremaster of Imladris

An account of the history and role of Elrond as told in The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales
Part I
~ Short Version / Introduction ~
~ First Impressions ~ Ancestral Lines ~ Upbringing ~ Second Age ~ The Warrior ~ Rivendell ~
~ The Last Alliance ~ The Dúnedain ~ Celebrían ~ Strategy ~ Wise Councils ~ Arwen ~
  ~   First Impressions   ~  
When first Bilbo arrives in the hidden valley of the Last Homely House Elrond is the chief of "those who still had both Elves and heroes of the North for ancestors." In appearance he is "as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer."

Frodo, on his arrival at Rivendell, describes him more fully:
The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was written the memories of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars. Venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fullness of his strength. He was the Lord of Rivendell and mighty among Elves and Men.
Gandalf explains that:
Here in Rivendell there live still some of [Sauron's] chief foes: the Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas. They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power.
At the Council of Elrond we get a glimpse of what he recalls of his younger days, when he says that the gathering of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves reminded him of:
The glory of the Elder Days and the hosts of Beleriand, so many great princes and captains were assembled. And yet not so many, nor so fair, as when Thangorodrim was broken.   My memory reaches back even to the Elder days. Eärendil was my sire, who was born in Gondolin before its fall; and my mother was Elwing, daughter of Dior, son of Lúthien of Doriath. I have seen three ages in the West of the world, and many defeats, and many fruitless victories.   I was the herald of Gil-Galad and marched with his host [in the Last Alliance] ...
Readers of LoTR may be forgiven for thinking that Elrond is the highest ranking Elf in Middle-earth, and holds this position by right of succession. In terms of Elven traditions, he is not and does not. Elrond Peredhel's authority is based upon his appointment as Lord of Imladris by Ereinion Gil-Galad, the last Elven High-King of Middle-earth, for any one of the Noldorin High-Elves still in Middle-earth (Erestor, Glorfindel or Gildor Inglorion, for example) would otherwise outrank Elrond. And he was an Umanya who had never dwelt in the Blessed Realm.

Even given the circumstances in which Gil-Galad made his choice (the Second Age War of Elves and Sauron), the elevation of Elrond was unusual. For by birth Elrond Half-Elven was neither of the Noldor (The Wise or Loremasters), nor even of pure Elvish stock, and it was unheard of for the proud Noldor to appoint Elves of 'lesser' ancestry to be their lieutenants and accept their authority for any great length of time. As discussed in High-Elves of the Third Age, Elvish Middle-earth was neither classless nor a meritocracy. Elrond is a notable exception to the conventions of Elvish society, in that he did gain his rank by merit rather than birth. His achievement is remarkable, effectively becoming an "honorary Noldo and Elven High-Lord".

~   Elrond's Ancestral Lines   ~

  From the House of Hador  
Marach     Leader, the Folk of Marach
Malach s. of Marach   Leader of the Folk
Magor s. of Malach   Leader of the Folk
Hathol s. of Magor   Leader of the Folk
Hador Lorindol s. of Hathol m. Gildis Head of the House of Hador. Lord of Dor-Lomin
Galdor s. of Hador and Gildis m. Hareth   (The Haladin) Lord of Dor-Lomin
Huor s. of Galdor and Hareth m. Rian   (House of Beor)  
Tuor s. of Huor and Rian m. Idril   (Noldor)  
Eärendil s. of Tuor and Idril m. Elwing   (Sindar) Half-Elven. The Mariner
Elrond s. of Eärendil and Elwing m. Celebrían   (Sindar) Half-Elven. Lord of Imladris
  From the The Noldor  
Finwë   m. Indis  (Vanyar) Leader of the Noldor. King in Aman
Fingolfin s. of Finwë and Indis   High-King of the Noldor, Beleriand
Turgon s. of Fingolfin m. Elenwë Noldo King of Gondolin
Idril Celebrindal d. of Turgon and Elenwë m. Tuor  (House of Hador) Noldo Princess
Eärendil s. of Idril and Tuor m. Elwing  (Sindar) Half-Elven. The Mariner
Elrond s. of Eärendil and Elwing m. Celebrían  (Sindar) Half-Elven
  From The Teleri   (Sindarin Branch)  
Elwë   m. Melian  (Maiar) 1st Leader of the Teleri. King of Doriath
Lúthien Tinúviel d. of Elwë and Melian m. Beren  (House of Bëor) Half-Elven, Half-Maia
Dior Aranel s. of Lúthien and Beren m. Nimloth  (Sindar) King of Doriath
Elwing d. of Dior and Nimloth m. Eärendil  (House of Hador)  
Elrond s. of Elwing and Eärendil m. Celebrían  (Sindar) Half-Elven
Elros s. of Elwing and Eärendil   Half-Elven. Tar-Minyatur, King of Númenor
Men Half-Elven Elves
Marach   Finwë
Malach   Fingolfin
Magor   Turgon
Hathol   Idril
Galdor   Elwë
Huor   Lúthien
Tuor   Dior
  Eärendil Elwing
Elrond and Elros thus had ancestors in all the three Tribes of Men who made friends with and fought alongside the Elves in Beleriand, the three main branches of the Eldar (Vanyar, Noldor, Teleri), and even the Maiar.
For more details see the Noldor, Teleri and Houses of Men.

As can be seen, they had almost equal numbers of known Men and Elves in their ancestry. The Tribes of Men did not arrive in Beleriand until about FA 450. The intensity and pace of Elven life - and death - in the First Age was indeed far faster than in the rather more leisurely Third Age!

  ~   Elrond's Upbringing   ~  
Though he claims to recall the First Age in a manner which suggests he lived through it, Elrond and his twin brother Elros were late-comers to the Age. They were born in the refuge at the Havens of Sirion, in the Bay of Balar. The Sindarin or Grey Elves who had lived in the realm of Doriath had fled there after their king was killed by perfidious Dwarves, and their city sacked by other Elves. They were Umanyar - Elves who never saw Aman, the Blessed Realm - and grew up in a Middle-earth convulsed by wars and treachery.

The late First Age was not a glorious period in Elven history. They were losing the war against the evil Melkor and Sauron, his military commander. Beleriand, west of the Ered Luin, was soon to sink beneath the waves. Elrond and Elros did not see the armies of the Noldor kingdoms at the height of their power, and certainly not in allied formation. For Elves were at war, with both Sauron's Orcs and with one other. The great citadels of the Noldor and Sindar - Nargothrond, Menegroth and Gondolin - had already been sacked. Relations between the Sindar of Doriath and the Noldor had always been cool. Many Eldar nobles were dead: Fingolfin, Finrod, Fingon, Orodreth, Turgon, Elwë, Dior, Fëanor and most of his sons, and numerous valiant Men. Galadriel and Celeborn had fled Beleriand altogether, taking with them to Lindon a collection of Sindar from Doriath, Laiquendi from Ossiriand, and some scattered, leaderless Noldor. The High-King, Ereinion Gil-Galad, had even had to raise his standard on the off-shore Isle of Balar.

Elrond and Elros rarely saw their illustrious father, Eärendil, who - though King of the surviving Sindar - spent most of his time with Círdan the Shipwright, building a boat and sailing it to the ends of the seas. It fell to their mother, Elwing to lead their people, bring up their sons, and guard a Silmaril; to accomplish the last she threw herself with the ill-fated Jewel into the sea. At which point Elrond and Elros were captured by Maedhros and Maglor, the last sons of Fëanor, who held them for a while until Maglor took pity on them. The orphans were eventually released and taken in by Gil-Galad.

They would have seen at least a part of the Host of The Valar from Aman, on its arrival in Beleriand, supported by the Vanyar and Noldor from Eldamar, determined to rid Middle-earth of Melkor once and for all. Fully grown by then, they no doubt took part in the War of Wrath under Gil-Galad's banner. Whether his somewhat ragged force could have fought its way from the southern shores of Beleriand north and around the forbidding Ered Gorgoroth (Mountains of Terror) in time to witness the assault upon Thangorodrim - the citadel of Melkor - is uncertain.
( Both their parents survived. Elwing lives on in Aman. Eärendil, The Mariner, was given another ship to captain by the Valar. With the bright Silmaril shining steadily on his brow he still steers a course through the heavens. )
  ~   Into the Second Age   ~  
The dawn of the Second Age saw Elrond and Elros parting company, never to see each other again. For Elros sailed far off to establish the new kingdom of Men in Númenor. As it is told in "Akallabêth" (the tale of the rise and fall of Númenor):
Now Elros and Elrond his brother were descended from the Three Tribes of Men, but in part also from the Eldar and Maiar; for Idril of Gondolin and Lúthien daughter of Melian were their foremothers. The Valar indeed may not withdraw the gift of death, which comes to Men from Ilúvatar, but in the matter of the Half-elven Ilúvatar gave to them the judgement; and they judged that to the sons of Eärendil should be given the choice of their own destiny. And Elrond chose to remain with the Firstborn, and to him the life of the Firstborn was granted. But .. Elros .. chose to be a king of Men ..
What the account does not mention is the haste with which their decisions had perforce to be made. Beleriand was being abandoned by all who could extricate themselves, the Host of the Valar by ship back to Aman, and Men of their allies in a fleet created for them by the Valar to sail to Númenor. Those Elves who wished to tarry longer in Middle-earth marched on foot to the safety of the Blue Mountains. Beneath them the land was disappearing amid tumultuous earthquakes, caused by the destruction of Thangorodrim and the violence of the Valar's attack; the journey must have reminded the Noldor of their crossing from Aman via the perilous ice-floes of the Helcaraxë, less than 600 years previously. At least it would have been warmer!

So at the relatively young age of 60-odd Elrond found himself without close kin, and still a refugee with Gil-Galad in Lindon. Before Sauron again threatened the peace they at last enjoyed, the surviving Elves of Beleriand had time to re-group under their two leaders - Gil-Galad and his cousin, Galadriel. (Had Gil-Galad not survived Galadriel could have made a good case for being recognised as High Queen - see A History of Galadriel). At first Gil-Galad's people settled in Forlindon, with Galadriel and Celeborn in Harlindon. Galadriel and Celeborn then took up the rule of Eriador before moving further east to Eregion, while Gil-Galad remained in Lindon throughout the Second Age. Effectively power was shared by Gil-Galad and Galadriel, though as a woman Galadriel wielded it discreetly and never challenged the High-King of the Elves of Middle-earth, or his appointed successor.

The only substantial Elvish settlement built and maintained in Lindon in the Second and Third Ages was at Mithlond, the Grey Havens where the Falathrim / Shore Folk of Círdan built their boats. Círdan had had a close association with Gil-Galad in the last years of the First Age, and Gil-Galad had his court there. It was the capital of the Elves until Imladris assumed supremacy. Elrond stayed in Lindon. Little of his life is known, but - much as Galadriel had done in her youth in Aman - he must have sought and absorbed as much knowledge as he could from the Loremasters at court and distinguished himself sufficiently to earn their respect. He was taking the first steps to becoming the only Master of Lore to get the title on merit alone. By comparison, although Círdan was older, respected and wore one of the Elven Rings for a time, he never approached the status of Elrond.
  ~   Elrond the Warrior   ~  
Years later Elrond emerged as the commander of a force of Elves sent by Gil-Galad to aid Celeborn against Sauron in Eregion. In SA 1695 Sauron invaded Eriador in an effort to capture all the Rings of Power forged by Celebrimbor. Celeborn was first to join battle and managed to drive back the vanguard and join up with the force from Lindon under Elrond. But they could not hold long and were obliged to retreat, leaving Sauron to devastate Eregion, destroy Ost-in-Edhil, capture and kill Celebrimbor, and seize the Nine Rings and most of the Seven Rings. He then turned on Elrond and Celeborn, who were saved by a joint force of Dwarves from Khazad-Dûm and Elves from Lórinand. In the second year of the campaign Elrond led the surviving Elven forces to the hidden valley of Imladris, established a stronghold and gathered in other Elves of Eriador who had fled before the invading Orcs. Imladris must soon have held a significant force, for Sauron was obliged to besiege it to guard against attacks on his rear; this prevented him deploying his full strength against his main target, Lindon. Gil-Galad was also besieged, but saved by two fleets of Númenóreans, landing in 1700 at Mithlond and Lond Daer. Thus reinforced, Gil-Galad was able to break out of Lindon, the siege of Imladris was raised, and the marauding Orcs routed by this alliance of Elves and Men. Sauron was driven back to Mordor, and Elrond returned to the new Elven base at Rivendell.

He and Celeborn were shortly joined by Galadriel and a Council of The Wise was called. It was decided that Imladris should be the main eastward Elvish stronghold, and Elrond was appointed vice-regent of Eriador. This assured Elrond's authority in Eriador until his departure at the end of the Third Age. He must have impressed not only Gil-Galad, but Galadriel and other Noldorin Elves too. In the preceding centuries of peace there had no doubt been much greater interaction between the branches of Elves (the Noldor, Sindar, Laiquendi, Falathrim and Nandor) than had been the case in Beleriand.

The Three Elven Rings were held by Gil-Galad and Galadriel; Gil-Galad now entrusted Vilya, the Blue Ring of Air, to Elrond. It would both help defend Imladris and serve as a symbol of Elrond's authority. Clearly Elrond had worked hard in Lindon, to acquire skill enough as a warrior to earn the respect of both the Sindar and Noldor. He must also have gained sufficient strategic and tactical experience to have been made leader of the Elvish force. Glorfindel might have seemed the more obvious choice, having previously been Head of the Household of Turgon, the King of Gondolin, and won renown by killing a Balrog. Even with an Elven Ring and the patronage of Gil-Galad, Elrond's strength of character and his role as leader would be under the constant scrutiny of other High-Elves.
  ~   Consolidation at Rivendell   ~  
Another period of relative peace followed. Though far inland, Elrond would have been aware of developments outside Eriador: the increasing might of Númenor, its ambitious ship-building, and conflicts with Sauron. And following the downfall of Númenor he would have observed the creation of the new kingdoms of the Dúnedain. Again how he occupied himself is untold; he learned how to use the protective powers of Vilya to safeguard Rivendell - quite possibly learning from Galadriel, who had had previous experience in Doriath of setting defences around a territory. We know he was able to command the waters at the Ford of Bruinen, for example. Much later even Gandalf still found the path into the Hidden Valley tricky.

Imladris housed the great Library of Master Elrond. How many of the books he wrote himself is uncertain, but he was a certainly a historian, setting down the events of Middle-earth since the beginning as far as he could manage from surviving sources. His library later safeguarded what the Northern Dúnedain themselves had managed to save of their history, from Westernesse and their period as rulers of Arnor. There were also many maps of Middle-earth. When Frodo first arrives, sorely wounded, Gandalf commits him to the healing care of Elrond, whose wisdom in such matters is acknowledged by the wizard.
~ Part II ~
~ First Impressions ~ Ancestral Lines ~ Upbringing ~ Second Age ~ The Warrior ~ Rivendell ~
~ The Last Alliance ~ The Dúnedain ~ Celebrían ~ Strategy ~ Wise Councils ~ Arwen ~
~ Introduction / Short Version ~

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