BobMoCo Middle-earth Glossary

Galadriel - Lady of Lóthlórien

A collation of the accounts, tales & legends in The Lord of The Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. Where they conflict or vary, the most seemingly likely or least improbable has been adopted.     (If this article is too detailed, try the Introduction)
Part I: The First Ages - From birth in Aman to marriage in Doriath and the War of Wrath
~ Birth ~ Aman ~ Flight ~ Doriath ~ Lindon ~
~ Eriador ~ Lórien ~Belfalas ~ Lórien ~ Departure ~ Celeborn ~
Galadriel's powerful, often unseen, presence in Lórien pervades the tale of the final "Great Years" of the War of The Ring. By the time the formidable and mysterious Lady of the Galadhrim is first met by Hobbits she is old in their terms. She was born well before the Moon and Sun arose and had also survived the First, Second and Third Ages. Give or take a century or three she is about 7500 when Frodo and Sam look in her mirror.

Galadriel was born in Valinor of mixed blood. Her father was part Noldo, part Vanya, while her mother provided the Telerin strain which stood her in good stead on her arrival in Beleriand. She remained primarily a Noldo in general outlook and strength of will all her life. Her given-names were apt enough. As was Elvish custom, Finarfin named his daughter Artanis ("noble-woman") and after a while Eärwen called her Nerwen ("man-maiden"). But she eventually settled upon Galadriel ("radiant garland"), which was probably her most used epessë or nickname anyhow, for even more than her father and brothers she was blessed with an abundance of the golden locks of her grandmother's people.

Galadriel's Kin

Finwë   Grandfather.  m. Indis  (Vanyar) High King of the Noldor. Killed by Morgoth, Aman
Finarfin 3rd s. of Finwë & Indis
m. Eärwen
Mother.  Daughter of Olwë, Lord of Alqualondë  (Teleri)
High King of the Noldor, Aman
Finrod Felagund s. of Finarfin & Eärwen Brother King of Nargothrond. Killed by Sauron
Orodreth s. of Finarfin & Eärwen Brother 2nd King of Nargothrond. Killed, Battle of Tumhalad
Angrod s. of Finarfin & Eärwen Brother Lord of Dorthonion. Killed in the Dagor Bragollach
Aegnor s. of Finarfin & Eärwen Brother Lord of Dorthonion. Killed in the Dagor Bragollach
Galadriel d. of Finarfin & Eärwen m. Celeborn, Prince of Doriath  (Teleri) Lady of the Galadhrim
Celebrían d. of Galadriel & Celeborn Daughter.  m. Elrond Half-Elven Sailed to The West, TA 2510
Elladan s. of Celebrían & Elrond Grandson.  
Elrohir s. of Celebrían & Elrond Grandson.  
Arwen d. of Celebrían & Elrond Grandaughter.  m. Aragorn  

Other Kinfolk

Noldor Teleri
Fingolfin Uncle. Noldor High King in Beleriand Elmo Celeborn's grandfather. Brother of Olwë and Elwë
Fingon Cousin. Noldor High King in Beleriand Galadhon Father-in-law. A Prince of Doriath
Turgon Cousin. King of Gondolin Galathil Brother-in-law. A Prince of Doriath
Ereinion Gil-Galad Cousin. Noldor High King, Middle-earth    
( See also   The Noldor,   The First Age,   and   The Battles of Beleriand )

In her youth she was something of an elvish tomboy, being unusually tall, strong and athletic for a woman. She also possessed an intellect keen enough to rival Fëanor, considered the greatest (if not the wisest!) of the Noldor. Long before the hapless Gimli was bewitched by her beauty, Fëanor asked thrice for a tress from her head; unlike the Dwarf his requests were rejected, an irony he would have neither understood nor appreciated. She could have chosen any of her doubtless innumerable admirers in Tirion, Valmar or Beleriand, so why Galadriel decided to marry the uninspiring Teleporno (even if he was tall for a Sinda and thus at least matched her height) is something of a mystery. But a mystery no greater than why a Maia on holiday in Middle-earth should have decided to ensnare his almost equally uninspiring King - Elwë, ruler of the Sindarin Elves. In both cases the lady far outranked her chosen lover in power, wisdom and perception.

Whilst she was still in the Blessed Realm there are glimpses and hints of the young Noldo's enquiring and ambitious spirit, though less of the calmer, more serene Telerin side of her nature. Having learned all she could from her Valarian teachers (who included Aulë the patron of crafts and Yavanna, creator of fauna & flora), this Man-Maiden dreamed of returning to Middle-earth to carve out her own kingdom and put her knowledge into practice. And her Teleri instincts often drew her to the less crowded sea-shores about the home of her kin at Alqualondë. It was later said that she met Celeborn there and that they planned to sail to Beleriand, but this is improbable. There is no evidence he ever went near Eldamar; even if he had, he was not a mariner, the sailors of the Haven of The Swans were not in the habit of ferrying kinfolk back to Beleriand, and no Teleri are recorded as joining the Flight of The Noldor. In any case she was not a 'rebel' planning to leave Aman without the blessing of the Valar who had summoned the Eldar there as protection from the dangers of Middle-earth. But events unforeseen even by Manwë overtook any intentions she had. With the destruction of the Two Trees - Telperion and Laurelin - by the unholy alliance of Morgoth and Ungoliant, Valinor was suddenly cast back into darkness, thrown into confusion and Alqualondë invaded by her unfriend, Fëanor, demanding ships and railing against the Valar. With or without Celeborn at her side, Galadriel would have joined the hopeless defence of her mother's people's magnificent ships, and been horrified by the Kinslaying; games and shows of athletic prowess she excelled in, but hand-to-hand combat was a new experience for Galadriel and all of the Eldar. It is uncertain at what point she decided to join her brothers under the banner of Fingolfin in the determined march of the Second Host of the Noldor, who fled Aman to escape what some saw as captivity. But it was an opportunity to go where she wanted to go. Possibly she was annoyed by the apparent incompetance of the Valar, in failing to protect both their own finest works - the Two Trees of Light - and The Silmarils, great Jewels in which the luminance of the Trees had been caught (whether she liked or disliked their maker, Fëanor). And she had revenge as a more immediate, driving motive to follow the Fëanoreans, who had sailed ahead in stolen vessels they then burnt. The Galadriel of Ages later would have left them to their fate, discerning that it was inevitable whatever any of the other Eldar might do to hasten or delay it, and stayed to plan a less uncertain future. As it was, she was one of the leaders in the Flight from Aman, and accepted Mandos' dread Prophecy of The North (the warning that all who left Aman with the doomed Fëanoreans would share in the Curse of ruin laid upon them). She was in the van of the struggle to cross Araman, the bitter wasteland to the north of Aman, and brave the terror of the grinding ice-floes between Aman and Middle-earth - the Helcaraxë. On finally arriving in Mithrim they found themselves in circumstances very different from whatever it was they had anticipated, however.

Morgoth had not been idle. His orc-armies had already decimated the unfortunate Laiquendi, who now hid in the forests of Ossiriand. Elwë's threatened realm in Eglador was encircled by the protective Girdle of Melian and afforded little welcome to outsiders. And Fëanor was already dead. This left his outnumbered sons in peril of being slaughtered not by their avowed arch-enemy but by their own wrathful kin. Luckily for the divided Noldor, the wisdom and valour of Fingon in rescuing the captured Maedhros ended the danger of outright civil war, and an uneasy agreement as to who was their mutual enemy and which House should rule ensued. Not that the sons of Fëanor were forgiven, but with many of their followers ashamed of their part in the Kinslaying and abandonment of Fingolfin, and guilt at their misguided part in the events at Alqualondë fresh in the minds of some of Fingolfin's people, there was a basis for co-operation. Quite what those among the Second Host of the Noldor who had left Aman primarily to be free of their 'enslavement' by the Valar thought they would do in Middle-earth was unclear even to them. Faced with the all too obvious threat from Morgoth's northern fortress of Angband, they had little choice but to fortify 'free' Beleriand and adopt a defensive posture, which Ulmo's warnings to Fingolfin, Finrod and Turgon merely emphasised. Nevertheless it was 20 years before Fingolfin, the High-King of the Noldor in Middle-earth, felt it safe to hold the Mered Aderthad, the celebration formalising the re-uniting of the factions of the Eldar and their Grey-Elven kin.
Initially Galadriel remained with her brother, Finrod, the King of Nargothrond. She did not visit Doriath for some years. When she did she met Celeborn and they fell in love; she remained with him thereafter, thus nominally becoming a Sinda. In her case this was indeed purely nominal. If her choice of partner seemed contrary at the time, her choice of abode was fortunate. The furthering of her education by Melian The Maia, Queen of Doriath, and the opportunity to observe a violent world from a protected realm almost in the centre of the arena, were to prove of great value. Had she not found Doriath to her liking her future would have been as bleak as that of Finduilas (daughter of her brother Orodreth and thus her niece) in Nargothrond, captured and slain by orcs. As a woman and the youngest of Finarfin's children she could not claim a territory and following of her own. Some doom had decided she should not fall with Nargothrond, but survive to play a key role much later in the history of Middle-earth.

Galadriel was related to many of the leading Noldor and Teleri of the First Age. But the Eldar kingdoms and the fiefdoms of their allies of the Three Tribes of Men were destroyed, the Doom of the Noldor ensuring it was not merely the Fëanoreans who would be fatally entangled in the War of The Jewels (as the First Age conflict between Morgoth and the Elves became known, for he held the Silmarils they wished to recover). Had Galadriel been Finarfin's fifth son, no doubt she too would have fought bravely and fallen in battle. From her vantage point and advised by Melian she could see what was coming; even Elwë's refuge was bound to fail. Before the falls of Nargothrond and Gondolin and thus before the sack of Menegroth by the Dwarves of Nogrod, the removal of Melian's Girdle and the final ruinous attack by the sons of Fëanor (attempting fulfil the Oath of Fëanor to retrieve the Silmarils), she and Celeborn had left Doriath, though at first they only went as far as Lindon. They were followed by more Grey-Elves after the tragedies in Doriath and the exodus in the wake of the War of Wrath, when the Host of The Valar descended upon Middle-earth and fought Melkor with such violence that Beleriand was torn apart and drowned. Celeborn became well aware of the killing of his kin by the Naugrim of Nogrod, and did not forget it. What he thought of the Fëanoreans (and their Noldor kin) was probably supressed in an act of great diplomacy. Galadriel was joined by Cirdan, Gil-Galad and Elrond - four High-Elves who became The Wise in a world still dominated by the Noldor, and in due course were all bearers of the Elven Rings.
Had Gil-Galad not survived (and indeed after his demise at the end of the Second Age), Galadriel the Noldo outranked the Eldar who remained in Middle-earth and could have made a good case for being recognised as High Queen. But there was no tradition among Elves for a woman taking such a title, so like Melian she ruled within the social parameters. Ages later Galadriel might gently tell Celeborn he is an idiot, but it is clear that he is the Lord of Lórien and takes precedence. Nevertheless it is she, not Celeborn who wears Nenya; it is she, not Celeborn who calls and sits on the White Council; and the suspicious outside world fears the Lady of Dwimordene, not its Lord. She politely informs the Company of The Ring in Caras Galadhon of Celeborn's fame as the wisest of the Elves of Middle-earth, before putting this reputation into context. It had been her powers which protected the Éothéod's desperate ride to save Gondor at the Field of Celebrant, just as her power was shortly to save Lórien from repeated attack and perform the final cleansing of Mirkwood. Frodo is afforded a rare glimpse of Galadriel's strength of mind on offering her The One Ring. Melian had been an excellent tutor, but unlike her mentor Galadriel did not have to be content with advising and seeing her husband ignore that advice. Maybe Galadriel's choice of husband was wise, and Celeborn in turn wiser than Elu Thingol, after all.

So why did Galadriel choose to remain, rather than take ship back to Aman? Arriving ahead of the main body of refugees from the wreck of Beleriand, she may not have known of Manwë's summons to the surviving Eldar to return to Tol Eressëa, that the Teleri then forgave the Kinslaying, and of the pardon of the Noldor by the Valar, though Cirdan would soon have informed her. Maybe Celeborn was loathe to leave Middle-earth, having not felt the call of the sea, and she wished to stay with him out of love. Possibly Galadriel still yearned after a realm of her own, and hoped the downfall of Morgoth would enable her to find one.

It may be that she thought the Pardon of the Noldor did not apply to her; this has been mooted as a reason for her remaining in Middle-earth. Whether the Valar did regard her as a dangerous rebel and exclude her is unclear, though her sad farewell to the Fellowship as they leave Lórien suggests it:
Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar!
Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar.
Now lost, lost to those from the East is Valimar!
Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar.
Galadriel was also said to have refused the pardon of the Valar. If indeed they offered her one, they misjudged her. She wanted no pardon, holding that she had done no wrong, and set out to prove her fidelity and worthiness; this gave rise to the perception that Galadriel believed it to be her duty to remain, sensing that Middle-earth had not been cleansed of all evil, and this too was in part true. Throughout her stay in Middle-earth the Man-Maiden played a very different role to that of her male kinfolk. Being both far-sighted and a strategist, she acted as if it were both her doom and duty to lend her considerable intellectual powers to the councils of The Wise, of whom there were ever fewer. The western Hither Lands needed Galadriel, and Galadriel needed the stimulus of Middle-earth, at least until she had proved herself and could do no more.

Treebeard to Galadriel & Celeborn (Many Partings)
~ Part II ~
~ Birth ~ Aman ~ Flight ~ Doriath ~ Lindon ~
~ Eriador ~ Lórien ~Belfalas ~ Lórien ~ Departure ~ Celeborn ~

Top Galadriel - Lady of Lóthlórien - Part I Contents