Ruling Queens of Númenor
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In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, the Ruling Queens of Númenor were Dúnedain women who ruled the kingdom of Númenor. Out of Númenor's twenty-five rulers, only three were female. Although the females in Tolkien's writings generally have less ruling authority than the males, the laws of Númenor were ahead of their time in this fictitious universe. The first monarchy to adopt absolute primogeniture (Sweden) did not do so until 1980.
In the early days of Númenor, succession followed the principle of agnatic primogeniture—that is, rule passed to the oldest male offspring of the King, and expressly forbade the succession of women or cognatic descendants. A similar principle was used by the High Kings of the Noldorin Elves, with whom the Edain of Númenor had had extensive dealings.
Silmariën (born S.A. 521), the progenitor of the line of the Lords of Andúnië—from which the Kings of Gondor and Arnor later sprung—was the oldest child of King Tar-Elendil. Under the laws at the time, women were not allowed to rule, so she was passed over in favour of her younger brother, Tar-Meneldur. Nevertheless, Silmariën is one of the most significant of Númenor's royal family, as she presumably inherited both the sword Narsil and the Ring of Barahir from Tar-Elendil, her father, as these were handed down to her descendants, the Lords of Andúnië and later the Kings of Gondor and Arnor: it is to be presumed that her father, at least, considered her to have a good, maybe even rightful, claim to the throne. Silmariën also probably commissioned the creation of other precious heirlooms to survive into the Fourth Age: the Sceptre of Andúnië, which after the Downfall became the Sceptre of Arnor, and the Star of Elendil, which likewise became a token of royalty in Arnor.
Tar-Aldarion, the sixth ruler of Númenor, had only one child: a daughter, Ancalimë. He changed the law to allow absolute primogeniture, under which rule would pass to the oldest child of the ruler, whether male or female. The change of the law is referred to in The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: "The sixth King left only one child, a daughter. She became the first Queen; for it was then made a law of the royal house that the eldest child of the King, whether man or woman, should receive the sceptre." This revised law was at first only valid if the daughter married and produced an heir by a certain age, and if she married another member of the royal family (partially to prevent another marriage as disastrous as that between Tar-Aldarion and Erendis — the failure of which Aldarion attributed to her lack of royal blood, and the attendant life-span disparity; but also to prevent control of the crown passing into the hands of another family). The former law was later dropped; the latter endured until the end of the realm. However, the Ruling Queens could choose not to get married at all (see Tar-Telperiën).
Tar-Ancalimë (S.A. 873–1285, r. 1075–1280) was the seventh ruler and first Ruling Queen of Númenor. Her name means "Most bright".
She married the nobleman Hallacar, son of Hallatan of Hyarastorni. Both Tar-Ancalimë and Hallacar were fifth-generation descendants of King Vardamir Nólimon, and the marriage was more one of politics than of love. The Queen aimed to produce an heir in order to secure her throne from her first cousin Soronto. Following the birth of their son, Hallacar and Tar-Ancalimë lived apart.
Tar-Ancalimë was raised by her mother Erendis and a childhood companion was Zamîn. Her mother's tragic married life might have influenced Tar-Ancalimë's rejection of her husband. She was succeeded by her son, Tar-Anárion. She died in year 1285 of the Second Age, at the age of 412 years.
Tar-Telperiën (S.A. 1320–1731, r. 1556–1731) was the tenth ruler and second Ruling Queen of Númenor. She succeeded her father, King Tar-Súrion (who was King either because his two elder sisters had no interest in ruling, or because they had been forced to surrender their claims in youth by Tar-Ancalimë).
Tar-Telperiën ruled for 175 years. During her reign, the Rings of Power were forged, and Sauron conquered Eriador. She appears to have done little to react to these events. She refused to marry and bore no children. She was succeeded by Tar-Minastir, the son of her younger brother, Isilmo (who it is presumed was already dead). According to Tolkien's "The Line of Elros," she died in year 1731 of the Second Age at the age of 411 years. However, this conflicts with material published in The Lord of the Rings, and elsewhere, stating that Tar-Minastir was king at the time of the Númenórean intervention against Sauron in the year 1700 of the Second Age.
Tar-Vanimeldë (S.A. 2277–2637, r. 2526–2637) was the sixteenth ruler and third ruling Queen of Númenor. She was the daughter and heiress of Tar-Telemmaitë. She had little interest in ruling, however, and left the day-to-day chores of monarchy to her husband, the nobleman Herucalmo. Her name means "Beautiful Beloved".
Tar-Vanimeldë ruled for 111 years. When she died in 2637 of the Second Age at the age of 360 years, the Kingship should have gone to her son, Tar-Alcarin, but Herucalmo usurped the throne and ruled for twenty years as King Tar-Anducal. His rule was not considered legitimate, and in the official records Vanimeldë was directly followed by Alcarin.
She should have been Queen, but her cousin Ar-Pharazôn forced her to marry him so that he himself would gain the title of King, and in effect he usurped the throne. He changed her name to Ar-Zimraphel (as Ruling Queen she would have preferred the Quenya Tar-; she would have been Tar-Míriel). That she was given her own royal name may imply that she was, technically speaking, considered equal or even higher than her husband, but in all reality he stole the sceptre from her. When Eru Ilúvatar sank Númenor, Míriel attempted to ascend Meneltarma, trying to reach the Hallow on the summit (presumably she hoped to address Eru and/or the Valar in prayer). However, the great wave that rolled over the sinking land overtook her, and she drowned before reaching the summit.
Ruling Queens in Gondor and Arnor
After the destruction of Númenor, the surviving Númenóreans (led by descendants of Silmariën) founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth. At that point, cognatic primogeniture seems to have been abandoned; none of the rulers of Arnor or Gondor were women, and in the case of Anárion's children the youngest child Meneldil received the throne, as his older siblings were women. Queen Berúthiel of Gondor, although certainly formidable, was a Queen-consort, and therefore did not rule, at least officially (and in the event her husband proved his executive superiority over her). Arvedui of Arthedain suggested that cognatic primogeniture was abandoned due to the frequent wars in which the Realms in Exile were embroiled.
In T.A. 1945, Arvedui — who was married to Fíriel, daughter and only surviving child of King Ondoher—invoked the old Númenórean law to claim that he (not his wife) should be granted the throne. In fact, though, his wife's claims were merely supplementary: his main argument was that his father as heir to the High-Kingship exercised authority over Gondor, and that accordingly in the absence of a close male heir to the dead King, the crown reverted to the High-King, or in this case to his heir (since he was married to the rightful heiress). It was this scorning of Gondorian independence which so annoyed the Southerners as to refuse the couple's claims: had the throne been claimed by Fíriel herself, or in her name only, there might have been different results. Instead, the Steward Pelendur gave the throne to Eärnil II, a prominent general, and a distant relative of the deceased Ondoher. Eärnil II was a direct male-line descendant of King Telumehtar Umbardacil (Eärnil's father was Siriondil, son of Calimmacil, son of Arciryas, son of Telumehtar). The Kingship eventually passed to Fíriel's line, in the person of King Aragorn Elessar.
- The Tale of Years as published in The Lord of the Rings gives Silmariën a birthdate of S.A. 548, but it is clear that Silmariën was the oldest child of Tar-Elendil, while that of her sister Isilmë is fixed at 532 and her brother at 543. The reason for this apparent error is that her birthdate was changed from 548 to 521, but this revision was missed in the Tale of Years (see Timeline of Arda).
- In the earliest version of the tale of the Fall of Númenor (in The Lost Road and Other Writings), Míriel's name is Tar-Ilien.