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She was the daughter of Baragund of the House of Bëor and cousin of Rían. She was married to Húrin and was the mother of Túrin Turambar and Nienor Níniel. Her name in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin translates to 'Dark Maiden', but she was also often called Elfsheen or Eledhwen.
|“||Morwen was dark-haired and tall, and for the light of her glance and the beauty of her face men called her Edhelwen, the elven-fair; but she was somewhat stern of mood and proud. The sorrows of the House of Bëor saddened her heart; for she came as an exile...||”|
After the Dagor Bragollach of Y.S. 455 and the ruin of their homeland Ladros, Emeldir gathered the remaining women and children and led them away; Morwen and Rían were among those who eventually reached Dor-lómin. They were well received there, and Morwen married Húrin Lord of the House of Marach. Their son Túrin was born in spring of 464, and their daughter Urwen, called usually Lalaith, followed after two years. She died at the age of three from a pestilence brought from Angband; Morwen "met her grief in silence and coldness of heart".
In 472 Húrin was summoned by Fingon to lead his people to war; and during the Nírnaeth Arnoediad Húrin was captured, and Morgoth cursed his family. Hithlum was invaded by Easterlings, and they enslaved the Men of Hador and took their goods. The greatest part of Húrin's homestead was captured by Brodda, but he and other Incomers feared Morwen and deemed her "a witch who had dealings with the white-fiends [Elves]". A few thanes stayed under her shelter, including Sador, and they took aid from Húrin's kinswoman Aerin, who had been married to Brodda by force. Morwen, now pregnant again, was afraid for her son, as he was the heir of the Lord of Dor-lómin and could not be kept hidden forever. She resolved to send Túrin away to Doriath and put him in Thingol's care. Túrin was sent via the secret pass over Ered Wethrin beside Amon Darthir under the guidance of Gethron and Grithnir.
The following year, Morwen bore a daughter, and named her Nienor. Morwen rejected Melian's offer to come to Doriath, being too proud to live under someone else's shelter. She received news and aid from Doriath for seven years. When help stopped coming, Morwen with Nienor lived in poverty under Brodda's oppression. In 494 she at last resolved to seek a way to Doriath, since the lands between were now cleared of enemies because of the deeds of Mormegil from Nargothrond.
Morwen and Nienor were well received by Melian and Thingol in the Hidden Kingdom, but found out that Túrin was not there. Soon after it was revealed that he was indeed the same Mormegil; but they had no sure news of his fate after the fall of Nargothrond. Morwen then rode away to seek tidings of her son, but Thingol sent an escort under Mablung to guard her, and they were secretly followed by Nienor. Their company was ambushed by Glaurung near Amon Ethir, who put a spell of amnesia on Nienor. The fog and dragon-reek filled the horses with madness, and the escort was scattered. Morwen was seen passing by, "a grey wraith upon a mad steed"; but she disappeared into the mist and no news of her came to Doriath.
Two years after the tragic deaths of Túrin and Nienor and the slaying of Glaurung, Morwen reappeared in Brethil at the grave of Túrin and Nienor at Cabed Naeramarth. There she was found by recently released Húrin; "Grey she was, sharp-nosed with broken teeth, ... though [her eyes] were wild now and full of fear, a light still gleamed in them hard to endure: the elven-light that long ago had earned her name, Edhelwen, proudest of mortal women in the days of old". Húrin would not reveal her children's fate, and Morwen died with the following sunrise, spent by wandering and waiting. She had remained by the grave for a long time and was not found by the Folk of Haleth as they ventured not to the death place of Glaurung, but it was the apparent death of Morwen through neglect that set Húrin against the people of Brethil, and which led to their destruction in the civil war.
Húrin later brought Manthor and his followers to Morwen's body, and "it seemed to them that they beheld a great queen whose dignity neither age nor beggary nor all the woe of the world had taken from her". At Húrin's command, they buried her on the west side of the Stone of the Hapless, and added to the carvings on it: Here lies also Morwen Edhelwen. The grave remained upon the isle of Tol Morwen after the drowning of Beleriand.
Descent of Túrin Turambar
Túrin–Tuor family tree
- In the published Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales Morwen's name Elfsheen in Sindarin is given as Eledhwen. This is the original form used by J. R. R. Tolkien, but was later rejected in favour of Edhelwen. (The reason is that the word eledh for 'elf' was likewise replaced by edhel; though the form Eledhrim was retained, now it was rather derived from elen.) Inclusion of Eledhwen by Christopher Tolkien from earlier works is erroneous. See e.g. The War of the Jewels, pp. 142, 230, 273 and cf. pp. 362-364, 377-8.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-25730-1
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (2007), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Children of Húrin, London: HarperCollins, ISBN 0-007-24622-6
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Narn i Hîn Húrin, ISBN 0-395-29917-9
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Wanderings of Húrin, pp. 251-310 and The new genealogies of the Edain, pp. 232-5, ISBN 0-395-71041-3
- Unfinished Tales: Narn i Hîn Húrin, "The childhood of Túrin". In this citation Edhelwen is given instead of Eledhwen; see note 1.
- The Wanderings of Húrin, p. 273. Edhelwen is original.
- The Wanderings of Húrin, p. 295.