House of Finwë
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s legendarium, the House of Finwë was the royal house of the Noldor. The house was founded by Finwë, the first High King of the Noldor, who led his people from Middle-earth to the realm of Valinor within the continent of Aman in Y.T. 1105. In Valinor, he ruled in the city of Tirion. His first marriage with Míriel was short-lived: the birth of their son Fëanor left her so exhausted that she chose to leave life for the halls of Mandos. By his second wife Indis, who was of the Vanyar, Finwë had two more sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin, and two daughters, Findis and Írimë (Lalwen). Finarfin's daughter, Galadriel, is an important supporting character in The Lord of the Rings.
House of Fëanor
Early in Fëanor’s youth, he wedded Nerdanel, daughter of Mahtan, and had seven sons - the Sons of Fëanor: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Curufin, Caranthir and the twins Amras and Amrod. In Y.T. 1450 Fëanor completed his creation of the three Silmarils, which held the light from the Two Trees of Valinor. In Y.T. 1490, he was banished from Tirion for twelve years because he had threatened the life of his half-brother, Fingolfin. However, it was due to Melkor’s lies and deceits that bitterness was further sowed between the son of Míriel and the sons of Indis. Finwë followed his eldest son and his family in Formenos. They lived in Formenos for five years until news of the murder of Finwë and theft of the Silmarilli reached Fëanor. Angered, Fëanor came back to Tirion with his seven sons and spoke angry, proud words that convinced the Noldor to move into Middle-earth, far from the Valar, and claimed High Kingship. His words also led him and his sons to swear the terrible Oath of Fëanor that swore to pursue vengeance on anyone who would keep the Silmarilli from their possession. It would be this oath that would bring ruin to the House of Fëanor, and all those who were entwined.
Melkor, now named Morgoth by Fëanor after Y.T. 1490, hoped to destroy the Noldor before they established themselves in Middle-earth. Though Morgoth's forces were severely defeated by the Fëanorians, Fëanor fell in battle with the Balrogs Angband, in the Dagor-nuin-Giliath in Y.T. 1497.
- Maedhros the Tall ruled over the "March of Maedhros", from his base on the hill of Himring
- Maglor the Mighty Singer ruled over Maglor's Gap
- Celegorm the Fair and Curufin the Crafty, who ruled over Himlad
- Caranthir the Dark, who ruled over Thargelion
- Amras and Amrod, also known as the Hunters
Since Fëanor died in an early battle, his sons were the driving force behind the ensuing wars. Their heroism was great and they were mighty leaders and foes of Morgoth, but because of the Oath of Fëanor (which they all swore) their actions were also sometimes evil.
Several versions of the Oath of Fëanor were written by Tolkien: the latest, appearing in the Annals of Aman, is:
The Oath of the Fëanorians
Vanda Fëanáró Nossëo
None of them survived the First Age, except perhaps Maglor. Because of the nature of their Oath—that they would not permit anyone else to have the Silmarils, not even other Elves—their deaths were generally not in battle with Morgoth but rather in desperate, Oath-driven assaults on other Elves. The only three not killed in such a manner were Maedhros and Maglor, who killed themselves at the very end of the First Age, and – in The Peoples of Middle-earth – Amrod, who perished at Losgar by a terrible accident. In the published Silmarillion, though, Amrod is killed along with Amras when they, along with Maedhros and Maglor, attack the refugee camp near the Mouths of Sirion. Maglor's suicide appears in The Lay of Leithian Recommenced, dating from the 1950s; in the published Silmarillion, based on 1930s texts, Maglor survives only to wander despondently alone along the shores of Middle-earth.
Maglor, Caranthir, and Curufin were married, but only Curufin is known to have had a child. Curufin's son was Celebrimbor, the only grandson of Fëanor. Although Beleriand sunk at the end of the First Age, Celebrimbor, last of the House of Fëanor, ruled a part of the Noldorin Elves in Eregion during the Second Age, who collaborated with Annatar (whom he did not know to be Sauron in disguise) to create the Rings of Power. However, the Three Rings, which were the greatest Rings except for Sauron's One, Celebrimbor forged alone in secret. But the Three were nonetheless subject to the authority of the One, which Sauron had forged alone in secret.
House of Fingolfin
The marriage between Fingolfin and Anairë produced Fingon, Turgon, Aredhel, and Argon. In an attempt to make peace between Fëanor and Fingolfin after the incident in Y.T. 1490, the Valar invited the two to a feast. Fingolfin made an oath that he would follow Fëanor. It was because of this, as well as the fact that Fingolfin did not want to leave the Noldor in his half-brother’s hands, that Fingolfin and his children followed Fëanor and his people into Middle-earth. Fingolfin and his host were betrayed after Fëanor (and a select number of those whom he deemed loyal) sailed away to Middle-earth in the Telerin ships. To prevent Fingolfin and his people from following them, Fëanor and his sons, except for Maedhros who stood aside, burned the ships. With a stronger desire to confront his half-brother, he led his people over the bitter ices of the Helcaraxë. It was during this crossing that Elenwë, wife of Turgon, died. In Y.S. 1, they reached Middle-earth.
Fingon’s rescue of Maedhros from the captivity of Morgoth, as well as Maedhros's passing over High Kingship to Fingolfin in repentance, healed the breach between the House of Fëanor and the House of Fingolfin.
In a fierce duel between Fingolfin and Morgoth in Y.S. 456, Fingolfin died, and his eldest son, Fingon, took over as High King, who was then succeeded by Turgon. According to the published Silmarillion, Gil-galad was the son of Fingon and thus also of the House of Fingolfin. Christopher Tolkien later mentioned this was a mistake and that Gil-galad was of the House of Finarfin as the son of Orodreth.
Lands ruled by the House of Fingolfin include Nevrast, Gondolin, Dor-lómin, Hithlum. However, from the house of Fingolfin eventually arose the Half-elven descended from Elrond, Eärendil, Idril Celebrindal, in turn Turgon, then at last Fingolfin; and the Númenóreans from Elros, Eärendil, Tuor, Huor from the house of Hador.
House of Finarfin
Finarfin married Eärwen of the Teleri in Y.T. 1280, and had children: Finrod, Angrod, Aegnor, Galadriel and, in some accounts, Orodreth (though he is usually placed as a child of Angrod). When Fëanor came to Tirion to lead the Noldor out of Aman, Finarfin tried to calm and persuade the Noldor to stay, but his sons and daughter had a strong desire to rule lands of their own, and wanted vengeance against Morgoth. Resigned, Finarfin began the journey to Middle-earth with his people. As the Noldor left Tirion, a messenger on the behalf of Manwë declared that if they continued, they were exiled from Aman forever. Not wanting to cross on the Helcaraxë on foot, Fëanor turned to the Teleri at Alqualondë to sail across the Belegaer, but the Teleri refused to let the Noldor use their ships in rebellion against the Valar. From this, the First Kinslaying ensued. After this battle, a dark figure, believed to be Mandos himself, pronounced the Doom of the Noldor. Finarfin finally wavered, and turned from the march in grief with many of his people. After he was pardoned by the Valar, he became High King of the Noldor in Valinor.
His sons and daughter, however, would not desert the sons and daughter of Fingolfin, and travelled with Fingolfin’s host across the Helcaraxë. In Middle-earth, the House of Finarfin established many realms, including Nargothrond and Dorthonion.
Out of the three houses of the Noldor, only one of the elder generation of leaders remained in Middle-earth, after refusing to go to the West: Galadriel, the youngest child of Finarfin. She married Celeborn of Doriath, and they both lived in the forests of Eregion. Thus, she was the last of Finarfin's family from Valinor to remain in Middle-earth.
Galadriel and Celeborn's daughter and only child Celebrían wed Elrond, who though Half-elven chose to be counted among the Elves. The union of Celebrían and Elrond fused the remnants of the Houses of Fingolfin and Finarfin in their children: twin sons Elladan and Elrohir, and daughter Arwen.
Note: This table follows a late note of Tolkien's, making Orodreth the son of Angrod, and Gil-galad the son of Orodreth. The Silmarillion makes Orodreth the son of Finarfin and Gil-galad the son of Fingon. Gil-galad also appears in some sources as the son of Finrod, though in others Tolkien describes both Fingon and Finrod as childless. See "The parentage of Gil-galad" in The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 349. It also follows the birth order of Fëanor's children given in The Shibboleth of Fëanor; in The Silmarillion the birth order is Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin (father of Celebrimbor), Amrod, and Amras.
- "...In the morning [after the burning of the ships] the host was mustered, but of Fëanor’s seven sons only six were to be found. Then Ambarussa went pale with fear. ‘Did you not then rouse Ambarussa my brother (whom you called Ambarto)?’ he said. ‘He would not come ashore to sleep (he said) in discomfort.’ But it is thought (and no doubt Fëanor guessed this also) that it was in the mind of Ambarto to sail his ship back [afterwards] and rejoin Nerdanel; for he had been much [shocked] by the deed of his father." (Tolkien, J. R. R. (1996), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Peoples of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", ISBN 0-395-82760-4).