Mark Ferguson as Gil-galad
in the Last Alliance
|The Lay of Gil-galad
Gil-galad was an Elven king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing:
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.
His sword was long, his lance was keen,
his shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven's field
were mirrored in his silver shield.
But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.
From The Fall of Gil-Galad,
as translated by Bilbo Baggins
in The Fellowship of the Ring I 11 A Knife in the Dark
Erenion Gil-galad was born in 445, First Age and perished in 3441, Second Age. He was High King of the Noldor from 510, First Age to the day of his death. His father is thought to be Fingon, son of Fingolfin, by many, but there is lively discussion on this topic due to some text inconsistencies and some notes by Christopher Tolkien, being the alternative father Orodreth.
This Noldorin Elf never had a know spouse or child. He did, however, lived a thousand years in the close company of Elrond. Maybe in light of Tolkien’s Victorian attitude and conceptions this was innocent, but for many dirty minds such as my own, it is highly suspicious.
Being a Noldorin Elf he probably was dark haired and grey-eyed like Elrond.
His birth name, Ereinion means "scion of kings" in Sindarin and his cognomen Gil-galad is a composite word formed by the sindarin words gil, star and galad, radiance. He acquired this cognomen because of his armour “overlaid with silver and set with a device of white stars”, which “shone from afar like a star in sunlight or moonlight, and could be seen by Elvish eyes at a great distance if he stood upon a height.” (quoted from Unfinished Tales, Aldarion and Erendis). His weapon was the famous spear Aeglos, which is Sindarin for “Snowthorn” (Unfinished Tales).
Gil-galad was a ten year old child at the time of the Dagor Bragollach, so Fingon had Círdan fostering him at the Havens, after assuming Fingolfin’s crown, who was killed by Morgoth when he broke the Siege of Angband. Fingon perished at Nirnaeth Arnoediad and Turgon became High King, possibly due to Gil-galad’s young age, though the faction, which supports Fingon was not his father has some different ideas on this. After Nirnaeth Arnoediad Morgoth besieged the Havens and when they fell Gil-galad fled with Círdan, settling on the Isle of Balar.
Thirty-six years later Gondolin fell (510 First Age) and with Turgon’s death Gil-galad became the sixth and last High King of the Noldor in Middle earth, ruling from the Mouths of Sirion during sixty-five years until the end of the First Age. It was then that happened the Sack of the Havens at Sirion, in which Elrond and Elros were kidnapped by the sons of Fëanor despite Gil-galad’s and Círdan’s efforts. He then joined the survivors of the last Kinslaying to his own people.
The Second Age began with the War of Wrath (10, Second Age), which led to the reshaping of Arda and the destruction of Beleriand and Balar. One of the few Noldor who chose to linger in Middle-earth after the first age, Gil-galad gathered the surviving Noldor in Middle-earth and founded the Grey Havens and a realm in the far Lindon with Elrond and Círdan. This was when Gil-galad took Elrond as his squire, who later became his herald.
There they lived in peace until 1200 SA when Sauron came guised as Annatar, the Lord of Gifts. Though he was not recognised Gil-galad an Elrond rejected him.
Celebrimbor forged the Rings of Power in 1590 SA and gave Vilya and Narya to Gil-galad and Nenya to Galadriel. Narya later was given to Círdan, who in turn gave it in the Third Age to Gandalf. Sauron forged the One Ring shortly after (1600 SA) and about a century later war broke between the elves of Eregion and Sauron.
Gil-galad sent Elrond there in 1695 SA but he could not defeat Sauron and Eregion was destroyed. He then retreated to the mountains and found Imladris leaving Gil-galad and Círdan defending Lindon and the Havens. They asked Tar-Minastir, the King of the Númenóreans for help, and in the end Sauron was driven back and captured (1701 SA). In the following year Gil-galad held the first White Council and named Elrond his Vice-Roy in Eriador and gave him Vilya. About a century later men star making conquests in middle-earth and receive three rings of power, but a certain equilibrium called the Dark Times was maintained up to the fall of Númenor, in 3320 SA, by Sauron’s armies.
Gil-galad then helped Elendil and sons to establish the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. Sauron coveted Gondor and attacked it by 3429 SA. Gil-galad and Elendil recognizing they must unite their efforts formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, which defeated Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad, by 3441 SA. In this battle Gil-galad and Elendil were slain by Sauron. Gil-galad left no heir after 3521 years of wise ruling.
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