Middle-earth Timeline

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Middle-earth Timeline
From the creation of Middle-earth to the War of the Ring

by Laura Hayes

Tolkien created a long and rich history for Middle-earth, and meant it to be an alternative mythic history for our own world. By his reckoning we are living in the Sixth Age.

The earliest ages encompass the creation of the world, the first manifestation of evil, and the awakening and early history of the elves.

The Ages
Lamps / Trees First Second Third War of the Ring
Ilüvatar, or Eru (Tolkien's god), creates the Ainur, or the Holy Ones, who sing Arda, the world, into being. The greatest Ainur are the Valar. One of the Valar, Melkor, envies the power of creation and introduces discord into the song. He is banished by the other Valar.

The Valar include Ulmo, Lord of Waters; Varda, Queen of Stars ("Elbereth"); Mandos the Doomsman; and Aulë the Smith.
The Age of the Lamps
The Valar create two lamps above Middle-earth and build Almaren as a dwelling place.
Melkor returns to Middle-earth and destroys the lamps and Almaren.
The Valar leave Middle-earth to reside in Valinor and erect the city of Valimar.
The Age of the Trees
Aman / Middle-earth
The Valar plant the Two Trees, Telperion and Laurelin. They grow and start to put out white and gold light. Melkor builds a fortress, Thangorodrim, in Middle-earth.
Aulë creates the dwarves, Ilüvatar gives them life but leaves them to sleep until after the first race, the elves, awakes.
Varda creates the stars. The elves awaken to the sight of them in the sky, and thereafter love Varda and starlight above all things.
The Age of Chaining/
The Great Journey

Melkor appears among the elves, seeking to turn them against the Valar. The Valar make war upon him, destroying his fortress and chaining him in Valimar.

The Valar summon the elves west to Aman to protect the from the evil left behind from Melkor and build them a home, Eldamar. The three leaders of the elves travel to Aman.

The Great Journey: The elves are divided over the journey to Aman. The Noldor, Vanyar, and the Teleri make the voyage. The "Unwilling" who stay behind become the "dark elves" (having never seen the light of the two trees they are considered lesser in wisdom than those that made the voyage).

The Age of Chaining/
The Great Journey

The Great Journey: The elves love Middle-earth and stretch the journey into years.

Elwe, the leader of the Teleri, is lost in the woods and meets Melian, one of the Maiar (lesser Ainur). They wed and have a daughter, Lúthien Tinúviel. The Teleri who remain in Middle-earth to search for Elwe become the Sindar and flourish in Beleriand. They are often found as nobility among other of the dark elves, including the King of the Wood Elves in Mirkwood, Legolas Greenleaf, and Celeborn, lord of Lóthlorien.

The Age of Chaining
The dwarves awaken and settle in Beleriand.
Elwe (King Thingol I) establishes the kingdom of Doriath and builds the underground palace of Menegroth.
The Age of Chaining
Fëanor ("spirit of fire"), son of King Fenwe of the Noldor, learns how to make gems. He crafts The Silmarils, gems made in such a way that they contained and shone with the light of the Two Trees.
The Teleri Elves learn the art of ship-building.
Melkor is unchained. He stirs up dissension among the elves, as a result, Fëanor is banished for 12 years. Melkor disappears.
Melkor meets Ungoliant and returns with her to Valinor. Ungoliant is the first of a giant race of spiders. Melkor stabs the Two Trees and Ungoliant sucks them dry and poisons them. Melkor steals the Silmarils and slays Finwe. Finwe is the first elf to die. The elves name Melkor "Morgoth," the "Black Enemy of the World."
Between the Age of the Trees and the First Age of the Sun
The Long Night
Morgoth and Ungoliant flee and part ways. Morgoth invades Beleriand.

Fëanor and his sons swear a terrible oath to recover the Silmarils and convince most of the Noldor to return to Middle-earth. They steal the ships of the Teleri, killing fellow elves in the process. As punishment for this, the "First Kinslaying," the Valar banish the Noldor from Aman and condemn them to a life of sorrow. The last of the Noldor was Galadriel, who was permitted to return after the War of the Ring.
The Long Night
Laurelin bears a single fruit of gold and Telperion a flower of silver, then both trees die. From this fruit and flower the Valar prepare the Moon and Sun.
The Long Night
Fëanor betrays his brother Fingolfin and his family and take all the Teleri ships. When Fëanor and his sons reach the shore of Beleriand they burn the ships.
The Long Night
The Dagor-nuin-Giliath ("Battle under the Stars") is fought against Morgoth and the elves are victorious, though Fëanor is slain and the Silmarils are not recovered. His son Maedhros is taken by Morgoth and held captive.
Middle-earth / Aman
The moon, flower of Teleperion, rises.

The First Age of the Sun and the appearance of men

More Lord of the Rings features

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