Difference between revisions of "Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor"

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Although western society is predominantly rural, the urban element is a present and significant reality in almost all of the Reunited Kingdom. The city, wherever it is located, represents the economic, cultural and administrative point of reference not only for the countryside immediately subject to it, but also for all the surrounding countryside.<br>
 
Although western society is predominantly rural, the urban element is a present and significant reality in almost all of the Reunited Kingdom. The city, wherever it is located, represents the economic, cultural and administrative point of reference not only for the countryside immediately subject to it, but also for all the surrounding countryside.<br>
 
The city is the point of exchange and trade for agricultural products and for consumer goods such as utensils and luxury products; in the cities are the magistrates and rulers of the King, as well as the local nobility, their followers, as well as artisans, shopkeepers and merchants of all kinds. Finally, in all the major cities there are schools and impressive libraries, which welcome congregations of sages dedicated to the study of the traditions and relics of past times.<br>
 
The city is the point of exchange and trade for agricultural products and for consumer goods such as utensils and luxury products; in the cities are the magistrates and rulers of the King, as well as the local nobility, their followers, as well as artisans, shopkeepers and merchants of all kinds. Finally, in all the major cities there are schools and impressive libraries, which welcome congregations of sages dedicated to the study of the traditions and relics of past times.<br>
Most important cities are present in Gondor, south of the White Mountains, but over the centuries significant urban centers have sprung up in Enedwaith, Minihriath and Arthedain. In Gondor, the vast majority of cities have ancient origins, which often date back to the Second Age; elsewhere, cities were regained during the Northern Complaint (such as Tharbad, Lond Daer, Annuminas or Fornost Erain), or were deliberately founded as strongholds along the North-South Road (Fornost Erain to Pelargir) or in Rhovanion and other strategic locations (including seaports): later on, they grew further to the military garrison.<br>
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Most important cities are present in Gondor, south of the White Mountains, but over the centuries significant urban centers have sprung up in Enedwaith, Minihriath and Arthedain. In Gondor, the vast majority of cities have ancient origins, which often date back to the Second Age; elsewhere, cities were regained during the Reclamation of the North (such as Tharbad, Lond Daer, Annuminas or Fornost Erain), or were deliberately founded as strongholds along the North-South Road (from Fornost Erain to Pelargir) or in Rhovanion and other strategic locations (including seaports): later on, they grew further to the military garrison. Other cities and towns, less important but equally vital, were born, over the centuries, in the great river basins of Eriador such as those of the Gwathló and of the Baranduin.
Other cities and towns, less important but equally vital, were born, over the centuries, in the great river basins of Eriador such as those of the Gwathló and of the Baranduin.
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== Languages ==
 
== Languages ==

Revision as of 17:58, 13 January 2020

Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor
CapitalOsgiliath
Annúminas
Largest city Minas Anor
Official languages Sindarin
Westron
Demonym Arnorian
Gondorian
Government Monarchy
 -  High King of Arnor and Gondor
King of all Dúnedain
King of the West
Arfalor I
Legislature Council of the Sceptre
Formation
 -  Reunification T.A. 3019 
Population
 -  Fo.A. 250 estimate 5,700,000
Currency Castar (or Mirian)
Region Lazarus
Date format dd ˘ mm ˘ yyyy

The Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor (also known as Kingdom of the West or Dûndor) is a realm located on the north-western part of Middle-Earth.

The Realm includes the areas of influence and domain of Dùnedains: the costituent realms of Gondor (south) and Arnor (north), the most part of Eriador region between the two realms, and the plains between the Ered Lithui and the Sea of Rhûn, belonging to the southern parts of Rhovanion.

The Reunited Kingdom lays on western shores of Belager, the Great Sea: its most northern shore is on Bay of Forochel, while its southern-most part consists of the city of Umbar.

The Reunited Kingdom is a feudal and unitary state, governed under an absolute monarchy, with its seat of government at Minas Anor (although the official capital is Osigliath). It consists of two constituent countries: Arnor and Gondor. Each of the constituent countries has its own local administrations, but both of them are ruled by the High King of Gondor and Arnor.

Associated with the constituent countries, but not part of none of them, are the two Common Regions of Enedwaith and of Rhovanion.

History and name

The Name "Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor" was introduced in Fo.A. 1 by High King Aragorn II-Tar Elessar of the House Telcontar. It reflects the restoration of the Kingdom of Arnor and the reunification of dominions of Dúnedain.

Tar Elessar

Tar Elessar Telcontar in his royal attire in Fo.A. 3.

Upon Sauron's defeat, Aragorn II was crowned as Tar Elessar of the House of Telcontar. Aragorn, already the legitimate Chieftain of Dúnedain of the North, first became the thirty-fifth King of Gondor in T.A. 3019. Few months later, Aragorn II Elessar was crowned as the twenty-sixth King of Arnor and as the first High King of the Reunited Kingdom. However, the royal authority was actually reestablished in Arnor only between 35 and 47 F.A. with the Battle of Ettenmoors.

During the first century Tar Elessar led the armies of the Reunited Kingdom in many successful military campaigns that retook the Province of South Gondor, conquered Umbar and made Umbar a Province of Gondor once again and re-established dominance over southern regions of Rhovanion, while in some major incursions the forces of the West (Rohan and the Reunited Kingdom allied) went even beyond the Sea of Rhun and the Far Harad, defeating the hostile peoples there. Aragorn also rebuilt the old northern capital of Annúminas.

An uncertain beginning

Aragorn’s claim to the throne of Gondor was borne out by the laws of the kingdom, though there were political complexities beyond the letter of the law that affected not only the succession but the initial period of his long reign. Last King of Arthedain Averdui, representing the senior and only surviving line of the House of Isildur and married to the daughter of then-current King of Gondor Ondoher, claimed the throne of Gondor on the basis of two arguments. First, that his wife was the only surviving child of Ondoher and second, that he was the most senior heir of Isildur. The Council of Gondor rejected both claims and instead gave the crown to a royal cousin, the victorious general Eärnil: Eärnil’s claim had more to do with politics than strict legalism.

969 years after, Aragorn II was the one coming to the throne as a victorious general who saved Gondor from disaster, giving him the (political) force of the (victorious) arms. However, Aragorn II also had the law on his side. There were no more heirs of the Gondorian line anymore when Aragorn made his claim. With the House of Anárion extinct, and especially with Gondor unwilling to accept a king of less exalted heritage, there was no other possible contender for the succession. The history of the Disaster of Gladden Fields resolved quarrels with a sort of compromise: Aragorn was Isildur's heir, and therefore entitled to thrones of both Gondor and Arnor, but his Arnorian ancestry did not have any part to the Gondorian rule.

From a political point of view, Aragorn's success was not only due to his own victory, but also to the great weakening of the faction opposed to the hypothesis of a return of a King, weakening occurred during the War of the Ring. The death of Ruling Steward Denethor II, staunch opponent to the return of the King, and the spontaneous renounce to the rule of Ruling Steward of Gondor Faramir greatly facilitated an otherwise difficult enthronement.

A significant portion of the Gondorian aristocracy (which was very invested in their own Númenórean heritage) was weary if not hostile to the hypothesis to have a King after 969 years. While Ruling Stewards were the undisputed leaders of Gondor, yet they had not the undisputable supremacy that a King would have had. On the other hand, those who desired the transformation of the Stewardship in a fully-fledged monarchy, they more than all others deeply suffered the lack of credential, by the Gondorian backwards-looking standards, of their own dynasty.

On the other hand, the memory of the Arnorian line of the House of Isildur was still living in a portion of the Gondorian aristocracy, especially within those who did auspicate the return of a real Monarchy. The remaining elite of the Gondorian aristocracy supported suh a vision: Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth and Ruling Steward Faramir immediately acknowledged Aragorn's claim; but also the Dúnadan population widely supported the return of the King.

This political force allowed that the return of an almost foreign King was accepted by the remaining anti-monarchist faction: a strong leader with all requisites (steadfast alliance with Elves, opposition to evil, pure Dúnadan blood, direct succession from Isildur, healing capabilities and acknowledged martial prowess) was welcome to nearly all and necessary to all. One by one, all surviving major aristocrats of Gondor eagerly swore sincere oaths of allegiance.

Wars in the South and in the East

Once settled the coronation affair, the main necessity was the securing of the porous Gondorian borders in the East and in the South. During the War of the Ring, Gondor completely lost control over Harondor and even the southern part of South Ithilien was contested. The port city of Metbir, at the southern end of the Ethir Anduin, was the last outpost still held by Gondorian forces. While disorganised after the fall of the Dark Lord, Haradrim still infested Harondor and, from the Gondorian-claimed region, they represented a constant threat to Gondor and South Ithilien. Furthermore, Umbar still existed and was an enemy threat even without the encouragement of the Dark Lord, and intermittent skirmishes and raid persisted.

After a period of consolidation and of recovering from war damages, in Fo.A. 3 a Gondorian army crossed Anduin at Pelargir, and quickly regained to Gondor the southern part of South Ithilien. At the Crossing of Gondor, a fortified outpost was established. At the same time, a fleet conducted a series of landing operations against coastal raiders and pirates. The campaign lasted for about two years, bringing Harondor to heels once again. Once having secured the border at Harnen, and having accepted oaths of allegiance of those who did not cooperate willingly with Sauron, Aragorn II proceeded to rebuilt the ancient Elves' port of Edhellond, located at the mouth of the rivers Ringló and Blackroot, where they flow into Lond Cobas, not far from Dol Amroth.

The victorious campaign, however, did not mark the end of the wars in the south. The land around the Sea of Núrnen was in turmoil, and Khand was all but subdued. Slowly but surely, Gondorian forces proceeded to occupy the main fortress on mountain passes in southern Ephel Duath. This resulted in harsh and fierce battles against Orcs and evil Men alike, as well as those who fled the wrath of the Lords of the West. By Fo.A. 10, stable contact was established with the new lords and rulers of Núrnen, who generally acknowledged the supremacy of High King Elessar and in Fo.A. 14 a Kingdom of Núrnen was established, in order to gather under one rule all mannish realms of the region.

In Fo.A. 11 a major stronghold (Forannonost) was established in the proximity of the ill-famed Black Gate of Morannon. In Fo.A. 17, after a vicious battle against Orcs and evil Men, a joint garrison of Gondorian forces and of Elf veterans of Celeborn's taking of Dol Guldur was established at the fortress which replaced the Morannon, which was named Caladannon. Forannonost still is the guard to the North Ithilien against north-eastern invasions, should a force overcome the Gondorian Rhovanion.

In the following years, some outposts were established in the northern part of the valley of Udûn. The two Towers of the Teeth were razed to ground, and two new watchtowers were built to protect the Caladannon: Megilost and Minas Hatal. However, several evils resisted, and Durfang remained a constant threat until middle II Century.

Reclaiming the North

High King Aragorn, as soon as the securing of Gondorian borders allowed to divert significant contingents from Gondor, sent them to prepare the march to the North. Yet in earlier years the Heir of Isildur took care of the northern provinces. In Fo.A. 6 High King Elessar issued the Edicts of Exclusion: no Man was allowed to enter either Drúadan Forest or the Shire, which was proclaimed a Free Land under the protection of the Kingdom of Arnor. In Fo.A. 11, an expedition coming from Gondor, with the help of several Dwarven master architects, began to rebuild the fortified citadels of both Annúminas and Fornost Erain, while the return of the King was widely proclaimed and the sparse communities pledged allegiance. In Fo.A. 15, Aragorn II made his first voyage to Annúminas and solemnly met the heroes of the Shire. The King remained in Annúminas until early Fo.A. 16, overseeing the rebuilding of the Kingdom and receiving the oaths of allegiance of the surviving communities in the North. A regular patrol service of the Greenway was established even before repairing it.

Between Fo.A. 18 and Fo.A. 25, High King Elessar gathered remnants of the lost peoples of Arnor and began the construction of the lost tower of Amon Sûl. Some Dúnadan prominent households with their own retainers, as well as the few faithful Hillmen clans which survived the age of hiding, also occupied their once-abandoned settlements in Rhuadur; in Fo.A. 27, a new Oath of Allegiance was made between the King and the scant hillmen. In Fo.A. 20s, a population increase began to show its effect. All throughout the lands of Gondor, of Ithilien, and of Rohan young people were everywhere to be seen. The laughter of children filled the streets of the White City where once there had been cries of war and sorrow.

In Fo.A. 25 the stone bridge at Tharbad (on the Greyflood) was rebuilt and a garrison was permanently deployed. By Fo.A. 48, the once-crowded inland port of Tharbad was operational for the first time after several centuries. In Fo.A. 49, Sarn Ford was garrisoned again by the royal armies. In Fo.A. 50, a great expedition departed fo the Kingdom of Núrnen with the goal of supporting the petty king and to unify at least regions immediately around the Sea of Núrn. The expedition achieved its goal and, by Fo.A. 54, General Thorongal established a stable rule under Aberanakhôr around the great lake.

Colonisation of Enedwaith and Eriador

In Fo.A. 47 Eldarion, the eldest son of Tar Elessar Telcontar, was born; he was raised and educated according to old and blessed customs of Gondor and Arnor.

Median decades of the Fo.A. I Century were marked by both a re-colonisation effort, aimed to re-settle at least the most important northern cities and roads, as well as Enedwaith main strong-places like Tharbad and Isengard) and a series of military campaigns.

During the I Century of the Fourth Age, Aragorn II supervised the progressive establishment of colonies filled with veterans of his wars along the route of the North-South Road, especially in Enedwaith between Tharbad and the Fords of Isen, but also in Minhiriath, south of Bree and north of Tharbad. Each of these colonies functions as both settlement of civilised men and potential garrisons ready to stand by. Initially these bodies consisted of 3-400 retired soldiers and their families, but by early Fo.A. II Century the number increased.

Such military colonies were designed to serve, and have actually served, as a potential reserve of veterans which can be called about during times of emergency. After the founding generation has passed away, the new town or village serves as cultured and civilized place and as local chief settlement.

During this period, the Shire has become more important in the wider politics of Middle-earth. By the edict of High King Tar Elessar, Men were banned from its borders, but it has remained nonetheless a part of the North-kingdom since the end of the War of the Ring.

During all Fo.A. 50s and 60s, Aragorn II constantly pushed to the East. Exploiting the road beneath the Ered Lithui, the Western armies progressively established the Angwedh Tirith, a stream of fortresses and massive watchtowers in order to guard the northern border of Mordor until to the ruined fortress of Bar Lythrin, as a barrier against the Plateau of Gorgoroth. The Angwedh Tirith in turn served as a base for expansion in further north-east, towards the Sea of Rhun. In Fo.A. 65 the river south of the Sea of Rhûn was reached. Since then, a slow colonization northwards began, frequently stopped by wars and raids against Easterlings.

A new heir

After several decades of predominant residence in Gondor, King Elessar returned to Arnor with Arwen in Fo.A. 74; in order to prepare his own heir to command and rule, the lordship of Minas Tirith was passed down to Prince Eldarion, who solemnly renamed the city Minas Anor in Fo.A. 77. The Thain, the Master of Buckland and the Mayor of the Shire were all made royal counsellors in Fo.A. 75.

In Fo.A. 98, sensing the coming of the time, Aragorn II made Prince Eldarion Captain-General of Gondor and, in Fo.A. 99, Lord of Gondor, thus being in charge of the main part of the Reunited Kingdom. Although hostile Haradrim were pushed southwards, and notwithstanding the reconquest of Umbar, skirmishes, failed treaties and guerilla warfare with the former Southrons allies of Mordor remained a constant factor of tension for the southern borders.

Towards the end of the Fo.A. I Century, some events brought sages and heroes to become to worry about a possible return of the shadow on the western part of the Middle-earth, but these fears came and passed as they came. In the meantime, the reclaiming of the North was initiated. Dúnedain and other Men were encouraged to settle in the ancient cities of the North Kingdom. Some stopped and built their farms and small villages in Enedwaith and in Minhiriath, where towns were nearly non-existent and a man could do as he pleased with little or no oversight from authorities. But most continued on past Bree and the Great East Road, to be near the rebuilding great cities of Fornost Erain and Annúminas.

In Fo.A. 100, great feasting was held in rebuilt Osgiliath to celebrate the first century of the Dominion of Men. All Man lords and captains were summoned before High King Elessar, as well as Dwarves and those Elven lords who still were on the Middle Earth. On this occasion, the Gift of the West to the North was performed: the most northern part of the Gondorian-controlled Rhovanion was officially given to seven Northorn petty rulers, who swore allegiance to the High King.

In Fo.A. 102, Aragorn II returned to Minas Anor and appointed his heir to the lordship of Arnor, in order to ensure a smooth transition of power once the day of passing had come. Eldarion showed from the beginning a vivid interest in the repopulation of northern lands.

After some unrest and due the lack of interest of Rohirrim elite to integrate Dunlending peoples, Dunland was transferred from Rohan to the Reunited Kingdom in Fo.A. 112 as autonomous province. The following year was added to Enedwaith.

Tar Eldarion

Tar Eldarion Telcontar in his royal attire in Fo.A. 121.

High King Elessar died in the year Fo.A. 120, at 210 years of age, and just after having passed the throne to his son Eldarion. Tar Eldarion of the House of Telcontar was, similarly to his father, both a legislator and a conqueror. Under him the rebirth of Eriador continued and deepened and Dúnedain were gathered and fully returned to their traditional prominence, also outside Gondor. Tar Eldarion also married Lady Nebrithien, a noble Gondorian Dúnadan woman, in Fo.A. 114. In Fo.A. 127, Eldarien son of Eldarion and Grandson of Elessar was born.

While overseeing and supporting the growth of all his domains, the main focus of High King Eldarion was in the North; his main policy was the continuation of the reclaiming of the North started by his father. This policy, however, generated some limited dissent in Gondor. By the turn of the second century of the Fourth Age, both Fornost Erain and Annúminas were already cities that even Arvedui would have been proud of. The centre of this sustained growth were the plains comprised between Bree-land, Amon Sûl, Fornost Erain and Annúminas: countryside is quite populated and several towns have been built. North of Fornost Erain, cold blasts make farming, and living, more and more difficult as one proceeded. This growth has endured until the middle of the Fo.A. III Century, making the so-called "Northern Jewels" likely future rivals for Minas Anor in the South.

The Great Dunland Revolt

In Fo.A. 132, a vast revolt erupted in Dunland. Dunlending tribes and clans resisted to the flow of other middlemen immigrants from Gondor and to Rohirrim slow erosion of their lands. The revolt was also due to the traditional resentment against Dúnadan rule and Dúnedain at large. The initial wave of the revolt swept away Dúnadan outposts and the few, reduced military garrisons left in the region. High King Eldarion was on a joint Rohan-West prolonged campaign in the East with most of garrison forces, and therefore by late Fo.A. 133, rebels not only controlled Dunland, but also conquered the Gap of Rohan and laid siege to Isengard.

In early Fo.A. 134, Eldarion staged his counter-offensive. At the Battle of the Fords of Isen, a large infantry force defeated Dunlending hordes, thus clearing the Gap of Rohan; few days later, a robust force broke through the Dunlending fortifications and invaded Dunland from the East. At the same time Gondorian forces crossed the Isen at Wulfcert. The two forces met at Galtrev. By the end of Fo.A 134, southern regions was subjugated again. In spring of Fo.A. 135 a Dunlending force coming from the north was defeated at some costs, but this marked the end of Dunlending reserves. In summer Fo.A. 135, a force from Tharbad invaded northern Dunland and, in a few months, reconquered most of the rebellious territory. By early Fo.A. 137, the revolt was quelled down.

Being wise and wisely advised, Eldarion choose to not punish rebels too severely. Main chieftains were executed, and most of castles and tribal fortresses were demolished, but the main consequence of the revolt was the establishment of several fortified colonies at Dunland's borders.

In Fo.A. 162, Prince Eldarion eventually managed to bring down Minas Morgul. In its place, the fortress of Tirithost (Sindarin for Watch Castle) was built in a territory recovering from the harms of the evil on a very slow pace.

In Fo.A. 201, in order to reinforce the defence of Rhovanion from the persistent Easterlings' threat, High King Eldarion summoned seven Northern tribes in order to enfeoff them in the northern part of the province of Rhovanion. This decision caused a brief crisis with Rohan, which felt itself as replaced as the most steadfast ally of the Reunited Kingdom. The crisis was overcome with the the conclusion of the Meduseld Agreement in Fo.A. 202. The seven Nordic tribes were enfeoffed to the High King (under the Southern Crown), and their lords were granted the title of Ernil (and not of King). Furthermore, the right of the King of Rohan to enter into military agreements directly with individual lords was recognised.

Tar Eldarien

Tar Eldarien in Fo.A. 275.

After 153 years of reign, Tar Eldarion died at 237 and passed the rulership of the Reunited Kingdom to his son Tar Arfalor I Eldarien of the House of Telcontar, the current High King, in Fo.A. 273.

Across the wider lands, a calm peace has descended, and for the people of the Two Kingdoms this has been a time of prosperity and plenty. The peace of High King Elessar’s long reign opened up opportunities for even more prosperity, as merchants could now travel safely by road and ship to distant parts of Middle-earth. Nowadays, toward the end of Fo.A. III Century, roads are normally safe enough, especially major ones, because they are protected by garrisons scattered along their route. However, the Reunited Kingdom stretches over a territory so immense and journey times for some journeys are long and well versed in the territories so wild that no one is really safe when traveling, if he has with him a "greedy loot" for bands raiders or if it has, for some reason, leave the main routes to unusual paths. Even in the Fourth Age there are many dangers that a merchant might face — but even greater wealth for those who dare to face them. Merchants of Gondor have grown into an influential class by the time of Elessar’s grandson, the current High King, Eldarien.

During the last centuries, the Reunited Kingdom has grown complacent in peace. Orcs are no more than bogeymen, at least outside the remote Rhovanion locations or mountainous recesses.

The Fourth Age is the Age of Men, and none have enjoyed a greater rise than the Dúnedain. While most of them are content, or even complacent, some have become restless and bored. They seek adventure even for its own sake, while others hope to emulate the examples of their illustrious forebears. Wars have been fought in living memory, but far away in Harad or Rhûn.

Yet not all is bright and fares well. As time passed, the Shadow of Sauron has become a distant memory, and strange cults and societies have grown up across the West. Whispers of Orcs returning in the Misty Mountains and in some lands of today Nurnen spread within the frontier-folk. Many survived the Sauron's fall and the great wars. Deep in their mountains they hide from the bright eyes of the Sun. Rumours of new shadow cults, bewitched by legends of Sauron and corrupt Númenoreans, creping into existence are slowly emerging, but sages and heroes are not worried about it. At least for now.

Allies and friends

The Reunited Kingdom enjoys an almost complete lordship over lands west of the Misty Mountains and several allies and friends to the East.

Since the beginning of the Fourth Age, and under the fairly nominal overlordship of the Reunited Kingdom, the Kingdom of Dale flourished in trade and grew in population. Now it stands independent of the Reunited Kingdom's protection and has expanded its settlements. Dale's heartland lies between the eaves of the Woodland Realm in the west and the banks of the Redwater in the east. The region varies in fertility but is generally good, especially around Dale itself, though much marshland lies upon its western borders.
Peace and the Bardings' ability to adapt has made Dale prosperous, as has their continuing bond with the Dwarven Folk. Neverthless, Dale remains more united than many other Mannish kingdoms. Militarily the Men of Dale have not been idle under the King's Peace. Learning from other cultures, yet still loyal to their own rich tradition, they have forged a homeguard of which to be proud. The people of the Kingdom of Dale are Northmen in culture.

Despite the passage of time and some intrigues, the Kingdom of Rohan remains a steadfast ally to the Reunited Kingdom, and the only one completely outside the High Kong's overlordship. Bound by an ancient pact of mutual cooperation and protection, the Rohirrim hold the lands north of Gondor, with the restless Dunlendings neighbouring them on their western borders. Though far removed from their ancestral homeland near the source of the Anduin, the Eorlingas hold to the culture of the Northmen.

The Seven Kingdoms of Rhovanion are seven autonomous realms that were formed in Fo.A. 201 by High King Eldarion, by enfeoffing seven Northern tries in order to guard the northern portions of Rhovanion.

The external threat

Outside the Reunited Kingdom, some clouds are amassing on the horizon. East of the Sea of Rhun, while some of the Easterling tribes pay tribute to the Reunited Kingdom and coexist peaceably, many harbour grudges against their old foes. Raiders from the East have represented the largest threat toward the Reunited Kingdom and its allies since the end of the Third Age. In the South, in Harad, the situation is nearly the same, though at present ill will toward the Kingdom among the Haradrim is expressed only in resentment and not in action. However, the political fragmentation which characterized Harad since the fall of Sauron has begun to reduce.

It was not until the Easterlings were pushed back in the early years of the Fourth Age that Khand began to emerge as a more independent power, although still fragmented in chiefdoms and khanates. They have kept largely to themselves, neither expanding nor withdrawing, though that they are sometimes involved in the struggles for control of the East.

The enemy within: cults of pleasure

Rumours of new shadow cults, bewitched by legends of Sauron and corrupt Númenoreans, creping into existence are slowly emerging. Ever since the fall of Sauron, fear of death and of hardship, as well as complacent pride and love for comfort, luxuries and vices, as well as for forbidden knowledge, regardless of the cost it exacts, have pervaded Mannish society. Cults dedicated to evil vices and pleasures, even to forbidden ones, have been most successful in infiltrating some sectors, promising to offer great power to those who had the resolve to grasp it. Despite the efforts to eradicate it, such malignant influence persists to this day.

Cults of evil pleasure strives to insinuate itself in all levels of society. It is popular among the upper classes, the members of which often do not know exactly what it is that they are worshipping. In their quest for pleasurable moments, these misguided folk find amusement and novelty in paying homage to strange idols or partaking in debauched gatherings behind closed doors. These cults also have their worshippers among the lower classes, who use it to find some form of relief from their hard lives.

Allegiance to a malignant worship of evil pleasure is rarely shown openly by its followers. Followers dress in robes, pastel and electric shades are the chief colours. These colours are also sometimes carried over into everyday wear, although they may be modified to fit in with current fashions. In all cases, all cultists of evil pleasure and vice wear sensuously garb. Followers rarely deny themselves hedonistic lifestyle; cultist hideouts may be fortified, but they are equally stocked with luxurious furniture, sumptuous food, and erotic decorations.

The relevance of the evil cults is spiritual and connected to the strength of the West, but also deeply political. Such cultists may form powerful factions and cliques, and even collaborate with external enemies.

The Dúnadan imperial Idea

The Dúnadan concept of a Kingdom embracing all the West is not limited to a purely political-legal entity, but also has a spiritual nature. Considering only the political-legal character, the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor is a political-administrative organisation. In this approach, the quality, the cultures and the specific traditions of different peoples gathered by the Reunited Kingdom are not injured, for the simple fact that a Kingdom of this sort remains, with respect to them, indifferent and alien. This type of kingdom, in this respect, as has interest in the simple political-administrative organisation and the mere legal sovereignty.
If the Kingdom also has a spiritual nature, in it the unity is determined by reference to something spiritually higher than individual ethnicity; it can only exist if it is animated by something that appeals to the spiritual depths. The reference point is beyond that of an individual tradition: the Kingdom characterised by the spiritual nature is conceived as a work of forces flowing from Eru Ilùvatar trough the Valar.
In this case, the status of the citizen of the realm is not a purely legal concept, but also and foremost an ethical reality, a human model universally viable. Within a spiritual Kingdom, the protection of subject populations, and their traditions and cultures are granted if a Fealty (or Faith) of higher order is given: the subject of this Fealty is the very same transcendental and spiritual unity of the Kingdom. The Fealty and loyalty to this transcendental and spiritual unity and to its symbols from subject peoples is the basic condition for the preservation and protection. With this Fealty and Loyalty sworn in such a sacred way, any faith or particular tradition in those nations, provided no injures or offends the ethics and the general law, is accepted and respected.
The Dúnadan worldview has its ethics, its spirituality, its own human type, its aspiration to translate, in terms of a dominant will, the sense of a permanent and universal reality. The real Dúnadan Kingdom, i.e. the Dúnadan Kingdom which fulfills its own nature and mission, is a supranational organisation such that in it the unit does not act destructively and leveller in regard to the diversity that it encompasses. The principles of the Reunited Kingdom guarantee the simultaneous recognition and overcoming of any particular traditions of nations to organise in the name of the supreme ideal of the prosperity of the Reunited Kingdom. The Reunited Kingdom is based on a conception of Unity which should prevent any form of absolute elevation of the individual element; the Unity must then be essentially spiritual (but also political): a central guiding influence, an impulse that assumes the most varied forms of expression according to the individual realm.
Im this dimension, Dúnedain were, and the Dúnadan culture todays is the founder of a true Kingdom because Dúnedain and the Dúnadan culture the people have been able to go beyond itself and its lust for its own national power. This people positions itself far away both its particularities and those of other peoples: not a particular against another particular, but the universal against particular. This approach implies that the higher people has a sacred mission, but this mission is directly opposite to the self-centred expansion and power. It is particularly what is subjectivist, sentimental, "idealistic" or even utilitarian. It is universal what is pure from all these elements and which can be translated into terms of pure objectivity. A similar Kingdom is accomplished at the moment when, with the universality as knowledge, also the universality as an action is carried out. In the two conditions of the Empire (universal knowledge and action) the qualities that define the two upper castes, the wisdom and the warrior castes, found foundation.

Geography

The country occupies the major part of the western regions of Middle-Earth. It lies between the Ice Bay of Forochel and the southern shores of Bay of Belfalas.
Most of the country consists of lowland terrain, with mountainous terrain representing part of southern (Ered Nimras between Gondor and Rohan and Ephrel Dúath between Gondor and former Mordor) and central borders (the southern part of the Misty Mountains between Dunland and Rohan).
The principal rivers are the Anduin, Gwathló (Greyflood) and Baranduin (Brandwyne).

North-South Road

The North-South Road is the major road in the West built by the Númenóreans from the Second Age; it links the northern kingdom of Arnor with the southern kingdom of Gondor. It runs south from Fornost Erain in the far north (Annúminas being linked to Fornost Erain by the Kings's Road), southward for hundreds of leagues through Eriador passing by Bree (where it crosses the East-West Road) and through Andrath between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs and crosses Minhiriath. It then crosses Tharbad on the Gwathló, where it crosses the river to traverse Enedwaith. From then on, the North Road becomes the Old South Road in Dunland and arrives to Pelargir under the name of Great West Road.
Arching slightly towards the Misty Mountains, goes went through the Gap of Rohan (via the Fords of Isen); after two miles it bends sharply to the south-east to meet the Deeping-road and again bent to the east and Edoras. It passes across Rohan parallel to the White Mountains and eventually Anorien. It passes near Minas Anor and then passes over Erui at the Crossings of Erui, and reaches Pelargir.
The North-South Road was built in late Second Age by Faithful governors and viceroys to connect Annúminas and Pelargir. Most of the northern part of the road had fallen into ruins after the Fall of Fornost and the desolation of Eriador, but it was reopened by Aragorn Tar Elessar in early Fourth Age.

Peoples and kins

The Fourth Age is the beginning of the Dominion of Men, and the Reunited Kingdom is a powerful Men's realm. However, the north-western portion of Middle-Earth is home to a number of other peoples and races.

Hobbits are the closest kin to Men, and among the Wise all say that they indeed are an off-shoot of Men. Hobbits are an ancient mortal race that lives in Middle-earth. Although their exact origins are unknown, they were initially found in the northern regions of Middle-earth and below the Vales of Anduin. The largest concentrations of Hobbits are in the Shire (which is inhabited exclusively by Hobbits) and in Bree-land. Other Hobbits are referred to as "Outsiders" by Shire-folk and Bree-landers as well. Outsider hobbits generally are a rustic, not to say (though in the Shire it was often said) uncivilized lot, and many are no better than tramps and wanderers.

High King

The High King of Arnor and Gondor (Quenya: Arantar; Sindarin and Westron: Aran, Adûnaic: Âru) is the Kings of all Dúnedain. Elendil was the leader of the Elendili who survived the Downfall.

There has been five High-Kings of Arnor and Gondor since the sundering of the two Kingdoms. High Kings before the long sundering of both Arnor and Gondor were Elendil the Tall and his son Isildur. After the death of Isildur in T.A. 2, his son Valandil succeeded him as King of Arnor, while his brother Anárion's son Meneldil succeeded him as King of Gondor. Valandil never attempted to assert power over Gondor, and thus Isildur is counted as the last High King of both Realms, but the descendants of Valandil continued to use the title High King of Arnor. Later, after the death of Ondoher of Gondor, Arvedui of Arthedain claimed the Kingship over Gondor as the rightful heir of Isildur, but the Council of Gondor, influenced by Steward Pelendur refused Arvedui's claim, saying that Isildur forsook the Kingdom to Meneldil, and that only the heirs of Anárion could be King of Gondor. Arvedui would become the last King of Arnor, and his descendants, the Chieftains of the Dúnedain never attempted to claim the throne of Gondor, nor the High Kingship.

Only at the beginning of the Fourth Age, the two kingdoms came under one ruler again as the Reunited Kingdom under Elessar Telcontar and, later in the Fourth Age, under Elessar Telcontar's son, Tar Eldarion. Eldarion inherited his Kingdom in a manner that recalled the ancient traditions of Númenor: his father Aragorn Elessar gave him the tokens of his rule, and then gave up his life willingly, as his mighty ancestors had done thousands of years before. The new King's mother Arwen left him to rule alone, passing away to the now-empty land of Lórien, where her long life also came to an end.
The incumbent High King, Tar Arfalor I Eldarien, is the Eldarion's eldest son.

High Kingship in the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor has its traditional dimension and performs a number of functions. The way of realization is an active, dry, heroic way, free from mystical crumbling.

High Kingship is a metaphysical concept that is metemsomatised in the presence of charismatic beings, who, because of an innate superiority, compared to the simple human condition, embody the living and effective presence of a force from above within the temporal order. However, High Kings exercise a political authority that does not derive from naturalistic qualities such as force, violence, or from political qualities such as political intelligence or wisdom, skill and ruthlessness. Instead, the authority exercised by the High King is identified as an authority of metaphysical character, which derives its autonomy from the individual dignity and its direct connection with Eru Iluvatar trough the Valar.

The High King is sovereign in the three areas: religious, military and civil. The High King is therefore considered the possessor of a virile and overflowing energy, that is, the energy proper to the royal aura of the sovereign, which is rendered in Quenya as Sirilla i Vëanírë.

Functions

The High King, also styled King of all Dunedains and King of the West, fulfills three roles: high priest of the veneration of Valar and of Eru Iluvatar and, therefore, Dùnedains' supreme and chief jurist, ruler of the Reunited Kingdom and commander and leader of the hosts of the Kingdom and, finally, healer and guarantor of prosperity.
The first and foremost of these is the priestly function: to act as the Valar's chosen mediator between Eru Ilúvatar and the people by presiding over the annual rituals. Strictly linked to the priestly role, the High King's second traditional role is as Dùnedains' chief jurist. He serves as the upholder, arbitrator, and executor of the Laws of Númenor. While this function extends well beyond the performance of ritual stipulations, it is nevertheless imbued with religious authority; for the monarch possesses the power to bind oaths by the names of Eru Ilúvatar and the Valar, and so to bless those who fulfill their word and to curse oathbreakers. Finally, in his juridical role, the monarch has the task to enact new laws as need may arose.
Beyond being the supreme jurist, the High King also is the actual supreme ruler of the realm, as well as the supreme leader of his hosts at war. The third duty of the monarch is the governance of the Kingdoms in times of peace, and the activity of healing and of guaranteeing prosperity (provided the communion between Eru Iluvatar and Valar and the people is respected). These functions are much less rigid than the other two roles, in part due to the strength of the traditional aristocracy.

Ultimate ruler

The High King retains full control of the bureaucracy and the army, and every province (save for two exceptions) is ruled by officials appointed by the High King and recallable at will. There are great landowning families, but their wealth and prestige does not automatically mean high political office. However, the great landowners tend to monopolise these positions, because they can afford to give their sons the advanced education required for a career in high public service; but there was always some room for a talented parvenu, and the High King always retains the authority to sack his generals and banish them to their private estates.

Crown Jewels of the Reunited Kingdom

The Crown Jewels of the Reunited Kingdom are royal objects and heirlooms, which include the regalia and vestments worn by Numenorean, Gondorian and Arnorian kings and queens. Symbols of centuries of Monarchy, the objects denote the High King's roles as head of state, high priest of the One, and head of the Western armies.

Council of the Sceptre

The High King is monarch, with the power of unquestioned decision in debate; but he governs the realm with the frame of ancient law, of which he is chief administrator and sole interpreter, but is the its maker in the sense that he finds in the universal justice the dictates of the human law. In all debatable matters of importance domestic, or external, however, the High King has the moral duty to listen to Lords and the Captains of the Forces have to say. After his coronation, King Aragorn had re-instated the Council in Fo.A. 1, and formed it from all the great lords of the realm.

A scribal service, under the supervision of a specific official, assists the members of the Council of the Sceptre, preparing the material for its sessions, keeping records of its decisions and creating the necessary documents.

Composition

The Council of the Sceptre is the restrict and select royal advice and support body. The High King may appoint anyone a Counsellor of the Sceptre. Usually, the Council of the Sceptre is composed of princes and lords of each of the Kingdom's separate lands, of the High King's heir, and of the Steward and the Great Officers of the Realm as well. Justices of the King's Hearing and all chief judges of the sees of the High Court of Justice also join the Privy Council ex officio. Currently, all Hîratarin also sit in the Council of the Sceptre. The Counsellors in their capacity have no power save that of advice and counsel.

Membership is conferred for life. The death of the High King brings an immediate dissolution of the Council. The sovereign may also remove an individual from the Council of the Sceptre if he or she falls out his favour. Individuals can choose to resign, sometimes to avoid expulsion.

Great Council of the West

On occasion, the High King summons all counsellors of all his three Councils together, as well as some foreign powers. This assembly is known as Great Council of the West, and includes the King of Rohan, the King of Dale and the seven lords of Rhovanion. The Great Council meets usually once a year in the Dome of the Sun in the Sixth Circle of Minas Anor.

Government

The Reunited Kingdom is a feudal polity under an absolute monarchy. High King Arfalor I is the head of state. The High King exercises ultimate governing authority; his powers are not limited by the law, although he has not the right of reigning against natural law as established by Valar. The Monarchy is hereditary. The monarchy is counterbalanced by political groups from among the social classes and regions of the realm.

The High King is the sole and absolute ruler, and his power is regarded as having divine origin. Officials are arranged in strict order around the High King, and depend upon the imperial will for their ranks. At the apex of the hierarchy stands the High King. Beneath the High King, a multitude of officials and court functionaries operate the administrative machinery. In addition to those officials, a large number of prominent houses and a variety honorific titles exist, which the High King awards to his subjects or to friendly foreign rulers.

The Reunited Kingdom recognises complete self-governance of some parts of the realm to the peoples inhabiting those portions; these areas are nonetheless considered part of the Reunited Kingdom itself. The Shire, and Druadan Forest were given to the Hobbits and the Wild Men respectively by High King Elessar in the early years of his reign; Dunland was transferred from Rohan to the Reunited Kingdom in Fo.A. 112 and its inhabitants enjoy some forms of autonomy up to the modern day. Other realms are formally protected by the Reunited Kingdom, such as the Elven Lordship of the Ithilien and the Dwarvish Lordship of the Glittering Caves. Other realms, such as Dale, Núrn and Erebor have intermittently been under the high suzerainty of the Kingdom of the West.

Great Officers of the Realm

In the Reunited Kingdom, the Great Officers of the King are the Crown ministers, who are appointed to exercise certain functions as part of the government. The Reunited Kingdom inherits its Officers from both Gondor and Arnor and each position is filled by the same individual in both Kingdoms. While some of them are hereditary, most offices are appointed. Some offices are put into "commission"; that is, multiple commissioners are appointed to collectively exercise the office. Great Officers of the King are shared by Arnor and Gondor, and therefore they sit in all the three Councils. As of Fo.A. 273, they are:

  • The Steward of the Realm; currently Arodion of the House of Húrin (since Fo.A. 240).
  • The Captain General of the Royal Hosts; currently Berthir Edraithion Panastion.
  • The Shipmaster (Ciryatur): commander of the royal navy; currently Berthîr Ciryath Taurimion Berennaithion.
  • The Spymaster (Ethirtur): the spymaster and the head of intelligence and security of the Realm; currently Hîr Narvinyo of the House of Sairweg.
    • Spies networks.
    • Postal service.
  • The Master of Coin (Miriantur): head of the treasury and finances of the kingdom; currently Hîr Daglarion.
    • Master of Rents and Taxes; currently Hîr Goriadon.
    • Master of the Office of Bursary; currently Hîr Gondion.
  • The Master of Laws: overseer of the law and justice for the kingdom; currently Hîr Fairod.
    • Curate of Númenórean Law; currently Arthîr Meneldil Falmathil.
    • Curate of Common Law; currently Eorl Alfwine.
    • Office of Decrees; currently Hîr Arodion
  • The Loremaster (Golodh): the head adviser on matters of lore and wisdom; currently Hîr Denethor.

Bureaucracy

Each Great Officer of the Realm heads a plurality of Bureaus, each of them dealing with particular aspects of the Officer's area of responsibility. Each Bureau is headed by Referendaries, assisted by Secretaries, and groups all Offices dealing with the given aspect of Officer's job. Offices deal with elementary aspects of the parent Bureau's responsibilities. Sometimes also an intermediate subdivision exists between Bureau and Office, the Congregation (headed by a Chartulary). Each Office is headed by a career official, known as Maintetar, and consists of several subordinate experts, known as Tetar and Cethir, as well as support scribes and employees.

Each of the bureaucratic bodies has no power per se, but it simply refers to the higher echelons, and any decision is made by the High King.

Ranks

Bureaucratic ranks are as follows:

  • Great Officer of the King;
  • Referendary
  • Secretary
  • Chartulary
  • Maintetar
  • Tetar
  • Cethir
  • Neviar, the lowest official tasked to study issues and formulate formal opinions.
  • Teithedir (Sindarin for Writer) is the generic title granted to scribes, archivists, and support personnel.

Steward of the Realm

The Stewards of the Realm are at first the chief of the high councilors to the High Kings. Steward is therefore the traditional title of the chief counsellor to the High Kings. Stewards are of pure high Númenorean blood; since T.A. 1629, the Stewards of Gondor and, since Fo.A. 1, the Stewards of the West are chosen among the House of Húrin of Emyn Arnen.

Military of the Reunited Kingdom

The military of the Reunited Kingdom is formed by the military of Gondor and by military units and formations of Arnor. However, the backbone of the military consists of southern forces, which are designed to be integrated with the Rohan's forces.

Royal Army

The Royal Army is the primary military body of the armed forces of the Reunited Kingdom, serving alongside the Royal Navy. The Royal Army maintains an high level of discipline, strategic prowess and organization.
There are two ground forces types: the Central Armies, a standing army of professional soldiers under High King's permanent and direct commaand, and the territorial forces, raised, maintained and organized by local lords or captains, such as the Rangers of Ithilien. The latter ones have the task of immediate border defence and resistance against the enemy, while the central armies have the task of conducting major war operations. However, during major wars, territorial forces can be put under High King's direct command.
Compared to Gondor, the northern Arnorian armies make less use of mounted troops. Footmen are the most numerous part of the army.

Royal Navy

The Royal Navy constitutes the sea defence force of the Reunited Kingdom: it is a fully unified force and, although its core lays within the Bay of Belfalas, several squadrons are headquartered at Arnor's seaports and harbours. Gondor maintained a considerable navy from the time of the first of the "Ship-Kings".
The main military seaports of important strategic meaning are Pelargir, Umbar and Linhir in the South, while the northern most important harbours are Mithlond and Lond Daer.

Chain of command

The military chain of command is focused mainly around Gondorian forces: however, there are several forces and formations within Arnor: most of them are comprised under regular Cavalry or Infantry, although some units, such as Rangers of the North or others, are framed within the Royal Hosts.

  • High King Arfalor I: the supreme commander;
    • Quartermaster general
    • Captain-General of the Royal Hosts
    • Shipmaster (Ciryatur from the Quenya cirya, 'ship', and -tur, 'master')
      • Lord-Captains of the Reunited Kingdom: Commanders of naval commands
        • Captains-at-Sea: Commanders of vessels and ships

Divisions

There are three parts to the rule of the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor: the common foreign, military and financial policy under the High King of the Reunited Kingdom; the Kingdom of Gondor, under the rule of the King of Gondor; and the Kingdom of Arnor under the King of Arnor. Arnor and Gondor maintain separate Council. The High King appoints both Gondorian and Arnorian officials as well common officials. The Monarch has other prerogatives such as the right of Royal Assent before any kind of measure formally suggested by the three Councils in the realm.

Each country of the Reunited Kingdom has its own system of administrative and geographic demarcation, which has origins that pre-date the formation of the Reunification itself.
Between Gondor and Arnor there is a deeply-rooted rivalry, tracking back to the refusal to the claim to the Gondorian throne laid by King Arvedui of Arnor from the Gondorian aristocracy. Since then, commoners of Gondor had been encouraged to think of Arnor as of a backwater land.

The royal administrations comprise all affairs having relation to rights, duties and interests which are common to all territories; all other administrative tasks were left to the Provinces. Finally, the local units (fiefs, cities, and other territories) have self-government within their own sphere.

Royal domain

Royal domain is a territorial area directly belonging to the High King, who personifies the Crown. It is the equivalent of an entailed estate and passes with the monarchy, being inseparable from it. The Royal domain does not encompass the entirety of the territory of the Reunited Kingdom and sizable portions of the kingdom are possessions of feudal lords and property of independent owners.

It is to note that not all land outside the jurisdiction of the feudal lords is owned by the High King as part of the royal domain: both large and small properties outside fiefdoms are directly administered by the relevant Drann (i.e. directly subjected to the High King) but are held by relevant owners.

Gondor

Gondor is the Southern Kingdom of the Reunited Kingdoms. In the first three centuries of the Fourth Age, Gondor has been the actual seat of the High King. The King of Gondor (as conceptually separated by the High King) is aided by the Council of Gondor, which meets in a separate capacity from the Council of the Sceptre. Some Gondorian lords who do seat in the Council of Gondor, do not seat into the Council of the Sceptre and vice versa.

Arnor

Arnor is the Northern Kingdom of the Reunited Kingdoms. In the first three centuries of the Fourth Age, Arnor has been the secondary seat of the High King. The King of Arnor (as conceptually separated by the High King) is aided by the Council of Arnor, which meets in a separate capacity from the Council of the Sceptre. Some Arnorian lords who do seat in the Council of Arnor, do not seat into the Council of the Sceptre and vice versa.

The Laws of Númenor

The Laws of Númenor comprise a sacred corpus of religious law which the Faithful inherited from their forefathers, and which forms the basis of all legal traditions adhered to within the Realms-in-Exile and, therefore, within the Reunited Kingdom. They form the constitution ordained by the Valar and include all the just and fair royal decrees whose memory survived the events recorded in the Akallabêth.
Taken together, this body of ancient law serves as the norm and standard against which all other sources of law must be measured and evaluated.
The original laws were given to the Three Houses of Men by Eönwë, the herald of Manwë. The laws were inscribed upon seven bronze tablets and preserved in Armenelos. They stipulated sacred order - the worship of Ilúvatar, obedience to the Powers, respect for oaths, and observance of ritual prohibitions. The King's primary duty was to see to it that the Dúnedain adhered to their place in this order. As for the ordering of the Númenórean society itself, the Law of Seven Tablets covered little. The Three Houses could decide (in concert with their king) their own internal affairs in the Gathering of Houses. After Númenor became a settled and urban society, the laws of Edain (Namnar Atanion) were collected and codified as non-religious law.
The Downfall wiped out the vast majority of written records in Númenor. So, Elendil commanded that his sons undertake to compile an exhaustive codex of Númenórean law. This compilation sprang from its extant surviving fragments, which would serve as the foundation for all future law-making and jurisprudence in Gondor and Arnor.
The task of compiling and ordering the Laws of Númenor took sixty years and was carried out in the Halls of the Faithful in Pelargir. The resulting codex became the sacred corpus of law in Arnor and Gondor.
Once codified, the Laws of Númenor remained a fixed corpus, intended to serve as canon for the development of future laws, but never to be expanded or changed because no law created under the authority of the exile could ever equal or surpass the authority of the original. Nevertheless, a great deal of new law did come into use in Gondor over the three millenia following the Downfall, in areas otherwise unexplored by the ancient law makers, for ancient traditions were seldom overturned and then only at great need.

The making and execution of law in the Reunited Kingdom

As in Númenor, the process by which laws were made in the the Reunited Kingdom is handled by the High King in concert with the Council of the Sceptre. This assembly convenes annually at the summer court of Minas Anor. They counsel the High King in matters affecting the realm as a whole, assist him in the adjudication of important cases, and confirm new laws formulated under the High King's supervision. It also has the highest authority in determining the royal succession, and joins the king in the three great annual supplications at mount Mindolluin.
The High King is responsible for upholding the Laws of the Seven Tablets, any breach of those laws has to be judged by the High King himself or by one of his appointed officers. Thus, political and military leaders frequently assume a juridical role. The laws of the Edain and their derivatives, including royal decrees, are the jurisdiction of the regular court system, separate from the political chain of command.

Judiciary

Gondor is administered according a common law system. There is no major codification of the statutes enacted by the Sovereign, and judicial precedents are binding as opposed to persuasive. The justices and judges are responsible for adapting the Writ system to meet everyday needs. However, royal decrees overtake judicial law making so that judges are only able to innovate in certain minor areas and up to a point; furthermore, the doctrine of precedent requires similar cases to be adjudicated in a like manner.
The highest appellate court in Gondor is the King's Hearing and its decisions are binding on every other court in the hierarchy which are obliged to apply its rulings as the law of the land. The High Court of Justice binds the lower courts, and so on.
In every fiefdom and autonomous city or town, civil and criminal justice is administered through a court system established in each jurisdiction according to its specific needs. Lords and autonomous cities are entitled to administer civil law and minor criminal offences, while serious criminal offences, established by immemorial law, case law or royal statute, are dealt with by specific royal courts, which are present in each jurisdiction.
Both lordish and royal rulings can be appealed at the High Court of Justice, whose see is in every provincial capital. Under some circumstances, rulings of the High Court of Justice can be further appealed at the King's Hearings. The King's Hearings are royal hearings dedicated to appeals, when the King, who is himself a fine jurist, provides the ultimate ruling. When the Sovereign is absent, the King's Hearings are not held.

Culture of the West

The culture of the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor is the product of well over three thousand years of cultural iterations between High Men (Númenoreans and later Dúneadain) and Middle Men. The result, still living and changing, is characterized by the general prevalence of the element of Númenorean/Dúnadan origin. Especially during the thirty centuries of existence of the previous Kingdoms of Arnor and of Gondor, the Númenorean/Dúnadan element merged with the cultures of the Northern Men and other Middle Men, causing almost all the Mannish peoples west of the Misty Mountains to share a common cultural substratum.

Nevertheless, the large surface area, the great distances, the ethnic-cultural variety and the different rank of the various populations with regard to the Númenorean/Dúnadan element, contributed to preserve, at least in part, regional specificities, both cultural and linguistic ones. On the other hand, high Dúnadan still maintains its own cultural, linguistic and ethnic identity.

Western society

Western society has a hierarchical structure and a centralized authority in accordance with absolutist concepts. The High King, divinely ordained by Eru, together with his family and court are at the tip of the social pinnacle. The local aristocracy, state functionaries, senior military officers, and large landowners are all members of the upper class. The middle class comprises the urban population of merchants, artisans and owners of medium-sized landed properties, while the populace, that is, the lower class, is made up of wage-earners and paupers. Even in the upper class most are of mixed origins. Real power is in the hands of a small landed Dúnadan aristocracy. Governance of the state is kept tightly controlled by a limited number of intermarrying aristocratic families.

Raud Agar

The concept of "Raud Agar", a Sindarin word for Nobility of blood, is a racist concept which plays an important role in the Dúnadan culture. In an extensive meaning, the concept of Raud Agar refers to those without recent non-Dúneadain ancestors; the bias against non-Dúneadain ancestors is directed exclusively against human ancestors, Elves being regarded as a kin more noble than all Men. The concept of Raud Agar, however, is closely related to adherence to justice and to dictates of Eru Iluvatar and of the Valar: the Númenorean colonial world view, according to which the supreme blood aristocracy of mankind must not save its inferiors, but continue to perfect itself, according to the purpose of Nature, was never really popular (save among most ardent Melkorists under Sauron) and was abandoned and repudiated by the Faithful well before the end of the Second Age.

Under the concept of Raud Agar, all other human races and peoples are still respected, but considered being somewhat inferior to Dúneadains: Northmen are considered as being the human race coming immediately after Dúneadain (in turn at least theoretically inferior to Númenóreans of old). In Fourth Age all Northmen are still deferential to Dúneadain, even after several centuries of mingling between the two races.

The concept of Raud Agar has been a significant barrier through both Númenórean and Dúneadain history, linking the preservation of racial purity to the excellence and nobility, and thus linking the heredity to authority. Nowadays, proofs of racial purity are required in a variety of circumstances: candidates for certain offices or titles and their spouses have to proof their Dúnadan ancestry. The High King is still required to be of pure Númenórean blood, and, despite their 969 years-long rule without a King, Stewards were unable to claim the Crown of Gondor due to their inferior blood purity and therefore nobility.

The attention to pay to blood purity marked a turning point from the condition of being "Númenóreans of Gondor" to the definitive emergence of the distinct identity of "Dúnedain". In T.A. XV Century, Gondor fell to infighting and civil war because of the quarrel over the need for racial purity, especially concerning the ancestry of their King (the Kin-strife), and grew weaker as a result. The concept of absolute racial purity as separate from justice and abstinence from evil, already considerably weakened by the time of the civil war, was then definitively abandoned following the evil deeds of pure-blooded Númenórean Castamir the Usurper, while the half-Númenórean Eldacar was remembered for his justice. Furthermore, Black Númenóreans, descendants of surviving Númenórean King's followers, are considered to had been of the purest blood, but they were the most steadfast followers of the Enemy.

In general, the Dúnadan world view holds that no state and no society are maintained without an elite or aristocracy of families, inherited and selected in the main tasks of the command - elite that has its natural crowning in the legitimate monarchy, legitimate both in formal dynastic law, and in the material effective conformity of the monarch as a person with the traditional principles that define his dignity and his function.

Nobility of the West

Nobility is the formal political social class of the aristocracy, ranked under royalty, that possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than other classes, with membership thereof mostly hereditary. Privileges carry a lifelong obligation of duty to uphold various social responsibilities of honorable behaviour, customary service, or leadership roles or positions, that lives on by a familial or kinship bond. Membership in the nobility and the prerogatives thereof are formed, acknowledged and regulated by the King and thereby distinguished from other sectors of a nation's upper class wherein wealth, lifestyle, or affiliation may be the salient markers of membership.

As the head of state, the High King is the sole "fount of honour". There is a variety of ranks within the noble class. The Reunited Kingdom maintains noble systems and titles used by all Edain west to the Misty Mountains. However, over the centuries and millenaries, several systems were devised by the different Mannish peoples. With the establishment of the Reunited Kingdom, Aragorn Tar Elessar also established an unified order of precedence among different titles of different systems.

There are three main sources of nobility: relatives of the royalty and their descendants, houses already noble in Númenor (both vassals of Lords of Andúnië and Rómenna and other noble houses) and those ennobled by Elendil, by a king of Arnor or of Gondor or by a High King of the Reunited Kingdom.

While noble titles are granted by the High King mostly to members of the aristocracy, there are also ennobled merchants or low-born individuals who are awarded a title for their own services or worthiness. While no formal distinction exists between nobles, an informal and unspoken of distinction does exist between aristocrats and other nobles.

Knights

A knight is a sworn cavalryman, who accepts to dedicate his own life to martial service; the fact that a knight dedicates his whole life to martial service, earns him the seniority over the basic soldier. The knight is member of a warrior tradition that is heavily interwoven in the culture of the West, especially in Arno and its successor kingdoms. Knights occupy a social standing between that of lords and commoners. Any man can be knighted, no matter their birth. Social pressure keeps knighthood from being exploited by unscrupulous knights who might give the accolade for money. Knighthood is seen as a martial position, so even the sons of powerful lords are not necessarily knighted if they are incapable of fulfilling the requirements. Further, a young knight's repute partially derives from the honor of the man who conferred knighthood on him. Receiving your knighthood from a High King, prince, prominent noble, or legendary hero holds great prestige.
Although inferior to the lord, the title of a knight has its own prestige. A landed knight is a knight that takes residence in a keep with accompanying land. They have their own peasants and men-at-arms and may take sworn swords. However, landed knights are sworn to fight for the High King and for the lord who holds dominion over their land.
Although knights are often ranked below lords, certain landed knights might actually be more powerful than lesser lords. Especially landed knights who come from ancient houses, and who have extensive lands and a large, strong castle may actually be more powerful than many smaller lordlings. Lordly houses can be reduced to landed knights as punishment from the High King. In the High King's Army, Rochbin Companies are actually military Orders (Quenya: Heren) which are given a predefinite form in order to be deployed alongside other regular troops. These knightly Orders are brotherhoods of armoured warriors who ride into battle atop barded warhorses into battle. To be or become a Knight is also to be or become one of the most elite warriors the Empire has to offer.

A Rochben (pl. Rochbin, literally horse-rider) in the Reunited Kingdom is a knight. Rochbin have right to sit in the local councils of their own districts of residence and to serve in the cavalry forces of the High King. Membership among the Rochbin is hereditary, provided that the blood qualifications are met. A body of privileges belong to the Order, their wives and their unremarried widows, including the right to be tried by fellow peers, the right to carry a long sword in public and the right to be exempt from civil arrest. A Dúnadan commoner may be knighted and raised to the Equestrian Order for his merits, if he meets property qualification and testify that at least three of his four grandparents are of Dúnadan blood. The new Rochben is given a small keep somewhere in the Reunited Kingdom (usually in Arnor, where manopwer and loyal tenants are most needed), and possibly a small garrison of soldiers under his own command.
It is to note that, similarly to the word Rohan, Gondorian Sindarin drops the "c" in Rochben and Rochbin, resulting therefore in a pronunciation more similar to Rohben and Rohbin, respectively.

A Rídend is the basic member of the war professionals class, on an equal level (at least in name) to the Dúnadan title of Rochben. A commoner may be raised to Rídend status for his merits. The new Rídend is given a small keep somewhere in the Reunited Kingdom (usually in Arnor, where manopwer and loyal tenants are most needed), and maybe a small garrison of soldiers under his own command.

A stratified rural society

Countryside occupies a central position in the economy and society of the Reunited Kingdom. From the countryside originate the nourishment of men and the bulk of the troops for the defence of the borders; from the countryside, it also comes the sustenance of the upper classes both in the form of rents and through the distribution by the state of the tax collected largely in the countryside and through salaries, pensions or donations to the aristocracy. The wealth extracted from the countryside is mainly spent in the cities: the health of the urban economy depends on the level of this expenditure.
The social structure of the countryside in the Kingdom of the West is marked by a dynamic balance between small and large landed property. The main factors of this dynamic balance are the action of the great aristocracy, mainly of a political-military character, whose rise is accompanied by the attempt to concentrate the possession of the land, and the will of the High Kings to oppose it.

Large property

In the large agricultural properties of the "Polodren" (Sindarin for "Powerful", a legal term introduced in the second century identifying all the upper class), the "Tithen" (Sindarin for "Weak" in legal documents), i.e. former small independent peasants, incapable to fulfil their obligations, seek protection and give up full ownership, getting it back for rent. They therefore obtain the status of tenants, or farmers economically dependent on the lord and owner of the land in which they are located. Such tenants are juridically free and responsible towards the state as regards the payment of personal tax and the provision of military service, but protected against excesses and inserted in a network of consolidated social relations. The renters pay the lord a fee, usually modest, in order to be allowed grow a farm at their expense. Once the obligations have been fulfilled, however, they enjoy full availability of the rented farm, which allows them to sell to others or to inherit the right on that land, provided that it continues to be grown under the same (or better) conditions. The part cultivated directly by the landlord (obviously through labourers) is relatively minority.
The large landed property is in a regime of private law, parallel to the administrative organization of the state: therefore it can be directly subject to the districts (Drann) or it can be part of a territorial lordship. Where the territorial lord and the landowner coincide, and often coincide, a process of great increase in the personal authority of the individual magnate takes place.
It is to note that the notion of "Polodren" is distinct from the political class of the Knights or of the Nobles: while the vast majority of knights may be included in this category, and while all nobles are "powerful people" almost by definition, some knights are not eligible to be included within the Polodren, and affluent commoners are part of this social group.

Small property

The small landed property is the central core of the social, political and military organization of the Reunited Kingdom. The small property, although united by the same conditions of inferiority compared to the powerful ones, is further stratified inside. Not counting the settlements, often very similar, of the large estates, the small property is recognized in two fundamental species, different from each other but identical from the administrative, fiscal and accounting point of view: the sparsely inhabited land and the village. Both the sparsely inhabited land and the village are considered to be a single administrative, accounting and fiscal unit: this determines the compulsory collective solidarity in the fulfillment of the royal requests.

Rídhathren

The sparsely inhabited land (Gondorian Sindarin: Rídhathren) is an estate consisting of multiple farms, isolated, dispersed from each other and located near the individual plot. The inhabitants of the scattered estates are all owners (or their sons) and not simple and more humble peasants; in legal documents they are referred to Redhorrin. The Rídhathren can be administered directly by the District (Drann) or it can be attributed to a territorial lordship or to a knight. Rarely it may be attributed to an incorporated town or city.

Gobel

Central to the Western countryside is the village (Gondorian Sincarin: Gobel), which is not a simple territorial unit but an organised society. The Gobel holds common goods that can be used by everyone, grazing is often done on common areas, and the herdsmen are salaried by the village. In the sale of agricultural plots, neighbours have a right of first refusal, but the Gobel as a community can also buy.
The village may be directly administered by the District (Drann) as part of the royal domain; it may be feigned to a lord or a knight, or to an incorporated city; finally, it may be endowed with independent legal personality, which can go to court represented by delegates. The first case is by far the majority.
The concrete structure of the village varies with the regions. The village is usually characterised by a more concentrated housing layout: its inhabitants live in single houses with a vegetable garden and courtyard, leaning against each other and surrounded by fields and pastures, which, together with the peasant dwellings, make up the village community. In the Kingdom of Arnor and Enedwaith, where settlements are more recent, villages tend to be more concentrated and larger, counting around 100-200 families each. In the Kingdom of Gondor, villages tend to be more widespread and smaller, with the central nucleus counting around 50-150 families each. Obviously, there is no shortage of exceptions.
Each village includes a structural center of the settlement. All villages have common lands, such as hills covered with forests, pastures and woods. If an asset necessary for the community is within private land, everyone could access it, even without the consent of the rightful owner: among common facilities, there are mills where wheat is milled and ovens where bread can be baked. The general tendency is to perpetually entrust a common facility to an individual family, which may impose very low tariffs in order to earn the living. Almost every farmer owns at least one vineyard and produces a large quantity of wine, especially in the South. The houses where the farmers live are generally modest. Sometimes, small hamlets and individual farms form outside the original housing perimeter of the village, while remaining an integral part of the Gobel on an administrative level; this mainly happens when some families are assigned to distant plots of land or when the wealthiest farmers send their employees and labourers to the outermost fields. In every case, these satellite hamlets are still included in the Gobel area. Unlike the sparsely inhabited estates, where the population consists of farm owners and their families, in the villages the economic and social hierarchy is wider and more stratified.
In rural village communities, therefore, medium-sized owners of a certain ease coexist with more modest peasants but still owners of the plot they cultivate, poor peasants who are tenant of other people's lands or wage earners, and labourers and domestic servants.

The urban settlement: a secondary but vital reality

Although western society is predominantly rural, the urban element is a present and significant reality in almost all of the Reunited Kingdom. The city, wherever it is located, represents the economic, cultural and administrative point of reference not only for the countryside immediately subject to it, but also for all the surrounding countryside.
The city is the point of exchange and trade for agricultural products and for consumer goods such as utensils and luxury products; in the cities are the magistrates and rulers of the King, as well as the local nobility, their followers, as well as artisans, shopkeepers and merchants of all kinds. Finally, in all the major cities there are schools and impressive libraries, which welcome congregations of sages dedicated to the study of the traditions and relics of past times.
Most important cities are present in Gondor, south of the White Mountains, but over the centuries significant urban centers have sprung up in Enedwaith, Minihriath and Arthedain. In Gondor, the vast majority of cities have ancient origins, which often date back to the Second Age; elsewhere, cities were regained during the Reclamation of the North (such as Tharbad, Lond Daer, Annuminas or Fornost Erain), or were deliberately founded as strongholds along the North-South Road (from Fornost Erain to Pelargir) or in Rhovanion and other strategic locations (including seaports): later on, they grew further to the military garrison. Other cities and towns, less important but equally vital, were born, over the centuries, in the great river basins of Eriador such as those of the Gwathló and of the Baranduin.

Languages

The Reunited Kingdom de facto official language is Westron, the language derived from contact between the Adûnaic tongue of Númenor and the languages of the western coastlands of the continent of Middle-earth.

Sindarin is still used in official documents alongside Westron.

See also