Dominion of Men
The End of the Third AgeEdit
The last installment of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, chronicles the End of the Third Age of Middle-earth, and the destruction of the One Ring. With Sauron defeated, and the coming of the Fourth Age, many things of the Elder Days faded from the world or passed into the west, bringing about the "Dominion of Men." After the Battle at the Black Gates and the victory of the Captains of the West, Gandalf says to Aragorn:
|“||The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what may be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away; and the power of the Three Rings is ended. And all the lands that you see, and those that lie round about them, shall be dwellings of Men. For the time comes of the Dominion of Men, and the Elder Kindred shall fade or depart.... The burden must lie now upon you and your kindred. [949–950]||”|
The Fourth AgeEdit
The Fourth Age was held to have begun with the passing of the Ring-bearers over the sea from Mithlond on 29 September 3021 T.A. (though in Gondor it was reckoned as beginning on 25 March of the same year (the second anniversary of the Downfall of Barad-dûr).
This is the last of the four Ages chronicled by Tolkien, and the one about which least is known (including its length). However, through notes and letters of Tolkien, a great deal of it published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien, as well as in passages from the Annals of the Kings and Rulers (An appendix of The Return of the King) and other portions of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, some events can be defined.
Under the long rule of Aragorn, Gondor prospered. The North Kingdom was reinstated, and united once again with South Kingdom to form a Restored Kingdom of Men. Though peace and freedom had returned to the Westlands, evils still survived the Fall of Sauron in the east, and Aragorn rode out with King Éomer of Rohan to face them in battle. Arwen bore him a son and heir, Eldarion, as well as at least two daughters.
Osgiliath and Minas Ithil were, to some degree, rebuilt and reinhabited, but Minas Tirith would remain the capital of the Southern half of the restored kingdom. Annúminas was restored as well, and served as the capital in the North. The Alliance of Gondor and Rohan would be strengthened and would endure long.
Eldarion was the son of Aragorn II Elessar and Arwen Evenstar. Tolkien wrote little of Eldarion's life or deeds, except that he became King of the Reunited Kingdom after the death of his father in F.A. 120. One of the few statements about him came from his father, who commented that he was 'full-ripe for kingship' in The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen (given in Appendix A I (v) to The Lord of the Rings). Aragorn's ancestors had tended to take over their duties as Chieftain at about the age of ninety: if Eldarion followed this pattern, this would place his birth in the years around F.A. 30.
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 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. As well as being the Heir of Isildur and High King, his descent from Elrond through Arwen made Eldarion the lord of the remaining Elf-lands of Middle-earth. This would appear to be the source of his name, which apparently means 'Descendant of the Eldar'.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings. Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 1966.
- Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen"
- The History of Middle-earth, vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "The Heirs of Elendil," "The New Shadow"