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Númenor was an extremely powerful kingdom at its heights, so it’s no wonder that you ask yourself how powerful was Númenor at its height, and we will give you an answer to this question through very interesting details in this article.
Númenor was an extremely powerful kingdom at its heights, so powerful that they were able to defeat and capture Sauron when he was in possession of the Ring.
Númenor was a kingdom of Men, established on an island brought up out of the sea by the Valar in the early Second Age, after the final ruin of Beleriand. The culture of the Númenóreans originated there shortly afterward.
History of Númenor
Númenor was the kingdom of the Númenóreans and subsequently the Dúnedain, located on an island in the Great Sea, between Middle-earth and Aman. The land was brought up from the sea as a gift to Men. The place was called originally Elenna or the Isle of Elenna (“Starwards”), because the Dúnedain were led to it by the star of Eärendil, and because the island was in the shape of a five-pointed star. At the center of the island, the mountain Meneltarma was used by the Dúnedain as a temple to Ilúvatar. The largest city and capital of Númenor were Armenelos. After the great war with the Dark Lord Morgoth, the Valar took pity on the House of Bëor for their sufferings.
Númenor had only two rivers: Siril, which began at Meneltarma and ended in a small delta near the city of Nindamos, and the Nunduinë, which reached the sea in the Bay of Eldanna near the haven Eldalondë.
Elros son of Eärendil was the first King of Númenor, taking the name of Tar-Minyatur (“First King”). Under his rule (year SA 32 to SA 442 of the Second Age), and those of his descendants, Men rose to become a powerful race. The first ships sailed from Númenor to Middle-earth in the year SA 600 of the Second Age.
The Númenóreans were forbidden by the Valar from sailing so far westward that Númenor was no longer visible, for fear that they would come upon the Undying Lands, to which men could not come.
Decline of Númenor
Over time the Númenóreans came to resent the Ban of the Valar and to rebel against their authority, seeking the everlasting life that they believed was begrudged them. They tried to compensate this by going eastward and colonizing large parts of Middle-earth, first in a friendly way, but later as tyrants. Soon the Númenóreans came to rule a great but terrorizing maritime empire that had no rival, but a few (the Faithful) remained loyal to the Valar and friendly to the elves.
But in Middle-earth in the year SA 1600 the Dark Lord Sauron (former servant of Morgoth), the enemy of the Valar, deceived the Elven smiths of Eregion and forged a master ring. By SA 1693, the Elves and Sauron were at war and in SA 1699 the Elves were overrun. Númenor took notice and Tar-Minastir, King of Númenor sent a fleet to save Lindon and by SA 1701 Eriador was reconquered. Around SA 1800 Númenoreans started settling on the coast of Middle-earth in places such as Umbar. But Sauron extended his power and his shadow fell on Númenor.
In the year SA 3255, the 25th king Ar-Pharazôn sailed to Middle-earth. The Númenoreans came in such force that Sauron himself surrendered to their might. Sauron then poisoned the mind of the king and soon corrupted the Númenóreans, promising them eternal life if they worshiped Morgoth. With Sauron as his advisor, Ar-Pharazôn had a 500-foot tall temple to Morgoth erected in which he offered human sacrifices.
During this time, the white tree Nimloth the Fair, whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was cut down and burned as a sacrifice to Morgoth. Isildur rescued a fruit of the tree which grew to become the White Tree of Gondor, preserving the ancient line of trees.
The Downfall of Númenor
Prompted by Sauron and fearing death and old age, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the west to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands (Sauron remained behind). In the year SA 3319 of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazôn landed on Aman and marched to the city of Valimar.
Manwë, chief of the angelic Valar, called upon Ilúvatar, who broke and changed the world, trapping Ar-Pharazôn and his mighty host who landed on Aman in mounds of dirt and inside the Caves of the Forgotten until the last battle, taking Aman and Tol Eressëa from the spheres of Arda forever, changing the world’s shape from flat to round and sinking Númenor and killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron who was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms.
Elendil, son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had been warned of the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. They landed in Middle-earth and founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.
After its fall Númenor was called Atalantë, meaning “the Downfallen”, in the Quenya language. (The similarity with Atlantis is obvious, although Tolkien described his invention of the name as a happy accident when he realized that the Quenya root meaning “fallen” could be incorporated into a name referring to Númenor.) Other names after the Downfall include Mar-nu-Falmar (“Land under the Waves”) and Akallabêth (“the Downfallen” in Adûnaic).
The story of the rise and downfall of Númenor is told in the Akallabêth.
The ultimate fate of Númenor is unclear; whether it remained forever under the sea or, like Beleriand, it was recovered, as suggested by the final words of Galadriel to Treebeard at their parting at Isengard:
“Not in Middle-earth, nor until the lands that lie under the wave are lifted up again. Then in the willow-meads of Nan-Tathren we may meet in the spring. Farewell!”.
It is possible that after the Dagor Dagorath, when according to prophecy the world would be broken and a new world made, Númenor would be recovered.
How Powerful Was Númenor At Its Height?
King Ar-Pharazôn marched the unmatchable Númenórean army before the gates of the Barad-dûr in Mordor:
“Empty and silent were all the lands about when the King of the Sea marched upon Middle-earth. For seven days he journeyed with banner and trumpet, and he came to a hill, and he went up, and he set there his pavilion and his throne; and he sat him down in the midst of the land, and the tents of his host were ranged all about him, blue, golden, and white, as a field of tall flowers. Then he sent forth heralds, and he commanded Sauron to come before him and swear to him fealty. And Sauron came. Even from his mighty tower of Barad-dûr he came, and made no offer of battle. For he perceived that the power and majesty of the Kings of the Sea surpassed all rumour of them, so that he could not trust even the greatest of his servants to withstand them …”.
As you can see from this quote, one of the strongest beings in Middle-earth, just surrendered without a fight. That was a might of Númenor at its height!
King Ar-Pharazôn took Sauron back to the island of Númenor as a hostage and “… Sauron passed over the sea and looked upon the land of Númenor, and on the city of Armenelos in the days of its glory, and he was astounded …”
Sauron — an immortal Maia spirit who had personally served and been instructed by Melkor, the greatest Vala who ever lived, who had seen and helped destroy the mighty elven kingdoms of the First Age of Middle-earth — was “… astounded …” by the isle of Númenor. We have to ask ourselves, what does it take to astound such a being?
The very island of Númenor was miraculous. Suspended above the waves of the great ocean Belegear closer to Valinor than Middle-earth, it was fashioned and blessed by the Valar themselves as a reward to the faithful fathers of the Edain who had fought with the Vanyarin elves against Morgoth during the War of Wrath:
“It was raised by Ossë out of the depths of the Great Water, and it was established by Aulë and enriched by Yavanna; and the Eldar brought thither flowers and fountains out of Tol Eressëa. That land the Valar called Andor, the Land of Gift …”.
Known colloquially as the City of Kings, Armenelos (Quenya: “Royal Fortress of Heaven”) was the capital of Númenor and “… at all times the most populous region …”.
This tremendous and beautiful city, which would have dwarfed Annúminas and Osgiliath by comparison, was easily the mightiest habitation of Men ever constructed within Arda and existed for over two thousand glorious years.
Two of the mighty eagles of Manwë dwelt therein “… an eyrie in the summit of the tower of the King’s palace …”.
From Armenelos extended a great road that ran from the port of Rómenna through the capital and onwards to the Valley of the Tombs beneath Meneltarma and on to the port city of Andúnië in the west.
Heirlooms of Valinor
It must have come as a great shock to Sauron, who “… said in his heart that the Valar, having overthrown Morgoth, had again forgotten Middle-earth …” set his eyes upon many glorious things that could only have come from the land of the Valar, and realized that their influence was all about him:
“… birds of song, and fragrant flowers, and herbs of great virtue. And a seedling they brought of Celeborn, the White Tree that grew in the midst of Eressëa; and that was in its turn a seedling of Galathilion the Tree of Túna, the image of Telperion that Yavanna gave to the Eldar in the Blessed Realm.”
Many other potent talismans of Valinor or Beleriand of the First Age existed in Númenor including the palantíri of Fëanor, the Bow of Bregor, the Axe of Tuor, the Ring of Barahir and ancient scrolls of wisdom.
Both in terms of numbers of ships and the size of the individual vessels, Númenor possessed by far the most powerful battle fleet ever to exist within Arda, particularly when strengthened by Ar-Pharazôn for his assault upon Valinor:
“… the fleets of the Númenóreans darkened the sea upon the west of the land, and they were like an archipelago of a thousand isles; their masts were as a forest upon the mountains, and their sails like a brooding cloud …”.
The Merchant Marine
Even the Númenóreans themselves were astounded by the vast voyaging ships constructed from the time of the Ship King Aldarion onwards:
“… a mighty vessel like a castle with tall masts and great sails like clouds, bearing men and stores enough for a town. Then in the yards of Rómenna the saws and hammers were busy, while among many lesser craft a great ribbed hull took shape; at which men wondered. Turuphanto, the Wooden Whale, they called it, but that was not its name.”
Númenor saw the greatest flowering of the works of Men, in terms of craft, smithying, medicine and of engineering. It is a testament to the technology of Númenor that even the most impressive works of the Dúnedain in Middle-earth — the twin pillars of the Argonath, the impregnable tower of Orthanc and the walls of Minas Tirith — were mere echoes of the feats accomplished by the Númenóreans at their height.
“… the Dúnedain became mighty in crafts, so that if they had had the mind they could easily have surpassed the evil kings of Middle-earth in the making of war and the forging of weapons; but they were become men of peace. Above all arts they nourished ship-building and sea-craft, and they became mariners whose like shall never be again since the world was diminished …”.
Eventually much of that craft lore was turned to the creation of weapons, armor and other warlike equipment. Sauron discovered this to his sorrow when his victorious armies in Eriador were caught between Ereinion Gil-galad’s elves and a Númenórean army sent by King Tar-Minastir and annihilated.
“In later days, in the wars upon Middle-earth, it was the bows of the Númenóreans that were most greatly feared. ‘The Men of the Sea’, it was said, ‘send before them a great cloud, as a rain turned to serpents, or a black hail tipped with steel’; and in those days the great cohorts of the King’s Archers used bows made of hollow steel, with black-feathered arrows a full ell long from point to notch.”
Not even the famed heroes of the First Age could compare with the sheer physical prowess of the Númenóreans at their height. Why? Because they received direct instruction and blessing from one of the greatest Maia:
“Eönwë came among them and taught them; and they were given wisdom and power and life more enduring than any others of mortal race have possessed. … Thus the years passed, and while Middle-earth went backward and light and wisdom faded, the Dúnedain dwelt under the protection of the Valar and in the friendship of the Eldar, and they increased in stature both of mind and body. ”
“… their years were long, and they knew no sickness, ere the shadow fell upon them. Therefore they grew wise and glorious, and in all things more like to the Firstborn than any other of the kindreds of Men; and they were tall, taller than the tallest of the sons of Middle-earth; and the light of their eyes was like the bright stars.”
If you realize how much stock Tolkien put in the physical height of people, you will realize that the early Númenóreans were the strongest of all who ever lived among the race of Men. In likewise, Númenor at its height was the most powerful kingdom of Men that ever was in Arda, or ever will be.