Who Is Manwë? Melkor’s Brother Explained


While we do know that the world of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has a rich history behind it, we also know that there are godlike beings that watch over the world and are there to guide the different races to a better future. We call those beings the Valar, which are Ainur or spirits that were created by Eru Ilúvatar, who is the creator god of Tolkien’s writings. The greatest of the Ainur is Manwë. So, who is Manwë in The Lord of the Rings?

Manwë is one of the Ainur and is the leader of the Valar, which are the highest of the Ainur. Among all of the Valar, Manwë has the highest authority because he was the one appointed by Eru Ilúvatar to be his counterpart on earth. Manwë is also the brother of the dark lord Melkor, who ultimately became Morgoth.

There are a lot of different entities in the history of Tolkien’s writings, as Manwë is only but one of them. Nevertheless, his authority is only second to Ilúvatar as he was the viceregent of earth. That’s why he is often revered as the greatest of the Valar living in Valinor. Now, with that said, let’s get to learn more about Manwë in the writings of JRR Tolkien himself.

Who Is Manwë?

While a good part of JRR Tolkien’s writings revolves around the Third Age, which was during the time of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, we all know that the history of earth in his literary world goes deeper than that. That’s because, on top of the fact that there are a lot of different races living in Middle-Earth, there are also godlike beings that were first created by Eru Ilúvatar, the creator god of Tolkien’s universe.

Ilúvatar began by creating beings called the Ainur, which are divine spirits that are quite powerful and were supposed to be there to govern the world and prepare it for the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar. The Ainur are divided into two orders: the Valar and the Maiar. The Valar are the most powerful of the Ainur, while the Maiar are subservient to the Valar and are there to assist them.

The Valar themselves are quite powerful but are not as powerful as Ilúvatar, who is the only one capable of creating life. Of course, out of all of the different Valar, the one who was made by Ilúvatar to be the most prominent of them all is Manwë. So, who is Manwë in the writings of JRR Tolkien?

Manwë is the one who was given the task by Ilúvatar to be the viceregent of the earth in the sense that he is supposed to be the one looking after the planet in the creator god’s stead. He is said to be the closest to Ilúvatar in terms of his mind and heart, and that is why he was named the king of the Valar by Eru. As such, out of all of the Ainur, Manwë’s authority is the highest, as no other Valar in the world was as great as he was in terms of the authority he held.


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Nevertheless, while Manwë may be the greatest of the Valar in terms of his authority, as he is second only to Eru Ilúvatar, he is not the strongest. In fact, it is his brother Melkor who is said to be the strongest of the Valar. But Melkor, despite his might, did not have the mind and heart of Manwë, and that was the reason why he became the first dark lord in the writings of JRR Tolkien. Melkor went on to become Morgoth himself.

Manwë, as a god, is often associated with air and wind. He is the one who commands the birds of Middle-Earth and is the Valar closest to Ulmo, who is also one of the mightiest among the Ainur. Manwë and Ulmo are said to be the ones who are most loyal to Eru Ilúvatar’s will out of all of the different Valar that exist.

As the viceregent of Earth, Manwë is described to be a kind and just ruler that was never concerned about his own power and authority. He was not like Melkor, who coveted power above everything else and was hungry to dominate all of Eru Ilúvatar’s creations. And because he was the one who best understood Eru Ilúvatar’s will, he was given the task of overseeing the world for the Children of Ilúvatar.

What Is Manwë’s Role In The Events Of Middle-Earth?

As mentioned, Manwë was created as one of the most powerful Ainur and was the brother of Melkor. He was dearest to Ilúvatar because he was the one who understood the creator god’s will the most out of all of the Valar. He was the one who was responsible for leading the second Song of the Ainur, which was responsible for creating much of the world.

In fact, it was Manwë and the other Valar, such as Ulmo and Aulë, that created Arda, which is the entire world wherein the stories of JRR Tolkien take place. That’s because Manwë and Ulmo were responsible for the winds and the waters, while Aulë was the most gifted craftsman out of all of the Valar. 

Of course, because Melkor coveted all of creation, he demanded that Manwë and the other Valar surrender Arda to him. Nevertheless, Manwë never surrendered Arda to Melkor, and that was the reason why was a battle involving the Valar against Melkor. This led to the Chaining of Melkor.

Jacek Kopalski The Captivity of Morgoth
The Captivity of Morgoth by Jacek Kopalski

During that time, Manwë married Varda, who was the Valar associated with the stars. In fact, Varda is often said to be mightier than Manwë, as Morgoth feared her the most out of all of the Valar.

The problem with Manwë is that he did not understand evil at all, and that’s why he unchained Melkor. This was what led to the many different events that happened after the Unchaining of Melkor, as the dark lord caused the destruction of the Two Trees, the theft of the Silmarils, and the rebellion by the Ñoldor Elves, who chased Melkor all the way to Middle-Earth against the Valar’s wishes to recover the Silmarils that he stole. As such, Manwë’s brother eventually became Morgoth, the black foe of the world.


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After the destruction of the Two Trees, which were the ones that gave light to Valinor, Manwë had Aulë create the sun and the moon, which became the new sources of light for the world. He was also the one who asked the Great Eagles to look after the sun and moon so that they would never face the same fate that the Two Trees suffered.

During the First Age, it was Manwë who forbade the execution of Eärendil, who traveled all the way from Middle-Earth to Valinor to ask the Valar to intervene in the fight against Morgoth so that all of the death and destruction caused by the war would cease. Manwë was touched by this gesture because Eärendil went to Valinor not for his own sake but for the sake of the Elves and the Men losing their lives in a war that they didn’t start.

After Morgoth was defeated in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, Manwë was the one who cast him into the Void. In one of the prophesies called the Dagor Dagorath, it is said that Morgoth will escape his imprisonment and will have one final battle with Manwë once and for all.

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