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  • Updated 23 January 2018
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The Dispossessed

A name for the Sons of Fëanor

"The Dispossessed shall they be for ever."
Part of the the curse on the House of Fëanor
from the Doom of Mandos
Quenta Silmarillion 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor

A name given to the House of Fëanor, and especially his seven sons, after they led the greater part of the Noldor out of Aman and back into Middle-earth. Fëanor, the maker of the Silmarils, was the eldest son of Finwë, the original leader of the Noldor. Finwë was slain by Melkor, who also stole the Silmarils, and indeed this was a great part of Fëanor's fierce drive to depart from Valinor. At the time of his rebellion, Fëanor and his sons swore the dreadful unbreakable Oath of Fëanor, claiming the three Silmarils for themselves against any who would withhold them.

As Finwë's eldest son, Fëanor was now by right the leader of the Noldor, and his fury against Melkor caused him to lead his people into dire actions. The worst of these acts was the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, in which Fëanor and his followers set upon the Teleri and stole their ships so that they could make the crossing back to Middle-earth. By ship and by land, a great part of the Noldor followed Fëanor as he made his way northwards along the coasts of Aman, seeking the straits in the far north.

As they approached the far North, the Noldor encountered the figure of Mandos1 awaiting them. Mandos pronounced a dreadful Doom on the Noldor. Among the curses he laid upon them, he declared that the House of Fëanor would be forever the Dispossessed. The meaning of this prophecy was unclear at the time, though Fëanor and his Sons had already been dispossessed of the Silmarils, and perhaps they imagined that this was all that Mandos' prophecy meant. If so, they were wrong.

One of the first consequences of the chilling prophecy was that a group of the Noldor who had followed Fëanor so far chose to abandon the journey. These were led by Fëanor's half-brother Finarfin, who led them back southwards along the coasts of Aman. The Valar received them back into Valinor and pardoned them, placing Finarfin as their chief. Thus a part of the prophecy was fulfilled: the elder line of Fëanor was Dispossessed of their birthright as leaders of the Noldor in the Blessed Realm.

Fëanor and his followers continued their journey into Middle-earth, abandoning the people of Fingolfin on the icy western shore. Fingolfin's followers were forced to make a treacherous crossing of the Grinding Ice of the north. Once in Middle-earth, the Elves soon found themselves in battle with the Orcs of Morgoth. That battle, the Dagor-nuin-Giliath or Battle-under-Stars, was largely a success for the Elves, but with one major loss: that of Fëanor himself. Filled with fury, and burning for revenge against Morgoth, Fëanor had pursued the enemy far from his line. Protected only by a small bodyguard, he was ambushed by Balrogs and fatally wounded.

Fëanor succumbed to his wounds soon afterward, and by right the rule of the Noldor would have passed to his elder son Maedhros. Maedhros, however, repented the actions of his people on the journey, especially the Kinslaying and the abandonment of Fingolfin. He refused the right of his House to the High Kingship of the Noldor, and it passed from Fëanor's line to that of his half-brother Fingolfin, whose descendants would go on to rule the Noldor until the end of the Second Age. Thus the House of Fëanor was Dispossessed as Mandos had foretold, both in Aman (where Finarfin ruled the Noldor) and in Middle-earth (where Fingolfin and his heirs took up the Kingship).


Notes

1

In the Silmarillion's description of this encounter, the identity of the mysterious prophet of the north is not explicitly revealed. It's only stated there that 'Some say that it was Mandos himself...' (Quenta Silmarillion 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor, our emphasis). Given that his declaration is elsewhere referred to unequivocally as the 'Doom of Mandos' or the 'Prophecy of Mandos', there seems little real room for doubt over his identity.

See also...

House of Fëanor

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About this entry:

  • Updated 23 January 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

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