The Rise and Fall of Calimendil, Fifth King of Cardolan – Comprising the war between Cardolan and Rhudaur, and the subsequent disaster of Cameth Brin – CHAPTER TWENTY

by Mar 14, 2006Stories


I. Thorondor (d. 940) He was the second eldest of the three sons of Earendur, last King of Arnor. Originally known as `Borochil’ he named himself anew after founding the south kingdom of Cardolan in 862, being one of the chief exponents of the division of Arnor. He chose the name of Thorondor, for he was a great lover of eagles and other majestic birds, and built a great sanctuary near his abode where he kept many of them as pets and messengers. It was said that he possessed the skill to communicate in the tongue of the eagles, having been taught this by his visits with the Eldar in his youth. He was a prosperous and successful king, but he was haughty and quick-tempered, and boasted often of having been chiefly responsible for saving the Dunedain of the north from self-destruction. He was sorely wounded in battle near Amon Sul during the sundering of Arnor by a Rhudauran arrow, but recovered soon afterwards. He it was who laid the groundwork and infrastructure for the future of Cardolan, and for this he won great renown in later years. He ruled as King for 78 years until his death.

II. Baranor (d. 1020) Eldest son of Thorondor and second King of Cardolan. Little is said of this king in the histories that are preserved nowadays. But it is known that he loved to travel and wander abroad above all things. He was more gentle of mood than his father and did not relish war. While still a prince he visited Rhudaur as an ambassador of his father where he struck an unstable peace agreement with the Hillmen around the year c. 938, though it endured for less than ten years. He was said to have traveled as far south as Calenardhon, where he visited the Dunedain of Gondor. As King of Cardolan Baranor corresponded much in his later years with Beleg, second King of Arthedain, seeking better relations between their two realms, which he achieved with some success. He ruled for 75 years, relinquishing power to his eldest son five years before he died.

III. Adornil (d. 1119) Being the third child and only son of Baranor he became the third King of Cardolan. He was a man of great stature and endurance who, unlike his father, took delight in all manners of warfare. He was a great captain under the banner of his father and won much praise during his successful raids upon the Hillmen of Rhudaur, who were often beaten into submission under his authority. His warlike nature increased as King and he continued his subjugation of the Hillmen, which he enjoyed to hunt as if it were sport. Thus was hatred kindled in the hearts and memories of the Hillmen for long afterwards. He was a proud man who held his neighbors to the north and east in scorn. He sent challenges to his kingly contemporaries in both Arthedain and Rhudaur to compete in great hunts throughout Eriador. Nonetheless his councilors admired him greatly and he earned the epithet of “Adornil the Adored”. But his deeds at home were less glamorous, for he did little for the people of Cardolan, and the great North-south road that ran through his realm was left untended for long whiles and became overgrown with weeds. Farmers and shepherds languished under his rule while blacksmiths and makers of weapons prospered. Having sired three daughters only, he had no heir, for at that time Cardolan still obeyed the old patrilineal law that stated only male heirs of the rightful king had any right to rule following the death or abdication of the father. Fearing that Arthedain would again lay claim to all of Cardolan, Adornil had the law reverted back to the ancient Númenorean custom, which stated that the eldest child of the King, whether they be male or female, could rightfully lay claim to the throne. This angered the King of Arthedain greatly, and once again relations between the two realms became strained. He reigned as King for 104 years until his death, longer than any other before or after him.

IV. Mirien (d. 1187) She was the eldest daughter of Adornil and first ruling Queen of Cardolan. She experienced many hardships soon after taking up her lordship of the realm. Messages sent from Celepharn, King of Arthedain, were sent to her at regular intervals, reminding Mirien that her authority over Cardolan was not recognized in Arthedain and would be contested. Furthermore many of the Cardolani princes were of like mind with Celepharn and sought his aid in forcing Mirien to abdicate either peacefully, or violently, if need be, and Cardolan was sent to the brink if civil war. But Mirien was a shrewd woman and struck alliances with influential men in the city of Tharbad, who lent her much wealth and many men of arms to contest the jealous ambitions of the princes. She married late for one of the Dunedain race, taking great pains to select a mate from her list of eligible suitors. She opted in the end to wed with Hircalmo, one of the men among her private council who also possessed some skill in art of medicines and herbs. He was Dunedan by blood, though not of the royal line. It was during her reign that the conflict over the Palantiri at Amon Sul became escalated once again, thus heightening tensions with Arthedain and Rhudaur. At this time, and for but a little while, the princes of Cardolan put aside their personal quarrels with the Queen and rallied around her captains in defense of the realm, as few of them indeed desired to submit to the will of Arthedain. She ruled the realm for 68 years, surrendering the crown to her only son two years before she died.

V. Tarandil (d. 1272) Fourth King and fifth ruler of Cardolan, he ruled for 50 years until his death. Like his mother before him he was wise and insightful and had small love for glory in battle. Being handsome of face in his youth, he was also a lettered man and exceedingly well-read, reading over many times the histories, maps and legends of the Edain and the Eldar that Thorondor took with him from the libraries of old Annuminas in ages past. He exercised his right as no other ruler of Cardolan before him, to utilize the great Palantiri housed within the tower of Amon Sul. After spending much time in Tharbad as a young prince he grew to dislike the people there, for he deemed them mischievous and corrupt. As King his suspicious nature matured into full-blown paranoia; particularly so after the death of his beloved wife, whom he suspected was poisoned. It was widely believed that he secretly ordered the burning of Tharbad after his eldest and much-loved son (and heir to the throne) was murdered in an obscure brawl at an Inn inside of the town. During the end of his reign he became obsessed with his control over all of Tharbad, and doubled taxation upon the city. Tarandil developed the art of espionage to its zenith as king, and his spies combed the dark streets and taverns of Tharbad in fervent secrecy. But he quickly became an unpopular king as poverty and hunger spread throughout the town. He endured many sorrows throughout his life, and was said to be half-crazed when he died of illness, well before his span of years should have come to their end as an heir of Isildur.

VI. Calimendil (d. 1320) Fifth King and sixth ruler of Cardolan, he ruled for 48 years. Much is said elsewhere of this king, thanks to the efforts of Iliandor, Calimendil’s most trusted advisor during his reign. He went to great lengths to preserve the legacy of Calimendil by composing an enumerated document of his life and times, which was preserved by the lady Amariel. He inherited his father’s troubled relationship with Tharbad, and even survived an assassination attempt by an agent of the guildsmen while visiting the town. He successfully limited the authority of the rival princes as no other ruler before him, and earned the animosity of the Guilds of Tharbad for the deeds of his father, whom they blamed for much of their woes. Calimendil became known later as the `Minstrel King’, for though he was indeed a skilled rider and warrior in his own right, he preferred music and lore above feats of physical prowess. In this he was much influenced by his wife Amariel, who bore little love for war and victory. Yet his mood was changed in later years after hearing tidings of the bloody usurpation of the throne of Rhudaur by an evil lord of the Hillmen. Thereafter Calimendil set aside his harp for a while, as he thought, and took up again the sword and shield and rode away to war. Hoping to overthrow the evil Hillmen ere Arthedain could muster their strength, the King’s army won great victories in lower Rhudaur. Yet both he and his two sons were tragically slain by orcs during the Siege of Cameth Brin when a great host from Mt. Gundabad came to the aid of the Hillmen there. It was in the first half of Calimendil’s troubled reign that the name of the Witch King of Angmar was first heard in Cardolan.

VII. Amariel (d. 1351) Widow of Calimendil who assumed power after the death of the King. She opposed her husband’s war with Rhudaur, thinking it premature and besought Calimendil to seek the aid of Arthedain before he invaded that realm. She was loved well enough during the reign of her husband, but her ascension to the throne was not overly popular by many in the realm, for she was born and raised in Arthedain and considered a foreigner, thus possessing no natural right to rule. Though she sought to continue the policies of Calimendil after his death Amariel was plagued with sorrow and melancholia upon hearing the tale of the Disaster of Cameth Brin and found it difficult to tend to her monarchial obligations. With pressure mounting from the rival princes and members of her council, she chose to abdicate the throne peacefully ere civil war could erupt. She returned with her daughter to Arthedain in 1321. Though many did not consider her to have been a rightful ruler of Cardolan, she is nonetheless considered to have ruled for one year.

VIII. Orodril (d. 1346) Sixth King and eighth ruler of Cardolan. He was the last of the true kings of Cardolan, and was the eldest of the royal princes who contested Amariel’s right to the throne following the death of the king in 1320. His detractors gave him such names as `The Usurper’, or `The Pretender’. Obtaining support from many of Calimendil’s former captains who marched not to war with the King into Rhudaur, Orodril led his armed host out of the downs of Tyrn Gorthad to meet the forces of Queen Amariel upon the great road. There her army was defeated and the better part of her warriors slain. Upon seizing the throne he replaced the mayor of Tharbad with a former head of the Guild of the Greyflood, which had before been dissolved by order of King Calimendil. During the reign of Orodril the city of Tharbad fell further into darkness and corruption and strange folk took up residency there. Though strong and stout as a young man, he later became sluggish and fat and seldom ventured far from his court at Dol Calantir. Orodril’s greatest contribution to Cardolan was the construction of the mighty Hedgewall; an immense structure of thick and thorny brambles and vegetation that ran in an unbroken line from the Nen-I-Sul, near the South Downs, to the river Gwathlo. He ordered it built by his engineers to fence out enemy invaders, whether they be from Angmar or Arthedain, and prevent them from marching on his abode in the south. Yet in later years, well after his death, its walls were breached by the great host of the Witch King in the war of 1409, and much of its length was razed to the ground. The smoke and reek of it was said to have been seen as far away as Fornost Erain. Orodril reigned as King for 25 years until his death, which was brought about prematurely following a violent quarrel with his wife, who stabbed him with a knife.

After the death of Orodril the kingdom of Cardolan became a realm of strife and civil war. The lands became divided into quarreling fiefdoms until c. 1356, when Taranbar, the son of Halcar, son of Prince Telcaran, was granted the status of Ruling Prince of Cardolan by his liege-lord, Argeleb I, King of Arthedain. This title he held until the war of 1409, when Cardolan was overrun by the forces of Angmar, and Taranbar slain defending the Barrows of the Kings at Tyrn Gorthad. Thus ended the kingdom of Cardolan, and its legacy passed into history. ~

note – the above biographies of the rulers of Cardolan is a product of my own imagination only, and is not meant to supplant any intentions that the late professor Tolkien may have had for such a topic.


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Found in Home 5 Reading Room 5 Stories 5 The Rise and Fall of Calimendil, Fifth King of Cardolan – Comprising the war between Cardolan and Rhudaur, and the subsequent disaster of Cameth Brin – CHAPTER TWENTY

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