Fingolfin was the first High King of the Noldor in Beleriand, and half-brother to Fëanor.

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“He passed over Dor-nu-Fauglith like a wind amid the dust, and all that beheld his onset fled in amaze, thinking that Oromë himself was come: for a great madness of rage was upon him, so that his eyes shone like the eyes of the Valar.” ~The Silmarillion

The Coming Of Fingolfin - Jenny Dolfen

The Coming of Fingolfin - Jenny Dolfen

Fingolfin was the first High King of the Noldor in Beleriand. He was the eldest son of Finwë and Indis,  the younger brother of Findis, the older brother of Irimë and Finarfin, and the younger half-brother of Fëanor. His married Anairë, and and had four children—Fingon, Turgon, Aredhel, and Argon. Fingolfin was renowned for being the strongest, wisest, and most valiant among Finwë’s sons.

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Fingolfin in Valinor

Fingolfin was born in Tirion in Valinor, during its Noontide. He was not close to Fëanor–nor were his brothers–due to Fëanor’s scorn. Nevertheless, they coexisted peacefully for centuries.

However, Valinor’s tranquility was shattered with the release of Melkor, the mightiest Valar and the origin of evil in Arda, from imprisonment. Despite feigning repentance, Melkor’s malice festered and intensified in captivity, motivating him to wreak havoc on the Elves, whom he deemed responsible for his downfall. Among the Elvish clans in Aman, only the Noldor welcomed Melkor, lured by his unparalleled knowledge. Gaining their trust, Melkor insidiously disseminated lies and half-truths about the Valar’s intentions.

The Noldor then openly debated their continued stay in Aman, with Fëanor spearheading the disgruntled faction. One particularly damaging lie accused Fingolfin, the eldest son of Indis, of plotting with his siblings to usurp Fëanor’s rightful heirship and seize the Silmarils—magnificent gems crafted by Fëanor—for themselves.

Already harboring a dislike for Fingolfin his half-siblings, Fëanor readily embraced the rumor Morgoth encouraged. He swiftly confronted Fingolfin in Tirion, brandishing his sword and issuing threats of violence. The Valar intervened upon learning of Fëanor’s actions, exposing Melkor’s lies. However, Fëanor was held responsible for his menacing behavior towards Fingolfin, resulting in his banishment to the fortress of Formenos in the north.

Approximately twelve years later, the two brothers tentatively reconciled during a festival in Valinor, though Fëanor’s willingness was begrudging. Tragically, the festival became a backdrop for an assault by Melkor and the monstrous spider Ungoliant, leading to the demise of the Two Trees of Valinor and casting darkness over Aman. The onslaught continued at Formenos, where Melkor slew Finwë and seized Fëanor’s Silmarils. Fueled by pride, grief, anger, and selfishness, Fëanor vowed revenge against Melkor, now known as Morgoth.

Fëanor tried to persuade the Noldor to join him in Middle-earth, promising them untold glories and treasures. However, many remained unconvinced or only partially swayed, ultimately deferring to the more trusted Fingolfin. Although not particularly enthusiastic about departing Valinor, Fingolfin, bound by his oath as the elder brother, chose to accompany Fëanor, marking a crucial moment for the Noldor.

    Fingolfin in Middle-earth

    As a result, Fingolfin emerged as the leader of the second and largest among the three Noldor hosts departing Tirion for Middle-earth. The first was led by Fëanor, while Fingolfin’s brother Finarfin commanded the third, which was the smallest and most hesitant. Many among Fingolfin’s followers were reluctant to leave, causing a delay in their departure compared to Fëanor’s host.

    Unfortunately, this delay led Fingolfin to make a significant error. Shortly after setting out, Fëanor attempted to seize the fleet of the seafaring Teleri Elves to hasten the journey to Middle-earth. The Teleri resisted, and Fingolfin’s host encountered Fëanor’s during a heated battle. Mistakenly believing the Teleri had waylaid the Noldor, Fingolfin and his host joined the battle, resulting in the first Elven kinslaying. After the slaughter and the theft of the ships, a figure, possibly Mandos himself, proclaimed a terrible Doom upon the Noldor for the Kinslaying. Upon hearing this, Finarfin’s host, having not participated in the slaughter, turned back to Tirion.

    The rest of the Noldor continued north, but as the journey grew perilous, many, upset about the Kinslaying and initially hesitant, openly cursed Fëanor. In response, he and his most loyal followers departed on the Teleri ships one night. Fëanor burned the ships upon reaching Middle-earth, betraying Fingolfin’s host. Spotting the fires, Fingolfin’s host realized the betrayal. With their only route to Middle-earth now across the perilous ices of the Helcaraxë, Fingolfin’s host faced a tough choice: cross or return to Tirion in disgrace and suffer the Valar’s punishment for their role in the Kinslaying. Fingolfin, driven by the desire to confront his brother, chose to cross the Helcaraxë. The journey claimed many lives, intensifying the wrath and bitterness felt by Fingolfin and his host towards Fëanor’s followers.

    They finally arrived in Middle-earth at the rising of the Sun (1, First Age) and faced an Orc army in Lammoth, resulting in the death of Fingolfin’s youngest child. After defeating the Orcs, Fingolfin and his army approached the doors of Angband, Morgoth’s great fortress, and smote upon them. However, Morgoth and his servants, dismayed by the light of the new Sun, stayed hidden. The Noldor then reached the northern shores of Lake Mithrim (2, First Age), from which the Fëanorian part of the host had withdrawn.

    With Fingolfin’s host seething with anger over Fëanor’s betrayal, a civil war among the Noldor seemed imminent. Fingolfin’s son Fingon, however, prevented this by taking decisive action. After the initial confrontation of Fëanor’s host against Morgoth’s forces, Fëanor’s pride and wrath led to his demise at the hands of Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs. Morgoth’s subsequent false claim of parley and the capture of Maedhros further escalated tensions. Fingon, a great friend of Maedhros before Fëanor’s divisive actions, sought to rescue him. The rescue succeeded, and both returned to the gathered Noldor, astonishing them.

    To maintain unity, Maedhros relinquished all claims to kingship, making Fingolfin the first High King of the Noldor (7, Years of the Sun). They established mighty kingdoms in Beleriand, successfully repelling Morgoth’s subsequent attacks. Following the complete victory of Dagor Aglareb, Fingolfin initiated the Siege of Angband and ruled in peace and prosperity from Hithlum, by the northern shores of Lake Mithrim. On year 20 (First Age), he hosted the renowned feast of Mereth Aderthad in Eithel Ivrin, attended by emissaries from all the Elves in Beleriand. Fingolfin maintained a close counsel and friendship with Maedhros during this time.

    Fingolfin’s Death

    Even as the Elves successfully contained Morgoth’s Orcs, the strength needed to directly assault Angband or overthrow Morgoth eluded them. Throughout the four hundred years of the siege, Morgoth was not idle. He augmented his forces and crafted deadlier creatures than Orcs to fortify his armies. Satisfied with what he deemed sufficient soldiers, Morgoth’s armies erupted into Beleriand during the Dagor Bragollach. Accompanied by massive volcanic eruptions, the Orcs, Balrogs, and the dragon Glaurung completely overwhelmed the Elven defenses surrounding Angband, pushing deep into the south of Beleriand, where they slaughtered countless Elves. Fingolfin’s kingdom in Hithlum barely clung to defense, protected by surrounding mountains against the flame and magma spewed by Morgoth from the Iron Mountains around Angband. However, most other kingdoms of the Noldor were obliterated.

    The staggering defeat fueled great wrath and despair in Fingolfin, prompting him to embark on a journey to Angband to challenge Morgoth in single combat. Mounted on his horse, Fingolfin rode across Anfauglith with such wrath that those he saw him mistook him for the Vala Oromë. Unhindered by Morgoth’s servants, he smote upon the gates of Angband and shouted his challenge, mocking Morgoth for all to hear.

    Despite Morgoth still being said to be the “mightiest of all things in this world,” he hesitated to face Fingolfin, the only Vala who knew fear. Yet, Fingolfin’s insults could not be ignored without Morgoth losing face before his captains. Donned in black armor and wielding a great mace, Morgoth emerged from Angband, and the duel commenced as Fingolfin drew his sword, Ringil. Despite Morgoth’s attempts to smite him, Fingolfin skillfully dodged the blows and wounded the Dark Lord seven times. As time passed, Fingolfin grew weary, and Morgoth beat him to the ground three times. Although Fingolfin rose each time, as foretold by Mandos, the Elven King’s power could not overcome Morgoth. Fingolfin fell back into one one of the pits cleaved by Morgoth’s great hammer strikes; Morgoth stepped on Fingolfin’s neck and killed him. Yet, in a desperate last stroke, Fingolfin cut into Morgoth’s heel.

    After his defeat, Morgoth intended to feed Fingolfin’s broken body to his wolves. Yet, Thorondor, the King of Eagles, intervened, slashing at Morgoth’s face with his talons and rescuing Fingolfin’s body. Thorondor brought it to a mountaintop overlooking Gondolin, where Turgon erected a cairn over his father’s remains. In sorrow, Fingon became the High King of the Noldor.

    Despite Morgoth’s victory, the Orcs refrained from boastful songs, and the Elves did not sing of it, as their sorrow was too profound. Morgoth walked with a limp after the duel, enduring perpetual pain from the wounds received.