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Dominik Vetrák
September 17, 2022, 11:00am
Reading time: 6:28

Everything You Need To Know To Understand The Rings Of Power Series. The History Of Middle Earth And The First Age (Part 1)

In the article, we will discuss the beginning of the world of Middle-earth and the planet Arda up to the First Age.

Dominik Vetrák
September 17, 2022, 11:00am
Reading time: 6:28
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Everything You Need To Know To Understand The Rings Of Power Series. The History Of Middle Earth And The First Age (Part 1)
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What happened before Lord of the Rings, how did Sauron come to power, who is Morgoth, what places are Lindon, Eregion, Valinor and Numenor? Why are the elves still in Middle-earth and why haven't they returned to Valinor? Who rules the people and the dwarves, how did the abominations actually originate or the planet Arda itself, where Tolkien's stories take place?


You can read the next part of this article here


In this article, we will look at the past of Middle-earth and explain what happened before the events of the Rings of Power series. Several of us were at times a bit confused while watching, or it was not completely clear to us what the characters were talking about. Before the events of this series, Middle-earth experienced many adventures, wars and unforgettable events. Let us guide you through all the necessary information.


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate


The Valian Years

Years of the Valar

In order to understand what is happening in the series and what the characters are talking about, we have to go back to the very beginning. On it stood Eru Ilúvatar, someone like a god who ruled over everything. Eru created the Ainur beings, which are divided into Valar (higher) and Maiar (lower).

With their singing, the Ainur created a vision of a new world that they wanted to fulfill. One of the Valar named Melkor wanted to spoil the song, but ended up inadvertently making it even better. Based on this vision, the god Eru created a universe called Eä and in it the flat planet Arda, where Tolkien's stories take place.


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate


The Valar began to gradually build Arda, but Melkor, the mightiest of them all, had other plans. He was angry that the others chose Manwë as their leader and not him. So Melkor spoiled all their plans and efforts to create a beautiful world. He was eventually banished from the planet Arda by a powerful Valar named Tulkas.


Years of the Lamps

While Melkor was gone, the other Valar, led by Varda, built two huge lamps in the north and south, with which they illuminated the entire continent. In those days, there was no natural light or sun.

However, Melkor returned to Arda after a while, with other Maiar (lower beings from the Ainur order) who sympathized with him. Together they destroyed both lamps and ravaged Middle-earth.

The other Valar decided to leave Middle-earth and made their way across the sea to the western continent of Aman, where they created Valinor. Melkor commanded his army from the fortress of Utumno, while in the west he built the fortress of Angband, which he appointed his right-hand man Sauron of the Maiar to lead.


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate

Years of Trees

The Valar Yavanna built two huge trees in Valinor, Laurelin (Golden Tree) and Telperion (Silver Tree). The trees illuminated all of Valinor and the western continent of Aman, while the central continent of Middle-earth and the eastern continent of the Land of the Sun/Dark Land remained in darkness. 


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate

The First Age

A little while later, the first children of the god (Children of Eru Ilúvatar) - the elves - woke up. Thus began the First Age, although the Tree Age was still ongoing.

The awakening of the elves 

The Valar feared that their eventual conflict with Melkor would devastate Middle-earth and the entire planet Arda again, so they did not return to Middle-earth. Because of this, Melkor was the first to discover that the elves had awakened, and began to carry them away. Using magic and experiments, he bred the first orcs from them.


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate


When the Valar learned of this, they immediately took action. After long battles, Melkor was defeated and taken to Valinor, where he was kept in prison for three hundred years.

The Valar destroyed many of Melkor's allies, but they did not complete their task, so many of them, including the powerful beings of the Balrog (originally the Maiar - lower beings of the Ainur order) fled. Sauron also managed to escape. The Valar then invited the Elves to live with them in Valinor. At that time, the elves were divided into several groups and species according to where they lived in Middle-earth and whether they decided to stay (Avari) or go to Valinor (Eldar).


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate

The creation of the Silmarils and the awakening of the first seven dwarfs

Fëanor, the son of one of the first elves living in Valinor - Finweh, created the three Silmarils, powerful jewels that contained the light from the trees of Valinor. At that time, approximately one hundred years after the awakening of the elves, the dwarves also awakened.


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate


They were originally created by the Valar Aule, but the god Eru did not allow him to create living beings before him, so they waited for the elves to awaken. The Seven Dwarf Kings formed their own clans and spread out across Middle-earth. Of the original seven dwarves, we know the name of only one - Durin the Deathless/Durin I.

The destruction of the trees of Valinor

By this time, the Valar had already freed Melkor, who was outwardly helping the elves and the Valar, but secretly conspiring and preparing the ground for his return. He antagonized the high-ranking elves and used their banishment to ally himself with the giant spider Ungoliant, with whom he destroyed the trees of Valinor and plunged Aman and Valinor into darkness. Even before that, he wanted to get his three Silmarils from Feanor, but he didn't succeed.

However, after destroying the trees, Melkor killed Feanor's father Finwë and stole the jewels. Together with Ungoliant, they fled to Middle-earth, where they fought each other for the jewels. Ungoliant almost won, but Melkor called the Balrogs to help and together they drove the spider away.


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate


Feanor called Melkor Morgoth and swore to take revenge and reclaim the Silmarils. Meanwhile, Morgoth was already rebuilding the fortress of Angband and his army. Feanor went with his army to Middle-earth, where he faced Morgoth, whom he defeated with his elven army.

However, Feanor was careless and made his way to Angband, where he was surrounded and killed by Balrogs. His sons decided to fulfill his oath and continued to fight against Morgoth. 


Years of the Sun

The First Age continues

The Valar created new sources of light - the sun and the moon - from the last fruits of the two trees of Valinor. The Age of Trees and Years of Valian ends and the Years of the Sun begins. The first people awaken and the First Age continues.

The sun's rays weaken Morgoth's army, which slows down his progress and efforts to conquer Middle-earth for a long time. Later, he creates huge clouds over his territory, through which light does not penetrate, and his army can thus gradually acclimatise to the new, sunny conditions.


Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate


As they still did not pose much of a threat to the elves and lost most of the battles, Morgoth began experimenting with new creatures. After a hundred years, he created the first dragon Glaurung (not yet winged). He stood up to the elves even before he was an adult, not having strong enough scales, so they easily chased him away with their arrows.

Meanwhile, Morgoth tried to deceive the people and won many of them over to his side. Those who defied him and joined the elves were labeled Edain. Morgoth and the elves fought each other for many years, during which the dark lord lost one of the Silmarils, stolen from him by Lúthien and Beren. They did so after Lúthien's father said that his daughter could only be married to a hero who obtained the Silmaril.


Source: Tolkien Estate


It was an impossible task, as the father did not want his elven daughter to be married to a common man, but Beren succeeded and the Silmaril eventually fell into the hands of Eärendil, who was able to find Valinor thanks to it. During this period, the kingdom of Gondolin also fell, and the tragic story of Húrin's children played out in the background. Tolkien wrote separate books about these three important events of the First Age.


The War of Great Wrath and the defeat of Morgoth

Morgoth ruled Beleriand, which was a large part of Middle-earth. Humans, dwarves and elves were not enough for him, so a man named Eärendil decided to go to Valinor and ask the Valar for help. They agreed and as a reward for his efforts, they gave him a choice whether he wanted to remain human or become an elf. He decided to become an elf while the Valar and their army returned to Middle-earth to defeat Morgoth.

The war lasted for 40 years and the Valar with humans, elves and dwarves destroyed Morgoth's army. Before the defeat, he summoned his secret weapon, winged dragons unseen until then, which drove away the Valar and other enemies of Morgoth. However, the Valar were victorious in the end, also with the help of Eärendil, who defeated the dragons when he flew in with the eagles. The Valar and Morgoth lost patience, so they threw him into the Void, from which he never came out.

Source: Amazon Prime Video/Tolkien Estate


Among the elves who took part in Morgoth's defeat were Círdan, Elrond, Galadriel, Celeborn, who later became her husband, Celebrimbor or Gil-Galad, who became king of the elves in Middle-earth after the departure of most of the elves to Valinor at the end of the first age, and reigned in Lindon.

After the defeat of Morgoth, the Valar realized that exactly what they feared had happened. They ravaged the planet so much that a significant part of Beleriand sank. The Valar recovered the two Silmarils from Morgoth, but in the end those too were lost forever. The War of Wrath between Morgoth and the Valar ended the First Age.


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