Four Letter Nerd

A Brief History of the First Age of Middle-Earth as Found in the Silmarillion and Other Writings

In the beginning, eons before the first star was born, there dwelt a divine being known as Eru Ilúvatar. In his infinite wisdom Eru Ilúvatar stretched forth his hand and created the Ainur, the Holy Ones. Together they would create a Great Music that would form a vision of what could be, weaving together the very fabric of the universe. And so it came to be that light filled the void and Eru brought this vision to life by forming Eä, the “World that Is.”  While a great many of the Ainur remained in the Timeless Halls created by Eru Ilúvatar, a number of the Ainur were so enamored with this creation that they elected to depart and journeyed forth to Eä.  Those that made the decision to cross over into Eä would become the Valar, as well as the less powerful Maiar. The Valar and Maiar would reign as gods to those that would come to inhabit the land, which they called Arda.


Ainulindale by Alassea Earello

The Valar and the Maiar worked in tandem to form a perfect world, but there was discord and war broke out amongst them. This was called the First War.  Eventually Almaren, the first kingdom of the Valar, was formed.  It was during this time that the two great Lamps were created to light the world, one placed in the North, the other in the South. This marked the beginning of the era known as the Age of Lamps.  However, the greatest of the Valar named Melkor, who would later be named Morgoth, revolted against the others. In his wrath Melkor laid waste to the kingdom of Almaren and extinguished the light of the Great Lamps.  In response to this devastation, the other Valar, led by Manwë, the Wind Lord, fled West and created Valinor, a land that was said to be even fairer than Almaren.

During this time the Valar dwelt in Valinor and enjoyed a period of blessedness known as the Ages of the Trees, for in Valinor there grew two magical trees from which their light the day and night were measured. During the Ages of the Trees the Valar created many diverse races, such as the Ents, guardians of the forests, the Eagles, magnificent winged rulers of the sky, and Dwarves, delvers of the deep and master craftsman, before awakening the Elves during the Age of Stars.  From thence Middle-earth entered into the Ages of Darkness and of Stars. Meanwhile back in Arda, Melkor ruled from his dark stronghold Utunmo, and his devotee, Sauron, ruled in Angband, a second stronghold. The race of Elves caught Melkor’s eyes and over time he sought to corrupt them, which lead to the return of the Valar to Middle-earth and ushered in the War of Powers. Many battles took place and when the dust settled the walls of Utunmo were felled and Melkor was shackled in unbreakable chains.  Without the corrupting influence of Melkor, the Elves prospered in Middle-earth and many traveled to the Undying Lands to dwell with the Valar.


For ages peace reigned, until Melkor was brought before the Valar for judgement.  Manwë, believing Melkor to have repented of his past sins, released Melkor from his bonds.  Alas, Melkor’s deception ran deep and while appearing reformed he planted the seeds of discord amongst the Elves, and made a secret alliance with Ungoliant, the ascendant of Shelob.  United in dark purpose, Melkor and Ungoliant destroyed the Two Trees, killed Finwë, High King of the Elven Noldor and creator of the precious Simarils which gave light to the trees, and fled to Middle-earth with Simarils in hand.  It was here that Melkor, now called Morgoth meaning “Dark Enemy” or “Black Foe” in Sindarin, attacked the Elves of Doriath, who drove him back to his dark fortress of Angband.  This marked the first of many battles within the Elvish kingdoms of Beleriand.

Enraged at the death of his father, Fëanor and his kin the Noldor, swore an oath of revenge on Melkor.  The Noldor raced eastward seeking the famed ships of the Teleri.  However, when the ships were not given freely the Noldor set upon the Teleri and wrested their ships from them by force, slaying many in the process.  With vengeance on his mind, Fëanor set off at once, leaving many of his own people to make a long and treacherous journey to Middle-earth by foot.  Once they made land, Fëanor and his host drove back the forces of Morgoth at Angband, but in their victory Fëanor was slain by the dreaded Balrogs.


From “The Silmarillion” Illustrated by Ted Nasmith

Many wars were waged between the Elves and the forces of Morgoth, and eventually all of the Elvish kingdoms of Beleriand fell.  It was not until Eärendil, the Half-elvin, sailed the Aman and persuaded the Valar to return to Middle-earth that Morgoth fell.  The Valar, alongside the Maiar and Vanyar, descended upon Angband, destroyed Morgoth’s armies and fortress, and cast Morgoth out of Arda and into the void.  So vast were the scars of war that ravaged the land of Beleriand from the fierce battles that took place that eventually it was swallowed by the sea, forever changing the landscape of Middle-earth.  Thus ended the First Age of Middle-earth.

(Editor’s Note: This piece was co-written by Josiah Po’e, Muindor)

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Cam Clark

Cam is a husband, father, and a fan of many things. In college, he wrote his senior thesis on Mythological, Philosophical, and Theological Themes in Star Wars, and now spends his days causally specializing in Star Wars, Tolkien, and cubical work. No relation to Bill Clark.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Okay, you know how us nerds get. Elwing was given the Silmaril, set in Nauglamír by her father Dior when she fled the Second Kinslaying. Dior was given it by his father Beren, who took it from Morgoth. I’m only being a total dork about it because Beren’s retrieval of the Silmaril is such a huge part of the Lay of Luthien, which was so incredibly important to Tolkien himself.

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