Man (Middle-earth)

Man (Middle-earth)
Races of

The race of Men in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth books, such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, refers to humanity and does not denote gender. They are distinct from the various humanoid races, though some, like Hobbits, are human in origin, and others are thought by some characters to be human, such as the Wizards (who are really of another race).

The Elves call the race of Men Atani in Quenya, literally meaning "Second People" (the Elves being the First), but also Hildor (Followers), Apanónar (After-born), and Fírimar or Firyar (Mortals). Less charitably they were called Engwar (The Sickly), owing to their susceptibility to disease and old age, and their generally unlovely appearance in the Elves' eyes. The name Atani becomes Edain in Sindarin, but this term is later only applied to those Men who are friendly to the Elves. Other names appear in Sindarin as Aphadrim, Eboennin, and Firebrim or Firiath. Being the second born race of Middle-earth, Men are generally weaker than Elves, and have poorer coordination and reflexes.

In Tolkien's writings, Man with an initial capital letter refers to any human being (atan in Quenya) and man with a lowercase m refers to an adult male of any race (nér). Legolas, for example, may be correctly called a man but not a Man. Conversely, Éowyn can be called a Man but not a man.



The race of Men is the second race of beings created by the One God, Ilúvatar. Because they awoke at the start of the Years of the Sun, while the Elves awoke at the start of the First Age during the Years of the Trees, they are called the Afterborn by the Elves.

Men bear the Gift of Men, mortality. Elves are immortal, in the sense that even if their bodies are slain, their spirits remain bound to the world, going to the Halls of Mandos to wait until they are released or the world ends. Elves are tied to the world for as long as it lasts. When Men die, they are released from Arda and its bounds and depart to a world unknown even to the Valar.

Groups and alignments

Although all Men are related to one another, there are many different groups with different cultures.

Here below follow the short descriptions of the most important groups of Men in the First, Second and Third Ages.


The most important group in the tales of the First Age were the Edain. Although the word Edain refers to all Men, the Elves use it to distinguish those Men who fought with them in the First Age against Morgoth in Beleriand. Those Men who fought against Morgoth in the First Age were divided into three Houses.

The First House of the Edain was the House of Bëor, which entered Beleriand in Y.S. 305 and was granted the fief of Ladros in Dorthonion by Finrod Felagund.

The Second House of the Edain was led by one Haldad and later by his daughter Haleth and settled in the Forest of Brethil. The House called itself the House of Haleth after their matriarch.

The Third House of the Edain, which became the greatest, was led by Marach and later his descendant Hador, and they settled in Dor-lómin. This house was known both as the House of Marach and the House of Hador.

Atanatári is a Quenya term which means "Fathers of Men" and is used to describe the forefathers of the Edain. Its use is not exactly clear: sometimes it is used to refer to the Edain of the First Age, other times it is only applied to Bëor, Marach and contemporaries, and in yet other places it is used to refer to those peoples from whom the Edain are descended.

If the third meaning is adopted, it can be said that the so-called Middle Men of Middle-earth (the Rohirrim, Men of Dale, etc.) are also descendants from the Atanatári, like the Edain (or later Dúnedain).


Through their services and assistance rendered to the Elves and the Valar in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, the Edain were rewarded with a new land of their own between Middle-earth and the Undying Lands. This was the land of Númenor, an island in the form of a five-pointed star far away from the evil of Middle-earth.

They were led to this island by Elros with the help of his father Eärendil, who sailed the heavens as the bright star of the same name. Once there Elros became the first king of Númenor as Tar-Minyatur and the Edain became known as the Dúnedain (Sindarin for Men of the West). The kingdom of Númenor grew steadily in power, and the Dúnedain became the noblest and highest of all Men on Arda. Allied to the Elves, Númenor fought against Morgoth's lieutenant Sauron.

Now that the Men of the West had become powerful, they came to resent the Gift of Men, death. They wanted to become immortal like the Elves and enjoy their accumulated power for all time. The Númenóreans turned away from the Valar, began to call the Gift of Men the Doom of Men and cursed the Ban of the Valar which forbade them to sail west beyond sight of Númenor or to enter Valinor. In S.A. 2899 Ar-Adûnakhôr became the first king of Númenor who took his royal name in Adûnaic, the language of Men instead of Quenya, the language of the Elves. This led to civil war in Númenor.

The people of Númenor were divided into two factions: the King's Men, who enjoyed the support of the King and the majority of the people. They favoured the Adûnaic language. The minority faction, the Faithful, were led by the lord of Andúnië, the westernmost province of Númenor, remained friendly to the Elves and favoured Quenya.

Sauron, who by the second millennium of the Second Age was nearly defeated by the Elves, took advantage of the division. He surrendered to the last Númenórean King, Ar-Pharazôn, and worked his way into the King's counsels. Ultimately, Sauron advised him to attack Valinor and claim immortality. This he foolishly did, and as punishment Númenor was swallowed by the sea. However, some of the Faithful escaped and founded the twin kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.


The Men of Gondor gradually mingled with other groups, such as the Northmen. This led to the civil war called the Kin-strife, when Eldacar, a man of mixed descent and the rightful heir to the throne, was challenged by Castamir, who was of pure Dúnedain blood. Eldacar was forced into exile, and Castamir, called the Usurper, took the throne. After a decade Eldacar returned with allies from the North and defeated Castamir. However his sons and many of his followers managed to escape to Umbar.

Also counted among the Men of Gondor were people coming from its provinces and fiefdoms who were not of Númenórean descent. Some of these Men had darker complexions; prominent among them were Forlong the Fat and the Men of Lossarnach who reinforced Minas Tirith before the siege of the city began.


Before the foundation there was already a sizable Númenórean immigrant population living there. Before the arrival of the Dúnedain Arnor was home to Middle Men of Edain stock, and the early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population.

After the death of its tenth king, Arnor was shaken by civil war between his three sons. As a result the kingdom was split into three successor states - Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan. These kingdoms eventually fell in wars with the Witch-king of Angmar, though the Dúnedain of the North survived as the Rangers. In time, one of their Chieftains, Aragorn II, restored Arnor and Gondor as the Reunited Kingdom.

Black Númenóreans

The Faithful were not the only Númenóreans left on Middle-earth when Númenor sank. When Númenor grew in naval power, many Númenóreans founded colonies in Middle-earth. In the second millennium of the Second Age, there was an exodus of Men from an overcrowded Númenor: the King's Men, who wanted to conquer more lands, and the Faithful who were persecuted by the Kings. The Faithful settled in Pelargir and the King's Men settled in Umbar. When Númenor was destroyed, the remaining King's Men became known as the Black Númenóreans and remained hostile against the Faithful of Gondor.

From their ranks, Sauron recruited Men who would become some of the nine Ringwraiths in the second millennium of the Second Age. Umbar was conquered by Gondor in T.A. 933. However, very little is known about the Ringwraiths and where they came from and some were said to have been from the lands east and south of Mordor.

Among the Black Númenórean race was the wicked Queen Berúthiel, wife of Tarannon Falastur, King of Gondor.

Corsairs of Umbar

During the Kin-strife of Gondor, the defeated rebels of Gondor fled to Umbar. Umbar became the hated enemy of Gondor. They mingled with the Black Númenóreans and became known as the Corsairs of Umbar.

Castamir's faction took with them a large part of Gondor's fleet, thus weakening Gondor and strengthening the naval traditions of Umbar. Gondor later conquered Umbar again but lost it again soon after.

By the time of the War of the Ring, the Corsairs had mingled with the Haradrim, becoming a mixed people where Númenórean blood was mostly gone. During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, a combined fleet amounting to "fifty great ships [of Umbar] and smaller vessels beyond count" was raiding the port city of Pelargir in Lebennin, but these were captured by Aragorn and the Army of the Dead, and were sailed to Minas Tirith to relieve the siege of the city.

Dunlendings and related folk

Men of the Mountains, Bree-men
Founded Second Age
Home world Middle-earth
Base of operations Dunland
Official language Dunlendish

When Elendil founded the Kingdom of Arnor its borders were quickly extended towards the river Greyflood, and Gondor likewise extended up through Enedwaith. In Enedwaith and Minhiriath lived a group of Men related to the House of Haleth, and they were known as the Dunlendings. They had lived in the great woods that covered most of Eriador, and when the Númenóreans started to chop these woods down to build their ships in the Second Age, the Dúnedain of Númenor earned the hostility of the Dunlendings. Although the two peoples were related, the Dúnedain did not recognize them as kinsmen for their language was too different. The Dunlendings later became bitter enemies of Rohan after the people of Rohan moved into their territory and founded their kingdom.

The Dunlendings served Saruman in the War of the Ring and participated in the Battle of the Hornburg.

The Men of the Mountains, who were cursed by Isildur and became the Dead Men of Dunharrow, were related to the Dunlendings.

The Men of Bree were also descended from the Dunlendings.


The Northmen were composed of two principal groups. First, not all the Men who remained east of the Blue Mountains and Misty Mountains were tempted by Morgoth or Sauron. They were joined after the War of Wrath by those of the Edain who did not wish to travel to Númenor (similar to how, at the end of the First Age, various Eldar remained and went east, becoming lords of the Silvan Elves). The Northmen who dwelt in Greenwood the Great and other parts of Rhovanion were friendly to the Dúnedain, being for the most part their kin, and many of them became Gondorian subjects. The Men of Dale and Esgaroth were Northmen, as were the Woodmen of Mirkwood, and the Éothéod, who became the Rohirrim; the Beornings were likewise counted as Northmen.


Further east of Umbar lived another group of Men, the Haradrim, the Southrons or Men of the South. They were dark-skinned Men and waged war on great Oliphaunts or mûmakil. Hostile to Gondor, they were subdued in T.A. 1050 by Hyarmendacil I.

Both Umbar and the Harad were left unchecked by Gondor's waning power by the time of the War of the Ring, and presented grave threats from the south. Many Haradrim fought with Sauron's forces in Gondor in the war. However, Tolkien strongly hints that they, as well as the Easterlings, were at worst deceived and at best unwilling pawns to Sauron.


Most Men who fought in the armies of Morgoth and Sauron were called Easterlings, who came from the region around the Sea of Rhûn in the East.

In the First Age, some tribes of Easterlings offered their services to the Elvish kingdoms in Beleriand; the strongest among them were Bór and Ulfang (called the Black), and their respective sons. This proved to be disastrous for the Elves in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad when Ulfang and his clan switched sides and defected to Morgoth, while Bór and his sons died bravely fighting on the side of the Eldar.

After Morgoth's defeat, Sauron extended his influence over the Easterlings, and although Sauron was defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men at the end of the Second Age, the Easterlings were the first enemies to attack Gondor again in T.A. 492. They were soundly defeated by King Rómendacil I but invaded again in T.A. 541 and took revenge by slaying King Rómendacil. Rómendacil's son Turambar took large portions of land from them. In the next centuries, Gondor held sway over the Easterlings. When Gondor's power began to decrease in the twelfth century Third Age, the Easterlings took the complete eastern bank of the Anduin except Ithilien crushing Gondor's allies, the Northmen.

The Easterlings of the Third Age were divided in different tribes, such as the Wainriders and the Balchoth. The Wainriders were a confederation of Easterlings which were very active between T.A. 1856 and 1944. They were a serious threat to Gondor for many years, but were utterly defeated by Eärnil II in 1944. When Gondor lost its royal dynasty in T.A. 2050, the Easterlings started to reorganize themselves and a fierce tribe called the Balchoth became the most important tribe. In 2510 they invaded Gondor again and conquered much of Calenardhon, until they were defeated by the Éothéod, coming to Gondor's aid.

Until the War of the Ring the Easterlings did not launch any invasion. In the war, they were amongst the fiercest warriors deployed at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields by Sauron.

Woses or Drúedain

Another group of Men were the Woses. They were small and bent compared to other Men. They lived among the Folk of Haleth in the First Age and were held as Edain by the Elves, who called them Drúedain (from Drûg, Halethian name for them, plus Edain).

At the end of the Third Age, some Woses lived in the Drúadan forest (named for them) in Gondor, small in number but experienced in forest life. They held off Orcs who strayed into their woods with poisoned arrows. Through a grievous misunderstanding, they were hunted as beasts by the Rohirrim.

In the War of the Ring, they were vital in securing the aid of the Rohirrim in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields; they guided the host unseen through the forest, and thus the Rohirrim were able to surprise their enemies. In gratitude, Théoden pledged to stop hunting them.

After Sauron's downfall, King Elessar granted the Drúadan forest "forever" to them in the Fourth Age.


Hobbits were strictly an offshoot of Men rather than a separate race. The origin of Hobbits is obscure; they first appeared in the records of other Men in the Third Age.

Other races of Men

Other races of Men are mentioned in Tolkien's work, though they play a relatively small part in the history of Middle-earth. Among these are the Lossoth, a hardy people native to the Ice Bay of Forochel in the far north. A race of wicked Men descended from wild Hill-folk inhabited the realm of Angmar and served its Witch-king until the fall of that kingdom. Tolkien also makes reference to Giants in The Hobbit. These Giants may be related to the race of Man, though the scant information about them had led to debate over their exact nature and even their existence as an independent race in Tolkien's world.

Notable Men

First Age

Second Age

Third Age

For notable Hobbits see Hobbit

Fourth Age

External links

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