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Old 02-04-2022, 06:35 PM   #1
R.R.J Tolkien
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Gondor or Arnor?

My son asked me who was stronger militarily at their peak, Gondor or Arnor, and I could not give him an answer because I don't know. Did Tolkien give us the answer? or at least some hints?
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Old 02-05-2022, 05:32 AM   #2
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This ought probably to be moved to The Books.

I don't recall any numerical comparison between the two kingdoms. However, I think Arnor was probably the stronger at the beginning.

For one thing, Arnor was the home of Elendil, and I would think a majority of the escapees from Númenor would have wanted to be with him.
Also, Arnor was far from Mordor, and it would make sense for it to be the main training and marshaling area of the army.

It would seem that Arnor took the brunt of casualties in the Last Alliance, and that appears to have set it behind Gondor from that point. The ruinous civil war between Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan then weakened the divided kingdom enough to allow the Witch-king to finish it off.
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Old 02-05-2022, 09:40 AM   #3
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On the contrary, other than maaaaaybe around the time of the Last Alliance, I've always imagined Gondor as the larger force. Some of this is no doubt that it is the Byzantium to Arnor's Rome. Some of it is that Arnor was founded by four ships, Gondor by five.

Obviously, going off the ships is probably not indicative of the relative size of the realms, which mut have been substantially based, population-wise, off the pre-existing colonies, but that's actually the strongest argument I have: Gondor has Pelargir, which is said to be the greatest haven of the Faithful, whereas Arnor has, at most, Tharbad.

And looking at the population centres of the realms, Gondor has four clear cities: Osgiliath, Minas Anor, Minas Ithil, and Pelargir. Arnor has two: Annúminas and Fornost (and you could convince me that Fornost was rather minor until the fall of Annúminas).

Thus, although I admit it's more inference than statement, I would say that Gondor was always slightly larger (more populous = more militarily powerful), even if Arnor was preeminent as the seat of Elendil.

Then, beyond that, R.R.J.'s son asked about them "at their peak," and this is clearly Gondor, which waxed ca. Atanatar Alcarin's reign to almost the glory of Númenor (we're told as much in Appendix A, and ruled from Minihiriath to Umbar to the Sea of Rhûn. And part of the reason for that is Gondor's dominant navy, something Arnor is barely suggested as even having.
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Old 02-05-2022, 12:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
This ought probably to be moved to The Books.

I don't recall any numerical comparison between the two kingdoms. However, I think Arnor was probably the stronger at the beginning.

For one thing, Arnor was the home of Elendil, and I would think a majority of the escapees from Númenor would have wanted to be with him.
Also, Arnor was far from Mordor, and it would make sense for it to be the main training and marshaling area of the army.

It would seem that Arnor took the brunt of casualties in the Last Alliance, and that appears to have set it behind Gondor from that point. The ruinous civil war between Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan then weakened the divided kingdom enough to allow the Witch-king to finish it off.

Interesting. However, it could be that because Gondor was near Mordor, it was deemed more vital to keep a watch on the dark land. Thanks for your comments.
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Old 02-05-2022, 12:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
On the contrary, other than maaaaaybe around the time of the Last Alliance, I've always imagined Gondor as the larger force. Some of this is no doubt that it is the Byzantium to Arnor's Rome. Some of it is that Arnor was founded by four ships, Gondor by five.

Obviously, going off the ships is probably not indicative of the relative size of the realms, which mut have been substantially based, population-wise, off the pre-existing colonies, but that's actually the strongest argument I have: Gondor has Pelargir, which is said to be the greatest haven of the Faithful, whereas Arnor has, at most, Tharbad.

And looking at the population centres of the realms, Gondor has four clear cities: Osgiliath, Minas Anor, Minas Ithil, and Pelargir. Arnor has two: Annúminas and Fornost (and you could convince me that Fornost was rather minor until the fall of Annúminas).

Thus, although I admit it's more inference than statement, I would say that Gondor was always slightly larger (more populous = more militarily powerful), even if Arnor was preeminent as the seat of Elendil.

Then, beyond that, R.R.J.'s son asked about them "at their peak," and this is clearly Gondor, which waxed ca. Atanatar Alcarin's reign to almost the glory of Númenor (we're told as much in Appendix A, and ruled from Minihiriath to Umbar to the Sea of Rhûn. And part of the reason for that is Gondor's dominant navy, something Arnor is barely suggested as even having.
All great arguments for Gondor, thanks.

Just wondering, does Akallabêth record the number of ships to each region?
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Old 02-05-2022, 03:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Obviously, going off the ships is probably not indicative of the relative size of the realms, which must have been substantially based, population-wise, off the pre-existing colonies, but that's actually the strongest argument I have: Gondor has Pelargir, which is said to be the greatest haven of the Faithful, whereas Arnor has, at most, Tharbad.
That's an important point, as I forgot about the existing communities that had already been established before the Downfall. Most of the Faithful did indeed have Pelargir as their chief destination.

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Just wondering, does Akallabêth record the number of ships to each region?
As noted above, Elendil had four ships, Isildur three, and Anárion two.
If we're splitting 'heirs' though (), we aren't told how large the ships were, nor the numbers on board.
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Old 02-05-2022, 04:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
All great arguments for Gondor, thanks.

Just wondering, does Akallabêth record the number of ships to each region?
Off the top of my head, I daren't say it's the Akallabêth, "Of the Ring of Power & the Third Age" or Appendix A... but it's one of them. Probably the first.

And Inziladun is right that we don't know the details of the ships: Elendil COULD have four massive flagships, Isildur three sloops, and Anárion two dinghies... but I assume comparable sizes. And even if they were as large as any sailing ships have ever been, I also still assume most of the population that founded the realms in Exile was already in Exile. There just isn't enough time before the Last Alliance to have armies at the right scale (remember it's BIGGER than the War of the Ring militarily) be descended primarily from nine ships.
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Old 02-06-2022, 07:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Off the top of my head, I daren't say it's the Akallabêth, "Of the Ring of Power & the Third Age" or Appendix A... but it's one of them. Probably the first.
.
Good stuff, TY
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Old 02-07-2022, 04:42 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
Good stuff, TY
It's Akallabeth:

Quote:
Nine ships there were: four for Elendil, and for Isildur three, and for Anárion two; and they fled before the black gale out of the twilight of doom into the darkness of the world.
One other thing that might point to Gondor being stronger is the fate of the Palantiri, from "Of the Rings of Power":

Quote:
Three Elendil took, and his sons each two. Those of Elendil were set in towers upon Emyn Beraid, and upon Amon Sûl, and in the city of Annúminas. But those of his sons were at Minas Ithil and Minas Anor, and at Orthanc and in Osgiliath.
Gondor managed to put three of the stones in cities, while Arnor only had one. Granted, Elendil might have come at the question the other way - "I need one to look back West, and one to watch the east from Weathertop, and I guess I'll pop the last one in the palace", but it's still suggestive - as is the fact that Gondor got more of them in the first place!

(Maybe they were intended mostly to watch Mordor? With the Osgiliath-stone in control, and the other three potentially roving about as needed? Battlefield palantiri is an amusing notion. ^_^)

hS
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Old 02-07-2022, 09:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
It's Akallabeth:



One other thing that might point to Gondor being stronger is the fate of the Palantiri, from "Of the Rings of Power":



Gondor managed to put three of the stones in cities, while Arnor only had one. Granted, Elendil might have come at the question the other way - "I need one to look back West, and one to watch the east from Weathertop, and I guess I'll pop the last one in the palace", but it's still suggestive - as is the fact that Gondor got more of them in the first place!

(Maybe they were intended mostly to watch Mordor? With the Osgiliath-stone in control, and the other three potentially roving about as needed? Battlefield palantiri is an amusing notion. ^_^)

hS

Once more, great insight. TY.
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