Events in Tolkien's Literature

Tolkien Encyclopedia > Events

Timeline : The Master Chronology of Eä
    Series of tables listing events in Middle-earth (and before) being linked to articles all over this Encyclopedia that continue to be written by a great many people from original Tolkien sources.
       First Age of Eä - original research by Arveleg from events Outside of Time through the First Age of the Sun year 1 through 590. His work has been continued by Varda for the rest of the Timeline.
       Second Age -  S.A. year 1 through 3441
       Third Age - T.A. year 1 through 3017
       Great Years - T.A. year 3018 through 3021
       Fourth Age - starts with F.A S.R. 1422, which would have been 3022. (S.R. is Shire Reckoning.)
General events below: (a convenience while the table Timeline is in progress)

Eru Ilúvatar exists alone.

    Ainur are created by the thought of Eru, kindled with the Flame Imperishable. He also creates the Timeless Halls as a fair place for them to live.
    Melkor believes the Void, outside their Timeless Halls, is not being considered by Ilúvatar and he is impatient of its emptiness. He searches there for the Flame Imperishable, desiring to make things of his own as Eru had done. He cannot not find the Fire, for it is within Eru, but this time spent in secret search makes his thoughts diverge from that of the other Ainur.

    Eru declares the Great Theme to the Ainur.

    First Theme:
    The Ainur obey Eru's order to make in harmony a Great Music, each with his own thoughts to add great beauty. The originators of the main thoughts, set forth by their voices that sounded like musical instruments, would later be called Valar and those who aided those thoughts would later be called Maiar.
    At first the music is perfect.
    Melkor tries to increase his part in the music by his own imagination not in accord with the theme. He causes discord, those near him faltering, or falling silent, or attuning to his thought instead of their own.
    The music becomes like dark waters making war in endless wrath.

    Second Theme:
    Eru rises and smiles and with his left hand begins a new theme amid the storm, like but unlike the first. It gathers power and a new beauty.
    Manwe is the chief instrument of Eru Iluvatar in this theme.
    The discord of Melkor rises and contends with the new theme, and the music becomes even more violent than before. Many dismayed Ainur cease to sing, so Melkor gains the mastery.

    Third Theme:
    Eru rises, face stern, and his right hand makes a third theme amid the confusion unlike the others: at first soft and sweet then taking new power. So for a time it seems two musics play at once. One is slow, deep, wide, and beautiful blended with sorrow that is the greatest part of its beauty. The other finally achieves unity but is loud, vain, and endlessly repeated with little harmony but a loud bray in unison with few notes. The braying's most triumphant notes are taken by the other and woven into its solemn pattern.
    The halls of Iluvatar shake with the strife.
    Iluvatar rises, face terrible, and raises both hands. With one mighty chord, he ceases the music.

    The World (/Universe) and Arda (Earth):
     Ilúvatar states that all themes have their uttermost source in him, and that attempts to alter his music are used to create new things more wonderful than the marrer imagined.
    Ilúvatar leaves the fair regions that he had made for the Ainur, and they follow him into the Void.
    In the Void, Ilúvatar shows them a vision made by the Music they had just sung. They see a new World globed within the Void and sustained by it, but not of the Void. Then the history they had sung plays before them. Melkor is told that eventually he will learn all his own secret thoughts and see that they are but part of the whole glory. Many other great things  Ilúvatar tells them, and they remember what they themselves added, so that they know much of what is to come and little is unseen by them. But in every age  Ilúvatar brings forth new things that cannot be foretold. They had thought they were making merely beauty, but learn that they were preparing a habitation for the Children of  Ilúvatar, Elves and Man, their new siblings in whose making they had no part. The Ainur loved them for being strange and free and other than themselves, and for a new reflection of the mind of Iluvatar from which they learn new wisdom.
    Within the splendours of the World with it vast halls, spaces, and wheeling fires, within the Deeps of Time and in the midst of innumerable stars, is chosen a place for the habitation for the Children. The Ainur would continue to shape the World in vastness and in precision.
    But when the Ainur see the vision of the habitation of the Children and seen them arise within it, many of the most mighty bend all their thought and desire to this special  place. Melkor most strongly desires to go there, envying the gifts of the Children and wishing to enslave their wills, and to be called Lord; outwardly he claims that he wishes to go there to control the turmoils of heat and cold that continue to pass through him. Other Ainur look within the spaces of the World at this habitation that the Elves call Arda, and rejoice in the light and color, but feel an unquiet at the roaring of the sea; they praised the waters most for it held the greatest echo of the Music of the Ainur. This is what many of the Children of Ilúvatar unknowingly listen for as they listen unsated to the voices of the Sea.
     Ilúvatar speaks to Ulmo who had turned his thought to water and had the greatest instruction in music by  Ilúvatar. In the Music, Melkor had made war on the waters with bitter cold, yet from this came the snow and cunning work of frost, still leaving the fountains and pools. Melkor had used unrestrained heat against the water but instead of its drying up, there came glorious clouds and rain, and with the clouds Ulmo is drawn nearer to the airs of Manwe, Ulmo's dear friend. And between the two came the snowflake. From the beginning are Manwe and Ulmo allied and most faithfully served the purposes of Iluvatar.
    But then Ilúvatar takes away the vision of the World and the Ainur see Darkness, which they had never seen before. They did not see the end of the Dominion of Men and the Fading of the Elves, nor with sight did they see the Later Ages nor the ending of the World. This makes their interest all the more sharp and there is unrest. Eru knows that they desire that this vision exist even as they do but as other.
    And Eru says "Ea", meaning Let these things be. He sends the Flame Imperishable into the Void and they see far away a cloud with a living heart of flame. This is no longer a vision, but Ea, the World that Is. Ea is the universe in which the habitation of Arda is set. Those who wish may go down into Ea. Part of the Ainur abode still with Ilúvatar beyond the confines of the World. Other Ainur, among them many of the greatest and most fair, descended into it. But on those Ilúvatar set a condition, or it is a necessity of their love, that their power would be bound within the World until it is complete, so they are its life and it is theirs. Therefore are they named the Valar, the Powers of the World.

    The Valar enter into Ea and are at a loss, for it is dark and unshaped. The Great Music had been but the thought of Ea in the Timeless Halls, and the Vision was only a foreshowing.  But now they had entered at the beginning of Time and they must work to achieve it.
    So the Valar work for ages uncounted until in the Deeps of Time within the vast halls of Ea they at last make the habitation for the Children of Iluvatar. The chief work is done by Manwe, Ulmo, and Aule. Melkor is there from the first, meddling in all that is done, trying to turn it to his purposes, and he made great fires.
    Melkor tells the others that the young Earth is his kingdom. But  Manwe, brother of Melkor in the mind of Iluvatar, calls to himself many spirits greater and less to aid in the making of Arda lest Melkor hinder their labor forever. And Manwe tells Melkor that others had labored in Arda no less than he had, and therefore it is wrongful for Melkor to claim it as his kingdom. Melkor strives with the other Valar for a time, but he withdraws to other regions and does as he wills, but continues his desire to claim Arda.
    The Valar in Arda next take on shape and hue as they had learned and loved it from the vision of Ea, these shapes being as clothing set by their thought. They might appear as splendid versions of the kings and queens of the Children of Iluvatar or without any human appearance as the great wave of Ulmo or the tree of Yavvanna

    Valar and Maiar enter the unformed Arda.
    Arda's attempted form continually shifts as Melkor changes what the other Valar set up.
    Strife. The warrior Vala Tulkas enters Arda and stops Melkor.
    Melkor expelled.

The ends of the ages:

"The First Age ended with the Great Battle, in which the Host of Valinor broke Thangorodrim and overthrew Morgoth. Then most of the Noldor returned into the Far West and dwelt in Eressea within sight of Valinor; and many of the Sindar went over Sea also.
"The Second Age ended with the first overthrow of Sauron, servant of Morgoth, and the taking of the One Ring.
"The Third Age came to its end in the War of the Ring, but the Fourth Age was not held to have begun until Master Elrond departed, and the time was come for the dominion of Men and the decline of all other 'speaking-peoples' in Middle-earth."
-Return of the King, Appendix B, intro.

Names by Ages:

Ages of the Lamps:
    The Two Lamps are set up giving light to Arda.
    The Two Lamps are destroyed.

Ages of the Trees.
    The gold and silver trees provide light.
    The Two Trees are destroyed by Morgoth and Ungoliant. Their last light is only found in the Silmarils that were made earlier by Feanor.
    Feanor refuses to give
    The last fruits provide the beginning of the new Sun and Moon.

Ages of Darkness: Morgoth rules Middle-earth. The Sleep of Yavanna begins to protect plants and animals from Morgoth. Robot-like Dwarves are made by Aule who is overeager to see the coming of the Children of Eru. The Dwarves are given life by Eru who adopts them as he sees the faithful motivations and remorse of Aule, then Eru puts them to rest until the proper time.

Ages of the Stars: Since the Elves are about to be born into total darkness, Varda rekindles the stars, placing the older, dimmer stars into constellations for greater brightness, and creates new and brighter stars. Elves awake by Lake Cuivienen in the starlight and starlight is seen thereafter in their eyes. Their awakening is the beginning of the First Age.
    Feanor and his followers break the peace of Valinor and are cursed, affecting all the history of the elves afterwards.
        Curse of Mandos  by  Varda-(Valar)
    Rising of the Moon.
        The moon rises just as Fingolfin's party crosses the terrible Helcaraxe and enters the lands of Middle-earth, after their betrayal by Feanor.
        The light of the Moon frightens Melkor who puts up reeks to hide from it and sends spirits of shadow against Tilion of the Moon, but Tilion defeats them. Not long after this, magical flight is no longer available to Melkor or his minions, so therefore the Moon can no longer be attacked that way. Ordinary wings cannot fly to the Moon. It appears that only Manwe, Varda, and their Maiar can fly magically after this time.

First Age of the Sun: 30th Valarian Age, Year 30,000. Began when the elves awakened under the new stars and before both the Moon and Sun. During this age, the Sun rose and Men awoke. Ended with the Great Battle, in which the Host of Valinor overthrew Morgoth.
    The Battles of Beleriand - the Elves of Beleriand, with Dwarvish and Edain aid, fought Morgoth's forces over the Silmarils and the land of Beleriand in four great battles. - by Fingolfin-(TV).
    The Ruin of Doriath - the destruction of Elwe and Melian's Doriath by the dwarves. by Tilion-(Valar)
    The Fall of Gondolin - by Eonwe-(Valar)-ex.

Second Age of the Sun: Began after Morgoth was overthrown. Founding of Lindon and the Grey Havens. Edain arrive in Numenor. One Ring forged. Ended with the first overthrow of Sauron and the taking of the One Ring by Isildur.
    Kings and Leaders of the Lands of Men

Third Age of the Sun: Began after the first overthrow of Sauron and the taking of the One Ring by Isildur at the Battle of the Last Alliance. Fading years of the Eldar. Easterling invasions. Sauron reappears. Witch-king in Angmar. Great Plague. Fall of Arnor. Ended after theWar of the Ring, signalled by the crowning of the High King of the Reunified Kingdom, and finally ending with the sailing of Elrond to Valinor.

    The Fellowship of the Ring

    Marriages of War of the Ring notables. Includes Third and into the Fourth Age
    Births of War of the Ring notables. Includes Third and into the Fourth Age
    Deaths of War of the Ring notables. Includes Third and into the Fourth Age

Fourth Age of the Sun: Began after the War of the Ring, officially began after the departure of Elrond. The time of Men began under the Reunified Kingdom ruled by Aragorn.
    Time changes between the Third and Fourth Age by Varda-(Valar)
    Festival Days after the War of the Ring by Varda-(Valar)

End of Arda
The End of All Things by Eonwe-(Valar 1998-2000) (Maia); aka Eonwe-(T).
The Last Battle - the final battle before the singing of the final Song to create Arda in perfection. by Varda-(Valar)

The New Arda
The final Song is sung with all voices of all the Children of Eru whether Ainur or from Middle-earth, now in understanding of Eru's real intent due to having lived, creating the new Arda.
Events page began October 16, 2003, went online Feb. 9, 2005