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Was the kingdom of Gondor imperialistic in fourth age?

Khaml of Dol Goldur
Registered User

Jul 4 2008, 2:06pm

Post #1 of 14 (977 views)
Was the kingdom of Gondor imperialistic in fourth age? Can't Post

After the end of the War of the Ring with the subsequent defeat of Sauron, the kingdom of Gondor together with the kingdom of Rohan worked together with the objective of defeating the easterlings (Rhn) and southerners (Harad and Khnd). Through these conflicts, Aragorn recovered areas that formerly belonged Gondor, as the area of Harondor and many other areas also.

With that, Rohan and mainly Gondor it grew and it developed plenty, being until a great potency.

Then my doubt is:

Did Gondor become an imperialistic kingdom on fourth age?

Thank you!

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.


Jul 4 2008, 3:37pm

Post #2 of 14 (373 views)
A not too simple answer... [In reply to] Can't Post

If you define empire in its strictest sense: 'a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority', then yes, by any other name Gondor was a 4th Age empire; however, it had always been imperialist (or at least had imperial pretentions) prior to Elessar's ascension, yet what it had amassed earlier in the 3rd Age had been dwindling for many centuries. The victory over Sauron during the War of the Rings merely allowed Gondor to reassume its empire-building (a trait in keeping with its Numenorean heritage). One may even account Gondor a variant of a medieval empire (such as that of the Angevins or the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne or Otto I) where there was a centralized power with many subject vassal states (thus the autonomous or semi-autonomous nature of Rohan, Dale, the Shire, etc.). The only missing piece was that Elessar did not crown himself Imperator Rex, but there is nothing to say that one of his royal descendents did not.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)


Jul 4 2008, 5:21pm

Post #3 of 14 (383 views)
You make it sound like a bad thing [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that Gondor's imperialism in the Fourth Age was just a revival of its political imperium in the Third Age.

I think it's important to remember that Tolkien imposes a strict moral rule on Gondor's imperialism, which is that when the rulers are of pure heart their empire is justified for bringing peace and prosperity to its inhabitants. Gondor and Arnor both fall from this high standard in the Third Age, because of corruptions indirectly attributable to Sauron and because of the weakness inherent in Men.

But as far as Elessar is concerned, the book makes it fairly clear that his imperial restoration is definitely a Good Thing for Middle-earth and all its peoples.

This is fantasy, not a political tract. Although Tolkien is on record as being opposed to the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, I don't know that he ever wrote down his feelings about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire or its successors, the Byzantine Empire or the Holy Roman Empire - all models for Gondor. His opinion about the worth of the British Empire in his own time is mixed, I believe, although he was a true child of that Empire and a confirmed Tory.

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Jul 4 2008, 5:58pm

Post #4 of 14 (372 views)
Elessar ruled with a light hand. [In reply to] Can't Post

Part of the fantasy is that all the King needs to do is get rid of bad guys of whatever variety, and people will happily live in peace and prosperity, as in the Shire. Presumably they will take up collections voluntarily to maintain the roads and other infrastructure, maybe even have happy community work-days on Saturdays, so taxes are unnecessary.

Once the Sauron-tainted rulers of Harad, etc., were removed, their people were able to rejoin the universal bliss of the rest of the "empire".

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Jul 4 2008, 7:34pm

Post #5 of 14 (360 views)
But... [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course, from a completely cynical standpoint, history is written by the victors; therefore, the enlightment that dawned with Elessar's aggression in the East could be comparable to Napoleon's supposedly enlightened Continental System (more a British embargo than an actual political philosophy, but it did have elements of a European Economic Community), which purportedly brought benign and benevolent bureaucracy to conquered Europe. Somehow, the conquered did not always appreciate Napoleon's forced benevolence.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)


Jul 4 2008, 7:46pm

Post #6 of 14 (349 views)
Yes... [In reply to] Can't Post

The history of Gondor as we have it is certainly told from the viewpoint of the victors, isn't it?

If the orcs had ever written their history, I imagine it would have been quite different!

(Remember how Sam wonders about Gollum's version of their story, and how he wonders whether he thinks he's the hero or the villain? Sam figures out some deep stuff at times - he at least understands that there's more than one way to tell a story!)

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Jul 4 2008, 8:20pm

Post #7 of 14 (355 views)
That's the difference between faerie and Real Life, isn't it?// [In reply to] Can't Post


Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'

Tol Eressea

Jul 4 2008, 8:23pm

Post #8 of 14 (356 views)
That has to be the best debut ever! [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome man! You really outdid any forum debut I can remember of. Great topic!

I'll have to rely on Brigand confirming this for me, but somewhere Tolkien wrote that he envisioned Gondor in a similar way to Pharaonic Egypt, this remark comes along with a sketch of the crown of Elendil, which is similar to that of the two kingdoms of Egypt.

That automatically makes it imperial. When you come to think of it, Gondor and Arnor were always imperialistic, making at their highpoint a positively huge empire, that spanned most of Middle Earth, and which contained many different peoples.

To answer your question, I would say yes. However, as others point out, making a moral judgement about it is trickier. It would be fun to know what people in Khand and Harad thought of King Elessar... I have an example of real history to give.
Many consideration aside, Napoleon arrived in Spain, and gave Spaniards a constitution and rights they did not have under the monarchy of Ferdinand VII. The problem is the Spaniards wanted their King and their former life, and didn't care at the point about anything good Napoleon was bringing them. They only saw him and his brother, the illustrous Pepe Botellas (Joseph) as invaders.

Aragorn might have had the best intentions, which could have been received negatively by those who were conquered/defeated.

Making a judgement about the legitimacy or moral value of an empire is hard. Empires like China, Rome, Spain and Britain are credited for a large expansion of knowledge and civilization throughout the world, in the context in which we live nowadays. We would have to ask the Aztec, the Inca, the Gauls, the Carthaginians, Mongols, Mughal, the Iroquois and many others if they wanted that "civilization" with everything it implied (religion, government, etc).

On the other hand, history has satanized other Empires. Call it the French, the Persian, the Mongol... each and everyone inherited many things to humankind, but were ultimately badmouthed because they disappeared to Empires and civilizations with better press: English, Greek, Chinese.

Going on, we have to remember Elessar is a King Arthur figure, a King who brought civilization, peace and prosperity to a kingdom that had not, surrounded by valuable and corageous knights (omer, Imrahil), thus starting the rebirth of a kingdom that lead it to unknown and long lasting splendour.

Gondor imperialistic? Yes. But probably one of those Empires that had a positive balance between the things they provided their subjects and those they inevitably took away from them.

Here's to Del Toro becoming the Irvin Kershner of Middle Earth!

Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!


Jul 5 2008, 12:10pm

Post #9 of 14 (349 views)
Numenorians were always pushy [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, from all accounts.

I too, do not remember reading Tolkien's views on Imperialism, or the decline of Britian's. He does mention the US & the USSR as being up and coming dominating powers, and that he strongly disliked them and their cultures. In one remarkable letter he even suggests that if given a choice, the USSR dominating was preferrable to the US, as the lesser of two evils. But I am going off subject & blame Squire. Laugh

An Ent juggling spikey things ?


Jul 5 2008, 1:08pm

Post #10 of 14 (343 views)
Letter number? [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you have the number of that letter? I'm curious and would like to read it. Thanks.


Jul 5 2008, 3:31pm

Post #11 of 14 (311 views)
How many chances do I get ? [In reply to] Can't Post


An Ent juggling spikey things ?

N.E. Brigand

Jul 5 2008, 3:32pm

Post #12 of 14 (344 views)
Letter #77? [In reply to] Can't Post

Having expressed his distate for American boogie-woogie, Tolkien goes on:

What kind of mass manias the Soviets can produce remains for peace and prosperity and the removal of war-hypnotism to show. Not quite so dismal as the Western ones, perhaps (I hope). But one doesn't altogether wonder at a few smaller states still wanting to be 'neutral'; they are between the devil and the deep sea all right (and you can stick which D you like on to which side you like). However it's always been going on in different terms, and you and I belong to the ever-defeated never altogether subdued side. I should have hated the Roman Empire in its day (as I do), and remained a patriotic Roman citizen, while preferring a free Gaul and seeing good in Carthaginians.

That was July 31, 1944.

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Jul 5 2008, 5:02pm

Post #13 of 14 (337 views)
Good enough [In reply to] Can't Post

and thanks NEB btw. references are such a bother. I much prefer just using the force

An Ent juggling spikey things ?


Jul 8 2008, 12:28am

Post #14 of 14 (497 views)
Not so much [In reply to] Can't Post

While Gondor did become much more powerful and gained more territory, the King ruled not with an iron fist. He pardoned the Easterlings and the Haradrim. I don't know the full background, but I do know that it wasn't with intentions of conquest. But I do agree that it was odd that Rohan wasn't as prominent in the fourth age as was Gondor. Perhaps it was because of the Numenorien descent that Tolkien chose to focus on them more.

Just a thought. Good question.


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