The determination of the Stewards to reject the heirs of Isildur as kings

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
In last night's class, the class seemed surprised at the information about the long and ancient resistance of the Stewards of Gondor to the notion of the return of a king.

However, none of this is new. It is all implied, if not explicit in TLOTR. In Appendix A we learn that, "On the death of Ondohir and his sons, Arvedui of the North-kingdon claimed the crown of Gondor, as the direct descendant of Isildur, and as the husband of Firiel, only surviving child of Ondohir. The claim was rejected. In this Pelendur, the Steward of King Ondohir, played the chief part."

So, we know that Pelendur constructed a successful coup d' etat, which replaced the legitimate Kings, with Earnil, as King of Gondor. But Earnil's son, Earnur, never married, and had no children. So, Pelendur's coup set up the eventual rule of the Stewards in Gondor.

We also know, from Appendix A, that after Mardil Voronwe (first of the Ruling Stewards), "His successors ceased to use High-elven names."

The only new thing we learned from this passage in 'The Nature of Middle-earth", is the emphasis and direct statement that, "from Pelendur onwards the Ruling Stewards were determined not to receive any such claimant (heirs of Isildur) but to remain supreme rulers of Gondor." However, this attitude might have been inferred from what we do know from TLOTR.
 

Alyssa

New Member
However, this attitude might have been inferred from what we do know from TLOTR.
Well reminded on the Appendices, Flammifer. However I wonder what we should make of the difference in Boromir and Denethor's attitudes as reported by Faramir in TT.

'And this I remember of Boromir as a boy, when we together learned the tale of our sires and the history of our city, that always it displeased him that his father was not king. "How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king, if the king returns not?" he asked. "Few years, maybe, in other places of less royalty," my father answered. "In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice." Alas! poor Boromir. Does that not tell you something of him?'

'It does,' said Frodo. 'Yet always he treated Aragorn with honour.'

'I doubt it not,' said Faramir. 'If he were satisfied of Aragorn's claim as you say, he would greatly reverence him. But the pinch had not yet come. They had not yet reached Minas Tirith or become rivals in her wars.'


Denethor's reply that "ten thousand years would not suffice" could be read as consistent with the 1972 explanation of "ritual humility" practiced by Stewards who were determined not to be replaced. But why would Boromir "reverence" Aragorn as a descendant of Isildur if, like his father (and on the later scheme all their forefathers since Pelendur), he too regarded Isildur's line as "a ragged house long bereft of lordship and dignity"? I think the text implies Boromir does not think that way, lending credence to the idea that Tolkien's framework of implacably unyielding Stewards strengthened over time.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Well reminded on the Appendices, Flammifer. However I wonder what we should make of the difference in Boromir and Denethor's attitudes as reported by Faramir in TT.

'And this I remember of Boromir as a boy, when we together learned the tale of our sires and the history of our city, that always it displeased him that his father was not king. "How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king, if the king returns not?" he asked. "Few years, maybe, in other places of less royalty," my father answered. "In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice." Alas! poor Boromir. Does that not tell you something of him?'

'It does,' said Frodo. 'Yet always he treated Aragorn with honour.'

'I doubt it not,' said Faramir. 'If he were satisfied of Aragorn's claim as you say, he would greatly reverence him. But the pinch had not yet come. They had not yet reached Minas Tirith or become rivals in her wars.'


Denethor's reply that "ten thousand years would not suffice" could be read as consistent with the 1972 explanation of "ritual humility" practiced by Stewards who were determined not to be replaced. But why would Boromir "reverence" Aragorn as a descendant of Isildur if, like his father (and on the later scheme all their forefathers since Pelendur), he too regarded Isildur's line as "a ragged house long bereft of lordship and dignity"? I think the text implies Boromir does not think that way, lending credence to the idea that Tolkien's framework of implacably intransigent Stewards strengthened over time.
Boromir might be not very interested in the intricacies of subtle dynastic politics and policy and in ancient history as such, so he just thinks practically. He is not hypocritical and he does not "get" the need for the hypocrisy of the "ritual humility". Stewards are the "de facto" leaders, so why are they not kings themselves? Makes not much sense to him. Later when he meets Aragorn he seems more impressed by him on a personal level than by his descent imho. He aknowledges his descent, but this does not impresses Boromir much in itself, as much as Aragorn being a leader worthy of following does.
 
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Alyssa

New Member
I totally agree, Odola, on your point that Boromir is a plain speaker who wants to call a spade a spade, and that is why he would not necessarily fall in line with "ritual humility". But I'd like to push back a little on descent versus personal qualities. Given it's Faramir not Boromir himself telling us this, but the conditional in the passage I quoted is if he were satisfied of Aragorn's claim, [then] the reverence; in Faramir's estimation Boromir would indeed pay attention to lineage. Yet if we let Boromir speak for himself, from the Council of Elrond, then I see a bit more of your position. 'Mayhap the Sword-that-was-Broken may still stem the tide – if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men.' Boromir there is (at least) equally privileging descent and actual qualities.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I totally agree, Odola, on your point that Boromir is a plain speaker who wants to call a spade a spade, and that is why he would not necessarily fall in line with "ritual humility". But I'd like to push back a little on descent versus personal qualities. Given it's Faramir not Boromir himself telling us this, but the conditional in the passage I quoted is if he were satisfied of Aragorn's claim, [then] the reverence; in Faramir's estimation Boromir would indeed pay attention to lineage. Yet if we let Boromir speak for himself, from the Council of Elrond, then I see a bit more of your position. 'Mayhap the Sword-that-was-Broken may still stem the tide – if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men.' Boromir there is (at least) equally privileging descent and actual qualities.
What I wanted to express is that imho Boromir himself would not mind abandoning the ancient Stewards' policy of not allowing the King to return,
if he would be convinced that:
1) the claim is real (and the Stewards are aware of its reality, they just choose to dismiss it);
2) that the person in question is worthy of following for Boromir personaly;
3) it is good for Gondor.

Boromir imho would not value "the hypocritical ancient Stewards' policy of not allowing the King to return" very much in itself if it does not really help Gondor. He does genuinely care about Gondor and less about "keeping the party line" imho.
 
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