Years of the Trees

In J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, the Years of the Trees are one of the three great time-periods of Arda. They follow the Years of the Lamps and precede the Years of the Sun, and are known to comprise several Ages, including the beginning of the First Age.

Shortly after the destruction of the Two Lamps and the kingdom of Almaren, the Valar abandoned Middle-earth and moved to the continent of Aman. There they built their Second Kingdom, Valinor. Yavanna made the Two Trees, named "Telperion" (the silver tree) and "Laurelin" (the golden tree) in the land of Aman. The Trees illuminated Aman, leaving Middle-earth in darkness.

The Years of the Trees were divided into two epochs in Valinor. The first ten Ages, known as the Years of Bliss, saw peace and prosperity in Valinor. The Eagles, the Ents and the Dwarves were conceived, by Manwë, Yavanna, and Aulë respectively, but placed into slumber until after the awakening of the Elves.

The next ten Ages, called the Noontide of the Blessed saw Varda rekindling the stars above Middle-earth. This was the first time after the Years of the Lamps that Middle-earth was illuminated. The first Elves awoke in Cuiviénen in the middle of Middle-earth, marking the start of the First Age of the Children of Ilúvatar, and were soon approached by the Enemy Melkor who hoped to enslave them. Learning of this, the Valar and the Maiar came into Middle-earth and, in the War of Powers, defeated Melkor and brought him captive to Valinor. This began the period of the Peace of Arda.

After the War of Powers, Oromë of the Valar summoned the Elves to come to Aman. Many of the Elves were persuaded to go with Oromë on the Great Journey westwards towards Aman. Along the journey several groups of Elves tarried, notably the Nandor and the Sindar. The three clans that arrived at Aman were the Vanyar, Noldor and the Teleri. They made their home in Eldamar.

After Melkor appeared to repent and was released after his servitude of three Ages, he sowed great discord among the Elves, and stirred up rivalry between the Noldorin King Finwë's two sons Fëanor and Fingolfin. With the help of Ungoliant, he slew Finwë and stole the Silmarils, three gems crafted by Fëanor that contained light of the Two Trees, from his vault, and destroyed the Trees of the Valar.

Bitter at the Valar's inactivity, Fëanor and his house left to pursue Melkor, cursing him with the name "Morgoth". A larger host led by Fingolfin followed. They reached Alqualondë, the port-city of the Teleri, who forbade them from taking their ships for the journey to Middle-earth. The first Kinslaying thus ensued, and a curse was put on the house of the Noldor forever.

Fëanor's host sailed on the boats, leaving Fingolfin's host behind — who crossed over to Middle-earth on the Helcaraxë or Grinding Ice in the far north, losing many. The War of the Great Jewels followed, and lasted until the end of the First Age. Meanwhile, the Valar took the last two living fruit of the Two Trees and used them to create the Moon and Sun, which remained a part of Arda, but were separate from Ambar (the world). The first rising of the sun over Ambar heralded the end of the Years of the Trees, and the start of the Years of the Sun, which last to the present day.

References

* [http://www.glyphweb.com/arda The Encyclopedia of Arda]


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