One of the most notable aspects of any character in Lord of the Rings, both in the Books and in the films, is that their names are always followed by ‘Son of’ or ‘heir to.’ Gimli, son of Gloin and Aragorn, son of Arathorn, or Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor are just a couple of examples of this.
It is clear that lineage is very important among all of the races of Middle earth, and indeed to Tolkien himself. There are several Appendicies devoted to the line of kings, the family tree of the hobbit families, and the sons of Durin. So here are 5 of the most important family lines in the famous trilogy.
Anyone who has seen The Hobbit films will know that there are a lot of Dwarves, and they are all somehow related. The main line in these films is Durin’s sons, namely Thorin, and his two nephews Fili and Kili. But three other members of the company who try to reclaim Erebor are equally important in relation to Gimli, the member of the fellowship during the War of the Ring. First of all, his father Gloin is the ginger dwarf in The Hobbit films, hence the family resemblance. But Gloin, and therefore Gimli also, is related to Balin, who is Gloin’s cousin. Balin is the old, white-haired dwarf who sets out to the Mines of Moria, and is found in the tomb when the fellowship is trapped inside by the orc and the cave trolls. There Gandalf discovers the book in the hands of a mummified dwarf at the side of Balin’s grave that tells them of what happened on the ill-fated quest to reclaim Moria. The corpse who held the book is Ori, another of the 13 dwarves from The Hobbit films, and also a member of the House of Durin.
It is well understood that Eomer and Eowyn, who are the niece and nephew of King Theoden of Rohan, and that their parents died when they were young. They are related to the king on their mother’s side, as Theodwyn was Theoden’s sister. The king was the only son of Thengel, who was king before him, and they stem from an ancient line of royalty who have held the throne for generations. Nobility is in their blood, which is why all three members have impressive battle skills and brave hearts. The throne should have been passed down to Theodred, but he is murdered and laid to rest in the tombs of his forbears, whilst Eowyn sings a lament and his family mourn him. Instead, the throne of Rohan passes to the remaining male heir Eomer, and then on to his son Elfwine.
This is another well-known family tree in Middle Earth, yet one that is essential in the making of the Reunited Kingdom in the Fourth Age of the world. Denethor, the son of Ecthellion, is the steward of Gondor at the time of The War of the Ring, but his rule is failing. Although he is related to the Numenorians, and should have noble blood, Denethor has become disillusioned with reality thanks to the cruel powers of the Palantir. In desperation, he sends his eldest son Boromir to join the fellowship at the council of Rivendell. But after Boromir dies protecting Merry and Pippin from evil orcs, it is Faramir who in fact has the greatest impact on the quest to destroy the ring when he comes across Frodo, Sam, and Gollum at the forbidden pool where his rangers hide-out. He has the ring in his grasp, but he lets them go, proving his quality. Denethor’s second heir is also significant in another respect because his son Elberon is the first true union of the houses of Rohan and Gondor in the Fourth Age after Faramir marries Eowyn and joins their bloodlines.
Aragorn, the true heir of Gondor, has arguably one of the most important lineages in the entire trilogy. His return to the throne saves the kingdom from ruin and brings about an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity for all. Aragorn is the current end of a very long line, starting with Elendil, the father of Isildur, upon whom the Argonath are based. Through a couple of thousand years, the line was passed from father to son to grandson, completely unbroken. This is the purest form of Numenorian blood that still exists in Middle Earth, hence why Aragorn’s claim to the throne is so strong, and why he is such a brave, heroic and loving person. But he also has an interesting family connection to another, more surprising character in the trilogy. When Aragorn’s mother Gilraen dies, Aragorn is taken into the care of Elrond, who becomes his father figure. Aragorn is also later sent to train the house of Denethor’s father, which may be one reason among many why the Steward hates him.
And finally, we come to the hobbits. According to the Red book of Westmarch, which holds the family trees of all of the important hobbits of The Shire. Although Frodo calls Bilbo ‘’uncle’’ they are in fact cousins once removed on his mother’s side. Similarly, Peregrin Took, or Pippin, and Bilbo are first cousins twice removed on the Took side of the family. It all becomes very confusing, as Merry and Pippin are also cousins, making them both related to Frodo and Bilbo also. The easiest way to understand it is that, through the various lines of Took, Baggins, and Brandybuck, the four are all related to a common ancestor by the name of Gerontius Took, or ‘The Old Took’ as he is known by most. Samwise Gamgee is the only hobbit who isn’t related, being of a lower class than the others who all have Fallohide genes.
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