Revision [4613]

This is an old revision of Belfalas made by SampsaRydman on 2011-02-19 10:33:34.

 

Dor-en-Ernil
Princedom of Gondor

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Belfalas

Partly adapted from ICE Southern Gondor: The Land by Chris Seeman

Belfalas is the fairly settled mountainous peninsula that gives the Bay of Belfalas its name. It is also the domain of the princely line of Edhelion, and is therefore often referred to as Dor-en-Ernil ("Land of the Prince"). Although Pelargir and Lebennin have always been the heart of southern Gondor, the neighboring land of Belfalas prides itself as the only dwelling of the Dúnedain-in-Exile where the legacy of the Faithful never grew dim throughout all the long tribulations of the Third Age. The princely line, favored by Uinen the Maia, could even boast of being more ancient than Line of Elendil.

Belfalas was named in antiquity by elves of Edhellond. The element falas is a Sindarin word for "shore" or "beach", while bêl was the name of the region in the language of the original, pre-númenorean inhabitants, having similar meaning. So Belafalas is in fact a combination of two words with the same meaning in different languages ("Rivers & Beacon-hills," p. 15-16). Belfalals and Dor-en-Ernil are used interchangeably, though it must be noted that the princely domain extend further north than the mere peninsula .

History


According to ancient traditions, the Princes of Dor-en-Ernil were descended from a noble family of the Faithful, who had fled from Númenor independently before the Downfall and settled in lands that would later be part of Gondor. Those lands lay between the Rivers Ringló and Gilrain, in the region known as Belfalas, and there they made a stronghold on a rocky promontory that overlooked the Bay of the same name. When Elendil became High King, he recognised these nobles of Belfalas by granting them the title 'Prince'. They were known as the Grand Princes of Belfalas.

The land has been populated by Númenóreans since the Second Age, and is one of the very few areas where intermingling with indigenous peoples has been scarce. Dúnedain and Gwathuirim exist as two separate and unmixed communities throughout the history of the peninsula. Indigenous population appears to have been very small or nonexistent during the initial colonization.

The foundation of Dor-en-Ernil was the result of a compromise between Elendil's sons and the existing Númenórean community in Gondor for political supremacy. By granting Belfalas to Edhelion, leader of the Faithful in Middle-Earth, Isildur enabled that noble line to increase its own power without becoming a source of rivalry to the kingship. The hard-liner outlook of Edhelion's community resulted in much more sharply-defined cleavage between the Númenórean overlords and their subjects. In contrast to the King's Men, the Faithful community in southern Gondor was fixated to the purity of their blood, and kept to themselves.

After the War of the Last Alliance, Belfalas was slowly turned into a patchwork of lordly estates. Land was apportioned to loyal liegemen on the tip of the peninsula and in Nan Roechbin ("Valley of Knights"), while the fertile farmlands of the lower Ringló vale remained in the hands of Edhelion and his descendants, as they had become the principal breadbasket for Dor-en-Ernil.

The Gilrain valley was also kept in the hands of the prince many generations undivided, but as the first millennium of the Third Age drew on, much of this region also became enfeoffed. This process had unintended consequences: the town of Linhir was founded and the Isle of Tolfalas was lost to the royal house, when the prince's cousin, Eärnil, who had been given possession of these estates, was named the heir of Tarannon Falastur in 832 III (by then, the Line of Anárion and Line of Edhelion had become quite entwined).

The nadir of princely authority over eastern Belfalas came during the Kin-strife, when the folk of Linhir sided with the Traditionalist League against the prince's will, and Castamir nullified the latter's right to appoint the town's squire. Although Castamir was later deposed and much of his legislation was declared null and void, the township of Linhir retained its independence, and, along with the newly founded County of Gilrain, became part of Lebennin.

By comparison with the rest of southern Gondor, the history of Belfalas after the Kin-strife was remarkably peaceful. Because of the self-sufficiency of Belfalas' economy, the princedom was able to maintain its territorial integrity and independence during the tumultuous years of the Corsair Wars.

The Land


Although the soil of Belfalas is rich, arable land is scarce (with the important exception of the Ringló valley). The mountainous zone lends itself to shepherding, though in Belfalas the sheep are raised to feed the nobility, not for the harvesting of their wool. The secluded mountain valleys sustain some of the mightiest trees in southern Gondor. The Ered Torthonion are primarily a home to pine forests, and the great pines are coveted ship-building material.

Animal life is abundant, though there are few deadly predators, save for the wolves, which generally keep to themselves. Deer and boar are plentiful in the mountain valleys. One species of bird unique to Belfalas is the fabled kirinki, which the Faithful brought with them when the remnants of the Guild of Venturers settled on the northern coasts of the Bay. There are several other tell-tale signs of early Númenórean colonization: tomato fruit and sweet galenas (westmansweed) are found here more abundantly than anywhere else in Middle-Earth.

Mentality


The inhabitants of Belfalas take pride in their religiosity and history as the leaders of the Faithful in Gondor. They are diligent, stern, ultra-conservative and proud of their perceived independence. They are also courteous to outsiders, though this courtesy does not extend to non-dúnedain. The all-important connection between land ownership and blood lineage is held as sacred; it has encouraged and enforced a strict ethnic division among the inhabitants of the peninsula, and also estranged them from other Gondorians.

Politics


Dor-en-Ernil is not only the oldest feudal domain in Númenórean history, but the archetype of the very concept of feudal power itself. What distinguished this grant from earlier Númenórean models of royal patronage was not its substance, but its legal form. Without Edhelion's acceptance, Isildur and Anárion would never have been acknowledged as the rightful rulers of Gondor, as so would have lacked the legal power to grant land in the first place. Unlike the fiefs bestowed by future kings, Elendil's grant to Edhelion could not be revoked without seriously undermining royal legitimacy in the eyes of the Faithful.

Paradoxically, then, Edhelion's submission to the authority of his future king was at the same time as uncoerced, legally binding agreement enacted between political equals. The reciprocal quality of this deed, albeit under less "equal" terms, subsequently became the essence of power in Belfalas under the prince. The mutual obligations of alliance in war and friendship in peace imposed constraints on both the prince and his enfeoffed retainers, preventing either party from violating the oaths on which the continued legitimacy of their own claims rested.

The only true threat to the stability of Dor-en-Ernil's system of land tenure could come from inheritance disputes amon the eligible heirs to a given estate. Though it is an essential component of the feudal oath that an enfeoffed knight name only a single male inheritor to his estate, there has been several rebellions rising from convoluted inheritance disputes.

Military


The principal threat to Belfalas has always been by sea, and the prince developed the maritime defenses of his domain primarily in response to the spread of Corsair warfare after 1500 III, though the princedom had possessed a small number of warships prior to the Kin-strife. Current (1665 III) Captain of the Princely Navy, aerhîr Marahil Tarmasundar, has six cairons, one palanrist and 14 small coastal patrol craft in his disposal. In case of an invasion or war (not counting the numerous "civil wars" between descendants of Eldacar and the Castamirioni League), the prince of Belfalas could muster 5,000 armoured men-at-arms and 20,000 militia.

List of great families from Belfalas

(number in parenthesis designate the number of seats in the Council of Gondor during 1650-1670)

Exalted families: none
Members of Heren Requain: Amrûnaur (9), Imrazôri (8), Rosuldrië (4), Dudhrandir (4), Eregost 7), Anghabar (7), Rohallor (6), Nargond (6), Merhast (6), Tyliand (3), 80 singular estates (knights)

TOWNSHIPS AND STRONGHOLDS OF DOR-EN-ERNIL

Name Type Location Allegiance Notes
Lond Ernil City Western Coast Prince of Belfalas  
Bar Rohallor Township Western Coast Hîr Rohallor  
Ráma Township Western Coast    
Nargond Township Western Coast Hîr Nargor  
Endil Township Western Coast    
Methrast Township Western Coast    
Ostara Township Eastern Coast    
Eregost Township Eastern Coast    
Sarlond Township Eastern Coast Hîr Sarlond  
Thônfalas Township Eastern Coast    
Lond Tathren Township Eastern Coast    
Naur Amrûn Castle and village Ered Torthonion Hîr Naur Amrûn  
Dudhrandir County Ered Torthonion Hîr Dudhrandir  
Nan Roechbin County Ered Torthonion Prince of Belfalas  
Cûm Taran Fortified village Ered Torthonion Prince of Belfalas  
Galibur Fortified village Ered Torthonion Prince of Belfalas  




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