Great Families of Gondor

See also: Gondor, Goverment, Council of Gondor, Heren Requain

Gondorian society has a strictly hierarchical structure and a centralized authority in accordance with absolutist concepts. The King, divinely ordained by Eru, together with his family and court are at the tip of the social pinnacle. The local aristocracy, state functionaries, senior military officers, and large landowners are all members of the upper class. The middle class comprised the urban population of merchants, artisans and owners of medium-sized landed properties, while the populace, that is, the lower class, was made up of wage-earners and paupers, most of mixed origins.

Real power is in the hands of a small landed Dúnadan aristocracy. Governance of the state is kept tightly controlled by a limited number of intermarrying aristocratic families. In the 17th and 18th century Third Age for instance, there are some 80 civil and 64 military noble families, a very small number for so large a state. Gondorian noble titles originated from the seignorial system that arose in the Kingdom of Gondor during second millenium of the Third Age. Originally, men of Westernesse recognized only Chieftains and Heads of the Family. Nobility was tied to race; only those who had divine blood, through descendants of Elros, were above others. Furthermore, all Númenoreans were "Kings of Men" (due to their height, longevity and strength) and deemed superior to all other human beings.

Herenya (Fortunate, blessed). A style used by descendants of one of the 50 Númenorean patrician families who came to Gondor with Anárion. After the Great Plague and Kin-Strife, the number of extant patrician families in Gondor has declined to 33; nine families have relocated to Umbar.

Lists of great houses

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