Tolfalas
Royal Ward of Gondor
Pictures from Tolfalas
 (image: http://wiki.lindefirion.net/images/Tolfalas1.jpg)
Rocky uplands of Tolfalas
 (image: http://wiki.lindefirion.net/images/Tolfalas2.jpg)
Fortified village in the eastern coast
Tolfalas

Tolfalas


Tolfalas is the largest island in the Bay of Belfalas, and forms one of the cardinal points defining the traditional boundaries of Gondor. Originally part of Isildur's feudal grant to Edhelion, the island subsequently became joined to the patrimony of the royal house by the way of king Eärnil. Tolfalas has always played an important strategic role in the conflicts between Gondor and Umbar.

Geography


The island measures approximately sixty by twenty miles, and its two highest peaks are close to 1,800 feet high. It was formed as an island through volcanic eruptions, and is one of the two active volcanic regions in Gondor (the other one is Ephel Dúath). Its deep, narrow volcanic canyons are flanked by hard basalt walls, and the thin soil hold little promise for the higher flora. The shores are rocky and offer only a few anchorages, and those only for smaller ships. Shoals make sailing around Tolfalas very difficult, even in the best of weather.

The climate is typical of the Belfalas Bay. During the year approximately 300 days are sunny and the few others are rainy, with a major concentration of rainfall in the winter and autumn, some heavy showers in the spring, and snowfalls on the highest massifs and highlands.

On the eastern side of the isle, where the winds are milder, olive and cork trees grow together with grape vines and many kinds of shrubs. On the western side, flora is limited to lichen and weeds. Greater part of the island is unsuitable for agriculture, but the vegetation support many animals: wild goats, deer, and wild pigs wander in the valleys, while tidal pools and shallows abound with oysters, clams, lobsters, and crabs. But above all, Tolfalas is home to sea birds. The pock-marked basalt cliffs make excellent nesting grounds, and on clear days the island can be seen from afar, surrounded by a multitude of birds.

History


First tentative settlements were founded, according to local folklore, by Aldarion the Mariner, who planted there an oiolairë sapling. The numerous rock-burials which pre-date Númenórean colonisation are probably shelters of the Sakalai, an indigenous coastal people related to the Danan Lin. Also Imrazôr the Númenórean, last grandmaster of the Guild of Venturers, was buried there by his son Vëantur; thereafter the hallows of Tolfalas became traditional place of internment for the line of Imrazôr and their followers.

Tolfalas was resettled in the second century of the Third Age by fisher-folk from the Ethir Anduin, and soon there were several thriving fishing villages. Goat- and pig-keeping and the growing of vegetables in sheltered places served to supplement the livelihood of these people. Under Captain of the Ships Tarannon Falastur the Gondorians decided to build a major naval base on the eastern shore, starting in III 800. A city grew around the base during the next two centuries, which was later officially chartered by king Eärnil as Gobel Tolfalas, the provincial capital (930-1478).

During the Kin-strife, the island was ruled by Castamir's warden, residing at Gobel Tolfalas. Islanders were fervent supporters of Castamir and the traditionalist league, but the warden and his men were forced to evacuate Tolfalas in 1475 and the island became virtually autonomous region. Villages on the shores were easy pray to Loyalist piracy, and it was partially deserted during the First Corsair War.

By the 16th century Tolfalas had became a home of smugglers and a resting place for Corsairs. The Gondorians still regarded Tolfalas as their land, and strove to prevent foes from establishing a base there. In 1579 Royal Navy laid waste to Gobel Tolfalas and destroyed its wharfs and magazines, sending marines to inland to destroy any stores and buildings used by Corsair collaborators.

After 1579, the Council of Gondor repeatedly discussed restoring Tolfalas as a naval base, with the hope of gaining better control over the Belfalas and Harondor coasts, as well as the Ethir. An opportunity showed itself during the Fifteen Years' War. The cost for this venture was prohibitive, but Captain of the Ships Elenaerion pressed on, and finally received critically needed support for an amphibious invasion. His new élite coastal navy excelled in this operation and recaptured Tolfalas on 16 Urui 1662.



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