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Feanor asked the Teleri for their ships, but the Teleri denied them. Feanor tried to take the ships by force, and the Teleri threatened to fire upon his party, then they got into the titlesake fray and massacred each other.

Was either party, The Noldor or the Teleri specifically referred to (in-universe) as being blamed for the event and its aftermath?

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  • We edited your question a bit to make it less opinion based. It alters the meaning of the question slightly, but I hope you don't mind too much.
    – Wad Cheber
    Nov 4, 2015 at 20:02
  • not at all WC :)
    – Fingolfin
    Nov 5, 2015 at 10:46

2 Answers 2

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It depends. Do you believe people have the right to defend their property with lethal force? Because that's what happened.

Then Fëanor grew wrathful, for he still feared delay; and hotly he spoke to Olwë. ‘You renounce your friendship, even in the hour of our need,’ he said. ‘Yet you were glad indeed to receive our aid when you came at last to these shores, fainthearted loiterers, and wellnigh emptyhanded. In huts on the beaches would you be dwelling still, had not the Noldor carved out your haven and toiled upon your walls.’

But Olwë answered: ‘We renounce no friendship. But it may be the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's folly. And when the Noldor welcomed us and gave us aid, otherwise then you spoke: in the land of Aman we were to dwell for ever, as brothers whose houses stand side by side. But as for our white ships: those you gave us not. We learned not that craft from the Noldor, but from the Lords of the Sea; and the white timbers we wrought with our own hands, and the white sails were woven by our wives and our daughters. Therefore we will neither give them nor sell them for any league or friendship. For I say to you, Fëanor son of Finwë, these are to us as are the gems of the Noldor: the work of our hearts, whose like we shall not make again.’

Thereupon Fëanor left him, and sat in dark thought beyond the walls of Alqualondë, until his host was assembled. When he judged that his strength was enough, he went to the Haven of the Swans and began to man the ships that were anchored there and to take them away by force. But the Teleri withstood him, and cast many of the Noldor into the sea. Then swords were drawn, and a bitter fight was fought upon the ships, and about the lamplit quays and piers of the Haven, and even upon the great arch of its gate.

(Silmarillion)

If so, the Noldor were entirely at fault. If not, then perhaps you could say that Teleri were at fault since they responded with undue force to the theft: they could have simply disembarked with the Noldor came on board and let them go, unless "with force" means Feanor immediately started killing them instead of manhandling them when they refused to leave.

I suspect that in the Tolkien universe the Teleri were in the right, since we hear no tale or suggestion I am aware of that their actions in defense of their ships were frowned upon by the Valar. Indeed, Uinen at least avenged them in part, and shortly after the Doom of the Noldor was announced:

‘Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow.

(Silmarillion)

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The Noldor are considered to be responsible for the Kinslaying. The way I read the description in the Silmarillion, the Teleri tried only to keep them from taking the ships, and it seems the worst they did at first was to push some of them out of the ships. I don't consider that undue violence in trying to stop a theft. Notice it is after this when it is stated "Then swords were drawn, and a bitter fight was fought upon the ships, and about the lamplit quays and piers of the Haven, and even upon the great arch of its gate." Who had the swords? The Teleri are said only to have had bows, therefore the "Then swords were drawn" says to me that it was the Noldor who first brought the violence up to possibly lethal force. Once swords are drawn and you see your people being cut down by them, of course you are going to take the bow on your back and start shooting them, that is defending your own.

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