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As the answers to this question make clear, at the conclusion of the War of the Ring, Aragorn had the best claim by descent (both patrilineal and matrilineal) to the throne of Gondor. (Being a revered war hero, his claim also enjoyed support from the steward and other important personages, though this isn't relevant to my question.) I am interested to know whether Aragorn was the only one whose lineage conceivably qualified him for the throne.

That is, if Aragorn had died in the War of the Ring, were there any other living individuals whose ancestry theoretically put them in the line of succession? Surely, Aragorn is the sole direct male descendant of Elendil, but were there perhaps surviving descendants from cadet branches, or other indirect descendants (even tracing back past Elendil himself if necessary)? If so, is enough known about these surviving descendants to piece together a line of succession as it was during the War of the Ring?

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    Haven't read the books but in the Movies, Aragorn is portrayed as "Last of his bloodline" and that there was no one else except him. – Aegon Apr 28 '17 at 9:54
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    Unfortunately, Tolkien wasn't much of an expert in population genetics. We can state with some confidence that everyone in Gondor at the time of the War of the Ring was descended from Elendil. – Mike Scott Apr 28 '17 at 10:28
  • I have added some potential candidates and the reasons why they aren't accepted in my answer. Hope that will answer your question. – Mat Cauthon Apr 28 '17 at 13:58
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    @Yorik Elendil arrived in Middle Earth in 3320 SA. The War of the Ring was in 3019 TA, over three thousand years later. With that long for interbreeding, everyone in Gondor is descended from Elendil (or no one is, but we know that's not the case). – Mike Scott Apr 28 '17 at 14:44
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    @Voronwë: While I appreciate the work you've put into writing and revising your answer, I still don't think it really addresses my question, which is about the (in)ability to trace a line of succession through descent alone. Your answer is much more speculative, drawing heavily from notions such as popular support and nobility. (I'm not sure how descent from Húrin is relevant.) If there is no textual evidence for any living heir, however remote, then I would have preferred an argument to that effect (à la DisturbedNeo) to a repositioning of the goalposts. – Psychonaut May 16 '17 at 12:50
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By known descent alone, there would only be Dírhael grandfather of Aragorn.

The only known (male) person to have his ancestry to a near King explicitly described would be Dírhael, grandfather of Aragorn (explained below). Faramir and Imrahil are of high lineage, yes, but they are not stated to have been of the line of the Kings. For the purpose of clarity I will still add them into this answer.

Candidates through known descent:

  • Dírhael grandfather of Aragorn

He is one of the northern kindred of the Gondorians, being descended from a Chieftain of the Dúnedain in Arnor.

He is noted here to be the only person to have been explicitly described as an ancestor of the royal line. Faramir and Imrahil are never stated to have been of the line of the Kings- just that they are of high lineages.

He is noted to have been descended from Aranarth:

His son Arathorn sought in marriage Gilraen the Fair, daughter of Dirhael, who was himself a descendant of Aranarth.

This would make him of a high lineage, but being a descendant of the Kings of Arnor, he wouldn't have as much popular support with the people of Gondor as compared to the first 3 candidates I have mentioned. This is a completely similar case with his ancestor Arvedui the Last King; he was rejected the Crown of Gondor because he wasn't popular.

Unfortunately, it is never stated whether or not he was still alive by the War of the Ring. However, we can safely say that he would be around 170-200 years old by that time.


As mentioned, in terms of lineage, there are other candidates.

Other possible candidates:

First and foremost, we have;

  1. Faramir, Steward of Gondor

The most likely candidate to be able to claim the crown. Why?

He is of a high lineage- he was descended, and so were the Stewards before him, from Húrin the Steward.

[...] they were descendants of the Steward of King Minardil (1621-34), Húrin of Emyn Arnen, a man of high Númenórean race.

He is well-liked by the people of Gondor. He became the Heir of Denethor after the death of Boromir, and was valiant in battle and loved by his men.

'The road may pass, but they shall not! Not while Faramir is Captain. He leads now in all perilous ventures. But his life is charmed, or fate spares him for some other end.'

'Faramir! Faramir!' men cried, weeping in the streets.

One could say, if Aragorn had died at the Morannon, Faramir would have been known as the 'Lord of Gondor' because of his role as the Steward, and we know that the Stewards technically 'exercise all the power of the Kings', so in a way he would be an unofficial King, similar to his ancestors.

Eventually though (same scenario involving Aragorn's death), the people of Gondor would have to accept that the King would return not, and eventually make the current Steward the King.

'How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king, if the king returns not?' he asked. 'Few years, maybe, in places of less royalty,' my father answered. 'In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice.'


  1. Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth

He would be the second most likely person to have been made King. Why (and why not)?

He is of high lineage- he was descended from Imrazôr the Númenórean, who is rumored to have wedded an elf-maid. This would give him some 'elven-blood': noted by Legolas;

At length they came to the Prince Imrahil, and Legolas looked at him and bowed low; for he saw that here indeed was one who had elven-blood in his veins. 'Hail, lord!' he said. 'It is long since the people of Nimrodel left the woodlands of Lorien, and yet still one may see that not all sailed from Amroth's haven west over water.'

In the tradition of his house Angellimar was the twentieth in unbroken descent from Galador, first Lord of Dol Amroth. According to the same traditions Galador was the son of the Imrazôr the Númenórean, who dwelt in Belfalas, and the Elven-lady Mithrellas.

He is well-liked by the people of Gondor. He is the brother-in-law of Denethor, last Steward of Minas Tirith, and is accounted for as one of the 'Captains of the West' and a 'Lord of Gondor' in the chapter: The Black Gate Opens.

Ever and anon Gandalf let blow the trumpets, and the heralds would cry: 'The Lords of Gondor are come! Let all leave this land or yield it up!'

He would be placed second after Faramir to the Kingship because:

  • He did not hold the overlordship of Gondor1, unlike Faramir
  • He dwelt mostly in Dol Amroth, and was not a 'local' resident in Minas Tirith like Faramir

  1. Dúnedain of the South

It is possible that some Dúnedain are descendants from Elendil himself, given the fanaticism of 'pure-bloodness' in Gondor. 2 known Dúnedain of the South mentioned in The Lord of the Rings are the characters: Damrod, Anborn and Mablung (not the Heavy-hand of the First Age).

We don't know this, and Tolkien never elaborated on it. So it would be a matter of speculation whether or not the Dúnedain of the South are of high lineages.

They would be placed third after Faramir and Imrahil because:

  • Their ancestry is uncertain
  • They are not of the royalty of Gondor

  1. Dúnedain of the North

They would come under the same 'speculation group' as the Dúnedain of the South. We just don't know enough about them to say that they are of high lineages, though doubtless they would have been descended from Isildur Elendil's son of Arnor, making them possible candidates to the throne of Gondor, though, as like Dírhael, they wouldn't be popular in Gondor.

One named Dúnedain of the North would be Halbarad the Ranger. He is known to have been a 'kinsman', as were all the Dúnedain of the North, of Aragorn.

'All is well,' said Aragorn, turning back. 'Here are some of my own kin from the far land where I dwelt. But why they come, and how many they be, Halbarad shall tell us.'

They would be placed last after Faramir, Imrahil, Dúnedain of the South because:

  • Their ancestry is uncertain
  • They aren't popular in Gondor

Factors that give one the right to the Kingship

In Gondor, the last of the official line of the Kings of Gondor descended from Anárion was Eärnur.

Eärnur had held the crown only seven years when the Lord of Morgul repeated his challenge, taunting the king that to the faint heart of his youth he had now added the weakness of age. Then Mardil could no longer restrain him, and he rode with a small escort of knights to the gate of Minas Morgul. None of that riding were ever heard of again. It was believed in Gondor that the faithless enemy had trapped the king, and that he had died in torment in Minas Morgul; but since there were no witnesses of his death, Mardil the Good Steward ruled Gondor in his name for many years.

Thus, when Earnur returned not, it follows as such that no other descendant challenged the Stewards for the throne. Mentioned here:

Now the descendants of the kings had become few. Their numbers had been greatly diminished in the Kin-strife; whereas since that time the kings had become jealous and watchful of those near akin. Often those on whom suspicion fell had fled to Umbar and there joined the rebels; while others had renounced their lineage and taken wives not of Númenórean blood.

So it was that no claimant to the crown could be found who was of pure blood, or whose claim all would allow.

Therefore, the factors that give one the right to the Kingship would be: having pure blood (arguably high lineage as well) and being popular in Gondor. These are the reasons why Aragorn was made the King, excellently explained here.

Note: if there were any who felt that their claim was strong enough, they would have challenged the rule of the Stewards prior to Aragorn's arrival and Eärnur's death (26 of them). No challenges were made during Denethor's rule. Not only that, any possible candidate would have also challenged Aragorn's claim to the crown. Seeing that none resisted Aragorn's claim, you could say that there was no one who had as strong a claim as Aragorn's on the Crown of Gondor.

1: Denethor is known as the Lord of Gondor because he is the Steward of the High King of Gondor and rules from the capital city Minas Tirith. Imrahil is given the title of 'Prince' as he is only in-charge of his city Dol Amroth, whereas Denethor is in-charge of the whole of Gondor.

  • The Stewards were proscribed from being of the Line of the Kings, so another strike against Faramir. The kin-strife was due to an heir who of the proper line but whose mother was..daughter of Vidugavia or something? – Yorik Apr 28 '17 at 14:41
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    Your first and third criteria are irrelevant to my question. Yes, descent is a necessary but not sufficient condition, but my question is only about descent. (Also, what does "He would not receive the Kingship as he is not given enough background information" mean? It seems you are conflating an in-universe and an out-of-universe explanation here.) – Psychonaut Apr 28 '17 at 15:04
  • And also: What a boring story. We live for our characters and their development. Ancestry, taxes, and rule are boring. cough George R.R. Martin cough – Joe Apr 29 '17 at 0:57
  • Joe - for some writers and some readers dynasties and empires are characters in themselves and they care about them as much as for any human character in the story. And as a matter of fact countless billions of living men and other people have considered their countries to be like people and and risked their lives for love of their countries as if their countries were living people. Ancestry, taxes, and rule are NOT boring - at least for some writers and readers. – M. A. Golding Apr 29 '17 at 5:49
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    Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. Might want to cover his relationship. – KorvinStarmast May 15 '17 at 17:08
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Aragorn was most likely the only heir

Eärendur of Arnor, last king of the united Arnor, had 3 sons. The first of these sons was Amlaith, Aragorn's paternal ancestor, and rightful heir to the throne of Arnor. The other two are not named, but they tried to claim the throne for themselves, resulting in Arnor splitting into 3 separate territories, each of which was ruled by one of the 3 sons. However, the two brothers ruling over Rhudaur and Cardolan were later attacked by The Witch-King of Angmar and his forces, and were most likely killed. The last kings of these territories were not of Númenórean blood, but were simply men in the service of Angmar. After the fall of Angmar, Rhudaur and Cardolan remained unpopulated until Aragorn ascended the throne and restored the old kingdoms of men.

It is unfortunately not said whether the two brothers ruling over Rhudaur and Cardolan had any surviving offspring, if they had any at all.

Beyond that, you'd have to start looking at Isildur's direct children, the siblings of Valandil, Aragorn's ancestor. Sadly, it appears that Elendur, Aratan and Ciryon did not have any children before dying in the Battle of Gladden Fields, where Isildur was also killed and the One Ring lost.

Besides Aragorn, there are no known descendants of Isildur. The only other people who could even potentially claim the throne would be descendants of Anarion, Elendil's second son and Isildur's brother. The last known descendant of Anarion was Eärnur, the last king of Gondor (before Aragorn).

The whole House of Anarion tree has significantly more potential heirs, as there are many branches, especially from Telemnar's children and descendants from Meneldil's three sisters. However, none of these would have as strong a claim to the throne as Aragorn II Elessar, Son of Arathorn, who is himself a direct, and most likely only living descendant of High King Isildur.

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    Well, I'm not asking whether anyone had as strong a claim as Aragorn. I'm asking who had the next-strongest claim (however remote). If the House of Anarion holds the next-closest claimants, who would these claimants be? – Psychonaut Apr 28 '17 at 11:19
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    Some un-named child that may or may not exist? Tolkien's family trees aren't exactly the most descript. – DisturbedNeo Apr 28 '17 at 11:24
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    Also worth mentioning the small amount of incest going on between Firiel of the House of Anarion and Arvedui of the House of Isildur, whose lineage continued in the Cheifteins of the Dunedain. So potentially, the "next"-strongest claim through the House of Anarion is also Aragorn. – DisturbedNeo Apr 28 '17 at 11:26
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Since the question allows tracing back as far as necessary... Arwen?

To quote Kevin Milner's statement from a separate question: "The kingdom of Gondor was founded by descendents of Elros, who was Elrond's brother. Elrond was Arwen's father. So essentially the new queen was already family.".

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    Presumably Arwen would be behind her brothers in the line of succession though. – Rand al'Thor Apr 28 '17 at 14:12
  • Aragorn's marriage to Arwen is pretty important since it most assuredly enhances the legitimacy of their son. – Yorik Apr 28 '17 at 14:44
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    @Randal'Thor Not to mention Elrond. – Psychonaut Apr 28 '17 at 15:06
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It is highly unlikely that Aragon was the only heir.

It is unlikely that Aragon's ancestors suffered from the trope

Single Line of Descent.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SingleLineOfDescent1

It is true that Aragorn can trace his ancestry from father to son or agnatic lineage back to Isildur son of Elendil. But every man in Middle-earth could have traced his ancestry back from father to son all the way to one of the first men who awoke in Middle-Earth at least 7,000 years before Isildur if he had some magical way of viewing all his ancestors.

Not every man will have a surviving son, but every man must have had a father and a paternal grandfather and a paternal great grandfather and so on back to the first Homo sapiens and their prehuman ancestors.

But what was unusual about Aragorn's agnatic line of descent was that each ancestor was succeeded by his son. No grandsons or great grandsons, no brothers, or nephews, or uncles, or first cousins, second cousins once removed, etc.

If you trace the lines of descent of real kingdoms you will find that ignoring succession disputes and outright usurpation, most kings are peacefully and lawfully succeeded by their sons, but some are peacefully and lawfully succeeded by their brothers, nephews, or uncles, or first cousins, second cousins once removed, etc. In European history the most distant relative to inherit a throne was a 17th cousin once removed. It is statistically very improbable that sons succeed their fathers for five or six generations in a row.

Historians tend to look with suspicion at a royal genealogy in which all the successions are from father to son for too many generations, considering it to be a fake.

So it is amazing that each King of Arnor, King of Arthedain, and Chieftain of the Dunedain of the North was succeeded by his son for forty generations.

But that has nothing to do with Aragorn's right to succeed to Arnor or Gondor. all of Aragorn's living cousins, no matter how distant, who can trace their agnatic lineage to Isildur are potential heirs of Isildur's claim to Gondor, and all of Aragorn's cousins, no matter how distant, who can trace their agnatic lineage to Arvedui are heirs to his additional claim to Gondor.

Furthermore, even if all the agnatic descendants of Isildur died off, his cognatic descendants descended from mixed male/female lineages should have been several times as numerous as the agnatic descendants of Isildur, and there should have been some of them left to claim the throne of Gondor.

There is no evidence that the Dunedain suffered from massive cases of Only Child Syndrome.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OnlyChildSyndrome1

All the evidence about the genealogies of the royal families of Numenor, Arnor, and Gondor indicates that most men in those families had several children. Of course chance would indicate that some men would have only sons, and others only daughters, though most would have both. There were several kings of Numenor who had only daughters who became reigning queens.

Among Isildur's descendants King Earendur of Arnor had at least three sons who divided his kingdom into three smaller kingdoms. The oldest son was Amlaith of Fornost, who became the first king of Arthedain and Aragorn's ancestor. After 7 generations the line of Isildur died out in the male and possibly female lines in the other 2 kingdoms and Amlaith's descendants claimed all of Arnor.

When the Witch King of Angmar conquered Arthedain in Third Age 1974, the sons of king Arvedui retreated to Lindon. The older or oldest son of Arvedui, Aranath, became the first chieftain of the Dunedain of the North. Aragorn's father Arathorn II married Gilraen the Fair, daughter of Dirhael, who was himself a descendant of Aranath in male or female line.

Aragorn's mother Gilraen lived from TA 2907 to 3007, so her father Dirhael should have been born about 2847 to 2877 and thus 142 to 172 in 3019, and probably already dead.

The ranger Halbarad is described as a kinsman of Aragorn, though we don't know if he was descended from Isildur.

So I am sure that a descendant of Isildur could have been found among the Dunedain of Eriador, or a descendant of Anarion could have been found in Gondor, if the desire to restore the kingdoms was strong enough.

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