7

Denethor, the 26th Steward of Gondor and father of Boromir and Faramir, was born in 2930TA and was around 11 yrs old around the time of the Battle of Five Armies (2941TA). Therefore, during his early adulthood around the 2950s or so, it must have been a relatively quiet and peaceful time (at least for a while) as the Orcs were recovering after having suffered heavy loses during the Battle of Five Armies and Sauron was also driven out from Dol Guldur.

Also, we know Denethor got married in 2976TA, so at least for a while he was "footloose and fancy free" and this actually got me wondering as we know several other notable characters of the same era who were very well travelled, eg Aragorn, Bilbo, Thorin, Legolas, Gimli etc.

So, my question is: Do we know if during that time (2950-76TA) Denethor also travelled around Middle-Earth?

I would guess Gondor's allies would be possible candidates for a visit, i.e. Rohan and maybe Rivendell, but I would exclude the latter as we know Boromir had trouble finding it.

As always, I'm only interested in canon, ie the books and any letters that Tolkien may have written.

  • 1
    We don't know.. – Edlothiad May 31 '17 at 18:48
  • 1
    Based on his actions and expressed views, I would think, no, he wouldn't have left Gondor. Certainly he wouldn't have gone further than Gondor's Vassal lands to the south or to Rohan (its only ally as far as I recall). I think that, while Rivendell was an enemy of The Enemy, I don't think they were on friendly terms at all. They expressly avoided Lothlorien (a much nearer Elven realm), and only sought out Elrond for his mystical abilities in interpreting Faramir's/Boromir's dream. – Quasi_Stomach May 31 '17 at 19:00
9

Nothing is given about whether or not Denethor travelled, but here are some things he did before his ascension just after his marriage (towards the end of Ecthelion's throne) and at the beginning of his acsension.

Before his ascendancy to the "Throne" Denethor spent a long time studying the Palantír, having been jealous of Thorongil and the people's and Ecthelion's love for him.

...having long studied the matter of the palantíri and the traditions regarding them and their use preserved in the special archives of the Stewards, available beside the Ruling Steward only to his heir. During the end of the rule of his father, Ecthelion II, he must have greatly desired to consult the Stone, as anxiety in Gondor increased, while his own position was weakened by the fame of ‘Thorongil’ and the favour shown to him by his father. At least one of his motives must have been jealousy of Thorongil, and hostility to Gandalf, to whom, during the ascendancy of Thorongil, his father paid much attention; Denethor desired to surpass these ‘usurpers’ in knowledge and information, and also if possible to keep an eye on them when they were elsewhere.
The Unfinished Tales - The Palantíri

As for after his ascension, he began to use the Stone, and Gandalf believes he may have begun using it before 3091 TA, before even Sauron.

Gandalf might well think as he did on the matter, but it is probable, considering Denethor and what is said about him, that he began to use the Anor-stone many years before 3019, and earlier than Saruman ventured or thought it useful to use the Stone of Orthanc. Denethor succeeded to the Stewardship in 2984, being then fifty-four years old: a masterful man, both wise and learned beyond the measure of those days, and strong-willed, confident in his own powers, and dauntless. His ‘grimness’ was first observable to others after his wife Finduilas died in 2988, but it seems fairly plain that he had at once turned to the Stone as soon as he came to power...
ibid.

6

We don't know

I could only find one reference:

Denethor laughed bitterly. 'Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand.'

He stood up and cast open his long black cloak, and behold! he was clad in mail beneath, and girt with a long sword, great-hilted in a sheath of black and silver. 'Thus have I walked, and thus now for many years have I slept,' he said, 'lest with age the body should grow soft and timid.'

See: "Thus have I walked, and thus now for many years have I slept." One could interpret this as Denethor being active in his youth, but now being old, stays in his tower at Minas Tirith.

This is the closest you'll get of Denethor ever mentioning him leaving Gondor. In fact, we don't even know if he leaves Minas Tirith.

3

This is something that Pippin speculates about in the chapter The Siege of Gondor:

Pippin marvelled at the amount that the Lord seemed to know about a people that lived far away, though it must, he thought, be many years since Denethor himself had ridden abroad.

Unfortunately Tolkien uses the word "abroad" in many other contexts and meaning both far and near, so we can't form a judgement from that. It's also the case that it's in-character speculation.


What else can we say?

We know that Boromir was Denethor's heir, so presumably Denethor would have had a similar role before he became Steward. We also know that Boromir was mostly involved in the wars of the East, but also found time to travel to Rohan, as Eomer confirms in the chapter The Riders of Rohan:

That was a worthy man! All spoke his praise. He came seldom to the Mark, for he was ever in the wars on the East-borders; but I have seen him.

And Boromir himself confirms in Farewell to Lórien:

I have myself been at whiles in Rohan, but I have never crossed it northwards.

Although it appears to not be explicitly stated, making diplomatic embassies to allies would indeed be part of the role of the heir to the Steward, and it may be reasonable to suppose that Denethor did likewise when he was heir to Ecthelion.

Anything else?

He had married late (2976), taking as wife Finduilas, daughter of Adrahil of Dol Amroth. She was a lady of great beauty and gentle heart, but before twelve years had passed she died. Denethor loved her, in his fashion, more dearly than any other, unless it were the elder of the sons that she bore him. But it seemed to men that she withered in the guarded city, as a flower of the seaward vales set upon a barren rock. The shadow in the east filled her with horror, and she turned her eyes ever south to the sea that she missed.

We do not, of course, have evidence that Denethor had ever travelled to Dol Amroth and this may be an arranged marriage with Finduilas having been sent to Minas Tirith instead. In the absence of evidence either way you can probably accept whichever variant best suits you.

  • His knowledge of people abroad could be completely through his use of Palantír as well. – JMac Jun 5 '17 at 11:16

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