I have read of the Kin Slayings in this link and in the Silmarillion, but found that the Silmarillion was rather difficult to follow in some places.

The link tells of the Kin Strife, but I was wondering, were there any other elven conflicts that could be classified as a civil war mentioned in any of the works published (other than the three LOTR books and the Silmarillion which I know has no further mention of the elves in a civil war than the kin slayings)?

  • 2
    "Civil War" is a tricky term. Elves have come into conflict with each other, but "civil war" implies a division within a single nation, and those are only vaguely defined in Middle Earth. Would you consider a war between Rivendell and Lothlorien to be a civil war, or a normal war between two elven nations? The orcs are the descendants of Elves, does that make every war a civil war?
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 18:06
  • I couldn't think of a better term considering the elven kingdoms (or would I call them states or denominations?) often acted as one, such as in the war against Morgoth.
    – Jax
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


No, there are none other than the three Kinslayings we know of.

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

(Of the Flight of the Noldor)

But Dior returned no answer to the sons of Fëanor; and Celegorm stirred up his brothers to prepare an assault upon Doriath. They came at unawares in the middle of whiter, and fought with Dior in the Thousand Caves; and so befell the second slaying of Elf by Elf. There fell Celegorm by Dior's hand, and there fell Curufin, and dark Caranthir; but Dior was slain also, and Nimloth his wife, and the cruel servants of Celegorm seized his young sons and left them to starve in the forest.

(Of the Ruin of Doriath)

And so there came to pass the last and cruellest of the slayings of Elf by Elf; and that was the third of the great wrongs achieved by the accursed oath.

For the sons of Fëanor that yet lived came down suddenly upon the exiles of Gondolin and the remnant of Doriath, and destroyed them. In that battle some of their people stood aside, and some few rebelled and were slain upon the other part aiding Elwing against their own lords (for such was the sorrow and confusion in the hearts of the Eldar in those days); but Maedhros and Maglor won the day, though they alone remained thereafter of the sons of Fëanor, for both Amrod and Amras were slain.

(Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath)

There were perhaps some very small conflicts between, for example, the Avari and the Sindar or Noldor, or something along the lines of what happened with Eol in Gondolin, but no other instances of Elf-on-Elf warfare are recorded other than the Kinslayings you mention - and the third is supposed to be the "last" slaying of Elf-by-Elf.

It is known that Morgoth had enslaved some Elves to his will (which is why escapees where never trusted), so there may have been further individual instances of Elves murdering Elves. There was certainly never anything on the scale of a civil war, excepting the Kinslayings.

  • "Elf shall never kill Elf". But apparently it was allowed; see Curufin to Eol: "By the laws of the Eldar I may not slay you at this time", which implies that there may be a time at which the laws of the Eldar would have allowed it. Also the execution of Eol later in Gondolin.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 18:19
  • @DarthSatan: I don't recall any particular admonition against Elves murdering Elves. I assume it was permitted in Middle-Earth (being there deprived of the justice of the Valar) given the right circumstances, probably something like self-defense or in the execution of just laws.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 18:28
  • @DarthSatan “Elf shall never kill Elf” — where is that from? It certainly doesn't describe Middle-earth (at least not in the First Age).
    – user56
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 19:52
  • 3
    @Gilles - this is a pun on Planet of the Apes and was placed in quotes to indicate that the following text was commenting on the pun. No denial of the answer was intended.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 20:13

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