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I know the Valar and Maia are the highest, second would be the Vanyar and the Noldor and Teleri are equal?

Why does the Noldor and Teleri have a king when practically the Vanyar King and the Valar and Maia rule them? Does the Valar rule them at all? I think somewhere it is stated that the Valar are in fact not their rulers, only their Elders, teaching them and so on, but they behaved, in the past at least, exactly that way.

-Banning Feanor to Formeos for example, without taking Finwe into account, the king and his father.

  • Banning all the Noldor to ME because they left Valinor against their will. I know it is said that the ban was because of the kin slaying, but all elves were punished, even those who had no blood on their hands and only followed Feanor.

Shouldn´t it have been Ingwes job to judge the elves, his subjects?

  • In one account it is said that Galadriel had to ask Manwe for permission if she wants to go to ME! Why is it when the elves are free?

This desire of Galadriel's was, it seems, known to Manwё, and he had not forbidden her; but nor had she been given formal leave to depart. " ("UT") and "as ye came hither freely, freely shall ye depart".

-Silmarillion

And where in the hierarchy stands the Sindar elves like Legolas for example? In middle earth he was a prince, how would his life be in Valinor? Working class? (No wonder his father prefers staying in ME.)

I think all the elves without royal blood would be the working class elves, but why would they accept that?Wouldn´t they be yealous eventually?

I have a hard time imagining the living conditions in Aman. So many inhabiters need a elaborate system.

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    Why do US states have governors where there's a national president? You seem to answer your own question with your last line, "So many inhabiters need a elaborate system". I'm not sure what this question is really asking. – TylerH Jun 15 '15 at 15:55
  • In a democracy it is something different, but this is a monarchy. My question is the social structure in Aman and the relationship between the Valar and elves, are they their rulers or just Elders? If the are their rulers, then what´s the point of Ingwes highkingship? – user22121 Jun 15 '15 at 16:10
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    The Valar are gods, and the Maiar demi-gods; I would imagine they stay out of the day-to-day rulings of the Elves. Also, Kingdoms have local rulers as well; it's not just Democracies. See Fiefdoms, Lordships, Baronies, Duchies, etc. – TylerH Jun 15 '15 at 16:14
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    The problem with making specific claims about life in Paradise is that it makes it seem less wonderful with each detail. – Oldcat Jun 15 '15 at 21:13
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Partial answer only here; off the top of my head I don't know of any information regarding the social structure of the Elves in Aman (other than the fact that the Vanyar were considered above the others in some way), and I don't really have the time to dig through History of Middle-earth right now. But I can answer your other questions.

What role to the Valar play in Aman?

They are both teachers and rulers. From The Silmarillion we know that the Elves learned a great many things from the Valar and the Maiar; to give a few examples:

  • The Vanyar learn music from Manwë:

    Manwë has no thought for his own honour, and is not jealous of his power, but rules all to peace. The Vanyar he loved best of all the Elves, and of him they received song and poetry; for poetry is the delight of Manwë, and the song of words is his music.

    The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 1: "Of the Beginning of Days"

  • The Noldor learned smithcraft from Aulë:

    Aulë it is who is named the Friend of the Noldor, for of him they learned much in after days, and they are the most skilled of the Elves; and in their own fashion, according to the gifts which Ilúvatar gave to them, they added much to his teaching, delighting to tongues and in scripts, and in the figures of broidery, of drawing, and of carving. The Noldor also it was who first achieved the making of gems; and the fairest of an gems were the Silmarils, and they are lost.

    The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 1: "Of the Beginning of Days"

  • The Teleri learned sea-craft and (later) ship-building from Ossë the Maia:

    Long [the Teleri] remained by the coasts of the western sea, and Ossë and Uinen came to them and befriended them; and Ossë instructed them, sitting upon a rock near to the margin of the land, and of him they learned all manner of sea-lore and sea-music. Thus it came to be that the Teleri, who were from the beginning lovers of water, and the fairest singers of all the Elves, were after enamoured of the seas, and their songs were filled with the sound of waves upon the shore.

    [...]

    Therefore Ulmo, submitting to the will of the Valar, sent to [the Teleri] Ossë, their friend, and he though grieving taught them the craft of ship-building; and when their ships were built he brought them as his parting gift many strong-winged swans. Then the swans drew the white ships of the Teleri over the windless sea; and thus at last and latest they came to Aman and the shores of Eldamar.

    The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 3: "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"

  • Celegorm, son of Fëanor, learned from Oromë the Hunter:

    Celegorm went rather to the house of Oromë, and there he got great knowledge of birds and beasts, and all their tongues he knew. For all living things that are or have been in the Kingdom of Arda, save only the fell and evil creatures of Melkor, lived then in the land of Aman; and there also were many other creatures that have not been seen upon Middle-earth, and perhaps never now shall be, since the fashion of the world was changed.

    The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 3: "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"

However, the Valar (especially Manwë and Mandos) set the laws that the Eldar must follow, and arbitrate legal disputes. Some examples of this are noted in the question:

  • Fëanor is banished from Tirion for threatening Fingolfin
  • Manwë sets a ban on the Noldor returning to Aman

But there are other examples; the one that occurs to me immediately is on the matter of Finwë, Míriel, and Indis. A brief backstory on this dispute is given in The Silmarillion:

[I]n the bearing of her son Míriel was consumed in spirit and body; and after his birth she yearned for release from the labours of living. And when she had named him, she said to Finwë: 'Never again shall I bear child; for strength that would have nourished the life of many has gone forth into Fëanor.'

Then Finwë was grieved, for the Noldor were in me youth of their days, and he desired to bring forth many children into the Miss of Aman; and he said: 'Surely there is healing in Aman? Here all weariness can find rest.' But when Míriel languished still, Finwë sought the counsel of Manwë, and Manwë delivered her to the care of Irmo in Lórien. At their parting (for a little while as he thought) Finwë was sad, for it seemed an unhappy chance that the mother should depart and miss the beginning at least of the childhood days of her son.

‘It is indeed unhappy,’ said Míriel, 'and I would weep, if I were not so weary. But hold me blameless in this, and in all that may come after.’

She went then to the gardens of Lórien and lay down to sleep; but though she seemed to sleep, her spirit indeed departed from her body, and passed in silence to the halls of Mandos. The maidens of Estë tended the body of Míriel, and it remained unwithered; but she did not return.

The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 6: "Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor"

After his wife's death, Finwë is a bit upset because he wants to have more children, but an Elf is only allowed to have one spouse and the law took no account of a spouse who has died. What happened next is in Morgoth's Ring, and is a very long tale that I'm not going to reproduce here; I've discussed parts of it in my answer to Did Mandos make any decisions that didn't prove to be disastrous?.

What basically happened is that Mandos made the judgement that, if Míriel decided that she did not desire ever to return to her body, only then would the marriage be dissolved and Finwë could take another wife. The Valar debated this Statute, and ultimately found it to be just, and it passed into the laws of the Eldar.

I want to highlight one thing that Mandos says in this discussion, because it's highly relevant to the question:

'It is our part to rule Arda, and to counsel the Children, or to command them in things committed to our authority. Therefore it is our task to deal with Arda Marred, and to declare what is just within it.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 2: The Second Phase Chapter 3: "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" Of the Severance of Marriage

What I take away from this is that it's primarily the duty of the Valar to set the laws. This meshes with the evidence above of the Valar enforcing the law, because in each case they're adjudicating the first instance of a law needing to exist:

  • Fëanor drawing his sword on Fingolfin is the first time the peace of Valinor is broken
  • The ban on immigration is a response to the First Kinslaying1
  • Míriel is the first Elf to die in Aman, so the Statute of Finwë and Míriel was a response to the first occurrence of needing such a statute

Does this then mean that the Kings of the Kindred apply these laws, once decided, to their own people? I don't know, and I don't think there's enough information to say.


1 Is this response maybe a bit over-broad? I would argue yes, since many of the Noldor who were blameless in the Kinslaying nonetheless fell under this ban. But we're not here to discuss whether a particular ruling is just or not

  • That quote of Morgoths ring is very interesting, didn´t know that but it makes clear that the Valar rule practically over the elves in matters that´s committed to their authority, I think that includes all things that happen in Aman, because that´s their land, the rest of the word also is, but they are estranged and it´s another matter. Regarding Miriel and Finwe they went too far imo, it´s not their business what individual elves do in their privite lives (as long as they are not treating the peace of Aman) if they want to chose another spouse. – user22121 Jun 15 '15 at 20:32
  • @user22121 It's not such a cut-and-dry issue, as the long Valarian debate indicates. When you marry for life, divorce is illegal (seems likely since it's never brought up), and your entire race is immortal (even the dead are just around the corner in Aman), when should a marriage end? Does it ever? In our world, we'd defer to a higher authority: typically our lawmakers or our deities (many countries have bigamy laws on the books). The Elves are in the enviable position of being able to ask their lawmakers and their gods what the "right" thing to do is – Jason Baker Jun 15 '15 at 20:48

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