Why is Aragorn heir to the throne

Was Aragorn's claim to the throne legitimate?

TL; DR Version: Yes, it was absolutely, without question, certainly legitimate, and in any case there were no other potential applicants to compete with it.

Aragorn's assertion is not so strong, as one might wish, but it is undoubtedly legit . And besides, he has something his predecessors didn't do - support of the population, both among the citizens as well as among the lesser kings and nobles of Gondor and Rohan and the Dúnedain of the north. More importantly, it's the only option; In contrast to Arvedui's situation, there is no competing applicant. It's Aragorn or nothing.

The suggestion that Aragorn's claim is inadmissible is based on the idea that royalty in Gondor depends entirely on the male line, not the female line (i.e., father to son, not father to daughter). As we shall see below, this is simply not true - the lineage of the kings of Númenor and their descendants in Gondor and Arnor has been legally passed on from both male and female descendants, although the former usually was preferred; This was "never observed" in Gondor and Arnor, but there is no reason to believe that it was no longer the law.

When Arvedui's claim to the throne was denied because of his descent through a woman, he made that very argument, and the steward Pelendur and the Dúnedain, who were responsible for choosing the heir, did not answer (because they knew he was right) - they just chose his rival because they liked him more. This chain of events is impossible in Aragorn's case because nobody argues against him and his claim is unchallenged - he has no rival.If Gondor rejects Aragorn's claim, it is highly unlikely that she will ever be ruled by a king again.

Word of God:

Aragorn therefore claimed the right to take possession of the Orthanc stone ... because he de jure 1 was the rightful king of Gondor and Arnor .
- JRR Tolkien, Unfinished Stories: The Palantíri

Of course, this is enough to prove that Aragorn's claim was legitimate, but I've never allowed a simple phrase that amounts to a coherent answer to the Word of God to stand in the way of lengthy shame, so I'll move on.

Aragorn's descent:

Note: For a thorough study of Aragorn's ancestry, see Jason Baker's exemplary answer here: How Much Elven Ancestry Does Aragorn Have?

Aragorn's claim to the throne of Arnor can be pursued through the tables of the Rangers, Kings of Arthedain, and Kings of Arnor. His position as heir to the throne of Arnor is straightforward, as the line goes unbroken back to Elendil , the founder and first ruler of the northern Númenórean exile kingdom. Although Isildur, Elendil's elder son, was the first joint king of Gondor, he was on his way to ascend the throne of Arnor when he was ambushed and killed after the death of his father Elendil. Of course, by the time Andúril was forged for Aragorn, Arnor had long since ceased to exist as a kingdom. There are no other claimants either, as the lines of the Kings of Rhudaur & Cardolan failed.

Aragorn's claim to the throne of Gondor is less obvious. It is based on his claim to be the rightful heir to Isildur and the right of Isildur's line to claim the throne.

Isildur's departure from Gondor to take the throne of Arnor after the death of his father Elendil The Tall left the throne in the hands of Anárion (his younger brother). From then on, the royal lines of both kingdoms were effectively divided into the northern and southern Dúnedain. The distinction is made clear by the dispute over the throne of Gondor, which arose after the marriage of the last Arnorian king Arvedui of Arthedain to Firiel, the daughter of Ondoher (the 31st king of Gondor). After the death of Ondoher and his sons, Arvedui believed that this was reason enough to claim the throne of Gondor. The claim was rejected by the Council of Gondor, which selected Eärnil (a descendant of King Telumehtar). In this case, Arvedui was unable to pursue his case at the time.

Even so, Aragorn is the only direct male descendant of the line of Elendil.also Isildur did not renounce the throne of Gondor that he shared with his brother . The southern kingdom was originally divided into two parts, with Isildur stationed in Minas Ithil in Ithilien and Anárion in Minas Anor. The construction of the capital Osgiliath in the middle of the Anduin River was a compromise, but in practice it could only serve as a demarcation point between the two parts when both brothers were present.
- Source

The case is clear: Aragorn's family tree proves that he descends from both Isildur and Anárion. His connection to Anárion is through a female ancestor (Fíriel), and if there were a rival claimant related to Anárion through a man, Aragorn's claim would be weaker. However, since there is no rival, the gender of his ancestral connection to Anárion does not matter.

While this wouldn't have been included in the equation, it's still worth noting that Aragorn doesn't just have blood from the Númenóreans, and not just from the Elves via Elros - he has, too Maiar- Blood in his veins. Jason Baker's brilliant answer here is:

Since Lúthien's mother, Melian, was a Maiar, we can use the same formula to determine that Aragorn is 1 / (2 ^ 66) = 1.355 x 10 ^ -20 = 0.000000000000000001355% Maiar.

Given Tolkien's statement that the Maiar (aside from Sauron) are essentially angels, is Aragorn part of the angel .

Arvedui, Eärnil, Anárion and Isildur:

Arvedui's application was rejected for several reasons:

  1. Because it was considered (by the Dúnedain) to be inferior to Eärnil because of its descent from Anárion; Arvedui, on the other hand, was descended from Isildur.

  2. Because Pelendur the Steward and Dúnedain liked Eärnil more.

After the death of Ondoher and his sons, Arvedui of the Northern Empire claimed the crown of Gondor as a direct descendant of Isildur and as the husband of Fíriel, Ondoher's only surviving child. The request was denied. In this pelendur, King Ondoher's steward played the main role.

The council of Gondor replied: "The crown and royal house of Gondor belong exclusively to the heirs of Meneldil, son of Anarion, to whom Isildur gave this kingdom. In Gondor this inheritance is counted only through the sons; and we have not heard that the law is different in Arnor. "

To which Arvedui replied: "Elendil had two sons, of whom Isildur was the eldest and the heir of his father. We have heard that the name Elendil is at the head of the line of the kings of Gondor to this day. He became the High King of all lands of the While Elendil was still alive, common rulership in the south was given to his sons, but when Elendil fell, Isildur went to take up his father's high kingship and committed rulership in the south in a manner similar to that of his brother's son. He did not give up his kingship in Gondor, nor did he intend to divide the kingdom of Elendil forever.

" In addition, the scepter in Númenor descended from earlier to the king's eldest child, whether male or female. It is true that the law was not obeyed in the countries of exile ever to be plagued by war; but such was the law of our people , to which we are now referring, sees that the sons of Ondoher died childless. "

Gondor made no answer to that.The crown was claimed by Eärnil, the victorious captain;and it was granted to him with the consent of all the Dúnedain in Gondor since he was from the royal house. He was the son of Siriondil, son of Calimmacil, son of Arcirya's brother of Narmacil II. Arvedui did not make his claim;for he had neither the power nor the will to choose of the Dúnedain of Gondor to oppose ; Yet the claim was never forgotten by his descendants, even after their kingship had passed away. Because the time was drawing nearer when the northern kingdom would come to an end.
- JRR Tolkien, Gondor and the heirs of Anárion

This boils down to two reasons for giving Eärnil the crown:

  • Pelendur Steward and Dúnedain interpreted the law as the better of two candidates

  • He was more popular. Note that Gondor did not answer Arvedui's excellent argument - they simply ignored him and gave his rival the crown. They might as well have admitted the truth: "There is no reason to exclude an heir to Isildur from the throne, and to suggest that Anárion's ancestry is superior to Isildur's ancestry is silly - we just don't like you as much as we like him ".

Neither of these factors can come into play against Aragorn as he is the only potential heir and is loved almost everywhere.

Arvedui and Aragorn:

Why was Arvedui's claim rejected and Aragorn's accepted, even though Arvedui's claim was clearly much stronger? Easy:

  • Arvedui had competition, Aragorn didn't. The circumstances couldn't be more different: Arvedui vs. Eärnil; Aragorn against anyone.

    • Arvedui's claim was considered weaker than that of Eärnil, since Arvedui's line went through a woman and Eärnil's through a man. Although a male line was superior to a female line and a firstborn son was superior to subsequent sons, this is not relevant in Aragorn's situation, since a narrower female line and a more distant male line are better than nothing. Aragorn does not compete with anyone.
  • At the time, the steward Pelendur - the chief judge of Arvedui's claim - preferred Eärnil Arvedui;Now the steward supports Faramir Aragorn wholeheartedly.

    • If Denethor were still alive he would almost certainly have defied Aragorn's claim, but he would be just as forced to step aside sooner than later and accept Aragorn as king, as Aragorn was exerting phenomenal pressure to ascend the throne. But Denethor died, of course, and his son Faramir literally owes his life to Aragorn. Even if Aragorn had not saved Faramir's life, Faramir would not have defied him - Faramir is too humble and decent to do anything as petty as to deny Gondor his long-awaited king just to keep the administration to himself.
  • The Dúnedain supported Eärnil and refused Arvedui a thousand years ago, but now they all support Aragorn and refuse ... not to have a king at all.

    • It appears that Arvedui never had the support of the Dúnedain; Aragorn does. Aragorn had all along the support of the Dúnedain of the North (i.e. the Rangers of the North) and led them for decades; The Dúnedain of the south (i.e., the Rangers of Ithilien under Faramir) came quickly to aid Aragorn as he showed his merits and defended Gondor. So he had enjoyed the support of half the Dúnedain all his life, and after Pelennor he had the support of the others.
  • Arvedui was not, as far as we can tell, popular in Gondor, while Eärnil was a beloved and celebrated war hero.Aragorn is in Gondor after Pelennor enormously popular and was indeed a hero of the battle .

    • Arvedui wasn't particularly important to Gondor. We have no reason to believe that he did anything for them, and he certainly did not do as much for Gondor as Eärnil. The people of Gondor knew that without Aragorn's help they would have been massacred.
  • The nobility and lesser kingship of Gondor seem to have unanimously supported Eärnil and opposed Arvedui;The nobility and lesser kingship of Gondor (and even Rohan) unanimously support Aragorn .

    • The account of Arvedui's attempt to take the throne gives the impression that he had no one on his side. We know that when Aragorn ascended the throne, all who were important were with him - Prince Imrahil, King Éomer, Faramir the Steward, Lord Elrond, Lady Éowyn, even Gandalf. More on this below.
  • Pelendur and the Dúnedain believed that Arvedui's kingdom of Arthedain was less impressive than Eärnil's exploits as captain of the southern armies against the Wainriders of Rhovanion, the Easterlings and the Haradrim.Aragorn has taken far more impressive victories than Eärnil.

    • Although Aragorn does not (yet) have a kingdom, which seems to make him even less impressive than Arvedui, he is the clear heir to the throne of Arnor (once he rebuilt the Arnor kingdom), and he has shown his skills in countless battles from Defense of the north until his service in the armies of King Thengel of Rohan and steward Ecthelion II of Gondor under the pseudonym Thorongil (who also acted as adviser to Ecthelion II) - during this time he attacked Umbar and defeated them superior forces, the Gondor save from ruin.

      He led a series of campaigns that weakened Sauron, which would be vital to the victory of the men of the West over Mordor in the War of the Ring. He went alone to the hostile territory to the east and south to "inquire into the hearts of men good and evil" and to learn about the "conspiracies and devices" of the Dark Lord's servants. He directed the community of the ring. He (again) destroyed the Corsair fleet at Umbar and arrived to ensure the victory of Gondor and Rohan in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

      He could have entered Minas Tirith and then ascended the throne, but decided against it and preferred to save the world first. Eventually he led the Army of the West at the Battle of Morannon, where he fought a force ten times its size, giving Frodo a chance to destroy the One Ring and ensuring the permanent end of the Sauron and Sauron threat to Mordor. He may not have a kingdom if he claims the throne of Gondor, but he has a legitimate claim and he does the most impressive war story in the history of the world .

Aragorn's support base:

It is quite interesting to compare Arvedui and Aragorn, as the two were similar in that both were kings of Arnor (or would have been in Aragorn's case) and both also made claims to the throne of Gondor. Their reasoning was the same in both cases - Arnor was ruled by the descendants of Isildur. Gondor was ruled by the descendants of Anárion. Since Isildur and Anárion were brothers, one ruling family was related to the other. The difference between Arvedui and Aragorn, however, is in how their respective claims have been answered.

Arvedui laid claim to Gondor's throne after the rightful King Ondoher died without sons. Arvedui had even married Ondoher's daughter, so part of his reasoning was that she should actually inherit the throne (on the assumption that he was making the actual decision to meet would ...). After Ondoher left, the kingdom was ruled by the Council of Gondor, led by the steward Pelendur.It was up to them to decide who would be the next king.And Arvedui had a competitor - Eärnil, a distant relative of Ondoher and a military hero in Gondor.

Pelendur preferred Eärnil and eventually convinced the council to prefer him over Arvedui. Their reasoning was as follows: Isildur had given up all control over Gondor, and so the heirs of Isildur should not be entitled to Gondor's throne. And Arvedui's wife could not inherit as the throne could only be passed on to sons. Furthermore At the time, Arvedui's kingdom had been reduced to the much smaller kingdom of Arthedain, which Gondor found rather nondescript, especially when compared to the exploits of Eärnil.

Now fast forward about a thousand years after Aragorn. In some ways his claim to Gondor's throne is even worse than Arvedui's. He's not really a king of anything, and even Arvedui's little kingdom is gone. But unlike Arvedui, Aragorn has no competitors.There is no one else who is entitled to the throne.While it's not the patrilineal legacy Pelendur wanted, Aragorn is technically a descendant of Ondoher through Arvedui's wife.

While Pelendur proved that the steward had the power to refuse claims to the throne of Gondor, it would be likely that he could not have done so if Eärnil had not also been an option. Likewise, I think that (had Denethor survived) he might have tried to block Aragorn's claim, but probably would not have been able to indefinitely deny Aragorn.His problem was that Aragorn was very popular with many other powerful people.Gandalf may not have been of much help in Gondor's political scene, but Prince Imrahil would have been.And after Rohan had literally rushed in and saved the day in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, having Éomer's support would have been helpful too.And (although I may be biased) I have a feeling that Faramir would have supported Aragorn's claim as well.And if the people of Gondor were impressed by Eärnil's acts of war, then they would definitely have been influenced by Aragorns.
- Ask about Middle-earth

Denethor evidently intended to deny Aragorn the throne and would probably have been entitled to do so. But after Denethor died, there was no one in a position of authority who tended to turn Aragorn away. Some of his followers were quite powerful:

  • Éomer, King of Rohan

    • As ruler of Rohan and (after Theoden's death) leader of the Rohirrim forces who came to the aid of Gondor in Pelennor, Éomer's support would have had a significant impact on Faramir and the citizens of Gondor.
  • Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, Denethor's brother-in-law

    • Tolkien Gateway points out, "Imrahil realized that Aragorn was the rightful king, but he agreed that it would be wise for Aragorn to wait to enter the city, knowing that Denethor was strong-willed and proud."

    • Imrahil asked Aragorn to take the throne when he learned that Denethor was dead and Faramir (the new steward) apparently died; Instead, Aragorn healed Faramir and convinced Imrahil himself to temporarily take over the administration until Faramir recovered.

  • Faramir, Denethor's son and successor as steward

    • Faramir was a good man, he owed his life to Aragorn and he was humble enough to realize that Aragorn was the king Gondor had been waiting for.

    • "Here is Aragorn, ... Elessar of the line of Valandil, ISILDUR'S SON, Elendil's son of Númenor." - Faramir

  • Éowyn, Theoden's niece (and essentially his adopted daughter), Éomer's sister, and later Faramir's wife and princess.

    • She loved Aragorn and knew he belonged on the throne; She would have been willing to convince Faramir to accept Aragorn's claim if it had been necessary to convince him (but obviously it was completely unnecessary).
  • The remaining Dúnedain, both in the north and in the south.

    • Aragorn had been the chief of northern Dúnedain for decades, and when he came to the aid of Gondor and saved the life of Faramir (chief of southern Dúnedain), he also gained their loyalty.
  • The elves under Elrond.

    • How is that relevant? Because the kings of Númenor and later Gondor traced their descent to Elros. Aragorn was descended from Elendil, who descended from Valandil, who descended from Elros a few generations ago. Elros was the son of Eärendil and his wife Elwing and the brother Elrond. Aragorn had Elrond in his corner and said, "Your kingship is ultimately in descent from MY BROTHER bound, and I assure you THAT'S THE Type you want. He's definitely the guy most closely related to the first king of Númenor, my own brother " .
  • Gandalf the White

    • It goes without saying that Aragorn had Gandalf's support; Although Denethor had turned the people of Gondor against "Mithrandir", probably because of his personal distrust of the wizard, the people quickly learned to love Gandalf when he led the defense of Minas Tirith.

And of course the people of Gondor were firmly in Aragorn's camp - he had saved them, he had saved their beloved Faramir and he was the only clear potential heir to the throne. They would have loved the prospect of having a king and an enlarged kingdom again after a millennium of slow decline and loss of status, and the icing on the cake was the fact that Aragorn was also a noble, admirable, and heroic figure.

Word of God regarding the Palantíri:

The palantir of Orthanc was the rightful property of the rightful King of Gondor:

These stones were an inalienable gift to Elendil and his heirs, to whom alone they legally belonged ; However, this does not mean that they could lawfully be used by only one of these "heirs". They can lawfully be used by anyone who is either the "Heir of Anárion" or the "Heir of Isildur" i.e. one rightful king of Gondor or Arnor , was authorized .

Other persons were also appointed to visit the stones and the ministers of the crown dealing with "secret services" carried out regular and special inspections and reported the information thus obtained to the king and the council or to the king privately, as the matter required. In Gondor, most recently when the steward's office grew in importance and became hereditary, offering the king a permanent "understudy" and an immediate viceroy in need, the command and use of the stones seemed mainly in the hands of the stewards and the traditions of their nature and uses were guarded and passed on in their home. Since the administration had become hereditary from 1998, the power to use the stones or to represent them again was legitimately transferred in their line and therefore belonged entirely to Denethor.

Regarding the narrative of the Lord of the Rings it must be noted, however, that beyond such deputy authority, even hereditary, everyone "heir to Elendil" (i.e., an acknowledged descendant to hold a throne or reign in the Númenórean realms by virtue of that lineage) had that Right to use one of the palantíri. Aragorn therefore claimed the right to take the Orthanc stone in his possession, as it was initially without an owner or overseer; and also, because he is de jure the rightful king of Gondor and Arnor and, for good reason, if he wanted, he could withdraw all previous grants to himself.
- Unfinished Stories: The Palantírí

As if this were not clear enough, he says in Tolkien's Letter 246 that Aragorn won his competition with Sauron for mastery of the palantir because:

Was in competition with the Palantir Aragorn the rightful owner .

If the rightful owner of the palantír was the rightful king of Gondor and Aragorn was the rightful owner of the palantír, then Aragorn is the rightful king of Gondor (QED).


Aragorn has a legitimate claim to the throne; no one opposes him and everyone supports him. His hereditary ties to kingship are distant and relatively weak compared to the ties of previous kings, but that doesn't matter as his ties are stronger and tighter than anyone else on the planet. If Gondor had refused his claim, they would never have a king again; and as far as I can tell, Gondor had no legal right to refuse his claim. The fact that they had no right to deny it went well with the fact that they had no desire to deny it (in fact, they were disappointed that he made them wait until after the Battle of the Morannon - they wanted that he ascended the throne after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, but he refused).


We can speculate about what could have happened if someone with a stronger claim to the throne had challenged Aragorn. Suppose someone of Anárion's descent came up and said that Aragorn's descent from Isildur made him a weaker candidate and that this, along with the fact that Aragorn's only bond with Anárion was through Fíriel, placed him for the kingship of Made Gondor inadmissible. This would be a kind of repetition of the Arvedui / Eärnil controversy, but with one important difference: remember that Eärnil won because of its war history. As mentioned above, has Aragorn set the most formidable unilateral war record in the history of the world. That would still tip the scales in his favor compared to his distant but undeniable ancestral claim to the throne.

1de jure is defined as:

1. depending on the lawful claim or claim; To the right.
Synonyms: rightly, rightly, legally, according to the law

1. Identify something or someone who is right to be like that.
"He was de jure king since the death of his father."

Middle of the 16th century: Latin, literally "of the law".

Nate Eldredge

Nice charts. An interesting observation: Arwen is Aragorn's first cousin (many, many times removed).

Wad Cheber

@NateEldredge - I actually asked a question based on the creepiness of Aragorn marrying his cousin who also happens to be his sister (via Elrond's de facto adoption of Aragorn).


Now I have to play Crusader Kings 2 again. Thanks Chebs.

Todd Wilcox

One of the best Stack Exchange answers I've read. +1 We can always count on you for excellent and fully researched LotR and Star Wars answers.


@WadChub I think it can be added that the medicinal herb Athelas or Kingsfoil is stronger in the hands of the king and in this way is the only cure for the black breath that Nazgul used extensively during Pelennors. Aragorn's use of Athelas to heal the wounded resulted in the rapid spread of rumors among the citizens that the king has returned and is among them. I believe that in this case Athelas served the people of the divine mandate as evidence that Aragorn belongs to the line of kings and is thus a legitimate ruler of the men of Numenor. His claim is less by blood than by deed