The second son of Fingolfin, Turgon the Wise
initially stood with the sons of Finarfin, in Aman, who opposed following his uncle Feanor’s
plan for the Noldor Elves to leave the undying lands to pursue Morgoth and the stolen Silmaril
jewels in Middle Earth. However when his father made the decision
to follow Feanor, Turgon, despite his reservations, joined in the treacherous journey across the
Helcaraxe mountains of the far North. Ignoring the Doom of Mandos, a prophesy forewarning
the Noldor that their journey to Middle Earth would only end in suffering., they ventured
forth, losing many along the way, including Turgon’s wife Elenwe.
When at last they arrived in Middle Earth, Feanor, High King of the Noldor had already
been slain in battle, as his forces approached Angband.
Fingolfin would soon become the new High King reuniting his people and leading them found
many great and powerful cities across Beleriand. And so it would be in the year 50 of the First
Age, that Turgon and his cousin Finrod, were visited by the Vala Ulmo, Lord of Waters,
in their dreams, and warned of the coming dangers they would face against Morgoth. He
instructed them to seek out a secret location where they might build a new city, hidden
away from the vast armies of the Dark Lord. 3 years later Turgon would discover the Valley
of Tumlanden surrounded by the Encircling Mountains, and there labored for over 60 years,
building the city of Gondolin, modelling its construction after the ancient city of Tirion,
in Aman, the greatest city of the Noldor Elves. When its construction was complete, Turgon
began to lead many of his fellow elves, including about 1/3 of the Noldor and ¾ of the Northern
Sindar Elves to the city, utilizing secret passages few would ever learn.
Gondolin would become an isolated society, largely staying out of the affairs and conflicts
of rest of Beleriand, lest the enemy learn of its secret location.
For 500 years they would prosper, and became the greatest Elven city in the Middle Earth.
Yet outside of the peace and splendor of Gondolin, terrible battles were being waged, as the
forces of Morgoth continued to grow and attack the Elves and their allies across Beleriand.
After the battle of Dagor Bargolach, Turgon’s father, the High King of the Noldor Fingolfin
was slain in a duel with Morgoth himself. The fate of Gondolin and its people would
then become tied with a mortal man by the name of Tuor, son of Huor. After escaping
the bonds of slavery under the Easterlings, he travelled throughout Beleriand until finding
an Noldor Elf named Voronwe, who had survived a ship wreck. The Vala Ulmo then appeared
to them, instructing them to journey to Gondolin and warn Turgon, reminding him of the Doom
of Mandos prophecy, and instructing him to lead his people across the sea, and return
to the undying lands. Yet when Tuor found his way to the Elven city,
Turgon rejected the idea of fleeing, confident in the secrecy of his kingdom and their defenses.
Tuor however was honored as an Elf-Friend, and made a Lord of the city, even marrying
Turgon’s daughter Idris, and forming the House of the Wing, one of the 12 great houses
of Gondolin. After the death of Fingolfin, his eldest son
Fingon, Turgon’s older brother, would become the new High King, and despite the isolation
of Gondolin’s people, Turgon would raise an army of ten thousand Elves, to join with
the armies of Fingon and his cousin Maedhros, at Nirnaith Arnoediand, the Battle of Unnumbered
tears. Hoping to at last defeat Morgoth by storming his fortress of Angband, the alliance
of Elves and Men would be defeated,* and Fingon killed in a duel with Gothmog, commander of
the enemy forces. As the tide of battle turned against the Elves, Turgon led his forces into
retreat, able to keep their route hidden, thanks to the efforts of their human allies
in the House of Hador, who covered their retreat, distracting enemy forces with their sacrifice. Though the alliance of Elves and Men had prepared
well for the battle, they were betrayed by Ulfang and the Easterlings resulting in a
disastrous defeat. Though Turgon inherited the title of High
King of the Noldor, he had seen enough death and withdrew his efforts and support in the
war, allowing for Morgoth to more easily conquer what remained of the free peoples of Beleriand.
And so it was that after the fall of the great cities of the west, Gondolin was left as the
only major power, that might stand against the forces of darkness.
And while the Noldor Elves of Gondolin were fiersome warrior, protected by the encircling
mountains, and the secrecy of their city, this advantage would be negated, when Maeglin,
nephew of Turgon, betrayed his people and city.
Maeglin was the nephew of Turgon, born to the Ñoldor Aredhel and the Dark Elf Eöl.
After the death of his parents, Maeglin was raised by his uncle, and became a Lord of
Gondolin. In love with his first cousin, the daughter
of Turgon, Idris, Maeglin was outraged when she was given as a bride to Tuor, a mortal
man. His jealousy and discontent only grew, until he disobeyed the laws of Gondolin, leaving
the city as he scavenged for metals. Once outside he was captured by orcs and brought
before Morgoth who promised him the Kingship of Gondolin and Idris as his bride, if only
he would betray Turgon, and kill Tuor. Maeglin agreed to his terms, divulging the
location of the secret city and offering details of their defenses. Although some sources claim
Morgoth’s spies had already informed him of the location of the city, he was greatly
interested in learning of their defenses and so allowed Maeglin to return to Gondolin,
where he began acting like a new Elf, laughing and joking with his fellows, in the hopes
of keeping his treachery secret. Although the armies of Gondolin were preparing
for battle, Morgoth cleverly withdrew his spies and scouts, tricking Turgon into believing
the Dark Lord had cancelled his plans for invasion. And so it would be on a night of
celebration, with the defenses of the city reduced, and none expecting attack, that Morgoth
would gather his mighty forces, and march upon the Gondolin.
The armies of Morgoth were vast, made up of Orcs, trolls, Balrogs, dragons and new constructions
known as Iron Monsters, crafted in the image of Dragons, that might house his soldiers
and protect them from danger until ready to unleash them upon the enemy. The forces of Gondolin, were led by the Patriarchs
of 12 Major Houses and their armies. There was
Turgon and the House of the King; Tuor and the House of the Wing;
Maeglin and the House of the Mole; Duilin and the House of the Swallow;
Egalmoth and the House of the Heavenly Arch; Penlod and the twin Houses of the Pillar and
the Tower of Snow; Galdor and the House of the Tree;
Glorfindel and the House of the Golden Flower; Ecthelion and the House of the Fountain;
Salgant and the House of the Harp And finally Rog from the House of the Hammer
of Wrath. Though the Elves fought valiantly and courageously,
many refusing to flee, fighting and dying to the last man, they could not best the terrible
forces brought against them. One by one the Houses fell and their leaders were killed.
As the Elves of Gondolin died around them, the Balrog commander Gothmog duelled Ecthelion
of the House of the Fountain. Though Ecthelion was all but deafeted, having lost the use
of both his arms, he made one final charge, stabbing Gothmog with the spike of his helm,
driving the beast into a fountain, where they both drowned. In the midst of the raging battle, Maeglin
set his betrayal in motion, leading his army to the house of Tuor, where he planned to
capture Idris and murder their son Earnedil. However Tuor arrived just as Maeglin was preparing
to act and the Houses of the Wing and Mole went to war against each other, turning the
invasion into a civil war. Tuor was able to rescue his wife and child, killing Maeglin
by tossing his body over the walls of the city. With the forces of Gondlin all but defeated,
King Turgon instructed Tuor to lead a retreat, while the King and his men held off the armies
of Morgoth. As Tuor and Glorfindel led the remnants of their houses and what others they
could find, through a secret escape, constructed by Tuor, who had feared this eventuality,
Turgon climbed to the top of his mighty tower, and in defiance of the armies destroying his
city, he yelled out “Great is the victory of the Ñoldoli!” Though Turgon would die defending his kingdom,
the sacrifice of his men allowed for Tuor and his followers to escape the city, which
was now burning behind them. As they made their escape, they were confronted
by a Balrog who sought to halt their retreat. Glorfindel, one of the last living leaders
of a great house, would then sacrifice himself, using the weight of his body to drag the Balrog
over a cliff, to his doom. With this final and tragic death, the remnant
of Gondolin escaped the slaughter, with Tuor leading his followers to the Mouths of Sirion
where they might take refuge. But with the fall of Gondolin, last of the
great Elven cities in the West, Tuor and Idris knew it would only be a matter of time, before
even the survivors of the war would be slaughtered. And so the two set sail for the undying lands,
determined to seek out the help of the Valar, so they might at last defeat the forces of
Morgoth who had all but completed their conquest of Beleriand.