Five Women who could have ruled Numenor: the Missing Ruling Queens
Tar-Aldarion changes Numenor’s inheritance law to allow his
daughter to inherit the scepter, and Ancalime becomes the first Ruling Queen.
There are ten monarchs between the first and last ruling queens. So there ought
to be five ruling queens, give or take one. But instead of seeing an equal
number of ruling kings and queens between the first, Ancalime, and the last,
Vanimelde, there are only three. (After this point, it seems like the de facto
protocol returned to male only inheritance, even if women could inherit de
jure. Older daughters either left the succession voluntarily, were pressured
into giving up their rights or died under suspicious circumstances.)
So where are the missing queens? The first five rulers after
Ancalime have a very even distribution of female and male monarchs, and we even
have recorded older sisters who refuse the queenship. But something happens
after Minastir, because the pattern changes into a string of four male rulers,
capped by the final Ruling Queen, Vanimelde.
For Legendarium Ladies April, I’ve constructed a
catalog of Numenor’s rulers that parallels canon, inventing the identities of
those royal women.
Ancalime - only child, first Ruling Queen
Anarion - only child, male
Surion – He had two older sisters who refused the scepter, Airehíthë (Q.
Sea-Mist), and Raumiel (Q. Storm-daughter). Airehíthë was a
wise woman; she knew that becoming Ruling Queen would only make her unhappy.
Steady, patient, and cooler-tempered than her sister, she felt burdened by her
duties as the heir, though her sense of duty and responsibility made sure she
performed them admirably. She was repulsed by the court’s machinations and did
not enjoy exercising power herself; the demands the position of crown princess
placed on her only made her weary. Instead, Airehíthë wanted to marry her
childhood sweetheart and retire from political life; Ancalime took this as a
betrayal of herself and her legacy, and a waste of her granddaughter’s
potential and they became estranged. After her grandmother died, Airehíthë was
finally allowed to marry her lover, and moved to a country estate where she
lived in peace raising a ridiculous number of children by Numenorean standards;
her family often visited Airehíthë when they needed a break from life in the
capitol. Of all Ancalime’s descendants, Raumiel was her grandmother’s closest match in character
and temper, but smoothed over, without Ancalime’s bitterness and difficult
childhood. Unfortunately they were too alike to ever get along; Raumiel and her
grandmother constantly fought, most often over what Raumiel felt was Ancalime’s
overbearing nature and attempts to control her family. After her sister refused
the scepter, Ancalime’s vengeful treatment of Airehíthë enraged her; Raumiel refused
the scepter simply to spite her grandmother. Though she never admitted it to
herself, a tiny part of Raumiel feared that if she became queen, all her
grandmother’s worst tendencies would grow in her too. Raumiel particularly
resented Ancalime for blocking her sister’s marriage, and paraded around a
series of unsuitable fiancés to bait her grandmother; Ancalime extended the
marriage ban to both her granddaughters in retaliation. Raumiel remained on the
periphery of Numenorean politics and oversaw dozens of building projects for
her father and brother. Her work turned Nindamos from a sleepy town living off fishing
and local shipping, into a bustling city with the south’s most important deepwater
port. She was also involved in trade speculation and had excellent instincts
for business. Raumiel mentored her brother’s daughter Telperien.
Telperien - oldest child, second Ruling Queen
Minastir - oldest child, male. The scepter
passed to him after Telperien had no children.
Ciryatan – His birth name was Círamo and he
was Minastir’s second child. He became heir by having his elder sister Tarmanís
(Q. Pillar-woman) assassinated. A dignified, quietly religious woman who deeply
admired her Great-aunt, Tarmanís studied law at University in her youth and executed
her father’s judicial functions as his heir. Her regnal name would have been Tar-Axanantë (Q. Law-giver). She disliked her brother and found
his attitudes distasteful, but to their mutual chagrin the siblings were very
alike: somewhat inflexible, intensely self-disciplined and a touch
authoritarian. Their visions of Numenor’s future differed too greatly to be
reconciled. Tarmanís was the heir to her father’s political will and supported
his alliance with the elves, intending to continue the relationship with her
reign. She also believed that Numenor was better off without foreign
entanglements and had no intention of becoming more involved with Middle-earth.
But Círamo believed that Numenor’s destiny lay in Middle-earth and that if his
sister ruled, the nation’s potential would be wasted and its safety threatened
by the mainland. Tarmanís’ hobbies were endurance running and long distance
swimming, during the latter of which she drowned under suspicious
circumstances. Nothing was even proven, but the strong suspicion that his son
murdered his daughter broke Minastir and he relinquished the scepter before his
time. Tarmanís was married but had no children at the time
of her death. Her marriage was the most scandalous thing she ever did; her
husband Arhestion was the youngest son of an Admiral in the War of Elves and
Sauron, and his father was a political opponent of her Numenor-centric
platform. Arhestion was also over fifty years younger than her; he was a
barrister and first met the Crown Princess when she judged one of his cases.
After Tarmanís’ death, her husband gave up law to carry on her work reforming
Numenor’s law code and became the central figure opposing intervention in
Middle-earth. His career in politics spanned the reigns of three kings, and his
supporters called him by the traditional title given to a monarch’s consort – a
title he should have held – Meldatar (Q high-beloved). Out of guilt, Ciryatan
never dared to have Arhestion assassinated.
Atanamir - eldest child, which Ciryatan
preferred; any daughter would have certainly been bullied into refusing the
Ancalimon – He was the oldest son, second-in-line
to his older sister Lirulin (Q. Lark) who died in childbirth. In public she was
a dovelike women: quiet, soft-voiced, and easily spooked. It was no secret to
her or to any of the court that her father wanted her to refuse the scepter. Atanamir
never knew what to do with her, and she stood in the way of his preferred
successor; she was often ignored or passed over in favor of her brother at
public events. Part of her, born from of lifetime of being treated as second-best
and unwanted, knew it would be best to bow to the pressure, but a little corner
of desire in her heart kept her from yielding. Atanamir had married young and
there was a gap of decades between her and her brother where she had been treated
as the heir; the two were never close but they respected one another. In
private, Lirulin was lively and quick-witted, with a rich inner life and a
passion for literature. She wrote poetry in three languages (Quenya, Sindarin,
and Adûnaic) from a young age and published under a pseudonym for political reasons.
Widely regarded during her lifetime as the best poet of her era, she was a
prolific author right up until death, mastering both ancient and contemporary
forms. Her work became an enduring part of Numenor’s literary canon, and
debating the identity of its author inspired as many theories as Shakespeare’s
works do for English literature. Atanamir married her off to a favorable
supporter as soon as she wouldn’t be considered inappropriately young, in the
hopes that her husband could pressure her into abdicating the succession. He
got her pregnant immediately and she died of complications shortly after her
son’s birth. Atanamir claimed Lirulin relinquished the scepter on her deathbed,
out of love for her brother, and Ancalimon was crowned king. Some of the Lords
doubted the veracity of this claim – though it was indeed true – but Ancalimon
was a strong, successful ruler and no one dared to raise the issue, until
Telemmaite’s weak rule encouraged Lirulin’s grandson to stir up dissent. This lingering
uncertainty about Ancalimon’s legitimacy prompted Vanimelde’s political marriage
to Herucalmo and provided the legal grounds for his rebellion.
Telemmaite – He was Ancalimon’s second son;
his elder brother died of wounds sustained in a training accident and his
sister Ûrêphel (Ad. Sun-daughter) became crown princess. Ûrêphel was
famous among the common people as a child prodigy who overtook all her tutors by
the time she was a teenager. A force of personality, her presence dominated any
room she entered. Her greatest gift was oratory, but it always galled her that
she lacked the legendary beauty of her foremothers to match. Long active in
politics, Ûrêphel’s strong reputation and skill meant she already possessed a
power base to try for the throne after her brother’s death. Dynamic, bold and
intensely dissatisfied with the status quo, she was not her father’s first
choice in heir, but her abilities made her a strong candidate; Ancalimon
accepted Ûrêphel and supported her claim. She was most famous as the first royal
patron of the King’s Men. As their sponsor, Ûrêphel commissioned a number of
philosophical treatises, plays, artworks, and translations of important literature
and documents into Adûnaic, and supported the appointment of their members to official
posts. She and her siblings were the first royal generation to have Adûnaic given
names, though her brother and his line reverted to Quenya for another two
generations. Ûrêphel was killed during a revolt while inspecting Numenor’s
western colonies. She died only a year before her father, leaving her
inexperienced, disinterested brother Nîlobên with the scepter.
Vanimelde - oldest daughter or only child, Third and Final Ruling
Why are there such things like 2nd or 4th queen? I'm confused... Shouldn't other girls of the king be called concubines???
It’s partially because during the Goryeo Dynasty women were much more equal to men than during the Joseon Dynasty; even compared to other parts of the world. For instance, they had equal inheritance rights as men, they could get a divorce without being ostracized and adultery was a crime both men and women could commit (wives from less powerful clans and families received the status of concubines).
King Taejo had 29 wives with whom he had 34 children (25 princes and 9 princesses) - out of it there were 6 queens, the rest were concubines. The queen status was given to the women from the most powerful clans so none of them would be offended.
Gyeongjong (Gwangjong’s son) had 4 queens (and one concubine) - the first queen was a daughter of the last Silla king while the others were the daughters of Wook and Jung, therefore they were either sisters or cousins - so naturally all of them came from the most powerful clans and needed to be given an equal status.