A region in the south of Eriador which was a part of the Numenorean Kingdom of Arnor. It is not recorded whether this region went by this name prior to the partition of Arnor in ThirdAge 861. Cardolan comprised the plains and lowlands of Minhiriath, plus all the higher land between the Brandywine and the Hoarwell, south of the Great East Road.

The earliest peoples in this area were folk related to the People of Haleth, who chose not to accompany their kin into the West and settled in the densely-forested lands between the Misty Mountains and the Sea. This folk endured the FirstAge and the early SeA in relative peace, until the arrival of the Numenoreans, who destroyed their forest homes in their hunger for timber. Thus there was strife with the newcomers, and many fled east and south out of the land, while a remnant sought refuge under the eaves of the ErynVorn. Then there was a terrible war between the High Elves and Sauron, and all of the country was devastated. After the war and the defeat of Sauron, people began to settle once again in Minhiriath, and some made their way as far north as the Barrow-downs, founding the town of Bree. Though the great harbour of LondDaer had long since been destroyed by the Sea, a few of the Dśnedain may have lingered around Tharbad, where a serviceable Numenorean port existed. But otherwise the region was virtually empty by the time Elendil came to claim it as part of his new Realm in Exile.

The history of Cardolan proper begins in 861 of the ThirdAge, on the death of the HighKing?. Because of disputes among his sons, the Kingdom of Arnor was divided into three--but the histories do not recall the names of the Kings of Cardolan or Rhudaur. According to the "Appendices" to LotR, the line of Isildur soon perished in these kingdoms, and there was often conflict between them, particularly over the possession of the Tower of AmonSūl. In 1050, the branch of Hobbits known as the Harfoots crossed the MistyMountains, and settled in the SouthDowns? in the west of Cardolan. They were joined about a century later by the Fallohides. Around 1300, the Witch-king established his realm of Angmar in the North, and the Hobbits moved westward to the Bree-land. In 1356 the HighKing? of Arthedain was slain in battle with Rhudaur, now allied with Angmar; and in 1409 the forces of Angmar themselves invaded, and AmonSūl was destroyed. Arthedain, allied with Cardolan, was forced to retreat, and the remaining forces of Cardolan were obliged to withdraw to the Barrow-downs and the Old Forest; the last Prince of Cardolan died in this conflict.

Elves of Lindon, Rivendell and Lorien stemmed the tide of Angmar, and for a while relative peace seemed to settle upon Arnor. But in 1636 the Great Plague claimed the life of the King of Gondor, and withered the White Tree. The plague spread north along the Great Road that joined the two kingdoms, and the population of Cardolan was decimated. What few folk survived could offer little aid to Arthedain in 1974, when Angmar overwhelmed the last of the kingdoms of Arnor. Until the end of the ThirdAge, the Dśnedain of Cardolan were only a memory, their tombs and barrows haunted by evil wights sent from Angmar; for the Rangers that wandered over the lands were descended from the people of Arthedain. Apart from the secret folk of ErynVorn (if they indeed still existed), the only major settlements in old Cardolan were likely to be found along the North-SouthRoad close to Tharbad, until 2912, when terrible floods devastated the lowlands.

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