FAQ / Why is Aragorn a hidden king

Why is Aragorn called a 'hidden king'?

Because he has not yet claimed the kingship, and few know his right name and lineage. When he did proclaim himself to be Isildur's Heir, many were surprised to learn that such an heir existed. This was not because Aragorn had rejected the kingship (as in the movie) but because he had not claimed his right in order to not cause discension between the foes of Sauron (Denethor and others in Gondor were unlikely to accept his claim).

Why is Aragorn a 'hidden king'?

Few now remember them, Tom murmured, yet still some go wandering, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness, guarding from evil things folk that are heedless. The hobbits did not understand his words, but as he spoke they had a vision as it were of a great expanse of years behind them, like a vast shadowy plain over which there strode shapes of Men, tall and grim with bright swords, and last came one with a star on his brow.

At the beginning of the Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is presented as a Ranger, one of a strange and untrustworthy people who come and go with no known purpose, and who are somewhat feared by the people of Bree. Aragorn and his people have not done much to change this image because they wish to accomplish their work in secret. As Aragorn says to Boromir at Rivendell, Travelers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. 'Strider' am I to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if her were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so."

In order to understand why Aragorn has not claimed the kingship of Gondor and Arnor as yet (unlike in the movie, he did not reject the kingship), it is necessary to know some of the history of the Heirs of Isildur. Long before Aragorn's time, (about 950 years before), the line of Kings in Gondor failed. When the King and his sons were all killed in battle, Arvedui, king of Arthedain (part of Arnor), claimed the kingship. He did so as the son-in-law of the deceased King of Gondor and as an heir of Elendil, first king of Gondor and Arnor. This claim, though just, was rejected and shortly afterward the kingdom of Arthedain fell to the Witch-king of Angmar.

The people of the Dúnedain waned and were nearly forgotten, but the line of Isildur continued unbroken and Arvedui's claim to the kingship of Gondor was not forgotten.

After Bilbo Baggins was born, floods devastated the lands around Tharbad, reducing the last human populations in northern Eriador to the small region around Bree, from the Shire to Weathertop. Aragorn cannot behave like a king, and claim to rule over this remnant, because the people would not have him. He must defeat Arnor's historic enemy to prove he could protect such people. But even revealing himself would bring Sauron's attention to a region he now considers militarily insignificant.

Arwen Undómiel, the Evenstar, is one of the Peredhil (Half-elves). At the end of the FirstAge, the Valar lifted (much of) the Doom of Mandos, permitting exiles and rebels to return to Aman. But to the Half-elven they gave a choice; live with humans and become mortal, or live with Elves and remain immortal. Elros chose to help the Dunedain found Numenor, and Elrond chose to stay in Eriador and collect the remaining Noldor into a hidden refuge.

When Aragorn and Arwen 'plighted their troth' (i.e. were engaged, promised to marry each other), Arwen's father, Elrond told Aragorn he would not permit Arwen to diminish her life's grace, and leave him forever, for any man less than the King of Arnor and Gondor, Reunited. Aragorn was waiting, therefore, for the right time to claim not only the kingship of Arnor, but that of Gondor as well.

Aragorn, in disguise, served under Ecthelion, Steward of Gondor and father of Denethor II. He discovered that the people of Gondor were unlikely to accept his claim to the kingship, and few less than Denethor. Thus, Aragorn did not claim the kingship until Faramir was Steward of the City and he had proved to the people of MinasTirith and Gondor that he was worthy to be their King.

When Arwen and Aragorn married, Frodo pointed out to Gandalf the meaning "Queen Evenstar" brought to MinasAnor, the Citadel of the Sun. The Folk of Numenor would no longer fear the dark as a portent of {The Shadow}?. In Arwen and Aragorn's union, the line of the Melian the Maiar, who participated in the Great Song (the Ainulindalë), and of the Chieftains of Men of the FirstAge, was re-united and preserved.


(C) The Tolkien Wiki Community Page last changed: October 28, 2004