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FAQ / Why is there an enmity between the dwarves and elves

The relation between the two races was at the beginning profitable for both:

During the second age of the captivity of Melkor the Dwarves came over the BlueMountains of EredLuin into Beleriand. Ever cool was the friendship between the Naugrim and the Eldar, though much profit they had one of the other; but at that time those griefs that lay between them had not yet come to pass, and King Thingol welcomed them.
The Silmarillion: Of the Sindar

Thingol prospered from this relationship. He hired them to build his mansion Menegroth, the ThousandCaves and fill his armoury. The Dwarves, on the other hand, gained many pearls from the coasts of Beleriand and exercised their skill (which at that time, they eagerly showed to the outsiders). Then the years passed on and Thingol was caught in the net of the Doom of Mandos. When Húrin brought him the Nauglamír, he decided to remake it and in it to set the Silmaril. Thus, he called for the help of the Dwarves. They labored hard and when they finished, they claimed the treasure as theirs and killed Thingol in the deepest cave of his own realm. But the necklace was regained and returned to Menegroth. Then the Dwarves attacked and caused the ruin of Doriath where they retook the necklace, before losing it forever by Beren at SarnAthrad. This was the root of the enmity of the Dwarves and the Elves, as seen by the above quote:

In the West at the end of the First Age the dealings of the Dwarves of the EredLindon? with King Thingol ended in disaster and the ruin of Doriath, the memory of which still poisoned the relations of Elves and Dwarves in after ages.
HoMeXII: Of Dwarves and Men

Of course there were some exceptions, like the cooperation of the Dwarves of Khazad-dűm with the Elves of Lothlórien and Eregion.

The Noldor were great craftsmen and less unfriendly to the Dwarves than the Sindar; but the friendship that grew up between the people of Durin and the Elven-smiths of Eregion was the closest that there has ever been between the two races.
LotR: Appentices

But in the meantime the power of Galadriel and Celeborn had grown, and Galadriel was assisted in this by her friendship with the Dwarves of Moria.
Unfinished Tales

But in general, at the end of the ThirdAge, the relations of the two races were not at all worm. The SilvanElves of Mirkwood for example didn't treat them as friends, as described by the adventures of Bilbo and his company of 13 dwarves. And the siege of Erebor was at the last moment prevented from turning into another war among the two races.

How did the SilvanElves learn of the tragic events of the past is not difficult to imagine. The leaders of the SilvanElves were of Sindar origins, probably going east after the ruin of Doriath, or after the War of Wrath. With their wisdom and knowledge they also brought their enmity against the Dwarves. As for the following Ages after the War of the Ring, judging by the exceptional example of the friendship between Legolas and Gimli, there is hope that the past events would be forever forgotten.

And for the end, a more light-hearted account of the cold relationship of Dwarves and Elves, given in The Hobbit:

Dwarves don't get on well with them. Even decent enough dwarves like Thorin and his friends think them foolish (which is a very foolish thing to think), or get annoyed with them. For some elves tease them and laugh at them, and most of all at their beards.
The Hobbit

With any siblings of constrasting dispositions, rivalry is the norm, not the exception. The close personal friendship (and fellowship) between Glimi son of Gloin and Legolas son of Thranduil was probably much more rare than the occassional cultural and business exchange between dwarf and elf communities.



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