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Nerdanel

Location(s): Aman

Race/Species: Elf

Type/Kind: Noldor

Title(s): the Wise

Dates: Age of the Trees - ?

Parents:
father: Mahtan

Spouse: Fëanor

Children:
Maedhros
Maglor
Celegorm
Curufin
Caranthir
Amrod and Amras

Description:

Nerdanel, the daughter of Mahtan, was the wife of Fëanor and the mother of seven sons:
While still in his early youth [Fëanor] wedded Nerdanel, the daughter of a great smith named Mahtan, among those of the Noldor most dear to Aulë; and of Mahtan he learned much of the making of things in metal and in stone. Nerdanel also was firm of will, but more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them, and at first she restrained him when the fire of his heart grew too hot; but his later deeds grieved her, and they became estranged. Seven sons she bore to Fëanor; her mood she bequeathed in part to some of them, but not to all.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 6, Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

The seven sons of Fëanor were Maedhros the tall; Maglor the mighty singer, whose voice was heard far over land and sea; Celegorm the fair, and Caranthir the dark; Curufin the crafty, who inherited most his father's skill of hand; and the youngest Amrod and Amras, who were twin brothers, alike in mood and face.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 5, Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

In an earlier, more complete description of Nerdanel, she was an artist and smith in her own right:

While still in early youth Fëanor wedded Nerdanel, a maiden of the Noldor; at which many wondered, for she was not among the fairest of her people. But she was strong, and free of mind, and filled with the desire of knowledge. In her youth she loved to wander far from the dwellings of the Noldor, either beside the long shores of the Sea or in the hills; and thus she and Fëanor had met and were companions in many journeys. Her father, Mahtan, was a great smith, and among those of the Noldor most dear to the heart of Aulë. Of Mahtan Nerdanel learned much of crafts that women of the Noldor seldom used: the making of things of metal and stone. She made images, some of the Valar in their forms visible, and many others of men and women of the Eldar, and these were so like that their friends, if they knew not her art, would speak to them; but many things she wrought also of her own thought in shapes strong and strange but beautiful.

She also was firm of will, but she was slower and more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them. When in company with others she would often sit still listening to their words, and watching their gestures and the movements of their faces. Her mood she bequeathed in part to some of her sons, but not to all. Seven sons she bore to Fëanor, and it is not recorded in the histories of old that any others of the Eldar had so many children. With her wisdom at first she restrained Fëanor when the fire of his heart burned too hot; but his later deeds grieved her and they became estranged.

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Section 2, Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

For Fëanor was driven by the fire of his own heart only, working ever swiftly and alone; and he asked the aid and sought the counsel of none that dwelt in Aman, great or small, save only and for a little while of Nerdanel the wise, his wife.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 6, Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

Later, as Fëanor became more and more fell and violent, and rebelled against the Valar, Nerdanel, after long endeavouring to change his mood, became estranged. (Her kin were devoted to Aulë, who counselled her father to take no part in the rebellion. 'It will in the end only lead Fëanor and all your children to death.') She retired to her father's house; but when it became clear that Fëanor and his sons would leave Valinor for ever, she came to him before the host started on its northward march, and begged that Fëanor should leave her the two youngest, the twins, or one at least of them. He replied: 'Were you a true wife, as you had been till cozened by Aulë, you would keep all of them, for you would come with us. If you desert me, you desert also all of our children. For they are determined to go with their father.' Then Nerdanel was angry and she answered: 'You will not keep all of them. One at least will never set foot on Middle-earth.'1 'Take your evil omens to the Valar who will delight in them,' said Fëanor. 'I defy them'. So they parted.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor: The Names of Finwë's Descendants

[On a separate page... is a note on the father of Nerdanel (Fëanor's wife)]: Nerdanel's father was an 'Aulendil' [> 'Aulendur'],2 and became a great smith. He loved copper, and set it above gold.

His name was [space; pencilled later Sarmo?3], but he was most widely known as Urundil 'copper-lover'. He usually wore a band of copper about his head. His hair was not as dark or black as was that of most of the Noldor, but brown, and had glints of coppery-red in it. Of Nerdanel's seven children the oldest, and the twins (a very rare thing among the Eldar) had hair of this kind. The eldest also wore a copper circlet....

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor: Notes, Note 61


Notes
1Nerdanel's prophesy refers to the story, found only in The History of Middle-earth, of Fëanor burning the ships at Losgar — only to find later that the younger twin, Amras, was sleeping aboard one of the ships, and perished in the flames.
2'Servant of Aulë': sc. one who was devoted to that Vala. It was applied especially to those persons, or families, among the Noldor who actually entered Aulë's service, and who in return received instruction from him.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor: Notes, Note 61

3Earlier Nerdanel's father, the great smith, had been named Mahtan (see X.272, 277), and he was so called in the published Silmarillion.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor: Notes, Note 61

Contributors:
Finch, 5Jan03
Elena Tiriel 17Feb09

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