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Míriel Serindë

Meaning: Serindë, Þerindë 'the Broideress'

Other Names:
Þerindë (HoME only)
Byrde (HoME only)

Location(s):
Tirion
Gardens of Lórien
Halls of Mandos

Race/Species: Elf

Type/Kind: Noldor

Title(s):
Queen of the Noldor

Dates:
Time of the Trees

Spouse:
Finwë, 1st King of the Noldor in Aman

Children:
Fëanor

Description:

Míriel Serindë is the first wife of Finwë, 1st King of the Noldor in Aman, and the mother of Fëanor:
Míriel... was called Serindë, because of her surpassing skill in weaving and needlework; for her hands were more skilled to fineness than any hands even among the Noldor.

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

She was a Noldorin Elda of slender and graceful form, and of gentle disposition, though as was later discovered in matters far more grave, she could show an ultimate obstinacy that counsel or command would only make more obdurate. She had a beautiful voice and a delicate and clear enunciation, though she spoke swiftly and took pride in this skill. Her chief talent, however, was a marvellous dexterity of hand. This she employed in embroidery, which though achieved in what even the Eldar thought a speed of haste was finer and more intricate than any that had before been seen. She was therefore called Þerinde 1, 2 (Needlewoman).... She adhered to the pronunciation þ 2 (it had still been usual in her childhood), and she desired that all her kin should adhere to it also, at the least in the pronunciation of her name.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor

Silver was her hair and dark were her eyes, but her hands were more skilled to fineness than any hands even of the Noldor. By her was the craft of needles devised; and were but one fragment of the broideries of Míriel to be seen in Middle-earth it would be held dearer than a king's realm, for the richness of her devices and the fire of their colours were as manifold and as bright as the glory of leaf and flower and wing in the fields of Yavanna.

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Chapter 6, Of the Silmarils and the Darkening of Valinor

[Like] Míriel, [Fëanor] could become wholly absorbed in works of the finest skill of hand; but he left many things unfinished.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor

Finwë was King of the Noldor. The sons of Finwë were Fëanor, and Fingolfin, and Finarfin; but the mother of Fëanor was Míriel Serindë, whereas the mother of Fingolfin and Finarfin was Indis of the Vanyar.

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

The love of Finwë and Míriel was great and glad, for it began in the Blessed Realm in the Days of Bliss. But in the bearing of her son Míriel was consumed in spirit and body; and after his birth she yearned for release from the labours of living. And when she had named him, she said to Finwë: 'Never again shall I bear child; for strength that would have nourished the life of many has gone forth into Fëanor.'

Then Finwë was grieved, for the Noldor were in the youth of their days, and he desired to bring forth many children into the bliss of Aman; and he said: 'Surely there is healing in Aman? Here all weariness can find rest.' But when Míriel languished still, Finwë sought the counsel of Manwë, and Manwë delivered her to the care of Irmo in Lórien. At their parting (for a little while as he thought) Finwë was sad, for it seemed an unhappy chance that the mother should depart and miss the beginning at least of the childhood days of her son.

‘It is indeed unhappy,’ said Míriel, 'and I would weep, if I were not so weary. But hold me blameless in this, and in all that may come after.’

She went then to the gardens of Lórien and lay down to sleep; but though she seemed to sleep, her spirit indeed departed from her body, and passed in silence to the halls of Mandos. The maidens of Estë tended the body of Míriel, and it remained unwithered; but she did not return. Then Finwë lived in sorrow; and he went often to the gardens of Lórien, and sitting beneath the silver willows beside the body of his wife he called her by her names. But it was unavailing; and alone in all the Blessed Realm he was deprived of joy. After a while he went to Lórien no more.

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

Of death, as suffered by Men, the Elves knew nothing until they came into close association with the Atani; but there were cases in which an Elf, overcome by a great sorrow or weariness, had resigned life in the body. The chief of these, the departure of Míriel wife of King Finwë, was a matter of deep concern to all the Ñoldor, and it was told of her that her last act, as she gave up her life in the body and went to the keeping of Mandos, was a deep sigh of weariness.

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Appendix A: Elvish names for Men

The death of Míriel Þerindë — death of an 'immortal' Elda in the deathless land of Aman — was a matter of grave anxiety to the Valar, the first presage of the Shadow that was to fall on Valinor.... Miriel's death was of free will: she forsook her body and her fëa went to the Halls of Waiting, while her body lay as if asleep in a garden. She said that she was weary in body and spirit and desired peace. The cause of her weariness she believed to be the bearing of Fëanor, great in mind and body beyond the measure of the Eldar. Her weariness she had endured until he was full grown, but she could endure it no longer.

The Valar and all the Eldar were grieved by the sorrow of Finwë, but not dismayed: all things could be healed in Aman, and when they were rested her fëa and its body could be reunited and return to the joy of life in the Blessed Realm. But Míriel was reluctant, and to all the pleas of her husband and her kin that were reported to her, and to the solemn counsels of the Valar, she would say no more than 'not yet'. Each time that she was approached she became more fixed in her determination, until at last she would listen no more, saying only: 'I desire peace. Leave me in peace here! I will not return. That is my will.'

So the Valar were faced by the one thing that they could neither change nor heal: the free will of one of the Children of Eru, which it was unlawful for them to coerce — and in such a case useless, since force could not achieve its purpose. And after some years they were faced by another grave perplexity. When it became clear at last that Míriel would never of her own will return to life in the body within any span of time that could give him hope, Finwë's sorrow became embittered. He forsook his long vigils by her sleeping body and sought to take up his own life again; but he wandered far and wide in loneliness and found no joy in anything that he did.

There was a fair lady of the Vanyar, Indis of the House of Ingwë. She had loved Finwë in her heart, ever since the days when the Vanyar and the Noldor lived close together. In one of his wanderings Finwë met her again upon the inner slopes of Oiolossë, the Mountain of Manwë and Varda; and her face was lit by the golden light of Laurelin that was shining in the plain of Ezellohar below. In that hour Finwë perceived in her eyes the love that had before been hidden from him. So it came to pass that Finwë and Indis desired to be wedded, and Finwë sought the counsel of the Valar....

They were obliged to choose between two courses: condemning Finwë to bereavement of a wife for ever, or allowing one of the Eldar to take a second wife. The former seemed a cruel injustice, and contrary to the nature of the Eldar. The second they had thought unlawful, and some still held to that opinion. The end of the Debate was that the marriage of Finwë and Indis was sanctioned. It was judged that Finwë's bereavement was unjust, and by persisting in her refusal to return Míriel had forfeited all rights that she had in the case; for either she was now capable of accepting the healing of her body by the Valar, or else her fëa was mortally sick and beyond their power, and she was indeed 'dead', no longer capable of becoming again a living member of the kindred of the Eldar.

'So she must remain until the end of the world. For from the moment that Finwë and Indis are joined in marriage all future change and choice will be taken from her and she will never again be permitted to take bodily shape. Her present body will swiftly wither and pass away, and the Valar will not restore it. For none of the Eldar may have two wives both alive in the world.' These were the words of Manwë, and an answer to the doubts that some had felt. For it was known to all the Valar that they alone had the power to heal or restore the body for the re-housing of a fëa that should in the later chances of the world be deprived; but that to Manwë also was given the right to refuse the return of the fëa.

During the time of his sorrow Finwë had little comfort from Fëanor. For a while he also had kept vigil by his mother's body, but soon he became wholly absorbed again in his own works and devices. When the matter of Finwë and Indis arose he was disturbed, and filled with anger and resentment; though it is not recorded that he attended the Debate or paid heed to the reasons given for the judgement, or to its terms except in one point: that Míriel was condemned to remain for ever discarnate, so that he could never again visit her or speak with her, unless he himself should die. This grieved him, and he grudged the happiness of Finwë and Indis, and was unfriendly to their children, even before they were born.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor


Etymology
mîr 'jewel' (Quenya mîrë) in Elemmírë, Gwaith-i-Mírdain, Míriel, Nauglamír, Tar-Atanamir.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names


Notes
1Þerinde 2 is an early form of the name, which later became Serindë in The Silmarillion.
2Thorn, or þorn (Þ, þ), is a letter that Tolkien drew from the Anglo-Saxon alphabet. It is pronounced like 'th' in the English word 'thing'. For more information, see the Wikipedia entry: Thorn (letter).

Contributors:
Loquacious 8Dec03
Elithien 9Dec03
Elena Tiriel 16Jan04, 22Aug06

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