Minas Tirith (S. 'Tower of the Guard') was a city of Gondor, originally called Minas Anor. From T.A. 1640 onwards it was the capital of the South-kingdom and the seat of its Kings and ruling Stewards.
Minas Anor Edit
The city of Minas Tirith was originally a fortress, Minas Anor (S. 'Tower of the Sun'), built in S.A. 3320 by the Faithful Númenóreans. It was the western counterpart to Minas Ithil (S. 'Tower of the Moon'): guarding the western flank of the city of Osgiliath from the men of the White Mountains, as Ithil guarded its east from Mordor. From Osgiliath the sons of Elendil jointly ruled the newly-founded South-kingdom, but Minas Anor was home to Anárion's House and Minas Ithil to Isildur's. Therefore when the seven palantíri were divided amongst the Realms in Exile one was placed in Minas Anor.
Sauron attacked Gondor in S.A. 3429, taking Minas Ithil and forcing Isildur to flee north to his father in Arnor. Anárion meanwhile was besieged in Osgiliath and Minas Anor for five years, until he was relieved by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. In T.A. 2 Isildur planted the second White Tree of Gondor in Minas Anor in memory of his brother, who had perished during the Siege of Barad-dûr. From this point the Kingship of Gondor belonged solely to the heirs of Anárion, who continued to rule from Osgiliath.
In T.A. 420 Minas Anor was rebuilt by Ostoher, the seventh King of Gondor, and his from his reign onwards the Kings removed there from Osgiliath in the summer. It remained the second city of Gondor for the next thousand years as the Kingdom reached the height of its power under the Ship-kings, and then fell into its long decline. Osgiliath was burned and its palantír lost during the Kin-strife, and from this point Minas Anor gradually grew more prominent. In T.A. 1636 the old capital was devastated by the Great Plague, leaving it depopulated and falling into ruin. Soon after Tarondor permanently moved the King's House to Minas Anor.
For a short time under Tarandor and his heirs the decline of Gondor was slowed, although constant wars with various groups of Easterlings took their toll. In T.A. 1900 Calimehtar built the first White Tower in the Citadel of Minas Anor to house the city's palantír. Just over a century later, however, the kingdom was dealt a harsh blow. In T.A. 2002 Minas Ithil, where the guard on Mordor had long since slackened, was captured by the Nazgûl. It became known as Minas Morgul, and in turn Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith, 'Tower of the Guard' or the 'Guarded City'. Soon after Eärnur, the last King of Gondor, was killed in the Morgul Vale, and the lordship of the South-kingdom passed to the Stewards.
Minas Tirith Edit
Following a brief respite in the Watchful Peace, Gondor under the Stewards became increasingly beset by enemies: control of Ithilien and the ruined bridges of Osgiliath passed back and forth between Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul,the coastlands were raided by the Corsairs of Umbar, and Easterlings assailed them from the north. The Citadel was improved under Ecthelion I (T.A. 2685–2698), who rebuilt the White Tower which afterwards bore his name. But equally the White Tree died at the same time as the twenty-first Steward, Belecthor II, and this time a new seedling could not be found to replace it.
In the reign of Ecthelion II (T.A. 2953–T.A. 2984) Minas Tirith was strengthened against Mordor, where Sauron had now declared himself openly. It was at this time that Aragorn the future King first came to the city under the name Thorongil, and did great deeds.
War of the Ring Edit
- Main article: Battle of the Pelennor Fields
During the War of the Ring, the brunt of Mordor's assault on the Free peoples was directed at Gondor and Minas Tirith. Cair Andros fell on 10 March T.A. 3019 and on 12 March a company led by Faramir was forced to retreat from its defense of Osgiliath. An effort was made to repair the Rammas Echor, but this came too late. With the crossings of Anduin taken the Pelennor was overrun, and Minas Tirith was besieged by a great army of Morgul orcs and Easterlings led by the Witch-king. The city was under-manned, and its defenders had little hope; on 15 March the Great Gate was breached and the last ruling Steward, Denethor II, burned himself in despair. But Gandalf was also present, and rescuing Faramir from his father he took charge of the defence of Minas Tirith. The Rohirrim under Théoden also came unlooked for to the city's aid, and Aragorn led a force up the river from Pelargir. Seeing this Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, led a sally from the city, and the three armies were able to break the siege in the decisive Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
On 1 May T.A. 3019, returning with the victorious from the Battle of the Morannon, Aragorn was crowned on the plain outside Minas Tirith, and he entered the city as King Elessar. On 25 June he discovered a sapling of the line of Nimloth in a hidden hallow of Mount Mindolluin. This was planted in the Court of the Fountain – the fourth White Tree of Gondor.
Fourth Age Edit
Under King Elessar Minas Tirith was rebuilt and restored: the Great Gate was remade in mithril and steel, the streets were repaved with white marble and gardens and trees were planted all around the city. This labour was aided by the Dwarves of the Glittering Caves, led by Gimli, and Wood-elves brought there by Legolas.