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Flags from Middle-Earth related books

Last modified: 2015-01-24 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: book | tolkien | silmarillion | the hobbit | lord of the rings |
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Introduction

[ed. note: On this page, numbers followed by "TA" (Third Age) in the contributions represent dates within Middle-Earth's timeline.]

Silmarillion

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, (Edited by Christopher Tolkien) is a collection of epics most of which precede the action in 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'. it includes genealogical tables, note on pronunciation, index of names, maps, etc.

not much verbal details I'm afraid. Still, JRRT worked them in where appropriate. Consistent with his tone (register) is the use of the words 'banner' and 'standard', never 'flag'.
Jan Mertens, 9 January 2004


Though it may be far fetched, it is conceivable that some of the standards in the excerps need not to be flags, but some other kind of vexilloids. Well, I have counted three mention of 'standards' in paragraphs Jan quoted. The last is description of a rising of a royal standard on a ship, so surely this is a flag, but the previous two are standards on the battlefields that may well be vexilloids of any sort (including the flags). Of course, it may be that Tolkien would never use the term 'standard' in that sence, though.
Željko Heimer 11 January 2004


Other Incarnations

It is my opinion that one may say that Tolkien was not much interested in heraldry and vexillology comparing the depth of his interest into other unusual fields of expertise he was providing in his works (e.g. scripts and calendars). His descriptions of flags are found scattered across the books but they are rarely useful to reconstruct what he really meant and how he imagined them to be. The flags are described mostly with most simple descriptions, like the one currently under the entry for Rohan

Thus we cannot know the shape of the flag was and how much intricate details it included. Most of the artists providing flags in their artistical visions of the Tolkien's world interpret these flags as full of details and ornamentations, giving a "celtic" ornaments etc. of which Tolkien mentioned nothing. The flag as he described, if we would follow the description of Rohan – would be just a banner of arms of "vert a horse courant argent".
Željko HEIMER, 2 January 2004


The flags in the movies are slightly different from the plain sense of the text (for example, the Stewards' flag is not plain white, but has a white charge on white).
Nathan Lamm, 2 January 2004


Aragorn

[Aragorn's flag]
by Carrie Mooney

Black with silver winged crown is no doubt the flag of Aragorn (Strider), the claimant to the throne of the two western kingdoms and one of the main characters of the story. This would be the flag that his bride-to-be Arwen made for him.
Željko Heimer, 14 May 2001


In Lord of the rings, (Book V, Chapter 6: "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields") this flag is described as being black with a White Tree surrounded by stars and surmounted by a crown (later on it's called "the Tree and Stars"). Therefore I would say that the flag on the website is at best based on the flag Arwen made. (Hence my earlier claim that the flag does not correspond to a flag described in the book.)
Stefan Schwoon, 15 May 2001


In Lord of the rings, ch. The passing of the Grey Company; p.772. Aragorn says to the army of the Dead:

For I am Elessar, Isildur's heir of Gondor. [...] And with that he bade Halbarad unfurl the great standard which he had brought; and behold! it was black, and if there was any device upon it, it was hidden in the darkness.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Dol Amroth

White swan (or swan-shaped boat) on blue.
Željko Heimer, 15 November 1995


From Lord of the rings, "The Field of Cormallen":

Upon the left was a banner, silver upon blue, a ship swan-prowed faring on the sea.

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 May 2001


In Lord of the rings, ch. Minas Tirith; p.754. (11 Mar 3019 TA).

Pippin and Bergil watch the Arrival of province troops to Minas Tirith:

Imrahil, prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the Lord, wil gilded banners bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Esgaroth

From The Hobbit:

They bore with them [...] the blue banner of the Lake

This refers to the Man village of Esgaroth, by the Long Lake, and perhaps also to survivors and offspring of the Man village of Dale. More references afterwards imply that the use of this banner, both in battle as in parley, was much alike to real world mediaeval usage.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 January 2004


Fingolfin

From The Silmarillion, on p. 128 (Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 13: Of the Return of the Noldor):

But as the host of Fingolfin marched into Mithrim the Sun rose flaming in the West; and Fingolfin unfurled his blue and silver banners, and blew his horns, and flowers sprang beneath his marching feet, and the ages of the stars were ended.

On p. 184 (idem) it is said that Fingolfin's shield is blue and set with crystals.

on p. 233 (idem)

Thus fell the High King of the Noldor; and they beat him into the dust with their maces, and his banner, blue and silver, they trod into the mire of his blood.

Jan Mertens, 9 January 2004


Goblins

On p. 253 of the Hobbit:

their banners were countless, black and red.

This is a reference to the banners of the Goblin side in the Battle of Five Armies.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 January 2004


It is not clear if they were having two types of banners, some black and some red, or if all of them were made of the two colours – though in the latter case, there is no hint that these flags would be bicolours as we think of them.
Željko Heimer, 4 January 2004


Not that it is going to add much to the discusion but if they were 2 types of banners, it would have been «their banners were countless, blacks and reds» unless my linguistic skills fail me.
Marc Pasquin, 5 January 2004


Tolkien had a very poetic way of writing English, so that "their banners were countless, black and red" can very well mean that there were all-black and all-red banners.
Nathan Lamm, 5 January 2004


Harad's troops

In Lord of the rings, ch. "The Black Gate is closed"; p.631-632. (05 Mar 3019 TA).

Gollum / Sméagol, newly arrived to Mordor, describing Harad troops at the Morannon to Frodo and Sam:

And some have red paint on their cheeks; and their flags are red, and the tips of their spears, and they have round shields, yellow and black, with big spikes.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Haradrim

In Lord of the rings, (Book V, Chapter 6: "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"):

Southward beyond the road lay the main force of the Haradrim, and there horsemen were gathered about the standard of their chieftain [...] Then he was filled with a red wrath and shouted aloud, and displaying his standard, black serpent upon scarlet [...]

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 May 2001


Isildur

From Lord of the rings, "the return of the king":

For I am Elessar, Isildur's heir of Gondor.'And with that he bade Halbarad unfurl the great standard which he had brought; and behold! it was black, and if there was any device upon it, it was hidden in the darkness.

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 May 2001


Minas Tirith

[Minas Tirith's flag]
by Blanche Plainfield

As much as I can remember the Stewards of Minas Tirith do not use any device, but the pure white flag.
Željko Heimer, 15 November 1995


From Lord of the rings, "The Steward and the King":

... and upon the White Tower of the citadel the standard of the Stewards, bright argent like snow in the sun, bearing no charge nor device.

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 May 2001


Mirkwood Elves

On p. 236 of the Hobbit:

They bore with them the green banner of the Elvenking ...

This refers to the Mirkwood Elves. More references afterwards imply that the use of this banner, both in battle as in parley, was much alike to real world mediaeval usage.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 January 2004


Mordor

[mordor's flag]
by Carrie Mooney

red eye on sable.
Željko Heimer, 15 November 1995


In Lord of the rings, ch. The Black Gate Open; p.870. (24 Mar 3019 TA).

The "Mouth of Sauron" parleys with Aragorn and Gandalf:

"with him [...] a single banner, black but bearing on it in red the Evil Eye.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Númenóreans

From The Silmarillion. Talking about Ar-Pharazôn and his fleet, on p. 334 (Ch. 24: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath):

In that time the fleets of the Númenóreans darkened the sea upon the west of the land, and they were like an archipelago of a thousand isles: their masts were as a forest upon the mountains, and their sails like a brooding cloud; and their banners were golden and black. (...) Then he did on his panoply and his crown, and let raise his standard, and he gave the signal for the raising of the anchors; and in that hour the trumpets of Númenor outrang the thunder.

Jan Mertens, 9 January 2004


Reunited Kingdom

on black, a white tree, seven white stars above. Lord of the rings describes it once like this, but with *yellow* stars in another. Both descriptions include the crown "in gold and iron.").
Željko Heimer, 15 November 1995


In Lord of the rings, ch. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields; p.829. (15 Mar 3019 TA).

Aragorn arrives by ship to Pelenor:

upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turn towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril and gold.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Rivendel

In Lord of the rings, ch. The Steward and the King; p.951. (mid 3019 TA).

Arriving for the wedding of Aragorn and Arwena:

"First come Elrohir and Elladan with a banner of silver

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Rohan

White horse on green field.
Željko Heimer, 15 November 1995


From Lord of the rings, Book III Chapter 6 (The King of the Golden Hall):

"It bore the running horse, white upon green, that was the emblem of the House of Eorl

and other references, none of which talk about a horse's head, but a whole horse.
Jonathan Dixon, 17 November 1995


Southron men

In Lord of the rings, ch. "The Siege of Gondor"; p.802. (10 Mar 3019 TA).

Siege of Minas Tirith is done by:

wild Southron men with red banners.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Théoden

In Lord of the rings, ch. "The Ride of the Rohirrim"; p.820. (15 Mar 3019 TA).

Théoden arrives to Minas Tirith; along with him was:

Guthláf, his banner-bearer [...] Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 April 2005


Valar

From The Silmarillion, on p. 302 (Ch. 24: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath):

But the host of the Valar prepared for battle; and beneath their white banners marched the Vanyar, the people of Ingwë, and those also of the Noldor who never departed from Valinor, whose leader was Finarfin the son of Finwë.

Jan Mertens, 9 January 2004


Vanyar

From The Silmarillion, on p. 306 (Ch. 24: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath):

And the Vanyar returned beneath their white banners, and were borne in triumph to Valinor; but their joy in victory was diminished, for they returned without the Silmarils from Morgoth's crown, and they knew that those jewels could not be found or brought together again unless the world be broken and remade.

Jan Mertens, 9 January 2004


Sources Used