TWT: Who in Middle-earth is Queen Berúthiel?

Gandalf’s reference to the cats of Queen Berúthiel in Fellowship is possibly one of the most cryptic broken references in the entire Lord of the Rings. The story seems to be non-existent – there is no chapter on it in the History of Middle-earth series, or even in Unfinished Tales. However, it does exist; it’s just very hard to find, since it’s a footnote to the essay on the Istari (footnote 7) in UT.

beruthiel

Berúthiel was the wife of the first Gondorian ship-king, Tarannon; unfortunately for her, she hated the sea. As a result, the marriage was unhappy, and they became the first royal couple of Gondor never to have children. Instead, the queen devoted herself to her cats: nine black ones and one white, with whom she could talk or alternatively see their memories. She used them to spy on her people, and everyone was afraid of them; they would curse and avoid them.

Finally Tarannon got tired of her antics and removed her name from the Book of Kings and exiled her to a ship with her cats, which was driven from Gondor by a north wind.


I love this story because I harbour a powerful dislike of felines and enjoy the depiction of Berúthiel’s as evil. 😛

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10 thoughts on “TWT: Who in Middle-earth is Queen Berúthiel?

    1. I really wish Tolkien had gone into more detail on her, explaining why she had so much hatred for everything around her. The Tolkien Gateway article on her says she was a Black Numenorean, which would explain it, but their reference is from an article in a Tolkien journal and the link to it is broken so I can’t check where they got that idea. (It certainly isn’t mentioned in the UT note.)

      I get a little antsy too whenever cats abound in a story 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too! But imagine what kind of dislike she might stir in the likes of us if even a small mention is so annoying 😀
        I won’t be surprised if she was a Black Numenorean indeed. I mean, those cat spies and her reading thoughts smell of evil craft.

        Liked by 1 person

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