J.R.R. Tolkien > The Silmarillion >
One of the first generation of Elves who had appeared at Cuiviënen before the First Age. His name is more fully in Sindarin Elu Thingol, or in Quenya Elwë Singollo, or Star-man Greymantle. He was among the Eldar who followed Oromë west from Cuiviënen to Aman, of the host of the Teleri, along with his brother Olwë, but unlike his brother, he did not go all the way. In the wood of Nan Elmoth in Beleriand he came upon Melian the Maia, and he fell in love with her and took her to wife. While the rest of the Teleri eventually went west over the Great Sea to Aman, he and his people remained in Beleriand. With Melian he founded the woodland kingdom of Doriath in the center of Beleriand, and ruled the Sindar or Grey Elves for many a long age. Melian's power allowed no one with power less than hers to cross the borders of Doriath without their permission, so that land had peace for many many years. In those long ages, a daughter was born to them: Lúthien Tinúviel, who was the most beautiful of the children of Ilúvatar.
He was highly distrustful when the Noldor came to Beleriand at the beginning of the First Age, especially the sons of Fëanor, after he heard that they had slaughtered his brother's subjects at Alqualondë, and would permit only those of the House of Finarfin to come to his lands, because they were related to him on their mother's side. He also had been greatly troubled by the coming of mortal Men, as many disturbing dreams and visions he and Melian had of their coming.
But a man indeed was to come through the borders of Doriath driven by a destiny greater than Melian's power: Beren son of Barahir, whose fate was entwined with that of Lúthien. Beren and Lúthien eventually fell in love, but Thingol would not allow anyone, much less a mortal human to take his beloved daughter, so he set a quest on Beren that would likely prove to be his death: take a Silmaril from the Iron Crown of Morgoth and bring it to him. This request, though Thingol probably thought of it in the beginning only as a way of getting rid of this pesky mortal who dared to take his daughter, actually had the effect of bringing the kingdom of Doriath under the sway of the Oath of Fëanor and the curse of the Silmarils, as Melian warned him. Of course, against all odds, Beren with the aid of Lúthien succeeded in the quest, and the two had his blessing. Beren dies of a mortal wound inflicted by Carcharoth the great Wolf of Angband, and soon after Lúthien follows from pain and sorrow at the loss of Beren. Thingol's heart is filled with darkness at this, and a "winter" falls on him like a mortal man in old age.
Beren and Lúthien later return to Menegroth from death by the grace of the Valar and lift the darkness from him, though he is still grieved because of a parting beyond the end of the world had come between him and his daughter, for her choice to remain with Beren.
Thingol now had the Silmaril, and the sons of Fëanor demanded it from him as their oath required. Melian counselled him to give it to them, but after hearing the proud and threatening words of the sons of Fëanor and remembering the anguish of his daughter Lúthien and the blood of Beren by which the Silmaril had been won, scornfully refused. Maedhros decided to remain silent about this, as he was building an alliance of all the enemies of Morgoth in an attempt to assault Angband, after Beren and Lúthien showed he was not invincible. His brothers, Celegorm and Curufin, however, vowed openly to slay Thingol and destroy Doriath should they return from war victorious. Thingol thus fortified his borders and sent no aid to the Union of Maedhros save his marchwardens Beleg and Mablung, who were unwilling to have no part in those great deeds. To them Thingol gave leave to go, as long as they served not the sons of Fëanor.
After the disastrous defeat of the Eldar at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Beleg returned to Doriath, bearing with him the young Túrin Turambar, a grand-nephew of Beren, who was sent by his mother Morwen Eledhwen from Dor-Lómin, which was gradually being overrun by Morgoth's forces, and Thingol received him gladly. Later, Túrin slew the Nandorin elf Saeros, one of Thingol's counsellors in a fit of rage after the latter gave a mortal insult to Túrin's people. Thingol was at first enraged by this, but after hearing the whole story of what happened granted pardon to Túrin, who nevertheless refused to return to Doriath, even after he sent Beleg to bring him back. The Narn I Hîn Húrin tells the sad tale of Túrin's fate, and his father Húrin later held Thingol responsible for it, unjustified though it was.
Húrin was captured alive by Morgoth in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and was tortured but later released with the curse that he should see all things only with the eyes of Morgoth. After learning of the painful fate of his family, he wandered Beleriand and found his way to the ruins of Nargothrond where he recovered the Nauglamír, the Necklace of the Dwarves. This Húrin brought to Thingol, who laid it at his feet in scorn. Thingol accepted the Necklace, and called upon dwarves of the Blue Mountains to set the Silmaril in the Nauglamír. The dwarven craftsmen however, became so enamored of the beauty of the Jewel in the Necklace that they murdered Thingol in his own treasury. With his death, Melian, filled with sorrow, departed the halls of Menegroth in Doriath, and that land, which long had peace, was then left open to attack from without, which came all too soon. Beren later recovered the Nauglamír from the dwarves and gave it to his son Dior as a token of his authority as new king of Doriath, so the sons of Fëanor, now no longer restrained by Melian's power, attacked Doriath and killed Dior, yet they failed to recover the Silmaril, as his wife Nimloth and daughter Elwing escaped.