The story of the throne of Gondor is an epic in its own right. It's an expansive tale that spans the millenniums, tracing an illustrious line of kings and stewards, revealing heights and depths and, ultimately, setting the stage for the War of the Ring.
Here's a look at the most important events, figures and elements involved with Gondor's line of kings--from Numenor to Minas Tirith, from Narsil to Aragornů
The Beginning: After the fall of the great civilization of Numenor late in the Second Age, legendary Dunedain chieftain Elendil set sail for Middle-earth with the most noble Numenorian survivors. He established the kingdom of Gondor, and ruled it jointly with his sons Isildur and Anarion.
Isildur: Although best known for slashing the One Ring from Sauron's hand and keeping the ring for himself (until it betrayed him to his death), Isildur was also responsible for planting the White Tree of Gondor.
The White Tree of Gondor: Isildur took a seedling from the White Tree of Numenor and planted it at Minas Anor (later renamed Minas Tirith) in memory of his brother Anarion. The White Tree grew to become the symbol of Gondor, and its health would mirror the state of Gondorian civilization throughout the ages.
The Line of Kings: There were 31 kings of Gondor after the death of Anarion, and they ruled for more than 2,000 years. But over time the line of descendants ran dry, and after Earnur disappeared while pursuing the Witch King, Gondor found itself without a successor to the throne.
The Stewards: For centuries, a steward served as head of the king's council in Gondor. But after the loss of King Earnur and the demise of the line of kings, the stewards assumed the leadership role. They took office with the oath, "To hold rod and rule in the name of the king, until he shall return." They exercised all the powers of the king, but never sat on the ancient throne or wore a crown. The stewards ruled Gondor in this manner for nearly 1,000 years.
Denethor: The 26th and final steward of Gondor was a skilled ruler, but it's believed he was the first king or steward of Gondor to look into the palantir, or seeing stone, kept in the White Tower. He paid a steep price, for Sauron possessed the palantir most closely linked to Gondor's. And over time, Sauron used it to weaken Denethor's mind and his grip on the kingdom and reality.