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The First Age is the first of the recorded ages of Middle-earth. It may have begun with the completion of Arda or with the awakening of the Elves. Its early history, save for the Battle of the Powers and the Great Journey, is obscure, for most of the Eldar were in the West, and other races kept few records. Moreover, until the rising of the Moon and Sun, there seems to have been no count of years in Middle-earth. In the First Age racial friendships and enmities were established, and the events of this period formed the framework for later ages. The Edain and the Elves became allied, and the Dwarves and the Elves hostile. Morgoth rebelled and came to Middle-earth, and Fëanor's attack on him in the War of the Great Jewels resulted in the destruction of Beleriand and, of Morgoth, the foundation of Númenor, and the hatred of Morgoth's surviving servants for the Edain. In the First Age such evil creatures as Orcs and Trolls were first bred, but also the Peredhil were born, whose descendents were illustrious among Men and Elves ever after. The First Age is also called the Elder Days and the Eldest Days. It is referred to as the Ancient World by Aragorn.
The Great Darkness was the period of the dominion of Morgoth in Middle-earth, or his influence and its extent. The term is used only by Fangorn. It was also called the Darkness.
The Long Peace was the golden age of the Noldor in Beleriand, when Morgoth did not try to break the Siege of Angband and the Eldar enjoyed nearly two hundred years of peace. The Long Peace began with the defeat of the immature Glaurung around the First Age 260 and ended with the fires of Dagor Bragollach in 455. During this time, the Edain came to Beleriand and the Eldar prospered, but they made no attempt to overcome Morgoth or prevent him from building his armies.
Days of the Rings was the period during which the Rings of Power were influential in the affairs of Middle-earth, extendeing from the Second Age 1590 to the Third Age 3019.
The Darkness was an emanation sent by Sauron which covered Gondor and Rohan in the days preceding the Siege of Minas Tirith. The Darkness had a depressing effect. It lifted at the arrival of the Rohirrim at the beginning of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
The Wandering Days were the period, lasting from about the Third Age 1000 to 1630, during which the Hobbits gradually migrated from the Vales of Anduin to Bree or the Shire, prompted by the rise of Dol Guldur and Angmar. About 1050 the Harfoots came to Eriador, and the Fallohides followed about a century later, while the Stoors went to Dunland or the Angle. When Angmar rose, the Hobbits migrated farther west, many settling at Bree. Some Stoors, however, returned to the Gladden Fields. In the Third Age 1600, the Shire was settled by a large number of Hobbits from Bree, and thirty years later the Stoors of Dunland moved there as well.
The Second Age was the age of Middle-earth beginning after the Great Battle, the casting-out of Morgoth (Melkor), the destruction of Beleriand, and the departure of many Eldar, and ending with the overthrow of Sauron by the Last Alliance. For much of the Age, Sauron controlled large parts of Middle-earth; Men were killed or enslaved, and the Elves and Dwarves hid. The seeds of later evil were sown with the forging of the Rings of Power; the world was Changed at the destruction of Númenor, and Aman was removed from Arda; and the Dúnedain returned to Middle-earth and founded the realms of Arnor and Gondor. The Second Age was also called the Black Years.
The Dark Years were the years of Sauron's great and almost undisputed domination of Middle-earth, during which many peoples were enslaved or corrupted. The Dark Years lasted from approximately Second Age 1000, when Sauron settled in Mordor, to 3441, when he was overthrown by the Last Alliance. During this period Sauron built the Barad-Dûr, forged the Rings of Power, and won the War of the Elves and Sauron. The Dark Years are also called the Accursed Years, the Black Years, the Days of Flight, and perhaps the Dark Days.
The Third Age was the age of Middle-earth beginning with the first downfall of Saron and the death of Gil-galad and ending with the War of the Ring, the second and final downfall of Sauron, and the Last Riding of the Keepers of the Rings, in which the greatest of the Eldar still in Middle-earth departed over Sea. In this Age the Elves and Dwarves remained in Middle-earth but did little new, while Men increased in power and numbers. The Dúnedain kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor prospered at first, but waned as the evils of the Second Age, especially the Nazgûl and Sauron, rose again. In the end, however, the desperate gamble of the Wise to preserve the Free Peoples succeeded and great evil was banished, but at the same time much good and beauty was lost to Middle-earth. The Third Age was called the Fading Years by the Elves.
Also known as Shire Reckoning, this was the calendar system of the Shire and (under a different name) of Bree, an adaptation of the King's reckoning. The year 1 was equal to the Third Age 1601 in the Shire and 1300 in Bree. The week had seven days, which were Sterrendei, Sunnendei, Monendei, Trewesdei, Hevenesdei, Meresdei, and the chief day, highdei. The year had twelve months and a number of extra days, with leap years being formed by the addition of Overlithe. There was some difference in the names used in Bree and the Eastfarthing. All these names were in use before Hobbits settled in the Shire, and so the Shire-reckoning was rather ancient. The only major difference between the Shire-reckoning and the King's Reckoning was the Shire-reform.
The Shire-reform was a calendar reform invented and adopted in the Shire about the Third Age 2700, and adopted in Bree somewhat later. It removed the weekday names from Midyear's Day and Overlithe, thus giving the year exactly fifty-two weeks and providing each day of the year with an unchanging weekday name.
This was a term used by Frodo to describe the period of the War of the Ring, when the Shire (and the rest of Middle-earth) was nearly enslaved by Sauron.
The Middle Days were the Second and Third Ages, the years between the Elder Days, the First Age of Elves, and the Younger Days, the Fourth Age of Men.
The Fourth Age was the age of the Dominion of Men. The Fourth Age began with the passing of the Three Rings and various heroes of the Third Age after the defeat of Sauron, but the first day of the Fourth Age was March 25, Third Age 3021. In the Fourth Age most of the Elves, especially the Eldar, passed over Sea, and those of the non-Mannish races that remained in Middle-earth dwindled and hid, for their time was past and Men no longer understood them. The Fourth Age was also called the New Age and the Younger Days.
The End is the culmination of Eä. Although the phrase “until the end of days” is often used to mean “while the world exists,” the true End will be not a termination but a triumph. Evil will be defeated in the Last Battle, the Day of Doom will occur, Arda will be healed of its wounds, and Eä will display the perfect realization of the Ainulindalë. Presumably the halls of Mandos will be emptied, although the place of Men and Dwarves in the End is unclear, as is the role of Eä, the World of the Firsst Music, in the Second Music.