The histories of Arda tell that when the sun first shone down on the World a new measure of time was born. With the Sun came the awakening of a race that was ordained by Ilúvatar alone. As the Elves had come forth with the rekindling of the Stars, so Men came with the rising of the Sun.
In the lands the Elves called Hildórien "land of the followers", which was in the far east of Middle-earth, Men first opened their eyes to the new light. Unlike Elves, Men were mortal and, even by Dwarf measures, short-lived. In strength of body and nobility of spirit, Men compared poorly with Elven-folk. They were a weak race that succumbed readily to pestilence and the rough elements of the World. They were easily broken in body and spirit by all manners of things that didn't touch the Elves at all. For these reasons the Elves called them the Engwar, the "sickly". The Valar did not come into the East, and what skills Men could learn were taught them out of pity by the least of the Elven people, the Dark Elves who lived in the woodlands of the East. But Men were stubborn as a race, and they bread more quickly than any other people except the Orcs, and though great numbers perished they multiplied again and finally thrived in the eastern lands, and so by some were called the Usurpers.
In the Spring of Arda there was great joy, but at last Morgoth, hearing about what had taken place in the East, made his way to those lands. A shadow then came down like a great hand on the race of Men. It is said that in Men, for the most part, he found a people he could easily bend to his will.
Some fled from this evil and were the noblest of Men. They scattered to the West and the North, searching for the lands that were rumored to be free of Morgoth's Hand of Darkness. Eventually they reached Beleriand, where a people lived whose eyes were as bright as the unclouded Stars and whose spirits were as fierce as the golden Sun. These were the Qalaquendi, the Noldorin Elves who recently had come out of the Undying Lands. To these Elves the Men paid homage; offered service and allegiance. Above all they wished to learn about the Light that had once been in the West and of the skills and knowledge that would bring an end to the darkness they had known in the East.
The Noldor accepted the allegiance of these Men and taught them many things of great worth. In the Noldorin language they first called Men the Atani, the "secondborn", but later, as the greater part of Beleriand spoke the Grey-elven toungue, they were more commonly known as the Edain, the "second ones". They were among the noblest of Men ever to walk in Mortal Lands.
According to the "Quenta Silmarillion" the Edain were divided into three hosts: the First House of Bëor, the Second House of the Haladin, and the Third House of Hador. The deeds of the three Houses of Elf-friends were renowned in the War of the Jewels against Morgoth the Enemy. Great too was the tragedy that befell the noble Edain who battled at the side of Elven hosts. Of the tales of Men in the First Age of Sun the longest is the "Narn i Hîn Húrin", the tale of the children of Hurin, which tells of Húrin the Troll-slayer; of Túrin who slew Glaurung, the Father of Dragons; of Beren, who cut a Silmaril from Morgoth's Iron Crown; and of Eärendil the mariner who sailed "Vingilot" and carried the Morning Star into the heavens.
In the First Age still more of the race of Men came out of the East. They were a different people whom Elves called Swarthy Men and Easterlings. They were people who had remained in the lands were the shadow of Morgoth loomed. In times of war, most of these Men proved unfaithful and, though feighning friendship to the Elves, they betrayed them to the Enemy.
When the First Age of Sun was ended and Morgoth was cast into the Void, the lands of Beleriand went down beneath the Western Sea. All the enemies who inhabited Beleriand were slain, as well as most of the Elves and Edain of that place, and so little was left to the victors.
Even the Edain who survived that Age became divided. Some fled the sinking of Beleriand and went to the East, beyond the Misty Mountains, and for a time were lost to Elves. They lived in the Vales of Anduin with others of their kin who had never entered Beleriand in the First Age; they were known as the Northmen of Rhovanion. Others of the Edain fled Beleriand and went to the South with the Elves, where they were given a great gift by the Valar for their faithfulness and suffering. These Men were granted a land that lay in the Western Sea between Middle-earth and the Undying Lands.
The Men who went south with the Elves were named the Dúnedain, the Men of Westernesse, for their island was called Westernesse, which in the Elvish toungue was Númenórë. In the Second Age the Dúnedain were more often called the Númenóreans and they became a mighty sea power. Then too the span of the Númenóreans lives was increased and their wisdom and strength also grew. As the "Akallabêth" relates, their history in the Second Age was glorious, but their Downfall was terrible. For the Númenóreans, corrupted by Sauron, went to war against the Valar and the Maiar, and most were destroyed. Númenórë was cast into a great abyss, the Western Sea came over it and it was no more.
Though most of the Númenóreans perished, there were those who were saved from that disaster, including some who were later known as the Black Númenóreans. They were a mighty race but most were corrupted by their pride and by the influence of the Dark Lord Sauron. They lived in the land of Umbar in the South of Middle-earth. They were a great sea power and were enemies of that other people who escaped from Númenórë.
The noblest of the Númenóreans returned to Middle-earth in nine ships; their lord was Elendil the Tall and with him were two sons, Isildur and Anárion. These Elendili, who were of the true line of Dúnedain, made two mighty kingdoms in Middle-earth. The North kingdom was started east of the Gulf of Lune by Elendil and was named Arnor, and the South kingdom was formed by his sons, was called Gondor. The Dúnedain of Arnor and Gondor were the strongest Men of Middle-earth.
Soon however the power of Sauron in Mordor grew again, but the peoples of Middle-earth saw the threat and so they made the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, which combined all the armies of the Elves and Dúnedain. The Men were led by Elendil and the Elves by Gil-galad, the last High King. They went to the Black gate and fought a terrible battle. Many Men called Haradrim from the South fought against them, as did others from Rhûn who were named Easterlings. Among them there were also some who came from Umbar - the Black Númenóreans; many were these race of Men who sided with the Orcs and thralls of Sauron.
But at last Mordor's Black Gate was thrown down, and those in the Alliance then laid siege to the Dark Tower, Barad-dûr, for seven years until in the end it also fell. However Gil-galad, Elendil and Anárion were killed in that war and among the rulers of Dúnedain only Isildur remained. It was he who cut the Ring from Sauron's hand and sent his spirit to wander without form in the waste places of Middle-earth.
So began the Third Age and, though for a time it was filled with happiness, it was doomed to end in a great war. After taking the One Ring from Sauron's hand Isidur did not destroy it and in the first years of that Age tragedy befell him. The Orcs cut him down with black arrows at the Gladden Fields and for a long time the ring was lost.
Of the Dúnedain who survived there were the sons of Isildur, who ruled the North Kingdom Arnor, and the sons of Anárion, who ruled the South Kingdom of Gondor; and for a time their strength increased. There were also other races of Men who had arisen in the East and South, and many now appeared. The Balcoth, Wainriders and other Éasterlings came from Rhûn against the Dúnedain of Gondor. From the South, the Haradrim and the Variags advanced with the Black Númenóreans. However the Men of Gondor were strong and defeated all enemies.
But in the North another power grew in the land of Angmar. A witch-king ruled in that land, and he summoned an army of Orcs and evil creatures, as well as Hillmen of the Ettenmoors and Easterlings, to make war on the North Kingdom of Arnor, which they laid waste. Though the evil realm of Angmar was finally destoyed by the Dúnedain of Gondor, the North Kingdom of Arnor was ended, and only a small number of that people wandered the empty lands and they were named the Rangers of the North.
In the South and from the East there came a constant flow of barbarian Men, corrupted long before Saruman's power. The Dunlendings advanced, prepared for war, as did the Haradrim and Easterlings. The Nazgûl also came out of Mordor and from the Men of Gondor they captured the east tower of Minas Ithil, which was renamed Minas Morgul. Yet in this time Gondor gained an ally, for the horsemen known as the Rohirrim came to their aid. These were the Northmen of Rhovanion and were like the Woodmen and the Beornings of Mirkwood, or the Lake Men of Esgaroth and the Bardings of Dale, for they perpetually fought the evils made by Sauron the Dark Lord. In the scattered realms of Middle-earth a union of the Dúnedain peoples was, however, foreshadowed. For, as the "Red book of Westmarch" relates, though the North Kingdom of Arnor was lost there always remained a true heir to the Dúnedian throne; while in the South, though the kingdom was intact, there was no longer a true heir to be named king, and the land was ruled by Stewards. The Quest of the Ring was set near the end of the Third Age, and the War of the Ring began. The One Ring was found and destroyed, and the One King came to the Dúnedain. This was Aragorn, son of Arathorn, who was named King Elessar, the true heir of Isildur. Then too came the last union of the blood of the royal lineage with that of the Elves, for Aragorn took as his wife Arwen Undómiel, daughter of Elrond Half-elven.
King Elessar proved a strong and wise ruler. For though he crushed many enemies in the war, and feared nobody in battle, he made peace with the Easterlings and Haradrim, and in the Fourth Age of Sun, which was ordained by the Age of Dominion of Men, there was peace in the Westlands, and also for many years after that time, because of the wisdom of Elessar and his sons. For these were Dúnedain, who traced direct lineage to the Atanatári, the Fathers of Men, who had first entered the kingdoms of the Elves, where they had learned and passed on to the race of Men much that is now thought noble and great.