Political economy does Second Age Arda.
The Tree-Guard law
"Duty, tradition, a prince’s virtues," his father had harped, and, blind to slow-building need and new possibilities, had curbed wood-felling for far-sailing ships. Trees need time to grow, but Aldarion’s ventures will not wait so long. Cloth-mills need metals, for machines and monies to pay the restless folk who work them, and Vëantur’s ventures had found lands that could feed Númenór’s many sons and daughters. They had found also many strange Men…
Against such, Númenór needs watchers, needs ships and friendly harbors – she needs wood.
Vinyalondë has wood, and there is no tree-guard law – short-sighted folly’s offspring! – in that land...
They called their land the Woods of A Thousand Glades, and they knew every one of them, and set the watch-stones in each to house the guardian spirit. And some remembered when the lands were broken, and the great ships sailed, taking even some Dru-folk to fey lands.
That was long ago, but the ships are back: the Ship-Men, who build high stone houses, look like those who fought the darkness once.
But these Men eat trees: in swaths they clear forest-land. Thus when the changeling Dru-folk return, harrowed, to tell of the Venturers, all know: the harbor must fall.
Sails of Silver
Elven blood and island land make the sea sing, and so we set sail.
Many young men come to the Uinendili with that tale, though ‘tis true, too, that inland, they lack livelihoods. Mittelmar’s vast horse and sheep herds need but few to keep such. Where shall folk go, if not to the sea or the shop?
The workshop has honor, the sea peril, but the sea – ah, the sea laps green-golden lands. Those white-sailed ships gleam like the silver of outland princelings.
The Venturers Guild gives what the Gift-land cannot: land to till, mines to delve, place and property…
… for the little croft-holds of Emerië bred many younger sons who’d gain not a garden-patch to call their own, but who wishes to work in the cloth-mills? Land, land! Farm, family, and freedom: these they desire.
And so they departed: Barinzar promised the Guild seven years’ service for passage to anywhere Middle-earth, where timber-yards, with new water-mill blades, hunger for wood.
The Guild-steward in Umbar tells the newcomers: Feed the mill, and in seven years, the land you clear is yours.
Gladly then Barinzar labors, though he grieves to see the forests, and the good will of the South-landers, fall…
… for Hamairen’s great-grandmother remembers when the forest grew wild: wood for warmth and rites, fruits and barks they gave, and the Children of the Fire took never too much.
When the Guild-men came in ships, the Children taught them which trees gave which gifts, gained greater leechcraft from the strangers. And when the Númenóreans came to stay, Hamairen’s grandmother taught their grateful peasants the forest-ways.
Now, though, the forest is thin: the trees feed the shipyards. The Númenóreans learned which grew fastest: these alone, they replant. Fruit dwindles, hunger scythes the Children, in whom the flame of godly justice rises…
Vinyalondë, Pelargir, Umbar: one by one, Andor’s ships lay people and cornerstones – footholds on distant lands that turn rootless sons into support.
And gifts became bribes: steel ploughshares, the water-mill, shipwrighting, letters, mathematics, medicine buy needed allies. For, in Middle-earth plot kings of wealth and will, who have learned to hate Númenór from refugees of colonized lands.
Aldarion makes records, charts, maps – and builds a ring. Harbor by harbor, he must hem these in, settle his own folk, prepare: no choice, for kingdoms will clash over land and wealth, and if small Númenór would live, she must learn to take…
The Ship-folk scheme, strategize – foundations come fast, but growth’s fitful: the course of empire never did run smooth.
For, men will resist:
Self-exiled Dru-folk and Enedrim warn the harbor's Haladin: their drums fill the airs. Come winter, they’ll beat that harbor down.
From Guild-bound men, Hamairen and her people learn: no land means no hope; in bondage to the Guilders’ prince, the homeless breed more homelessness, and since timber drew them, the timber-mills must burn.
Again and again.
For, beyond the books of princes, the downtrodden understand: history’s writ in blood and terror, but they’ll make plenty of their own…