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The war's immediate cause was the death of the Phoenix King Aenarion the Defender and the Phoenix Court's controversial decision to elect Bel Shanar to succeed him instead of Aenarion's own son Malekith. Although the Phoenix Throne was not hereditary, Malekith nonetheless felt slighted, and, with the encouragement of his mother Morathi, gathered an army of followers and struck at Bel Shanar's court, leading to a long and bitter civil war.
The war ended with Malekith's defeat and withdrawal to Naggaroth, and the divide between the High and Dark Elves endured through the ages until the end of the world.
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