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The Thain's Book
An encyclopedia of Middle-earth, Numenor and the Undying Lands

Wars & Battles


Battle of Azanulbizar

See the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs below.


Battle of Bywater

The Battle of Bywater by the Brothers Hildebrandt
Battle of Bywater - HildebrandtBattle between Hobbits and Men in the Shire. The Battle of Bywater was the last battle of the War of the Ring. The battle was fought on November 3, 3019 of the Third Age, on the Bywater Road near the village of Bywater. The Hobbits defeated the Men and freed their land from the rule of the invaders.

Men had started coming to the Shire in late 3018. Many of them were ruffians from the South and some even seemed to have Orc blood. At first they worked for Lotho Sackville-Baggins, who was expanding his business interests and selling goods from the Shire to outsiders including Saruman the Wizard. Lotho had Mayor Will Whitfoot arrested and set himself up as Chief, and the Men came to be called the Chief's Men. The Chief's Men intimidated the Hobbits and arrested anyone who tried to stand up to them. In September of 3019, Saruman came to the Shire and took over as Chief.

When Frodo Baggins and his companions returned to the Shire and came to Bywater on November 2, they began to rally the Hobbits to expel the invaders. Merry Brandybuck blew the Horn of the Mark and over 200 Hobbits from the Bywater area answered the call. The Hobbits confronted about 20 Men who came from Hobbiton. The leader of the Men was killed by Hobbit archers and the rest surrendered, but the Men had sent scouts to bring reinforcements from Waymeet. Pippin Took rode off to Tookland to rally the Tooks.

Merry was in charge of organizing the Hobbitry and he used his war experience to prepare them for the upcoming battle. He had barriers set up on the roads and posted look-outs for the night. He rode towards Waymeet and returned at 10 o'clock on the morning of November 3 with the news that around 100 Men were heading toward Bywater. Pippin arrived before the Men, leading 100 Hobbits from Tookland.

Under Merry's direction, the Hobbits had set up a barricade of carts about a furlong up Bywater Road at a point where there were high banks and hedges on either side of the road. When the Men came up the road the Hobbits pushed more carts in behind them, and the Men found that they were trapped in a confined space with armed Hobbits looking down on them from the banks above.

The Men were leaderless and inexperienced in battle; they were used to ruling by intimidation and had not expected such an organized resistance. Some of the Men fled, but others fought fiercely and several Hobbits were killed. Merry and Pippin then charged the ruffians from the east side and Merry slew the leader, who appeared to be part Orc. The rest of the Men were surrounded by Hobbit archers. Those who had escaped were pursued and the Men were driven out of the Shire.

In the end, nearly 70 Men were killed and 12 were taken prisoner, while 19 Hobbits died and about 30 were wounded. The dead Men were buried in a nearby sand-pit that came to be called the Battle Pit. The Hobbits were buried separately, and a stone was placed on their grave with a garden around it. A Roll was made of the names of all the Hobbits who fought in the Battle of Bywater, with Captains Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took listed at the top.

The Battle of Bywater was the last battle fought in the Shire. The only other battle that had been fought in the Shire was the Battle of Greenfields.

Source:
The Return of the King: "The Scouring of the Shire," p. 294-95 and passim


Battle of Dagorlad

See the War of the Last Alliance below.


Battle of Dale

Battle in the north during the War of the Ring. The Battle of Dale began on March 15, 3019 of the Third Age*. An army of Easterlings allied to Sauron crossed the Redwater and King Brand of Dale was forced to retreat to the foot of the Lonely Mountain. The Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain led by King Dain came to the aid of the Men of Dale. The battle lasted three days.

On March 17, King Brand was slain, and Dain stood over Brand's body wielding his axe until he too was killed. The Easterlings were victorious, but they could not take the Lonely Mountain and many Dwarves and Men took refuge there. They were besieged by the Easterlings until March 27, when news of the downfall of Sauron reached the north. Then Brand's son Bard II and Dain's son Thorin Stonehelm led their forces out of the mountain and drove the Easterlings away into the East.

*Note:
The only date given for the Battle of Dale is March 17, the day Brand and Dain were killed. Their deaths appear to have been at the end of the battle. Also, it is said that the Battle of Dale began while Minas Tirith was besieged. Therefore the starting date of the three-day battle appears to be March 15.

Sources:
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 375-76


Battle of Fornost

Map of the site of the Battle of Fornost
Map of the site of the Battle of FornostBattle between the forces of the Witch-king of Angmar and the combined forces of the Dunedain of the North, Elves of Lindon and Rivendell, and Men of Gondor. The Battle of Fornost was fought in 1975 of the Third Age on the plain west of Fornost between the North Downs and Lake Evendim. The battle resulted in the Witch-king's defeat, but it also marked the end of the North-kingdom of Arnor.

The Witch-king was the Lord of the Nazgul, and he had been troubling the Dunedain of the North since he established the realm of Angmar in 1300. In the winter of 1974, a great force from Angmar captured Fornost, which was the capital of what remained of the North-kingdom. The Witch-king himself took command of the city.

Most of the Dunedain fled west across the River Lune to Lindon, but some led by King Arvedui held out for a time in the North Downs. They were soon forced to retreat northward to the Icebay of Forochel. A ship was sent from the Grey Havens to rescue them, but it was lost at Sea in March of 1975 and Arvedui and all aboard perished.

A fleet finally arrived from Gondor in repsonse to a request for aid that Arvedui had sent before the invasion. There were so many ships that they filled all the harborage in the Gulf of Lune. The fleet brought a great army led by Earnur, the son of King Earnil II of Gondor, as well as cavalry that included horsemen from Rhovanion. They joined forces with the remaining Dunedain of the North and the Elves of Lindon led by Cirdan to form the Host of the West. Some archers from the Shire accompanied them.

The Host of the West crossed the Lune and headed for the Hills of Evendim. The Witch-king was over-confident, and rather than waiting for the Host to try to retake Fornost, he sent his army out to meet them. The Host of the West came down out of the hills onto the plain and engaged the forces of Angmar in battle.

The forces of Angmar started to retreat toward Fornost. Then their flank was attacked by the cavalry of the Host of the West, who had circled around the Hills of Evendim to come down from the north. The forces of Angmar were routed. The Witch-king tried to retreat to his stronghold of Carn Dum with the remnants of his troops, but he was pursued by cavalry led by Earnur. Earnur was joined by Glorfindel and an army of Elves from Rivendell, and together they finished off the Witch-king's forces.

The Witch-king turned on Earnur, who tried to stand his ground but was unable to control his terrified horse. Then Glorfindel approached, and the Witch-king fled into the night. Earnur wanted to pursue him, but Glorfindel said, "Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall." (LotR, App. A, p. 332)

The Orcs and Men in the service of Angmar had all been slain or driven away, and the Witch-king returned to Mordor. Over 1,000 years later, Glorfindel's prediction came to pass when the Witch-king was vanquished at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields by a woman and a Hobbit.

Despite the victory over Angmar, the Dunedain of the North were greatly diminished and weakened, and the North-kingdom of Arnor could no longer be sustained. Fornost remained abandoned, and the Dunedain became a wandering people called Rangers by the people of Eriador. It was not until the end of the Third Age that the North-kingdom was reestablished by Aragorn, King Elessar.

Names & Etymology:
The Battle of Fornost took its name from the nearby capital city of Fornost, meaning "northern fortress."

Sources:
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Concerning Hobbits," p. 14
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The North-kingdom and the Dunedain," p. 321-23; "Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion," p. 331-332
The Silmarillion: "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for formen and os(t)


Battle of Greenfields

Battle between Orcs and Hobbits in the Shire. In the year 2747 of the Third Age, an army of Orcs from Mount Gram led by Golfimbul invaded Greenfields in the Northfarthing. The Orcs were defeated by a group of Hobbits led by Bandobras Took, who charged at Golfimbul and knocked the Orc leader's head off with a club. It is said that this is how the game of golf was invented.

The Battle of Greenfields was the first battle fought in the Shire. After the Battle of Greenfields, the Shire was at peace for many years until the War of the Ring in 3018-19. The Battle of Bywater was the second and final battle to be fought in the Shire.

Names & Etymology:
Also written as the Battle of the Green Fields.

Sources:
The Hobbit: "An Unexpected Party," p. 26
The Fellowship of the Ring: "Prologue: Concerning Hobbits," p. 14


Battle of Helm's Deep

Scenes from the Battle of Helm's Deep in the New Line film
Battle of Helm's Deep - movieBattle between the Men of Rohan and the forces of Saruman during the War of the Ring. The Battle of Helm's Deep was fought during the rainy night of March 3-4, 3019 of the Third Age. The stronghold of Helm's Deep in Rohan was defended by about 2,000 Rohirrim against an attacking army of over 10,000 Orcs and Men. At dawn, help arrived unexpectedly, and Saruman's forces were utterly defeated.

Saruman's intention was to conquer Rohan. He unleashed the full force of Isengard on the night of March 2, 3019. His army consisted of 10,000 Uruk-hai and Orcs, including troops of wolf-riders, as well as battalions of Men from Dunland who hated the Rohirrim and strange Men who appeared have been crossbred with Orcs.

Saruman's army defeated the Rohirrim at the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen in the early hours of March 3 and proceeded to invade the Westfold, burning and killing as they went. They advanced on Helm's Deep, a stronghold in the Westfold across the Gap of Rohan from Isengard. Their plan was to take Helm's Deep while the forces of the Rohirrim were in disarray before continuing on to attack Edoras, the capital of Rohan.

Saruman believed that King Theoden of Rohan would be unable to resist because the King had become feeble and dependent on his counsellor Grima, who was secretly in the service of Saruman. But Gandalf the White came to Edoras on March 2 and freed Theoden from Saruman's influence. Theoden decided to ride to war against Saruman and he set forth toward Isengard with over 1,000 Rohirrim. When they learned of the defeat at the Fords of Isen, Gandalf parted from Theoden and advised the King to go to Helm's Deep, where it was thought that Erkenbrand, the lord of the Westfold, was leading his forces.

Theoden arrived at Helm's Deep on the evening of March 3, but Erkenbrand was not there yet. About 1,000 Rohirrim had been left to defend Helm's Deep while Erkenbrand gathered the rest of his forces. Most of the defenders were either very young or very old, like Gamling who was manning the outer wall of Helm's Dike. There were also many women, children, and elderly people of the Westfold who had taken refuge in the Glittering Caves behind Helm's Deep.

The combined forces of the Westfold and Edoras at Helm's Deep totaled about 2,000. In addition to the Rohirrim were Aragorn of the Dunedain, Gimli the Dwarf, and Legolas the Elf of Mirkwood. Theoden's nephew Eomer took charge of organizing the defenses on the Deeping-wall while Theoden entered the fortress of the Hornburg.

Deeping-wall breachedSaruman's army marched into the valley of the Deeping-coomb and overran the outer defensive wall of Helm's Dike. The rear-guard of the Rohirrim retreated into Helm's Deep and Saruman's forces massed before the Deeping-wall. After midnight on March 4, a storm began and the assault was launched on Helm's Deep.

A group of huge Orcs and Dunlendings advanced up the causeway leading to the gates of the Hornburg. They held their shields over their heads to deflect arrows and rocks from above, and they battered the gates with two great tree trunks. Eomer and Aragorn led a sortie from a side door and drove the attackers off the causeway. Gimli saved Eomer's life when two Orcs grabbed him from behind.

The gates had been damaged, but they were barricaded with stones and timber. Saruman's forces renewed their attack on the gates and tried to scale the Deeping-wall with ladders and grappling hooks. The Rohirrim fended them off from the top of the wall but they began to grow weary.

Then Orcs crept into Helm's Deep through the culvert where the Deeping-stream passed under the Deeping-wall. Gimli sounded the alarm and Gamling led a group of Westfold-men to drive the Orcs out. Gimli slew a number of Orcs with his axe and helped block up the opening of the culvert. Up on the Deeping-wall, Legolas had been hard at work with his bow and his long knife. The Dwarf and Elf engaged in a contest, and by the end of the battle Gimli had slain 42 Orcs, beating Legolas's count of 41.

Not long before dawn, an explosive device created by Saruman was set off in the culvert and the Deeping-wall was breached. At the same time, 100 ladders were raised against the wall. Saruman's forces poured into Helm's Deep through the breach and over the wall. Some of the Rohirrim retreated far back into the Narrows in front of the entrance to the Glittering Caves where the refugees hid. Among them were Eomer and Gamling, along with Gimli. Many other Rohirrim entered the fastness of the Hornburg, and Aragorn and Legolas covered their retreat. Aragorn barely made it into the Hornburg as the Orcs pursued him up the stairs.

The Hornburg had never been captured by an enemy, but Saruman's forces were overwhelming. Theoden did not want to be caught in a trap, and he decided that at dawn he would lead a charge from the Hornburg-gates. Aragorn went out onto the walls to help with the defense of the Hornburg, and just before dawn he stood above the gates and offered the enemy a chance to surrender. The Men of Dunland were awed and afraid, but the Orcs laughed at him. They set off an explosion that destroyed the barricaded gate and prepared to enter the Hornburg.

Helm's Deep - chargeThen dawn came, and Saruman's forces hesitated. They heard strange noises from the valley behind them, and then the horn of Helm Hammerhand sounded from the Hornburg. The horn blasts echoed throughout Helm's Deep, and it seemed as if other horns were answering. Theoden led the charge of the Rohirrim accompanied by Aragorn, and they were joined by the defenders from the Glittering Caves. Saruman's forces were driven back all the way to Helm's Dike a quarter mile down the valley.

In the valley of the Deeping-coomb, the land had changed. A forest had seemingly sprung up overnight. In fact, the trees were Huorns sent by Treebeard from Fangorn Forest at Gandalf's request. Gandalf himself arrived with Erkenbrand and 1,000 Rohirrim, and they charged down the western ridge of the valley at the enemy forces. At the sight of the White Rider, the Men of Dunland fell on their faces and surrendered and the Orcs fled into the forest of Huorns and never emerged again. Saruman's great army was vanquished.

A number of the Rohirrim had fallen in battle, including Hama, the Captain of the King's Guard, who died defending the Gate. Hama was buried in a solitary grave in the shadow of the Hornburg. Two burial mounds were made in the field before the Hornburg - one for the Men of the Westfold and the other for those of the East. The bodies of the Orcs were buried by the Huorns the next night under a pile of stones that became known as the Death Down, where no one dared to walk.

With the victory at the Battle of Helm's Deep, Rohan was saved from conquest and Gondor was also spared from having to fight a war on two fronts against the forces of Saruman and Sauron. After the battle, the Rohirrim rode to the aid of Gondor at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Movie Note:
In Peter Jackson's film of The Two Towers, a few changes were made to increase the dramatic tension of the Battle of Helm's Deep: The number of Rohirrim defending Helm's Deep was reduced to 300; Eomer arrived at dawn with Gandalf; and Haldir led a company of Elves to Helm's Deep, where he and many others were killed. In the book, the only Elf at Helm's Deep was Legolas.

Names & Etymology:
Also called the Battle of the Hornburg.

Sources:
The Two Towers: "The King of the Golden Hall," p. 122-30; "Helm's Deep," passim; "The Road to Isengard," p. 148-51, 157-58; "Flotsam and Jetsam," p. 171, 175
Unfinished Tales: "The Battles of the Fords of Isen," p. 360-64


Battle of Sudden Flame

Map of the site of the Battle of Sudden Flame
Battle of Sudden Flame mapFourth battle in the War of the Jewels. The Battle of Sudden Flame started in the winter of 455 of the First Age and ended with the coming of spring.* Morgoth broke the Siege of Angband which had been maintained by the Elves for 395 years since they had defeated Morgoth's forces in the Glorious Battle.

On a moonless night, rivers of fire poured forth from Thangorodrim onto the plain of Ard-galen and poisonous fumes rose from the Iron Mountains. The grassy plain was scorched and it became a desert called Anfauglith, the Gasping Dust. The Noldor keeping watch on Angband were taken by surprise and many of them perished in the flames. The fire spread as far as the slopes of Dorthonion and Ered Wethrin.

Glaurung the Dragon led an army of Balrogs and Orcs from Angband. The Noldor and their allies the Sindar and the Edain were unprepared and they were unable to organize their defenses. Many Elves and Men were killed in the first days of the battle. Some Elves including Gelmir of Nargothrond were captured and enslaved in Angband.

Fingolfin, the High King of the Noldor, was forced to retreat to the fortresses in the Ered Wethrin and his forces suffered great losses. Fingolfin's allies the Men of Dor-lomin defended the rearguard and Hador and his younger son Gundor were killed. Galdor became Lord of the House of Hador. But Morgoth's forces could not cross the Ered Wethrin and they were unable to conquer Hithlum.

The Pass of Sirion was held by Orodreth in the stronghold of Minas Tirith on the island of Tol Sirion, and the river was protected by the power of Ulmo, Lord of Waters. Morgoth's forces did not capture the Pass of Sirion during the Battle of Sudden Flame, though Sauron took Tol Sirion two years later in 457.

Finrod Felagund, the King of Nargothrond, came north through the Pass of Sirion was surrounded by Morgoth's forces in the Fen of Serech. He was rescued by Barahir of the House of Beor. Finrod swore an oath of friendship to Barahir and his kin and gave him his ring which became known as the Ring of Barahir.

In Dorthonion, Finrod's brothers Angrod and Aegnor died along with Barahir's older brother Bregolas and many of his Men. Barahir became Lord of the House of Beor. Dorthonion fell under Morgoth's control and became a place of dark enchantment called Taur-nu-Fuin, the Forest under Nightshade. Most of Barahir's people fled to Hithlum or Brethil. Barahir and a few others remained but in the years following they were all slain except for Barahir's son Beren.

Morgoth's forces made incursions into the lands of the sons of Feanor in eastern Beleriand. Orcs came down the Pass of Aglon into Himlad forcing Celegorm and Curufin to flee with many of their people to Nargothrond. Maedhros drove back the Orcs and closed the Pass of Aglon to Morgoth's forces. The stronghold of Maedhros on the Hill of Himring remained uncaptured.

Glaurung came through Maglor's Gap and ravaged the lands between the Little Gelion and the Greater Gelion where Maglor lived. Maglor took refuge with Maedhros on Himring as did many other Elves from the eastern marches and Dorthonion. Orcs captured the fortress of Caranthir on Mount Rerir and destroyed his lands in Thargelion and defiled Lake Helevorn. Caranthir retreated south to Amon Ereb with his brothers Amrod and Amras.

The Orcs continued across the Gelion into East Beleriand. They were finally stopped by Thingol near the borders of Doriath. Some of the Orcs deserted Morgoth's forces and fled southward while others approached the Blue Mountains and were hunted down by the Dwarves. Those who tried to return north to Angband were stopped by Maedhros.

Fingolfin had been cut off from his kinsmen and was unable to send them aid. When he learned of the devastating losses, Fingolfin was filled with rage and despair and he rode to Angband to challenge Morgoth to single combat. Morgoth wielded his mace Grond and Fingolfin bore his sword Ringil. After a long struggle, Fingolfin was slain though he wounded Morgoth in the foot before he died. Fingon succeeded his father Fingolfin as High King of the Noldor.

The Battle of Sudden Flame was a significant defeat for the Elves and Men of Beleriand. For many years afterwards, Morgoth's servants roamed freely and wreaked havoc through much of Beleriand. But Morgoth had also lost a large part of his forces and he recalled his main army to Angband to regain strength. Although Morgoth had achieved a victory, he had underestimated the strength of his opposition and therefore failed to eradicate the Noldor completely.

Note:
The Battle of Sudden Flame began in the winter of 455 and ended with the coming of spring but the timing is unclear. One source (HoME XI, p. 52) states that it started in the winter at the beginning of 455. But if the battle ended in the spring of 455, then Fingolfin apparently waited many months for his confrontation with Morgoth which took place in 456. A more logical scenario is that the battle began in the winter at the end of 455 and ended in the spring of 456 and that Fingolfin confronted Morgoth shortly thereafter.

Names & Etymology:
The Battle of Sudden Flame was so called because it began with rivers of fire from Thangorodrim. The Sindarin name was Dagor Bragollach from dagor meaning "battle" and bragol meaning "sudden" and lhach meaning "leaping flame." Also called Bragollach or the Fourth Battle. The year 455 is referred to as the Fell Year.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin," passim; "Of the Fifth Battle," p. 188, 191; "Of Turin Turambar," p. 212; "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for bragol, dagor, and lhach
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Grey Annals," p. 52-56, 59, 70, 127
Unfinished Tales: "Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin," p. 34; "Narn I Hin Hurin," p. 57-58


Battle of the Camp

Battle resulting in the final defeat of the Wainriders. The Battle of the Camp was fought in Ithilien on the night of July 13, 1944 of the Third Age, between the Wainriders and the Southern Army of Gondor led by Earnil.

The Wainriders were a group of Easterlings from Rhun who were known for using chariots and wains - or wagons - in battle. They were in league with Sauron. The Wainriders first attacked Gondor in 1851 and they continued to trouble Gondor over the course of the next century.

In 1944, the Wainriders planned an assault on two fronts with their allies the Men of Khand and Harad. The Haradrim prepared to invade Ithilien from the south, while the Wainriders and the Men of Khand were set to attack from the northeast.

Gondor's forces were divided into the Northern Army and the Southern Army. The Southern Army was led by Earnil and was based at Pelargir. When news of the approaching Haradrim reached Pelargir on July 9, Earnil had already taken up a position about 40 miles north of the Poros in Ithilien. The Crossings of Poros were left intentionally unguarded so the Haradrim would march into their trap.

The Northern Army was led by King Ondoher. He was accompanied by his son and heir Artamir. His younger son Faramir was supposed to remain behind as Regent but he disguised himself and joined Gondor's allies the Eotheod. Ondoher expected to meet the Wainriders on Dagorlad, but the Northern Army was taken by surprise as they approached the Black Gate by enemy forces lying in wait in the shadow of the Ash Mountains. The Northern Army was routed and Ondoher and both his sons were killed.

The Wainriders believed that they had vanquished Gondor's entire army. They made camp in Ithilien on the night of July 13 and they had a feast to celebrate before continuing on to conquer Gondor.

But then Earnil and the Southern Army arrived. They had defeated the Haradrim in southern Ithilien and had hurried north gathering the survivors of the Northern Army as they came. They took the Wainriders unawares in their camp and set fire to their wagons. The Wainriders were driven out of Ithilien, and many fled into the Dead Marshes and perished.

Earnil afterwards became King of Gondor in the absence of a direct heir to the throne. Although Men from the East continued to pose a threat to Gondor in the years that followed, the Wainriders never returned.

Sources:
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion," p. 329-30
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 367
Unfinished Tales: "Cirion and Eorl," p. 291-95


Battle of the Field of Celebrant

Map of the site of the Battle of the Field of Celebrant
Field of CelebrantBattle where the ancestors of the Rohirrim first came to the aid of Gondor. The Battle of the Field of Celebrant was fought on April 15, 2510 of the Third Age, against the Balchoth - a group of Men from Rhun who were under the influence of Sauron.

The Balchoth made frequent raids on settlements on the east side of the Anduin until most of the inhabitants fled. Then Cirion, the Steward of Gondor, learned from his spies that the Balchoth were amassing a great army to invade the province of Calenardhon on the west side of the river. The defenses there were too weak to withstand an attack.

Cirion prepared to lead an army to Calenardhon, and he sent six errand-riders north to ask for help from the Eotheod, who were old allies of Gondor. The errand-riders had to pass through hostile territory patrolled by the Balchoth. Five of them were lost, and the sixth - a man named Borondir - was pursued by the Balchoth during his 15-day journey. He finally made it to the land of the Eotheod at the source of the Anduin on March 25, 2510, and delivered his message.

Eorl the Young was the leader of the Eotheod. He realized that if Gondor fell, his people would soon be in danger as well. Eorl amassed an eohere - or army - of 7,000 armed Riders and several hundred mounted archers. On April 6, the Eotheod began their southward journey of over 500 miles.

The Balchoth had built boats and rafts on the east side of the Anduin. They crossed the river en masse into Calenardhon and overcame the defenses on the west bank. The Balchoth were poorly equipped but had superior numbers. Cirion arrived with an army of reinforcements, but the Balchoth cut them off and drove them north over the Limlight into the Field of Celebrant. Then a great host of Orcs came down from the Misty Mountains and attacked Cirion's forces from the west, driving them toward the Anduin.

All seemed lost for Gondor, but then the Eotheod arrived. They had crossed the Anduin at the Undeeps into Calenardhon and then came over the Limlight to attack the Balchoth from the rear. Borondir charged ahead through the enemy forces to reach Cirion's side, and he died defending his lord.

The combined forces of Gondor and the Eotheod were victorious. Eorl drove the Balchoth back across the Limlight and he and his Riders hunted them down and slew them until Calenardhon was free of invaders. After the battle Cirion gave Calenardhon to Eorl and his people, and it became the land of Rohan. Eorl swore an oath to remain Gondor's ally and come to their aid in time of need.

The Oath of Eorl remained in effect for generations and was fulfilled most notably at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields during the War of the Ring. After that war, Aragorn, King Elessar, renewed the Gift of Cirion and King Eomer of Rohan renewed the Oath of Eorl.

Names & Etymology:
The Field of Celebrant was so called because it was south of the river called Celebrant in Sindarin, which was the Silverlode in the Common Speech.

Sources:
The Two Towers: "The King of the Golden Hall," p. 116
The Return of the King: "The Steward and the King," p. 247; "Many Partings," p. 254
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The Stewards," p. 333-34; "The House of Eorl," p. 344-45, 352
Unfinished Tales: "Cirion and Eorl," p. 295-307, 313 notes 24 and 27, 314 note 30


Battle of the Five Armies

Battle of the Five Armies by Alan Lee
Battle of the Five Armies - LeeBattle involving Dwarves, Elves, and Men against Orcs and Wargs at the Lonely Mountain. The Battle of the Five Armies was fought late in the year of 2941 of the Third Age in the valley between two great spurs on the southern side of the mountain.

The Men of Lake-town led by Bard and the Elves of Mirkwood led by Thranduil had come to the Lonely Mountain seeking a share of the treasure recovered from Smaug the Dragon by Thorin Oakenshield and his company. Thorin barricaded his company inside the mountain and sent for help from his kinsman Dain of the Iron Hills. When Dain arrived at the Lonely Mountain with 500 Dwarves, a battle was imminent with the Dwarves on one side and the Elves and Men on the other.

But then Gandalf alerted them to the approach of an army of Orcs and Wargs. The Orcs came from the Misty Mountains led by Bolg. They were angry with Thorin and Company because the Dwarves had earlier escaped the Orcs in a struggle that resulted in the death of the Great Goblin. Bolg also had a grudge against Dwarves because his father Azog had been killed by Dain at the Battle of Azanulbizar.

The Orcs assembled at Mount Gundabad and then marched eastward. Some of the Orcs were mounted on wolves. The Orc army was accompanied by packs of Wargs, and a cloud of bats flew overhead.

The Dwarves, Elves, and Men agreed to unite against their common enemy. They arranged their forces on the spurs of the mountain hoping to trap the Orcs in the valley between them. The Elves arrayed themselves on the southern spur, while the Men and Dwarves took up positions on the eastern spur.

A vanguard of wolf-riders entered the ruined town of Dale in the valley and swiftly overcame the small force of Men positioned there. The Orcs and Wargs then poured into the valley. The Elves attacked first with a volley of arrows, and 1,000 of their spearmen charged into the valley below. The Orcs fell back, but were immediately attacked from the other side by Dwarves and Men.

The Orcs panicked and began to retreat. Some of the Wargs turned on their allies and began tearing apart dead and wounded Orcs. But then a group of Orcs who had climbed the mountain attacked the defenders on the spurs from above. The Orcs in the valley regrouped and rejoined the battle.

As the day wore on, the sky became dark with stormclouds. The sky was also darkened by the bats that harried the defenders and attacked the wounded.

Bolg came onto the battlefield surrounded by a bodyguard of Orcs with scimitars and a pack of Wargs. The Men and Elves were driven back to defend the spurs. Thorin Oakenshield then came out of the mountain and rallied the Dwarves of the Iron Hills to him. Many Elves and Men joined the Dwarves, and they drove forward into the valley. But their numbers were too few and their flanks were unguarded and they were soon surrounded. Thorin himself was mortally wounded.

At that moment, Bilbo Baggins - who was on Ravenhill with the Elves - noticed the approach of the Great Eagles from the Misty Mountains. The Eagles swooped down and attacked the Orcs on the mountainside, throwing many to their deaths. The Elves, Dwarves, and Men rallied one last time in the valley below. Then Beorn the shapeshifter arrived in the form of a bear, and he slew many Orcs including Bolg.

The Orcs and Wargs were defeated. Those that fled were driven into the River Running and the marshes around the Forest River, or were pursued to the borders of Mirkwood where the Elves dealt with them. It is said that three quarters of the Orcs of the northern Misty Mountains died that day.

Many Elves, Men, and Dwarves were also killed in the Battle of the Five Armies. Thorin Oakenshield died of his wounds, and his nephews Fili and Kili had died defending him.

After the battle, a Dwarf realm was reestablished in the Lonely Mountain and Dain became King under the Mountain. Dale was also rebuilt under the leadership of Bard, the new King of Dale. Both realms prospered and had peace for many years until the Battle of Dale during the War of the Ring.

Names & Etymology:
Called the Battle of the Five Armies because the five main forces were the Dwarves, Elves, and Men on one side and the Orcs and Wargs on the other. It was also referred to as the First Battle of Dale, since much of the fighting took place in the ruined town of Dale in the valley between the spurs of the Lonely Mountain. The battle commonly called the Battle of Dale was fought during the War of the Ring.

Sources:
The Hobbit:"The Clouds Burst," passim; "The Return Journey," p. 299-304
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Durin's Folk," p. 359


Battle of the Fords of Isen

See Battles of the Fords of Isen below.


Battle of the Gwathló

See the War of the Elves and Sauron below.


Battle of the Morannon

The Host of the West at the Battle of the Morannon
in the New Line film
Host of the West - movieBattle between the Host of the West and the forces of Sauron during the War of the Ring. The Battle of the Morannon took place on March 25, 3019 of the Third Age, in front of the Black Gate of Mordor. The purpose of the battle was to give Frodo Baggins time to fulfill the quest to destroy the One Ring, and in that it was successful.

On March 16, there was a meeting of the Captains of the West attended by Aragorn, Gandalf, King Eomer of Rohan, Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, and Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond. Following Gandalf's counsel, they decided to lead their forces to the Black Gate in order to draw Sauron's attention to themselves as Frodo approached Mount Doom. It was thought that Sauron would suspect that one of them was wielding the One Ring and that he would concentrate all his power at the Black Gate. The Host of the West had no hope of victory in battle over Sauron's superior strength, but they felt it was their duty.

The Host of the West was comprised of 7,000 Men, mainly on foot. Of these, Aragorn gathered 2,000 Men from Southern Gondor; Prince Imrahil gathered 3,500; Eomer gathered 1,000 Rohirrim - half on foot and half mounted; and the remaining 500 were horsemen including the Knights of Dol Amroth and the Dunedain of the North. With this final company rode Elladan and Elrohir, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, and Peregrin Took. Aragorn was the Captain of the Host of the West.

On March 18, the Host of the West left Minas Tirith and began the march through Ithilien. A guard comprised mainly of archers was left at the Cross-roads to defend against the possibility of attack from Minas Morgul. Scouts discovered a force of Orcs and Easterlings lying in ambush on March 21, but the Host easily overcame them. As they approached the Desolation of the Morannon, some of the young men of Rohan and farmers of Lossarnach were too afraid to continue. Aragorn took pity on them and sent them to defend the crossing at Cair Andros.

The remaining 6,000 troops came before the Black Gate on March 25. Aragorn organized the army on two great hills of piled dirt and stone in front of which lay a mire of mud and pools of water. He then approached the Black Gate with Gandalf and representatives of the free peoples of Middle-earth: Eomer and Imrahil for the Men; Legolas, Elladan, and Elrohir for the Elves; Gimli for the Dwarves; and Pippin Took for the Hobbits.

They were met by the Mouth of Sauron, who showed them Frodo's mithril shirt and Elven cloak and Sam's sword. He claimed that the one who had borne these tokens would endure years of torment in Barad-dur unless the Host of the West surrendered. The Mouth of Sauron then presented Sauron's terms: That all lands east of the Anduin would be Sauron's realm and that Gondor and Rohan would be subject to the rule of Mordor. Despite his anguish, Gandalf utterly rejected Sauron's terms and the battle began.

A great army of over 60,000 emerged from the Black Gate. Orcs came down from the hills on either side of the gate and an army of Easterlings marched from the shadow of the Ash Mountains. There was also a company of Hill-trolls from Gorgoroth, and the Nazgul flew overhead mounted on Fell Beasts. The Host of the West was surrounded.

Aragorn and Gandalf stood on one hill under the banner of the King of Gondor while on the other hill flew the banners of Rohan and Dol Amroth. In the front rank stood the Dunedain, Prince Imrahil and his knights, Elladan and Elrohir, and members of the Tower Guard including Beregond and Pippin.

The first assault of the Enemy forces was hindered by the mire that lay like a moat in front of the hills. The Orcs shot a volley of arrows at the Host of the West, but the Hill-Trolls were able to wade through the mud and attack the front rank. Beregond was struck by a great Troll-chief and Pippin saved his life by stabbing the creature with his sword, which he later called Troll's Bane. The Hobbit was crushed under the weight of the Troll's carcass and was found alive after the battle by Gimli.

The battle was going ill for the Host of the West when the Great Eagles arrived led by Gwaihir the Windlord. But as the Eagles bore down on the Winged Nazgul, there was a sudden terrible cry from Barad-dur and the Nazgul turned and sped toward Mount Doom. The forces of Sauron wavered and the Host of the West began to advance against them, but Gandalf told them to stand firm and wait.

At that moment, Frodo stood at the edge of the Cracks of Doom. Unable to resist the will of the Ring any longer, Frodo claimed the Ring for himself, but then Gollum - whose life Frodo had spared - bit the Ring from Frodo's hand. In his exuberance at regaining his Precious, Gollum fell into the Cracks of Doom and the Ring was destroyed.

The realm of Mordor fell into ruin: the Towers of the Teeth collapsed, the Black Gate was hurled down, Barad-dur was destroyed, and Sauron himself was vanquished.

And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud, there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away, and passed; and then a hush fell.
The Return of the King: "The Field of Cormallen," p. 227
After the fall of Sauron's realm, most of his forces scattered and went into hiding or killed themselves in despair. Some of the Easterlings and Southrons made a final desperate stand, but many others fled or begged for mercy. Aragorn later pardoned and freed the Easterlings who had surrendered and made peace with the Southrons.

Names & Etymology:
The word Morannon means "Black Gate" from mor meaning "black" and annon meaning "great door or gate."

Sources:
The Return of the King: "The Last Debate," p. 154-58; "The Black Gate Opens," passim; "The Field of Cormallen," p. 226-28; "Mount Doom," p. 223-25; "The Steward and the King," p. 247
The Silmarillion: "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for annon and mor


Battle of the Peak

The Battle of the Peak in the New Line film
Battle of the PeakBattle between Gandalf and the Balrog on the Silvertine during the War of the Ring. After Gandalf and the Balrog fell into the abyss in Moria on January 15, 3019 of the Third Age, they fought long underground and then climbed the Endless Stair to the peak of the Silvertine where Durin's Tower stood. There on a narrow eyrie they fought the Battle of the Peak from January 23 to January 25. The Balrog, whose fire had been quenched in a subterranean lake, burst into renewed flame. The sun shone at first, but as the combatants struggled thunder boomed and lightning flashed, vapor and steam rose, and ice fell. From a distance it appeared that a storm was raging over the Silvertine.

At last, Gandalf vanquished the Balrog and threw him down from the peak, and the mountainside cracked where the Balrog landed. Gandalf passed into darkness out of thought and time, but Eru sent him back to Middle-earth as Gandalf the White to complete his task. When Gandalf awoke on February 14, he was lying naked on the peak of the Silvertine. Durin's Tower had crumbled and the entrance to the Endless Stair was blocked, and Gandalf was trapped high on the mountaintop until Gwaihir the Windlord came on February 17 and bore him to Lothlorien.

Source:
The Two Towers: "The White Rider," p. 105-106


Battle of the Pelennor Fields

Scenes from the Battle of the Pelennor Fields
in the New Line film
Siege of GondorGreatest battle of the War of the Ring. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields was fought on March 15, 3019 of the Third Age, between the forces of Sauron and the combined forces of Gondor and Rohan. At the end of the grueling day-long battle, the West was victorious and the Lord of the Nazgul was vanquished, but Sauron remained undefeated.

Sauron launched his assault on Gondor on March 10, the Dawnless Day. He sent forth a darkness from Mordor that sunlight could not penetrate in order to spread fear and uncertainty among his opponents. An army from the Black Gate comprised of battalions of Orcs and many companies of Easterlings captured the island of Cair Andros in the Anduin and entered Anorien in northern Gondor. Their mission was to guard the Great West Road against the coming of the Rohirrim.

In response to a red signal from Mordor, the Lord of the Nazgul led a great army including both cavalry and infantry from Minas Morgul. The Morgul-host was joined by regiments of Men from the South called Haradrim. They came to Osgiliath on March 12 and crossed the Anduin on barges. The defenders on the western bank, led by Faramir, were outnumbered ten to one. They were forced to retreat to the Causeway Forts on the Rammas Echor - the great wall surrounding the Pelennor Fields outside Minas Tirith.

The next day on March 13, the Morgul-host breached the Rammas Echor and overran the Pelennor Fields. Faramir and his men were pursued by Orcs, Haradrim, and the dreadful Winged Nazgul. A third of Faramir's company had been lost, and Faramir himself was gravely wounded. Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth and his Knights rode to their rescue accompanied by Gandalf and allowed the survivors to reach the Gate of Minas Tirith.

Thus began the Siege of Gondor, which lasted from March 13 until dawn on March 15. Enemy forces filled the Pelennor Fields. They burned homesteads and dug trenches filled with fire. Catapults hurled fiery missiles over the walls, and the first circle of the City was soon in flames. The severed heads of slain Men of Gondor were also launched into the City, spreading dread and despair among the besieged inhabitants. The Nazgul on their Fell Beasts circled constantly overhead, striking terror in the hearts of the bravest defenders.

The defenders of Minas Tirith included at least three companies of the Tower Guard, as well as the survivors of the garrison of Osgiliath. Their numbers were strengthened by nearly 3,000 soldiers from the southern fiefdoms of Gondor, who had arrived on March 9. Among these were 200 Men of Lossarnach led by Forlong, 300 Men of the Ringlo Vale led by Dervorin, 500 archers from the Blackroot Vale led by Duinhir and his sons Duilin and Derufin, a company of ill-equipped Men from Anfalas led by Golasgil, a few hillmen from Lamedon, a hundred or so fishermen from the Mouths of the Anduin, 300 Men from the Green Hills led by Hirluin, and a company of Knights of Dol Amroth along with 700 men-at-arms led by Prince Imrahil.

Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, gave in to despair when Sauron showed him visions of Gondor's doom in the palantir. It fell to Gandalf to take charge of the City's defenses, assisted by Prince Imrahil. They tried to encourage men to remain at their posts, but many fled from the first circle. The Knights of Dol Amroth remained to guard the Great Gate.

At midnight on March 15, the Lord of the Nazgul began his assault on Minas Tirith. Companies marched forward, heedless of arrows from the few remaining archers on the City walls, and Oliphaunts pulled forth great siege-towers. The Lord of the Nazgul's strategy was to distract the City's defenders while he prepared to attack the Great Gate.

Just before dawn on March 15, the great battering ram Grond was brought before the Great Gate. The Gate was shattered, and the Lord of the Nazgul entered Minas Tirith. He was confronted by Gandalf, who denied him entry to the City. But then, at dawn, the Rohirrim arrived, and the Lord of the Nazgul went to meet them in battle.

King Theoden of Rohan had mustered an army of 6,000 Riders to come to Gondor's aid. They had avoided Sauron's forces on the Great West Road by travelling through the Stonewain Valley guided by Ghan-buri-Ghan of the Druadan Forest. Eomer led the first eored - or company - in the center, while Grimbold led the left flank and Elfhelm led the right flank and Theoden rode before them all. They easily overcame the Orcs at the north-gate of the Rammas Echor, who were not expecting an attack from that side.

Ride of the RohirrimAt dawn on March 15, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields began. The Rohirrim sounded their horns and King Theoden led them into battle.

Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
The Return of the King: "The Ride of the Rohirrim," p. 112
At that moment, the Darkness sent by Sauron lifted and the Sun shone in the sky. A fresh wind from the Sea came up the Anduin. The wind filled the sails of the Corsairs' ships which - unknown to both Sauron's forces and the City's defenders - had been captured by Aragorn and were sailing upriver toward Minas Tirith.

But for now, the battle was engaged between the Riders of Rohan and the enemy forces, of which there were at least 18,000 Men of Harad - three times the number of the Rohirrim - as well as countless thousands of Orcs. In their initial charge, the Rohirrim overran the northern half of the Pelennor Fields, and many foes fled or were slain. The southern half of the field was filled with enemy forces, and Minas Tirith remained besieged.

The chieftain of the Haradrim attacked King Theoden, but Theoden slew him. But then the Lord of the Nazgul descended onto the battlefield mounted on a Fell Beast. A dart pierced Theoden's steed Snowmane, and the King was crushed beneath his horse and later died.

Eowyn vs. the Witch-kingEowyn - the King's niece, who had ridden to battle disguised as a man - came to Theoden's defense and killed the Fell Beast. The Lord of the Nazgul struck her down with his mace, but the Hobbit Merry Brandybuck stabbed the Nazgul behind the knee with his sword of Westernesse. Eowyn then delivered the final blow, and the Lord of the Nazgul was vanquished.

Eomer found his sister lying unconscious on the battlefield, and he mistakenly believed she was dead. Distraught and furious, Eomer led his Riders recklessly into the thick of battle, crying "Death!" They drove far into the ranks of the enemy. The Haradrim rallied around their great Oliphaunts with war-towers on their backs, which the horses of the Rohirrim feared to approach. The Rohirrim soon found themselves assailed on all sides.

The Men of Gondor came forth from Minas Tirith and joined in the battle. They drove the enemy forces away from the Gate and fought beneath the walls of the City. Prince Imrahil - accompanied by Forlong, Hurin, and Hirluin - rode eastward in an attempt to reach Eomer, but they were hindered by the arrival of more foes.

Command of the enemy forces had been assumed by Gothmog, the Lieutenant of Minas Morgul. He summoned reserves from Osgiliath, including Easterlings, Haradrim, Variags of Khand, and Men of Far Harad. The tide of the battle began to turn in favor of the enemy.

At midmorning, about three hours after dawn, ships with black sails were sighted approaching Minas Tirith. At first it was feared that the Corsairs had come and that doom was at hand for Gondor. But then a banner bearing the White Tree of Gondor and the Seven Stars and Crown of Elendil was unfurled on the foremost ship and the Men of Gondor and Rohan rejoiced.

The ships docked at Harlond and Aragorn came ashore, leading many Men from Lebennin and Lamedon and other southern fiefdoms. With them came Legolas and Gimli, along with 30 Dunedain of the North led by Halbarad, and also Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond. They drove northward onto the battlefield, while the Rohirrim rode southward to meet them and the Knights of Dol Amroth came eastward.

Oliphaunts on the PelennorThe enemy forces were hard pressed on three sides, and many were slain or driven into the river to drown. The longest to hold out were the Haradrim and the Easterlings, who took shelter behind walls and ruins of homesteads and had to be driven out.

The Oliphaunts also proved difficult to overcome. Derufin and Duilin of the Blackroot Vale and their archers shot many of the beasts in the eyes, but the brothers were trampled to death.

In addition to Derufin and Duilin, many other Men of Gondor also fell that day, including Forlong of Lossarnach and Hirluin of the Green Hills. Rohan lost its beloved King Theoden, as well as Grimbold, Harding, Guthlaf, Dunhere, Deorwine, Herefara, Herubrand, Horn, and Fastred, among many others. About 2,000 Rohirrim were either killed or wounded. Halbarad of the North was also slain in battle that day.

Finally at sunset on March 15, the forces of the West were victorious. Nearly all of their enemies had been killed; there were very few survivors who returned to Minas Morgul or Mordor. And yet Sauron still had an army of many thousands waiting in Mordor. Although the triumph at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields spared Gondor from certain ruin, Sauron remained undefeated until March 25, when the One Ring was destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom.

Movie Note:
In Peter Jackson's film version of The Return of the King, the King of the Dead and his followers accompanied Aragorn to Minas Tirith. In the book, the Dead only went as far as Pelargir, where they helped capture the Corsairs' fleet and were then released by Aragorn.

Names & Etymology:
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields was fought outside Minas Tirith on a great field surrounded by a defensive outer wall. The name Pelennor means "fenced land" from pel meaning "go round, encircle" and ndor meaning "land."

Sources:
The Two Towers: "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol," p. 314-16
The Return of the King: "Minas Tirith," p. 22, 36-38, 40, 42-45; "The Passing of the Grey Company," p. 47-48, 53-54, 63; "The Muster of Rohan," p. 71-73, 75-78; "The Siege of Gondor," passim; "The Ride of the Rohirrim," passim; "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields," passim; "The Pyre of Denethor," p. 126, 132-33; "The Houses of Healing," p. 134; "The Last Debate," p. 150-54
The Silmarillion: "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for dor and pel


Battle of the Plains

First major battle between Gondor and the Wainriders. The Battle of the Plains was fought in 1856 of the Third Age on the great plains between Mirkwood and Mordor. The Wainriders defeated the combined forces of Gondor and the Northmen.

The Wainriders were a group of Men from the lands of Rhun in the East. They were strong and well-armed, and they rode wains - or wagons - and their leaders fought in chariots. Sauron sent emissaries to incite the Wainriders to attack Gondor.

The attacks of the Wainriders began in 1851. In order to reach Gondor, the Wainriders passed through the lands of the Northmen in Rhovanion, and many Northmen were slain.

In 1856, King Narmacil II of Gondor led a great army to the plains south of Mirkwood to confront the Wainriders. Narmacil joined forces with Marhari, the leader of the Northmen. But the Wainriders defeated them and Narmacil was killed. Marhari fought in the rearguard as Gondor's army retreated across Dagorlad to Ithilien. Marhari was killed, but his actions allowed many Men of Gondor to escape.

After the Battle of the Plains, Gondor relinquished its territory east of the Anduin except Ithilien. The Wainriders continued to trouble Gondor for many years. Narmacil's son Calimehtar won a temporary victory against them in 1899, and they were finally defeated by Earnil in 1944.

Most of the surviving Northmen were enslaved by the Wainriders and their lands were occupied. However some Northmen escaped to Dale or Gondor, and one group led by Marhari's son Marhwini moved to the Vales of the Anduin. This latter group became known as the Eotheod and they were the ancestors of the Rohirrim.

Sources:
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion," p. 329
Unfinished Tales: "Cirion and Eorl," p. 289


Battle of Unnumbered Tears

Map of the site of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears
Battle of Unnumbered Tears mapFifth battle in the War of the Jewels. The Battle of Unnumbered Tears was fought in 472 of the First Age between Morgoth's forces and a combined force of Elves, Men, and Dwarves. The battle resulted in a crushing defeat for the peoples of Beleriand.

In 468, an alliance to oppose Morgoth was formed by Maedhros, the eldest son of Feanor. The Union of Maedhros included his brothers Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod, and Amras.

Fingon - the High King of the Noldor - also joined with a large army from Hithlum. Some of the Elves of Mithrim and the Falas took part as well. Fingon's brother Turgon of Gondolin learned of the Union of Maedhros and secretly began to prepare his forces for war.

The Dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod joined the Union of Maedhros. Their smiths provided weapons and Azaghal, Lord of Belegost, led an army.

There were also a number of Men of both the Edain and the Easterlings in the Union of Maedhros. The Men of Dor-lomin were led by Hurin accompanied by his brother Huor, and the Men of the Forest of Brethil were led by Haldir.

The Easterling chieftain Bor and his sons Borlad, Borlach, and Borthand were allied with Maedhros and Maglor. Another Easterling chieftain named Ulfang and his sons Ulfast, Ulwarth, and Uldor were allied with Caranthir, but they were secretly in the service of Morgoth.

Orodreth of Nargothrond and Thingol of Doriath refused to ally themselves with the sons of Feanor, who had made many enemies in their ruthless pursuit of the Silmarils. Though Orodreth and Thingol did not join the Union of Maedhros, a small number of their people went to war. Gwindor of Nargothrond led forth a small company against Orodreth's orders, and Thingol allowed Mablung and Beleg to go. But Gwindor, Mablung, and Beleg joined the forces of Fingon rather than the sons of Feanor.

Maedhros was inspired by the successful quest of Beren and Luthien to steal a Silmaril from Morgoth, and he hoped this was an indication that Morgoth was not invincible. In the spring of 469, Maedhros decided to test Morgoth's defenses by driving the Orcs out of Beleriand. But in doing so, Maedhros revealed the strength of his own forces and Morgoth was forewarned.

Maedhros planned his main attack on Morgoth for Midsummer's Day in 472. He divided his forces into two armies which were to attack from the east and west. Maedhros led the eastern army composed of his own and his brothers' forces along with the Dwarves and the Easterlings. Fingon led the western army consisting of the Elves of Hithlum, Mithrim, and the Falas and the Men of Dor-lomin and Brethil as well as Mablung and Beleg and Gwindor's company.

Maedhros intended to march openly with the eastern army across Anfauglith towards Angband while the western army remained hidden in the valleys of the Ered Wethrin. He hoped that Morgoth's forces would be drawn out onto the desert plain. A beacon would then be lit in Dorthonion as a signal for Fingon and the western army to attack, trapping the enemy between the two armies.

But things did not go according to plan. Ulfang's son Uldor delayed the eastern army by falsely claiming that an assault from Angband was imminent. Fingon and the western army impatiently awaited the signal but none came. As Fingon waited, he was surprised by the arrival of his brother Turgon with an army of 10,000 Gondolindrim including Maeglin, Ecthelion, and Glorfindel. Turgon's army came to the Pass of Sirion and halted.

Morgoth launched an attack on the western army while the eastern army was delayed. The Elves and Men did not see the enemy approaching until they were near because they wore brown clothing that served as camouflage against the desert terrain.  Fingon's captains wanted to attack but Hurin restrained them.

Morgoth's forces stopped at the stretch of the River Sirion between the Fen of Serech and the stronghold of Barad Eithel. Their captain had orders to draw Fingon's army out by any means. He brought forward an Elf named Gelmir and had him killed in plain view of the defenders of Barad Eithel. Gelmir had been captured at the Battle of Sudden Flame and he was the brother of Gwindor.

Gwindor was enraged and he charged forward with his company. Fingon then gave the order to attack and his western army defeated the enemy forces and advanced across Anfauglith to Angband. Gwindor and the Elves of Nargothrond forced their way through the Gate of Angband and killed the guards but they were trapped on the stairs and all of them were killed except Gwindor who was taken alive.

The Battle of Unnumbered Tears began then on the fourth day after Midsummer. The full force of Morgoth's army emerged from Angband through many secret doors. Fingon's army was driven back and suffered great losses. Haldir and his brother Hundar and most of the Men of the Forest of Brethil were killed during the retreat.

At nightfall on the fifth day, Fingon's army was surrounded by Orcs on Angfauglith. In the morning on the sixth day, Turgon's army came from the Pass of Sirion to help Fingon. At the third hour of the morning, Maedhros and the eastern army finally arrived and attacked the enemy from the rear. The Orcs were nearly overwhelmed and were on the verge of retreat.

But then Morgoth sent forth Glaurung leading a host of Dragons, Balrogs, wolves and wolfriders. Glaurung drove apart the armies of Fingon and Maedhros. At the same time, Ulfang's sons switched sides to join Morgoth's forces and attacked the eastern army from the rear, driving through the ranks toward the standard of Maedhros. Reinforcements under Uldor's command joined the the attack so that the eastern army was embattled on three sides.

Uldor was killed by Maglor. Bor's sons Borlad, Borlach, and Borthand remained faithful and they slew Ulfast and Ulwarth. The sons of Bor also perished. Maedhros and his brothers gathered many of the surviving Elves and Dwarves and retreated toward Mount Dolmed.

The Dwarves of Belegost under Azaghal were the last of the eastern army to stand their ground. They surrounded and attacked Glaurung. The Dragon killed Azaghal, but with his dying stroke the Dwarf-lord wounded Glaurung in the belly. Glaurung returned to Angband and many of Morgoth's creatures followed him. The Dwarves carried Azaghal's body from the battlefield.

Meanwhile the western army under Fingon and the Gondolindrim under Turgon were outnumbered three to one by a force led by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. Gothmog drove Turgon and Hurin towards the Fen of Serech, separating them from Fingon. Another Balrog restrained Fingon with a fiery whip while Gothmog slew the High King of the Noldor.

Hurin and Huor urged Turgon to return to Gondolin so that some place of strength might remain to resist Morgoth. The Gondolindrim along with the remnants of Fingon's army retreated to the Pass of Sirion. Glorfindel and Ecthelion guarded the flanks. Hurin and Huor and the Men of Dor-lomin held the rear.

The Men of Dor-lomin crossed the Rivil in the Fen of Serech and turned to face the enemy as Turgon's army returned safely to Gondolin.  Huor was killed by an arrow and all the other Men were slain except for Hurin who was taken prisoner by Gothmog to Angband. Hurin refused to reveal the location of Gondolin and Morgoth cursed him and his family.

The Battle of Unnumbered Tears ended at sunset on the sixth day after Midsummer. The Men and Elves who had died were buried by Morgoth's Orcs in a great mound that became a grassy hill called Haudh-en-Ndengin, the Hill of the Slain, or Haudh-en-Nirnaeth, the Hill of Tears.

After the battle, as Morgoth had hoped, the Elves no longer trusted Men apart from the Edain. Morgoth gave Hithlum to the Easterlings and the families of the Men of Dor-lomin were oppressed by them. The Havens of the Falas were destroyed, and though Cirdan and some of his people escaped to the Isle of Balar, many Elves of the Falas and of Hithlum and Mithrim were enslaved in Angband.

The remaining Elves and Men of Beleriand were scattered and weakened and Orcs and wolves roamed the land. Doriath and Nargothrond remained unconquered for the time being, and because of the valor of the Men of Dor-lomin so did Gondolin. Huor's son Tuor later came to Gondolin and married Turgon's daughter Idril, and their son Earendil was instrumental in bringing about Morgoth's defeat in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age.

Names & Etymology:
The Battle of Unnumbered Tears was so called because "no song or tale can contain all its grief." (Sil, p. 192) The name also echoes the words of Mandos who told the Noldor "Tears unnumbered ye shall shed ..." (Sil, p. 88) when they left the Undying Lands after the Kinslaying against the will of the Valar.

The Sindarin name of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears was Nirnaeth Arnoediad meaning "Tears Unnumbered." The word nirnaeth means "lamentation" from nîr meaning "tear, weeping" and naeth meaning "biting" or "gnashing of teeth (in grief)." The world arnoediad means "unnumbered, countless" from noedia meaning "count." Sometimes called simply the Nirnaeth and the Fifth Battle.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of Maeglin," p. 138; "Of the Fifth Battle," passim; "Of Turin Turambar," p. 198, 207, 209; "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin," p. 238, 240-41
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entries for NAK, NAY, NEI, and NOT

The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Grey Annals," p. 60-61 and footnote, 69-79, 165-69; "The Later Quenta Silmarillion," p. 236
Unfinished Tales: "Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin," p. 17-18


Battle-under-Stars

Second battle in the War of the Jewels. The Battle-under-Stars was fought in 1497 of the Years of the Trees between the Noldor led by Feanor and the forces of Morgoth. The Elves were victorious but Feanor was killed after the battle.

Feanor and the Noldor came to Middle-earth from the Undying Lands to retrieve the Silmarils that had been stolen by Morgoth. There were not enough ships to carry all of them so Feanor abandoned Fingolfin and his followers whom he considered disloyal. Upon arrival in Middle-earth, Feanor ordered the ships to be burned rather than use them to return for the others.

Feanor's people came ashore at Losgar in Lammoth - the Great Echo - on the Firth of Drengist and they journeyed inland through Hithlum and set up camp on the northern shore of Lake Mithrim. Morgoth was alerted to their presence by the fire of the burning ships and the noise of their resounding voices in Lammoth.

Morgoth's forces came over the Ered Wethrin into Mithrim and attacked the Noldor. Feanor's people were unprepared and outnumbered but in 10 days they won the battle, "for the light of Aman was not yet dimmed in their eyes, and they were strong and swift, and deadly in anger, and their swords were long and terrible." (Sil, p. 106)

The Orcs were driven back over the Ered Wethrin onto Ard-galen. Another of Morgoth's armies - which had been besieging the Havens of the Falas since the First Battle earlier that year - came north to help the Orcs. Both armies were driven into the Fen of Serech by Feanor's son Celegorm who waylaid them from the hills near Eithel Sirion. Only a small part of Morgoth's forces returned to Angband.

Feanor was determined to overthrow Morgoth and reclaim his Silmarils. He followed the fleeing Orcs northward to Dor Daedeloth with no knowledge of the strength of Angband or Morgoth's defenses. In his haste, Feanor outpaced his army and became separated from them. Balrogs led by Gothmog came from Angband and attacked Feanor. After a long struggle, Feanor was mortally wounded by Gothmog. Before he died, Feanor had his sons promise to keep their oath to retrieve the Silmarils.

Names & Etymology:
The Battle-under-Stars was so called because it took place before the Moon and Sun rose for the first time. The Sindarin name was Dagor-nuin-Giliath from dagor meaning "battle," nuin meaning "under the," and giliath meaning "host of stars." Also called the Second Battle.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of the Return of the Noldor," p. 106-7; "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for dagor and gil
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entry for NU

The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Grey Annals," p. 16-18


Battles of the Fords of Isen

Map of the Fords of Isen
Map of the Fords of IsenTwo battles between the Rohirrim and the forces of Saruman at the Fords of the River Isen in the Gap of Rohan during the War of the Ring.

The First Battle of the Fords of Isen

The First Battle was fought on February 25, 3019 of the Third Age. Saruman's intention in this battle was to kill Theodred, the son and heir of King Theoden of Rohan, and his plan was successful.

Scouts reported that Saruman's troops were amassing mainly on the west bank of the River Isen. Theodred left three companies of Riders on the east bank and set infantry from the Westfold to guard both sides of the Fords of Isen. He then proceeded toward Isengard along the west bank with eight companies of cavalry and a company of archers.

About 20 miles north of the Fords, the Rohirrim encountered the vanguard of Saruman's forces and defeated them. But then the Rohirrim came upon a much larger force of Isengarders dug into trenches defended by pikes. More troops from Isengard flanked the Rohirrim from the west. Theodred then noticed that yet another force from Isengard was on the east side of the river heading toward the Fords of Isen.

Theodred ordered a retreat back to the Fords of Isen. Grimbold brought up the rear, fending off the pursuing enemy forces. The Rohirrim reached the Fords in the late afternoon.

Theodred organized his troops to defend the Fords. Grimbold took command of infantry on the west bank, strengthened by 50 dismounted Riders. Theodred and his company manned the small island in the middle of the Fords. The rest of the companies were sent to join the three companies already on the east bank of the river.

Before the Rohirrim on the east bank had time to arrange their defenses, Saruman's eastern force attacked. They included horsemen from Dunland, many Orcs mounted on wolves, and two battalions of Uruk-hai. The Rohirrim fought hard but were driven away downriver by a battalion of Uruk-hai and the enemy forces captured the eastern side of the Fords.

A company of axe-wielding Men who appeared to be part Orc crossed to the island in the middle of the Fords and attacked Theodred's position from both sides. Grimbold's position on the west bank was attacked at the same time by Saruman's western force. But Grimbold saw Theodred's desperate situation and ran to his aid. Grimbold arrived too late. Theodred was struck down by an axe, and though Grimbold killed his attacker, Theodred died of his wounds.

At sunset, Elfhelm arrived from Edoras with four companies, answering a call for aid sent earlier by Theodred. Elfhelm's men drove most of Saruman's forces on the east bank away northward back to Isengard. Elfhelm sent two companies in pursuit and then led his own company to the island. Together the forces of Elfhelm and Grimbold killed all of the Isengarders on the island.

The Isengarders on the west side of the river broke off their attack and retreated. The battalion of Uruk-hai who had driven some of the Rohirrim downriver also withdrew in response to a horn signal. The goal of killing Theodred had been accomplished. Partly for this reason, and partly because of the strength of the resistance by Grimbold and Elfhelm, Saruman did not proceed immediately with his plan to invade Rohan. Because of this delay, Gandalf was able to reach Edoras and convince King Theoden to fight, which ultimately led to the defeat of Saruman's forces at Helm's Deep.

The Second Battle of the Fords of Isen

The Second Battle was fought on March 2, 3019 of the Third Age. Saruman launched his invasion of Rohan with his entire army of 10,000. Unaware of the vast size of the enemy forces, Grimbold and Elfhelm tried to defend the Fords, but they were overwhelmed.

Grimbold was in charge of the defenders from the Westfold, while Elfhelm commanded the companies he had brought from Edoras. The two commanders differed on their strategy. Elfhelm thought they should abandon the Fords, since Saruman's forces could come down either side of the Isen. He wanted to take up a defensive position on the east bank just north of the Fords. Grimbold wanted to defend the Fords, fearing that if they positioned themselves as Elfhelm suggested, Saruman's forces would cross the Isen behind them and cut them off.

In the end, they compromised. Elfhelm arranged his companies north of the Fords on the east side of the Isen, while Grimbold defended the Fords. Grimbold sent most of his infantry to defend the two earth-forts guarding the approach to the western side of the Fords. Grimbold and the rest of his men guarded the eastern side of the Fords.

The vanguard of Saruman's army, including many of the best fighters, attacked the western side of the Fords before noon. Grimbold's men put up a fierce resistance from the forts. A troop of Uruk-hai started across the river, but Grimbold brought his men across from the eastern side and drove them back. But then another battalion of enemy forces entered the fray, and Grimbold was forced to retreat with his men back to the east side of the Fords at sunset.

The Rohirrim had suffered many casualties. The enemy forces had heavier losses, but they were only a small part of Saruman's army. Around midnight, the full force of Saruman's army came forth from Isengard. More than half came down the eastern side of the river. Elfhelm and his men were surprised by a vanguard of silent wolf-riders, who scattered the Rohirrim and forced them to retreat eastward.

The rest of Saruman's army came down the western side of the river and crossed the Fords of Isen. Grimbold's men formed a shield wall. They were surrounded and attacked, first with firebrands and then by hillmen from Dunland, but the shield wall held.

Grimbold realized that he must abandon the Fords so that his men could survive to continue the defense of the Westfold. He sent Dunhere and half a company of Riders out through the eastern side of the shield wall. The Riders divided and doubled back to attack Saruman's forces from the north and south, deceiving the enemy into thinking that reinforcements had arrived. In the confusion, Grimbold and most of his men were able to retreat.

Saruman's forces did not pursue them. Instead they proceeded southward to Helm's Deep, where King Theoden had taken refuge with many of his people. The Battle of Helm's Deep began on March 3 and lasted through the night.

Many Rohirrim had died in the Battles of the Fords of Isen, and they were buried with Theodred on the island in the Isen. But most of the Rohirrim had survived, though they were scattered. Gandalf arrived and gathered as many of the Rohirrim as he could. Elfhelm was sent to defend Edoras. Grimbold joined forces with Erkenbrand, and they brought a force of 1,000 Rohirrim to Helm's Deep where they helped defeat the forces of Saruman at dawn on March 4.

Sources:
The Two Towers: "The King of the Golden Hall," p. 117; "Helm's Deep," p. 132; "The Road to Isengard," p. 156-57
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The House of Eorl," p. 351
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 373-74
Unfinished Tales: "The Battles of the Fords of Isen," passim


First Battle

First battle in the War of the Jewels. The First Battle was fought in 1497 of the Years of the Trees. Morgoth's forces invaded Beleriand and were opposed by the Sindarin Elves led by Thingol and Cirdan along with Denethor and the Green-elves and the Dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod.

Morgoth returned to Middle-earth in 1495 after being imprisoned by the Valar for three ages. He rebuilt Angband in the north and he prepared a great army of Orcs. In 1497, the army silently entered Beleriand under a cloud cover created by Morgoth.

The Orcs attacked on two fronts. Their eastern force ravaged the lands between the Celon-Aros and the Gelion as far south as Andram, the Long Wall. Thingol called upon Denethor and the Green-elves of Ossiriand for help. The Green-elves were not well-armed and the Orcs outmatched them. Denethor was cut off and surrounded on Amon Ereb at the eastern end of Andram and he and many of his kin were killed.

Thingol attacked the Orcs from the rear. Many of the Orcs were slain and the rest were driven out of East Beleriand. As the Orcs fled north, they were attacked by Dwarves who came down from Mount Dolmed. Few of the Orcs returned to Angband.

But in West Beleriand, the Orcs defeated Cirdan and the Elves of the Falas and drove them back to their coastal havens of Brithombar and Eglarest. Cirdan's people were besieged until later that year when the Noldor arrived in Middle-earth to retrieve the Silmarils stolen by Morgoth. The Orcs withdrew from the Havens of the Falas to fight the Noldor in the Battle-under-Stars and were defeated.

After the First Battle, some of the Green-elves returned to Ossiriand though others joined Thingol's people in Doriath. Thingol's wife Melian created a protective barrier around Doriath that was called the Girdle of Melian.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of the Sindar," p. 95-97; "Of the Return of the Noldor," p. 106-7
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Grey Annals," p. 15-17


Glorious Battle

Third battle in the War of the Jewels. The Glorious Battle was fought in the year 60 of the First Age between the Elves and the forces of Morgoth. The battle resulted in a defeat for Morgoth and marked the beginning of the Siege of Angband.

Morgoth was wrongly informed by his spies that the Noldor were unprepared for an attack so he decided to test their defenses. He sent forth a great army of Orcs to invade Beleriand. As the assault was launched, there were earthquakes in the North and fires issued from the Iron Mountains and from fissures in the earth.

The main force of Orcs attacked Dorthonion while others entered Beleriand through the Pass of Sirion in the west and Maglor's Gap in the east. The Noldor were prepared, and Fingolfin attacked the main force of Orcs from the west while Maedhros attacked them from the east. They drove the Orcs back across Ard-galen to Angband and killed all of them before they reached the gates. The bands of Orcs that had entered Beleriand were also dealt with by the Elves.

After the battle, the Noldor increased their vigilance and began the Siege of Angband, preventing Morgoth and his servants from leaving Angband openly and in great force. However, the Noldor were unable to completely surround Angband because of the Iron Mountains so Morgoth was able to dispatch spies from the north. The Siege of Angband lasted 395 years until the Battle of Sudden Flame in the year 455.

Names & Etymology:
The Glorious Battle was called Dagor Aglareb in Sindarin. The word dagor means "battle" and aglareb means "glorious." Also called the Third Battle.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of the Return of the Noldor," p. 115-16; "Of Beleriand and Its Realms," p. 118, 124; "Of the Noldor in Beleriand," p. 125; "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for aglar and dagor
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Grey Annals," p. 21, 25-26, 36-39, 116, 118


The Kinslayings

Three conflicts of Elves against Elves during the Years of the Trees and the First Age. All three Kinslayings were rooted in the Oath sworn by Feanor and his sons to recover the Silmarils at any cost.
 

The Kinslaying at Alqualondë

The attack on the Teleri by Feanor and the Noldor. The first Kinslaying took place at the Haven of Alqualonde in the Undying Lands in 1495 of the Years of the Trees. It was the first time that Elves killed other Elves, and the ramifications of their actions continued to haunt the Noldor.

Feanor convinced most of the Noldor to pursue Morgoth to Middle-earth in order to retrieve the Silmarils he had stolen. They set out in defiance of the will of the Valar. The Noldor were divided into two hosts. The first was led by Feanor who was accompanied by his seven sons: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod and Amras.

Feanor's half-brother Fingolfin was the leader of the second host, which was the largest. Fingolfin was reluctant to depart, but most of his people wanted to go, and he had pledged loyalty to Feanor. With Fingolfin were his children Fingon, Turgon and Aredhel. Fingolfin's brother Finarfin also came along reluctantly. Finarfin was joined by his children Finrod, Orodreth, Angrod, Aegnor and Galadriel. Fingon marched at the head of the second host while Finarfin and Finrod brought up the rear.

The Noldor needed to cross the Great Sea to reach Middle-earth. Feanor therefore went to Alqualonde and approached the Teleri who were renowned ship-builders. But the Teleri refused to join the Noldor against the will of the Valar or to part with any of their prized ships. Their leader Olwe tried to dissuade Feanor from his rash course of action, but Feanor would not listen. Feanor became angry because the Noldor had helped the Teleri build their haven at Alqualonde.

Feanor waited for his host to assemble and then boarded the ships to take them by force. The Teleri resisted and threw some of the Noldor overboard. Then a battle began on the ships and on the quays and piers and upon the arch of the gateway to the haven. Though the Teleri were lightly armed with bows, they drove Feanor and his followers back three times. Many Elves of the Teleri and the Noldor were slain.

Fingon and the vanguard of the second host arrived at Alqualonde while the battle was raging. They did not know what had happened and some of them thought the Teleri were trying to stop their people from leaving the Undying Lands at the request of the Valar, so they went to the aid of their kinsmen. The Noldor defeated the Teleri and most of the mariners were killed.

Not all of the Noldor in the second host joined in the fighting. A number of them were at the rear of the host and came late to the battle. Among these was Finarfin whose wife Earwen was the daughter of Olwe. Finarfin was deeply grieved by the bloodshed between the two kindreds. Finarfin's children did not take part in the Kinslaying, and Galadriel may even have tried to defend the Teleri.

The Noldor set sail in the ships of the Teleri, but there were great waves caused by the tears of Uinen - a Maia in the service of Ulmo, Lord of Waters - and many of the ships sank and those aboard drowned. There were not enough ships to carry all the Noldor, so some had to march along the shore as they made their way north.

When the Noldor reached the northern region of Araman, Mandos appeared before them. Mandos warned the Noldor that if they did not turn back and repent they would be exiled from the Undying Lands and face suffering and betrayal.

"Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever.

"Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die not in Eä, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have spoken."
The Silmarillion: "Of the Flight of the Noldor," p. 88

Finarfin decided to turn back, and many of his people went with him. But his children went onward largely out of friendship to Fingolfin's sons. Fingolfin still felt constrained to follow Feanor, and some of his people felt guilty for their role in attacking the Teleri and did not want to face judgment. All of those who went onward fell under the Doom of Mandos even if they had not taken part in the Kinslaying.

Feanor took the ships and abandoned the Fingolfin's people, forcing them to cross the Grinding Ice to Middle-earth - the first act of betrayal arising from the Kinslaying. Feanor was killed shortly after arriving in Middle-earth, but his sons continued to uphold their oath to retrieve the Silmarils at any cost - even to the point where they attacked their own kindred twice more.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of the Flight of the Noldor," p. 82-90; "Of Men," p. 104; "Of the Return of the Noldor," p. 111; "Of the Noldor in Beleriand," p. 127-29; "Of Maeglin," p. 139; "Of the Coming of Men into the West," p. 141; "Of the Ruin of Beleriand," p. 156
Unfinished Tales: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 230-32
The History of Middle-earth, vol. X, Morgoth's Ring: "The Annals of Aman," p. 115-20
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Grey Annals," p. 19, 26, 37, 41-43

The Second Kinslaying

The attack on Doriath by the sons of Feanor. The ruin of Doriath was brought about by the Silmaril that Beren and Luthien stole from Morgoth. King Thingol of Doriath was slain by Dwarves who coveted the Silmaril around 502 of the First Age.

Thingol's grandson Dior became King of Doriath, and he received the Silmaril after his mother Luthien's death around 503. The sons of Feanor had not dared to act while Luthien held the Silmaril, but now they sent a message to Dior staking a claim to the jewel their father had made. Dior did not respond.

Celegorm incited his brothers to invade Doriath. They launched a surprise attack at Yule of the year 506 to 507. Many Elves on both sides were killed in the battle in the caves of Menegroth. Feanor's sons Caranthir and Curufin died, and Celegorm was slain by Dior. Dior was also killed along with his wife Nimloth. Celegorm's servants took Dior's young sons Elured and Elurin into the woods and abandoned them to an unknown fate.

Doriath was ruined and deserted. Dior's young daughter Elwing and the Silmaril were rescued by a few survivors of Doriath who fled to the Havens of Sirion. But Feanor's remaining sons could not rest until they obtained the Silmaril, which resulted in the Third Kinslaying.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of the Ruin of Doriath," p. 236-37; "Of the Voyage of Earendil," p. 253-54
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Later Quenta Silmarillion," p. 232; "The Tale of Years," p. 345-46, 348-49, 351

The Third Kinslaying

The attack on the Havens of Sirion by the sons of Feanor. The Third Kinslaying happened in 538 of the First Age. Maedhros, the eldest son of Feanor, learned that the Silmaril that had been rescued from Doriath was at the Havens of Sirion, where Elwing dwelled with her husband Earendil and refugees from Doriath and Gondolin.

Maedhros felt guilty about his role in the Second Kinslaying so he did not act at first, but soon he felt compelled by his Oath to obtain the Silmaril. His brothers Maglor, Amrod and Amras joined him, and they sent messages offering friendship but demanding the surrender of the Silmaril. Elwing and her people refused, so the sons of Feanor attacked them without warning while Earendil was away at Sea.

During the onslaught, some of the attackers refused to slay their kinsmen and some even defended them, but in the end most of the Elves at the Havens of Sirion were killed. Elrond and Elros - the young children of Earendil and Elwing - were captured, but their lives were spared by Maglor. Cirdan and Gil-galad came to the Havens with ships but they were too late, so they took the few survivors back with them to the Isle of Balar.

Amrod and Amras were slain, and only Maedhros and Maglor remained of the sons of Feanor. Despite their victory, they had not achieved their goal. Elwing escaped with the Silmaril and dove into the Sea, where she was transformed into a bird by Ulmo. Elwing found Earendil and together they sailed to the Undying Lands. Earendil and his ship were placed in the heavens by the Valar and he sailed the night sky as a star with the Silmaril on his brow.

When Maedhros and Maglor saw the Star of Earendil, they realized that the Silmaril they had pursued was out of reach. After the War of Wrath, the other two Silmarils were confiscated from Morgoth by Eonwe. Maedhros and Maglor sent Eonwe a claim on the jewels their father had made, but Eonwe told them their rights had been forfeited by their actions in the Kinslayings. The brothers stole the Silmarils but were tormented by burning pain. Maedhros threw himself into a fiery chasm with one Silmaril, while Maglor cast the other Silmaril into the Sea.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Of the Voyage of Earendil," p. 246-47, 250, 253-54
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Tale of Years," p. 345, 348, 351-52


Kin-strife

Civil war in Gondor. The Kin-strife began in 1432 of the Third Age and lasted until 1448. On one side were the loyal supporters of King Eldacar, and on the other side were the rebels led by Castamir. The rebels opposed King Eldacar because he was not of pure Numenorean descent.

Eldacar's father was Valacar of Gondor and his mother was Vidumavi, the daughter of King Vidugavia of Rhovanion. Valacar had been sent to Rhovanion by his father Romendacil II as an ambassador to strengthen relations between their peoples. Eldacar was born in Rhovanion and spent his early childhood there.

The people of Rhovanion were Northmen, while the people of Gondor were Dunedain descended from the survivors of Numenor. Some of the Dunedain of Gondor disapproved of their future King being of mixed blood because they believed the Northmen to be inferior. In addition, the Northmen had shorter lifespans which they feared Eldacar's descendants would inherit. They also resented the favor shown to the Northmen who were in the service of Gondor.

During the last years of King Valacar's reign, dissension began to grow, especially in the southern provinces of Gondor. When Eldacar became King in 1432, open war broke out. Eldacar and his supporters fought hard but eventually they were besieged in Osgiliath. As the siege dragged on, supplies ran out and the people of Osgiliath were starving.

In 1437, the rebels overwhelmed Osgiliath and set fire to the city. The Dome of Osgiliath was destroyed and the palantir was lost in the Anduin. Eldacar and some of his people fled to Rhovanion, but Eldacar's son Ornendil was captured and was slain on the orders of the rebel leader Castamir, and many others were slaughtered as well.

Castamir usurped the throne of Gondor. He was the grandson of the younger brother of King Romendacil II. He had a large following among the rebels, particularly those from the coasts because he was a Captain of Ships. He moved his capital to Pelargir and had little interest in the land. He was cruel and merciless to those who opposed him, and because of this more people from the regions around Osgiliath began to turn against him.

Eldacar gathered his strength in Rhovanion. In 1447, after ten years of exile, he returned to Gondor with a great army including a number of Northmen. Men from Anorien, Calenardhon, and Ithilien joined him. In the Battle of the Crossings of Erui, Eldacar slew Castamir and reclaimed the kingship of Gondor. Many Men of Gondor were killed. Afterwards, some of the Northmen remained in Gondor and intermarried with the Dunedain.

Castamir's sons and a number of other rebels escaped to Pelargir. The rebels were besieged until 1448, when they escaped and sailed to the Havens of Umbar on the coast of Harad. They and their descendants became known as the Corsairs and they threatened Gondor's coasts and ships for centuries to come.

Sources:
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion," p. 326-28
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 367
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "The Heirs of Elendil," p. 198-99


War of the Dwarves and the Orcs

War fought in the Misty Mountains between 2793 and 2799 of the Third Age. The Dwarves led by Thrain II declared war on the Orcs of the Misty Mountains in 2790 after the Orc-leader Azog killed Thrain's father Thror at the gates of Moria. For three years, Dwarves from different houses and different parts of Middle-earth gathered to form a great army. In 2793, they launched an attack against the Orcs.

Many battles were fought in the caves and tunnels beneath the Misty Mountains. The Dwarves sacked the Orc stronghold under Mount Gundabad as well as a number of others. The Dwarves had superior weapons and strength, and they were driven by their desire to find and punish Azog. After six years of fighting, the Orcs of the Misty Mountains had retreated to Moria.

The Battle of Azanulbizar

In 2799, the final battle of the war was fought outside the East-gate of Moria in the valley the Dwarves called Azanulbizar, also known as the Dimrill Dale. The Dwarves came into the valley on a dark winter day and found that they were outnumbered by an army of Orcs positioned on the mountain slopes, with more coming from the East-gate.

Thrain led the first assault, but his troops were driven into the woods around Mirrormere. Many Dwarves were killed including Fundin and Thrain's youngest son Frerin. Thrain was wounded, as was his eldest son Thorin, who lost his shield and used an oak branch in its place, earning him the nickname Oakenshield.

Later in the day, a troop of fresh warriors arrived from the Iron Hills led by Nain. They advanced all the way to the East-gate, where Nain challenged Azog to come out. Azog responded, and he fought with Nain on the doorstep. Nain was tired and angry, and as he struck out at Azog, the Orc kicked him in the leg, causing him to stumble, and then broke his neck. Nain's son Dain Ironfoot avenged his father by beheading Azog.

The tide of battle had turned in favor of the Dwarves. Many Orcs were slain, and the rest fled southward. The Dwarves were victorious, but they too had lost many. Half their army had been gravely wounded or killed. They could not build stone tombs as was their custom for so many dead, so they were forced to burn the bodies. Afterwards the fallen of the Battle of Azanulbizar were proudly referred to as "burned Dwarves."

Most of the trees in the valley were cut down to make the pyres and they did not grow back. The weapons of the dead were taken away to prevent Orcs from finding them.

After the battle, Thrain wanted to reclaim Moria, but the other Dwarves refused. They were too weak to hold Moria against the return of the Orcs, and Dain warned Thrain that the Balrog still lurked within. The Dwarves returned to their homes, and Thrain's people - who had been driven from the Lonely Mountain years before - relocated to the Blue Mountains.

Some Orcs fled to the White Mountains, where they troubled Rohan, but others returned to their tunnels beneath the Misty Mountains and rebuilt their strength. The Orcs were later led to another defeat in the Battle of the Five Armies by Azog's son Bolg, but the Misty Mountains and Moria remained infested with Orcs until after Sauron's defeat at the end of the Third Age.

Names & Etymology:
The Battle of Azanulbizar was named for the valley where it was fought. Azanulbizar was the name of the Dimrill Dale in the language of the Dwarves. It probably means "Vale of Dim Streams" from zn meaning "dark, dim," ûl meaning "streams," and bizar meaning "dale, valley."

Sources:
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The Stewards," p.  334; "The House of Eorl," p. 349-50; "Durin's Folk," p. 354-57
The History of Middle-earth, vol. VI, The Return of the Shadow: "The Mines of Moria," p. 466, note 36 (definition of Azanulbizar)


War of the Elves and Sauron

Battle over the Rings of Power in the Second Age. The War of the Elves and Sauron was fought in Eriador. It lasted from 1693 to 1701 of the Second Age. Sauron suffered a temporary defeat but gained possession of the Nine Rings and six of the Seven Rings.

The Rings of Power were forged by the Elven-smiths of Eregion starting around 1500. They had gained the skills to make the Rings from Sauron, who had deceived them about his identity. The Elves made the Nine Rings and the Seven Rings with Sauron's help. Celebrimbor made the Three Rings alone, but he used the skills he had learned from Sauron. Around 1600, Sauron forged the One Ring to control all the others. The Elves realized they had been tricked and they hid the other Rings of Power from him.

Sauron was enraged, and he declared war on the Elves in 1693. His forces invaded Eriador in 1695 and he proceeded to Eregion to capture the Rings. Celeborn led a sortie from Eregion to meet the vanguard of Sauron's army. He was joined by reinforcements from Lindon led by Elrond. But the Elves were outnumbered by Sauron's forces and they were cut off from Eregion.

Eregion was conquered by Sauron's forces in 1697. Sauron went to the House of the Mirdain in Ost-in-Edhil where the treasures of the Elven-smiths were kept. Celebrimbor tried to stop him but he was captured. Sauron found the Nine Rings and he had Celebrimbor tortured until he revealed the location of the Seven Rings. One of the Seven had already been given to Durin III of Khazad-dum but Sauron claimed the others.

Celebrimbor refused to reveal the whereabouts of the Three Rings. Narya and Vilya had been sent to Gil-galad in Lindon, while Nenya had been given to Galadriel. Sauron had Celebrimbor put to death and mounted his body on a pole like a banner before his army.

Elrond's forces tried to stop Sauron but they were nearly overwhelmed. Then Durin III led an assault on the rear of Sauron's army, allowing Elrond to escape northward, where he established the refuge of Rivendell. The Dwarves retreated into Khazad-dum and shut the gate so that Sauron was unable to pursue them.

Sauron guessed the location of the Three Rings, and he intended to attack Lindon. He overran Eriador in 1699, ravaging the land and slaying Elves and Men as he went. He sent a force to guard Rivendell where many Elves had gathered to prevent Elrond from attacking from the rear. His forces were therefore diminished when he reached Lindon.

At the River Lune on the border of Lindon, Sauron's army was met by the forces of Gil-galad and some Men of Numenor. Tar-Minastir, the King of Numenor, had assembled a fleet in response to Gil-galad's request for help but it had not yet come. The Elves and Men defended the line of the river until at last in 1700 the fleet arrived led by Admiral Ciryatur.

Sauron's forces were defeated by the combined forces of the Elves and Men of Numenor, and the remainder of his army retreated southeastward. At Sarn Ford on the Brandywine, Sauron's forces were further reduced in a bloody battle. At Tharbad, Sauron was joined by reinforcements, but at the same time additional forces from Numenor came ashore at Lond Daer at the mouth of the Greyflood, or Gwathlo, and attacked from the rear.

At the Battle of the Gwathlo in 1701, Sauron's forces were completely defeated. At the same time, his forces guarding Rivendell were crushed by Gil-galad and Elrond. Eriador was freed of enemy forces, but the land was in ruins.

Sauron escaped with a small force through the Gap at the southern end of the Misty Mountains. He was again attacked in eastern Calenardhon until only he and his bodyguards remained. Sauron returned to Mordor and vowed to take revenge against the Men of Numenor.

Sources:
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Council of Elrond," p. 255
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 364
Unfinished Tales: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 237-39


War of the Last Alliance

Top to Bottom:
Elves, Men, and Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance
in the New Line film
Last Alliance - ElvesWar between Sauron and an alliance of Elves and Men at the end of the Second Age. The war was fought in and around Mordor between 3434 and 3441 of the Second Age. In the end Sauron was defeated and the One Ring was taken from him, but since the Ring was not destroyed Sauron was able to rise to power again in the Third Age.

The Last Alliance of Elves and Men

The Last Alliance of Elves and Men was formed in 3430 by Gil-galad, the High King of the Noldor, and Elendil, the High King of Gondor and Arnor. They united to oppose Sauron, who had attacked and captured Minas Ithil - a stronghold of Gondor on the borders of Mordor - the year before in 3429. Sauron was angry that the survivors of Numenor had founded the Kingdom of Gondor near his realm, and he sought to destroy them.

Elendil's son Isildur escaped from Minas Ithil and fled to Arnor in the north where his father lived. Elendil's other son Anarion remained to defend Gondor. Anarion managed to hold Osgiliathand drive Sauron's forces back to Mordor for the time being, but he did not have sufficient strength to defeat Sauron.

Elendil took counsel with his friend and ally Gil-galad, and they realized that their races needed to unite against Sauron or all of Middle-earth would be in danger. Gil-galad set out with an army of Elves from Lindon, along with Cirdan from the Grey Havens. Elendil gathered an army of Men of Arnor and awaited Gil-galad in the Tower of Amon Sul on Weathertop. Together they traveled to Rivendell, the home of Elrond, who was to act as Gil-galad's herald and commander on the battlefield.

In 3431, a great host of Elves and Men was assembled at Rivendell, the likes of which was never seen again in Middle-earth. The army of the Last Alliance set out for Mordor, crossing the Misty Mountains in 3434 and marching down the Anduin. They were joined by Elves of Lothlorien led by Amdir and Elves of Greenwood the Great led by Oropher and his son Thranduil. Some Dwarves of Durin's line from Khazad-dum as well as a small number of Dwarves from other houses also joined them.

South of Greenwood the Great, the army of the Last Alliance found that the gardens that the Entwives had tended there had been destroyed. Sauron had burned the gardens in a scorched earth policy in order to prevent the Last Alliance from replenishing their supplies with the Entwives' crops. The army continued south through the desolate Brown Lands to Mordor.

The Battle of Dagorlad

In 3434, the armies of the Last Alliance and Sauron met in battle outside the Black Gate of Mordor on the great plain that became known as Dagorlad, the Battle Plain. The army of the Last Alliance consisted of the forces that had marched from the north and the Men of Gondor who had been defending their borders.

Last Alliance - MenHowever, the Men who lived in the White Mountains did not heed the call to battle despite an oath they had sworn to Isildur to oppose Sauron. These Men of the Mountains were cursed as Oathbreakers by Isildur and were condemned to haunt the Paths of the Dead.

Sauron's forces consisted mainly of Orcs and Men. Many of the Men who fought for Sauron came from the lands of Rhun in the East and Harad in the South. There were also some Men of Numenor who had been corrupted by Sauron and were called Black Numenoreans. Two of these Black Numenoreans named Herumor and Fuinur had become lords among the Haradrim and led their people into battle against Elendil and Gil-galad.

A small number of Dwarves fought on Sauron's side, though none from Durin's line. Sauron also had at his command Trolls and other creatures as well as his deadliest servants, the Nazgul.

When the battle began, Oropher of Greenwood the Great did not wait for Gil-galad's signal and charged heedlessly forward to his death. The Elves of Lorien led by Amdir also fared poorly. They were cut off from their allies and were driven into the the marshland to the south, where Amdir and more than half his troops were killed. This marshland became known as the Dead Marshes because of the corpses of Elves, Men, and Orcs that lay there after the War of the Last Alliance.

But the main forces led by Elendil and Gil-galad were victorious against Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad. The enemy forces feared Aeglos, the spear of Gil-galad, and Narsil, the sword of Elendil, and they could not withstand the united front of the Elves and Men of the Last Alliance. Sauron retreated to Mordor and barricaded himself in Barad-dur, the Dark Tower.

The Siege of Barad-dur

The Siege of Barad-dur lasted for seven years, from 3434 to 3441. The army of the Last Alliance entered Mordor and surrounded the Dark Tower, but they could not break its defenses. Isildur sent his sons Aratan and Ciryon to Minas Ithil to guard against any attempt by Sauron to escape by way of Cirith Ungol. Isildur's eldest son Elendur remained at his side throughout the war.

Sauron in the War of the Last AllianceSauron sent out many sorties from the tower and he also attacked the siege army from above with fire and with arrows and other projectiles. Many Elves and Men were killed. Anarion died in 3440, his helmet crushed by a stone thrown from Barad-dur.

Finally in 3441, Sauron came down from his tower in an attempt to break the siege. He made his way to Mount Doom, where he was confronted by Gil-galad and Elendil. The three fought on the slopes of Mount Doom until all of them fell. Gil-galad was burned to death by the heat of Sauron's hand, and as Elendil died his sword Narsil broke beneath him.

Sauron's physical body was also cast down. Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand with the hilt-shard of Narsil. Elrond and Cirdan advised him to destroy it immediately in the fires of Mount Doom, but Isildur refused and kept the Ring for himself. Because the Ring which contained much of his power remained, Sauron's spirit survived.

After the War

Although the war ended in victory for the Last Alliance, the defeat of Sauron was not complete. He fled to the East where he rebuilt his strength over the centuries. The Nazgul also went into hiding, awaiting their master's return to power. Many of the Men who had been allied with Sauron returned to their homelands and remained enemies of Gondor and Arnor. Barad-dur was destroyed but its foundations, which had been strengthened with the power of the One Ring, stood intact.

The Elves and Men of the Last Alliance suffered great losses in the war. More than half of the forces from Lothlorien and two-thirds of the forces from Greenwood had perished. A remnant of the Elves of Lindon returned with Cirdan to dwell at the Grey Havens.

Isildur was killed just two years after the war by a band of Orcs in the Gladden Fields, and the One Ring was lost in the waters. The population of Arnor had been greatly diminished, and the North-kingdom declined and eventually ended after a war with the Lord of the Nazgul. Gondor's losses were less grievous, but it was not long before they too were under attack by Sauron's minions.

By the end of the Third Age, Sauron had regained much of his power and returned to Mordor. It was not until the One Ring was finally destroyed on March 25, 3019, that Sauron was utterly defeated.

Names & Etymology:
The Last Alliance was so called because it was the last time Elves and Men came together in great force for a common purpose. The two races became estranged during the Third Age, and although a number of Elves aided the Fellowship and fought to defend their own realms during the War of the Ring they did not form a united front with Men against Sauron as they had during the Last Alliance.

The Battle of Dagorlad was fought on the plain in front of the Black Gate which came to be called Dagorlad, or the Battle Plain, from dagor meaning "battle" and lad meaning "plain."

Sources:
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Shadow of the Past," p. 61; "A Knife in the Dark," p. 197-98, 203; "The Council of Elrond," p. 255-57
The Two Towers: "The Passage of the Marshes," p. 234-35
The Return of the King: "The Passing of the Grey Company," p. 55; "The Tower of Cirith Ungol," p. 176
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Annals of the Kings and Rulers," p. 317-18; "The North-kindgom and the Dunedain," p. 323 note 1
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 365
The Silmarillion: "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," p. 290-95, 298; "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entries for dagor and lad

Unfinished Tales:  "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 243-45, 258; "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields," p. 273, 278-79 note 7, 279-80 note 11, 282 note 20; "The Istari," p. 395
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Letter #144


War of the Ring

Images of the War of the Ring
from the New Line film
War between the forces of Sauron and the free peoples of Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age. The War of the Ring began on June 20, 3018, and ended on November 3, 3019. Ultimately, Sauron was defeated not by military means but by the destruction of the One Ring.

Sauron's forces consisted of Orcs, Trolls, and other creatures along with Men from Rhun and Harad. The Nazgul were Sauron's deadliest servants and the Lord of the Nazgul was his military commander. Sauron's opponents included the Men of Gondor and Rohan, the Rangers of the North, the Elves of Lothlorien and Mirkwood, the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, the Men of Dale and Bree, and the Hobbits of the Shire. Saruman was a traitor to both sides to further his own quest for power.

Sauron had long been preparing to launch an all-out war to defeat his enemies. Key to his plans was finding the One Ring which contained much of his power. In 3017, he learned from Gollum that the Ring was in the possession of a Hobbit named Baggins in the Shire.

Battle in OsgiliathSauron attacked Osgiliath on June 20, 3018. This was the first action of the War of the Ring. The purpose was twofold: to test Gondor's defenses and, primarily, to provide cover for the Nazgul to begin searching for the One Ring.

At the same time, Orcs attacked Mirkwood where Gollum was imprisoned by the Elves, but though Gollum was freed he eluded the Orcs.

The attack on Osgiliath was led by the Lord of the Nazgul, and his forces included Easterlings and Haradrim. Boromir and Faramir - the sons of Denethor II, Steward of Gondor - defended the city. Osgiliath was on both sides of the Anduin connected by a great bridge.

Sauron's forces captured the eastern half of the city. The Men of Gondor destroyed the bridge and held the western half of the city. Sauron broke off the attack and sent the Nazgul in search of the Ring on July 1.

On September 22, the Nazgul reached Sarn Ford on the Brandywine on the southern border of the Shire. The ford was guarded by Rangers, but their leader Aragorn was not with them. The Rangers held the ford until nightfall but they were overcome by the Nazgul and they were slain or driven away. The Nazgul entered the Shire on September 23. Frodo Baggins, the Ring-bearer, departed that same day.

The Nazgul pursued Frodo to Weathertop where the Lord of the Nazgul stabbed the Hobbit with his Morgul-blade on October 6. Frodo eluded capture and fled to the Fords of Bruinen with the Nazgul in pursuit. At the Ford, the Nazgul were swept away in a flood created by Elrond and Gandalf. They lost their horses and the robes that gave them forms, but they were not destroyed and they returned to Mordor where they acquired winged mounts called Fell Beasts.

On December 25, Frodo set out from Rivendellon a quest to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. He was accompanied by a Fellowship of eight companions: Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir,Legolas, Gimli, Sam Gamgee, Merry Brandybuck, and Pippin Took.

Meanwhile, Saruman initiated his own plans to expand his power. Saruman was the head of the Order of Wizards who had been sent to Middle-earth to help the free peoples resist Sauron. But Saruman had become corrupted by desire for the One Ring and he was also ensnared by Sauron whom he came in contact with via the palantir.

In the fall of 3018, Saruman claimed lordship over Rohan and sent companies of Uruk-hai to trouble the Rohirrim. Saruman also had agents in Bree and around the Shire. Early in the New Year of 3019, there was fighting in Bree and some Bree-landers were killed. The troublemakers were expelled, but they continued to roam the area. Some moved into the Shire at the invitation of Lotho Sackville-Baggins, a Hobbit who had business dealings with Saruman. Lotho set himself up as Chief Shirriff and strict Rules were imposed and Hobbits were bullied by the Chief's Men.

Gandalf vs BalrogOn January 15, 3019, the Fellowship passed through Moria where they battled Orcs in the Chamber of Mazarbul. On the Bridge of Khazad-dum, Gandalf confronted the Balrog - a demon of fire that had served Morgoth in ancient times.

Gandalf and the Balrog fell into the abyss and then climbed to the peak of the Silvertine where they fought the Battle of the Peak from January 23 to January 25. Gandalf vanquished the Balrog but the Wizard died and returned to life as Gandalf the White.

Journeying down the Anduin on February 23, the Fellowship was ambushed by Orcs led by Grishnakh - an Orc from Mordor - and one of the Nazgul. Legolas shot the Nazgul's Fell Beast and the Fellowship escaped.

In Rohan, the First Battle of the Fords of Isen was fought on February 25. Saruman's forces attacked the Rohirrim with the purpose of killing Theodred, the heir of King Theoden of Rohan, and they succeeded. Elfhelm and Grimbold put up a strong resistance and Saruman did not immediately proceed with his plan to invade Rohan.

Saruman sent out a troop of Uruk-hai led by Ugluk to intercept the Ring-bearer. The Uruk-hai of Isengard were joined by Orcs of Mordor led by Grishnakh. At Amon Hen on February 26, they captured Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took. Boromir was killed defending the Hobbits. The Uruk-hai tried to take the Hobbits to Isengard but they were attacked by the Rohirrim led by Eomer at the edge of Fangorn Forest on the night of February 28-29. Merry and Pippin escaped into the forest.

Saruman launched a full invasion of Rohan starting on March 2. The Rohirrim led by Grimbold and Elfhelm tried to stop them in the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen but they were overwhelmed. Saruman's army proceeded to Helm's Deep.

The Battle of Helm's Deep was fought on the night of March 3-4. King Theoden had led his forces to Helm's Deep accompanied by Eomer, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. The Rohirrim numbered about 2,000 while Saruman's army consisted of 10,000 Orcs and Uruk-hai as well as Men from Dunland.

The Rohirrim defended the stronghold through the night and at dawn Theoden led a charge from the Hornburg. At the same time Gandalf and Erkenbrand arrived with 1,000 more troops. The Men of Dunland surrendered and the Orcs fled, but Helm's Deep had been surrounded during the night by a forest of Huorns from Fangorn and the Orcs were all slain.

Destruction of IsengardThe Huorns had been sent to Helm's Deep by Treebeard, the eldest of the Ents of Fangorn. Treebeard wanted to stop Saruman because the Wizard had cut down many trees in Fangorn.

The Ents marched to Isengard, and on March 3 and 4 they destroyed the walls of the stronghold and flooded the grounds. Saruman was imprisoned in the Tower of Orthanc.

Aragorn revealed himself to Sauron using the palantir of Orthanc on March 6. Sauron realized that Aragorn was the descendant of Elendil, who had defeated Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance, and of Isildur who had taken the Ring from him. He feared that Aragorn might challenge him wielding the One Ring, so he accelerated his plan to attack Gondor. Through the palantir, Aragorn learned that the Corsairs were moving toward Gondor. On March 8, Aragorn took the Paths of the Dead and summoned the Dead to fulfill their oath to fight Sauron.

Sauron's forces continued to amass. Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien skirmished with an army of Haradrim marching to the Black Gate on March 7. That night, news of the Corsairs' fleet reached Minas Tirith. The Beacons of Gondor were lit on the night of March 7-8 to summon the Rohirrim and a messenger from Gondor bearing the Red Arrow arrived in Rohan that evening. Troops from Gondor's provinces arrived in Minas Tirith on March 9.

March 10 was the Dawnless Day. Sauron sent a vast cloud of darkness from Mordor to cause fear among his opponents and to help his Orcs and Nazgul who were stronger in the dark. An army of Orcs and Easterlings captured the island of Cair Andros in the Anduin and entered the province of Anorien north of Minas Tirith. They blocked the Great West Road in order to stop the Rohirrim, who set out from Rohan that day. That night, a great army led by the Lord of the Nazgul left Minas Morgul.

On March 11, Faramir was sent to hold the river crossing against the army from Minas Morgul. In southern Gondor, the Men of Lamedon battled troops from Umbar and Harad. The enemy forces fled when Aragorn approached with the the Dead.

Also on March 11, Lothlorien was attacked by Orcs from Dol Guldur. The Orcs were stopped by the Elves and by the power of Galadriel, bearer of Nenya. They were driven into the Wold of Rohan where they encountered Treebeard and the Ents who slew many of the Orcs and drove the rest into the Anduin on March 12. That same day, the Morgul-host captured the crossing at Osgiliath and Faramir retreated to the Causeway Forts.

On March 13, the Morgul-host breached the outer wall of Minas Tirith and overran the Pelennor Fields. Minas Tirith was besieged. Aragorn and the Dead captured the Corsairs' fleet at Pelargir.

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields was fought on March 15. The Rohirrim arrived on the battlefield at dawn. King Theoden was killed, and the Lord of the Nazgul was vanquished by Eowyn and Merry Brandybuck. Denethor slew himself in part because he had seen the Corsairs' ships approaching Minas Tirith via the palantir. But the ships had been commandeered by Aragorn who brought reinforcements to help turn the tide of the battle. Sauron's army was defeated, though he still had many more troops in Mordor.

The Elves of Lothlorien and Mirkwood were also attacked on March 15 by Orcs from Dol Guldur. The Battle of Dale began that day as well between the combined forces of the Men of Dale and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain against an army of Easterlings. The battle lasted three days. On March 17, King Brand and King Dain Ironfoot were killed and the Men and Dwarves were besieged in the Lonely Mountain.

Elfhelm and 3,000 Rohirrim defeated the enemy forces that had invaded Anorien on March 17. On March 18, Aragorn set out to the Black Gate with the Host of the West comprised of Men of Gondor and Rohan. His intention was to draw Sauron's attention from the Ring-bearer who was crossing Mordor to Mount Doom. Lothlorien was attacked for a third time on March 22.

Aragorn Black GateOn March 25, the Battle of the Morannon was fought at the Black Gate. The 6,000 Men of the Host of the West were surrounded by over 60,000 enemy forces.

Sauron was focused on the battle and did not realize that Frodo had brought the One Ring to the edge of the Crack of Doom until it was too late. Frodo struggled with Gollum who took the Ring and fell with it into the Fires of Mount Doom where it was destroyed.

When the Ring was destroyed, Sauron was vanquished and the eight remaining Nazgul were consumed by the eruption of Mount Doom. Sauron's forces fell into disarray and either fled, surrendered or were slain.

News of Sauron's defeat reached the Lonely Mountain on March 27. Bard II and Thorin Stonehelm led their people to drive the Easterlings away. On March 28, Celeborn and Galadriel destroyed Dol Guldur.

But the War of the Ring did not end with Sauron's defeat. Saruman had escaped from Isengard and he came to the Shire on September 22 and took over as Chief. Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin returned to the Shire on October 30. They rallied the Hobbits to defeat the Chief's Men in the Battle of Bywater on November 3. Saruman was killed by his lackey Grima Wormtongue, who in turn was slain by Hobbit archers.

After the War, peace and prosperity returned to Middle-earth. Aragorn became King of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor. Rohan, Dale, and the Lonely Mountain were allies of the Reunited Kingdom and the Shire became a Free Land under the King's protection. Many of the Haradrim and Easterlings were at peace with the Reunited Kingdom, and Aragorn and King Eomer subdued those who remained a threat. Although evil had not been eradicated entirely, Sauron never arose again.

Partial list of casualties in the War of the Ring:
Boromir,Denethor, Theoden, Theodred, Hama, Derufin and Duilin, Forlong, Hirluin, Hirgon, Grimbold, Harding, Guthlaf, Dunhere, Deorwine, Herefara, Herubrand, Horn, Fastred, Halbarad, Beechbone, Brand, Dain Ironfoot, Mat Heathertoes, Rowlie Appledore, Tom Pickthorn, Willie Banks, and an Underhill of Staddle.

Sauron, Saruman, Grima, Lord of the Nazgul, the other eight Nazgul, Gollum, Gorbag, Grishnakh, Lagduf, Lugdush, Mauhur, Muzgash, Radbug, Shagrat, Snaga, Snaga, Ugluk, Lotho Sackville-Baggins, the Balrog, and possibly Shelob.

Additional Sources:
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The House of Eorl," p. 351-52
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 372-77
Unfinished Tales: "The Hunt for the Ring," passim; "The Battles of the Fords of Isen," p. 355-69; "The Palantiri," p. 407-408


War of Wrath

War resulting in the defeat of Morgoth at the end of the First Age. The War of Wrath lasted from 545 to 587. The Host of the Valar fought the forces of Morgoth in northwestern Middle-earth. Beleriand was destroyed as a result of the conflict, and Morgoth was banished from the world in 590, the last year of the First Age.

Throughout the First Age, Morgoth was opposed by the Noldorin Elves who had come to Middle-earth to retrieve the Silmarils he had stolen. The Noldor were helped by the Sindarin Elves and the Men of the Three Houses of the Edain. The Elves and the Edain suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears in 472, and by the end of the First Age Morgoth's forces had almost completely overrun Beleriand.

In 542, Earendil the Mariner - who was half Elf and half Man - sailed to the Undying Lands to ask the Valar to help the peoples of Middle-earth defeat Morgoth. The Valar had exiled the Noldor because they had killed other Elves in the Kinslaying when they left the Undying Lands. But the Valar listened to Earendil's pleas and they agreed to intervene. They placed Earendil's ship Vingilot in the sky and he sailed across the heavens bearing one of the Silmarils. The peoples of Middle-earth saw the new star as a sign of hope.

The Valar assembled a great force including Elves from the Undying Lands. Many of the Elves were Vanyar whose leader was Ingwe, the High King of the Elves. According to early versions of the story, Ingwe's son Ingwion led the Vanyar into battle. The Host also included a number of Noldor who had not emigrated to Middle-earth with their exiled kinsmen. Their leader was Finarfin, son of Finwe. The Teleri - who had been the victims of the Kinslaying - did not join the fight but they provided ships and mariners to take the Host of the Valar to Middle-earth.

The Host of the Valar came to Middle-earth in 545. They were led by Eonwe, the Herald of the Vala Manwe, who was the most skilled warrior among the Maiar. Early versions of the story indicate that they landed at the haven of Eglarest, and Ingwion is credited with driving the Orcs from the coast.

Morgoth was surprised by the attack. He had not expected the Valar to help the Noldor or to take pity on the peoples of Middle-earth. He sent forth a great army of Orcs, Balrogs, and Men. Many of the Men in Morgoth's service were Easterlings, while the Edain sided with the Host of the Valar.

The War of Wrath lasted 42 years. One story suggests that there was a long struggle for the passage of the Sirion, the great river that flowed through Beleriand from north to south. However, this version claims that Morgoth himself was involved in the defense of the Sirion, whereas in the final version Morgoth remained in his stronghold Angband throughout the war.

The Host of the Valar marched north and a great battle was fought on Anfauglith, the desert before the gates of Angband. The size of the armies was so great that the fighting extended throughout the North. Countless Orcs were slain and most of the Balrogs were destroyed except for a few that went into hiding deep underground. Morgoth was afraid to come forth himself.

In 587, Morgoth released his winged Dragons led by Ancalagon the Black as a last attempt to stop the Host of the Valar. The Dragons descended in a storm of thunder, lightning, and fire, and the Host of the Valar retreated. The Dragons were confronted by Earendil in his ship Vingilot and an army of great birds led by Thorondor, King of the Eagles. The battle in the air lasted a day and a night. Before dawn, Earendil slew Ancalagon, and the Dragon's body fell from the sky and destroyed the towers of Thangorodrim above Angband.

Most of the other Dragons were killed and the Host of the Valar were victorious. They entered Angband and Morgoth fled deep underground. When he was cornered he begged for pardon but instead he was bound with the chain called Angainor which the Valar had used to imprison him long ago. His iron crown was made into a collar for his neck and the two Silmarils were taken from it.

The Silmarils were stolen in the night from Eonwe's camp by Maedhros and Maglor - the two remaining sons of Feanor who had sworn an oath to reclaim the jewels made by their father. Eonwe spared their lives and they escaped. But the Silmarils caused the brothers great pain because of all the evil deeds committed by the sons of Feanor in their quest to retrieve them. Maedhros threw himself into a chasm of fire with one Silmaril and Maglor cast the other into the Sea. The third remained with Earendil in the heavens.

Beleriand was ruined during the War of Wrath. Afterwards, all that remained west of the Blue Mountains was the region of Lindon and the islands of Himling, Tol Fuin, and Tol Morwen.

For so great was the fury of those adversaries that the northern regions of the western world were rent asunder, and the sea roared in through many chasms, and there was confusion and great noise; and rivers perished or found new paths, and the valleys were upheaved and the hills trod down; and Sirion was no more.
The Silmarillion: "Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath," p. 252
The Noldor were pardoned and they were permitted to return to the Undying Lands. Many sailed westward with the Host of the Valar, but some remained in Middle-earth. Gil-galad was the High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth. He lived in Lindon, as did Cirdan who established the Grey Havens from which Elves continued to leave Middle-earth over the centuries. Galadriel and her husband Celeborn moved eastward into Eriador.

Earendil's sons Elrond and Elros were Half-elven like their father and were given the choice to be counted among Elves or Men. Elrond chose to be an Elf but he remained in Middle-earth. Elros chose the life of Men and he became the first King of Numenor. The island realm of Numenor was a gift from the Valar to the Edain who had fought against Morgoth.

In 590, Morgoth was cast through the Door of Night into the Timeless Void that lies outside the Walls of the World. But his evil influence remained in the world, and so did his most powerful servant Sauron. Sauron surrendered to Eonwe after the War of Wrath, but Eonwe commanded him to seek pardon before the Valar. Instead Sauron fled and began to amass power with the intention of conquering Middle-earth.

Names & Etymology:
Also called the Great Battle. Earlier names include the Battle of Wrath and Thunder as well as the Battle Terrible or Terrible Battle and its Sindarin equivalent Dagor Delothrin from dagor meaning "battle" and deloth meaning "abhorrence, detestation, loathing."

It is sometimes referred to as the Last Battle but that name is usually associated with Dagor Dagorath - the final battle that will occur at the end of the world.

Sources:
The Silmarillion: "Valaquenta - Of the Maiar," p. 30; "Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath," passim; "Akallabeth," p. 259-60; "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," p. 285-86, 293
The History of Middle-earth, vol. IV, The Shaping of Middle-earth: "The Earliest Silmarillion," p. 39-40, 71-75; "The Quenta," p. 156-65; "The Earliest Annals of Beleriand," p. 309-10
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Later Annals of Beleriand," p. 143-44, 153-54; "Quenta Silmarillion," p. 326-37; "The Etymologies," entry for DYEL

The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "The Later Quenta Silmarillion," p. 246; "The Tale of Years," p. 345-46
Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "The Numenorean Kings," p. 314-15
Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings: "The Tale of Years," p. 363
The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Council of Elrond," p. 256


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