List of Middle-earth wars and battles

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J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings include many wars and battles set in the lands of Aman, Beleriand, Númenor, and Middle-earth. These are related in his various books such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and other posthumously published books edited by his son Christopher Tolkien.

These are given below in an in-universe, fictional chronology:

First Age[edit]

The Kinslayings[edit]

The Kinslayings are the collective term for the three battles fought between the Eldar.

The first battle, the Kinslaying at Alqualondë (Swanhaven), appears in print in The Silmarillion. It involves the Noldorin Elves under their king, Fëanor, against their fellow Elves, the Teleri.

Against the will of the godlike Valar, Fëanor had induced the Noldor to leave Valinor to make war upon the Dark Lord Morgoth in revenge for the theft of his Silmarilli jewels and the murder of his father Finwë. As the easiest route to Middle-earth was by sea, Fëanor and his sons led one host of the Noldor to the city of Alqualondë and asked the seafaring Teleri of Alqualondë for their vessels. The Teleri refused to help them defy the Valar. Bitter fighting broke out (although it is not clear who began the fighting, the Silmarillion states that fighting began when the Noldor attempted to take control of the Teleri's ships) and eventually many (perhaps hundreds) of Elves on both sides were slain. Though the Teleri were lightly armed, they were able to defend themselves to some degree until a second host of the Noldor, led by Fëanor's half-nephew Fingon, arrived together with some of his father Fingolfin's people. Fingon's people assumed erroneously that the Teleri had attacked the Noldor under orders of the Valar. In the end, many of the Teleri were slain and the ships taken. Afterward, the sea rose and destroyed many of the boats to punish the Noldor for this cruel act. Though the Teleri forgave the Noldor by the end of the First Age of Middle-earth, they still refused to fight in the War of Wrath. All Elves that followed Fëanor and continued towards Middle-earth fell under the Doom of Mandos.

This episode appears in Tolkien's earliest Middle-earth-related writings, published in The Book of Lost Tales. In the earliest surviving version, the "Noldoli" steal the ships of the "Solosimpi" without any fighting. When a concept of a battle was developed, the location was first called "Kopas Alqalunten".[1] In a late version of the legendarium, Galadriel fought on the side of the Teleri, her mother Eärwen's people, against the Fëanorians.

The second battle is the Sack of Doriath where Dior was killed by the Sons of Fëanor.

The third battle in the Kinslaying is the attack by the Sons of Fëanor on the Mouths of Sirion where Elwing was attacked. The last Kinslaying is considered the cruellest of them all because many women and children were also murdered by the Fëanorians.

It was stated by Eönwë herald of Manwë that because of these evil deeds the remaining Sons of Fëanor had lost all right to the Silmarils, and when Maedhros and Maglor finally retrieved them, the Silmarils burned their hands, driving Maedhros to suicide and Maglor to wander the Earth forever.

The civil war in Gondor in the Third Age called the Kin-strife is also sometimes called a Kinslaying.

Battles of Beleriand[edit]

In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, the First Battle of Beleriand[2] is the first battle of the Wars of Beleriand, fought by the Sindarin Elves, led by Elu Thingol, King of Doriath and Lord of Beleriand, against the armies of Morgoth, the Great Enemy, the Dark Lord.

The battles between the Elves of Beleriand and the forces of Morgoth are often referred to as the Battles of Beleriand, but also as the War of the Jewels as the Silmarilli were behind them all.

The First Battle of Beleriand was fought before the Noldor arrived, and was fought by the Sindar and Laiquendi Elves.

The Second Battle was Dagor-nuin-Giliath ("Battle-under-Stars"), fought by the Noldor following Fëanor and his Seven Sons, in which the Noldor were victorious but Fëanor was slain by Balrogs. During this battle the Battle of Lhammoth was fought by the host of Fingolfin.

The Third Battle was Dagor Aglareb ("Glorious Battle"), which led to the Siege of Angband. Various minor battles were fought during the Siege which are not counted.

The Fourth Battle was the Dagor Bragollach ("Battle of Sudden Flame"), in which the Siege was broken and Fingolfin was slain by Morgoth.

The Fifth Battle was the Nírnaeth Arnoediad ("Unnumbered Tears"), in which the Noldor were utterly defeated.

Years later, the Battle of Tumhalad, in which the elven forces under Orodreth and Túrin were defeated by Angband forces under Glaurung, led to the sack of Nargothrond. It was the last battle of the Elves of the kingdom of Nargothrond. It was fought on the plain of Tumhalad between the river Narog and its tributary, the river Ginglith.[3]

The Last Battle of Beleriand, called the Great Battle and the War of Wrath, ended the First Age of Arda and destroyed Beleriand, for the wrath of the Valar was so great that it caused Beleriand to sink under the Sea.

Second Age[edit]

War of the Elves and Sauron[edit]

The War of the Elves and Sauron[4] was a great conflict fought in the Second Age. This is one of the great wars of Middle-earth, and it is sometimes informally referred to as the Invasion of Eriador. It is the war caused by the forging of the One Ring.

The war began in S.A. 1693, almost a century after Sauron had deceived the Noldor smiths of Eregion and had secretly forged the One Ring to rule over the other Rings of Power. When Sauron put on the One Ring, Celebrimbor, lord of Eregion, realised that the Elves had been betrayed and revolted against the Dark Lord's influence. With his disguise uncovered, Sauron then demanded that all of the great rings in Eregion be surrendered to him, as all of them were made with Sauron's counsel, except the Three Rings of the Elves. Celebrimbor refused and sent the Three to Gil-galad and Galadriel, while Sauron raised a great force to invade Eriador.

Messages of the invasion were sent north to Lindon where the High King Gil-galad ruled, and he began amassing his forces, preparing for war. He also appealed for help from Tar-Minastir of Númenor and the latter obliged, but the Númenóreans were delayed.

In S.A. 1695 Sauron had reached Eregion, though his vanguard was temporarily driven off by Celeborn's sortie. (While Celeborn's wife Galadriel had entered Moria to reach Lothlórien, Celeborn himself refused to enter the mansion of the dwarves, and he was disregarded in Eregion by Celebrimbor until the One Ring.) Elrond had been sent to Eregion by Gil-galad but Sauron's host was great enough to ward him off while concentrating on the assault upon Eregion. In S.A. 1697 Celebrimbor tried to make a last stand at the doors of the Ost-in-Edhil, the main fortress of Eregion where the Noldor's chief works were held, but he was overwhelmed and taken captive. Placed under torment, he revealed the location of the Nine and Seven rings but would tell nothing about the Three, at which Sauron put him to death. It is clear that Sauron seized the Nine from Eregion, though it is less sure whether he or Celebrimbor had given the Seven to the Dwarves.

Elrond gathered with Celeborn and the survivors of Eregion and they were almost overwhelmed by Sauron's pursuit, but the Dark Lord's host was unexpectedly assailed in the rear by Durin of Moria and some Elves of Lórien. Sauron then halted his advance and drove the Dwarves back but he could accomplish little as Khazad-dûm's gates were closed. Afterwards, Sauron harboured deep hatred for Moria and ordered his Orcs to trouble the Dwarves at every turn. Elrond managed to escape to the north and established Imladris.

Sauron's armies advanced, almost unopposed save for small bands of Men and Elves which his forces easily dealt with. By S.A. 1699 all of Eriador fell under Sauron's control. Imladris was besieged, and Lindon cut off from Imladris and Khazad-dûm. The Dark Lord had correctly guessed that the Three Rings were with Gil-galad in Lindon and sent his main host there, though it was weakened because he had to break off a detachment to keep Elrond pinned down at Imladris.

The next year, the great army of Númenor which was sent by Tar-Minastir landed in Lindon, at Tharbad on the Gwathló, and south near Pelargir. The intervention at Lindon was in the nick of time, as Gil-galad and Círdan were desperately holding Mithlond, but the arrival of the Númenóreans turned the tide and Sauron was heavily defeated and driven back. The Dark Lord was subsequently forced on the retreat after the great slaughter on the Brandywine. The Númenórean admiral Ciryatur landed forces further south at Lond Daer and hurried up the river to Tharbad, catching Sauron in the rear for the second time. At the resulting Battle of the Gwathló, Sauron was utterly routed and he fled back to Mordor with only his guard. His remaining army besieging Imladris was caught between the allies and destroyed. The war ended in S.A. 1701 but Eregion was gone, and most of Eriador was in ruins.

Sauron was at his pinnacle of his power, militarily, when he initiated the war. This conflict is perhaps the only time that Sauron managed to, for a short while, master most of the North of Middle-earth. However, the strength of Elves was still then great enough to resist him, and his forces were no match for the superior might of the Númenóreans. While Tar-Minastir's forces soon left to return home, the greater part of the Elves' main hosts survived (save for the destruction of Celebrimbor's company) and remained in Middle-earth. As Sauron's armies had been annihilated, he was unable to move out of Mordor for a time. In order to rebuild his former strength, Sauron decided against challenging the Númenóreans directly, only attacking their Middle-earth settlements after most of the Númenóreans departed as a shadow fell upon Númenor.

Some fifteen hundred years later, Sauron would exact his revenge against the Númenóreans by corrupting Ar-Pharazôn, the king, and causing the utter downfall of Númenor. However, a remnant (the Lords of Andúnië) escaped the ruin and established the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, the latter being close to Mordor. Meanwhile, the power of Gil-galad had spread east of the Misty Mountains to Greenwood the Great and even towards Mordor during Sauron's absence. Sauron attacked first, hoped to defeat his enemies before they could unite, but the power of his forces was not yet fully rebuilt, and he underestimated the strength of the Exiles and the Elves. His assault on the newfound realm of Gondor led to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, which overthrew him.[5]

In the Third Age, when Sauron returned, he was but a shadow of his former power as he had lost the One Ring. Still, he had greater forces than the Men and the Elves, who had themselves declined precipitously. Near the end of the Third Age, as told in The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf tells Frodo Baggins that Sauron needed to recover the One Ring in order to "cover the lands in a second darkness"; the first darkness either referring to Sauron's invasion of Eriador, or Morgoth, the Great Enemy, during the First Age.

Around the end of the War of the Elves and Sauron, the great forests in Enedwaith and Minhiriath, which the Gwathló flows through, have been completely destroyed. The Númenóreans since Tar-Aldarion had already been felling many trees for shipbuilding, incurring the wrath of the locals when the extent of the devastation became known. Sauron allied himself with some of the tribes to harass the Númenóreans, setting fire in the woods and burning their wood-stores; the Númenóreans responded by ruthlessly felling timber without any thought of conservation or replanting.

Though both the 1978 animated film and the 2001 live-action film based on The Lord of the Rings show the forging of the Rings of Power, the War of the Elves and Sauron is skipped and the films go straight to the much later War of the Last Alliance.

The Great Armament[edit]

The Great Armament was the armada of warships and military forces prepared by the last King of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn, for the purpose of invading the land of Aman to challenge the Lords of the West.

In S.A. 3261 Ar-Pharazôn invaded Middle-earth; by the following year Sauron submitted to him and was taken as prisoner to Númenor. Over the course of the next 48 years Sauron gradually seduced and corrupted the King and the majority of the Númenóreans. Feeling the coming of death, in S.A. 3310 Ar-Pharazôn initiated the construction of the Great Armament.[6]

When preparation of the Armament became apparent, Amandil, father of Elendil became dismayed and attempted to sail into the West to beseech the Valar for mercy and deliverance from Sauron. His mission failed and he was never heard from again.

For nine years Ar-Pharazôn amassed his strength in the havens of western Númenor while Elendil, Amandil's son gathered a small fleet of ships in the east that held the wives and children of the Faithful as well as their heirlooms and a store of goods. In secret the ship of Isildur, Elendil's son, also held a scion of Nimloth, the white tree.

As the Armament proceeded, omens appeared from the West – at first great clouds appeared in the shape of vast eagles, spreading darkness upon the land. As men hardened their hearts the clouds issued lightning that slew men, with one bolt smiting the dome of the Temple that Sauron had caused to be built in the city of Armenelos. Earthquakes shook Númenor and smoke poured from the summit of the Meneltarma, yet Ar-Pharazôn pushed all the more to complete his Armament.

Finally, in S.A. 3319, the King boarded his flagship Alcarondas and led the armada into the West. So vast was the Númenórean fleet that it surrounded all of Tol Eressëa. Coming upon the silent shores of Valinor, Ar-Pharazôn almost wavered but his pride won out - he landed and claimed the land for his own. Manwë then called upon Ilúvatar who put forth his power: The world was changed with a vast chasm rending the sea between Númenor and the Deathless Lands. The ships of the Great Armament were swallowed into the abyss while Ar-Pharazôn and his followers upon the shore were buried under falling hills.[7]

The island of Númenor itself was drowned under the sea, and the only Númenorean's that survived the downfall were those who were either already in Middle-earth or those few of the Faithful who escaped with Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anárion. The Great Armament would forever be remembered by those survivors among the faithful with shame and remorse, and it was the resulting devastation that led to the creation of the realms in exile of Arnor and Gondor.

War of the Last Alliance[edit]

The War of the Last Alliance is a conflict at the end of the Second Age when Elves and Men formed an alliance in response to the threat of conquest by the Dark Lord Sauron. It includes the Battle of Dagorlad and the Siege of Barad-dûr.

In The Lord of the Rings, Elrond describes the Last Alliance to Frodo Baggins, comparing it to the Host of Valinor that overthrew the Great Enemy Morgoth in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age:

"I remember well the splendour of their banners ... It recalled to me the glory of the Elder Days and the hosts of Beleriand, so many great princes and captains were assembled. And yet not so many, nor so fair, as when Thangorodrim was broken, and the Elves deemed that evil was ended for ever, and it was not so."[8]

Sauron had contended with the Elves and the Men of Númenor for mastery of Middle-earth and the Rings of Power in the War of the Elves and Sauron. He was defeated and driven out of Eriador in the year 1701 of the Second Age. During this war the Elves suffered great losses. Over the next 1500 years, Sauron extended his power eastward and the kingdom of Númenor on the island of Andor flourished, even receiving the submission of Sauron. It was eventually destroyed at the height of its military power due to the machinations of Sauron in the year 3319. The Dúnedain, survivors of the catastrophe, formed realms in exile in Middle-earth.

Sauron feared the kingdoms in exile, Arnor and Gondor and he attacked Gondor in S.A. 3429. Sauron took Minas Ithil in a sudden assault while Anárion managed to hold Osgiliath and halt Sauron's advance. In response, Elendil, High King of the Dúnedain and Isildur and Anárion, formed an alliance with Gil-galad, the last High King of the Noldor, and they raised a great host to contest Sauron.

The Elves of Lindon, led by Gil-galad, and the Men of Arnor, led by Elendil, built in the north the fortress and the watchtower of Amon Sûl, Weathertop, over two years while gathering their armies. Their great host then marched to Rivendell, and there made preparations and armaments for nearly three years.[9] In the year 3434 they went over the Misty Mountains at the High Pass and the Redhorn Pass, and were joined by Dwarves of Moria.[10] The Alliance host then crossed the bridge[11] over the river Anduin, meeting the armies of the Silvan Elves of Lórinand and Greenwood the Great in the hosts of Amdír and Oropher,[12] and marched south down the east bank where they met up with the Men of Gondor and then met Sauron's forces before Mordor.[13]

While Isildur's elder son and heir, Elendur, accompanied his father throughout the entire conflict except the last challenge upon Orodruin, his younger brothers Aratan and Ciryon were not involved in the main assault. They were sent by Isildur to man the recaptured city of Minas Ithil, as a reserve in case Sauron tried to escape through the passes of the mountains.[14]

In S.A. 3434, the Alliance engaged and defeated Sauron's hosts in the Battle of Dagorlad, having fought over several months on the great plain of Dagorlad. However, the Silvan Elves would not place their armies under the supreme command of Gil-galad. Amdír's forces were cut and driven into the Dead Marshes, while Oropher led a reckless assault on Mordor in which he was slain. Rule of the Silvan Elves and field command of their remaining forces, barely a third of their original strength, passed to Oropher's son Thranduil. Alliance forces breached the Black Gate of Mordor, and besieged the Dark Lord's fortress of Barad-dûr. The shapes of the fallen remained in the water of the Dead Marshes into the later Ages. Gollum described it as "...a great battle. Tall Men with long swords, and terrible Elves, and Orcses shrieking. They fought on the plains for days and months at the Black Gates."[15]

The Siege of Barad-dûr lasted for seven years. The Alliance suffered heavy losses from missiles and fire cast from the tower, and Sauron also sent many sorties against the attackers. Anárion was killed by a stone cast from the tower, and his helm, a forerunner of the crown of Minas Anor, was destroyed.[16]

Eventually Sauron emerged from the tower and engaged the Alliance forces personally near Orodruin, battling the commanders Gil-galad and Elendil, with only Elrond, Círdan, and Isildur standing by them. Gil-galad and Elendil were slain, with the latter's sword Narsil breaking beneath him as he fell. However, Sauron was overthrown when Elendil's son Isildur used the hilt-shard of Narsil to cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand.

Bereft of the power of the One Ring, Sauron's physical form was unbound and his dissipated spirit would not take form again in Middle-earth for two and a half thousand years. After the victory over Sauron, the death of Gil-galad and Elendil, and irreplaceable casualties to the Elves, the Last Alliance dissolved.

The Eldar mourned the victory as bittersweet for the loss of their king and that the One Ring was kept by Isildur, who later perished and lost it in the Gladden Fields. Thus, despite the sacrifice of the Elves and Men, the Ring was not destroyed and the opportunity to defeat Sauron once and for all was missed. The war resulted in the first weakening of Lindon and Arnor. The Second Age ended with the war's conclusion and the Third Age of the World began.

In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the details of the war are not included and only the final "Battle of Mount Doom", as it is sometimes called, is shown. Notable differences from the book are: unidentified Gil-galad is briefly glimpsed, but his death is not shown; Dwarves are not mentioned or shown during the battle; Sauron kills Elendil with his mace; Narsil is broken under Sauron's foot into many pieces, instead of two; Isildur cuts off most of Sauron's fingers on his outstretched hand, instead of just one; Sauron eventually explodes; Anárion and Círdan are omitted overall.

Third Age[edit]

Disaster of the Gladden Fields[edit]

The Disaster of the Gladden Fields, also known as the Battle of the Gladden Fields was a short battle taking place under the eaves of Greenwood the Great forest, in the second year of the Third Age.

After the War of the Last Alliance, Isildur remained in Gondor for two years before returning to Arnor, reordering the kingdom and instructing his late brother's son Meneldil, who became king after Isildur's departure from Gondor. Although he sent most of his army back home, he kept some two hundred with him. They set out for Rivendell, as Isildur had left his youngest son and wife there, expecting to arrive there after a march of forty days.

As the sun was setting and the army was preparing to make camp for the night, a large band of orcs appeared out of the trees and attacked. The orcs had many more warriors than Isildur, and Isildur gave his father's sword Narsil into the keeping of his squire, Ohtar, whom he commanded to escape to Rivendell. Ohtar escaped the orcs and came into Elrond's valley some months later.

Isildur and his army were able to easily beat off the attack with their superior tactics and armour. He was still concerned and the army moved down closer to the river, although they expected the orcs to send only scouts after Isildur's stronger force, as they would usually do after being defeated. However the One Ring was calling out to all the servants of its recently fallen master, demanding to be rescued.

The orcs attacked again after less than a mile, committing all of their forces, and they soon had the Dúnedain surrounded. Although the archers were taking out many of the orcs, there were far too few and the sun was setting. The orcs attacked at the sound of their trumpets but were kept back by the long reach of the Dúnedain weaponry. They drew back to reconsider and charged again. This time two or even more orcs would jump up at a single Dúnadan and crush him. The victim was then dragged out and killed. Isildur lost two sons this way.

Although the orcs paid as much as five-to-one, they could afford it. Isildur and Elendur, his last son, rallied the Dúnedain. Elendur commanded his father to don the ring, becoming invisible, to flee—and sealed his own fate. Soon all of the remaining Dúnedain were dead, apart from two unnamed men who later escaped and Estelmo, the squire of Elendur, who had been clubbed on the head and then covered with the bodies of his comrades.

Isildur was able to make his way to the Anduin before casting off his greatsword and armour. Still wearing the Ring, he swam to the other side; however, as he did, the One Ring slipped off his finger, and Isildur was shot through the throat by an orc archer set there for just such a purpose. The Ring sank to the bottom of the Great River, where it would remain for the next 2500 years.

"Then suddenly he knew that the Ring had gone. By chance, or chance well used, it had left his hand and gone where he could never hope to find it again. At first so overwhelming was his sense of loss that he struggled no more, and would have sunk and drowned. But swift as it had come the mood passed. The pain had left him. A great burden had been taken away. His feet found the riverbed, and heaving himself up out of the mud he floundered through the reeds to a marshy islet close to the western shore.

There he rose up out of the water: only a mortal man, a small creature lost and abandoned in the wilds of Middle-earth. But to the night-eyed Orcs that lurked there on the watch he loomed up, a monstrous shadow of fear, with a piercing eye like a star. They loosed their poisoned arrows at it, and fled. Needlessly, for Isildur unarmed was pierced through heart and throat, and without a cry he fell back into the water. No trace of his body was ever found by Elves or Men."

Thranduil, King of Greenwood, hastened to the battle, hoping to save the Dúnedain, but he was unable to do anything beyond stopping the mutilation of their corpses.

Wars with Angmar[edit]

The Wars with Angmar were a series of battles between the Dúnedain of the north kingdom of Arnor and the evil realm of Angmar in the middle of the Third Age.

Division of Arnor[edit]

Arnor had never been as large or as powerful as its twin realm of Gondor, and following the War of the Last Alliance it had never truly recovered from the grievous loss of manpower that it suffered. In the year TA 861 following the death of the eighth and last High-King of Arnor, Eärendur, dissension among his three sons was so great that the realm became divided into three successor kingdoms.[17] All the lands of Arnor that had once stretched across Eriador from the Misty Mountains to the Blue Mountains became the realms of Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur, and there was often strife between the three realms, especially over the tower of Amon Sûl and its palantír. While Arthedain was the most populous and powerful of these three realms and was still ruled by the heirs of Isildur, it alone could not match the former strength of Arnor when it had been united as a whole.

The land of Angmar was a desolate vale between a spur of the northern Misty Mountains and the Mountains of Angmar, and in the year TA 1300 Sauron's chief servant, the Witch-King, came to this land with the intention of destroying Arnor while Gondor in the south was strong.[18] During the reign of the sixth king of Arthedain, Malvegil, evil began to multiply in Angmar, where there was gathered many Orcs, evil men, and other fell things.

Destruction of Amon Sûl[edit]

The son of Malvegil, King Argeleb I, reclaimed the kingship of all Arnor and took the prefix ar(a) (Sindarin for royal, or kingly) in token of this. Cardolan did not oppose this as there the Dúnedain had grown few, but the kingdom of Rhudaur resisted the claim by Argeleb, led by an evil hill-chief who was in secret league with Angmar. At this, Argeleb decided to fortify the Weather Hills to resist an invasion from the east by the forces of Angmar and Rhudaur, but he was slain in battle in the year TA 1356 along the frontier.

The son of Argeleb, King Arveleg I continued his fathers defence against Angmar along the fortified Weather Hills, the Great East Road, and the lower Hoarwell, and for many years he held back the assaults of Angmar and Rhudaur. It was also at this time that the Elven haven of Rivendell was besieged by the forces of Angmar. Arnor's capital of Fornost lay upon the North Downs only a few dozen miles away from the Weather Hills, and Angmar sought a way to break through the frontier and lay siege to the city. It was to this end that in the year TA 1409 a great host came out of Angmar, and crossing the river it entered Cardolan and surrounded Amon Sûl. After a fierce siege the Dúnedain of Arnor were defeated, the tower of Amon Sûl destroyed, and King Arveleg slain. However, the Witch-king's victory was not complete, as the palantír of Amon Sûl, the greatest of the three in the north, was carried back in retreat to Fornost.

After the destruction of Amon Sûl, the power of Arnor to resist the army of Angmar was severely weakened. The tower's destruction meant that the army of Angmar had now made the fortified line along the Weather Hills untenable, and its forces gained easy access to the heart of Arnor. Rhudaur was now absorbed by Angmar and populated by evil men subject to the Witch-King. The few Dúnedain who remained were either slain or fled far westwards, never returning to the lands now claimed by Angmar. The kingdom of Cardolan was ravaged by the forces of Angmar who entered its northern borders uncontested by the crippled army of Arthedain, and its people fled into hiding on the ancient Barrow Downs, or Tyrn Gorthad in Sindarin. It was in this desperate defence against Angmar that the last prince of Cardolan fell in battle, and he was entombed by the survivors among his people in what some say was the very same barrow that Frodo and his companions had been imprisoned during the War of the Ring.

Although the situation was dire, the young King Araphor, son of Arveleg, defended the city of Fornost against the host of Angmar. Although he was still a youth by the reckoning of his people, Araphor proved valiant, and with the help of Círdan of Lindon he repulsed Angmar's army from the North Downs and won a great victory. It was at this time that Angmar was subdued by Elven-folk from Lindon, Rivendell, and even Lothlórien for Elrond had brought help over the passes of the Misty Mountains. At the same time, the Stoors (one of the three peoples who were named Hobbits) who had previously dwelt in the angle between the Hoarwell and the Loudwater fled south-westwards because of the wars and the dread of Angmar, and because the land and clime of eastern Eriador worsened and became unfriendly. Some of these returned to Wilderland in Rhovanion and dwelt alongside the banks of the Gladden, becoming a riverside people of fishers, but others migrated westwards to a land known by the Dúnedain as Sûza, which the Stoors named the Shire. These peoples were granted by the eleventh king of Arthedain, Argeleb II,[19] land that had become sparsely populated by war, and dwelling there as a people became the Hobbits known by the end of the Third Age for their love of peace and domesticity.

The Great Plague[edit]

In the year TA 1636, a dark and evil plague spread across the western lands of Middle-earth, afflicting both the lands of the Dúnedain and their enemies. Elsewhere in Middle-earth the plague decimated the people's of Rhovanion and Gondor, but in the north it spread across Minhiriath and Cardolan and destroyed the remnants of the Dúnedain who were living on the Barrow-Downs. This plague utterly eliminated the realm of Cardolan, and the Witch-king, seeing an opportunity, sent evil spirits out of Angmar to inhabit the land of the Dúnedain's burial grounds. These spirits became known as the Barrow Wights which would forever after become a source of dread for all those that lived nearby, and would make the once sacred Barrow-downs a place of great evil. The Hobbits who had only recently settled in the Shire suffered immense loss as well, with many thousands perishing as a result of the plague. However, the plague lessened in effect at it spread northwards, until the northern regions of Arthedain including Fornost were scarcely affected, and continued to repel the assaults of Angmar.

The next several centuries following the Great Plague were spent with both Arnor and Angmar recovering their strength for a final confrontation, although it proved to be that the evil folk that inhabited Angmar multiplied and made ready for war much faster than did the surviving folk of Arthedain. The final decades of Arthedain were spent in desperate battle with Angmar, and although King Araval won a great victory against Angmar in TA 1851 in conjunction with the Elves,[20] it alone could only delay the inevitable.

Fall of Arnor[edit]

The final battle between Arnor and Angmar occurred in TA 1974, when a great army came out of Angmar with the intent of destroying Arnor's capital of Fornost. Warnings and calls for aid were sent to Arnor's sister realm of Gondor in the south in the fall of TA 1973, but by the time that aid could come to Lindon it was already far too late. Fornost had fallen, and the majority of the surviving Dúnedain of Arnor were slaughtered. Although the last king of Arthedain, Arvedui, had escaped the fall of his city, and his son fled westwards with the survivors of his people, the people of Arnor had been utterly defeated. The ensuing Battle of Fornost saw the forces of Gondor and the Elves defeat Angmar, but Arnor was no more. All the vast lands of Eriador that had once been tamed by the Dúnedain fell wild and overgrown, and the only surviving peoples were those in the Shire and Bree, until the Reunited Kingdom reclaimed the land in the Fourth Age.

Kin-strife[edit]

The Kin-strife was a disastrous civil war in Gondor.

The unrest that created the Kin-strife began when Valacar, the son of the Gondorian king Rómendacil II, married a woman of the Northmen of Rhovanion, Vidumavi. She bore him a son Eldacar, but many Gondorians of Númenórean blood were angered by this mixing of blood of Middle Men and Númenóreans, and the coastal provinces grew increasingly restless as Valacar aged.

When in 1432 of the Third Age Eldacar succeeded his father the unrest grew into open rebellion, as many Gondorians saw Eldacar as a halfbreed who had no right to rule. The chief of them was his distant relative Castamir the Usurper, Captain of Ships, who in T.A. 1437 besieged Eldacar in Osgiliath and forced him into exile. During the siege Osgiliath was burned, and the great Dome of Stars was destroyed, and the palantír kept there was lost. Castamir also murdered Eldacar's son and heir Ornendil. Eldacar fled to his relatives in Rhovanion.

A full decade later, in T.A. 1447, a rebellion against Castamir's cruel rule took place, and Eldacar returned with Rhovanion troops. Many Dúnedain joined him. Eldacar managed to kill Castamir at the Battle of the Crossings of Erui, but Castamir's sons and many of their supporters fled south. After a siege lasting a year Pelargir fell to Eldacar and the surviving rebels left for Umbar. Eldacar could not follow them, as the fleet was under Castamir's control.

Not only did Gondor lose the city of Umbar for four centuries and gain a new enemy in the Corsairs of Umbar, descendants of Castamir's sons, but also many of the Númenóreans of purest blood were killed during the civil war, leaving Gondor weakened.

The Kin-strife was, along with the Great Plague, one of the chief reasons for the abandonment of the fortresses in and surrounding Mordor, and the first disaster leading to Gondor's slow decline. Another reason for the abandoning of the provinces of Gondor in Mordor was because of the increasing threat of the ringwraiths.

Battle of the Camp[edit]

The Battle of the Camp is recounted in The Silmarillion, the Appendices of The Return of the King, and Unfinished Tales. "Battle of the Camp" refers mainly to the final battle of the conflict of Gondor with the Wainriders.

In the year 1945 of the Third Age, the Wainrider people from the east made an alliance with the Haradrim, and a dual attack on Ithilien was launched. While the Wainriders assaulted Ithilien from the north, the armies of the Haradrim crossed the Poros and invaded South Ithilien.

The northern assault of the Wainriders was met by the King of Gondor himself, Ondoher, with his two sons Artamir and Faramir. The Easterlings swept through Gondor's forces, cutting down the King and his heirs and routing his army. Their victory complete, and with Gondor seemingly defenseless before them, the Wainriders paused in North Ithilien to celebrate their conquest.

Their allies in the south had met with much less success. The Gondorian Captain Eärnil had led Gondor's smaller Southern Army to victory over the Haradrim, destroying their army in South Ithilien, to the north of the Poros. After his victory, Eärnil turned north.

The feasting Wainriders suddenly found their success reversed, as Eärnil appeared with his Southern Army, reinforced by fleeing members of Ondoher's defeated northern troops. Eärnil's army descended on the unprepared Wainriders, driving many of them into the swamplands of the Dead Marshes. That eastern people, for so long a dreaded enemy of Gondor, never marched against Gondor again. The battle was named after where it had taken place: the Battle of the Camp.

Because there was no heir apparent to the throne, Ondoher and his sons having been killed in the battle, Eärnil was chosen as King by Pelendur, the Steward of Gondor. Eärnil was elected king for his deeds, heritage, and because of the Steward's influence, however he was still of the royal house since he was a direct male-line descendant of King Telumehtar Umbardacil. Eärnil however was not of the ruling line, as his great-grandfather Arciryas was the brother of Narmacil II.

The initial attack by the Wainriders is expanded in more detail in the Unfinished Tales chapter Cirion and Eorl. There, it states that the Wainriders attempted two invasions of Gondor. In both wars, the Éothéod (also known as the Northmen) were allies of Gondor, long before the formal pact of Cirion and Eorl which saw them move to Rohan.

During the first attack, Narmacil II was slain but his son Calimehtar (Ondoher's father) rallied the armies of Gondor and counter-attacked forty years later at Dagorlad. In the nick of time, the famed cavalry of the Éothéod attacked the Wainriders in the flank and caused the latter to break and flee. Calimehtar then withdrew as his army had lost one third of its strength, but the Éothéod harried the Wainriders as they fled, inflicting great loss on the Easterlings. The Éothéod had their own feud with the Wainriders, who had captured and enslaved many of their homes before the invasion of Gondor. Simultaneously as Calimehtar fought the Wainriders, the Northmen captives rebelled, though since the insurgency was made up of mostly boys and old men, they suffered heavy losses against the Easterling guards.

The second attack was where Ondoher was slain and Eärnil destroyed the Wainriders in the Battle of the Camp. Though Gondor had raised an army to meet the threat, and also divided up the forces to deal with the southern attack from Harad, Ondoher had underestimated the direction and suddenness of the initial Wainrider charge and was slain along with his son Artamir and most of his guard. Indeed, the unanticipated success of the Wainriders' assault was also their undoing, as Ondoher's nephew Minohtar managed to rally the disorderly forces of Gondor, preventing their wholesale destruction. As the situation improved for the time and as they were joined with their Éothéod allies, Minohtar gave an order to be sent to Minas Tirith which proclaimed that Faramir was now the King. It was then that the leader of the Éothéod said that Faramir had been slain. Faramir was initially ordered to remain in Minas Tirith as regent but went battle in disguise and was killed; the Éothéod found tokens on his body indicating that he was the Prince. On the thirteenth day of battle, Gondor's rearguard was unable to check the Wainriders' advance into Ithilien and Minohtar was slain by an arrow. The men of Gondor carried his body out of the fray and fled, but the Wainriders halted their advance to hold a feast.

Battle of Fornost[edit]

The Battle of Fornost was fought in the year 1975 of the Third Age by an army under Eärnur, Crown-Prince of Gondor, against Angmar, under its Witch-king, the Lord of the Ringwraiths.

While the battle was a success in the fact that Angmar was defeated, it came too late for Gondor's sister-realm of Arnor (the last remaining part of Arnor, Arthedain had been conquered a year before in 1974, and the last King of Arnor Arvedui had drowned in the Ice-Bay of Forochel).

The battle was named for Fornost the old capital city of Arthedain, and was fought in the plains before the city. With Gondor came Men from Rhovanion, Elves from Lindon, and the remainder of the Dúnedain of Arnor (among them Aranarth the Crown-Prince of Arthedain), and, according to the Hobbits, a company of archers from the Shire, who never returned.

Angmar rode west to meet the assault, and seeing this, the cavalry of Gondor under Eärnur rode north into the Hills of Evendim to wait in ambush. As the main army of Gondor met the enemy and the battle began, the cavalry of Gondor attacked Angmar in the rear. Realizing that his forces were being completely destroyed, the Witch-king of Angmar fled away east. Eärnur rode after him, but his horse shied away. Then Glorfindel attacked, and the Witch-king fled east to escape Glorfindel's wrath, disappearing from the north. At this time Glorfindel prophesied the Witch-king would fall not "by the hand of man". The Witch-king was later killed in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields by Merry and Éowyn who were a Hobbit and a woman respectively and were as such "no man."

Thus the north was freed from the evil of Angmar, but Arnor was no more: those that remained of its people became the Rangers of the North.

Fall of Khazad-Dûm[edit]

By the middle of the Third Age, the Dwarf realm of Khazad-Dûm had become the longest surviving city in all of Middle-earth. Since its foundation in the First Age by Durin the Deathless, the wealth and power of Khazad-Dûm had greatly increased. The great fortune of Khazad-Dûm had always been built upon the seemingly endless veins of Mithril that had been found there, for it could not be mined anywhere else in Middle-earth. Mithril was coveted by all the people of Middle-earth; it was traded with the men from the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor for great value, and it was loved by the Elves, who created many fair things out of it such as the Ithildin that was to be found on the West-gate of Khazad-Dûm.

However, it came to be that the source of Khazad-Dûm's power and prestige was also its downfall. As the centuries passed, the Dwarves mined deeper and deeper for Mithril, and their mines extended far below into the roots of the Misty Mountains. It was during the year TA 1980, when King Durin VI was king in Khazad-Dûm, that the mining of Mithril awoke a great terror that had slumbered beneath the mountains since the end of the First Age of the world; a Balrog of Morgoth. The Dwarves had unknowingly caused their own doom, and although they tried to resist with all the power at their disposal, the Balrog was too great and terrible a foe. Durin VI was slain, and the year after in TA 1981 his son Náin I was killed as well in a desperate defense of his kingdom.

Thus it was that the people of Khazad-Dûm were either slain or fled far away. Some of the remaining refugees settled in the Dwarf-colony of Erebor, but most fled northeastwards and came to settle in the Grey Mountains, or Ered Mithrin. Khazad-Dûm itself became a dark and abandoned place, and was thereafter named Moria by the Elves, which is Sindarin for Black Pit. Although Durin's Folk long afterwards sought to reclaim their ancestral home from the Balrog that had claimed it, they were unsuccessful until the Fourth Age when an expedition led by Durin VII finally re-settled it until the days of the Dwarves were ended.

Battle of the Field of Celebrant[edit]

The Battle of the Field of Celebrant was a fierce battle which ultimately led to the creation of the kingdom of Rohan. It was fought on the Field of Celebrant, a region of grassland, bordered in the east by the great river Anduin, to the north by the wood of Lothlórien, to the south by the river Limlight and to the west by the Misty Mountains. It received its name from the river that ran through Lothlórien.

In the year 2510 of the Third Age, a fierce group of Easterlings, known as the Balchoth, waged open war against a weakened Gondor, and had already overrun most of Gondor's northern provinces. Gondor had no allies left east of Anduin, and against hope had sent three pairs of messengers north to the Éothéod, ancient allies of Gondor.

In T.A. 2510 the Balchoth crossed Anduin, via the shallow Undeeps, passing into the Wold in the north of the Gondorian province of Calenardhon. They met little resistance as Calenardhon had been sparsely populated since the Plague of T.A. 1636, and by the time the North Army of Gondor appeared from the South of Calenardhon, the bulk of the Balchoth army had already crossed. The North Army counter-attacked, and was driven North over the River Limlight and onto the Field of Celebrant, cut off from the later reinforcements by the Balchoth host. By the time the South Army appeared, the North Army had come under attack by an Orc band which by chance or design had descended from the mountains, and the Dúnedain were backed against the river in a hopeless situation.

At this time the Éothéod under their leader Eorl the Young suddenly appeared, unexpected by friend or foe. Eorl had received the message from the last messenger, Borondir (the only one to survive the journey), and had rushed south.

The Éothéod also crossed the Anduin at the Undeeps of the river, and broke on the rear of the Balchoth. The Balchoth were completely defeated and the Gondorian armies saved. The Éothéod continued their foray into northern Gondor, scattering and destroying all the Balchoth in Calenardhon.

After the Battle the Steward of Gondor Cirion gave the Éothéod the entire land of Calenardhon to dwell in as thanks. Eorl and Cirion swore an oath of eternal allegiance on the hill of Amon Anwar. The Éothéod founded the kingdom of Rohan.

War of the Dwarves and Dragons[edit]

The War of the Dwarves and Dragons was fought from the year 2570 to 2589 of the Third Age between the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains and the great fire-drakes that came down from the Northern Waste.[21] After the Fall of Khazad-Dûm in T.A. 1981, the majority of those Dwarves who fled their downfallen kingdom escaped through the East Gate of Moria and into the vast lands of Rhovanion. These Dwarven refugees were under the leadership of Thráin I, grandson of Durin VI who had been killed the year earlier. The Dwarves of Khazad-Dûm had already had many well established mining colonies scattered throughout the lands east of the Misty Mountains, which included the colony of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, as well as the rich mines and delvings in the Ered Mithrin to the far north. Thus it was that in the centuries that followed the greater part of the Dwarves relocated to their many halls in the Grey Mountains, which were rich in many ores, and they prospered and grew powerful in relative peace.

However, the lands to the north of the Grey Mountains were the abode of the great fire-drakes known as the dragons. The defeat of Morgoth in the War of Wrath left the Dragons few and weak, hiding in the far north of Middle-earth. But over the millennia the Dragons multiplied and became strong once again. Even centuries before the beginning of the war, the Dragon Scatha had stolen treasure from the Dwarves and kept it in his hoard. Therefore when the dragons of the north felt their power was enough to overcome the Dwarves, and having heard tell of the great treasure hoards that the folk of Durin were amassing, they descended upon the Dwarves and brutally attacked their halls and mines. The dragons sought all that which the Dwarves had lusted after, their great stores of gold and jewels and precious ores, and these they found in abundance. In all the war lasted for almost twenty years, but in T.A. 2589 the Dragons attacked the halls of King Dáin I, and outside the city a great Cold-drake killed the king and his second son Frór.

After this defeat, most of Durin's folk abandoned the Grey Mountains. King Thrór and some of his followers went back to the former Dwarven dwelling of Erebor, while his younger brother Grór led others to the Iron Hills. After this the Dwarves of the Iron Hills as well as the Dwarves of Erebor managed to prosper for the next couple of centuries, however the threat of Dragons would revisit them. In T.A. 2770, Smaug flew south from the North with a force like a hurricane and attacked the wealthy Dwarven Kingdom of Erebor, driving the Dwarves from yet another of their ancestral halls.

Battle of Greenfields[edit]

The Battle of Greenfields was fought in the year 2747 of the Third Age in the Shire's Northfarthing. A band of Orcs from the Misty Mountains, led by a chief called Golfimbul, was confronted by Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took, younger brother to the Thain of the Shire, and a force of hobbits. Golfimbul was killed and the orcs were defeated. According to legend, Bullroarer decapitated the orc chieftain with one swing of his club; Golfimbul's head rolled down a rabbit hole, and thus the game of golf was allegedly invented.[22] This event preceded the War of the Ring by more than 250 years.[22]

War of the Dwarves and Orcs[edit]

The War of the Dwarves and Orcs was a great war fought between the two races. Accounts of the war are found in The Lord of the Rings Appendix A and History of Middle-earth Volume XII.

The War began when the elderly exiled Dwarven King Thrór, heir of Durin, wandered alone into Moria and was murdered by Azog the Orc in 2790 of the Third Age. Not only did Azog murder him, but branded his own name upon the Dwarf's severed head — the body was hacked to pieces and fed to the crows. Azog gloated over this act and not only prevented the Dwarves from recovering Thrór's head but insultingly tossed a money bag in mock "payment" for the head.

From T.A. 2790 to 2793 the Longbeards that were Durin's folk responded to this insult by gathering their forces, calling on all the other Dwarf houses for help. In T.A. 2793 the combined armies of the Dwarves attacked, sacking one by one all the Orc-holds of the Misty Mountains from Mount Gundabad in the north to the peak of Methedras in the south.

Most of the war was fought underground, in the great mines and tunnels of the Misty Mountains, where Dwarves excel in combat, and as such they went unaided by the other Free Peoples. The war was said to be very terrible, with neither side showing any mercy. The Dwarves had the upper hand, however, thanks to their prowess and their superior weapons and the great wrath that was in them.

The war climaxed in T.A. 2799, when a final battle was fought in the valley outside the eastern gates of Moria, the Battle of Nanduhirion (Sindarin) or Azanulbizar (Khuzdul). It was later said that the memory of that battle still causes "Orcs to shudder and Dwarves to weep." The battle initially went against the Dwarves, for the Orcs had the high ground and the greater numbers, and being a dark day in winter there was no sun to bother the orcs. The tide was only turned when a last contingent of fresh warriors from the Iron Hills, led by Náin son of Grór, arrived to reinforce the wavering Dwarves. Azog was slain by Dáin Ironfoot, son of Náin, and his head stuck on a pike with the money bag stuck inside the mouth. The Orc-host suffered vast casualties with some 10,000 killed and the remnant routed.[23]

After the battle, Thráin II son of Thrór wanted to enter Moria and reclaim it, but the Dwarves not of Durin's folk refused, saying they had honoured Durin's memory by fighting, and this was enough. What remained of Durin's folk could not alone muster a force strong enough to enter Moria. Most importantly Dáin, who alone had looked into the threshold of Moria, saw that the Balrog, called Durin's Bane, was still present. Since the Balrog was beyond the ability of the Dwarves to defeat (as they had learned to their cost when it drove them from Moria more than nine hundred years before) Thráin was forced to withdraw.

The war was also very costly for the Dwarf race, as nearly half of those involved were killed or seriously wounded.[24] Náin son of Grór, Frerin second son of Thráin II, and Fundin son of Farin, the father of Balin were among the more noted casualties. Thráin II himself lost an eye, and his elder son Thorin earned his epithet "Oakenshield" after he used an oak branch to defend himself after being wounded.

After the battle the Dwarves stripped their dead, and lacking the time or resources for proper tombs cremated them. The war proved something of a pyrrhic victory, since while Thrór was avenged the cost to the Dwarven race had been massive, and they remained exiled from Moria (due to the Balrog) and the Lonely Mountain (due to Smaug). Though Durin's folk would regroup at the Blue Mountains and regain some prosperity after the war, it would be another one hundred and forty years before Thráin's son Thorin led the expedition that retook Erebor and more than two hundred until Gandalf finally destroyed the Balrog, clearing the path to retake Moria.

During the conflict many Orcs fleeing south through Rohan, trying to claim a refuge in the White Mountains beyond, troubled the Rohirrim for two generations. Other effects of the war were that the Orcs of the Misty Mountains virtually disappeared as a threat for Eriador and Wilderland: the goblins of the High Pass near Rivendell were some of the few survivors.

150 years later the Orcs of the North still had not fully recovered, but their population was further reduced during the Battle of Five Armies in 2941, where Bolg son of Azog tried to avenge his father; Bolg was killed by Beorn.

Battle of the Five Armies[edit]

For the third part of the Hobbit film trilogy, see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

The Battle of the Five Armies, depicted in The Hobbit, was fought by the Goblins and the Wargs of Moria, Gundabad and the Misty Mountains against the Men of the Long Lake, the Elves of Mirkwood, the Dwarves on and near the Lonely Mountain and the great Eagles of the Misty Mountains. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf the Grey, and Beorn, are important characters involved.

Smaug was a dragon who had destroyed the dwarven kingdom of Erebor, below the Lonely Mountain (Sindarin Erebor), and the neighbouring wealthy town of Dale many years before, driving Thorin II Oakenshield, heir of Durin, into exile. Smaug stole all the treasure of Erebor and Dale, gathering it into a deep chamber under the Mountain, where he lived thereafter.

Prior to the battle, Esgaroth, the town of the Men of the Long Lake, was attacked by Smaug, who had discovered Thorin's secret expedition, and had found out who had aided them — the Men of the Long Lake. Bard the Bowman, the heir of the Lords of Dale, killed the dragon. However, the town was destroyed in the process.

The Wood elves learned that Smaug was dead, and wanted a share of the ancient dwarves' treasure. Hearing of the Lake men's trouble, they changed course and left supplies there. The Men of the Long Lake who were still unharmed marched with the Elves north to the Mountain, because some of the treasure belonged to Bard, and because they wanted compensation for their losses. However, Thorin refused them any treasure.

Thorin's company was then trapped in a bloodless siege, with Thranduil, King of Mirkwood, and Bard hoping to wait him out. However, Thorin had sent messages of his plight to his relatives using talking messenger Ravens that lived on the Lonely Mountain. These reached Dáin II Ironfoot of the nearby Iron Hills, and he marched to Erebor with over 500 heavily armed dwarves, most of them skilled veterans of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. When Dáin's forces arrived, battle was almost joined between the two sides but at the last moment Gandalf intervened between the two and revealed that while they were bickering amongst themselves, the Goblins of the Misty Mountains and Grey Mountains under Bolg were using the opportunity to march against them. They had been incited by Gandalf's earlier slaying of the Great Goblin, but had now mobilized for a full-scale attack after hearing news of the death of the Dragon and the now relatively unguarded treasure hoard.

The three commanders agreed that the Goblins were the enemies of all, and previous grievances between them were put on hold in face of the greater threat. They arranged their forces on the two spurs of the Mountain that lined the valley leading to the now-sealed off great gate; the only entrance to the Mountain. The Dwarves and Lake-men formed up on one spur and the Elves on the other, while a light rear-guard lined across the mouth of the valley to lure the Goblins between the two, and thus destroy them. Bilbo Baggins hid himself with his ring, hoping to avoid the battle.

Soon the Goblins and Wargs arrived, and at first the plan worked: they were lured into the choke point by a thin line of men of Lake-town and took heavy losses. However, due to their inferior numbers, the allied Free Folk did not hold the advantage long. The second wave of Goblins and Wargs was even worse than the first, and now many Goblins scaled the mountain from the opposite side, attacking the arrayed forces from above and behind as the main wave pressed forward. The battle raged across the Mountain. Then a great noise was heard: Thorin and his 12 Dwarf companions inside the mountain had thrown down the stone wall they had erected across the mouth of the gates, killing many Goblins. Thorin and his companions then charged out to join the battle, covered from head to toe in the finest armour and weapons contained in the treasure hoard of Erebor. Thorin advanced through the Goblins' ranks all the way up to the gigantic Goblins that formed the bodyguard of Bolg, whom he could not get past. He was outflanked and surrounded, and was forced to form his troops into a great circle.

As the battle was turning fully against the Free Folk, a large force of Eagles of the Misty Mountains arrived, led by the Lord of the Eagles. Bilbo was the first to spot their entrance on the scene and began shouting that "the Eagles are coming!", a shout that was then continued among the other troops of the Free Folk. At this point Bilbo was knocked in the head by a large stone thrown by a goblin from above, and he passed out. With the support of the Eagles, who cast down the goblins from the mountain itself, the Free Folk were freed to fight on just one front in the valley rather than have to divide themselves, the battle turned back against the Goblins. Then Beorn himself arrived at the battle, apparently having heard news that a large army of Goblins was on the move. This time he did not appear in his former shape of a large Man, but had changed his skin to that of a huge bear. Beorn drove through the Goblin lines, but paused to carry the wounded Thorin out of the battle with his paw. Beorn then returned to the battle, his wrath redoubled, and smashed the ranks of the bodyguard of Bolg, pulling down that great goblin and crushing him in ruin before the Goblin horde. The Goblins then panicked and scattered, to be picked off by hunting forces from the victors.

Thorin had been mortally wounded on the field, and his nephews Fíli and Kíli died defending him as he lay on the ground. Thorin died soon after the battle, after meeting Bilbo one last time.

After defeating the Goblins and Wargs, the victors divided the treasure. Bard took Bilbo's fourteenth share of the gold and silver in return for the Arkenstone, whereupon he shared his reward with the Master of Lake-town and gave the Elven-king Thranduil the emeralds of Girion. Bilbo, despite having forfeited his share, was offered the richest reward for helping the other dwarves of the expedition out of many dangers, but, anticipating difficulty transporting the load back home, and not being too fond of treasure, refused to take more than two small chests of gold and silver and his small suit of mithril chainmail.

Depictions in other media[edit]

The battle is featured in the animated version of The Hobbit, where many more of Thorin's company die.

TSR, Inc. released two editions of a war-game based on "The Battle of Five Armies," designed by Larry Smith in the 1970s using cardboard tokens and a map of the area around the Lonely Mountain as a game area. The game was criticized for a lack of clarity in the rules, and praised for evoking the onslaught of the Warg and Goblin army.[25]

In 1985 Iron Crown Enterprises released their version of The Battle of Five Armies[26] developed by Richard H. Britton, Coleman Charlton, and John Crowell, again taking the theme of a wargame and using card counters and a paper map.

The multi-Origin Award-winning Middle-earth Strategic Gaming (formerly Middle-earth Play-by-Mail) uses the Battle of Five Armies as an introductory scenario to the full game and includes characters and armies from the book.[27]

In 2005, Games Workshop released a Battle of Five Armies tabletop wargame, designed by Rick Priestley using highly detailed 10 mm figures sculpted by Mark Harrison, based on Games Workshop's Warmaster rules and designed for the home player.[28][29]

The Battle will serve as the climax of The Hobbit film adaptations. The third film in the series is The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

War of the Ring[edit]

Main article: War of the Ring

The War of the Ring was fought between Sauron and the free peoples of Middle-earth for control of the One Ring and dominion over the continent. It took place at the end of the Third Age. Together with the Quest of Mount Doom, it is one of the overarching events of The Lord of the Rings.

First Battle of the Fords of Isen[edit]

Théodred, son of King Théoden of Rohan, was alerted by his scouts to the mustering taking place in Isengard. He manned both sides of the ford and went forward leaving three companies of riders to guard the eastern side. Early in the morning, he crossed over to the western side with a force mainly consisting of archers and cavalry. He planned to take the forces of Uruk-hai by surprise.

However, Saruman had tricked the scouts; his army was already marching out to attack the ford. Twenty miles to the north of the ford, Théodred encountered the vanguard of the Uruk-hai and quickly cut through their lines. He then charged at the main force, who were prepared for the attack and were stationed behind trenches planted with pikes. Reinforcements came out of Isengard and outflanked the cavalry, nearly surrounding them. Hastily, Théodred ordered a retreat; but the Uruk-hai could not be shaken off that easily. Grimbold, who was in command of the Rohirrim rearguard, had to cut down their pursuers many times.

Saruman's eastern force was much smaller but more dangerous. It contained mounted Dunlendings, Warg riders, half-orcs, and Uruk-hai berserkers. The Rohirrim guard on the eastern side of the ford had been driven into retreat, and their attackers recrossed the ford to attack Théodred on both sides. Théodred and his men had dismounted on an islet to cover Grimbold's retreat. At the same time Grimbold's force was being attacked from the western side, and as Grimbold looked east, he saw Théodred's force being driven from the islet to a hill. Grimbold and a few men raced toward Théodred's position. Théodred was cutting his way through the Uruk-hai lines. But by the time Grimbold reached him, Théodred had fallen, cut down by a giant orc. Grimbold slew the orc and then found himself defending Théodred's body from orcs. He himself would have been killed had it not been for Elfhelm.

Elfhelm had been leading four companies towards Helm's Deep, when it was reported to him that two Warg Riders had been spotted. He rode at full speed to the ford and, seeing the situation, ordered his men to charge. Before long his men held the western side of the ford. They then charged on the islet. From this surprise attack most of the Uruk-hai retreated toward Isengard. When they reached the islet they found Grimbold defending Théodred's body against two huge orcs. Elfhelm rushed to his aid and felled one orc while Grimbold slew the other.

When they lifted Théodred's body, they found he was still alive. He lived long enough only to say, "Let me lie here—to keep the ford until Éomer comes." The enemy attack ended by nightfall. The Rohirrim had held the ford, but suffered heavy losses and were now leaderless.

Second Battle of the Fords of Isen[edit]

The command of the ford was given to Erkenbrand of the Westfold. However, until he arrived from Helm's Deep, Grimbold held the position. Elfhelm did not want to hold the Fords, as he argued that it provided little defence, but Grimbold was not willing to wholly abandon it, partially due to the tradition of Westfold. The two commanders later reached a compromise.

Grimbold decided to place foot soldiers at the ford and put Elfhelm's men on the east side where he expected the attack to come from.

Saruman sent a small force, but which was still enough to outnumber the defenders. The attackers forced Grimbold to retreat across the ford with heavy losses. Grimbold held the eastern side of the ford and waited for Elfhelm to come to his aid. More than half of Saruman's force was attacking Grimbold's position.

Some warg riders and their followers pushed through the gap between the two Rohirrim forces and tried to surround Elfhelm. Although he knew Grimbold was in danger, Elfhelm retreated eastwards. Grimbold was still holding his position when he saw torches coming from the north and from Isengard — the vanguard of Saruman's reinforcements advancing towards him. Before he knew it, they had crossed the ford. He could not hold the ford so he retreated to his camp and made a shield wall around it.

Even though the Rohirrim were surrounded, the forces of Isengard could not break through. Grimbold knew he could not hold out forever. With no sign of Elfhelm and no help from Erkenbrand, he decided to try to break out. He mounted all the riders for whom he had horses and made a gap on the east side of the wall through which the riders passed. They formed into two groups and attacked the north and south sides simultaneously. In the ensuing confusion, the remaining Rohirrim retreated on foot as quickly as they could in the dark.

Battle of the Hornburg[edit]

The Battle of the Hornburg is a fictional battle in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings. Published in the volume The Two Towers, it is recounted in the chapter "Helm's Deep", and the aftermath is briefly shown in the next one, "Flotsam and Jetsam".

The battle pitted the forces of the Wizard Saruman against the Rohirrim under King Théoden, who had taken refuge in the mountain fortress of the Hornburg at Helm's Deep.

After being released from his malevolent adviser Gríma Wormtongue's influence by the benevolent Wizard Gandalf, Théoden set out to the Fords of Isen, where his marshal Erkenbrand was fighting Saruman's forces. However, Théoden found out that they had been scattered. Gandalf advised him to take refuge in the Hornburg fortress of Helm's Deep, an area named after one of their kings. Then Gandalf left on some unexplained errand. Théoden's army went to the area, where local people were commanded by a captain called Gamling the Old. Many of the forces there were too old or too young. The women and children of Théoden's capital Edoras were safe in Dunharrow, led by the King's niece Éowyn.

The forces of Saruman, common Orcs and Uruk-hai, along with some orc-human hybrids (called "half-orcs and goblin-men" — which may have referred to or included the Uruk-hai themselves) and human Dunlendings, arrived at the valley of Helm's Deep in the middle of the night during a storm. Meanwhile, Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf agreed to compete, to see which one could kill the most orcs.

The attackers quickly scaled over the first defence, Helm's Dike, forcing the defenders there to fall back to the fortress. When the Orcs were close, the defenders drove them back with arrows and stones, but they managed to get close to the wall after multiple charges. They attempted to break down the gate with a battering ram, but a sortie led by Aragorn and Éomer scattered the forces.

The Orcs and Dunlendings then raised hundreds of ladders to scale the wall. Aragorn and Éomer repeatedly motivated the tired defenders to repel the Orcs coming up the ladders. However, some Orcs had crept in through a culvert which let a stream out of Helm's Deep, and while the defenders were busy with the assault on the wall, they were suddenly attacked from behind. This was repulsed and the culvert was blocked up under Gimli's supervision.

However, the enemies re-entered the culvert and blasted a wide hole in the wall using an ambiguous explosive device invented by Saruman, a "blasting-fire". The defenders then retreated to the Glittering Caves, Éomer and Gimli among them.

Soon Saruman's forces broke through the gate and gained entrance to the fortress. At this moment, however, the horn of King Helm was sounded, and a cavalry charge led by Théoden and Aragorn rode forth, followed by all the Rohirrim left inside. They cut their way through the Orcs and broke free.

Both armies then noticed that many Huorns had moved to block a possible escape route for the Orcs. Then Gandalf arrived on Shadowfax, with Erkenbrand and a thousand infantry — the remaining strength of the Rohirrim that had been routed at the Fords of Isen. They charged into the fray. The Dunlendings were so terrified of Gandalf that they could no longer fight. The Orcs lost control and ran into the "forest" of Huorns, where they were completely annihilated.

After the battle, those Dunlendings who surrendered were given amnesty by King Théoden and allowed to return home (much to their surprise, since Saruman had told them that the men of Rohan would burn all survivors alive). The Rohirrim required that all hostilities cease, and that the Dunlendings retreat behind the River Isen again and never recross while bearing arms.

Among the Rohirrim dead was Háma, captain of Théoden's personal guard and doorward of his hall (he plays a significant role in the previous chapter, "The King of the Golden Hall"). Gimli was wounded, but had killed 42 to Legolas' 41.

The event is sometimes called the Battle of Helm's Deep, a title which was never used by Tolkien but which is often used by readers and other fans, this has led to the misconception that the term "Helm's Deep" refers to the fortress. Properly speaking, the fortress is the Hornburg (Anglo-Saxon = horn fortress) and Helm's Deep is the ravine behind it. In one of his letters regarding a proposed film adaptation, Tolkien protested the use of Helm's Deep, stating that, "the 'defence of the Hornburg' would be a better title, since Helm's Deep, the ravine behind, is not shown" (Letters, 210).

Destruction of Isengard[edit]

The Destruction of Isengard is a fictional battle from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. It is an important event in the War of the Ring because it signifies the destruction of Saruman's army production facilities.

After a three day long Entmoot, an army of Ents and Huorns set off for the tower-fortress of Isengard, making terrifying music. They arrived and began their attack on March 2, the time of their attack was fortunate because they arrived just when the wizard Saruman was emptying Isengard for a final assault on Rohan. As a result, there were few left to defend Isengard besides Saruman himself.

Once the army of Isengard had left for Rohan, the Ents launched their attack on the walls. Attempts were made to hinder them with arrows, but these only served to irritate the attackers further, and, in a matter of minutes the gate and much of the southern wall was reduced to ruin. As Merry and Pippin later recounted to their friends, Ents are so strong that their punches can crumple iron like tinfoil, and they can tear apart solid rock like breadcrusts. A ring of Huorns surrounded Isengard and killed all escaping Orcs.

Once the gate and walls had been reduced to rubble, a young Ent named Bregalad or ‘Quickbeam’ in the Westron tongue, spotted Saruman, and made for him, shouting ‘The Tree Killer!’, for his people and all Fangorn forest in general had suffered from heavy deforestation to fuel the furnaces of Saruman. He was followed by other Ents, but Saruman narrowly succeeded in escaping into the tower of Orthanc. Once in the tower, he activated spouts and vents all over the plain, scorching many Ents who had entered the fortress. One ent, Beechbone, was unlucky enough to be caught fully in one of the fiery blasts, and the death of this ent by Saruman's fire caused the ent host to go berserk. The hobbits Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, who were present there and later narrated the battle to the Three Hunters, recounted the fury of the Ents, saying that their enraged roars were enough to crack the stones. They destroyed the buildings and machinery on the plain, but could do nothing to hurt the tower itself.

At this point the Ents took counsel, and came up with a new plan of attack. By digging trenches and destroying Saruman's dam, the Ents and Huorns diverted the course of the river Isen itself, causing it to flood the ‘bowl’ of Isengard, submerging everything but the tower and filling in all the tunnels and holes where the machinery of war had been. The destruction of Isengard was complete, although Saruman was still untouched in the tower.

Saruman’s sound defeat at the Battle of the Hornburg and the destruction of his fortress rendered him incapable of causing the West any military harm, although he still had the power of his persuasive and commanding voice, with which he could still do (and did do) further harm. Had the Ents not destroyed Isengard, although Saruman's main army had been destroyed he could still have withstood a siege with his few remaining forces behind Isengard's normally impregnable walls, and bided his time until he could renew his strength. In the films by Peter Jackson, Saruman is stabbed by Wormtongue (who perishes from an arrow from Legolas) and falls to his death from the top of Orthanc.

Tolkien later noted that the destruction of Isengard by the Ents was based on his disappointment in Macbeth; when "Birnham Wood be come to Dunsinane", Tolkien was less than thrilled that it amounted to men walking on stage with leaves in their hats. He decided that when he did that scene for himself, he would do it right.

Siege of Lórien[edit]

The Siege of Lórien (never given a proper name in the text) is a fictional event during the War of the Ring in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is an encounter between the Orcs of Dol Guldur and Mordor against the Galadhrim of Lothlórien under Celeborn and Galadriel. The battle was one of the largest of the war and the victory of the Elves allowed Celeborn to lead an assault on Dol Guldur, where Galadriel ended the evil influence of Sauron in Mirkwood.

It is unknown how the Orc army crossed the River Anduin, though the North Undeep seems the most likely crossing-point. Forces from Dol Guldur, reinforced with Orcs from Mordor assaulted Lothlórien three times, assisted at least once in a joint attack from the west by the orcs of Moria. Though the battles are not described in detail by Tolkien, the fair woods of the borders of Lothlórien suffered grievous harm by fire, but the valour of the Elves prevented the enemy from penetrating too deeply into their forest realm. Thrice the enemy attacked and the three times the assaults were driven back.

The valour of the Elven people that defended Lórien was great, though the main reason why Lórien was not conquered was a secret power that dwelt in the land, protecting it from harm and creating a powerful ward against all evil: such power was Galadriel, aided by Nenya, the Ring of Adamant. In fact, Tolkien states that the only way Lórien could have been conquered was if Sauron had come there himself to lead the attack.

The forces of Dol Guldur were defeated and fled south towards into Fangorn Forest. Treebeard and a host of Ents, having already laid ruin to Isengard some days before, set out to prevent them entering Rohan. Remnants of despairing Orcs fled eastward but were either killed by the tree-shepherds or drowned in the River Anduin.

Following the battle, Celeborn and Galadriel led the Galadhrim across the Anduin in a fleet of many small elf boats. They entered Mirkwood and attacked Dol Guldur. Then, Galadriel came forth and threw down the walls and cleansed its pits, mirroring the actions of Lúthien in Tol-Sirion, ending the grasp of evil in the forest. As news of the victory of King Elessar in the south reached the Wood Elves, Thranduil (who had recently defeated an army in the Battle of Mirkwood) met with Celeborn on April 6.

Mirkwood was divided between Thranduil (who claimed the North), the Beornings (who settled in the middle, the 'Narrows') and Celeborn who added the southern half to his realm, renaming it 'Eastern Lórien'. Despite these victories, the Elven presence in Middle-earth continued to dwindle and Galadriel departed over the Sea at the end of the Third Age.

Battle of Mirkwood[edit]

Main article: Battle of Mirkwood
The Battle under the Trees

The Battle of Mirkwood, also known as Battle Under the Trees, is an incident in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-earth. In his legendarium it takes place during the War of the Ring at the end of the Third Age.

The Battle of Mirkwood was a major and prolonged series of battles in the War of the Ring. The Orcs of Dol Guldur tried to take Mirkwood and defeat the elves there but were repulsed. Sauron's main objective in the northern theatre of the war was the assault on Lothlórien, and the majority of the forces from Dol Guldur were used to attack it. Dol Guldur used its remaining forces against Thranduil's realm, to try to secure their flank. Sauron's plan was that his Easterling allies would join the attack on Thranduil, overwhelming them, thus allowing Dol Guldur to focus all of its forces on Lothlórien. However, the Easterlings were occupied with besieging the Dwarves at Lonely Mountain, and were never able to join the attack on Thranduil. Fierce fighting raged throughout the forest, and there was "great ruin of fire"[30] as woods were set alight during the battle. King Thranduil led his elves to victory and defeated the orcs,[31] then with the help of Galadriel advanced on Dol Guldur after Sauron's fall, and destroyed the evil place.

Battle of Osgiliath[edit]

Prior to this, Sauron had regained all his military strength and was prepared to attack Middle-earth. He first planned to attack his most powerful enemy, the land of Gondor. But in order to destroy Gondor's capital, Minas Tirith, he first needed to capture Osgiliath, Gondor's former capital city, strategically positioned on the Anduin, the Great River. Fords across the river were located in Osgiliath (half of the city was located on each side of the river) that were the only path a large army could cross the Anduin for hundreds of miles up or downstream (the crossing was also possible at Cair Andros or Pelargir, but Osgiliath was the most direct). If captured, Sauron could freely move his main army across the river and to the primary target of his strategy in the war, Minas Tirith.

The battle to control the ruins of Osgiliath had actually been fought, on and off, for over a century since the fall of Ithilien to Mordor. Minas Tirith was surrounded by the Rammas Echor, a fortified wall encircling the Pelennor Fields and meeting up with Osgiliath, where the Causeway Forts were built and garrisoned, though Osgiliath itself remained in ruins. This outwall fell into disrepair as the kingdom declined.

A renewed offensive by Mordor to take the city had begun in June 3018. The Eastern half of the city soon fell to the Orcs, but they were pushed back from the western bank by Boromir who was able to destroy the last standing bridge in the city which connected the two banks of the river. This temporarily halted Mordor's offensive for the time, with Gondor possessing the West of the city and Mordor the East. This lull in Mordor's offensive was probably due to the fact that the attack was mostly a probe of Gondor's defences rather than an all out attack. During this break in heavy fighting Boromir left Gondor to seek counsel at Rivendell about a dream he and his brother shared about Isildur's Bane; he would never return.

During this time, Faramir, Boromir's brother, led several Ranger attacks deep into Mordor-occupied Ithilien, ambushing enemy armies moving to the Black Gate; Frodo and Sam stumbled into one such attack on a group of Haradrim.

When the Great Signal from Mordor went up and another answered from Minas Morgul, the War of the Ring properly began (although Isengard had been fighting before this and Sauron had been pursuing his other fronts to the north). Thus the Battle of Osgiliath was the first battle of the war in the south.

Before Mordor's assault, the Steward Denethor ordered Faramir to lead a force out of Minas Tirith to reinforce the garrison. Gandalf also went back and forth from Minas Tirith to Osgiliath, aiding Faramir and escorting the wounded. However, Mordor was prepared. Months beforehand, the Orcs in East Osgiliath had been secretly constructing massive numbers of boats and rafts, and swelled by reinforcements they swarmed across the River Anduin to the Gondorian positions on the other bank.

After long and heavy fighting the troops under Faramir's command were forced to retreat, first to the Causeway Forts on the Rammas Echor where they delayed the enemy at a great loss. The orcs blasted through the wall and the men pulled back to Minas Tirith itself. Faramir himself was badly wounded in the retreat, when a poisoned arrow pierced him while he fought off a mounted Harad champion; more severe damage was done by the Black breath of the Nazgûl, but Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth led a cavalry charge ordered by Denethor to rescue the rearguard and routed the enemy temporarily. In the meantime, the Orcs made makeshift repairs to several destroyed bridges. The main combined army of Mordor then arrived, formed from those that Frodo saw leaving Minas Morgul, but this was "but one and not the greatest of the hosts that Mordor now sent forth": a far greater army that had massed at the Black Gate joined them at Osgiliath, and the combined forces now entered the western bank of Osgiliath. More also came from the fords at Cair Andros, which was recently captured, but they would not reach Minas Tirith until later.

With Osgiliath now completely in the hands of Mordor, the vast army of Sauron marched from the city and surrounded Minas Tirith, beginning the siege of Gondor and leading directly into the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Battle of the Pelennor Fields[edit]

In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy fiction, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields is the battle for the city of Minas Tirith between the forces of Gondor and its allies, and the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron. Tolkien recounts this battle in The Return of the King, the third volume of his 1954-55 novel The Lord of the Rings as originally printed.

The battle is one of the central battles of the War of the Ring, the war in which the Third Age of Middle-earth comes to a close. It takes place on 15 March, T.A. 3019 upon the Pelennor Fields, the townlands and fields between Minas Tirith and the River Anduin.

The concept and history of composition of the battle is detailed in the fourth volume of The History of the Lord of the Rings.

The city of Minas Tirith was besieged following the fall of Osgiliath and the Rammas Echor, Gondor's final barriers against the forces of Mordor. In the retreat to the city, Faramir, son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor, was severely wounded. Since the despairing Steward refused to leave his son's side, the Wizard Gandalf took command of the city's defences.[32] Meanwhile, the enemy forces assembled before the city on the Pelennor Fields. The Great Darkness blotted out the sun.[32] The Nazgûl, Sauron's most feared servants, flew over the battlefield on fell beasts, causing the defenders' morale to waver.

Catapults and siege towers made repeated and ultimately futile attacks on the walls, but this was not their real objective: the true purpose of the siege towers was to thin out the city's defenses and draw men away from the great gate itself. Sauron's forces were finally able to breach the city gate using the giant battering ram Grond. The Witch-king entered alone at dawn and was confronted by Gandalf. However, at that moment the Rohirrim arrived and charged into battle.[32]

Sauron's army from Minas Morgul, led by the Witch-king of Angmar (chief of the Nazgûl or Ringwraiths) greatly outnumbered the combined armies of Gondor and its allies. Sauron's forces included Southrons of Harad, who brought elephantine beasts called mûmakil (or Oliphaunts), Easterlings from Rhûn and Variags from Khand, as well as great numbers of Orcs and Trolls. Tolkien describes the army as the greatest to issue from that vale since the days of Isildur's might, no host so fell and strong in arms had yet assailed the fords of Anduin; and yet it was but one and not the greatest of the hosts that Mordor now sent forth.[33]

The defenders' numbers were considerably less. Following his defeat at Osgiliath, Tolkien writes that Faramir is outnumbered by ten times and he loses one third of his men.[32] Tolkien gives a catalogue of companies from outlying provinces of Gondor that come to the aid of Minas Tirith; the contingent is numbered at less than 3,000.[34] Prominent among them were a company of knights[32][35][36] and footmen[34] of Dol Amroth, led by their lord Prince Imrahil. As Gondor's coastal towns were being attacked by the Corsairs of Umbar, the troops sent to Minas Tirith were all these areas could spare.[34][35]

6,000 Riders of Rohan (Rohirrim)[37] arrived at dawn, and over 2,000[35] Men from the coastal towns of Gondor sailed up the river. These had been relieved by a company[38] of Rangers of the North (representing Gondor's long-fallen sister realm Arnor) led by Aragorn. The Rohirrim were "thrice outnumbered by the Haradrim alone".[39]

The battle begins immediately following Gandalf's denying the Witch-king's entry into the city.

After breaking the gate with the ram Grond, the Witch-king rode under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed.[32] Gandalf, mounted upon his horse Shadowfax, stood in his way. But before the two could fight, a cock crowed, whereupon the horns of the Rohirrim were heard echoing through the arriving dawn, and the battle proper began. The Rohirrim bypassed Sauron's lookouts thanks to the mysterious Wild Men of Drúadan Forest.

After charging the ranks of Mordor, the Rohirrim secured the outer wall,[39] destroyed siege engines and camps, and drove off Haradrim cavalry. The Witch-king (on his winged fell beast) went straight for Théoden. The king's horse was killed by a dart, and it fell and crushed the king.[39]

The King's niece Éowyn (disguised as Dernhelm, a man) challenged the Witch-king. Long ago, it had been prophesied that the Witch-king would not die "by the hand of man".[40] In the ensuing combat she was gravely injured. The Hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck, who had accompanied "Dernhelm", intervened and stabbed the Witch-king with his enchanted sword. The Witch-king was bitterly wounded due to that particular sword's special magic. Éowyn then "drove her sword between crown and mantle", slaying him.[39] Both weapons that struck his undead flesh were destroyed as well.

Théoden died without realizing his niece was present. Her brother Éomer, now the king, discovered their bodies. Furious, he charged his cavalry without order into the enemy forces. Meanwhile, nearly every fighting man had left Minas Tirith to join the battle, led by Imrahil and other local captains. Imrahil rode up to Éowyn and found she still lived. She and Merry were sent to be healed in the city. The Ringwraith's Black Breath had made them both gravely ill, as with Faramir earlier.[39] Their arms were left numb and cold after striking the Witch-king, and Éowyn's other arm was broken in the mélee.

Before the Rohirrim arrived, Denethor prepared to burn himself and his son upon a funeral pyre, believing Faramir to be beyond cure. Only the intervention of the Hobbit Pippin Took, a guard named Beregond, and Gandalf saved Faramir, but Denethor immolated himself before they could stop him.[41] Tolkien indirectly states that Théoden's death could have been prevented if Gandalf had helped the Rohirrim instead, as he had intended.[41]

The battle soon turned against Gondor and their allies, despite the growing daylight. Gothmog, lieutenant of Minas Morgul, brought forward reinforcements. The forces of Mordor rallied behind the mûmakil of the Haradrim. Éomer was cut off from the Gondorians and surrounded by the enemy. As he prepared to make a last stand, he saw a fleet of enemy ships with black sails sailing up the River Anduin. They were the ships of the Corsairs of Umbar, seemingly more of Sauron's reinforcements,[39] but manned by Aragorn and his Rangers of the North, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, the Half-elven brothers Elladan and Elrohir and troops from south Gondor.[35] Much of Sauron's forces were pinned between Aragorn and Éomer's forces. The tide of battle turned in favour of Gondor, yet fighting lasted until the end of the day. A brief respite was won until the Battle of the Black Gate.[39]

Various artists have illustrated the battle or elements of it, including Alan Lee, John Howe, the Brothers Hildebrandt, and Ted Nasmith.

Sauron Defeated, the fourth volume of The History of the Lord of the Rings, part of the History of Middle-earth series, contains superseded versions of the battle. Some changes of detail are apparent. For example, Théoden dies by a projectile to the heart instead of being crushed by his horse; when Éowyn reveals her sex she has cut her hair short, a detail absent from the final version. Tolkien also considered killing off both Théoden and Éowyn.[42]

The battle has been analysed in various publications:

War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien by Tolkien scholar Janet Brennan Croft examines the influence of World War I and II on Tolkien's fantasy writings, and the development of his attitude towards war.[43]

Michael D. C. Drout's "Tolkien's Prose Style and its Literary and Rhetorical Effects", featured in the academic journal Tolkien Studies, published by West Virginia University Press, analyses Tolkien's writing style and deduces influence from and parallels with King Lear. Drout also writes about the evolution of events in the narrative using material from the History of Middle-earth series.[44]

The events of the battle are also analysed in Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination by Richard Matthews, which explores "how fantasy uses the elements of enchantment and the supernatural to explode everyday reality and create profound insights into essential human realities."[45][46]

Battle of Dale[edit]

Main article: Battle of Dale

The Battle of Dale is a fictional battle in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings during the War of the Ring. An earlier battle in the same location which re-established the Dwarven kingdom was called the Battle of Five Armies.

The Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain (also known as Erebor) and the Men of Dale refused to acknowledge the overlordship and alliance of Sauron. While his larger southern armies invaded Gondor, a Host of Easterlings advanced in the north to extend his dominion and to prevent the armies of his enemies joining together under one banner.

On March 17 of the year 3019 in the Third Age, Sauron sent a host of Easterlings to attack Dale.[47] The combined forces of the Men of Dale under King Brand and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain under King Dáin Ironfoot marched out to meet the Easterlings in battle. Sauron's forces were probably more numerous, though the armies of Dale and Erebor would have possessed an advantage due to their superior Dwarven-made weaponry. After three days of heavy close-quarters fighting, Brand and Dáin were forced to retreat to the Lonely Mountain. A few sturdy warriors led by Brand and Dáin fought bravely before the Gate of Erebor, which was not taken. Dáin was killed as he stood defending the body of his ally Brand. The defenders of the Mountain were now under siege.

The forces of Gondor and Rohan defeated the main power of Sauron in the southern theatre on March 25 and this caused the northern Easterling army to lose heart. Seeing the morale of their foes sapped, the Army of Dale under the new Kings — Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm — managed to lift the siege on March 27 and drove the Easterlings out of Dale.

The battle was very important for the future of Middle-earth. Though it could not change the outcome of the War of the Ring, which was tied to fate of the One Ring, it diverted another portion of Sauron's strength from Lórien and Rivendell,[48] and a quick complete victory by Sauron's Easterling armies would have allowed them to join up with Sauron's forces from Dol Guldur in their attacks on the woodland realm of Mirkwood. This would have enabled Mordor's armies to wreak havoc, possibly as far west as Eriador before the armies of the west defeated them.

Dale was rebuilt following the siege of the Lonely Mountain, and Thorin and Bard sent their ambassadors to King Elessar's coronation. Later, many dwarves were led south by Gimli, one of the companions of Aragorn in the War of the Ring. They colonised Aglarond, the glittering caves in Helm's Deep.

The battle was recounted in one of the appendices of The Return of the King.

Battle of the Morannon[edit]

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Battle of the Morannon or Battle of the Black Gate is a fictional event that took place at the end of the War of the Ring. It is depicted in The Return of the King, the third volume of his fantasy book The Lord of the Rings.

This was the final major battle against Sauron in the War of the Ring, fought at the Black Gate of Mordor. The Army of the West, led by Aragorn, marched on the gate as a diversionary feint to distract Sauron's attention from Frodo and Sam, who were carrying the One Ring through Mordor. It was hoped that Sauron would think Aragorn had the Ring and was now trying to use it to overthrow Mordor. As the journey progressed, Aragorn was credited openly as "the King Elessar" by their heralds to challenge Sauron, though he was not yet formally crowned.

Aragorn and the other captains had around 7,000 soldiers of Gondor and Rohan available to fight; they left some in Minas Tirith to defend against assault, and sent 3,000 Rohirrim under Elfhelm to rout another army holding the west road to Anórien. Thus they marched with about 6,000 foot and 1,000 cavalry.[35]

At the Crossroads, Aragorn and other captains left the main force for a while with a small company of troops and surveyed Minas Morgul from afar, finally setting the Morgul Vale on fire. They also left some archers to guard the Crossroads.

They were also later ambushed by Orcs and Easterlings on the very spot where Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien had ambushed a company of Haradrim some days ago, but the enemy was beaten back without much loss. However, it was realized that this was an intentionally weak feint, meant to try to lure them into thinking that Sauron's army was incapable of mounting a strong attack when in fact it was. Later, some whose fear overcame them were sent to retake and hold Cair Andros, an island in the Great River, used as a fortress by Gondor. Thus the Army of the West was less than 6,000 strong at the Black Gate.[49]

Before the battle began, Sauron sent one of his servants, the Black Númenórean called the Mouth of Sauron, to speak with the Captains of the West. He tried to trick Gandalf into believing Sauron held Frodo captive, displaying as evidence items that had belonged to Frodo and Sam (Sam's sword, an Elven cloak, and Frodo's mithril shirt.) The Mouth threatened that Frodo would be tortured if the West did not agree to Sauron's terms of surrender. (It is clear that while Sauron knew there was a Hobbit in Mordor, he did not know why.) Gandalf, however, refused to be swayed, took the items from the Mouth of Sauron, and sent him away. Amazed and angered, the Mouth of Sauron rode back to the Black Gate and the forces of Sauron advanced. At the same time, more of Sauron's forces that had been hidden in the hills around the Black Gate came forth, thus surrounding the Men of the West. Sauron's army outnumbered that of the West by at least ten to one. It is not clear who commanded the field for Sauron. The Army of the West divided itself into two rings upon two great hills of rubble opposite the gate: Aragorn, Gandalf, and the sons of Elrond were on the left ring, with Éomer, Imrahil, and the Knights of Dol Amroth on the right.

Against Aragorn's army was arrayed Sauron's hordes of Orcs, Trolls, and Mannish allies such as the Easterlings and Southrons (Haradrim). An exact count is not given of the number of Sauron's forces, though Tolkien says they were "ten times and more than ten times" the size of Aragorn's army. This puts the size of Sauron's army at greater than 60,000. The Olog-hai, improved Trolls much like the Uruk-hai were improved Orcs, first made an appearance.

During the course of the battle, the Hobbit Peregrin Took, marching as one of the Tower Guard of Minas Tirith, managed to kill one of the Olog-hai leaders. The remaining eight Nazgûl hovered over the Army of the West and spread fear and confusion. The Eagles of the Misty Mountains, led by Gwaihir the Windlord, arrived and attacked the Ringwraiths. At that moment, when all hope seemed lost, Frodo put on the One Ring and Sauron realized that Frodo was inside Mount Doom. The Nazgûl immediately left the battle to intercept Frodo. However, Gollum bit the Ring off Frodo's finger, and then both he and the ring accidentally fell into the Crack of Doom, and Sauron's power was overthrown.

The Nazgûl flew over Mount Doom just as it underwent a gigantic volcanic eruption, and they were all destroyed in the firestorm. Barad-dûr, the Black Gate and the Towers of the Teeth collapsed to ruin as their foundations were built with the Ring's magic. Sauron's physical body perished yet again for what would be the last time. His gigantic shadow formed in the sky and reached out in wrath to the heroes, but it was blown away by a strong wind, and his spirit, which had been housed in a tall humanoid form ever since the start of the Age, was left forever bodiless and impotent.

The Orcs and other creatures of Sauron were left completely directionless with the Dark Lord's demise and were easily defeated by the Army of the West. Some slew themselves, while others fled to hide in dark places. The proud Easterlings and Southrons fought on bravely, though eventually many threw down their weapons and surrendered later to be sent home in peace by Aragorn ending the Easterlings and Southrons hate for Gondor.

Fighting against Sauron's remaining forces would continue in the northern theatre of the War of the Ring for several weeks, notably in Mirkwood, Lothlórien, Dol Guldur and at Erebor, but the power of Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, was no more.

Months later, the Battle of Bywater in the Shire against ruffians led by Saruman, and the subsequent killing of Saruman and Wormtongue on the very doorstep of Bag End, ended the War of the Ring.

Battle of Bywater[edit]

The Battle of Bywater is a battle depicted in The Lord of the Rings in the chapter "The Scouring of the Shire."

The Battle of Bywater was a battle between the Hobbits of The Shire and a band of ruffians who followed "Sharkey" (the Wizard Saruman). The battle was considered to be the last of the War of the Ring. The Shire-folk were roused by the leadership of Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) and Peregrin Took (Pippin), knights of Rohan and Gondor, respectively. Merry slew the leader of the ruffians, a squint-eyed Orcish-looking brute.

The Battle of Bywater occurred on November 3, 1419 by Shire-reckoning in the Shire Calendar (3019 of the Third Age) and was the last military engagement of the War of the Ring. It was only the second battle ever fought within the borders of the Shire since its founding over 1400 years before; the first was the Battle of Greenfields, which was fought in the year 1147 by Shire-reckoning (2747 of the Third Age).

Ruffians had been sent by Sharkey to suppress the Hobbit revolt breaking out in Bywater. However, the Hobbits' scouts gave them advanced warning. The Hobbits then devised a plan to surround and trap the ruffians when they arrived. Makeshift mobile roadblocks were made out of carts and wagons, and after the ruffians reached the centre of the town the road was blocked in front and behind them. The ruffians then tried to fight their way out through the Hobbits, some breaking through. These were then encircled and engaged until the battle was won.

The Shire Hobbits rallied under the leadership of Merry and Pippin. The courage and skill that Merry and Pippin had discovered during their journey with the Fellowship of the Ring and during the War of the Ring, had made them confident in their abilities, and this enabled them to rally the Shire-folk against the invaders. Technically, Pippin was still a Knight of Gondor, as King Elessar had not released him from service but granted him indefinite leave, and when he departed Aragorn reminded Pippin that his restored kingship now extended to the old northern lands which included the Shire. Therefore, Pippin saw himself as fighting off the ruffians with the authority of the King supporting him. Samwise Gamgee also fought in the battle. Frodo Baggins was also present at the battle, though he did not fight, explaining he wished for there to be as little death in the already troubled Shire as possible; he spent the battle making sure that ruffians who threw down their weapons were not killed. Nearly 70 ruffians were shot down or killed with other hand weapons such as axes and daggers, while 12 were taken prisoner. Others were hunted down as they escaped by Hobbit bounders roaming the woods. 19 Hobbits were slain, and 30 wounded.

The next day, Frodo, and his three companions, leading the Hobbits of the Shire, marched to Hobbiton. There Frodo confronted Saruman and exiled him from the Shire. Then Wormtongue killed Saruman by slitting his throat, on the doorstep of Bag End. Before Frodo could react, the Hobbits of the Shire shot Wormtongue dead with three arrows. Thus, the last stroke of the War of the Ring fell at the very door from which Frodo had first begun his adventure.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Book of Lost Tales 1, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-35439-0 
  2. ^ This battle has no elven name and is only known as the First Battle as a proper name. In The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV and V., the words are capitalized and the battle is what later becomes the Second Battle in the Silmarillion and the Grey Annals in HoMe XI, there lower case is used for the first but appears an editorial oversight carried over from Grey Annals to The Silmarillion.
  3. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, editor, The History of Middle-earth, (1984), Vol. II, p. 103, "...setting up kingdoms of terror of their own...".
  4. ^ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of the Years, p.364, "1693 War of the Elves and Sauron (so called) begins." History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII, p.179, "The War of the Elves and Sauron begins". (emphasis added)
  5. ^ A detailed account of this war, the War of the Last Alliance, is given in The History of Galadriel and Celeborn, Unfinished Tales, pp. 228–267.
  6. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (2005). "Appendix B". The Return of the king (50th Anniversary Edition ed.). Harper Collins. pp. The Second Age. ISBN 0-261-10325-3. 
  7. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (1977). "Akallabeth: The Downfall of Numenor". In Christopher Tolkien. The Silmarillion (1st ed.). Harper Collins. ISBN 9780048231536. 
  8. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Council of Elrond", p.256, ISBN 0-395-08254-4 
  9. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Appendix B, p.365, ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  10. ^ It is told that few Dwarves fought in the war upon either side, but that those of Durin's Folk fought on the side of the Alliance. The Silmarillion, p. 294, in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
  11. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 281: "crossed Anduin by a bridge...The Anduin could not be bridged at any lower point...", ISBN 0-395-29917-9 
  12. ^ Unfinished Tales, p. 258.
  13. ^ Unfinished Tales, p. 281.
  14. ^ Unfinished Tales, note 11 to "Disaster of the Gladden Fields".
  15. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), p. 235, ISBN 0-395-08254-4 
  16. ^ The Return of the King: Appendix A (iii), p. 322.
  17. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (2005). The Lord of the Rings Return of the King. Harper Collins. p. Appendix A. ISBN 0-261-10325-3. 
  18. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (2005). The Lord of the Rings Return of the King. Harper Collins. p. Appendix B. ISBN 0-261-10325-3. 
  19. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (2005). The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring. Harper Collins. p. Prologue. ISBN 0-261-10325-3. 
  20. ^ Tolkien, Christopher (1996). The People's of Middle Earth. Houghton Mifflin. pp. The Heirs of Elendil. ISBN 9788445073599. 
  21. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (1955). The Lord of the Rings. Harper Collins. pp. Appendix A: Durin's Folk. 
  22. ^ a b Guide to Middle Earth
  23. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII, (1996), p. 278,"...before the Gate of Moria ten thousand Orcs were slain."and from J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, Appendix A, (2nd edition 1966), p. 356, "...all his host (Azog's) in the valley was in rout..." 10,000 dead and the balance fleeing.
  24. ^ "Barely half the number of the Dwarves could stand or had hope of healing." - Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p.356
  25. ^ Easterbrook, Martin, Open Box Review White Dwarf (magazine) #3,Oct/Nov 1977 p 15
  26. ^ White Dwarf Magazine #57
  27. ^ More information can be found at: the Middle-earth Games page for the game (retrieved 25/02/08)
  28. ^ Jones, Rich, Battle of the Five Armies Rules and miniatures for recreating battles in Middle Earth, Wargames Journal 1, 2005 p.91
  29. ^ More information can be found at: Games Workshop's Specialist Games site
  30. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (1966 2nd edition), p.375
  31. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (1966 2nd edition), p.374
  32. ^ a b c d e f Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Siege of Gondor", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  33. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol", ISBN 0-395-08254-4 
  34. ^ a b c Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "Minas Tirith", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  35. ^ a b c d e Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Last Debate", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  36. ^ ...another company of five hundred horse... - "The Last Debate"
  37. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Muster of Rohan", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  38. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Passing of the Grey Company", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  40. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Appendix A, "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  41. ^ a b Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Pyre of Denethor", ISBN 0-395-08256-0 
  42. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1992), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Sauron Defeated, Boston, New York, & London: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-60649-7 
  43. ^ Croft, Janet Brennan (2004). War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-415-93890-2.  Overview/review page
  44. ^ Drout, Michael D. C. (2004). "Tolkien's Prose Style and its Literary and Rhetorical Effects". Tolkien Studies 1 (1): 137–163. doi:10.1353/tks.2004.0006. Retrieved 2007-07-31. 
  45. ^ Amazon.com book description for Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination
  46. ^ Matthews, Richard (2002). Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination. 2002. ISBN 0-415-93890-2. 
  47. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966) pp.375-376, "a host of the allies of Sauron...the Easterlings...". J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.258, Oropher raises a 'host' consisting of his "great army" and the "lesser army of Malgalad" as a part of the "great host" of the Alliance, this indicates that a 'host' is made up of two or more armies. After the Battle of Dale, Sauron's allies are described as "northern army" indicating one of the armies of the host was lost in the battle
  48. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.330, Gandalf says, in The Quest for Erebor, "those places (Lórien and Rivendell) might have fallen...if Sauron had thrown all his power against them first..."
  49. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Black Gate Opens", ISBN 0-395-08256-0