Full Index
People Index
Place Index
Creature Index
Thing Index
Event Index

The Thain's Book
An encyclopedia of Middle-earth in the Third Age

Wars & Battles

Battle of Bywater

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

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

When Frodo Baggins and his companions returned to the Shire and came to Bywater on November 2, they began to rally the Hobbits to expel the invaders. Merry Brandybuck blew the Horn of the Mark and over 200 Hobbits from the Bywater area answered the call. They drove off a group of twenty Men from Hobbiton, but the Men sent scouts to bring reinforcements from Waymeet. Pippin Took rode off to Tookland to rally the Tooks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battle of Dale

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

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

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

Appendix B of LotR: "The Tale of Years," p. 375-76

Battle of Greenfields

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

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

Other Names:
Also written as the Battle of the Green Fields.

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

Battle of Helm's Deep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Names:
Also called the Battle of the Hornburg.

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

Battle of the Five Armies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battle of the Morannon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battle of the Peak

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

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

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

Battle of the Pelennor Fields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All entries are Copyright © 2003-2005, The Thain's Book - www.tuckborough.net - email: thain at tuckborough.net