Category: gondor

Umbar was a major Númenorean
port city in Harad, off the Bay of Belfalas, that went from a major Gondorian trading port to a pirate haven. Founded by the Númenóreans during their colonizing of Middle Earth, under Ar-Pharazôn it was the staging point for his invasion and subjugation of Sauron. When Númenor collapsed the city came under the control of the King’s Men (Black Númenóreans who sided with the dark cult of Morgoth). With
Númenor destroyed and the remaining Númenorean colonies under control of
the Faithful (Those who stayed loyal to the Valar), Umbar became more closely
aligned with Morgoth’s other allies such as neighboring Harad. By the beginning
of the Third Age the city remained under Gondor’s control, and they were able
to repel many of the Harad invasions until the Kin-strife (Castamir’s attempt to seize power). The civil war weakened Gondor and allowed Umbar to become independent and the city become a corsair haven. The Corsairs of Umbar
were a mix of the King’s Men, Castamir the Usurper’s supporters from the Kin-strife, and local
Haradrim who joined the powerful city-state. Gondor was not able to reclaim the
city for hundreds of years due to the Great Plague, Mordor’s incursions into
Ithilien, and Corsair raids along the Belfalas coast. Significant battles in
the latter half of the Third Age include The Corsair raid on Pelargir which killed King Minardil. Minardil’s ancestor King Umbardacil briefly recapturing Umbar but
being ousted by the Haradrim, and Thorongil (Aragorn) leading
a raid that sabotaged the Corsair fleet just prior to the War of the Ring.
During the War of the Ring Umbar had joined Sauron and sent their remaining
fleet to attack Gondor, however Aragorn summoned the Army of the Dead
(Oathbreakers from the Second Age) to frighten and ultimately rout the
Corsairs. With the destruction of Sauron came the scattering and ruin of his
cult, and Umbar fell back into the fold of the Reunited Kingdom. Aragorn 2, Corsairs 0.

“There at
Pelargir lay the main fleet of Umbar, fifty great ships and smaller vessels
beyond count. Many of those that we pursued had reached the havens before us,
and brought their fear with them; and some of the ships had put off, seeking to
escape down the River or to reach the far shore; and many of the smaller craft
were ablaze. But the Haradrim, being now driven to the brink, turned at bay,
and they were fierce in despair; and they laughed when they looked on us, for
they were a great army still.

‘But
Aragorn halted and cried with a great voice: “Now come! By the Black Stone I
call you! “ And suddenly the Shadow Host that had hung back at the last came up
like a grey tide, sweeping all away before it. Faint cries I heard, and dim
horns blowing, and a murmur as of countless far voices: it was like the echo of
some forgotten battle in the Dark Years long ago. Pale swords were drawn; but I
know not whether their blades would still bite, for the Dead needed no longer
any weapon but fear. None would withstand them.

‘To every
ship they came that was drawn up, and then they passed over the water to those
that were anchored; and all the mariners were filled with a madness of terror
and leaped overboard, save the slaves chained to the oars. Reckless we rode
among our fleeing foes, driving them like leaves, until we came to the shore.
And then to each of the great ships that remained Aragorn sent one of the
Dúnedain, and they comforted the captives that were aboard, and bade them put
aside fear and be free.”

– Gimli
telling how the Three Hunters captured the Corsairs’ ships. Return of the King, The Last Debate

But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No. I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.‘

‘Not by the hand of man will he fall’ – Prophecy and End of Kings

One of the most enduring moments of the Lord of the Rings is Eowyn’s slaying of the Witch King and fulfilling the Prophecy of Glorfindel, but where did this prophecy come from? During the Witch King’s conquest of Arnor, King Eärnil II sent his son Prince Eärnur with a small army to help defend their ally. Eärnur’s army merged with an Elven host under Glorfindel, and the Host of the West met the Witch King’s army at Fornost. During the battle the Witch King rode issuing a challenge of single combat to Eärnur, who accepted the challenge, but the Witch King’s malice and intimidating aura frightened the Gondorian horses, and Eärnur’s horse fled in fear – taking the Prince with him. The Witch King mocked him for this, and as Glorfindel’s army came the Witch King escaped the battle. Eärnur regained control of his horse and wanted to chase them, but Glorfindel warned against it prophesying “Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall”. Eärnur did not pursue, and though the battle was won his pride was hurt, and ultimately Arnor was destroyed. Mordor soon took Minas Ithil, Gondor’s chief position in Mordor, and made it into Minas Morgul, a fortress of dark sorcery. Eärnur came to the throne after the death of his father, and upon his ascension to the throne the Witch King, now based in Minas Morgul, issued his challenge again. Eärnur wished to fight him but was held back by his steward Mardil. Years later the Witch King issued another challenge, but this time Eärnur accepted. He left the Crown of Gondor on his father’s tomb, gathered an escort of knights and rode to Minas Morgul. He and his escort were never seen or heard from again. There was no heir and nobody claimed the throne. The line was broken and nobody wanted to risk another Kin-Strife. So began the Ruling Stewards as the caretakers of the throne, and the Crown of Gondor remained in the tombs until the Fourth Age and the coronation of King Elessar. Glorfindel’s prophecy remained part of legend and gave the Witch King more infamy. Hundred years later, During the Battle of Pelennor Fields in the War of the Ring, Merry the Hobbit broke the Witch King’s armor with a barrow-blade, and Dernhelm revealed himself to be Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan, who then slew the Witch King. His doom was met by the hand of Woman and Hobbit, and thus the prophecy came to pass.

“Now the descendants of the kings had become few. Their numbers had been greatly diminished in the Kin-strife; whereas since that time the kings had become jealous and watchful of those near akin. Often those on whom suspicion fell had fled to Umbar and there joined the rebels; while others had renounced their lineage and taken wives not of Númenorean blood. So it was that no claimant to the crown could be found who was of pure blood, or whose claim all would allow; and all feared the memory of the Kin-strife, knowing that if any such dissension arose again, then Gondor would perish. Therefore, though the years lengthened, the Steward continued to rule Gondor, and the crown of Elendil lay in the lap of King Eärnil in the Houses of the Dead, where Eärnur had left it. “

– The end of the line of kings from the Third Age into the Fourth. Appendices, Annals of the Kings and Rulers, The Numenorean Kings, Of Numenor

And so the companies came and were hailed and cheered and passed through the Gate, men of the Outlands marching to defend the City of Gondor in a dark hour; but always too few, always less than hope looked for or need asked. The men of Ringló Vale behind the son of their lord, Dervorin striding on foot: three hundreds. From the uplands of Morthond, the great Blackroot Vale, tall Duinhir with his sons, Duilin and Derufin, and five hundred bowmen. From the Anfalas, the Langstrand far away, a long line of men of many sorts, hunters and herdsmen and men of little villages, scantily equipped save for the household of Golasgil their lord. From Lamedon, a few grim hillmen without a captain. Fisher-folk of the Ethir, some hundred or more spared from the ships. Hirluin the Fair of the Green Hills from Pinnath Gelin with three hundreds of gallant green-clad men. And last and proudest, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the Lord, with gilded banners bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan, and a company of knights in full harness riding grey horses; and behind them seven hundreds of men at arms, tall as lords, grey-eyed, dark-haired, singing as they came. 
And that was all, less than three thousands full told. No more would come. Their cries and the tramp of their feet passed into the City and died away. The onlookers stood silent for a while. Dust hung in the air, for the wind had died and the evening was heavy. Already the closing hour was drawing nigh, and the red sun had gone behind Mindolluin. Shadow came down on the City.

The Houses of Healing was a large infirmary in the higher levels of Minas Tirith. As it’s name implies, it was used as a hospital for the sick and injured of Gondor. It features prominently after the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Faramir was sent here after being saved from Denethor’s attempt to burn him. Merry and

Éowyn

were also sent here after fighting the Witch King in the battle, where they both contracted the Black Shadow. Ioreth, the eldest woman working in the Houses of Healing, was worried about all three, and their fatal conditions, proclaiming that ‘The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known.’. Gandalf heard this and summoned Aragorn to the Houses to help, where Aragorn proved his kingship (and knowledge of old lore) by caring for them all with Athelas (Kingsfoil in Common tongue), the herb that healed them and could defeat the Black Shadow. While the Armies of the West marched on the Black Gate Faramir and

Éowyn

had still not left the Houses, and though

Éowyn

initially wanted to join the battle, she decided to remain with Faramir, where the two fell in love.

“So at last Faramir and Éowyn and Meriadoc were laid in beds in the Houses of Healing; and there they were tended well. For though all lore was in these latter days fallen from its fullness of old, the leechcraft of Gondor was still wise, and skilled in the healing of wound and hurt, and all such sickness as east of the Sea mortal men were subject to. Save old age only. For that they had found no cure; and indeed the span of their lives had now waned to little more than that of other men, and those among them who passed the tale of five score years with vigour were grown few, save in some houses of purer blood. But now their art and knowledge were baffled; for there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed; and they called it the Black Shadow, for it came from the Nazgûl. And those who were stricken with it fell slowly into an ever deeper dream, and then passed to silence and a deadly cold, and so died. And it seemed to the tenders of the sick that on the Halfling and on the Lady of Rohan this malady lay heavily. Still at whiles as the morning wore away they would speak, murmuring in their dreams; and the watchers listened to all that they said, hoping perhaps to learn something that would help them to understand their hurts. But soon they began to fall down into the darkness, and as the sun turned west a grey shadow crept over their faces. But Faramir burned with a fever that would not abate.“

– The wounded after the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and before Aragorn comes to the rescue. Return of the King, The Houses of Healing.

tolkienmatters:

Eldarion, Quenya name for “Son of the Eldar” was the only son of Aragorn and Arwen, who become the King of the Reunited Kingdom. The first born into the house of Telcontar, Quenya for “Strider”, which was started by Aragorn following his ascension to the throne of Gondor. He had numerous unnamed sisters. His rule is marked by peace and he is the last known King of Gondor and Arnor. Tolkien almost wrote another story involving Eldarion’s reign titled “The New Shadow”, however it remained unfinished.

“But Strider shall be the name of my house, if that be ever established. In the high tongue it will not sound so ill, and Telcontar I will be and all the heirs of my body” – Aragorn, Return of the King, The Houses of Healing.

tolkienmatters:

Argonath, Sindarin for the “Royal Stones”, was a large monument of the Numenorean kings Isildur and Anarion. They guard the river Anduin, just before opening into Nen Hitheol, a large lake. Constructed by Isildur and Anarion who jointly ruled as kings of Gondor. They both wore crowns and held axes. The statues mark the northern border of Gondor’s kingdom, though without practical use they were to show the majesty of Gondor. No significant event passed the Argonath save the Fellowship’s journey, but it surely spooked numerous orcs. Peter Jackson’s movies did not portray Anarion but in his place Elendil.

“As Frodo was borne toward them the great pillars rose like towers to meet him. Giants they seemed to him, vast grey figures silent but threatening. Then he saw that they were indeed shaped and fashioned: the craft and power of old had wrought upon them, and still they preserved through the suns and rains of forgotten years the mighty likenesses in which they had been hewn.” – Frodo upon seeing Argonath, Fellowship of the Ring, The Great River.

‘Hobbit?’ said Beregond.

‘That is what we call ourselves,’ said Pippin.

‘I am glad to learn it,’ said Beregond, ‘for now I may say that strange accents do not mar fair speech, and hobbits are a fair-spoken folk.’

Beregond and Pippin chatting in Minas Tirith. A personal favorite of mine. Return of the King, Minas Tirith.

When the black breath blows
and death’s shadow grows
and all lights pass,
come athelas! come athelas!
Life to the dying
In the king’s hand lying!

tolkienmatters:

Queen

Berúthiel was a Black

Númenórean and Queen of Numenor before her exile. She was possibly born in Umbar or a region south of it, as most of her people were. She married Tarannon Falastur, 12th King of Gondor, probably for political reasons. She is described as “Nefarious, solitary, and loveless”, which made Tarannon Falastur the first childless King. She lived in Osgiliath which she hated, after moving from Pelargir (Which she hated). She had 10 cats which she used as her spies, 9 black cats that would spy upon the people of Gondor and 1 white cat who would terrorize the black cats, The cats “with whom she conversed, or read their memories, setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor, so that she knew those things ‘that men wish most to keep hidden’” (Unfinished Tales, The Istari, Tolkien). Her cats were known and feared by the people (hence why black cats are unlucky). Due to her misdeeds and malevolence she was erased from the Book of Kings and exiled on a ship to the South. The ship was last seen sailing past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat on the masthead and another on the prow.

“He is surer of finding the way home in a blind night than the cats of Berúthiel.” – Aragorn encouraging the Fellowship of Gandalf’s navigation through Moria, Fellowship of the Ring, A Journey In the Dark