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Battle of Azanulbizar

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Battle of Azanulbizar
Mikel Janin - Battle of Azanulbizar.jpeg
Conflict: War of the Dwarves and Orcs
Date: T.A. 2799
Place: The Dimrill Dale and the steps of the East-gate of Moria
Outcome: Pyrrhic victory for the Dwarves
Dwarves Orcs

Longbeards, Broadbeams, Firebeards, and Houses of the far East numbering at possibly 6-10,000, plus 500-1,000 (est.) Dwarves from the Iron Hills[source?]

Orcs from Moria, and the remnants of other Orc-dwellings throughout the Misty Mountains, (est.) at 15-20,000[source?]


Half of the host; 4-5,000[source?]

10,000 orcs,[1] the rest of the force fled south across Rohan to the White Mountains[source?]

The Battle of Azanulbizar (T.A. 2799) was the final battle in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. It was fought beneath the East-gate of Moria in the valley of Azanulbizar, called Nanduhirion in Sindarin or Dimrill Dale in Westron. Therefore the event is also known as the Battle of Nanduhirion and the Battle of Dimrill Dale.



The War of the Dwarves and Orcs began when Azog the Orc-chieftain of Moria captured and mutilated Thrór, King of Durin's folk. Azog carved his own name in runes onto Thrór's severed head, and then let his companion Nár escape so that all Dwarves would know that an Orc now ruled Moria. Full of righteous fury, Thrór's son Thráin II gathered a great army of Dwarves, including those not of Durin's folk (Firebeards and Broadbeams from the Blue Mountains and those from the far East of Middle-earth). For six years they systematically destroyed the Orc-holds of the Misty Mountains, until only Moria was left where those Orcs that survived the destruction fled.

Opposing Forces

The exact number for the Dwarves was not specified, but it can be estimated at being somewhere between six to ten thousand Longbeards, Firebeards, Broadbeams, Ironfists, Stonefoots, Blacklocks, and Stiffbeards. This is based off of the assumption that, the other Dwarf houses sent no more then a few thousand each to take part in the war because they could not have sent too many for economic, financial and defense reasons. And lastly the Longbeards, who could not have mustered a proper fighting force of no more than 1-3,000, because of a severely depleted populace, and financial/economic problems (especially Thraín's following).[2]

The Orcs, as stated above, came from Moria, and from as far north as Mount Gundabad. So their numbers can be estimated at fifteen to twenty thousand Orcs.[2]

The Battle

Náin at Azanulbizar by Jacek Kopalski

The battle began on a dark winter day, and no sun was said to have shined through the clouds. The Dwarves had marched into the Dimrill Dale where they found the East-Gate and sent up a great noise. They discovered that on the western slopes above thousands of Orcs had gathered, while more still came pouring out of the gate. The Dwarves there stood outnumbered and on the lower end of a sloping hill.

The first Vanguard led by King Thráin, assaulted the slopes only to be driven back with casualties. In a woods near the Mirrormere, the dwarves noted that Frerin youngest son of Thráin was slain along with Fundin, father of Balin; and many others. Thraín himself was wounded, as was his eldest son Thorin II Oakenshield whose shield was broken during the battle forcing him to resort to using an oak branch that he cut off a tree to defend himself.

Elsewhere, the battle swayed back and forth until Náin from the Iron Hills, arrived with a contingent of fresh troops. Náin, and his Dwarves cut through the Orc lines with their mattocks shouting "AZOG! AZOG! AZOG!" until they had reached the steps of the gate, at-which Naín called Azog to come out and fight. When Azog emerged from the inner gate with his guards, Náin was very tired and half blind with rage and tried to swing as hard as he could at Azog but the Orc darted aside, and he missed, which splintered his mattocks on the ground. The orc kicked him in the leg when he dodged the Dwarf's blow, making him stumble, at which point Azog attempted to thrust and behead him, succeeding only to break Náin's neck because of the strong mail he was wearing. Náin died instantly.

As Azog gloated over his duel, however, he came to the realization, looking out into the valley which the east gate overlooks, that his entire force was routed. Those that could were fleeing southwards, and all his guards were killed as well. With that he fled back to the gate. Náin's son, Dáin, leaped up the steps after him with his red axe and just before the gate's portal he decapitated the Orc chieftain, thus ending the battle. At 32-years old, very young for a Dwarf, it was considered an amazing feat. Dáin would later become King under the Mountain as Dáin II Ironfoot.[2]


The Dwarves were victorious, but half of their forces were dead or mortally wounded. The Orcs suffered even worse casualties, with ten thousand dead. After the battle, King Thráin wanted to enter and reclaim Moria, the ancestral home of Durin's folk. However, due to their losses; the other Houses not willing to participate; and since Dáin had seen Durin's Bane beyond the East-gate, Thráin did not to enter.[2]

The Dwarves then stripped their dead so the Orcs could not plunder them, and also cut down all the trees in the valley; which they made many pyres to burn their dead with. This being because they could not bury them all in tombs of stone, as was their custom because it would take too long. From then afterward those that killed in Dimrill Dale were known proudly as Burned Dwarves.

The Houses then parted ways, returning to their homes to the North, East, and West. Thráin, with what was left of the Longbeard contingent, went back to Dunland, and shortly afterwards wandered in Eriador till they settled in the Northern Blue Mountains. There Durin's folk regrew slowly in population and waited till the days they could take back the halls of Erebor, and Khazad-dum.[2]


Although the Dwarves suffered heavy casualties, the battle would have lasting effects for the Orcs of the Misty Mountains. Their numbers were severely shrunken after the battle and never fully recovered. If it hadn't been for the battle, Bilbo Baggins and his companions may have never made it to Erebor; the Battle of Five Armies wouldn't have been won by the Elves, Men, and Dwarves; and The Fellowship may have never got through Moria alive.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Making of Appendix A", p. 278
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"