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Elves of Mirkwood

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The Elves of Mirkwood were Silvan Elves that lived in the Woodland Realm of northern Mirkwood, under the rule of Thranduil.



During the First Age, the Valar summoned the first Elves to move with them to Valinor. There were three hosts that first set out to answer the call of the Valar. Of these, the largest host was that of the Teleri. They advanced very slowly, and would often lose sight of the other two, smaller hosts. There was a time, when they reached the river Anduin, one smaller leader of that host, Lenwë, wished to go no further, and he and his people began to live in the forests surrounding the Anduin Vale as the remaining Teleri continued their journey to Valinor. Their descendants were the Silvan elves of Lothlórien and Greenwood the Great.

During the Second Age, many Sindar travelled eastward from Lindon and eventually ended up in Greenwood the Great, where the Silvan Elves of Nandorin descent lived. Oropher, a Sinda, was taken by them as lord and founded the Woodland Realm with the capital at Amon Lanc.

After the Siege of Barad-dûr in S.A. 3441, Oropher's son Thranduil led the remainder of his people north back to the Woodland Realm, where he was crowned king.

With the return of Sauron around T.A. 1050 southern Greenwood became dangerous and was renamed Mirkwood. Creatures like great spiders came to dwell in Mirkwood and Thranduil's folk retreated to the northeastern corner of Mirkwood, where they fortified themselves near the Forest River.

One day in T.A. 2941 Thranduil and some of his folk were feasting in the woods when they were repeatedly disturbed by a party of Dwarves. After the third disturbance the Elves captured them. Thorin their leader, was brought before Thranduil but did not reveal the reason for their journey through Mirkwood. However the prisoners escaped with the help of a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who escaped captivity by using his magic ring.

After the Dwarves' escape Thranduil sent out messengers, who soon told him about the death of the Dragon Smaug, who had brutalized the Elves for years. He knew about the treasures, which Smaug had hoarded, and so he set out towards the Lonely Mountain with a company of Elves with spears and bows. On the way they met messengers from Bard in Lake-town who was seeking aid for his destroyed town. After the Elves had given food to the Lake-men and had helped them to build shelters against the oncoming winter, they were very surprised when they found out that Thorin and his company had survived Smaugs attacks, had taken possession of the Lonely Mountain and its treasures and that Thorin Oakenshield had claimed the title King under the Mountain.

Bard demanded a part of the treasure for Dale and Lake-town, which Smaug had destroyed, as well as for himself because he had shot the dragon. When Thorin refused to give away parts of the treasure, Thranduil and Bard sieged the mountain and Thorin sent for aid from his cousin Dáin II Ironfoot. After a few days Dain's host approached and fight seemed unavoidable. But in the night Bilbo brought the Arkenstone, a great jewel that Thorin valued above all to him open to negotiations. The next morning Bard and Thranduil entered into negotiations with an angered Thorin, who agreed to pay 1/14 share of the treasure in exchange for the stone. The next day Dain arrived with his forces and although Thranduil was reluctant to start a war over gold, the dwarves proceeded to attack.

At the last moment, when the battle was almost joined between the two sides Gandalf intervened and revealed that while they were bickering amongst themselves, the Orcs 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 Orcs were the enemies of all and previous grievances between them were put on hold in face of the greater threat. So the Battle of Five Armies began.

Thranduil's host was positioned on the southern side of the Mountain, and they were the first to charge. Many Elves were slain and things looked grim when the Eagles arrived on the battlefield. They turned the tide and the battle was won. The victors divided the treasure.

On March 21, T.A. 3018 Aragorn and Gandalf delivered Gollum as a prisoner to Thranduil. He was guarded day and night, but the Elves pitied him and allowed him to climb a tree that stood alone. When one night in June of 3018, Gollum refused to come down, the Elves were attacked by Orcs and Gollum could escape in the confusion. Thranduil sent his son Legolas to Rivendell to inform Elrond, and in the Council of Elrond Legolas was selected as one of the nine members of the Company of the Ring.[1]

On March 15, T.A. 3019, an army of Sauron from Dol Guldur, tasked with destroying the Woodland Realm, attacked Mirkwood. There was a long Battle Under Trees and the woods were set on fire. But in the end Thranduil defeated the invaders.

Because the Shadow over Mirkwood was lifted, Thranduil and Celeborn renamed it Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of Greenleaves. They divided it up, so that Thranduil received the northern part as far as the Mountains, and Celeborn took the southern part below the Narrows, naming it East Lórien. The wide forest in-between was given to the Beornings and the Woodmen[2].

After the destruction of Dol Guldur and the cleansing of Mirkwood, Thranduil and the Wood-Elves remained untroubled for many years.

Legolas and the Wood-Elves later worked together with Gimli and the Dwarves to rebuild and improve Minas Tirith, capital city of Gondor, the realm of their mutual friend King Aragorn Elessar[2].


The Elves of Mirkwood spoke Sindarin and/or Silvan Elvish. Sindarin was mainly spoken in Thranduil's house and family, but it eventually replaced Silvan altogether.[3][note 1]

See also


  1. Another note by Tolkien says that the Elves spoke a language or dialect related to Sindarin, perhaps referring to Doriathrin. See David Salo's A Gateway to Sindarin p. 13


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix B: The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves", pp. 256-7