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Siege of Gondor

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The name Siege of Gondor refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Siege of Gondor (disambiguation).
Siege of Gondor
Stephen Hickman - Siege of Minas Tirith.jpg
Conflict: War of the Ring
Date: 13 March - 14 March T.A. 3019
Place: Minas Tirith and fields of Pelennor, Gondor
Outcome: Siege broken by Gondor and Rohan

Gondor, Rohan

Mordor, Harad, Rhûn, Khand


Unknown total strength, approx. 17-18,000+ total from Gondor, its fiefs, and Rohan.

Unknown total strength, but vast numerical superiority to Gondor's forces in Minas Tirith, possibly over 75,000.




The Siege of Gondor, also known as the Siege of Minas Tirith after Gondor's chief city, was a series of battles waged by Sauron aimed at the capture of Minas Tirith, as part of the War of the Ring. The siege was broken by the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.



Main article: War of the Ring


For many years (since T.A. 2901) the land of Ithilien had been held by Sauron's forces, but he had not breached the Anduin to attack deeper into Gondor, biding his time as he marshaled his strength. In 3009 Gollum was captured after he had ventured into Mordor and the Dark Lord learned that the One Ring was in the Shire, a location unknown to Sauron. Gollum was released from Mordor in 3017 and was soon taken by Aragorn in the Dead Marshes.[1] His capture alarmed Sauron, causing him to send the Nazgûl out to hunt for the Ring.[2] In order to conceal their purpose, on 20 June 3018 the Lord of the Nazgûl attacked Osgiliath.[3] Although the chief and secret purpose of the battle was to release the Nazgûl for the hunt, it also served to test Denethor's strength and to destroy the bridge across the river.[2]

For months thereafter Sauron continued to amass his forces in Mordor.[4] However, the deliberate pace of his preparations were thrown into turmoil on 6 March 3019[3] when Aragorn looked into the Orthanc-stone and revealed himself, the heir of Isildur, and Andúril to Sauron.[5] In response Sauron ordered all of his ready forces to immediately prepare to take the capital city of Gondor.

Gandalf arrived with Pippin at Minas Tirith on 9 March.[3] Most of the citizens were sent south and west, except those in the arts of healing and boys who refused to leave. The same day, 3,000 men from Belfalas, Dol Amroth and other places arrived to assist the garrison. But, it was less then a tenth of what was needed. Most that were needed were holding off the Black Fleet of Umbar. As evening drew on darkness began flowing out of Mordor.[6]

On 10 March, the Dawnless Day,[3] Gandalf saved Faramir as he was pursued closely by the Nazgul. Denethor, upon hearing the report of his son on the doings in Ithilien, who allowed the Ring-Bearer go free, reprimanded him for his decision. He also did not share his son's opinion that Osgilith was a liability. Faramir accepted the dangerous, perhaps suicidal, charge of defending the ruined city and the Rammas Echor, riding for Osgiliath.[7] From the Morannon an army came forth, took Cair Andros, and entered Anórien. In the evening a host issued from Minas Morgul and headed towards Osgiliath.[3]

Battles at Osgiliath and the Rammas Echor

On the morning of 11 March[3] the Lord of the Nazgûl led the assault upon the western side of Osgiliath. Many boats had been built in secret which allowed them to swiftly overwhelm the defenders, who despite their fierce defense, could only do minimal casualties to the forces arrayed against them. On 12 March[3] Faramir retreated to the Rammas Echor. The wall did not hold long as the invaders blasted many breaches through the defenses. Gandalf, upon learning the Lord of the Nazgûl was on the field, went from the city to assist the beleaguered forces. On 13 March,[3] as Faramir retired to the city he fell wounded while battling against an Easterling champion. Only a charge by Prince Imrahil and the Knights of Dol Amroth saved him. As the defenders retreated to the city, a sortie of calvary sent out by Denethor scattered the pursuit and allowed them to come in unharried. Denethor, upon seeing his son wounded and unconscious, lost his will to fight and gave no more thought to the defense of his city.[7]

The Siege

The defenders of Minas Tirith watched all day on 14 March[3] as the hosts of Mordor dug pits and set up siege weapons beyond their range. At first they mocked the supposed foolishness. But, as the Nazgul continued swooping near the city and uttering cries of death, their morale dropped. The Mordor host then used their siege engines to launch stones at the city, many of which burst into flame as they came crashing down. Then, the heads of all those that had been slain in battle were flung over the city. The whole first level was soon in flames.

Seeing that the defenders' will was already broken, near midnight the Lord of the Nazgûl launched his assault upon the city. Swathes of defenders fled to the higher levels, but enough stayed at their posts that many attackers were killed trying to reach the walls. Most of the siege towers were also destroyed as they rolled forward.

The hardest thrust was made against the Great Gate. The Witch-king rode beside the battering ram Grond. When it began to strike the gate, the Witch-King cried spells that reinforced it and weakened the gate; in only three strikes the gate was broken. All fled but Gandalf. The Lord of the Nazgûl rode through the gate to challenge the wizard. But in this moment the winds began to blow away the clouds Sauron had gathered over Gondor, a cock crowed and horns blown in the north heralded the coming of the Rohirrim. The Lord of the Nazgûl left to deal with the Riders of Rohan and the Battle of Pelennor Fields ensued. The siege was broken during the battle.[7]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Siege of Gondor"