Tolkien Gateway

Corsair Wars

"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" - Tom Bombadil
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Previous war: Kin-strife
Next war: War of the Ring
Corsair Wars
Angus McBride - Corsairs.gif
Beginning: T.A. 1448End: T.A. 3019
Place: Umbar, Pelargir, South Gondor, coastal waters
Outcome: Victory for Gondor, destruction of the Corsair state
Major battles: Harad/Umbar Battles, Battle of Pelargir, Surprise Attack on Umbar, First Fall of Umbar, Second Fall of Umbar


Corsairs of Umbar


The Corsair Wars were a long, predominately naval struggle between Kings and Stewards of Gondor and a series of renegade rebel forces based at Umbar and Pelargir.


[edit] History

[edit] Prelude

The fortress haven of Umbar was founded by Númenórean colonists during the Second Age, during the peak of Númenorean power. When Ar-Pharazôn the Golden landed in Middle Earth to challenge the power of Sauron, he landed at this heavily fortified port city. After the Downfall of Númenor, these colonists continued to be influenced by Sauron, and showed great antipathy to the exile Kingdoms founded by the Faithful of Númenor, Arnor and Gondor. They became known forever afterwards as the Black Númenóreans, battling Gondor by land and sea. It is likely that Umbar was conquered for Gondor under one of the Ship-Kings, possibly by Tarannon Falastur. During the reign of Earnil I and his son, Ciryandil, the Haradrim constantly laid siege to Umbar and in T.A. 1015, Ciryandil himself was slain defending it. This caused his son to conquer Harad and eventually take the name Hyarmendacil I.

In the aftermath of the Kin-strife, the great civil conflict between Eldacar and the usurper Castamir, Castamir's sons fled to Umbar. There they established a breakaway government in opposition to Gondor and continued to clash with Gondor for centuries to come.

[edit] Conflicts

Since T.A. 1448, the fleets established under the descendants of Castamir became known as the "Corsairs of Umbar" causing Gondor to lose power over the southern realm and in regular conflict with it. Within two centuries, Umbar attacked Gondorian ships and raided its coast at every opportunity, and contested the possession of Harondor. Umbar would welcome exiles from Gondor who were suspected for treason or conspiring against the King, as well as absorbing tributaries to Gondor in Harad.[1]

In T.A. 1540, King Aldamir is slain in battle against the Corsairs and Harad,[1] but was avenged by his son Hyarmendacil II in 1551.[2]

In T.A. 1634, Castamir's great-grandsons Angamaitë and Sangahyando raided Pelargir, from Umbar, killing King Minardil; his heir Telemnar prepared a fleet against Umbar[1] but could not retaliate as the kingdom was ravaged by the Great Plague of T.A. 1636.[3]

By T.A. 1810 the Corsairs raided as far as Anfalas, and Minardil's great-grandnephew Telumehtar punished them. In an attack he destroyed the fortress and haven of the Corsairs and drove them out, killing Castamir's last descendants. After this victory, he renamed himself Umbardacil[3] but left Umbar unsettled and ruined, apparently with a protective garrison.

In the meantime, the Haradrim were "engaged in wars and feuds of their own" as Gondor was threatened by the Wainriders from Rhûn.[4] Umbar still fell when enemies invaded Gondor from the east and south in T.A. 1944, preventing Gondor to use it to support its forces from the sea. However Eärnil's Southern Army vanquished the invaders.

Umbar had been reclaimed by the Haradrim, rebuilt and occupied and for the rest of the Third Age. It became a home for a new generation of Corsairs. These new Corsairs were cruel slavers who often raided the coasts of Belfalas and Anfalas in Gondor: in T.A. 2746, for example, the fifteenth Prince of Dol Amroth is slain in Dor-en-Ernil fighting against them..[1]

In T.A. 2758, Umbar joined a co-ordinated attack with the Men of the Harad and Dunland against Gondor and the new realm of Rohan.[3] In T.A. 2885, Umbar supported the Haradrim who claimed Harondor, although this had long "been a debatable land between the Corsairs and the Kings", and when Sauron declared himself openly in T.A. 2951, Umbar declared its allegiance to him, and the great monument commemorating Ar-Pharazôn's triumph at Umbar was thrown down.

Umbar's fleet was largely destroyed 29 years later, when Thorongil (Aragorn) in the service of the Steward of Gondor Ecthelion II led a taskforce south and burned them, killing the Captain of the Haven in the process.

[edit] War of the Ring

During the War of the Ring, Umbar had not fully recovered from surprise attack, but could still send 50 "great ships" and a number of smaller vessels "beyond count" to raid the coastlands of Gondor and draw off major forces from the defence of Minas Tirith. They were once again defeated by Aragorn, and the Army of the Dead. With the Fall of Barad-dûr, Umbar weakened and defeated, finally lost its sovereignty and submitted to the crown of King Elessar.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"