Difference between revisions of "War of the Ring"

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==Film series==
The War of the Ring was one of the major wars in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was one of the major wars in all of Middle-earth and the main conflict in the film series. It begun with the Attack on Dol Guldur and Battle of Five Armies in TA 2941, which sent the conflict into a 60-year lull during which Sauron rebuilt his power, before erupting with attack on Osgiliath and culminate in Sauron's ultimate defeat during the Battle of the Black Gate in TA 3002.
'''War of the Last Alliance'''
In the Second Age, the Dark Lord Sauron was challenged by an alliance of Men and Elves (from Númenor and Lindon, respectively). In spite of some Men breaking their oath of allegiance for fear of Sauron, the alliance was successful. Wielding the sword Narsil, Isildur defeated Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad in SA 3434.
However, because his Ring of Power was not destroyed but lost, Sauron's spirit endured and his servants - the nine Ringwraiths led by the Witch-king - later returned to harass the kingdoms of Middle-earth.
'''Angmar War'''
In TA 2002, The wraiths conquered Minas Ithil in the Southern Kingdom of Gondor, launching assaults on Ithilien and Osgiliath, while the Witch-king of Angmar in the North, assailed the Northern kingdoms of Arnor and raided Rhovanion. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone, the One Ring was found and taken by Sméagol (now named Gollum) into the caves under the Misty Mountains.
'''Watchful Peace'''
The wraiths were ultimately banished from Minas Ithil (now renamed Minas Morgul) and, when Angmar fell in TA 2540, the Nine were all entombed in the High Fells in Rhudaur.
While the period following the Sack of Angmar wasn't without conflicts and calamities (most notably, the Sack of Erebor by the dragon Smaug and the Battle of Moria), seemingly none of these were instigated by servants of Sauron or in his interest. The White Council, created to guard against Sauron's return, was largely under the impression that Sauron was vanquished and could never regain his strength, and a Watchful Peace was set in place for 400 years.
In TA 2940, Gandalf - a member of the council - stumbled upon men carrying a message promising payment for the head of the Dwarven exilarch Thorin Oakenshield, who was abroad nearby at the time. With this, Gandalf began to sense an unease as to the continuation of the peace. Worried that "darker minds" will turn towards Erebor - either to secure an alliance with the dragon or to use its wealth and position for evil purposes - he intercepted Thorin and convinced him to undertake Quest of Erebor, which was a quest to reclaim Erebor from the dragon Smaug. He would later argue that the quest for the Dwarves to reclaim their homeland would Bean that Middle-earth's armies in the East will be strengthened anger to rid Sauron's chance of using Smaug in his army. During the Quest, Gandalf noticed further signs of disquiet, which he later reported to The White Council: Trolls have come down from the Ettenmoors and raided a farm. Orcs, astride Gundabad Wargs, attacked the company in the open, along the Great East Road, coming the very borders of Rivendell.
Most importantly, however, a Necromancer had taken up residence in the ruined fortress of Dol Guldur some time before, and his dark magic was spreading a sickness through the Greenwood. Bats and Giant Spiders were abroad and a Morgul Blade, which was known to belong to the Witch-king, was uncovered by Radagast in Dol Guldur. The other members of the council (outside of Galadriel, who shared Gandalf's innate sense of "something at work") largely dismissed this. Elrond, in particular, in his complacency, said its "hardly a prelude to war."
Further down the road, Gandalf saw further proof of rising evil: Azog has come out of Moria for the first time since his defeat, and payed homage to the Necromancer, rallying more and more Moria Orcs to Dol Guldur. Goblins had multiplied under the Misty Mountains, and Orcs have infested the Wilderland. Unbeknownst to him, hearing its Master's call, The One Ring - too - was recovered from Gollum, falling into the hand of Bilbo Baggins, a member of Thorin's company.
All of this compelled the wizard to investigate the High Fells, where he found the tombs opened from the inside. Now fearing that the Necromancer is Sauron himself, he went to Dol Guldur where he discovered that the last Dwarf Ring was harvested by Sauron, who was marshaling a secret army commanded by Azog. He was already in league with Smaug and intended to use him against the realms of the North while using Erebor to secure his reclaiming of the lands of Angmar.
The members of the White Council - informed by Radagast - came to Gandalf's rescue. The ensuing battle is the beginning of the War of the Ring. Elrond and Saruman faces the Ringwraiths and Galadriel banished Sauron to the east. Galadriel became too weakened to be a part of the physical struggle against Sauron in the war to come, and when Elrond brought her back to Lothlorien, she remained there for the duration of the conflict. Indeed, with Sauron reappearing, the power of the Elven Rings began to dwindle, with Sauron declaring that "The time of the Elves is over." Saruman took control of the situation, asking that Sauron be left to his care. He retrieved a Palantir present in Dol Guldur. Sauron and Azog's army (and a second army led out of Gundabad by Bolg), however, was already en route to the Lonely Mountain and attacked the armies of Elves, Men and Dwarves which were marshaled there for the Siege of Erebor.
The Battle was lost when Azog used it for his own ends, setting a trap for Thorin which ended up costing both their lives during the Skirmish in Ravenhill. With Azog defeated, Bolg slain by Legolas and the Gundabad Army thwarted by Beorn, Sauron had suffered a temporary defeat.
In the intervening years, Sauron returned to Mordor and began multiplying Orcs and rebuilding his tower of Barad-dur. Saruman went to Isengard to keep a watch, but using the Palantir he confiscated in Dol Guldur eventually resulted in him being convinced by Sauron's superiority and submitting himself to the Dark Lord.
Gandalf and Legolas joined a young Aragorn who, along with the sons of Elrond, helped cleanse Eriador of evil creatures left over from the Angmar Wars. Aragorn later travelled under pseudonym to Rohan, where he rode to war with Thenga, and to Gondor where he served the steward Ecthelion in the fight against Sauron. The stewards of Gondor kept the forces of Mordor at bay in Ithilien.
Meanwhile, the High Elves began leaving for the Grey Havens. In TA 2994 Orcs retook Moria from Balin, news of which had even arrived at the the Shire within a couple of years.
In TA 3000, Gandalf returned to the Shire from untold ventures against Sauron and his agents. Attending Bilbo's Farewell Party, he became aware of the corrupting effects of Bilbo's Ring and compelled the Hobbit to leave it behind for his cousin, Frodo Baggins. He left again to look for answers.
In the quest to hunt for Gollum, Gandalf called upon the Dúnedain ranger Aragorn (the secret heir of Isildur) to help him track down Gollum in order to learn more of the nature of Bilbo's Ring. However, Sauron caught him first and extracted Bilbo's name and whereabouts from him. In TA 3001, Sauron launched an attack on the ruins of Osgiliath, which was soon reclaimed by Boromir, son of the Gondorian steward, which reignited the war.
Gandalf tracked Gollum's trail, reaching the borders of Mordor and learning that Sauron is marshaling an army and rebuilding Barad-dûr. He did not know, however, that Sauron had sent the Nine Ringwraiths towards the Shire. Gandalf then turned to the library of nearby Minas Tirith, finding information that would later help him prove that the Ring is indeed Sauron's. Returning to the Shire in September, he set Frodo off with the Ring towards Bree while he went to convene with Saruman in Isengard. As Elrond was informed of this, he called upon delegates of all the races of Middle-earth to take coucil in Rivendell. Gandalf was delayed after being held captive by Saruman, bringing news that the wizard is marshaling his own army. Frodo arrived later still, chased by Ringwraiths. Delegates from Erebor, Dale, Gondor and the Woodland Realm convened and the Fellowship of the Ring was formed to help Frodo destroy the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. This included Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir of Gondor (secretly sent by his father to bring the Ring to Gondor), Legolas, Gimli, Sam, Merry and Pippin. During the first leg of their quest, the Fellowship took part in the Battle of the Mazarbul Chamber against the Orcs of Moria, and in the Battle of Amon Hen against Saruman's Uruk-hai, where the company was partially disbanded. Lothlórien, too, was attacked by Orcs chasing the company out of Moria, and Frodo even beheld a future in which the War was won by Sauron and the Shire was spoiled by his servants.
Meanwhile, Sauron used Saruman as a puppet to attack the people of Rohan, while Sauron himself mustered Easterlings and Southrons (some of which were intercepted in Ithilien by Faramir, brother of Boromir) in preparations to launch an assault upon Gondor. Saruman's hordes of Uruk-hai and disgruntled Dunlendings burned many villages in the Westfold and destroyed a Rohirric army led by prince Théodred (himself mortally wounded) in the Battle of the Fords of Isen. In preparation of a large-scale assault, Saruman also harassed the nearby Ents of Fangorn, burning a portion of their forest to feed the furnaces required to forge armor for his troops.
Against this threat, King Théoden - with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli at his side - decided to lead his people out of Edoras and into the Fortress of Helm's Deep. In spite of a Warg attack, they arrived and barricaded themselves against Saruman's army.
Meanwhile, Osgiliath was attacked again, but the enemy seemed to withdraw when The Ring (taken with Frodo into the ruins of the city) was borne out of it.
In Battle of Helm's Deep, despite of aid from Lothlorien under Haldir, sent by Elrond, the Rohirrim very nearly lost to Saruman's forces in Helm's Deep before Gandalf arrived with reinforcements. Meanwhile, the Ents - egged by Merry and Pippin - were enraged into attacking Isengard itself, eliminating Saruman from effecting the future course of the War. Nevertheless, as Gandalf summarized, the great battle for Middle-earth's future was only about to begin.
With a Palantir secured from Saruman, Pippin accidentally saw a glimpse of Sauron's plan: fearing Aragorn's impending return to the throne of Gondor, and suspecting that the Ring was taken to its capital of Minas Tirith, Sauron was in a hurry to besiege and raze the city. Indeed, shortly afterwards the Witch-king marshalled an army out of Minas Morgul, led by Gothmog. Feigning to move out of the eastern shore of Osgiliath, the Orcs used boats under cover of night to launch a surprise attack on Faramir's garrison. While engaging the Gondorian soldiers on the shore, they placed a wooden bridge over the city's demolished causeway, which allowed them to assault it in large numbers and push Faramir back. Meanwhile, Gandalf used Pippin to light the beacons and call upon Théoden to help in Gondor's defense. All the while, during the battle of Dale, as suspected by Legolas, Orcs and Easterlings attacked the Woodland Realm and Dale, but were held back by the Kings Thranduil, Brand and Dáin in great loses. The heirs of the latter two kings, Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm pushed the enemy back. Attacks were made on Rivendell, too, but were repelled.
During the attack on Pelargir, in Théoden's camp, Aragorn learnt of the approach of Umbar corsairs, who would tip the scales of the battle even further in favor of Sauron. He was compelled by Elrond to wield Anduril - the reforged Narsil - and recruit the help of the Men of the Mountains (cursed to endure as undead for their lack of fidelity to Isildur), which he did, intercepting the corsairs shortly after they sailed past and assailed Pelargir.
In the Battle of Pelennor Fields, Gothmog lay siege to Minas Tirith. After exchanges of catapult fire being the Orcs and Men, the Nazgul - now astride winged Fell Beasts - took out Gondor's trebuchets, allowing for Siege Towers to approach the city walls and engage its defenders. The gate, however, was impregnable for the Orcs standard rams, before Gothmog had Grond wheeled unto the field.
Breaching the city, he ordered his forces to move in and "kill all" in their path. Gandalf led a retreat to the second level of the city and faced the Witch-king before the Rohirrim arrived at the break of dawn. They cut through the Orc ranks, but were matched by the Haradrim and their Mumakil. Théoden was mortally wounded by the Witch-king's mount, but his niece Éowyn - having joined the battle in disguise - defended her uncle and, with the aid of Merry, dispatched the Witch-king. Just then, Aragorn arrived with the Army of the Dead on the Corsair Ships, tipping the scale of the Battle.
However, the war was not over, however, as Sauron still had as many as ten thousand Orcs scattered across Gorgoroth. Aragorn offered to use their remaining forces to draw out this force, giving Frodo a chance to carry the Ring through Mordor and destroy it in Mount Doom.
The plan nearly failed when Frodo and Sam, disguised as Orcs, were marched towards the Black Gate, where the forces of Gondor and Rohan were mustered. The Hobbits managed to sneak out of the mass of Orcs, however, and continued on their trek across Gorgoroth, while the Mouth of Sauron tried to fool Aragorn into thinking Frodo was in fact captured and killed.
The plan was successful in distracting Sauron until Frodo - consumed by the Ring - claimed it to himself. However, the intervention of Gollum who was tracking the Hobbits in an attempt to reclaim his Ring, caused it to fall into the fires of Mount Doom and be destroyed. The army of Mordor was in part destroyed in the ensuing cataclysm and in part fled the horror of it.
After the Battle of the Black Gate, Aragorn was crowned King and married Arwen, daughter of Elrond. Thorin III and Bard II inherited the kingships of Erebor and Dale, respectively, and the Hobbits returned to the Shire, where Sam married Rosie Cotton and became mayor. Aragorn established the Reunited Kingdom, and later sired a line through his son Eldarion.
However, the destruction of the Ring drained the power of the three Elven Rings, and with the departure of Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn to the West, the realms of Lothlorien and Rivendell were depopulated. The death of Saruman and departure of Gandalf also meant the end of the Order of the Istari, and with Frodo and Bilbo joining the wizard and Elf-Lords, the Ringbearers too would leave Middle-earth indefinitely.

Latest revision as of 14:41, 18 November 2021

The name War of the Ring refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see War of the Ring (disambiguation).
"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
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Previous war: Corsair Wars
Next war:
War of the Ring
Ted Nasmith - Thus Came Aragorn.jpg
Beginning: 20 June T.A. 3018End: 3 November T.A. 3019
Place: Northwestern Middle-earth
Outcome: Victory for the Free Peoples
Major battles: Sauron's attack on Osgiliath, Battles of the Fords of Isen, Battle of Isengard, Battle of the Hornburg, Assaults on Lothlórien, Faramir's defence of Osgiliath, Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Battle under the trees, Battle of the Morannon, Fall of Dol Guldur, Battle of Dale, Battle of Bywater

Host of the West
Rangers of the North
Elves of Mirkwood
Dwarves of Erebor
Ents (and Huorns)

Orcs of Mordor
Orcs of Dol Guldur
Orcs of the Misty Mountains
Orcs of Isengard
Corsairs of Umbar


Gandalf † (resurrected)
Dáin II Ironfoot


War of the Ring
Osgiliath (1) · Fords of Isen · Isengard · Hornburg · Osgiliath (2) · Siege of Gondor · Dale · Pelennor Fields · Black Gate · Dol Guldur · Bywater
"So we come to it in the end, [...] the great battle of our time, in which many things shall pass away."
Théoden in The Return of the King, "The Muster of Rohan"

The War of the Ring was the great conflict at the end of the Third Age, named for the One Ring and the importance this had in the final outcome. The war was fought between Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor who attempted to conquer Middle-earth as he nearly did in the Second Age; and the Free peoples, being a loose alliance of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Ents and Men led by the Wise. Saruman participated both on Sauron's side and occasionally as a 'third power' based in Orthanc.

Sauron at all times held the military advantage in the War, due to his overwhelming forces; not only Orcs and Trolls, but Men of Harad and the East. His main objective was to overthrow Gondor, his neighbour and the strongest of his enemies. He had such forces at his command, though, that he was able to fight the war on many fronts, simultaneously attacking Dale, Erebor and the Wood-elves in the far north, and Lothlórien from his secondary stronghold at Dol Guldur. There can be no doubt that, had the Wise not achieved and maintained possession of the Ring, Sauron would ultimately have been victorious.

The policy of the Wise was based around the Quest of the Ring: a company of nine under the leadership of Gandalf travelled from Rivendell with the One Ring, with the hope of taking it to Orodruin in Mordor and there destroying it. Because the Ring held much of Sauron's native power, they realised that in unmaking it, they would also defeat its creator.

Having renounced the Wise, Saruman had become Sauron's two-faced servant. In an alliance with the Dunlendings, and having Orcs at his command, he resolved to remove Rohan as a threat to his Dark Lord, but he also attempted to claim the Ring first when opportunities arose. Until late in the War, he held the advantage, defeating Rohan twice at the Battles of the Fords of Isen.


See also: Rings of Power

Sauron had been defeated in the War of the Last Alliance, but because of Isildur's refusal to destroy the One Ring, he was not entirely vanquished. He survived in spirit form, and the foundations of Barad-dûr were also not destroyed. Sauron's spirit wandered the wastelands of Middle-earth for over 1000 years, but eventually he rebuilt his power and became a threat once again. Around T.A. 1000, the Valar sent Maiar emissaries to Middle-earth to help the Free peoples against the growing evil.

Indeed, Orcs and other wicked things were multiplying and the Witch-king from his fortress in Angmar waged unending war against Arnor. Moria and Minas Ithil fell and were abandoned, among other battles, plagues, and catastrophes which ended the Kingdom of Arnor and the Royal line of Gondor. The evil entity known only as the Necromancer fled from Dol Guldur because of Gandalf, allowing for some centuries of calmness.

Alert the Folk by John Howe

In the meantime, Sauron's One Ring was found by two of the Stoors in the Gladden River. The Hobbit who got it, under its influence, was corrupted as Gollum and eventually retreated in the Goblin-town under the Misty Mountains. By the end of the Age, Sauron attempted to gather back all the Rings to augment his power. He took the Nine, but of the Seven he managed to reclaim only three, the last of them being the Ring of Thrór[1][2] but could not find the One.

Gandalf was concerned about the weak state of the North. Smaug the Dragon had destroyed both the Kingdom under the Mountain and the town of Dale. About Erebor was a desolation which Sauron might use to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar, not to mention the devastating effect of a living dragon in the Enemy's force. Gandalf, seeing no hope in Thorin's plans of battle and war against Smaug, persuaded him that he should go secretly to Erebor to reclaim its treasure, and to take with him Bilbo Baggins of the Shire.[3] Smaug was killed by Bard, Erebor was retaken, and most importantly, the kingdoms of Erebor and Dale were re-established. In a small incident along the way, the One Ring was lost by Gollum and wound up in Bilbo's hands.[4]

Around the time the War began, it is said that the Ithryn Luin had gained influence in the East and, thanks to their efforts, Sauron could not manage to gather as much people in his side.[5]



"The Dark Tower had been rebuilt, it was said. From there the power was spreading far and wide, and away far east and south there were wars and growing fear. Orcs were multiplying again in the mountains. Trolls were abroad, no longer dull-witted, but cunning and armed with dreadful weapons. And there were murmured hints of creatures more terrible than all these, but they had no name."
The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"

During the Quest of Erebor, the White Council attacked Dol Guldur and the Necromancer withdrew. However, Sauron returned to his old abode in Mordor to reconstruct Barad-dûr and ten years after the fall of Smaug he sent three Nazgûl to reoccupy Dol Guldur. He declared himself openly in T.A. 2951. The White Council met for the last time in T.A. 2953 to discuss the Rings of Power when Saruman reassured them that the One Ring had been lost forever in the Sea. After this, Saruman fortified Isengard, spied on Gandalf, learning thus his interest in the Shire, and started sending his agents around the Shire under the pretense of pipe-weed affairs.[6]

Sauron began reassembling his forces for the final blow against the hated remnants of Númenor and the Eldar. Armies of Easterlings from Khand and beyond the Sea of Rhûn reinforced Mordor, joined by men from South Harad. Orcs, trolls, and other foul beasts were multiplying while Sauron's servants were searching the Anduin for the One Ring. Meanwhile, Saruman's use of a palantíri caught the Dark Lord's notice and he used the Ithil-stone to ensnare him, turning him into a useful, yet not wholly trustworthy, minion.

A year before the war, while Gollum was looking for his ring, he was taken to Mordor and interrogated by Sauron, who learned that the One Ring was in the possession of a "Baggins" in a place called "the Shire". However, Sauron was led into thinking that the Shire was on the banks of the Gladden River.[7] Gollum was then set free, but caught by Aragorn, who placed him in the care of the Silvan Elves and held him in Mirkwood.

A messenger from Mordor visited King Dáin II and asked information on Bilbo and the Ring. Meanwhile, Gandalf reading the Scroll of Isildur in Minas Tirith, also realized that Bilbo's Ring was the One Ring.[8]

First conflicts[edit]

Faramir at Osgiliath by Donato Giancola

Sauron made an attack on Osgiliath on 20 June of T.A. 3018, which was the beginning of the War. Sauron saw it as an opportunity to test Denethor II's strength. Boromir and Faramir managed to defend and destroy the ancient Bridge in order to deny the enemy access to the western side of the river.[9][7]

About the same time the Elves of Mirkwood were attacked and during the fray, the captive Gollum escaped and would not be found nor by the Elves nor by Sauron's servants from Dol Guldur.[9] The following months, Faramir led several Ranger attacks deep into Mordor-occupied Ithilien, ambushing enemy armies moving to the Black Gate.

The presence of the Nazgûl in the battle of Osgiliath served to make them seem like a military asset against Gondor, concealing from the Wise their true mission, to hunt the Ring. After the assault, Sauron sent the Nine unclothed and invisible to search for the Ring under the leadership of the Witch-king. The Ringwraith Khamûl was unable to find the "Shire" in the vales of Anduin. The Witch-king searched north and west for Gollum or the Shire.[7] Gandalf heard from Radagast about the riders and went to Isengard for counsel, where Saruman showed his true colors and trapped him, for refusing to submit to Sauron or reveal the Ring's whereabouts.[8]

Sauron's plans were halted when he received word of the prophecy in Gondor and the doings of his turncoat Saruman, and concluded that the Wise did not yet have possession of the Ring yet, as he feared. Black Riders arrived at Isengard around September 18, but Gandalf had escaped. Concealed behind the walls of Isengard, Saruman denied any knowledge and convinced the Witch-king that Gandalf alone knew where the Shire and the Ring was, and so the Nine passed into Rohan in search of him. A terrified Wormtongue answered that Gandalf had passed through Rohan, where the Shire was, and even that Saruman had lied to them. The riders were divided into four pairs, and the Witch-King went with the swiftest to Minhiriath. Along the way, they captured several spies of Saruman and found charts and maps of the Shire. They sent along the spy to Bree, warning them that they now belonged to Mordor, not Isengard.[7]

In 22 September, they came to Sarn Ford. Although the Dúnedain Rangers were guarding the crossing, their chieftain Aragorn II was away and the Riders captured the ford, killing many of the Rangers. The Witch-king sent Khamûl and three Riders into the Shire while he went east with the others and then returned to watch the Greenway.[9] A Rider came to Hobbiton at nightfall, but failed to capture Frodo who departed that same day carrying the Ring to the east.[7] The hunt continued to Buckland and Bree, aided by Sauron's spies, such as Bill Ferny and Harry Goatleaf, but nonetheless, the Ring escaped them.[10]

The Council of Elrond by Mysilvergreen

In October, Frodo came to Rivendell and during his arrival, the Black Riders were temporarily neutralized and were forced to return to Mordor to regroup. Some days later, the Council of Elrond was called, where it was decided that the only way to be free of Sauron and the Ring was to cast the Ring into the Crack of Doom in Mount Doom. Frodo surprised everyone, including himself, by declaring that he would take the Ring[8]. The team who would travel to Mordor departed Rivendell in December.[9]

Saruman's part in the War[edit]

Saruman was caught now as a known traitor to the Free Peoples and a mendacious vassal of Sauron. To escape this precarious position he implemented a strategy of controlling the King of Rohan for his lord's ends, but also doubled his efforts in the search for the Ring: sending spies to waylay Frodo Baggins on his flight from the Shire, and dispatching raiding parties on likely routes a company of travelers might take the Ring to Gondor. During the fall of the first year of the War, some Ruffians were sent to the Shire to gain control of the region, collecting the crops and suppressing any dissent to his expanding influence.

The aftermath at Isen as seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

He then endeavored to kill Théoden King's son and nephew and have full control of him. On 25 February, T.A. 3019, he sent his forces to attack Rohan's army (commanded by Théodred and Grimbold) at the Isen. Dunlendings, wolf-riders and Uruks clashed against the Rohirrim in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen with orders to slay Prince Théodred at any cost. Erkenbrand took command of the western defences of Rohan. He sent a messenger to Edoras to inform the King of the ill news and ask for reinforcements, but Gríma Wormtongue delayed the message. Elfhelm joined Grimbold of Grimslade and were left in charge of the Fords when Erkenbrand tried to send stragglers to Helm's Deep. Saruman was successful in eliminating the Prince.[11]

The next day while the Company of the Ring was in the Emyn Muil thinking whether to take the Ring to Minas Tirith or go directly to Mordor, Orcs from Isengard attempted to capture the Ring-bearer; but instead they took Merry and Pippin as prisoners.[12] Éomer hearing of the descent of the Orc-band set out from Eastfold against Théoden's orders and overtook them outside Fangorn Forest, unknowingly setting the hobbits free.[9][13]

Having heard the news about Théodred's death, Erkenbrand, who became the commander of Rohan's western armies, gathered the forces of Grimbold and Elfhelm to assault Isen once more in the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen (2 March). Though they had a force of about 2000 men and had constructed a shield wall to hold off the enemy, Saruman's forces overcame them and scattered the retreating Rohirrim across Rohan.[11][14]

Saruman's victory would not last; he did not know that on the very same day, Gandalf had healed Théoden from Wormtongue's influence. In the meantime, the Ents after ending their long Entmoot, decided to go to Isengard and battle Saruman.[9]

The Battle of the Hornburg by Alan Lee

The next day (3 March) seeking to take the fight away from his people, Théoden brought around a thousand horsemen to the Fords of Isen along with any others in Edoras. Among this force were Éomer, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas. On their way they found Ceorl who reported a defeat to the Fords; Théoden then redirected his troops to Helm's Deep, which was commanded by Gamling in his lord Erkenbrand's absence. Against overwhelming odds, they fought the Battle of the Hornburg for two days against Uruk-hai and Dunlendings, until the Deeping Wall was breached and all seemed lost. The surviving horsemen rode out to meet the hordes of Isengard.[14]

The Wrath of the Ents by Ted Nasmith

At that moment, Gandalf returned, bringing with him Erkenbrand and many other soldiers from Westfold. They attacked the army from the rear, driving the attackers back into a forest of Huorns. While Saruman suffered this military defeat, Isengard was attacked by a march of Ents in the Battle of Isengard who drowned all the valley.[15]

After the defeat of Saruman, Pippin looked in the Orthanc-stone and saw the Eye of Sauron; Gandalf believed that seeing the Hobbit, Sauron would imagine that the Ring-bearer was caught by Saruman's orcs and that they could make good use of the delay caused by Dark Lord's confusion surrounding his minion's assumed betrayal.[16] The protagonists of the War separated, anticipating Sauron's attack on Minas Tirith. Gandalf set out for Minas Tirith taking Pippin since he would not be safe. Théoden set out from the Hornburg for Harrowdale.

Aragorn consulted the Stone of Orthanc and confronted Sauron subduing the stone’s power to his own will. In doing so, however, Aragorn has alerted Sauron to his existence as Isildur’s heir to the throne of Gondor. Gimli feared that Sauron would now release his forces sooner because of this revelation. Aragorn, however, hoped such a hasty move may weaken the Enemy’s attack[17]. They set out with the Grey Company to Dunharrow and took the Paths of the Dead. Théoden would come to Dunharrow.

Sauron strikes[edit]

On 9 March fumes from Mordor veiled the Sun in an attempt by Sauron to disparage or misguide his enemies. The veil blacked out most of Gondor and Rohan who observed that day as The Dawnless Day.[9]

The Nazgûl by Ted Nasmith

Along with the Darkness, a host from Minas Morgul set forth toward Minas Tirith, as witnessed by Frodo, Sam, and Gollum who passed the Cross-roads. Later Orcs from the Morannon took Cair Andros and passed into Anórien.[9] Denethor II called the Council of Gondor together on that day and it advised him to make no stroke of war against the enemy due to the threat from the south.[18]

The Rohirrim mustered their Riders and rode from Harrowdale, while Aragorn led the Army of the Dead and the Grey Company, across the river Ringló.

While preparing against Gondor, Sauron also began campaigns to conquer Wilderland, activating his armies stationed in Dol Guldur and eastern allies. This would bring the eastern half of Middle-earth entirely into his dominion. On 11 March, Orcs from Dol Guldur attacked Lothlórien and Eastern Rohan. The next day the invaders of Rohan were utterly defeated by Ents.[9]

In Gondor, Most of the citizens were sent north 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 than a tenth of what was needed. Most that were needed were holding off the Black Fleet of Umbar.

Denethor II sent Faramir to Osgiliath to intercept the Morgul-host. The Witch-King led the assault upon the western side the next morning aided by boats built in secret, and swiftly overwhelmed the defenders and on 13 March Faramir retreated to the Causeway Forts; Gandalf, upon learning the Witch-King was on the field, the next day went from the city to the Rammas Echor where the forces which had fallen back. It was taken by blasting stones, and a charge by Prince Imrahil and the Knights of Dol Amroth saved Faramir who fell wounded by an Easterling champion.

As Pelennor was overrun, Denethor sent a sortie of cavalry to assist the defenders who retreated back to the city. Denethor, upon seeing his son in this grave state, lost his will to fight and gave no more thought to the defence of his city. He was seriously wounded while Pelennor was overrun. The Siege of Gondor began.[18]

Meanwhile, invaders from Umbar and Harad who sought to capture Linhir and the fords of the River Gilrain. The men of Lamedon fought against them and the arrival of Aragorn with the Army of the Dead from Erech terrified both sides. As Aragorn pressed on to Pelargir, Angbor mustered as many horsemen as he could, helped by the fast-spreading rumor of the return of the Heir of Isildur. Soon later the group reached Pelargir, drove the Corsairs away and captured their fleet.[19]


On 15 March, three simultaneous battles occurred.

In Rhovanion, an army was sent from Dol Guldur to destroy the realm of Thranduil and a second assault against Lothlórien was made. After a long battle under the trees, and great ruin of fire[9] the Orc hosts were defeated on both fronts on the same day.

In Gondor, after the enemy passed Osgiliath, Pelennor outside Minas Tirith was overrun, despite the armies that gathered from southern Gondor already in the days before the battle. The hosts of Mordor dug pits and set up siege weapons beyond the city's range as the Nazgul swooped near the city uttering cries of death, demoralizing the defenders. Then the weapons began launching stones at the city, many of which would 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.[18]

Siege of Minas Tirith by Stephen Hickman

Near midnight the Witch-King launched his assault pushing many defenders to the higher levels, while others were slain trying to reach the walls. Many towers were also destroyed as they rolled forward. [18]

The Witch-King rode assisted by magic the battering ram Grond as it hit the Great Gate of Minas Tirith. As he entered the gate he was confronted by Gandalf who alone stood steadfast. Then a cock crowed and horn from the west sounded. The Witch-King left to deal with the Riders of Rohan at the Rammas Echor. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields began.[18]

The Black Serpent founders by Anke Eißmann

The combined army of Orcs, Haradrim, Men of Rhûn and Men of Khand, outnumbered the Rohirrim at least 10 to 1 but lost almost a third of their own forces. In the process, King Théoden was killed, and the Witch-King was destroyed by Théoden's niece, Lady Éowyn of Rohan. When all seemed lost, a fleet of enemy ships with black sails arrived at the landings to the south of the Pelennor in the Rammas, but it was actually manned by Aragorn. As his army drove north a great part of Mordor's forces were pinned between Aragorn and Éomer's cavalry and were "caught between the hammer and the anvil".

The Battle of Dale. Art by Jan Pospíšil

Meanwhile in the North, Easterlings crossed the Carnen, and King Brand was driven back to Dale. He gathered there with the Dwarves of Erebor, and engaged in the Battle of Dale against the Orcs at the feet of the Lonely Mountain for three days until (17 March) he fell alongside King Dáin Ironfoot. Many Dwarves and Men took refuge in Erebor and were besieged by the Easterlings. However, news from the defeat at the Pelennor reached the Easterlings who began to fail.

Sauron's defeat[edit]

The next day it was understood that the army vanquished in the Battle of the Pelennor was only a fraction of Sauron's forces, and eventually Minas Tirith would not manage to withstand forever. Imrahil expressed concern for the defence of Gondor. Aragorn assured him that Angbor was marching with 4,000 men through Lossarnach to garrison Minas Tirith.[19]

The Host of the West marched from Minas Tirith on 18 March to confront Sauron. During that course, Lothlórien was attacked for a third and last time by Orcs (22 March). After much destruction, the Elves repulsed them once again.

The Host of the West would meet Sauron's forces outside the gates of Mordor seven days later, hoping to divert their attention away from the Ring-bearer, who was nearing the end of his mission.

During the course of the Battle of the Morannon against Trolls, Orcs and Men, the eight remaining Nazgûl attacked the army of the West. The Eagles of the Misty Mountains, led by Gwaihir, arrived and attacked the Ringwraiths. When all hope seemed lost, Frodo failed his mission: he claimed the One Ring for himself, and Sauron was suddenly aware that Frodo had the Ring and was in the Cracks of Doom. Finally realizing that his enemies meant to destroy his Ring, Sauron immediately sent the Nazgûl to Mount Doom to intercept Frodo. However, Gollum wrenched the Ring from Frodo but fell accidentally into the fire, destroying the Ring. The hosts of Mordor, suddenly without direction, hesitated as Sauron's power was overthrown.

The Nazgûl were all destroyed as they flew over Mount Doom just as it underwent a gigantic eruption. Barad-dûr, the Black Gate, and the Towers of the Teeth collapsed to ruin. The Orcs and other creatures of Sauron were completely directionless with the Dark Lord's demise and were easily decimated by the army of the West and the Easterlings eventually threw down their weapons and surrendered. [20]

Two days later, Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm, taking the reign from their respective fathers who fell in the assault, drove the enemy from Dale.[9]

On 28 March with Celeborn at their head, Elves crossed the Anduin in many boats and stormed Dol Guldur. In the Fall of Dol Guldur, Galadriel threw down the walls of the fortress and laid bare its pits, so that the forest was cleansed. Thranduil cleared all the orcs and foul beings from North Mirkwood.[9]

Scouring of the Shire[edit]

The War did not end with the defeat of Sauron, for Saruman fled northward after the capture of Orthanc, and established himself in the Shire, bending the Hobbits to his will by threat of violence and the persuasive power of his voice. The return of Frodo Baggins and his companions from the coronation of King Elessar and the reunification of Gondor and Arnor, led to their arrest by the Shire-hobbits but they talked their way out.[21]

A small group of Ruffians was encountered, and Pippin declared the return of the King to them, and the message that emissaries were on their way. The group was routed, but managed to get a message to a bigger contingent in Waymeet.[22] 20 Men marched from Hobbiton towards Bywater, and 200 Bucklanders and Cottons answered the call of Captain Merry's horn.

The Scouring of the Shire by Inger Edelfeldt

The Men walked up Bywater Road, to the point where Farmer Cotton was standing and found themselves heavily outnumbered. Their leader fell by arrows as he tried to strike at Merry. The rest surrendered. Pippin had set up a rebellion in Tookland, and returned with one hundred Tooks when the larger group of Men from Waymeet arrived the following day and walked straight into a defensive pocket set up by Merry. Merry and Pippin charged from the eastern bank, and Merry killed the leader.[22] Nearly 70 Men were killed and 12 were taken prisoner, while 19 Hobbits died and about 30 were wounded.

After their victory the Hobbits marched on to Bag End, where they found Sharkey. It was not Lotho as had been thought, but rather Saruman who revealed that his servant Gríma killed Lotho. Gríma cut Saruman's throat in a rage for years of oppression and abuse but was himself shot by Hobbit archers. As the spirit of Saruman rose from its bodily form, it was blown away by a wind from the West; Manwë did not want him back.[22]

This battle is considered to mark the end of the War.[23]


Main article: Fourth Age
The Steward and the King by Anke Eißmann

The consequences of the War were "apocalyptical" for the Westlands of Middle-earth. The status quo of many entities were restored, or even radically changed after centuries. Not only the millennia of Sauron's dominion were permanently brought to an end, but the relationships of peoples and races were redefined. It is also notable that during the War many personalities died (Denethor, Théoden, Brand, Dain), and brought their descendants into the aftermath.

The major effect of the war however was that with the destruction of the One Ring, the Three Rings that had maintained the realms of the Elves in Middle-earth lost their power, and the Elves began to leave for the Undying Lands; significant Elves who marked the history of the Westlands for millennia, like Galadriel and Elrond departed, setting stage for the Dominion of Men.


The downfall of Sauron brought the restoration of the long-awaited line of Kings of Gondor, the restoration of Arnor and simultaneously the reunification of the two kingdoms; after of centuries of nomadic wandering the Rangers of the North had again a kingdom and the Gondorians had a king. This King was Aragorn II a descendant both of Isildur and Anárion; furthermore, his marriage with Arwen reunited the lines of Elrond and Elros since the First Age.

The Reunited Kingdom

Other political repercussions were the strengthening of the relationships between the Kingdom and Rohan, new relationships with the Ents (who now occupied Treegarth, former Isengard), the Woses and the Hobbits, now known as free peoples. On the Elven New Year, Celeborn and Thranduil renamed Mirkwood as Eryn Lasgalen and Celeborn took the southern part below East Bight, naming it East Lórien. The wide forest inbetween was given to the Beornings and the Woodmen.

Calendrical impact[edit]

"You were born at the end of a great age, Elanorellë"
Samwise Gamgee in Sauron Defeated, "The Epilogue"

All the above events made historians to mark the years following the War as the end of the Third Age.

Another calendric change was the New Reckoning which replaced the Stewards' Reckoning, and the introduction of Cormarë, a holiday on 25 March that commemorated the fall of Sauron.[24]


Free Peoples[edit]

Sauron and his minions[edit]

The Fleet of Harad by Darrell Sweet



  1. "the Nine [Sauron] has gathered to himself; the Seven also, or else they are destroyed." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
  2. "You saw the Eye of him that holds the Seven and the Nine."
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Strider"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Riders of Rohan"
  14. 14.0 14.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Helm's Deep"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Flotsam and Jetsam"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Palantír"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Passing of the Grey Company"
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Siege of Gondor"
  19. 19.0 19.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Last Debate"
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Mount Doom"
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Homeward Bound"
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age"
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, "The Calendars"