Battle of Five Armies
|Battle of Five Armies|
|Date: "the last week of autumn" in T.A. 2941|
|Place: The valley of Dale and the slopes of Erebor|
|Outcome: Victory for the Elves, Men, and Dwarves|
Unknown, except for:
Unknown, except for "A vast host"
Unknown, presumably substantial
Heavy: "three parts of the goblin warriors of the North perished"
Thorin and Company, including the "master-thief" Bilbo Baggins trying to recapture the heirloom of their fathers' (and possibly to kill Smaug, too, and thus to recapture the whole Kingdom) had camped without at Erebor for some weeks. Bilbo had already done some exploration of the old hallways using the Back Door and had stolen a golden cup from the treasure. By this deed and by Bilbo's bold speech Smaug's anger was kindled.
Erroneously believing, due to some remarks Bilbo had made during his conversation with Smaug, that some scheme of the Men of Esgaroth was the reason for the Dwarves' (and Bilbo's) presence, Smaug flew to Esgaroth to show them who is "the true King under the Mountain". Smaug's fires burned down the whole town, but the dragon was killed by Bard the Bowman. The Elves of Mirkwood soon learned that Smaug had been killed and thus set forth to claim the treasure, believing there was no one left who had a claim on it. Having heard of the disaster that had struck the befriended men, the Elven host turned aside to offer any help that could be provided. Some day after the Elves had arrived at the Long Lake a united host of Men and Elves set forth towards Erebor, believing that the Dwarves had been among the first casualties of Smaug's wrath. To their surprise they found Thorin and Company quite alive, the gate to the halls beneath Erebor barred by a wall and themselves treated as foes, coming armed towards the gates.
For several reasons Bard, being heir of Girion, Lord of Dale, claimed one twelfth of the treasure: first, he was the dragonslayer and without him, the Dwarves could never have reclaimed their old home. Second, a great deal of Dale's treasure had been robbed by Smaug and thus belonged rightfully to Bard and not the Dwarves. Third, the men of Esgaroth had helped the Dwarves on their journey and now had suffered severely; their whole city burned to the ground and their stocks being destroyed by Smaug, whose anger in the end was only risen by the Dwarves alone. Therefore they demanded compensation and Bard intended to pay it from the part of the treasure he claimed.
Yet Thorin rebuked these claims. He would not fulfill any of the conditions as long as an armoured Elven host camped near Erebor. For the Elves did not have any claims on the treasure and Thorin himself had been imprisoned by the Elves.
As a result, Thorin and Company were trapped in a bloodless siege, with Thranduil and Bard hoping to wait him out. However, Thorin had sent messages of his plight to his relatives using as messengers talking Ravens that lived on the Lonely Mountain. These reached Dáin Ironfoot of the nearby Iron Hills, and he marched to Erebor with 500 heavily armed Dwarves of the Iron Hills, most of them skilled veterans of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. When Dain's forces arrived, battle was almost joined between the two sides (now three armies were on the field) but at the last moment Gandalf intervened between the two and revealed that while they were bickering amongst themselves, the Goblins 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 Goblins and Wargs were the enemies of all and previous grievances between them were put on hold in face of the greater threat. They arranged their forces on the two spurs of the Mountain that lined the valley leading to the now-sealed off great Gate of Erebor; the only entrance to the Mountain that remained unblocked (any others had been destroyed by Smaug long before). The 500 Dwarves and 200 or so Lake-men formed up on one spur and over 1000 Elves on the other, while a light rear-guard lined across the mouth of the valley to lure the Goblins between the two spurs of the mountain, and thus destroy them. Bilbo Baggins tried to sit out the battle on Ravenhill which was held by the Elves and where also Gandalf had withdrawn to.
Soon the Goblins and Wargs arrived, and at first the plan worked: they were lured into the chokepoint and took heavy losses. However, due to their superior numbers, the allied Free peoples did not hold the advantage long. The second wave was even worse than the first, and due to their sheer number now many Goblins scaled the mountain from the opposite side, and began to attack the arrayed forces from above and behind, as the main wave pressed forward. The battle raged across the Mountain, and then a great noise was heard: Thorin and his 12 Dwarf companions inside the mountain had thrown down a section of the stone wall they had erected across the mouth of the gates, killing many Goblins. Thorin and Company emerged, covered in the best armour and armed with the best weapons in Erebor. Then Thorin cried, "Rally to me my kinsfolk," and charged down into the valley to join the battle with many Dwarves and many Men and Elves joining them. Thorin advanced through the Goblins' ranks all the way up to the gigantic Goblins that formed the Bodyguard of Bolg, but could not get past them. Also his battle-line was too short, the flanks unprotected and thus his attack soon crumbled, Thorin and many others were cut off and hard beset by Bolg's bodyguard. The battle degenerated into a chaotic close quarters melee, no quarter asked or given.
As the battle was turning fully against the Free Folk, a large army of Giant Eagles of the Misty Mountains arrived, led by the Great Eagle. Bilbo was the first to spot their entrance on the scene and began shouting that "the Eagles are coming!", a shout that was then continued among the other troops of the Free Folk. At this point Bilbo was knocked in the head by a large stone thrown by a Goblin from above on the Mountain, and he was knocked out. With the support of the Giant Eagles, the Goblins that had scaled Erebor were driven off. The tide was eventually turned, when Beorn himself arrived at the battle, apparently having heard news that a large army of Goblins were on the move. This time he did not appear in his former shape of a giant Man, but in that of a gigantic Bear. Beorn drove through the Goblin lines, but paused to carry the wounded Thorin out of the battle with his paw. Beorn then returned to the battle with even greater wrath and smashed the bodyguard of Bolg, ultimately killing Bolg. The Goblins panicked and scattered, to be picked off by hunting forces from the victors later.
Thorin had been mortally wounded on the field, and his nephews Fíli and Kíli died defending him as he lay on the ground with shield and body. Thorin died soon after the battle, after he had met Bilbo one last time and had taken back the harsh words he had spoken before.
After defeating the Goblins and Wargs, the victors divided the treasure. Bard took Bilbo's fourteenth share of the gold and silver in return for the Arkenstone, whereupon he shared his reward with the Master of Lake-town and gave the Elvenking Thranduil the emeralds of Girion. Bilbo, despite having forfeited his share, was offered a rich reward by Dáin Ironfoot but refused to take more than two small chests of gold and silver.
It is said that three quarters of the Goblin warriors of the North were killed on that day. The Goblins of the Misty Mountains and the Dwarves both were significantly spent after the battle, and until the War of the Ring, the North remained quiet on both sides.
Other versions of the legendarium
In its first versions, the conflict around Erebor ended after the Siege. While Bard and the Elvenking laid siege, Gandalf would arrive and negotiate a peace treaty. The actual Battle, dubbed by John D. Rateliff the "Battle of Anduin Vale", would be on the return journey, in what would later be known as the Vales of Anduin. There, Goblins and Wargs would waylay Bilbo. The Five Armies in this incarnation were the Goblins, the Wargs, the Woodelves, the Woodmen, and Beorn Medwed leading a troop of bears.
Portrayal in adaptations
1966: The Hobbit (1966 film):
- The battle is completely omitted. Bilbo kills the dragon, and returns home.
1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):
- The "Five Armies" are the Elves, the Men, the Dwarves, the Goblins (and Wargs) and the Eagles. Bilbo estimates the force of the Men and Elves on 10,000, but this may not be an accurate estimate. The number of Dwarves of Thorin and Company to have died is seven, but only Thorin and Bombur are named among the dead. Only Glóin is shown as having survived the battle.
2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):
- The battle takes up most of the last chapter. Because Bilbo is the main character, his role in the battle is much expanded. After leaving Thranduil, he has to fight his way to Balin, Lianna, Corwin, Gandalf, Beorn, and ultimately Bolg.
- The battle comprises the majority of the third film. The five armies are described as Elves, Men, Dwarves, and two armies of Orcs - one from Dol Guldur and the other from Gundabad. Azog acts as commander, rather than Bolg, and set up a signal post on Raven Hill to coordinate the battle.
- During the battle, Thorin decides to kill Azog in Ravenhill and is followed by Dwalin, Fili and Kili. Fili is then captured, impaled by Azog and thrown off a tower. Bolg finds Tauriel and injures her but before he can finish her, Kili arrives to save her but is impaled by Bolg's mace and dies. Thorin confronts Azog in a fight to avenge Fili; ultimately, Azog stabs Thorin in the chest, whilst Thorin plunges Orcrist through Azog's chest and stabs him into the ice, killing the Orc. Thorin later apologises to, and makes peace with, Bilbo before dying.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "On the Doorstep"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Thief in the Night"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Inside Information"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit: Return to Bag-End, pages 713-4
- "The Hobbit.mp4" dated 5 January 2012, YouTube (accessed 10 January 2012)
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition) Appendices