Battle of the Morannon

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This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Battle of the Morannon
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King - Battle of the Morannon.jpg
Conflict: Battle of the Morannon
Date: 25 March T.A. 3019
Place: Dagorlad
Outcome: Decisive victory for the Free Peoples:
  • Final defeat of Sauron (indirectly)
  • Destruction of the One Ring (indirectly)
Combatants

Host of the West
Great Eagles

Orcs of Mordor
Easterlings
Haradrim
Hill-trolls

Commanders

Aragorn
Gandalf
Imrahil
Éomer
Gwaihir

Mouth of Sauron
Nazgûl

Strength

Unknown, except for "Less than six thousand" Gondorians and Rohirrim

Unknown except for 60,000+ Orcs, Haradrim, and Easterlings[note 1][1]

Casualties

Unknown

Unknown

War of the Ring
Osgiliath (1) · Fords of Isen · Isengard · Hornburg · Osgiliath (2) · Siege of Gondor · Dale · Pelennor Fields · Black Gate · Dol Guldur · Bywater

The Battle of the Morannon was the last major battle against Sauron in the War of the Ring, fought at the Black Gate of Mordor on 25 March T.A. 3019.[2] The army of the West, 6,000 strong by now, led by Aragorn marched on the gate as a diversionary feint to distract Sauron's attention from Frodo and Sam, who were carrying the One Ring through Mordor. It was hoped that Sauron would think Aragorn had the Ring and was now trying to use it to overthrow Mordor.[3]

History[edit]

Prelude[edit]

See also: Last Debate

Initially, the Army of the West had been composed of 7,000 men, but many were stationed at various places along the way. A strong guard of archers were stationed at the Cross-roads, in case enemy troops came from the Morgul Pass or from the South. In addition, Aragorn dismissed the faint of heart, who would not go to the Dagorlad, ordering them to liberate Cair Andros on the river Anduin. This resulted in the departure of 1,000 men, leaving 6,000 to continue on towards the Black Gate. Upon arrival, Aragorn defensively arrayed his forces upon two Slag-hills with a mire of mud and stinking pools between his army and the Gate.

Before the battle began, Sauron sent one of his servants, the Black Númenórean called the Mouth of Sauron, to speak with the Captains of the West. He tried to trick Gandalf into believing Sauron held Frodo captive, displaying as evidence items that had belonged to Frodo and Sam (Sam's sword, an Elven cloak, and Frodo's mithril coat) The Mouth threatened that Frodo would be tortured if the West did not agree to Sauron's terms of surrender. The terms included: the disbanding of the armies of the West, an oath to never take up arms, the rebuilding of Isengard, and the turning over of all lands West to Sauron. (It is clear that while Sauron knew there was a Hobbit in Mordor, he did not know why. He also probably did not know there were two.)

Gandalf, however, refused to be swayed, took the items from the Mouth of Sauron, and sent him away. Amazed and angered, the Mouth of Sauron rode back to the Black Gate, let it be opened, and the forces of Sauron marched out. At the same time, more of Sauron's forces that had been hidden in the hills around the Black Gate came forth, thus surrounding and outnumbering the Men of the West by at least ten to one.[1] Less than six thousand Men of the West were fielded.

Battle[edit]

Against Aragorn's army was arrayed Sauron's hordes of Orcs, Trolls, and barbarian Mannish allies such as the Easterlings and Haradrim. An exact count is not given of the number of Sauron's forces, and though they numbered in the tens of thousands at least, the battle is said to not have been quite as large as the preceding Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Sauron "had taken the proffered bait in jaws of steel", and the dismayed soldiers of the West were trapped. Aragorn arranged his men in a circular formation around two hills in front of the Morannon, with the best soldiers of the West arranged in the front where the assault would be at its most bitter.

The slag pools near the hills proved a hindrance for many of Sauron's forces, but trolls easily passed through the pools and crashed into the hosts of the West, bashing through them as smiths hewing hot iron. Many of the Orcs and Men were unable to climb up to face the Western host, and instead shot arrows and projectiles at them. During the fighting, Beregond was wounded by a Troll-chief, and as it reached its claws out for him Pippin drove the blade of Westernesse through the creature before it could slay his comrade.

During the course of the battle, the eight remaining Nazgûl attacked the army of the West. The Eagles of the Misty Mountains, led by Gwaihir the Windlord, arrived and attacked the Ringwraiths. The main host of Mordor managed to reach that of the West's, and despair was set among them. The Orcs laughed cruelly as they smashed against the Western forces, which began to dwindle, and the Ringwraiths overhead filled them with terror.[1] At that moment, when all hope seemed lost, Frodo put on the One Ring and Sauron realized that Frodo was inside Mount Doom. The Nazgûl immediately left the battle to intercept Frodo. The hosts of Mordor were suddenly without direction; the Orc laughter ceased, the Evil Men hesitated, and many knights of the West began to repel the attackers in a charge. Gandalf ordered them to halt, for the hour of doom was about to come. Indeed, Gollum bit the Ring off Frodo's finger and then fortuitously fell into the Crack of Doom, and Sauron's power was overthrown.[4]

The Nazgûl had been flying over Mount Doom just as it underwent a gigantic volcanic eruption, and they were all destroyed in the firestorm. 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 fled mindlessly; some falling into pits, others outright killing themselves, and many fleeing. Many Easterlings and Haradrim fled as well or surrendered, though others banded together in their hatred and fought on stalwartly.[5]

Aftermath[edit]

The desperate gambit of the West had succeeded, even as Frodo ultimately succumbed to the Ring. It was destroyed forever, and Sauron was disembodied permanently, his shadow fading away from Barad-dûr. Many surviving Orcs and Men retreated to the mountains or northward, where fighting against Sauron's remaining forces would continue for several weeks, notably at Dol Guldur in Mirkwood and at Erebor, but the power of the Dark Lord of Mordor was no more. The Western soldiers, weary and many injured, rested and healed before the host marched back to Minas Tirith.[2]

Months later, the Battle of Bywater in the Shire against ruffians led by Saruman, and the subsequent killing of Saruman and Wormtongue on the very doorstep of Bag End, ended the War of the Ring.[6]

Portrayals in Adaptations[edit]

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

The Battle is first began, as Aragorn uses Andúril to cut the Mouth of Sauron's head off his body, a war crime, and Sauron's anger is seen as he turns to the Black Gate. This "concludes negotiations" as this causes the battle to begin. The Black Gate opens, and an army marches out, and while the Army gets into position, Aragorn rallies the Men of Rohan and Gondor, foretelling the fall of Men, and the "Age of Men comes crashing down." But he states that that day was not so the day of doom, and ends with:

"Stand Men of the West!"

As Aragorn stands, he turns, and tells Gandalf, Pippin, Merry, Legolas, Gimli, "For Frodo." He then runs, convincing Merry and Pippin to run after him into battle, as well as the rest of the Fellowship and the Host of the West charges into the army at the Black Gate. As they fight, the Nazgûl, on fell beasts appear, when a moth, appears to Gandalf, alerting him to the arrival of the Eagles, where they fight the fell beasts and Ringwraiths riding them, as they retreat into Mordor, as Sauron learns, that the One Ring lied at Orodruin, sending his Ringwraiths to retrieve the Ring at all costs. The Host of the West, starts to get overrun by the high numbering force of Sauron, and Aragorn almost dies to a troll, parreleling how Beregond almost died to a troll in the Book, but as the One Ring perishes in Orodruin, Barad-dûr, The Towers of the Teeth and the Black Gate falls into ruin, and the land in front, left and right sinks, as the Orcs either fall into the sinkholes, or retreat from Mordor in despair, while the Host of the West stands in awe as the Realm of Sauron is ended.

In a deleted scene, when the army gets into position, Sauron himself appears in a form like he took in the Films' version of the War of the Last Alliance, and fights with Aragorn, however as the ring is destroyed, the form fades, and it appears as if the Heir of Elendil had won against the Dark Lord in single combat.

Notes

  1. The forces of Mordor, Rhûn, and Harad together had "ten times and more than ten times" the number of the Western host, which consisted of less than 6,000. Therefore, there were little over 60,000 forces of evil deployed by Sauron.

References