Battle of the Plains
|Battle of the Plains|
|Conflict: Wainrider/Balchoth War|
|Date: T.A. 1856|
|Place: Plains south of Mirkwood|
|Outcome: Victory for the Wainriders|
Gondor, Northmen (pre-Éothéod)
Narmacil II †
Unknown Wainrider commander
Prior to the Battle
Prior to the battle, in the winter of T.A. 1635, the Great Plague arrived by dark winds in the northwest of Middle-earth. The heaviest impact struck the kingdoms of Rhovanion, which lost half of its people, and Gondor, where in T.A. 1636 it killed many thousands of its people as well. They were slow to recover; but fortunately, their weaknesses went untested for decades. The Easterlings had also been afflicted, so that the enemies of Gondor struck mainly from the south, or were maritime raiders. But when the Wainriders invasions began in T.A. 1851, they involved Gondor in wars that lasted for nearly a hundred years. In these conflicts, the Northmen bore the brunt of the first assaults.
In T.A. 1856 King Narmacil II of Gondor took a great army north to the plains south of Mirkwood, and gathered together all that he could of the scattered remnants of the Northmen. The Wainriders descended upon this combined force from the north and northeast. Narmacil II was defeated, and he himself was slain in the battle as well as Marhari leader of the Northmen, who died fighting in the rearguard. The remnant of Gondor's army retreated over Dagorlad into Ithilien.
Aftermath and Repercussions
The battle was a disaster for Gondor. The king was slain, and the lands east of the river Anduin were abandoned, save Ithilien. Narmacil was succeeded by his son Calimehtar. However, the forces of Gondor did inflict enough damage to the Wainriders to prevent any deeper incursion into Gondor; instead the invaders completed their conquest of Rhovanion.
As for the Northmen, a few fled over the river Celduin and merged with the People of Dale (with whom they were akin), some took refuge in Gondor, and others were gathereed under the leadership of Marhwini son of Marhari. Marhwini led his people north between Anduin and Mirkwood, eventually settling east of the Great River in the Vales of Anduin between the Carrock and the Gladden Fields. They were joined by many fugitives who came through Mirkwood. This was the birth of the Éothéod, though no news of this reached Gondor for many years. Most of the Northmen were reduced to servitude, and all their former lands were occupied by the Wainriders.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "(i) The Northmen and the Wainriders"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "Notes", Note 8