Corsair wars

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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.
Previous war: Kin-strife
Next war: War of the Ring
Corsair wars
Beginning: T.A. 1448End: Reign of Elessar[1]
Place: The coastal lands of the Bay of Belfalas
Outcome: Victory for the Gondorians
  • Corsair state subdued[1]
Major battles: Battle of Pelargir, Surprise Attack on Umbar


Corsairs of Umbar


Ecthelion II
Denethor II

Captain of the Haven

The Corsair wars were a long, predominately naval struggle between the Kings and Stewards of Gondor and the rebellious Corsairs of Umbar.


The fortress haven of Umbar was founded by Númenórean colonists during the Second Age during the peak of Númenorean power and eventually fell under the control of the King's Men. These King's Men eventually became the Black Númenóreans who submitted to Sauron and served him gladly in Middle-earth.[2][3] Even after the Downfall of Númenor, the Black Númenóreans held control of Umbar and showed great antipathy to the Exiles of Númenor.[1]

The hatred between Umbar and Gondor simmered for a while; however, in T.A. 933, King Eärnil I captured Umbar, driving the lords of Umbar into exile. 82 years later, in 1015, these lords lead the Haradrim to re-take the fortress and slew King Ciryandil, son of Eärnil I. This caused his son to conquer Harad and eventually take the name Hyarmendacil I and Umbar became a great haven of Gondor.[1]



Main article: Kin-strife

Umbar was securely held by Gondor until the aftermath of the Kin-strife in 1447. The great civil conflict between Eldacar and the usurper Castamir resulted in Castamir's death and his sons fleeing to Umbar. There they established an independent lordship in opposition to Gondor and continued to clash with Gondor for centuries to come.[1]


Since 1448, the people who fled with 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. Umbar welcomed enemies of Gondor, contested the possession of the fief South Gondor, and absorbed tributaries to Gondor in Harad.[4][1]

In 1540, King Aldamir was slain in battle against the Corsairs who allied with the kings of Harad, but was avenged by his son Hyarmendacil II in 1551.[5][4]

In 1634, learning through spies that King Minardil was at Pelargir, Castamir's great-grandsons Angamaitë and Sangahyando, and thus the leaders of the Corsairs, raided the haven and killed the King. His heir Telemnar prepared a fleet against Umbar but could not retaliate as the kingdom was ravaged by the Great Plague of 1636.[1][4]

By 1810 the Corsairs raided as far as Anfalas, and Minardil's great-grandnephew Telumehtar punished them. In an attack, he took the fortress and haven of the Corsairs, killing Castamir's last descendants. After this victory, he renamed himself Umbardacil and Umbar fell under the power of Gondor once more.[1]

Gondorian control of Umbar lasted for another 46 years until the attacks of the Wainriders, in which Umbar was again lost and fell under the power of the Haradrim.[1]

In some unknown conflict against the Corsairs in 2746, the fifteenth Prince of Dol Amroth was killed.[4]

After nearly a century of preparation, the Corsairs of Umbar assembled three strong fleets, which they sent northward to harry the coasts of Gondor; one of these fleets passed so far north that it reached the mouths of the river Isen. These attacks were launched during the Long Winter, but in the following spring, Steward Beregond was able to launch his own fleet, driving the Corsairs of Umbar back.[6]

29 years later, Umbar's fleet was largely destroyed when Thorongil, in the service of the Ecthelion II, led a task force south and burned them, overthrowing the Captain of the Haven in the process.[6]

During the War of the Ring, Umbar had not fully recovered from surprise attack, but could still send a massive force: 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.[7] They were once again defeated by Aragorn, Angbor, and the Army of the Dead.

It was only during the reign of High King Elessar that the Corsairs were completely subdued, thus putting an end to the centuries-long conflict and the rebel status of Umbar.[1]

See also