Tolkien Gateway

Corsairs of Umbar

Corsairs of Umbar
John Howe - Corsairs 01.jpg
Corsairs by John Howe
General Information
OriginsFounded by the sons and supporters of Castamir the Usurper
MembersAngamaitë, Sangahyando, Captain of the Haven
Physical Description
DistinctionsSea-raiders and pirates
Hair colorDark
Skin colorDark

The Corsairs of Umbar were sea-raiders and pirates of the Haven of Umbar. Umbar was an old Númenórean haven settled by the "King's Men" or Black Númenóreans,[1] a proud faction loyal to the King and opposed to the divine authority of the Valar.


[edit] History

After the Downfall of Númenor, the Umbar settlers further descended into evil and were called the Black Númenóreans. They took to pillaging and piracy along the coasts of Gondor.

During the Kin-strife, the defeated rebels of Castamir fled Gondor to Umbar — by this time Umbar became the hated enemy of Gondor and a welcome refuge for its enemies. Ever since they claimed Harondor.[1]

They allied with the Haradrim against Gondor; in T.A. 1540 King Aldamir was slain during that war.[2]

Angamaite and Sangahyando, the descendants of Castamir, led the Corsairs to ravage Pelargir, killing King Minardil who was there (T.A. 1634). In the following years Gondor suffered by the Great Plague and Corsairs raided the Gondorian coasts up to Anfalas, until Umbardacil avenged Minardil's death, slew the last descendants of Castamir, drove away the Corsairs and retook Umbar (T.A. 1810).[1][2]

Eventually, Umbar was taken by the Haradrim[1] and mixed with the Corsairs. The Númenórean blood was mostly gone in that mixed people. The Corsairs once more harried the coasts of Gondor during the time of Cirion.[3]

In T.A. 2746 the Corsairs were involved in a conflict with Dol Amroth, where the fifteenth Prince of Dol Amroth was slain.[4]

The Corsairs prepared for long a great force of three fleets. In T.A. 2758 the fleets sailed from Umbar and Harad and raided and landed on the Gondorian coasts, as north as the mouth of Isen. Travelling up Lefnui and Isen they helped the Dunlendings who were occupying Rohan. Before the spring of 2759, Beregond overcame the invaders.[3][5]

In the time of Ecthelion II, a man under his service known as Thorongil, warned him that the Corsairs were a great peril for the Southern Fiefs. With a small fleet, Thorongil made a surprise attack, burning a great part of their ships and overthrowing the Captain of the Haven.[3]

During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, a fleet of Corsairs was raiding Lebennin when Aragorn captured their ships[6] and rowed them to Minas Tirith to relieve the siege of the city.[7]

The threat was finally subdued during the reign of King Elessar.[1]

[edit] Culture

The corsairs's fleet included dromunds, and ships with deep hulls and many oars and with black sails.[7] Others were recognizable by their red sails, adorned with a black star or eye.[8]

[edit] Inspiration

The Corsairs were possibly inspired by the Pirates of the Barbary Coast.[9] J.R.R. Tolkien described in his notes for the translation of names in The Lord of the Rings into other languages that the Corsairs "are imagined as similar to the Mediterranean corsairs: sea-robbers with fortified bases".[10]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Corsairs are from the Mordor faction, and are equipped with knives and fire-bombs.

2014: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Corsairs were led by four brothers who falsely call themselves the Heirs of Castamir. These were Azruthor, Dolgimil, Azgarzôr, and the eldest Balakhôr the Scourge. The player negotiated with a Corsair named Jajax, who ended up siding with the player against the Heirs and their followers.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil", p. 222
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Last Debate"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
  8. "Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth transcribed" dated 10 November 2015, The Tolkien Society (accessed 11 November 2015)
  9. John M. Bowers, Tolkien's Lost Chaucer (2019) p. 170
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 755