Minas Morgul

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Minas Morgul
City
"The Tower of the Moon" by Ted Nasmith
General Information
Other namesMinas Ithil (S), Dushgoi (O), Tower of the Moon, Tower of the Rising Moon, Moon-tower, Tower of Black Sorcery, Dead City
LocationEphel Dúath, facing Gondor
TypeCity
People and History
InhabitantsGondorians, Orcs and Nazgûl
CreatedAfter S.A. 3320
GalleryImages of Minas Morgul

Then the watch upon the walls of Mordor slept, and dark things crept back to Gorgoroth. And on a time evil things came forth, and they took Minas Ithil and abode in it, and they made it into a place of dread; and it is called Minas Morgul, the Tower of Sorcery.

Minas Morgul (originally called Minas Ithil) was the twin city of Minas Tirith before its fall to the forces of Sauron in the Third Age. It was situated some way within the narrow Morgul Valley, guarding the pass between Ithilien and Mordor.

Description

Minas Morgul by Matthew Burton

All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with light. Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls of Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant in the hollow of the hills. Paler indeed than the moon ailing in some slow eclipse was the light of it now, wavering and blowing like a noisome exhalation of decay, a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing.

In its prime, Minas Ithil was a beautiful place. It sat high on a rocky seat "upon the black knees" of the Ephel Dúath, overlooking the valley. Moonlight reflected off the marble walls of the city so that it seemed to shine. The tall tower of the city had many windows, and the topmost part rotated slowly from one side to the other. A white bridge crossed the nearby river, with large meadows on both banks of the stream.

After being taken by the forces of evil, the city became terrible, and the valley was filled with decay. The city was lit by a pale white light, and the gate was shaped like an open mouth with gleaming teeth and eyes. The meadows were filled with deadly[1] white flowers emitting a sickly odour. At the head of the bridge crossing the Morgulduin were corrupted human and bestial statues. The river steamed a poisonous, deadly cold vapour, and the water was undrinkable.[2][3][4]

The city was accessed by the Morgul-road, which ran from Osgiliath to the crossroads and along the north side of the Morgulduin until across from the city, where it crossed the valley on a white bridge before wounding up to the city gate in the northern wall.[5]

History

Second Age

After the destruction of Númenor, Isildur and Anárion, the sons of Elendil, landed in Gondor. Isildur built Minas Ithil near the mountainous border of Mordor from where he would rule the fief of Ithilien; while Anárion built Minas Anor to rule over the fief of Anórien. Minas Ithil housed the Ithil-stone, a palantír.[6]

When Sauron returned after escaping Númenor's destruction, he attacked the exiles of Númenor, and his forces took Minas Ithil by storm. When the Last Alliance of Elves and Men defeated Sauron in the year S.A. 3429, Minas Ithil was restored as a watchtower.

Third Age

After the defeat of the Witch-king of Angmar in the north, he returned to Mordor in T.A. 1980, summoning the other Nazgûl with him to prepare the return of their master. A few years later (T.A. 2000) they laid siege to Minas Ithil and two years later they managed to take the city.[7] The Ithil-stone was also captured and later used by Sauron to influence Saruman and Denethor II.[7][8]

Minas Ithil was occupied by fell creatures, and it changed into a foul, evil place. As a result, it came to be called Minas Morgul, which in the tongue of Gondor means "Tower of Dark Sorcery". Many Gondorians fled from Ithilien.[9]

From Minas Morgul the Lord of the Nazgûl twice challenged his old enemy, King Eärnur. Finally Eärnur rode with his knights against Morgul. He never returned, ending the line of the Kings of Gondor.[7][9]

During the Watchful Peace, the lords of Morgul had secretly bred the Uruk-hai, and in T.A. 2475 these creatures assailed and overran Ithilien.

The Nazgul from Minas Morgul by Daniel Pilla

War of the Ring

During the War of the Ring, a host from Minas Morgul set forth toward Minas Tirith. The host was witnessed by Frodo, Sam and Gollum. After some opposition in Osgiliath, the Morgul-host proceeded to the Pelennor Fields and laid siege to Minas Tirith. However the host, including the city's garrison was devastated during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Following the battle, the Army of the West pulled down the bridge leading to Morgul Vale and set its fields aflame. They met no opposition as the entire city's garrison had been killed at the Battle.[10]

After the War of the Ring, Faramir was made Prince of Ithilien by King Elessar, who advised him to make his abode in the Emyn Arnen south-east of Minas Tirith for "Minas Ithil in Morgul Vale shall be utterly destroyed, and though it may in time to come be made clean, no man may dwell there for many long years".[11] It is not known if the city was ever rebuilt.

Etymology

Minas Morgul is a Sindarin name. It means "Tower of Sorcery".[12][13] It is a compound of minas ("tower") and morgul ("black sorcery"), Morgul is a compound of mor(n) ("black") and gul ("sorcery, black arts").[14][15]

Minas Ithil is another Sindarin name. It means "Tower of the Moon"[16] or "Tower of the Rising Moon".[13] It is a compound of minas ("tower") and ithil ("moon").

In Orkish, Minas Morgul was known as Dushgoi.[17]

Other versions of the legendarium

In earlier drafts, Minas Morgul was called Minas Morghul,[18] and guarded Cirith Ungol (then called Kirith Ungol) instead of the Tower of Cirith Ungol.[19]

Portrayal in adaptations

Minas Morgul in adaptations
Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings Online
Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings Online  

1987-96: Middle-earth Role Playing:

The Minas Ithil city module contains detailed information about Minas Ithil in T.A. 1640 and three adventures that take place in Minas Ithil.
The Kin-strife campaign module contains detailed information about Minas Ithil during the time of the Kin-strife and three adventures that take place in Minas Ithil.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Nazgûl are shown exiting the fortress, beginning their search for Bilbo Baggins who is in possession of The One Ring.

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

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum pass the fortress during their journey to Mordor. It is portrayed as dark with sharp walls, illuminated by a green, hazy light. Frodo, influenced by the power of the Ring, approaches the entrance to the city, but is stopped by Sam and Gollum. A large army and the Witch King mounted on a flying fell beast are shown exiting the city, signifying the start of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

2019: The Lord of the Rings Online:

During the march of the Host of the West towards the Black Gate Gandalf destroys the bridge leading out of Minas Morgul to prevent Aragorn's armies from being flanked. After the downfall of Sauron this action has an unintentional effect of protecting the Dead City itself from any attack from the west. Following Aragorn's coronation, King Elessar charges steward Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien with reclaiming the Morgul Vale and cleansing the Dead City.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"
  3. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator, figure 170
  4. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 486
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol", p. 704
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Palantír"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens", p. 885
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Steward and the King", p. 969
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 31 entry S Minas Morgul
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond", p. 245
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 31 entries S mor and S gûl
  15. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 233
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Black Gate is Closed"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Two: The Ring Goes East", "VIII. Kirith Ungol", p. 226. Cf. note 47
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 64, (dated 30 April 1944)
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part Two: The Ring Goes East", "II. The Passage of the Marshes"