War of the Dwarves and Orcs

From Tolkien Gateway
Previous war: War of the Dwarves and Dragons
Next war: War of the Ring
War of the Dwarves and Orcs
Beginning: T.A. 2793End: T.A. 2799
Place: Beneath the Misty Mountains, from Gundabad southward to Moria
Outcome: Victory for the Dwarves
Major battles: Sacking of Mount Gundabad, Battle of Azanulbizar

Durin's Folk
Dwarves of other Houses

Orcs of the Misty Mountains


Thráin II
Dáin Ironfoot


The War of the Dwarves and Orcs was a great war fought between the two races.


In T.A. 2770, Erebor was sacked by the Dragon Smaug.[1]. Many of the Dwarves of Durin's Folk were rendered homeless and wandered through western Middle-earth, trying to make as best a living as they could. After some years of wandering they settled down in Dunland. Among these Dwarves were Thrór, formerly the King under the Mountain, his son Thráin II, and his grandson Thorin II.[2][3]



Thrór fell into despair after living many years in poverty, or perhaps the Ring he wore was ultimately working evil upon its bearer.[3] Whatever the case, he decided to leave his people in 2790[1] to seek out and look upon the ancestral halls of Khazad-dûm. Accompanied by his friend Nár, they crossed the Redhorn Pass and came down to the East-gate of Moria where Thrór took it upon himself to enter alone, despite the warnings of Nár who stayed behind in the dale.

Thrór was caught and slain by Azog the Orc-chieftain of Moria, and after a few days Thrór's head was branded with Azog's name and the corpse was thrown out of the gate where it was found by Nár. He was left alive to serve as a messenger to the Dwarves that Azog now claimed to be the King of Moria, and to stay away.

When Nár returned to the king's son Thráin, he told him of his father's murder and the Orc's warning. For seven days without eating or sleeping the new king sat, until he stood and cried "This cannot be borne!"[3]

From 2790 to 2793,[1] the Longbeards responded to this tragedy by gathering an army, and calling on the other Houses of the Dwarves for war.

Early Conflicts

In 2793, the Dwarven host was ready, and departed for war; assailing and sacking all the Orc-holds they could find from Mount Gundabad in the north, to the Gladden in the south one by one.

Little is actually known about the six year-long war; however, it is known that most of it was fought underground, in the great mines and tunnels of the Misty Mountains, where Dwarves excelled in combat.[3]

Battle of Azanulbizar

Main article: Battle of Azanulbizar

The war came to its climax in 2799[1] when the final battle was fought in the Dimrill Dale below the East-gate of Moria, the Battle of Azanulbizar, the same gate the Fellowship of the Ring would exit 220 years later. The Dwarves gained victory in this notoriously bloody encounter when reinforcements arrived late on the scene from the Iron Hills. Azog was slain by Dáin Ironfoot.

In its aftermath, King Thráin wanted to enter reclaim the city, but the Dwarves not of Durin's folk refused, saying that the city was not their Fathers' House; they had honored Thrór's memory by fighting and that was enough. Dáin Ironfoot also warned the king that Durin's Bane still dwelt within Khazad-dûm.[3].


The war was very costly for the Dwarves and Orcs: nearly half of those involved in the final battle were killed. Náin, Frerin, and Fundin were among the more notable casualties. Thráin II himself lost an eye and gained a limp, and Thorin was wounded when his shield broke and he had to use an oak branch to defend himself-hence the epithet "Oakenshield".[3]

The Orcs suffered irreparable damage to their numbers by war's end; ten thousand alone were killed in the Dimrill Dale. Those that survived the final battle fled south, seeking refuge in the White Mountains, where they troubled the Rohirrim for two generations.[4] In T.A. 2851[1] King Walda was slain with all his companions by Orcs near Dunharrow. His son Folca hunted down and eliminated the last Orc-hold in the White Mountains.[5]

As a result of such losses, the Orcs of the Misty Mountains virtually disappeared as a threat to Eriador and Wilderland. One and a half centuries later the Orcs of the North were recovering, but their numbers were permanently depleted to severely low levels in the aftermath of the Battle of Five Armies in 2941.[1] It was here that Bolg son of Azog tried to avenge his father and the Great Goblin, but in his failure, three fourths of his people were killed.[6]

Portrayal in adaptations

2020: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The conflict is referred to as the "Sixth War of Dwarves and Orcs". A "Fifth War of the Dwarves and Orcs" is mentioned as having been triggered by the slaying of King Thorin I by Orcs in the Grey Mountains. The alliance of multiple Houses is known as the "Gabil'akkâ, the Unified Army of Dwarves", and the host assembled by Thráin in particular as the "Haban'akkâ".
The Battle of Azanulbizar is portrayed in an extended flashback sequence in which the player assumes the role of "Hermáth Stormhammer", a close friend of Dáin Ironfoot who composed a detailed account of the war on the King's request. All seven of the Dwarven Houses, including their kings, participate in the conflict, despite some coming from very far to the East and not having any contact with the Longbeards since the fall of Khazad-dûm.
A potential seventh war, known at the time as the "War of Three Peaks", begins after the downfall of Sauron in Third Age 3019, when King Thorin Stonehelm's son Prince Durin assembles a dwarven host to reclaim Gundabad.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark", Second Line
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
Preceded by:
Long Winter
Major events of Middle-earth
T.A. 2793 - T.A. 2799
Followed by:
Fell Winter