War of the Elves and Sauron
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|Previous war: Wars of Beleriand|
|Next war: War of the Last Alliance|
|War of the Elves and Sauron|
|Beginning: S.A. 1693||End: S.A. 1701|
|Outcome: Eregion destroyed, Sauron defeated and driven from Eriador|
|Major battles: Sack of Eregion, First Siege of Imladris, Battle of the Gwathló|
The War of the Elves and Sauron was a great war fought in the Second Age.
The Making of the Rings of Power
During the Second Age, Sauron planned to take control of the Elves through the power of his One Ring. In his guise as Annatar, he instructed the Elves of Eregion in the making of Rings of Power, and then secretly constructed a Ruling Ring of his own to enslave the bearers of the Rings. Unknown to him, the Elves had made Three Rings of their own, so that when Sauron took up his own Ring, they understood his intentions and his centuries of planning came to nothing.
The War and Destruction
What he could not control by subtlety, Sauron resolved to destroy by force, and so began the War of the Elves and Sauron. At first, Sauron's victories came quickly: vast armies emerged from Mordor and, over the next six years, overran Eriador. Eregion was destroyed, and Sauron claimed the remaining Rings of Power (except for the Three Rings, which had been sent far from Eregion at the beginning of the war).
The Elves of Eregion did not stand alone against Sauron. From Lindon, Gil-galad sent a force commanded by Elrond to lend them aid. Before Elrond could come to Eregion, the Dark Lord demanded that the Rings of Power be turned over to him, and when he was refused he brought his full force against Eregion. In S.A. 1697, Ost-in-Edhil fell, with Celebrimbor himself leading a last desperate defence on the steps of the Jewel-smiths' guild house. He was taken captive by the Orcs, then shot through with Orc-arrows, and by some accounts, Sauron used Celebrimbor's body as a banner as he turned to face Elrond's army approaching from the north.
Sauron gathered up the Rings of Power that remained, and laid waste the land of Eregion, bringing an end to its people. The surviving Elves of Eregion seem to have scattered, as there are various accounts of their fates. Some fled northward to join Elrond's host, and that host was itself forced into retreat; some of these Elves of Eregion settled at Rivendell when Elrond founded it shortly afterwards. They were joined there by others of their kind who had escaped into the Wild, and only later found their way to safety. Many of these people seem to have later abandoned Middle-earth and sailed into the West.
Still, other survivors escaped into Khazad-dûm and were granted passage by their friends the Dwarves, coming eventually through the Mountains to the woodlands that would long afterwards be called Lórien. The Dwarves of Khazad-dûm indeed did more than simply allow the Elves to pass through their mansions; they went out against Sauron's armies along with a force of Galadhrim under Amroth. It was through their aid that the beleaguered Elrond was able to escape into the north and thus save many of the Elves of Eregion. Once the Dwarves returned to Khazad-dûm, the Doors of Durin were shut and remained so until the Fellowship of the Ring came there thousands of years later.
Just as Sauron's victory looked secure, a great navy appeared in the north, carrying the forces of Númenor sent by King Tar-Minastir. The Númenóreans put Sauron's armies to rout, and forced them back out of the Westlands. So Eriador was saved, but Celebrimbor's kingdom of Eregion had been wiped out, and a great many of the Rings of Power had fallen into the hands of Sauron.
Given the devastation of Eregion, it was decided that Imladris should become the new Elvish stronghold in eastern Eriador. In recognition of his efforts, Gil-galad bestowed the ring Vilya upon Elrond at this time and made him his vice-regent.