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Battle of the Thousand Caves

"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" - Tom Bombadil
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
This article is about the battle between Elves and Dwarves. For the battle between Dior and the Sons of Feanor, see Second Kinslaying.
Battle of the Thousand Caves
Steamey - Death of Thingol.jpg
Date: F.A. 503
Place: Menegroth, Doriath
Outcome: Victory for the Dwarves of Nogrod
Combatants

Iathrim

Dwarves of Nogrod

Commanders

Mablung

Lord of Nogrod[1][note 1]

Strength

Unknown

A great host[2]

Casualties

Unknown

Heavy[3]

The Battle of the Thousand Caves[4] was a battle fought on F.A. 503 between the Dwarves of Nogrod and the Elves of Menegroth.

Contents

[edit] Background

The Silmaril that was rescued by Beren and Lúthien remained in the treasury of Thingol of Doriath who desired to have it always at hand.[1] In the last years of Húrin's life he brought to him the famed Nauglamir, the Necklace of the Dwarves, from Nargothrond.

Having the two great treasures, he decided to unite them by fastening the Silmaril into the necklace. Craftsmen from Nogrod were tasked to accomplish this but they also desired to possess the jewel and necklace for themselves and when their work ended they refused to give it to the king. In the conflict Thingol was killed. The rest of the Dwarves were hunted down and slain as they fled home and Nauglamir was taken from them.

After the death of Thingol Melian returned to Valinor and her magical control upon the woods of Doriath waned after her. Before leaving, Melian had told Mablung to warn Beren about the evil deed of the Dwarves.

[edit] History

[edit] Prelude

Two Dwarves survived the slaughter, and made it to their home of Nogrod in the Blue Mountains. They lied saying that Thingol killed the Dwarves that made the Nauglamir, refusing to pay them for their work. Their kinsmen became enraged and decided to avenge their fallen brethren. They sent word to the Dwarves of Belegost but they refused to aid them, but nonetheless formed a great host. They entered Beleriand and crossing Aros, marched west towards Doriath.

As the Dwarven host marched through the forest none withstood them as the Girdle of Melian waned after Melian departed. The grey-elves and their captains scattered without hope.

[edit] Battle

The Dwarves found resistance only by the Sindar inside Menegroth. The losses were heavy on both sides during the grievous battle.[1] Mablung was defending the treasury where the Nauglamir lay, and there he was killed before its doors, and the Silmaril was taken. The Dwarves emerged victorious and the halls of Thingol were plundered.

[edit] Aftermath

After they plundered its treasures they made their way home to Nogrod. A messenger from Doriath brought tidings of what has befallen there to Beren and Lúthien. With the help of the Green-elves and Ents Beren ambushed the Dwarves near Sarn Athrad and in the battle Beren emerged victorious. The treasure of Menegroth fell in Ascar, except for the Nauglamir, which Beren brought to Lúthien.[1]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

The battle happens differently in the Tale of the Nauglafring.[5] In this version of the story Menegroth is attacked by an alliance of Dwarves, the Nauglath (Dwarves of Nogrod) and Indrafangs (Dwarves of Belegost) led by their respective kings Naugladur of Nogrod and Bodruith of Belegost. They were also joined by mercenary Orcs. The Dwarven-Orc host were aided by Narthseg, an Elf of Artanor that guided the host through the magic of Gwendelin as well as provide information of Tinwelint’s location who is still alive at this point of the narrative.

The Orcs and the Indrafangs assaulted the unprepared city. There was a bloody battle in the gates until eventually the guards were pushed back and the halls and chambers were ransacked. Tinwelint and Mablung are not inside Menegroth when the attack happens but are outside in the woods participating in the Hunting of the Wolf. Tinwelint and his company were surrounded by the Nauglath led by Naugladur. Both forces clashed until at the end both Mablung and the king fell side by side. Naugladur cut the head of the dead king and claimed the Nauglafring.

Notes

  1. In Tolkien’s earlier writings it was Naugladur that led the attack alongside Bodruith of Belegost and Ufedhin, a Gnome that lived in Artanor. In the Quenta Silmarillion he is unamed.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath", pp. 280 ‘a great host came forth from Nogrod’
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath", pp. 282 ‘returning from Menegroth with diminished host’
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath": "For there was battle in the Thousand Caves"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "IV. The Nauglafring"