Tolkien Gateway

Angmar War

Revision as of 00:33, 1 May 2018 by Kulid (Talk | contribs)
"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.
Previous war: War of the Last Alliance
Next war: War of the Ring
Angmar War
Beginning: T.A. 1409End: T.A. 1974 (fighting finally ended in T.A. 1977)
Place: Arnor, Angmar, The Shire, Rivendell, Northwest Wilderland
Outcome: Destruction of the kingdoms of Arnor and Angmar, decline of the Dúnedain of the North, the Eótheód take the upper Vales of the Anduin as their own from the remnants of Angmar.
Major battles: First Invasion of Angmar, Fall of Cardolan, Fall of Amon Sûl, Weather Hills skirmishes, Second Siege of Imladris, Fall of Fornost, Battle of Fornost, Eótheód Incursion

Arthedain, Cardolan, Lindon, Rivendell, Lórien, Gondor, the Eótheód

Angmar, Angmar-occupied Rhudaur


The Angmar War was a centuries-long struggle between the Northern Dúnedain kingdom and the forces of Angmar, led by the Witch-king.



Eliot Gould - The Witch King
After the death of King Eärendur, the Kingdom of Arnor was split into three parts: Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur, each ruled by one of Eärendur's sons. There was often strife between the three kingdoms, usually over control of the Weather Hills and the palantír of Amon Sûl. During the reign of Malvegil of Arthedain (c. T.A. 1300), a new power arose beyond the Ettenmoors. This new realm of Angmar was ruled by the Witch-king, though it was not yet known that he was indeed the chief of the Ringwraiths. He filled his domain, which extended into the Upper Anduin Vale, with Orcs and other fell creatures, but also Men, most likely drawn from the local population of Hill-men. In Rhudaur, the Dúnedain there being few, a lord of the Hill-men seized power.[1]

The Early Wars

Argeleb I of Arthedain claimed the kingship of all Arnor, the line of Isildur having failed in Cardolan and Rhudaur. In Cardolan Argeleb was recognised as king, though it also kept its own princes. Rhudaur however resisted the claim, and openly allied with Angmar. Argeleb fortified the Weather Hills,[2] but was killed in battle with Rhudaur and Angmar in T.A. 1356.[3] His son Arveleg I received help from Cardolan and Lindon, and was able to drive the enemy back from the Weather Hills. After this the men of Arthedain and Cardolan held, for many years, a frontier along the Weather Hills, the Great East Road and the lower Hoarwell. During this period the Witch-king besieged Rivendell, but failed to take it.[4]

In T.A. 1409, the Witch-king launched a massive assault upon Arnor, circling around the Dúnedain defences to invade Cardolan from the south. Causing huge destruction, the host of Angmar marched north to Amon Sûl. The great watchtower was taken and destroyed, although its palantír was saved and brought to Fornost. In this war both Arveleg and the Last Prince of Cardolan perished. The remaining Dúnedain of Rhudaur were slain or driven west, while those of Cardolan held out only in Tyrn Gorthad and the Old Forest. Fornost meanwhile was beset by the armies of Angmar, but Cirdan brought reinforcements out of Lindon, enabling the young king Araphor to repel his foes from the North Downs.[5]

Arnor had been weakened hugely but the Witch-king was unable to press home his advantage because, at this point, the Elves unleashed their remaining strength upon Angmar. Elrond persuaded King Amroth to send a force of Galadhrim over the High Pass to Rivendell. Together with their kinsfolk of Lindon, they dealt such a blow to Angmar that it was left in a weakened state for centuries.[6]

Arnor, however, was unable to recover its former strength. Much of its territory was already deserted, prompting Argeleb II to grant The Shire to the Hobbits in T.A. 1601.[7] In the seventeenth century a Great Plague came from out of the East, devastating Rhovanion and Gondor. While Arthedain was relatively unaffected, Cardolan suffered greatly and the remaining Dúnedain in Tyrn Gorthad perished. The Hobbits of the Shire also saw great loss,but their numbers recovered in time. In the wake of the Plague, evil spirits came down out of Angmar and Rhudaur and reanimated the corpses of the Dúnedain of the Barrow-downs.[8]

The Fall of Arnor

The North-Kingdom nonetheless had peace for a time, but in the nineteenth century Angmar renewed its attacks. King Araval was slain fighting in Cardolan in T.A. 1851[9] and, in the same year, Gondor was attacked by the Wainriders for the first time.[10] Suspecting that these attacks might be being coordinated by a single power, the two kingdoms finally brought to an end their years of estrangement. In T.A. 1940, Arvedui heir to the sceptre of Arnor, wedded Fíriel, the daughter of King Ondoher of Gondor. Ondoher would prove to be last in a direct line of kings since Meneldil when he was slain in battle with the Wainriders four years later. Hoping to save Arnor from Angmar, Arvedui staked his claim to Gondor, by right of his descent from Elendil and by that of his wife. The lords of Gondor however were not for reunification, and instead gave the crown to Eärnil the commander who had defeated the Wainriders. Arvedui did not press his claim, and Eärnil maintained good relations with Arnor, promising them aid against the continuing attacks of Angmar. Arvedui succeeded his father in T.A. 1964, but Arnor's strength was fast dwindling. In T.A. 1973 he sent a message to Eärnil that they were in great straits, and that Angmar was preparing it final assault. Eärnil accordingly mustered a great army, including many horsemen from Vales of Anduin, under the command of his son Prince Eärnur. The Gondorian force put to sea, but would not arrive in Lindon before Angmar struck.[11]

In T.A. 1974 the Witch-king amassed his forces and launched a final assault on Arthedain. The Witch-king attacked during the harsh winter weather and took Fornost. The remnants of the Arnorian forces fled west over the river Lune but Arvedui held out for a short time in the North Downs. He and a few surviving companions were eventually forced to flee to the abandoned mines of the northern Ered Luin. With their food running our, they sought refuge with the Lossoth of Forochel. Receiving word of the King's whereabouts, Cirdan sent a ship to the Icebay to rescue him. Against the advice of the Lossoth chieftain, Arvedui boarded the ship, which that night was wrecked by a storm from the North. Arvedui drowned, and with him were lost the palantíti of Fornost and Amon Sûl.[12]

The End of the War

Earnur of Gondor

The Witch-king now sat the throne in the king's palace, but it was not long before Eärnur arrived in much joy and wonder among Elves and Men. There were so many ships that the fleet filled Forlond, Harlond, and the Grey Havens; amazing the people of the North, even though this was but a small part of Gondor's strength. Círdan summoned the Noldor, Sindar and what remained of the Men of Arnor then the allied host marched across the Lune, to challenge the occupiers of Fornost.[13]

The Witch-king, confident and proud after his recent victories, did not prepare for a siege, but sent his army out to face the Host of the West. The Men and Elves came down from Hills of Evendim and engaged the forces of Angmar in the plains between Nenuial and Fornost. The Host of the West had the better of the fighting, and the Angmarim began to retreat back to Fornost. Suddenly, out of the north, came the main body of the Gondorian cavalry, which had passed around the Hills and outflanked the enemy. They fell upon the Angmarim and scattered them in a great rout. The Witch-king gathered what troops he could and tried to lead them back to Angmar but was overtaken by the cavalry of Gondor led by Prince Eärnur. At the same time a force of Elves led by Glorfindel came up out from Rivendell and the remnants of Angmar's army were utterly destroyed. Near the end of the battle, the Witch-king attempted to slay Eärnur, but fled upon the appearance of Glorfindel. Angmar was obliterated and all its people west of the Mountains were killed or driven off, but the Witch-king himself fled east, to resurface in Mordor in T.A. 2002. Two years after the Battle of Fornost, Frumgar led the Éothéod into the northern Vales of Anduin, and drove away what remained of the people of Angmar on the east side of the Mountains, this being the final act of the conflict.[14]

The destruction brought about by this final war left Arnor unable to function as a kingdom, and Arvedui's son Aranarth would be known as merely the Chieftain of the Dúnedain. Arthedain and Cardolan were both heavily depopulated while Rhudaur was deserted, its population having been killed or driven away at the end of the war.[15] Mount Gundabad however continued to be used as a capital by the Orcs.[16] Fornost was not resettled after the war and stayed a lonely ruin, feared by the Men of Bree, who called it Deadmen's Dike. Not until a thousand years later after the War of the Ring under King Elessar was it re-established.[17]

Later in the Third Age, Gandalf believed that Sauron wished to re-establish control over Angmar and the northern passes, but was unable to do so because of the Dwarves and the Men of Dale. Without them (according to Gandalf), there would have been war in Eriador again.[18]

Portrayal in adaptations

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

During the White Council, Galadriel indirectly mentions this war and its aftermath.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil", pp. 195, 209-210
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Homeward Bound"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor"
Preceded by:
War of the Last Alliance
Major events of Middle-earth
T.A. 1409 - T.A. 1974
Followed by:
Watchful Peace