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This article is about the Haven of Umbar. For the Quenya word, see umbar.
Turner Mohan - Umbar.jpg
"Umbar" by Turner Mohan
General Information
Other namesCity of the Corsairs
LocationThe coasts of Middle-earth, to the south of Gondor and west of Harad
DescriptionNatural harbour of enclosing rock used as a seaport
People and History
InhabitantsVariously held by the Númenóreans, the Black Númenóreans, the Gondorians, the Corsairs and the Haradrim
CreatedFirst fortified in S.A. 2280[1]
EventsAr-Pharazôn captures Sauron
Surprise Attack on Umbar
Corsair Wars
GalleryImages of Umbar

Umbar was a great haven to the far south of Gondor in Middle-earth.



Umbar was located south of the outflow of Anduin at the Bay of Belfalas in a convenient, useful natural haven. The great cape and land-locked firth formed the port. The natives called it "Umbar" and the Númenóreans who discovered it, adopted its name.

Umbar was the nearest to Gondor of the southern realms. It may ultimately have stretched all along Harnen as far as the Ephel Dúath up to the edge of Khand.[2]


Foundation and Númenórean Rule

Like the earlier New Haven in Enedwaith, and the later Pelargir on the Anduin, Umbar was one of the trading ports at the southern coast of Middle-earth, which became a base from which Númenórean influence spread over Middle-earth. In S.A. 2280 it was made into a great fortress as a reaction to the growing threat of Sauron[1] and became the strongest and most important.

During the dissension arising when the Shadow fell on Númenor, Umbar was the northernmost settlement of the King's Men; Sauron, after trying to break the waxing Númenórean grip by instigation, attempted to attack the Númenórean havens and forts, invaded their coastlands, but Umbar resisted.[3][4]

It was at Umbar that Ar-Pharazôn the Golden landed in S.A. 3261 to challenge Sauron and journeyed 7 days with banner and trumpet.[5] Umbar remained a symbol of Númenórean pride ever after.

While Sauron was in Númenor and the Shadow and dissidence became greater, Umbar was one of the fortresses and dwellings upon the coasts, inhabited by the King's Men and servants in Middle-earth to his will; these evil lords concentrated mostly to the south, far from the dominion of Gil-galad.[5] Umbar must have been an important point of deportation of slaves and taxes to Númenor.

After the Downfall of Númenor, Umbar remained in the hands of the Númenóreans, in essence a realm-in-exile alongside Arnor and Gondor. But unlike these others, Umbar had been used by the Black Númenóreans, who were not friendly to the Elves or to their fellow Faithful Númenórean survivors.

Two Black Númenórean lords, Herumor and Fuinur, were probably from Umbar, as at the end of Second Age they became very powerful amongst the Haradrim, a neighbouring people. No doubt, Númenóreans of Umbar were enlisted with Sauron in S.A. 3429. Their fate is unknown, but they likely shared Sauron's defeat at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

The rulers of Umbar retained much influence over the Haradwaith well into Third Age. Other southern settlements were absorbed by the native cultures of Harad.[6]

Gondor's power, however, eclipsed that of Umbar as the Third Age progressed, and at one point, perhaps around the time of Tarannon Falastur, Umbar acknowledged the sway of Gondor.[7] Tarannon had a diplomatic marriage to Berúthiel, a Black Númenórean, perhaps from Umbar. During his reign, Tarannon extended the sway of Gondor along the southern shore-lands.

Umbar as part of Gondor

in T.A. 933 Gondor's King Eärnil I captured Umbar in a surprise attack after a siege by sea and land, although this was "at great cost." It became a great harbour and fortress of the power of Gondor. Ironically, it was outside Umbar where Eärnil with his ships and men perished in a great storm (T.A. 936).[8][9]

For the following 500 years, Umbar was an important Gondorian city: not only as a major sea-port, but as the site of the submission of Sauron to Ar-Pharazôn, and so served as a proud reminder of the might of the Dúnedain of old.[10]

Many Black Númenóreans had fled Umbar from the assault of T.A. 933 to their subjects; 82 years later, in a vain attempt to recapture it, they came up with great power against the stronghold and Ciryandil is killed during that siege.[9][8] This great power availed the Men Of Harad little, however, for despite investing and besieging the fortress of Umbar for 35 years, they failed to take it, as its supply was easily maintained "because of the sea-power of Gondor." In T.A. 1050, the late King Ciryandil's son Ciryaher defeated the Haradrim force by sending troops by land, crossing Harnen.[9] All land south of Belfalas up to Harnen and the borders of Near Harad and coast-lands up to Umbar belonged to Gondor.

It was during this occupation when the Gondorians built a monument to Ar-Pharazôn on the highest hill above the Haven: a great white pillar crowned with a globe of crystal which shone as a star with the rays of the Sun or Moon.

Umbar and the southern provinces experienced a rebellion during the civil war of Gondor (T.A. 1437-1447); together with the people of Pelargir, Umbar supported the usurper Castamir. When the war had ended, Castamir's sons and their supporters left Pelargir and established themselves at Umbar; from that point on, Umbar remained an enemy of the King.[9]

Corsairs of Umbar

John Howe - Corsair Ship

Since T.A. 1448, the fleets of the secessionists established under the descendants of Castamir became known as the '"Corsairs of Umbar"', an independent realm; thus Gondor lost both its southern province and its naval power and came in constant war against the line of Castamir. Within two following centuries, Umbar attacked Gondorian ships and raided its coast at every opportunity, threatening the coastlands and all traffic on the sea and contested the possession of Harondor.[10]

Umbar would welcome exiles from Gondor who were suspected for treason or conspiring against the King.[9] Umbar would also take to its side and absorb tributaries to Gondor in Harad.[10] In T.A. 1540, King Aldamir fought with the rebelling kings of Harad.[10]. The latter were defeated by his son Hyarmendacil II years later.[8]

In T.A. 1634, Castamir's great-grandsons Angamaitë and Sangahyando raided Pelargir, from Umbar, killing King Minardil; his heir Telemnar prepared a fleet against Umbar[10] but could not retaliate as the kingdom was ravaged by the Great Plague of T.A. 1636.[9]

During the reign of king Telumehtar, Minardil's great-grand nephew, the Corsairs raided the coasts of Gondor as far as the Anfalas. As a consequence, Telumehtar gathered his forces and took Umbar by storm in T.A. 1810. In that war the last descendants of Castamir died and Telumehtar added the title Umbardacil to his name.[11]

Umbar was again held for a while by the kings of Gondor, but was again lost in the new evils that soon befell Gondor and fell into the hands of the Men of the Harad.[11].

In the meantime, the Haradrim were "engaged in wars and feuds of their own" and Gondor was threatened by the Wainriders' empire from Rhûn.[12] Umbar was still lost when enemies invaded Gondor later, and fell then into the hands of the Men of the Harad.

Haradrim rule

During the following centuries, evils befell Gondor and Umbar was neglected, allowing the Haradrim to reclaim it,[9] who rebuilt and occupied and for the rest of the Third Age. It became a home for a new generation of 'Corsairs of Umbar', who must have been closely related to the Haradrim, if not even merely Southrons themselves. These new Corsairs were cruel slavers who often raided the coasts of Belfalas and Anfalas in Gondor: in T.A. 2746, for example, the 15th Prince of Dol Amroth fell defending Dor-en-Ernil against them.

In T.A. 2758, Umbar joined a massive co-ordinated attack with the Men of the Harad and even of Dunland against Gondor and the new realm of Rohan.[9] In T.A. 2885, Umbar supported the Haradrim who claimed Harondor, although this had long "been a debatable land between the Corsairs and the Kings", and when Sauron declared himself openly in T.A. 2951, Umbar declared its allegiance to him, and the great monument commemorating Ar-Pharazôn's triumph at Umbar was thrown down.

Umbar's fleet was largely destroyed 29 years later, when Thorongil (Aragorn Elessar, as it later turned out) in the service of the Steward of Gondor Ecthelion II led a taskforce south and burned them, killing the Captain of the Haven in the process.

War of the Ring

During the War of the Ring, Umbar had not fully recovered from this, but could still send 50 "great ships" and a number of smaller vessels "beyond count" to raid the coastlands of Gondor, and draw off major forces from the defence of Minas Tirith. They were once again defeated by Aragorn, and the Army of the Dead. With the Fall of Barad-dûr, Umbar, weakened and defeated, finally lost its sovereignty and submitted to the crown of King Elessar.


Politics and rule

While the Faithful boasted the ethnic purity of the line of their rulers (to the amount of resulting even in a Kin-strife), Umbar allowed their race to swiftly dwindle and merge with the Pre-Númenóreans.[9]

No "King of Umbar" is mentioned to rise, though the Black Númenóreans, who, regarding the Heirs of Elendil as usurpers, certainly considered themselves the representatives of the last legal King of Númenor. One can suppose as a possible explanation that they considered themselves something akin to the temporary Stewards of Gondor, ruling in the true King's absence, until Ar-Pharazôn would return from the West to restore his evil kingdom.[2] It is notable that all four known rulers of Umbar come in pairs, suggesting that perhaps Umbar was traditionally ruled by a duumvirate.


In the course of the Third Age Westron had become the native language of nearly all Men that lived within the borders of the old kingdom of Gondor, including all along the coasts from Umbar northward and inland as far as the Ephel Dúath. At the time of the War of the Ring Westron was still the native tongue in this area.[13][14]

Other versions of the legendarium

The Havens of Umbar and the City of the Corsairs appeared near the bottom edge of the General Map of Middle-earth that was included in earlier editions of The Lord of the Rings, but that is absent from modern editions, which regrettably map a slightly smaller area of the Westlands. A label Havens of Umbar is written on the land south of the bay of Umbar. A label UMBAR runs from the land to the south of the bay of Umbar to the north-eastern end of the bay of Umbar. There is a black square with the label City of the Corsairs at the southern branch of the landward end of the bay of Umbar.

On the First Map of The Lord of the Rings the bay of Umbar runs from its entrance in the south-west to its landward end in the north-east. There is no indication where the City of the Corsairs or the fortress of Umbar is located. A label UMBAR on the area between this unnamed river and a river with the label R. Harnen that runs from three sources in the south-western foothills of the Ephel Dúath to the same position as its mouth on the General Map of Middle-earth has been struck-through. There is an unnamed small island near to the entrance to the bay of Umbar and another unnamed small island near the northern end of the peninsula that forms the northern part of the bay. Haven of Umbar is written in the Belegaer near the bay of Umbar and UMBAR is written on the land to east of the bay with the label running from the south-west to the north-east crossing the unnamed river.


Umbar is a name of forgotten origin that was doubtless descended from the days before the ships of the Númenóreans sailed the sea.[15] As such it is in one of the pre-Númenórean languages. Despite the coincidental similarity, the name Umbar is not related to the Quenya word for fate umbar.[16]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  2. 2.0 2.1
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VI. The Tale of Years of the Second Age"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "V. The History of the Akallabêth"
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Window on the West"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for king Telumehtar
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", first and second paragraph
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages", penultimate paragraph and its preceeding paragraph
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men", sixth paragraph
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, "Writing", "The Fëanorian Letters", Note, The names of the letters