Wars of Beleriand

Synopsis of each battle. Consequences and important events   
I. The First Battle   
II. Dagor-nuin-Giliath - The Battle Under Stars (FiA 1)   
III. Dagor Aglareb - The Glorious Battle (FiA 75)   
IV. Dagor Bragollach - The Battle of Sudden Flame (FiA 455-6)   
V. Nirnaeth Arnoediad - The Battle of Unnumbered Tears(FiA 471)   

The wars held at the very eve and the years of the FiA.

Most of them were between the Noldor and their allies, the Sindar and Edain, against the forces of Morgoth in Angband.

These were five main battles:

The Battles - Timeline
0the First Battle
1the Dagor-nuin-Giliath
75the DagorAglareb
winter 455 - spring 456the DagorBragollach
471the NirnaethArnoediad


It is peculiar to trace the events marking the beginnings and the ends of the ages throughout the history of Arda. For each age starts with a period of peace and revival, born however out of a certain severe conflict between the powers of “Good” and “Evil” right at the very end of the preceding age. And each age finishes with such a conflict, which in its turn leads to a new peace and revival…

This “pattern” is fully applicable to the FiA, as well, as one shouldn’t consider the FiA as the time when it all started. In fact the FiA has an uncounted-years-long pre-history and its name - FirstAge, relates to ME only, leaving behind the passed ages of existence of the world, created by Illuvatar. Yet, its own beginning derives precisely from this pre-history, and as it was noted above, its glorious start (the rising of the Sun, the coming of the Noldor into ME, etc.) is again a result of a major conflict – the one between the Valar and the Eves in Aman and the first kin-slaying in the Blessed Realm.

The FiA is however that part of the history of ME which could be well called “the Age of Wars”, the periods of peace hence being brief and restless.

Synopsis of each battle. Consequences and important events    

I. The First Battle    

This war was fought between the Elves of Beleriand (the peoples of Thingol, Denethor and Círdan) and Morgoth’s armies of Orcs, on the very eve of the FiA, before the rising of the Moon and the Sun.

However, as it was held in ME and in a relatively later period (compared to the events in Aman), it is therefore included in the scope of the Wars of Beleriand (the Wars of the FiA).

At the time this war starts, most Elves, dwelling in the vast lands of Beleriand, are a free and wandering people and “only about Menegroth in the midst of the land, and along the Falas in the country of the mariners, were there numerous peoples.” (the Silmarillion”, Chapter:10)

Orcs came down upon either side of Menegroth, and from camps in the east between Celon and Gelion, and west in the plains between Sirion and Narog, they plundered far and wide; and Thingol was cut on from Círdan at Eglarest. Therefore he called upon Denethor; and the Elves came in force from Region beyond Aros and from Ossiriand, and fought the first battle in the Wars of Beleriand. And the eastern host of the Orcs was taken between the armies of the Eldar, north of the Andram and midway between Aros and Gelion, and there they were utterly defeated, and those that fled north from the great slaughter were waylaid by the axes of the Naugrim that issued from Mount Dolmed: few indeed returned to Angband.”

The war is won by the Elves, however with great losses. Denethor (King of the Nandor Elves) and a lot of his kin perish, as a result of which most of his people infiltrate within the Sindar folk, while others “thereafter came never forth in open war, but kept themselves by wariness and secrecy; and they were called the Laiquendi, the Green-elves, because of their raiment of the colour of leaves”.

Thus ends this war. It could be of course considered not so important and could be well called a “local” conflict. Yet, it resulted in an event of extreme importance for the future – the Girdle of Melian, cast around Thingol’s kingdom by his wife, the Maia Queen.

“ And this inner land, which was long named Eglador, was after called Doriath, the guarded kingdom, Land of the Girdle.”

This battle, together with the kin-slaying and Dagor-nuin-Gilliath?, is one of those great conflicts that mark the first days of the FirstAge of Middle-earth.

II. Dagor-nuin-Giliath - The Battle Under Stars (FiA 1)    

This is the Second great battle from the five Wars of Beleriand and is also known as the "Battle under (the host of) stars".

It is also the second one, included in the above-mentioned ME-war-cycle, that was held before the rising of the Moon and the Sun.

Therefore, some sources do not take it into consideration, when it comes to the events from the FiA.

However, the “Silmarillion” dates it within the first 10 days from the beginning of the FiA, thus considering the coming of the Noldor to ME to be the starting point for counting the years of the FiA, not the rising of the Moon and the Sun (that occurred just a few days later). Therefore it is viewed as a very important event of the early days of the FiA.

Dagor-nuin-Giliath is the first war Fëanor fights against his most bitter enemy – Morgoth at the first days of the coming of his host into ME.

It is held in Mithrim and the lands east across Ered Wethrin.

The starlit battle starts when Morgoth's forces attack Fëanor in Mithrim.

''(From the “Simarillion; Chapter 13) “…the host of Morgoth, aroused by the tumult of Lammoth and the light of the burning at Losgar, came through the passes of Ered Wethrin, the Mountains of Shadow, and assailed Fëanor on a sudden, before his camp was full-wrought or put in defence”.''

The Noldor fight this battle with no great difficulties, “for the light of Aman was not yet dimmed in their eyes, and they were strong and swift, and deadly in anger, and their swords were long and terrible”. When they drive back Morgoth’s Orcs, the battle passes into the great plain of Ard-galen, northward of Dorthonion.

Círdan in the Havens of the Falas came up to their aid… against the armies of Morgoth that had passed south into the Vale of Sirion … and were caught in their ruin… Celegorm, Fëanor's son.…waylaid them with a part of the Elven-host, and coming down upon them out of the hills near Eithel Sirion drove them into the Fen of Serech.

Evil indeed were the tidings that came at last to Angband, and Morgoth was dismayed.

Ten days that battle lasted, and from it returned of all the hosts that he had prepared for the conquest of Beleriand no more than a handful of leaves.

Fëanor, however, in pursuit of his enemies reaches Angband, and there he is slain by the most fierceful servants of Morgoth – the Balrogs.

There upon the confines of Dor Daedeloth, the land of Morgoth, Fëanor was surrounded, with few friends about him. Long he fought on, and undismayed, though he was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds; but at the last he was smitten to the ground by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, whom Ecthelion after slew in Gondolin.

Further, the war is continued through various battles between the hosts of Fëanor’s sons and Morgoth; Maedhros, Fëanor’s eldest son is captured and held hostage, while his brothers fortify a great camp in Hithlum.

At this time comes the news of the march of Fingolfin into ME.

This is the time of the first rising of the Moon and the Sun on the skies of Middle-earth.

With the rising of the Sun come the SecondbornMen.

The FirstAge has started.

And, as Melkor and his servants have fled in terror from the two new lights, it starts in peace.

III. Dagor Aglareb - The Glorious Battle (FiA 75)    

The period of peace at the beginning of the FiA lasts for about 75 years

Then the third great war breaks out in ME – the Dagor Aglareb, or as it is also known - {The Glorious Battle}?.

Morgoth sends his Orcs to ravage Beleriand; they pour through the Pass of Sirion and Maglor's Gap.

“But Fingolfin and Maedhros were not sleeping, and while others sought out the scattered bands of Orcs that strayed in Beleriand did great evil they came upon the main host from either side as it was assaulting Dorthonion; and they defeated the servants of Morgoth, and pursuing them across Ard-galen destroyed them utterly, to the least and last, within sight of Angband's gates”

“A victory it was, and yet a warning; and the princes took heed of it, and thereafter drew closer their leaguer, and strengthened and ordered their watch, setting the Siege of Angband which lasted well nigh four hundred years of the Sun. For a long time after Dagor Aglareb no servant of Morgoth would venture from his gates.”

“Yet the Noldor could not capture Angband, nor could they regain the Silmarils; and war never wholly ceased in all that time of the Siege, for Morgoth devised new evils, and ever and anon he would make trial of his enemies.”

There follows a long-term period of peace of nearly 200 hundred years.

Turgon builds Gondollin and moves within the Hidden City with his people. This will later become the last stronghold of the Noldor.

IV. Dagor Bragollach - The Battle of Sudden Flame (FiA 455-6)    

The fourth war in the FiA, known also as the Battle of Sudden Flame.

“….when the sixth generation of Men after Bëor and Marach were not yet come to full manhood, it being then four hundred years and five and fifty since the coming of Fingolfin, the evil befell that he had long dreaded, and yet more dire and sudden than his darkest fear.

For Morgoth had long prepared his force in secret, while ever the malice of his heart grew greater, and his hatred of the Noldor more bitter; and he desired not only to end his foes but to destroy also and defile the lands that they had taken and made fair.”

It is the bitter winter of yhe year 455 of the FiA, when the war breaks out.

“Suddenly Morgoth sent forth great rivers of flame that ran down swifter than Balrogs from Thangorodrim, and poured over all the plain; and the Mountains of Iron belched forth fires of many poisonous hues, and the fume of them stank upon the air, and was deadly. Thus Ard-galen perished, and fire devoured its grasses; and it became a burned and desolate waste, full of a choking dust, barren and lifeless”

Morgoth’s army is dreadful and mighty this time.

“In the front of that fire came Glaurung the golden, father of dragons, in his full might; and in his train were Balrogs, and behind them came the black armies of the Orcs in multitudes such as the Noldor had never before seen or imagined. And they assaulted the fortresses of the Noldor, and broke the leaguer about Angband, and slew wherever they found them the Noldor and their allies. Grey-elves and Men.”

The Siege of Angband is thus ended and Morgoth disperses most of his foes.

The Noldor oppose Morgoth’s armies at the cost of great losses and many of the Noldorian best warriors and princes perish in battles.

Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor challenges Morgoth himself and in a dreadful one-to-one fight he is slain by the mighty Vala.

This is the time when Sauron, first appears as the “greatest and most terrible of the servants of Morgoth.

He takes Minas Tirith and makes it a watchtower for Morgoth, “a stronghold of evil, and a menace”.

King Finrod Felagund with the help and thanks to the valiance of Barahir – the Man from the house of Bëor and his men, escapes to Nargothrond. In token of his gratitude Felagund gives to Barahir a ring and “he swore an oath of abiding friendship and aid in every need to Barahir and all his kin”.

“The sons of Fëanor, and well nigh all the east marches were taken by assault The Pass of Aglon was forced, though with great cost to the hosts of Morgoth; and Celegorm and Curufin being defeated fled south and west by the marches of Doriath, and coming at last to Nargothrond sought harbour with Finrod Felagund. Thus it came to pass that their people swelled the strength of Nargothrond; but it would have been better, as was after seen, if they had remained in the east among their own kin.
Maedhros did deeds of surpassing valour, and the Orcs fled before his face”.
Dorthonion is lost.

All Hithlum – ravaged.

In Dagor Bragollach, a lot of Men fight fiercely on the side of the Elves and this is the time when the race of the Atani gain utmost respect among the Elves and the ages-long friendship between the two peoples is established. For this later Men are praised even by the Valar and it becomes one of the reasons the Gods grant to the Edain the Isle of Elenna, where the powerful kingdom of Numenor is built. This, however, makes Melkor pursue Men ruthlessly and a lot perish, while others flee to Brethil to live there in fear and misery.

Some Men become outlaws, led by Barahir, and hide in the woods “without hope they became, a desperate band that could not escape and would not yield, for their dwellings were destroyed, and their wives and children captured, slain, or fled. From Hithlum there came neither news nor help, and Barahir and his men were hunted like wild beasts.

Thus ends this war, with the bitter defeat of the allied forces of Elves and Men and it is followed by dark years of despair under the rule of Melkor over the ME.

A lot of Noldor and Sindar are taken captive to Angband and tortured and “forcing them to use their skill and their knowledge in the service of Morgoth.

Morgoth’s spies spread out and do even more damage, establishing discord and malice in the relations among elves and men of different regions and between the peoples of Men and Elves.

It is the time when Beleriand is invaded by many Easterlings, attracted by its rich lands and by the events. But there is no friendship between the Edain and the Easterlings.

It is during the dark years that followed Dagor Bragollach, when some of the most valiant and greatest deeds of Elves and Men come to pass.

At that time Hurin and Huor, after the battle, are taken to “the secret vale of Tumladen and the hidden city of Gondolin, which no Man yet had seen.” They stay in Gondolin for almost a year and this is an important event, as of the friendship between Turgon – King of Gondolin and the house of Huor, later comes the renowned heir – Earendil, who manages to reach the lands of the Gods and rise them in defence of the Children of Illuvatar against Melkor - the apocalyptic War of Wrath that ends the FirstAge.

Beren, son of Barahir goes to Doriath after having regained his father’s famous ring.

Beren (a Man), son of Barahir meets and marries Luthien (an Elf) - daughter of King Thingol and the Maia Queen Melian of the kingdom of Doriath.

This event is of extreme importance for the future course of events in ME. Beren and Luthien manage to win a battle most important where armies and other heroes have failed for all the long years of war in the FA. They manage to recover one of the Silmarils right from Melkor’s crown.

This is also the first recorded marriage between the two races.

V. Nirnaeth Arnoediad - The Battle of Unnumbered Tears(FiA 471)    

After the recovering of one of the Silmarils, Feanor’s sons and in particular Maedhros, believe that Morgoth, inspite all his powers, is not undefeatable. So, they start forming a new alliance for a new war against him.

Men, Dwarves and Noldor prepare for war.

Nevertheless, the fact that a Silmaril is in possession of other Elves (at that time Thingol, King of Doriath has it), arises constant conflicts between the Noldor and the other elven peoples in Beleriand.

However, with all the forces he has been able to gather, Maedhros resolves to assault Angband from east and west.

The strategy is simple and relies on aid of the host of Fingon.

“On the appointed day, on the morning of Midsummer….. there all the Noldor of Hithlum were assembled, together with Elves of the Falas and Gwindor's company from Nargothrond, and he had great strength of Men: upon the right were the host of Dor-lómin and all the valour of Húrin and Huor his brother, and to them had come Haldir of Brethil with many men of the woods.”

“But now a cry went up, passing up the wind from the south from vale to vale, and Elves and Men lifted their voices in wonder and joy. For unsummoned and unlocked for Turgon had opened the leaguer of Gondolin, and was come with an army ten thousand strong, with bright mail and long swords and spears like a forest. Then when Fingon heard afar the great trumpet of Turgon his brother, the shadow passed and his heart was uplifted, and he shouted aloud: Utúlie'n aurë! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanatári, utúlie'n aurë! The day has come! Behold, people of the Eldar and Fathers of Men, the day has come!' And all those who heard his great voice echo in the hills answered crying: 'Auta i lómë! The night is passing!"
“And seeing this all the host of the Noldor was set on fire, and Fingon put on his white helm and sounded his trumpets, and all the host of Hithlum leapt forth from the hills in sudden onslaught. The light of the drawing of the swords of the Noldor was like a fire in a field of reeds; and so fell and swift was their onset that almost the designs of Morgoth went astray. Before the army that he sent westward could be strengthened it was swept away, and the banners of Fingon passed over Anfauglith and were raised before the walls of Angband.”

Morgoth answers with a cunning strategy, aiming to prevent the uniting of the armies of the Elves.

“But they were trapped there, and all were slain save Gwindor only, whom they took alive; for Fingon could not come to their aid. By many secret doors in Thangorodrim Morgoth had let issue forth his main host that he held in waiting, and Fingon was beaten back with great loss from the walls.”

Thus, in the plain of Anfauglith, on the fourth day of the war, there begins NirnaethArnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.

The battle goes on for 5 full more days with an unfavourable development for the allied forces of Elves, Dwarves and Men, who nevertheless fight with great courage and strength.

“Then hope was renewed in the hearts of the Elves; and in that very time, at the third hour of morning, the trumpets of Maedhros were heard at last coming up from the east, and the banners of the sons of Fëanor assailed the enemy in the rear.”
“But even as the vanguard of Maedhros came upon the Orcs, Morgoth loosed his last strength, and Angband was emptied. There came wolves, and wolfriders, and there came Balrogs, and dragons, and Glaurung father of dragons. The strength and terror of the Great Worm were now great indeed, and Elves and Men withered before him; and he came between the hosts of Maedhros and Fingon and swept them apart.”
Unfortunately, for the treachery of the Easterlings, who turn against the allied forces and fight for Morgot, others meanwhile fleeing from the battlefield, that the battle again takes a dangerous turn. The confusion this act brings sets apart the armies of the alliance and many are scattered by Morgoth’s army.

This is the battle of outstanding valour and of some of the most glorious combats and duels ever held.

Azaghâl, king of Belegost of the Dwarves fights an uneven battle with Glaurung and is slain, though he succeeds in wounding the beast and the dragon and many others flee from the battlefield.

Fingon, High King of the Noldor faces Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs and perishes only for the intervention of another balrogs.

“…still Húrin and Huor and the remnant of the house of Hador stood firm with Turgon of Gondolin, and the hosts of Morgoth could not yet win the Pass of Sirion.”
Because of the valour of the Men of Hurin and Huor, Turgon, King of Gondolin escapes and although with great losses, succeeds in returning back to Gondolin.
“Then Huor spoke and said: 'Yet if it stands but a little while, then out of your house shall come the hope of Elves and Men. This I say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here for ever, and I shall not look on your white walls again, from you and from me a new star shall arise!”

Huor falls in a severe battle and Hurin is captured alive.
“Last of all Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed; and it is sung that the axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog until it withered, and each time that he slew Húrin cried:Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!

Thus ended Nirnaeth Arnoediad, as the sun went down beyond the sea. Night fell in Hithlum, and there came a great storm of wind out of the West.

“Great was the triumph of Morgoth, and his design was accomplished in a manner after his own heart; for Men took the lives of Men, and betrayed the Eldar, and fear and hatred were aroused among those that should have been united against him. From that day the hearts of the Elves were estranged from Men, save only those of the Three Houses of the Edain.”

“The realm of Fingon was no more; and the sons of Fëanor wandered as leaves before the wind. Their arms were scattered, and their league broken; and they took to a wild and woodland life beneath the feet of Ered Lindon, mingling with the Green-elves of Ossiriand, bereft of their power and glory of old”.

In the time that follows, Morgoth sends armies to Hithlum and Nevrast. The realm of Cirdan is destroyed. Lots manage to escape by sea, however. Among them are Cirdan and Gil-Galad, son of Fingon.
“This remnant sailed with Círdan south to the Isle of Balar, and they made a refuge for all that could come thither; for they kept a foothold also at the Mouths of Sirion, and there many light and swift ships lay hid in the creeks and waters where the reeds were dense as a forest.”

By the will and request of Turgon, seven ships are built and sent to search Valinor and the aid of the Gods. None fulfils its task.

Tuor, son of Huor finds Gondolin to warn Turgon of the danger of the future assault of Morgoth’s armies upon the hidden city.

Tuor marriesd Idril, Turgon’s daughter. Earendil is their son.

Glaurung, the fierce dragon destroys Nargothrond.

This is the time of the tragic history of the fate of Hurin and his children – Turin Turambar and Niniel.

Meanwhile, Doriath, the kingdom of Melian and Thingol is destroyed

It starts with a conflict between King Thingol and the Dwarves for the precious necklace Nauglamír, which bore the Silmaril, gained by Luthien and Beren. That conflict brings to a war between the Elves and the Dwarves. Menegroth is destroyed.

It is this event that is considered as the reason for the lack of understanding and friendship between the two races.

Dior, son of Luthien and Beren, manages to renew Doriath but because of the Silmaril, he is attacked by the sons of Feanor and Doriath is destroyed.

“But the sons of Fëanor gained not what they sought; for a remnant of the people fled before them, and with them was Elwing Dior's daughter, and they escaped, and bearing with them the Silmaril they came in time to the mouths of the River Sirion by the sea.”

After a monstrous attack, Gondolin falls.

Tuor escapes from the ruined city bringing with him his family and his son Eärendil.

Elwing, granddaughter of Luthien and Beren and Eärendil, heir of Tuor and Idril (both couples of mixed races) marry. Elros and Elrond – the Half-elves are born.

The sons of Feanor assault upon the exiles of Gondolin and the remnant of Doriath, knowing that the Silmaril is there. This is another of the kinslaying deeds of the clan of Feanor as a result of the Curse of Mandos.

Eärendil, builds Vingilot – the white ship, and sails with Elwing and a few mariners in search of Valinor and with the aim to seek aid from the Gods in favour of the Children of Illuvatar.

He is the first mortal to set foot on the Isle of the undying lands. His request is taken into consideration by the High Valar.

“They took Vingilot, and hallowed it, and bore it away through Valinor to the uttermost rim of the world; and there it passed through the Door of Night and was lifted up even into the oceans of heaven.
Now fair and marvellous was that vessel made, and it was filled with a wavering flame, pure and bright; and Eärendil the Mariner sat at the helm, glistening with dust of elven-gems, and the Silmaril was bound upon his brow. Far he journeyed in that ship, even into the starless voids; but most often was he seen at morning or at evening, glimmering in sunrise or sunset, as he came back to Valinor from voyages beyond the confines of the world”.

The Valar prepare for the final war against Melkor - the War of Wrath.


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