HASA Resources

Timeline Event

War of the Dwarves and Orcs: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Dates: January 1, 2793 ~ December 31, 2799

Description:

A multi-year string of assaults by the Dwarves on all the strongholds of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains; also known as the Dwarf and Goblin Wars in The Hobbit, and the War against the Orks in The History of Middle-earth.

Table of Contents:
The Combatants
— Attacking Forces
— Defensive Forces
The Timeline
The Prelude
The War
The Aftermath
Notes


The Combatants

The Combatants: Attacking Forces
Durin's Folk gathered all their host, and they were joined by great forces sent from the Houses of other Fathers....

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk


The Combatants: Defensive Forces
But a great host of [Orcs] was arrayed on the slopes above [the Dwarves], and out of the gates poured a multitude of Orcs....

... [The Orcs] outnumbered their enemies, and had the higher ground.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk


The Timeline
2740
Orcs renew their invasions of Eriador....

[See: Orcs multiply again in the Misty Mountains]

2790
Thrór slain by an Orc in Moria. The Dwarves gather for a war of vengeance....

[See: Thrór leaves for Moria]
[See: Thrór slain by Azog in Moria]

[2790-2793]
[See: Muster of the Dwarves]

2793
The War of the Dwarves and Orcs begins.

[See: Dwarves attack Orc strongholds in the Misty Mountains]

2799
Battle of Nanduhirion before the East-gate of Moria. Dáin Ironfoot returns to the Iron Hills. Thráin II and his son Thorin wander westwards. They settle in the South of Ered Luin beyond the Shire (2802).

[See: Battle of Azanulbizar]
[See: Náin slain by Azog]
[See: Azog slain by Dáin II Ironfoot]

[See: Dwarves disperse after the War]

[2802]
[See: Thráin and Thorin settle in the Ered Luin]

2800-64
Orcs from the North trouble Rohan. King Walda slain by them (28611).

[See: Orcs trouble Rohan after the War]

[28511]
[See: Walda, King of Rohan, slain by Orcs]

[2864]
[See: Folca destroys the last Orc-hold in Rohan]

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age


The Prelude
[In] the days of Arassuil, Orcs, multiplying again in the Misty Mountains, begin to ravage the lands....

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur: The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain

[The] names of the places where each of the Seven Ancestors had 'awakened' were remembered... that of the ancestor of [Durin's Folk]... had been Mount Gundabad..., which was therefore revered by the Dwarves, and its occupation in the Third Age by the [Orcs2] of Sauron was one of the chief reasons for their great hatred of the [Orcs].

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 10, Of Dwarves and Men: Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men

When Thrór came to Moria... [he] walked proudly in as an heir that returns. But he did not come back.... One day [Thrór's] body was flung out on the steps....

[His companion, Nár] heard orc-laughter in the shadows...

'If any of your people poke their foul beards in here again, they will fare the same. Go and tell them so! But if his family wish to know who is now king here, the name is written on his face.'....

Then Nár... saw branded on the brow in Dwarf-runes... the name AZOG. That name was branded... in the hearts of all the Dwarves afterwards....

Weeping, Nár fled... but... saw that Orcs... were hacking up the body and flinging the pieces to the black crows.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk

[This] dishonour to the heir of the Eldest of their race filled [the Dwarves] with wrath.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk

In times of great need even the most distant [Dwarf kindreds] would send help to any of their people; as was the case in the great War against the [Orcs2] (Third Age 2793 to 2799).

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 10, Of Dwarves and Men: Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men

[It] was three years before the Dwarves had mustered their strength....

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk


The War
[The] War of the Dwarves and the Orcs... was long and deadly, and fought for the most part in deep places beneath the earth....

When all was ready they assailed and sacked one by one all the strongholds of the Orcs that they could from Gundabad to the Gladden. Both sides were pitiless, and there was death and cruel deeds.... But the Dwarves had the victory through their strength, and their matchless weapons, and the fire of their anger, as they hunted for Azog in every den under mountain.

At last all the Orcs that fled before them were gathered in Moria, and the Dwarf-host in pursuit came to Azanulbizar.... But a great host of foes was arrayed on the slopes above them...

So began the Battle of Azanulbizar.... The first assault of the vanguard led by Thráin was thrown back with loss... Elsewhere the battle swayed to and fro with great slaughter, until at last the people of the Iron Hills turned the day. Coming late and fresh to the field the mailed warriors of Náin... drove through the Orcs to the very threshold of Moria....

Thereupon Azog came forth.... With him came many like him, the fighters of his guard, and... they engaged Náin's company....

[Azog] rushed at Náin and they fought. But Náin was... weary with battle, whereas Azog was fresh.... Soon... Azog... hewed his neck....

Then Azog laughed... but... he saw that all his host... was in a rout.... He turned and fled back towards the Gate.

Up the steps after him leaped... Dáin Ironfoot, Náin's son. Right before the doors he caught Azog, and there he slew him, and hewed off his head....

When at last the battle was won the Dwarves that were left gathered in Azanulbizar.... Barely half of their number, it is said, could still stand or had hope of healing.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk


The Aftermath
The Orcs were almost annihilated, and Moria is once more emptied, but the Dwarves also lost very heavily and were too few at the end to reoccupy Moria or face the hidden terror.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 8, The Tale of Years of the Third Age

So it was that after Azanulbizar the Dwarves dispersed again. But first with great labour they stripped all their dead, so that Orcs should not come and win there a store of weapons and mail. It is said that every Dwarf that went from that battlefield was bowed under a heavy burden. Then they built many pyres and burned all the bodies of their kin.3 There was a great felling of trees in the valley, which remained bare ever after, and the reek of the burning was seen in Lórien.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk

[Dáin2] returns to the Iron Hills; but [Thráin] and Thorin become wanderers.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 8, The Tale of Years of the Third Age

It was in the days of Beregond [Steward of Gondor] that the War of the Dwarves and Orcs was fought in the Misty Mountains (2793-9), of which only rumour came south, until the Orcs fleeing from Nanduhirion attempted to cross Rohan and establish themselves in the White Mountains. There was fighting for many years in the dales before that danger was ended.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards

2941 III, during the Quest of Erebor:

'Whence did the trolls get [these swords], I wonder?' said Thorin looking at his sword with new interest.

'I could not say,' said Elrond, 'but one may guess that your trolls had plundered other plunderers, or come on the remnants of old robberies in some hold in the mountains of the North. I have heard that there are still forgotten treasures of old to be found in the deserted caverns of the mines of Moria, since the dwarf and goblin war.'

The Hobbit, Ch 3, A Short Rest

2941, before the Battle of the Five Armies:

[Said Bilbo,] '[Dáin4]... is now less than two days' march off, and has at least five hundred grim dwarves with him — a good many of them have had experience in the dreadful dwarf and goblin wars.... When they arrive there may be serious trouble.'

The Hobbit, Ch 16, A Thief in the Night


Notes
The dates are set to span the events, Dwarves attack Orc strongholds in the Misty Mountains through the Battle of Azanulbizar.
1   While the Tale of Years (Appendix B) gives Walda's death date as 2861, it is listed as 2851 in Appendix A, with enough detail to suggest that 2851 is more likely correct:

2780-2851
12. Walda. He was king only nine years [his predecessor, Brytta, died in 2842]. He was slain with all his companions when they were trapped by Orcs, as they rode by mountain-paths from Dunharrow.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl: The Kings of the Mark

2   This text is from one of Tolkien's early drafts. For the sake of clarity, earlier versions of proper names used by Tolkien in this draft have been replaced with the versions in use in the canon sources. All substitutions are marked with brackets.
3   Such dealings with their dead seemed grievous to the Dwarves, for it was against their use; but to make such tombs as they were accustomed to (since they will lay their dead only in stone not in earth) would have taken many years. To fire therefore they turned, rather than leave their kin to beast or bird or carrion-orc. But those who fell in Azanulbizar were honoured in memory, and to this day a Dwarf will say proudly of one of his sires: 'he was a burned Dwarf', and that is enough.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk, Footnote

4   This text is from The Hobbit, Tolkien's first canon work. He added accents to the names of several of the Dwarves from that book in his later canon work, The Lord of the Rings. For the sake of clarity, earlier versions of proper names used by Tolkien in The Hobbit have been replaced with the versions from The Lord of the Rings. All substitutions are marked with brackets.

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 16Jul04, 30Jul04, 30Nov04, 10Dec04, 6Oct05, 1Oct06

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