HASA Resources

Timeline Event

Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - The Kings

Date: October 4, 0002

Description:

An event in the aftermath of the War of the Last Alliance; see that entry for an overview:

Table of Contents:
The Summary
The Combatants
— Attacking Forces
— Defensive Forces
The Timeline
— Second Age
— Third Age
The Prelude
The Battle
The Aftermath
Notes

The Summary
An assault by Orcs on Isildur and his guard during their return journey to Arnor after the War of the Last Alliance.

The Combatants

The Combatants: Attacking Forces
[A] host of Orcs... lay in wait in the Misty Mountains....

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

Orcs... [issued] from the Forest and [moved] down the slopes....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

There may have been as many as two thousand Orcs:

[The] Dúnedain were plainly many times, even to ten times, outnumbered.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

There was not only cunning in the attack, but fierce and relentless hatred. The Orcs of the Mountains were stiffened and commanded by grim servants of Barad-dûr, sent out long before to watch the passes, and though it was unknown to them the Ring, cut from his black hand two years before, was still laden with Sauron's evil will and called to all his servants for their aid.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

First they let fly a hail of arrows....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields


The Combatants: Defensive Forces
With Isildur went... his Guard of two hundred knights and soldiers, stern men of Arnor and war-hardened.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

The Númenóreans... were of great stature and strength, and their fully-equipped soldiers were accustomed to bear heavy armour and weapons.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 7

The arrows had been unavailing against the Númenórean armour. The great Men towered above the tallest Orcs, and their swords and spears far outreached the weapons of their enemies.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

[The Orcs] kept at a distance out of the range of the dreaded steel-bows of Númenor, though the light was fast failing, and Isildur had all too few archers for his need.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

The fair day was waning...; the deeps of the valley were already in grey shadow.... To their right the Forest loomed above them at the top of steep slopes running down to their path....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields


The Timeline

The Timeline: Second Age
3430
The Last Alliance of Elves and Men is formed.

[See: War of the Last Alliance: Overview]

3431
Gil-galad and Elendil march east to Imladris....

[See: Sauron sends Orcs north to harry the Host of the Alliance]

3441
Sauron overthrown by Elendil and Gil-galad, who perish. Isildur takes the One Ring. Sauron passes away and the Ringwraiths go into the shadows. The Second Age ends.

[3441 - Third Age 2]

[See: Isildur returns to Gondor to instruct Meneldil]

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Second Age


The Timeline: Third Age
[1]

[See: Isildur's army returns to Arnor after the War of the Last Alliance]

2
Isildur plants a seedling of the White Tree in Minas Anor. He delivers the South-kingdom to Meneldil.

[See: Isildur delivers Gondor to Meneldil]

[5 September]
[See: Isildur takes leave of Meneldil to return to Arnor]
[See: Isildur and his sons journey north towards Rivendell]

[4 October 1]
Disaster of the Gladden Fields; Isildur and his three elder sons are slain.

[See: Orcs waylay Isildur's Guard]
[See: Isildur commands Ohtar to escape with the shards of Narsil]
[See: Isildur's Guard repels the Orc charge]

[See: Orcs return to surround Isildur's Guard]
[See: Ciryon and Aratan, Isildur's middle sons, slain]
[See: Elendur advises Isildur to escape with the One Ring]

[See: Isildur puts on the One Ring to escape]
[See: Isildur flees into the Anduin]
[See: Isildur loses the One Ring in the Anduin]
[See: Isildur, King of Arnor and Gondor, slain]

[See: Orcs slaughter Isildur's Guard]
[See: Elendur, Isildur's heir, slain]
[See: Valandil becomes King of Arnor]

[See: Rescuers arrive after the slaughter]

3
Ohtar brings the shards of Narsil to Imladris.

[See: Ohtar delivers the shards of Narsil to Rivendell]

10
Valandil becomes King of Arnor.

[See: Valandil assumes his throne as King of Arnor]

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age


The Prelude
[Isildur's] wife and his youngest son, Valandil, he had left in Imladris when he went to the war [of the Last Alliance].

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

There can be no doubt that Sauron, well-informed of the Alliance, had sent out such Orc-troops of the Red Eye as he could spare, to do what they could to harry any forces that attempted to shorten their road by crossing the Mountains... [They] remained alert and watchful, determined to attack any companies of Elves or Men that they outnumbered... [They] bided their time, for the most part hidden in the Forest, while others lurked along the riverbanks.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 20

Sauron comes forth, and wrestles with Elendil and Gil-galad. They overthrow him but are themselves slain. The One Ring is taken from the hand of Sauron by Isildur as the weregild of his father, and he will not permit it to be destroyed.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 6, The Tale of Years of the Second Age

It is unlikely that any news of Sauron's fall had reached [the Orcs].... This small detachment in the North, of no account, was forgotten. Probably they thought that Sauron had been victorious.... Thus they would be emboldened and eager to win their master's praise, 2 though they had not been in the main battles.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 20

[Isildur] departed, and after he had given counsel to Meneldil, his brother's son, and had committed to him the realm of the south, he bore away the Ring, to be an heirloom of his house, and marched north from Gondor by the way that Elendil had come..., for he purposed to take up his father's realm in Eriador....

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age


The Battle
But Isildur was overwhelmed by a host of Orcs that lay in wait in the Misty Mountains; and they descended upon him at unawares... between the Greenwood and the Great River, nigh to Loeg Ningloron, the Gladden Fields.... There well nigh all his people were slain, and among them were his three elder sons, Elendur, Aratan, and Ciryon.... Isildur himself escaped by means of the Ring, for when he wore it he was invisible to all eyes; but the Orcs hunted him by scent and slot, until he came to the River and plunged in. There the Ring betrayed him and avenged its maker, for it slipped from his finger as he swam, and it was lost in the water. Then the Orcs saw him as he laboured in the stream, and they shot him with many arrows, and that was his end.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

[Many] have thought that the ferocity and determination of their assault on Isildur was in part due to the Ring... [Though] it was swiftly cooling it was still heavy with [Sauron's] evil will, and seeking all means to return to its lord.... So, it is thought, although they did not understand it the Orc-chiefs were filled with a fierce desire to destroy the Dúnedain and capture their leader.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 20


The Aftermath
'But the Ring was lost. It fell into the Great River, Anduin, and vanished.'....

'And there in the dark pools amid the Gladden Fields,' [Gandalf] said, 'the Ring passed out of knowledge and legend; and even so much of its history is known now only to a few, and the Council of the Wise could discover no more.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 2, The Shadow of the Past

[Though] victorious [the Orcs'] losses had been great, and almost all of the great Orcs had fallen: they attempted no such attack again for long years after.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: The Sources of the Legend of Isildur's Death

'Only to the North did these tidings come, and only to a few.... From the ruin of the Gladden Fields..., three men only came ever back over the mountains after long wandering. One of these was Ohtar, the esquire of Isildur, who bore the shards of the sword of Elendil; and he brought them to Valandil, the heir of Isildur, who being but a child had remained here in Rivendell. But Narsil was broken and its light extinguished, and it has not yet been forged again.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

And Master Elrond foretold that this would not be done until the Ruling Ring should be found again and Sauron should return; but the hope of Elves and Men was that these things might never come to pass.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

[Isildur's] fourth son Valandil succeeds to Arnor, but being a child remains for a time with Elrond at Imladris.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil

In the tenth year of the Third Age Valandil being come to manhood took up the kingship of Arnor and dwelt at Annúminas....

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil


Notes
1The date of this event was calculated as follows: Isildur is said to have set out on the equivalent of September 5th in the Shire calendar; every month in that calendar had thirty days, with no between-month days (such as Lithedays) between September and October; and the attack occurred on the 30th day of the journey:

Isildur set forth from Osgiliath early in Ivanneth....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

Yavannië 5, according to the Númenórean "King's Reckoning," still kept with little change in the Shire Calendar. Yavannië (Ivanneth) thus corresponded to Halimath, our September....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 9

The hobbits... continued to use a form of Kings' Reckoning.... Their months were all equal and had 30 days each....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, The Calendars

So it came to pass that late in the afternoon of the thirtieth day of their journey they were passing the north borders of the Gladden Fields....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

2[It] was not [Sauron's] praise they would have won, if any had lived long enough to see his revival. No tortures would have satisfied his anger with the bungling fools who had let slip the greatest prize in Middle-earth... [It] proved in the event that the War of the Ring was lost at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 20

Contributors:
Loquacious 12May03
Elena Tiriel 7Nov07, 1Dec07, 14Mar08

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