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Places in Middle-earth

Osgiliath

Type: Cities, Towns, Settlements

Region: Gondor

Meaning: fortress of stars

Other Names
Citadel of the Stars
Elostirion (HoME only)

Location: The original chief city of Gondor, built on the Anduin, northeast of Minas Tirith.

Description:

The chief city of this southern realm was Osgiliath.... In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur, and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion, but they shared the realm between them and their thrones were set side by side in the Great Hall of Osgiliath.

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

'Their chief city was Osgiliath, Citadel of the Stars....'

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

... Osgiliath, through the midst of which the Great River flowed; and the Númenóreans built there a great bridge, upon which there were towers and houses of stone wonderful to behold, and tall ships came up out of the sea to the quays of the city....

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

'It was a city,' said Beregond, 'the chief city of Gondor, of which [Minas Tirith] was only a fortress. For that is the ruin of Osgiliath on either side of Anduin, which our enemies took and burned long ago.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 1, Minas Tirith


History
3320 II, the Foundation of the Realms in Exile:

Establishment of the Númenórean 'realms in exile' in the west of Middle-earth: Arnor in the north of the westlands (with chief city at Annúminas) by Elendil; Gondor in the south (with chief city at Osgiliath) by his sons.

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

Many treasures and great heirlooms of virtue and wonder the Exiles had brought from Númenor; and of these the most renowned were the Seven Stones and the White Tree.... The... Stones were divided....

Those... of [Elendil's] sons were at Minas Ithil and Minas Anor, and at Orthanc and in Osgiliath.

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

1437 III, the Kin-strife:

At last [Eldacar] was besieged in Osgiliath, and held it long, until hunger and the greater forces of the rebels drove him out, leaving the city in flames. In that siege and burning the Tower of the Dome of Osgiliath was destroyed, and the palantír was lost in the waters....

[The] slaughter and destruction done in the city at [Castamir the Usurper's] bidding far exceeded the needs of war.

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

1636-1637, the Great Plague:

[In] the reign of Telemnar, the twenty-sixth king... a deadly plague came with dark winds out of the East. The King and all his children died, and great numbers of the people of Gondor, especially those that lived in Osgiliath. Then for weariness and fewness of men the watch on the borders of Mordor ceased....

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

2002, the Fall of Minas Ithil:

And in the days of Eärnil... [the Nazgûl] came by night out of Mordor... and took Minas Ithil.... Thereafter it was called Minas Morgul...; and... was ever at war with Minas Anor.... Then Osgiliath, which in the waning of the people had long been deserted, became a place of ruins and a city of ghosts.

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

2475, Osgiliath ruined and its bridge broken:

In the last years of Denethor I the race of uruks, black Orcs of great strength, first appeared out of Mordor, and in 2475 they swept across Ithilien and took Osgiliath. Boromir son of Denethor (after whom Boromir of the Nine Walkers was later named) defeated them and regained Ithilien; but Osgiliath was finally ruined, and its great stone-bridge was broken. No people dwelt there afterwards.

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

Circa 2940, Gondor recaptures Osgiliath and rebuilds its bridge:

'Yet we won it back in the days of the youth of Denethor [II]: not to dwell in, but to hold as an outpost, and to rebuild the bridge for the passage of our arms.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 1, Minas Tirith

20 June 3018, Sauron's forces attack Osgiliath:

'[Sudden] war came upon us out of Mordor, and we were swept away. We were outnumbere.... Only a remnant of our eastern force came back, destroying the last bridge that still stood amid the ruins of Osgiliath.

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

12 March 3019, Sauron's forces from Minas Morgul assault Osgiliath:

The passage of Anduin was won by the Enemy....

'It is now seen that in secret they have long been building floats and barges in great numbers in East Osgiliath.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 4, The Siege of Gondor

13-14 March 3019, The Pelennor is overrun in the Siege of Minas Tirith:

Far behind the battle the River had been swiftly bridged, and all day more force and gear of war had poured across.... Slowly the great siege-towers built in Osgiliath rolled forward through the dark.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 4, The Siege of Gondor


Etymology
os(t) 'fortress' in Angrenost, Belegost, Formenos, Fornost, Mandos, Nargothrond..., Os(t)giliath, Ost-in-Edhil.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

gil 'star' in Dagor-nuin-Giliath, Osgiliath (giliath 'host of stars'); Gil-Estel, Gil-galad.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

Contributors: Lyllyn 12Jun03
Elena Tiriel 8Dec04, 5Jan05, 15Dec04, 20Dec04

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