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Witch-king of Angmar

Race/Species: Man

Type/Kind: Men of Shadow

Title(s): Sorcerer King, Lord of the Nazgûl, Chieftain of the Ringwraiths, Black Captain

Dates: II - III March 15 3019

Parents: Unknown

Siblings: Unknown

Spouse: None

Children: None


Table of Contents:

— Second Age
— Third Age
— 3018
— 3019


"...black mantled, huge and threatening. A crown of steel he bore, but between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a deadly gleam of eyes: the Lord of the Nazgûl."
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 6, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

"There were five tall figures: two standing on the lip of the dell, three advancing. In their white faces burned keen and merciless eyes; under their mantles were long grey robes; upon their grey hairs were helms of silver; in their haggard hands were swords of steel. Their eyes fell on him and pierced him, as they rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the figures halted. The third was taller than the others: his hair was long and gleaming and on his helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword, and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light." 2
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark


"Men proved easier to ensnare. Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old. They obtained glory and great wealth, yet it turned to their undoing. They had, as it seemed, unending life, yet life became unendurable to them. They could walk, if they would, unseen by all eyes in this world beneath the sun, and they could see things in worlds invisible to mortal men; but too often they beheld only the phantoms and delusions of Sauron. And one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom of the ring that they bore and under the domination of the One, which was Sauron's. And they became for ever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered into the realm of shadows. The Nazgûl were they, the Ringwraiths, the Enemy's most terrible servants; darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death."
The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

"…their chief weapon was terror. This was actually greater when they were unclad and invisible; and it was greater also when they were gathered together."
Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: ii Other Versions of the Story

"The Nazgul came again, and as their Dark Lord now grew and put forth his strength, so their voices, which uttered only his will and his malice, were filled with evil and horror ... More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the stout- hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war, but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death."
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 4, The Siege of Gondor

"… there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed; and they called it the Black Shadow, for it came from the Nazgûl. And those who were stricken with it fell slowly into an ever deeper dream, and then passed to silence and a deadly cold, and so died." The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 8, The Houses of Healing

"The Witch-king, their leader, is more powerful in all ways than the others…" and "(In RotK), put in command by Sauron, he is given an added demonic force."
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter # 210

"…the Black Captain himself [was the most able] to perceive the presence of the Ring."
Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Notes, Note #1

"All except the Witch-king were apt to stray when alone by daylight; and all, again save the Witch-king, feared water, and were unwilling, except in dire need, to enter it or to cross streams unless dryshod by a bridge."
Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: ii Other Versions of the Story

"At the Ford of Bruinen only the Witch-king and two others, with the lure of the Ring staight before them, had dared enter the river, the others were driven into it by Glorfindel and Aragorn." \Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Notes, Note #3

"Then the Black Captain rose in his stirrups and cried aloud in a dreadful voice, speaking in some forgotten tongue words of power and terror to rend both heart and stone.
Thrice he cried. Thrice the great ram boomed. And suddenly upon the last stroke the Gate of Gondor broke. As if stricken by some blasting spell it burst asunder: there was a flash of searing lightning, and the doors tumbled in riven fragments to the ground." The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 4, The Siege of Gondor

"…but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King."
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

"For the black horses can see, and the Riders can use men and other creatures as spies, as we found at Bree. They themselves do not see the world of light as we do, but our shapes cast shadows in their minds, which only the noon sun destroys; and in the dark they perceive many signs and forms that are hidden from us: then they are most to be feared. And at all times they smell the blood of living things, desiring and hating it. Senses, too, there are other than sight or smell. We can feel their presence- it troubled our hearts, as soon as we came here, and before we saw them; they feel ours more keenly. Also,' he added, and his voice sank to a whisper, 'the Ring draws them.' "
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark


History: Second Age
1500 The Elven-smiths begin the forging of the Rings of Power.
1600 Sauron forges the One Ring in Orodruin.
2251 About this time the Nazgûl or Ringwraiths, slaves of the Nine Rings, first appear.
3262-3310 Sauron corrupts the Numenoreans.
3320 Sauron returns to Mordor.
3441 Sauron is overthrown by Elendil and Gil-galad. He passes away and the Ringwraiths go into the shadows.

History: Third Age
1100 The Wise (the Istari and the chief Eldar) discover that an evil power has made a stronghold at Dol Guldur. It is thought to be one of the Nazgûl.
1300 The Nazgûl reappear. The chief of these comes north to Angmar.
1409 The Witch-king of Angmar invades Arnor.
1974 The Witch-king overruns Arthedain and takes Fornost. End of the North-kingdom.
1975 The Witch-king is defeated at the Battle of Fornost, and pursued to the Ettenmoors; he vanishes from the north.
1980 The Witch-king comes to Mordor and there gathers the Nazgûl.
2000 The Nazgûl issue from Mordor and besiege Minas Ithil.
2002 Fall of Minas Ithil, afterwards known as Minas Morgul.
2043 The Witch-king challenges Eärnur, King of Gondor to single combat. Eärnur desires combat, but is dissuaded by Mardil the Steward.
2050 The challenge is renewed. Eärnur rides to Minas Morgul and is lost.
2060 The power of Dol Guldur grows.
2063 The Watchful Peace begins. The Nazgûl remain quiet in Minas Morgul.

June 20 A host from Modor attacks Osgiliath, the Witch-king spreads fear and terror among the defenders.
July 1 The seven Nazgûl from Minas Morgul, unclad and unmounted, cross the Anduin. They pass through Anórien, over the Entwade, into the Wold, and to the west-shores of the Anduin.
July 17 The Nazgûl from Minas Morgul receive horses and raiment on the west shore of the Anduin above Sarn Gebir.
July 22 The Nazgûl from Minas Morgul meet up with the two Nazgûl from Dol Guldur at the Field of Celebrant. The Lord of the Nazgûl decides to seek northward for the Shire.
Sept 18 Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.
Sept 20 Black Riders arrive at Isengard.
Sept 22 Black Riders reach Sarn Ford and drive off the guard of Rangers.
Sept 23 four Riders enter the Shire before dawn, the others pursue the Rangers eastward, then return to watch the Greenway. One rider comes to Hobbiton at nightfall.
Sept 29 Merry encounters at least one Black Rider in Bree in the evening.
Sept 30 Early in the morning Black Riders break into the house at Crickhollow; three according to A Knife in the Dark, although at The Council of Elrond, Gandalf speaks of the four Black Riders who "invaded the Shire."
Close to the same time there is a on the Prancing Pony. It is suggested that the Black Riders did not personally attack the inn, but rather induced some of the men to do their work. During this time the Black Captain stays hidden south of Bree at Andrath.
That night at least five Riders throw down the gates at Bree and ride through the town.
Oct 3 Gandalf attacked by nine Riders at night on Weathertop; when he escapes, four Riders follow him.
Oct 6 Five Black Riders attack the hobbits and Strider at Weathertop.
Oct 11 Glorfindel drives three Riders off the bridge of Mitheithel, while pursuing them he comes upon two others.
Oct 20 Escape from the Riders at the Ford of Bruinin, the flood leaves the Riders uncloaked and unhorsed.

Feb 22 Legolas shoots winged steed of a Nazgûl from the banks of the Anduin. (Probably not the Witch-king)
March 5 One of the Nazgûl seen over camp of the Rohirrim (Probably not the Witch-king.)
March 10 Five Nazgûl harry Faramir and his men. The Nazgûl retreat at the white flame from Gandalf's hand "for their Captain was not yet come to challenge the white fire of his foe."
March 11 Nazgûl seen high above the city of Minas Tirith.
March 12 The forces of Sauron, led by the Lord of the Nazgûl, issue from the Minas Morgul and draw near to Osgiliath.
March 13 Nazgûl again harry the retreat of Gondor's forces from Osgiliath. Faramir falls to the Black breath.
March 15 Witch-king breaks the Gates of Minas Tirith. He withdraws when the horns of Rohan blow. During the battle on Pelennor Fields he kills Théoden's horse, and Théoden is fatally wounded. The Witch-king closes in on the wounded king, and is killed by Éowyn, aided by Merry.

Note: A more extensive timeline, along with more information and referenced speculation can be found in the research article linked on the right-hand column.

Lyllyn 17Dec02 Additional quotes, timelines added, reformatted 25March06

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