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Timeline Event

Siege of Angband: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 1st Age

Years: 0060 ~ 0455

Description:
Table of Contents:

Summary
The Combatants
— Attacking Forces
— Defensive Forces
The Timeline
The Prelude
The Siege
The Aftermath


Summary

A 395 year period when Morgoth was held at bay inside his fortress of Angband by the might of the Noldor, with help from the Edain. Morgoth sent out forces a few times to attempt to break the siege. He was unsuccessful until Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame.


The Combatants

Attacking Forces
"Fingon prince of Hithlum rode against him with archers on horseback…"
"Fingolfin and Fingon his son held Hithlum…. But their chief fortress was at Eithel Sirion in the east of Ered Wethrin, whence they kept watch upon Ard-galen; and their cavalry rode upon that plain even to the shadow of Thangorodrim… their people were the most hardy and valiant, most feared by the Orcs and most hated by Morgoth."

Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 14, Of Beleriand and Its Realms

"…the vigilance of Maedhros…"

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 13, Of the Return of the Noldor

"Among the chieftains of the Noldor Angrod and Aegnor alone were of like mind with the King; for they dwelt in regions whence Thangorodrim could be descried, and the threat of Morgoth was present to their thought."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 18, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin

"…From the northern slopes of Dorthonion Angrod and Aegnor, sons of Finarfin, looked out over the fields of Ard-galen … their people were few, for the land was barren, and the great highlands behind were deemed to be a bulwark that Morgoth would not lightly seek to cross." "…upon the March of Maedhros and in the lands behind, dwelt the sons of Fëanor with many people; and their riders passed often over the vast northern plain, Lothlann the wide and empty, east of Ard-galen, lest Morgoth should attempt any sortie towards East Beleriand." "…Celegorm and Curufin fortified Aglon and held it with great strength… … the Noldor held strength of cavalry in the plains at that place [Maglor's Gap]; and the people of Caranthir fortified the mountains to the east of Maglor's Gap."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 14, Of Beleriand and Its Realms

"…Therefore the kings of the three houses of the Noldor, seeing hope of strength in the sons of Men, sent word that any of the Edain that wished might remove and come to dwell among their people… until after some fifty years many thousands had entered the lands of the Kings." "… And in those days the strength of Men was added to the power of the Noldor, and their hope was high; and Morgoth was straitly enclosed, for the people of Hador, being hardy to endure cold and long wandering, feared not at times to go far into the north and there keep watch upon the movements of the Enemy…"

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 17, Of the Coming of Men into the West


Defensive Forces
"Morgoth devised new evils, and ever and anon he would make trial of his enemies." "Nor could the stronghold of Morgoth be ever wholly encircled: for the Ered Engrin, from whose great curving wall the towers of Thangorodrim were thrust forward, defended it upon either side, and were impassable to the Noldor, because of their snow and ice. Thus in his rear and to the north Morgoth had no foes, and by that way his spies at times went out…" "Morgoth perceived now that the Orcs unaided were no match for the Noldor…" "…Glaurung, the first of the Urulóki, the fire-drakes of the North… yet young and scarce half-grown, for long and slow is the life of the dragons..."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 13, Of the Return of the Noldor


The Timeline

60 Defeat of Morgoth in Dagor Aglareb (The Glorious Battle)
155 Morgoth sends an army against Hithlum
260 Glaurung attacks Ard-galen
260-455 The Long Peace
402 Orcs attempt to pierce the pass of Aglon1
422 Fingolfin ponders assault on Angband
455 The Fell Year (start of Dagor Bragollach)

1. In The Silmarillion there is no mention of this specific episode, and only the general mention of "affrays on the marches" during the Long Peace. The Grey Annals details a specific incident for the year 402:
"Here there was fighting on the north-marches, more bitter than there had been since the routing of Glaurung; for the Orcs attempted to pierce the pass of Aglon. There Maidros and Maglor were aided by the sons of Finrod, and Bëor was with them, the first of Men to draw sword in behalf of the Eldar. In this year Barahir son of Bëor was born, who after dwelt in Dorthonion.."

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 1, The Grey Annals, §125

There is no mention of whether this concept was abandoned, or merely omitted. In any case, according to the events detailed in The Silmarillion, Bëor could not have been present as he had died FA 355.


Notes on Dates: All dates come from The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 1, The Grey Annals. There is some contradiction, in that the text gives the Siege as spanning the years 60-445, but gives the ending event as the Dagor Bragollach in the year 455. C. Tolkien's commentary §78 confirms 455 as the end of the Siege of Angband.


The Prelude
"…the third great battle of the Wars of Beleriand, and it was named Dagor Aglareb, the Glorious Battle. "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 wellnigh four hundred years of the Sun."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 13, Of the Return of the Noldor


The Siege

The narrative of this period in The Silmarillion gives a picture of a few forays, then the Long Peace. During this time the Elves prospered, the Men multiplied, and only a few thought of the danger that Morgoth represented.
"... For a long time after Dagor Aglareb no servant of Morgoth would venture from his gates, for they feared the lords of the Noldor; and Fingolfin boasted that save by treason among themselves Morgoth could never again burst from the leaguer of the Eldar, nor come upon them at unawares. 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. Nor could the stronghold of Morgoth be ever wholly encircled... Thus in his rear and to the north Morgoth had no foes, and by that way his spies at times went out, and came by devious routes into Beleriand. And desiring above all to sow fear and disunion among the Eldar, he commanded the Orcs to take alive any of them that they could and bring them bound to Angband; and some he so daunted ... [that they] walked ever in fear of him, doing his will wherever they might be. Thus Morgoth learned much of all that had befallen .... and he rejoiced, seeing therein the seed of many dissensions among his foes."

"When nearly one hundred years had run since the Dagor Aglareb, Morgoth endeavoured to take Fingolfin at unawares… he sent forth an army into the white north, and they turned west and again south and came down the coasts… but they were espied in time, and Fingon fell upon them… and most of the Orcs were driven into the sea."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 13, Of the Return of the Noldor

"For the most part the time of the Siege of Angband was a time of gladness, and the earth had peace under the new light, while the swords of the Noldor restrained the malice of Morgoth, and his thought being bent on their ruin he gave the less heed to aught else in Middle-earth…"

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 1, The Grey Annals, §87

"…and after his [Glaurung's] defeat there was the Long Peace of wellnigh two hundred years. In all that time there were but affrays on the marches, and all Beleriand prospered and grew rich."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 13, Of the Return of the Noldor

"…Fingolfin…seeing that his people were become numerous and strong, and that the Men allied to them were many and valiant, pondered once more an assault upon Angband; for he knew that they lived in danger while the circle of the siege was incomplete… But because the land was fair and their kingdoms wide, most of the Noldor were content with things as they were, trusting them to last, and slow to begin an assault… they were little disposed to hearken to Fingolfin, and the sons of Fëanor at that time least of all…"

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 18, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin

Tolkien makes clear, however, that whether or not Fingolfin had succeeded in persuading others, the Noldor were doomed to defeat:
" for the Noldor did not yet comprehend the fullness of the power of Morgoth, nor understand that their unaided war upon him was without final hope, whether they hasted or delayed."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 18, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin



The Aftermath
& "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…." "…The watch-fires burned low, and the guards were few; on the plain few were waking in the camps of the horsemen of Hithlum. Then 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 began the fourth of the great battles, Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 18, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin


Contributors:
Lyllyn 18April03, reformatted, new quotes, links 4Feb05

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