HASA Resources

Timeline Event

Great Plague: Overview

Event Type: Environment/Disease

Age: 3rd Age - The Kings

Years: 1636 ~ 1637

Description:

The infectious epidemic that spread out of Rhovanion into Gondor and Eriador in Third Age 1636; also known as the Dark Plague.

The Prelude
The Timeline
The Pandemic
— Rhovanion
— Gondor
— Eriador
— Dunland
— The East
The Aftermath
— Rhovanion
— Gondor
— Eriador
— Dunland
— The East

The Prelude
Later it was noted that [the Great Plague] happened even as the Shadow grew deep in Greenwood, and many evil things reappeared, signs of the arising of Sauron. It is true that the enemies of Gondor also suffered, or they might have overwhelmed it in its weakness; but Sauron could wait, and it may well be that the opening of Mordor was what he chiefly desired.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri


The Timeline
1636 III
The Great Plague devastates Gondor. Death of King Telemnar and his children. The White Tree dies in Minas Anor. The plague spreads north and west, and many parts of Eriador become desolate....

[See: Telemnar and his children die]
[See: The White Tree of Gondor dies]
[See: The Dúnedain of Cardolan perish]

1640
King Tarondor removes the King's House to Minas Anor, and plants a seedling of the White Tree. Osgiliath begins to fall into ruin. Mordor is left unguarded.

[See: Tarondor removes the King's House to Minas Anor]
[See: Tarondor plants a seedling of the White Tree in Minas Anor]
[See: Osgiliath begins to fall into ruin]
[See: Mordor is left unguarded]

[See: Húrin of Emyn Arnen begins the line of Stewards in Gondor]

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


The Pandemic

The Pandemic — Rhovanion
The waning of the Northmen of Rhovanion began with the Great Plague, which appeared there in the winter of the year 1635 and soon spread to Gondor. In Gondor the mortality was great especially among those who dwelt in cities. It was greater in Rhovanion, for though its people lived mostly in the open and had no great cities, the Plague came with a cold winter when horses and men were driven into shelter and their low wooden houses and stables were thronged; moreover they were little skilled in the arts of healing and medicine, of which much was still known in Gondor, preserved from the wisdom of Númenor.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders


The Pandemic — Gondor
The second and greatest evil came upon Gondor 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.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

In Gondor the mortality was great especially among those who dwelt in cities.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders


The Pandemic — Eriador
In the days of Argeleb II the plague came into Eriador from the Southeast, and most of the people of Cardolan perished, especially in Minhiriath. The Hobbits and all other peoples suffered greatly, but the plague lessened as it passed northwards, and the northern parts of Arthedain were little affected.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur


The Pandemic — Dunland
The Dunlendings suffered, like all the peoples of Arnor and Gondor, in the Great Plague of the years 1636-7 of the Third Age, but less than most, since they dwelt apart and had few dealings with other men.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix


The Pandemic — The East
No doubt the people further east had been equally afflicted....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders


The Aftermath

The Aftermath — Rhovanion
When the Plague passed it is said that more than half of the folk of Rhovanion had perished, and of their horses also.

They were slow to recover; but their weakness was not tested for a long time.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders


The Aftermath — Gondor
[The House of Stewards] were descended, father to son, from [Húrin of Emyn Arnen], Steward to King Minardil, who had laboured greatly for the ordering of the realm in the disastrous days of the plague, when King Telemnar died within two years of the slaying of King Minardil by the Corsairs.

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

When King Telemnar died... Tarondor, his nephew, who succeeded him,... removed the king's house permanently to Minas Anor, for Osgiliath was now partly deserted, and began to fall into ruin. Few of those who had fled from the plague into Ithilien or to the western dales were willing to return.

Tarondor, coming young to the throne, had the longest reign of all the Kings of Gondor [162 years]; but he could achieve little more than the reordering of his realm within, and the slow nursing of its strength.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

Then for weariness and fewness of men the watch on the borders of Mordor ceased and the fortresses that guarded the passes were unmanned....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

No doubt the people further east had been equally afflicted, so that the enemies of Gondor came chiefly from the south or over sea.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders

Calenardhon, never densely populated had been devastated by the Dark Plague of 1636, and thereafter steadily denuded of inhabitants of Númenórean descent by migration to Ithilien and lands nearer Anduin. Isengard remained a personal possession of the Stewards, but Orthanc itself became deserted, and eventually it was closed and its keys removed to Minas Tirith. If Beren the Steward considered the Stone at all when he gave these to Saruman, he probably thought that it could be in no safer hands than those of the head of the Council opposed to Sauron.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

Saruman dares to use the palantír of Orthanc, but becomes ensnared by Sauron, who has the Ithil Stone. He becomes a traitor to the Council.

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

The people of [Calenardhon] had become few since the Plague, and most of those that remained had been slaughtered by the savage Easterlings. Cirion, therefore, in reward for his aid, gave Calenardhon between Anduin and Isen to Eorl and his people; and they... settled in that land.... [In] Gondor their land was called Rohan, and its people the Rohirrim.... There the Rohirrim lived afterwards as free men under their own kings and laws, but in perpetual alliance with Gondor.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl


The Aftermath — Eriador
... many parts of Eriador become desolate.

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

Since the Great Plague of the year 1636 of the Third Age Minhiriath had been almost entirely deserted, though a few secretive hunter-folk lived in the woods.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 4, Appendix D, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn: The Port of Lond Daer

It was at this time that an end came of the Dúnedain of Cardolan, and evil spirits out of Angmar and Rhudaur entered into the deserted mounds and dwelt there.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur

Beyond the Baranduin the Periannath survive, but suffer great loss.

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

[The Hobbits] prospered and multiplied after the Dark Plague (S.R. 37) until the disaster of the Long Winter and the famine that followed it.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Concerning Hobbits


The Aftermath — Dunland
But the great North-South Road, which was the chief route of communication between the Two Kingdoms except by sea, ran through [Enedwaith].... Before... the coming of the Great Plague in Third Age 1636, both kingdoms shared an interest in this region, and together built and maintained the Bridge of Tharbad and the long causeways that carried the road to it on either side of the Gwathló and Mitheithel across the fens in the plains of Minhiriath and Enedwaith. A considerable garrison of soldiers, mariners and engineers had been kept there until the seventeenth century of the Third Age. But from then onwards the region fell quickly into decay; and long before the time of The Lord of the Rings had gone back into wild fenlands.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 4, Appendix D, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn: The Port of Lond Daer


The Aftermath — The East
It is true that the enemies of Gondor also suffered, or they might have overwhelmed it in its weakness....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

Contributors:
Lyllyn 18Apr03
Loquacious 12Jul03
Elena Tiriel 28Jul04, 11Aug04, 23Apr05, 10May05

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