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The Breeding of Orcs

“But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men
that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun.”



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Professor Tolkien was never clear on how the Orcs of Middle-earth were bred and birthed. Much like the origin of the Orc Species, he was often vague on the subject of how the breeding programs in Utumno and Angband and later in Mordor and Isengard were achieved. We will try and answer these questions through both Canon and the Expanded Mythology of Middle-earth.

It was in the  stronghold of Utumno, that these foul creatures first came into being. Of this we have surety. What is not clear, it how Melkor achieved his purpose making creatures that would bend forever to his will and live under the thraw of the Shadow. Some believe that Melkor/Morgoth bred the first Orcs from the rocks, slimes and muds found in the depths of Utumno combining his essence as an Aniur with dark arts and infusing this mixture of muck and life force to give life to these new creatures. Other believe that Melkor was unable to create new life and so made the orcs from other living creatures. It is said the orcs were elves once, taken by the dark powers, tortured, mutilated and changed through dark sorcery, turning them into a ruined and terrible form of life. Ever after they were slaves to the will of Morgoth, but the making of these first orcs cannot account for the vast armies raised by the Dark Lord in his fortress of Udûn to fight against the Valar. There is no doubt, that after shaping the first of these monstrous beings, Morgoth began breeding them in the pits of Utumno and Angband. It has been written that Melkor, later known as Morgoth was unable to create new life, but was only able to ruin and debase that which Eru Ilúvatar had created and that the Orcs were made in mockery of the Elves. After shaping the first orcs, Morgoth must have set them to breeding by the same method with which all creatures given life by Ilúvatar were want to do. However, these new creatures were imbued with dark will of their master which made them breed more quickly than other creatures upon the earth, and they were filled with an evil lust that drove then to continually procreate and multiply their numbers.

So it was, that Morgoth could raise vast armies quickly and drive them into battle with little or no thought to how many were slaughtered in his campaigns against the Ñoldor. However, even with the Iron Fist of the Orc at his command, Morgoth soon realized he needed more powerful creatures and set his mind to creating the Balrogs and Dragons. He left the breeding of the orcs to lesser captains and it is believed that Sauron was given this task and used his powers of transformation, to breed larger and more powerful Orcs to fight in the battles of the First Age of Middle-earth. In the Book of of Lost Tales it is written…

“It became clear in time that undoubted Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits; and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing new breeds, often larger and more cunning. There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men treacherous and vile.”

The Book of Lost Tales

In the dungeons of Angband under the three fiery peaks of Thangorodrim, Sauron began to breed Orcs for his dark Master. Sauron mixed the races of Orcs and Men to make them larger, stronger and more brutal. This knowledge would serve Sauron well, for after the fall of Morgoth and the destruction of Beleriand, when Sauron himself became a Dark Power in Middle-earth, he would employ the Iron Fist of the Orc in his wars against the West.

In the later centuries of the Third Age, Sauron once more sent out a call to draw the Orcs of Middle-earth to Mordor, and there in the rebuilt tower of Barad-dûr, within the breeding dens, he mastered the craft of cultivating new orcs with the birthing of his large Solider Orcs of Mordor. These great Black Uruks were said to be the largest and most fierce Orcs ever seen in Middle-earth.

This race of Uruks, described in the Red Book of Westmarch as “black orcs of great strength”, first appeared in the latter years of the Third Age around 2475, when they conquered Ithilien and destroyed the city of Osgiliath. These new Orcs, begat by Sauron were a breed unknown until that time.

In Isengard, under the shadow of Orthanc, Saruman through foul-craft created the mighty Uruk-hai, which may well have rivaled the great Black Uruks of Mordor. If given enough time and if Saruman had gained the One Ring of Power which he coveted above all else, his armies might one day have rivaled the might of Mordor.  Sauron would surely have moved his forces against Isengard if Minas Tirith and Rohan had fallen and Saruman had regained the One Ring. Sauron would have driven all his forces against Orthanc before the wizard could have marshaled armies strong enough to defend Orthanc against Mordor. If Saruman had gained the One Ring, he might have had the power to turn the armies of Mordor to his side and ageist the Dark Lord, but that is a tale that can never be told.

“But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun.”

The Red Book of Westmarch, Gamling at Helm’s Deep

The terms ’half-Orc’ and ’Goblin-Men’ are likely interchangeable terms, but may refer to Men, who had some degree of Orcish blood in their veins, great or small, such as Bill Ferny and many of the southerners sent north to Bree and the Shire during the War of the Ring. The Uruk-hai of Isengard were a new breed of orc that was able to withstand the light of day, but they would also have inherited the shorter life spans of men. When the orcs were first created in the time of Morgoth, they would have had much a longer lifespan, having been made from immortal blood, though likely much shorter in length then the life of Elven kind.

The lifespan of orc-kind was never made clear and now there are none alive who remember it.

it is likely that the breeding of orcs and men would have happened naturally, without the help of either Sauron or Saruman. In the years before Sauron rose once more to power and Saruman had not yet fallen into evil, Orcs in many parts of Middle-earth raided the places in which men lived and took booty and slaves. The life of a slave under the cruel whip of an Uruk would have been an unimaginably terrible life, but there is no doubt that men and women were taken and kept as slaves. The children born of these unholy unions would have grown and became part of the orc pack. So for many generations prior to the War of the Ring, there would have been an intermingling of the two races. However Saruman certainly studied the dark arts of both Morgoth and Sauron to make his Uruk-hai armies.

It will never be known if the fighting Uruk-hai of the White Hand, were truly a match for the Black Uruks of Mordor, because these two breeds of orcs were never directly engaged in battle. Sauron kept his best fighting forces within the walls of Mordor, unleashing them during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and during the final Battle before the Black Gate. Some were sent to Moria and and a great number inhabited Dol Guldur, but for the most part the Soldier Orcs of Mordor were kept in reserve. it is believed that Sauron kept several legions of his great Black Uruks in Barad-dûr in case it was assailed by a captain of the west bearing the one Ring of Power. They must have all been destroyed in the ruin of the Dark Tower after the fall of Sauron, though some who were on errand for the Dark Lord out on plain of Gorgoroth may have survived.

The Uruk-hai of the White Hand were completely destroyed in the Battle of Helms Deep, though it’s possible some escaped into the Misty Mountains. Some few of both the Orcs of Mordor and Isengard must have survived the War of the Ring, but what became of them has never been told.

It is a shame, because it would truly have been a battle to see… imagine 10,000 Black Uruks of the Great Eye, set against 10,000 Uruk-hai of the White hand!

How the mixed breeding was achieved to make the fighting Uruk-hai in not now known, either through dark sorcery or natural procreation, but in the later years of the Third Age, in the time leading up to the War of the Ring, many rumors swirled about Orthanc and the breeding pits beneath Isengard. It is said that by bending the natural laws of Ilúvatar with dark sorcery, Saruman created birthing pits in the fertile muds beneath Orthanc, spawning Uruk broods encased in placenta sacks, that emerged whole and ready to fight, often dismembering, killing and eating the orc overseers that tended them. These orcs were named the Uruk-hai by Saruman, whose intent was to raise an army quickly and with speed, to set up Isengard as a power that might eventually rival Mordor. Saruman’s vain attempt to stand against the greater Shadow in the East, was but a fools errand.

It is said that the great Black Uruks of Mordor in the service of the Red Eye began appearing out of Mordor around 2475 of the Third Age, assaulting Ithilien, the ruins of Osgiliath  driving most of the people west of the Anduin. These were the Uruks of Mordor, black Orcs of tremendous strength and ferocity, the great soldier orcs of the Dark Lord. Sauron could breed armies of Orcs with enormous speed when they were needed. It had taken just a few years for the Orcs to multiply in Mordor to the vast hordes seen in the War of the Ring.

There are whispers that within the dungeons of the Dark Lord there were countless breeding pits where all manner of slaves and vile creatures were cast and forced to breed with the strongest of Sauron’s minions. Orcs were pitiless and took pleasure in all kinds of cruel and wicked acts; they did evil deeds for their own amusement, purely for the sport of it though it was all part of the designs of the Dark Lord. There is no doubt that the evil sorcery of the Black Númenóreans in the service of Sauron used the foul craft of Morgoth to blend and shape this new breed of terrible creature. Out of the breeding pits rose the Black Uruks of Mordor. A race of orcs never before seen in Middle-earth. Some say that Saruman captured some of these mighty Black Uruks and used them in his own breeding programs mixed with half-orcs and goblin-men to make his fighting Uruk-hai.

The Female Orc

The ways of Orc life are for the most part shrouded in mystery. Much of what we know about the Orcs of Middle-earth comes from the Red Book of Westmarch and from selected scrolls found in the Library of Shadow within a secret vale east of the ruin of Barad-dûr. Our knowledge of Orc life is sketchy at best.

 As we stated earlier, it is believed that Morgoth was unable to create new life. He was only able to ruin and debase that which Eru Ilúvatar had created. After shaping the first orcs through torture and dark sorcery, Morgoth must have set them to breeding by the same method with which all creatures given life by Ilúvatar were want to do. This brings forth the thorny question of the female Orc, of which very little is known.

We can suppose that female Orcs, like the males were ferocious and brutal in nature and like all orc-kind were wicked and cruel. They like the males would have fought for their place within the tribe. Some would have been treated as slaves or Snaga, while others might have learned a valuable skill and so established themselves as worthy to the group. Most would have fought their way up among the ranks to become savage warriors, just like their male counterparts.

It was likely that on the battlefield, one would hardly have been able to distinguish a male Uruk from a female one. The men of the West were just as likely to die upon the sword of a female Orc as they were on that of a male and they would never have known the difference.

However, in the Breeding Pits of Barad-dûr, the overseers would have been merciless, treating the female orcs as mere cattle, whose only purpose was to begat new orcs as fast as they could. It’s likely that male Orcs were treated in much the same way, forced to work their loins until they died of exhaustion. A Human or Elven taken as a slave deep into the breeding pits, would have suffered a life of terrible torment, whose only succor would be the knowledge that their lives would be mercifully short.

The evil wrought in the dungeons of the Dark Tower produced a creature so savage and terrible to behold, that those who laid eyes upon them quailed in fear. The pinnacle of Orc breeding was the Black Uruk of Barad-dûr, who armies would have overwhelmed all of Middle-earth, if Sauron’s final plans for domination had not been laid waste by the destruction of the One Ring. The Black uruks of Mordor were the only true rivals to the Fighting Uruk-hai of Isengard.



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 Posted by at 3:38 pm