Sauron ~ Sauron in the First Age ~ Sauron in the Second Age ~ Sauron in the Third Age ~ Important Dates ~ Names and Titles
The History of Sauron Stretches into the Far Past!
Originally a Maia of Aulë’s people, Sauron was early corrupted by Melkor and became his most trusted lieutenant.
In the Wars of Beleriand, Sauron was the most feared of Morgoth’s servants, but after the War of Wrath and the expulsion of the first Dark Lord, Sauron rose to become the greatest enemy of Elves and Men in the Second and Third Ages.
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Sauron’s History in the Second Age
Around the year 500 of the Second Age, Sauron began to increase his power. He believed that the Valar had forsaken Middle-earth after the War of Wrath and he had plans to conquer it for himself. Unlike Morgoth, Sauron sought not to destroy the peoples of Middle-earth but to rule and control them, and in this way Sauron was wiser than his master had been.
In the lands of the far east and south, Sauron corrupted many Men and they turned to evil. Sauron found Men easy to ensnare, but he feared the Men of Númenor who were descended from the Men who had joined forces with the Elves against Morgoth in the First Age. The Númenoreans had begun exploring the coasts of Middle-earth and Sauron did not yet dare to move against them.
Sauron chose Mordor to be his realm around the year 1000. The land was enclosed on three sides by high mountain ranges. Within stood a volcanic mountain that became known as Mount Doom and Sauron intended to use its great heat as a powerful forge. In Mordor, Sauron built the stronghold of Barad-dur – the Dark Tower.
To further his plan to rule Middle-earth, Sauron wanted to persuade the Elves into his service because their power was great. Around 1200, he went to Eriador in a fair disguise pretending to be an emissary of the Valar and calling himself Annatar, Lord of Gifts. The High King Gil-galad did not recognize him, but he did not trust him and refused him admittance to Lindon.
Sauron then went to Eregion, where Celebrimbor and the Elven-smiths dwelt. Sauron played on their desire to improve their skills and craftsmanship and promised to teach them many things. The Elven-smiths were deceived and they welcomed Sauron. Using the skills they learned from him, they began forging the Rings of Power around 1500.
Sauron returned to Mordor, and in Mount Doom around 1600 he forged the One Ring to rule the others. He had to put much of his own strength and will into the Ring so that it could master the other Rings of Power. The One Ring allowed him to perceive and control the thoughts of those who bore the lesser Rings, when he wielded the One Ring Sauron’s power was enhanced, but there were two inherent dangers. First, if someone with great strength of will claimed the Ring, that person could become Sauron’s master. Second, if the Ring were destroyed, Sauron would also be destroyed because he would no longer have sufficient power to maintain his existence and would be reduced to nothing more than a shadow. But Sauron could not conceive that anyone would try to destroy the Ring, and he knew that no one – not even himself – would have the strength of will to do so.
When Sauron put on the One Ring, the Elves were aware of him. They realized they had been deceived and they took off their Rings. The Three greatest of these were Narya, Nenya, and Vilya, which Celebrimbor had made alone. Thus they were untouched by Sauron but they were still subject to the One Ring, so the Elves hid them from him.
Sauron was enraged and invaded Eriador with a great force in 1695 and he launched an assault against Eregion. Elrond came with a force from Lindon to help the Elves of Eregion, but they were greatly outnumbered by Sauron’s army and Eregion was destroyed. Sauron captured the Nine Rings and he tortured Celebrimbor to learn the location of the Seven Rings, but the Three Rings had been sent far away and Celebrimbor refused to reveal where they were.
Celebrimbor was slain and Sauron had his body mounted on a pole that was carried before his army like a banner. Elrond’s forces retreated northward and the Dwarves shut themselves inside their mountain realm of Khazad-dûm. Sauron’s army overran Eriador in 1699. Gil-galad resisted Sauron’s attempt to invade Lindon, and when a fleet from Númenor arrived in 1700, Sauron’s forces were overwhelmed. Sauron himself narrowly escaped and he returned to Mordor in 1701 with only his personal guard.
Sauron gradually rebuilt his forces, gathering hosts of Orcs and other evil creatures. He extended his influence over the Men of Rhûn and Harad to the east and south of Mordor and he set himself up as their King and God.
Sauron created his deadliest servants by distributing the Nine Rings to Men. It is said that three of these were great lords of Númenor. They were all enslaved to the will of Sauron and they became wraiths. The Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, first appeared around 2251.
As his strength increased, Sauron’s pride grew and he proclaimed himself King of Men and Lord of the Earth. He began to attack the settlements of the Númenoreans along the coasts of Middle-earth, which he had not previously dared to do. Sauron hated the Númenoreans and he desired revenge for their role in his defeat in Eriador.
But the power of Númenor proved too great. Ar-Pharazon, the King of Númenor, landed in Middle-earth with a mighty fleet and in 3262 he demanded that Sauron surrender to him. Sauron’s armies refused to fight so great a foe. Sauron perceived that he could not win by force, but he still hoped that he could overthrow the Númenoreans by cunning and deceit, so he came down out of Barad-dur and allowed himself to be taken to the island realm of Númenor.
The Kings of Númenor had already become estranged from the Elves and the Valar and they neglected the worship of Eru, the One who had created them. They resented the fact that as Men they were fated to die. They also begrudged the fact that they were not allowed in the Undying Lands – although dwelling in the Undying Lands would not lift the Doom of Men and make them immortal.
Sauron nurtured these seeds of dissension and played upon the Númenoreans fear of death. His form was pleasing and his demeanor was humble and flattering and he became a trusted counselor of the King. He persuaded Ar-Pharazon to forsake Eru entirely and worship Morgoth instead. The Númenoreans began to perform human sacrifices in hopes of gaining immortality, but they remained mortal.
Then Sauron deceived Ar-Pharazon into believing that he would attain immortality if he went to the Undying Lands. Ar-Pharazon built a great fleet and sailed west in 3319, intending to take the Undying Lands by force. But when Ar-Pharazon set foot on the shore, Eru caused the Seas to open up. The fleet sank and Ar-Pharazon was buried underground and the island of Númenor was utterly destroyed by a great wave. Then Eru caused the Seas to be bent so that Men could never sail to the Undying Lands again.
A group of Númenoreans called the Faithful who had not succumbed to Sauron’s deceits escaped the Downfall of Númenor. Chief among them were Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anarion. They sailed to Middle-earth and established the realms of Gondor and Arnor in 3320.
That same year, Sauron’s spirit returned to Mordor. The destruction of Númenor had taken him by surprise; he had only intended for Ar-Pharazon’s fleet to be destroyed. Sauron’s body was lost, and he was never again able to assume a pleasing form. When he rebuilt a new form for himself, it was terrible to behold.
Sauron had rescued the One Ring from the Downfall of Númenor and once back in Barad-dur he began to wield it again. The Men who had been his subjects returned to his service. Among them were Men of Númenorean descent who had been corrupted by Sauron and were called Black Númenoreans.
Sauron resumed his plan of conquest, starting with the newly established realm of Gondor. He captured Minas Ithil, Isildur’s stronghold on the borders of Mordor. But Sauron struck too soon, before he had regained sufficient strength. Anarion was able to prevent him from taking Osgiliath and Minas Anor and Sauron’s forces withdrew to Mordor. An army of Men led by Elendil and an army of Elves led by Gil-galad united against Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance. In 3434, the Battle of Dagorlad was fought outside the gates of Mordor. Sauron’s forces were defeated and Sauron was besieged in his Dark Tower.
The Siege of Barad-dur lasted for seven years until 3441, when Sauron came down from his tower. He fought with Elendil and Gil-galad on the slopes of Mount Doom. In the struggle Elendil and Gil-galad were killed, but Sauron in his moment of triumph was cast down by Isildur, who cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand with the broken shard of his father’s sword Narsil. Sauron’s spirit fled from his body into the East. he would not be seen again in Middle-earth for over a thousand years.