The Nazgûl ~ A Dark History of the Ringwraiths ~ The Nine


The Dark History of the Nazgûl

Here in you may read a Dark History, collected from many sources, about the Ringwraiths.

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The Dark History of the Nazgûl

The Terrible Servants of the Dark Lord of Mordor were slaves to his will and to the power of the One Ring.

TolkienCanon3The Nazgûl became Sauron’s most powerful servants in the Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth. They were once mortal men and three were “great lords” of Númenor. Sauron gave to each of them one of Nine Rings of Power. These men grew in power, wealth and influence, each becoming mighty Kings of Men. Ultimately, however, they were bound to the One Ring and completely enslaved by the will of Sauron.

Each of the Nine possessed their rings long enough so that their physical forms faded away until they had become entirely invisible to mortal eyes. By the time of the War of the Ring in the Third Age of Middle-earth, they were invisible under the light of day and so wore black robes, to gave them visible form. During the assault on Minas Tirith, the leader of the Nine, the Witch-king of Angmar, cast back his hood to reveal a crown, but the head that wore it was invisible. While wearing the One Ring on Weathertop, Frodo perceived them as pale figures robed in white, with “haggard hands” and wearing crowns.

“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 of the domination of the One which was Sauron’s. And they became forever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered into the realm of shadows. The Nazgûl were they, the Ringwraiths, the Úlairi, 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”

The Power of the Ringwraiths

The corrupting effect of the rings extended the bearers’ earthly lives far beyond their normal lifespans. The Nazgûl slowly faded, ceasing to hold physical form in this world and existing in a sort of twilight state between this world and the world of Shadow. They faded away until they had become entirely invisible to mortal eyes. Only their black robes gave them visible form.

The Witch-king practiced black magic in the form of Morgul Spells. He carried a Morgul Blade that could turn its victim into a wraith and an evil broad sword, long and pale the ran with the flames of Udûn. He could also speak words of undoing that splintered wood, cracked stone and rent metal, which he used to break the gates of Minas Tirith during the Battle of the Pelennor. However, the Nazgûl’s chief weapon was terror. This was intensified when they were unclad and invisible; and it was greater still when they were all gathered together. They exuded an aura of fear and terror…

The Nazgûl came again . . . like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men’s flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. 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 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Close or prolonged encounters with a Nazgûl caused unconsciousness, nightmares, and eventual death: an effect known as “the Black Breath”. The only known remedy for the Black Breath was the herb Athelas, which was steeped in hot water and used to treat victims by the hands of a healer.

The Black Steeds of the Nine

The Nazgûl were said to have ridden black steeds that were bred or trained in Mordor to endure their terror.  After losing their steeds at the Ford of Bruinen, the Nazgûl returned to Mordor and reappeared mounted on hideous flying beasts. They were  describes as “fell beasts”, both fierce and cruel. They were then called Winged Nazgûl.

These flying steeds figure prominently in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, where the Witch-king of Angmar, the Lord of the Nazgûl, rides one against King Théoden of Rohan.

 “…it was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was…”

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The Dark History of the Nazgûl

The Red Book of the Westmarch states that the Nazgûl first appeared around S.A. 2251, some 700 years after the rings were forged They and were soon established as Sauron’s principal servants. They fled into the East after the first overthrow of Sauron in S.A. 3441 at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, but their survival was assured since the One Ring survived.

They re-emerged around T.A. 1300, when the Witch-king led Sauron’s forces against the successor kingdoms of Arnor: Rhudaur, Cardolan and Arthedain. He effectively destroyed all the successor kingdoms, but was defeated in 1975 and returned to Mordor. There he gathered the other Nazgûl in preparation for the return of Sauron to that realm.

In 2000, the Nazgûl besieged Minas Ithil and, after two years, captured it and acquired its palantír for Sauron. The city thereafter became Minas Morgul, the stronghold of the Nazgûl. Sauron returned to Mordor in 2942 and declared himself openly in 2951. Two or three of the Nazgûl were sent to garrison Dol Guldur, his fortress in Mirkwood.

By 3017, Sauron had learned from Gollum that Bilbo Baggins of The Shire had the One Ring in his possession. Sauron entrusted its recovery to the Nazgûl. They reappeared “west of the River”, riding black horses that were bred or trained in Mordor to endure their terror. They learned that the Ring had passed to Bilbo’s heir, Frodo, and followed him and his companions to Bree. Aragorn arrived ahead of them and hid the Hobbits from their pursuers, but eventually five of the Nazgûl cornered Frodo and his company at Weathertop, where the Witch-king stabbed Frodo in the shoulder with the Morgul blade, breaking off a piece of it in the Hobbit’s flesh. When all Nine were swept away by the waters of the river Bruinen, their horses were drowned, and the Ringwraiths were forced to return to Mordor to regroup.

The Fall of the Nazgûl

During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the Witch-king was slain by Éowyn, shieldmaiden of the Rohirrim and niece of King Théoden of Rohan and Meriadoc Brandybuck, Hobbit of the Shire. Merry’s surreptitious stroke with an enchanted Barrow-blade drove the Witch-king to his knees, allowing Éowyn, to drive her sword between his crown and mantle. Thus was the Witch-king destroyed by a woman and a Hobbit, fulfilling the prophecy that “not by the hand of man will he fall”. Both weapons that pierced him disintegrated, and both assailants were stricken with the Black Breath.

The remaining eight Ringwraiths attacked the Army of the West during the last battle at the Black Gate. When Frodo claimed the Ring for his own in Sammath Naur, in the very fires of Mount Doom, Sauron called upon the eight to fly to intercept him. They arrived too late, however: Gollum seized the Ring and fell into the Cracks of Doom, and the Nazgûl perished with its destruction.

The information above comes from Wikipedia and the The Encyclopedia of Arda.


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 Posted by at 4:05 pm