The term of three ages for which Melkor was held prisoner by the Valar in Valinor. At the end of the third age of his captivity, Manwë released Melkor, but he turned back to darkness, destroying the Two Trees and fleeing back to his strongholds in the north of Middle-earth with the Silmarils.
The Annals of Aman in volume 10 of The History of Middle-earth gives us exact dating for the Captivity of Melkor. Melkor was taken back to Valinor as a captive in Valian Year 1090, and bound with the chain Angainor in VY 1100. After this, he remained a captive in Mandos until his release in VY 1400. Converting these dates to years of the Sun, the period from his capture to his release spans a period of 2,971 years.
Melkor was free in Valinor for some considerable time before the Darkening of Valinor. At first he laid his secret plans while feigning reform, and later fled from Valinor after those plans were revealed. In total it would be no less than 890 years (of the Sun) before Melkor struck down the Two Trees and escaped into Middle-earth.
For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.
Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.
Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1998, 2001, 2016. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.