After the War of the Elves and Sauron in the middle of the Second Age, Sauron had suffered a reverse at the hands of the Númenóreans. Though his forces had destroyed Eregion and at one time overrun Eriador, they had been driven back to the Black Land of Mordor. Nonetheless Sauron was not defeated: his newly-built Dark Tower still stood, and he had gathered many Rings of Power from Eregion. Now he purposed to build his power and with it command the whole of Middle-earth, even pondering revenge on the distant Númenóreans across the Great Sea.
At this time Sauron took the title of Lord of the Earth, and drawing the evil things of the World to Mordor, his influence began to spread far and wide. In the east and south of Middle-earth, he held almost total power, and the peoples of those regions worshipped him as a god. The west and north were filled with the fear of his dominion, and this time of Sauron's power came to be known as the Black Years. Many of the Elves fled westward across the Blue Mountains into Lindon, the last place in Middle-earth beyond Sauron's power at this time, and sailed into the West from its havens.
This dark rule of Sauron lasted for centuries, indeed for more than 1,700 years he held almost total dominion in Middle-earth, with only Lindon and distant Númenor remaining to resist him. While Sauron was Lord of the Earth east of the Sea, the Kings of Númenor had themselves grown proud, and eventually a reckoning came. In the year II 3262, King Ar-Pharazôn of Númenor sailed an immense fleet to Middle-earth, landing at Umbar and demanding that Sauron surrender himself. Sauron saw in this demand an opportunity, and agreed. Abandoning Middle-earth, he submitted to the King and allowed himself to be taken to Númenor. There he subverted Ar-Pharazôn and his followers, and succeeded in achieving his ultimate vengeance in the Downfall of Númenor.
Returning to Middle-earth, Sauron found that a group of Númenórean exiles had founded a kingdom on the borders of Mordor. Intending to destroy these people, he rebuilt his forces and began an invasion, capturing the tower of Minas Ithil that they had built directly on his western frontier. This event led the exiles, led by Elendil, to form the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and march to war. Sauron was besieged and defeated, his Ring was taken, and his time as Lord of the Earth came to an end.
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