The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
From before the beginning of the First Age1 to I 587
Location
Throughout the lands of Beleriand, and the lands northward
Origins
Started in an assault by Morgoth on King Thingol of Doriath and his allies
Other names

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  • Updated 25 May 2008
  • Updates planned: 1

Wars of Beleriand

The great conflict of the First Age

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The wars of the First Age between the Noldor and their allies, the Sindar and Edain, against the forces of Morgoth in Angband. There were five main battles in these wars: the First Battle, the Dagor-nuin-Giliath, the Dagor Aglareb, the Dagor Bragollach and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.

The First Battle (29 years before the first rising of the Sun)
After his return to Middle-earth, Morgoth wasted no time in preparing an assault on its peoples. Less than twenty years after his return, he launched an overwhelming attack on the Sindar and their allies. In the east, the Sindar and the Elves of Ossiriand succeeded in destroying the Orc-army at great cost, with the aid of the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains. In the west, though, the Orcs were undefeated, and the battle ended with Círdan besieged in the Havens of the Falas. At this time Doriath was surrounded by the impenetrable Girdle of Melian to guard against future attacks.
Dagor-nuin-Giliath (shortly after the First Battle)
Soon after the First Battle, Fëanor and his Noldor returned to Middle-earth, and made camp in the land of Mithrim, between the arms of the Mountains of Shadow. Hoping for a rapid victory, Morgoth sent an army from the north, while the Orcs that were besieging Círdan turned back to assault Fëanor from the south. The Orcs greatly outnumbered the Elves, and the battle lasted for ten days, but ultimately Fëanor was victorious and the Orc-armies were destroyed. This battle was fought in the darkness before the rising of the Moon or Sun, and so became known as Dagor-nuin-Giliath, the 'Battle-under-Stars'.
Dagor Aglareb (I 60)
After his crushing defeat in the Dagor-nuin-Giliath, Morgoth spent time preparing his next attack on Beleriand. In the sixtieth year since the rising of the Sun, he once again launched an assault from the north, sending armies to invade Dorthonion from the west and east. The forces of the Noldor were ready, and both of the Orcs' great armies were destroyed by the Elves. This became known as the 'Glorious Battle' - Dagor Aglareb in Elvish - and saw the setting of the Siege of Angband by the Noldor. With that siege in place, Morgoth attempted no new major attacks for the next four centuries.
Dagor Bragollach (I 455 to I 456)
Morgoth used the centuries of Siege to prepare an immense retaliation against his enemies. One winter's night, rivers of flame flowed out of the North, and vast armies of Orcs, led by Balrogs and the Dragon Glaurung, swept away the besieging Noldor. With the Siege of Angband broken, the forces of the Elves and Edain were scattered, and few of their defences remained. The battle was named for the fires that had issued from Angband: Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame.
Nirnaeth Arnoediad (I 471)
After the disaster of the Dagor Bragollach, the Elves and Edain rallied their forces and planned an overwhelming counterattack against Angband. Forces from the west under Fingon, and the east under Maedhros, were set to come together and take revenge for the Bragollach. Those plans came close to success, but through ill luck and treachery the attack finally failed, and Morgoth claimed a crushing victory. Because of the dreadful losses in that battle, it was known as Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.
The War of Wrath (I 545 to I 587)
After the Nirnaeth, resistance to Morgoth was limited to a few hidden cities and realms, and these were destroyed one after the other until only a cluster of refugees remained, driven into the far south of Beleriand at the Mouths of Sirion. It seemed that Morgoth's forces were unstoppable, but the lord of the last remaining free Elves and Men - Eärendil son of Tuor - had a last desperate hope. With the aid of a Silmaril's power, he succeeded in crossing the Great Sea and pleading for help from the Valar themselves. The Valar accepted his plea, and sent an immense force into Middle-earth. The resulting War of Wrath (also called the Great Battle) was cataclysmic, rending the earth and destroying most of Beleriand. At its end, Angband lay in ruins, and the captured Morgoth was cast out from the World. So ended the Wars of Beleriand, and with them the First Age of the World, and the lands of Beleriand themselves.

Notes

1

The Wars were reckoned to have started with the First Battle, fought between Morgoth and the Elves of Beleriand before the Noldor had returned to Middle-earth. No date for this event is given in the published Silmarillion, but The Grey Annals tell us that it occurred in the Valian Year 1497, which would be roughly thirty years before the first rising of the Moon. The Grey Annals appear in volume 11 of The History of Middle-earth, The War of the Jewels.

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