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  • Updated 19 May 2024
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Black Men

Ringwraiths in their black cloaks

A term used for the Nazgûl or Ringwraiths among the people of the Bree-land and the Shire. The name comes from a simple description based on their appearance: they were threatening figures that gave off an air of dread and were swathed in black cloaks and cowls. When the Nazgûl were seen in Bree, the locals knew nothing of their origins and purpose, and so gave them the simple description of 'Black Men'. The same term was later used in the Shire, where Gaffer Gamgee summed up his rather limited understanding of the Quest of Mount Doom as '...trapessing in foreign parts, chasing Black Men up mountains...' (The Return of the King VI 8, The Scouring of the Shire).

The black cloaks from which the Black Men took their name were not intended as a disguise, but rather to make them visible at all. The Nazgûl had been drawn entirely into the Wraith-world by the power of the Nine Rings, and thus remained permanently invisible to mortal eyes. When Sauron sent them out to seek the Ring, therefore, they were provided with black attire so that they could question those they met as they searched for 'Shire' and 'Baggins'. In fact, for the earlier part of their search, the Ringwraiths travelled invisibly, crossing the fields of Rohan before reaching a crossing of Anduin and receiving the horses and raiment that would make them Black Men and Black Riders.


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  • Updated 19 May 2024
  • Updates planned: 1

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