10 July 2011

365 Days of Middle-Earth ~ Day 9: Dagor Bragollach


The Dagor Bragollach (Sindarin for "Battle of Sudden Flame") took place in northern Beleriand/Anfauglith in the year 455 of the First Age and was the fourth battle of the Wars of Beleriand and a great turning point in the War of the Jewels.

The Initial Phase - FA 455

The Battle began when Morgoth broke the Siege of Angband, which had been in place for four hundred years. One winter night, he sent forth rivers of flame which consumed Ard-galen (renamed Anfauglith). Many elves perished from flame and smoke as they fled the sudden fires while Morgoth's armies of Balrogs and orcs, led by the dragon Glaurung, overran the Dorthonion highlands (Morgoth's main objective) and slew both Angrod and Aegnor. Bregolas, Lord of Ladros, also died, while his brother, Barahir, held on to western Dorthonion.

Leading an army of reinforcements was Finrod Felagund, who was ambushed by Morgoth's forces at the Fens of Serech and cut off from his troops. If not for Barahir, who descended from Dorthonion and rescued the elven lord, Finrod would have either been killed or captured by the enemy. In return for this courageous deed, Finrod swore an oath of friendship to Barahir and his family, and gave him his ring as a token (the Ring of Barahir).

The armies of Hithlum also made an attempt to aid Dorthonion, but were driven back to their fortresses in the Ered Wethrin. Hador (Lord of Dor-lómin), his younger son Gundor, and many of their followers died as Fingolfin's army retreated to the fortress of Barad Eithel. Morgoth gained control of Dorthonion, and with it a new pass south into Mid-Beleriand at Anach.

Morgoth's next objectives were the gateway passes south into Beleriand and west into Hithlum. The Pass of Aglon was breached, although Morgoth's forces suffered severe losses. Celegorm and Curufin fled via towards Minas Tirith via the north marches of Doriath.

Glaurung led a separate attack on Maglor's Gap, where Morgoth's armies ravaged the land between the arms of the river Gelion. With his horsemen slain in the fields, Maglor retreated to Maedhros' fortress on Himring, hoping to defend the city. Next, Morgoth's Orcs took the mountain forts on Mount Rerir,  defiled Lake Helevorn, and advanced south through Thargelion and into East Beleriand over the fords of the river Gelion. Caranthir fled south to Amon Ereb, where he and his two brothers, Amrod and Amras, allied themselves with the Green Elves. While Maglor and Maedhros held Himring, survivors from Dorthonion and the other eastern realms joined them, and Maedhros succeeded in securing the Pass of Aglon. But the March of Maedhros, the eastern wing of the northern Noldorin siege line against Morgoth, could not be re-established.

While Finrod and his army went south to Nargothrond, Barahir continued to trying to hold Dorthonion with a dwindling force of men. When he could no longer hold his ground, the  women and children of the House of Bëor were relocated to Hithlum and Brethil under the leadership of Barahir's wife, Emeldir.

The mountain forts of the Ered Wethrin around Hithlum also held against the attacks, and the siege was broken. The sons of Fëanor were dispersed, parts of Finrod's realm lost, Fingolfin and Fingon were in Hithlum, and Orcs had overtaken the north. While the armies of Morgoth were successful, they had suffered severe losses, and in the spring, he recalled his hosts, and ended the main battle.

Middle Phase - FA 456

Upon learning of the Noldor's defeat (and subsequent casualties), Fingolfin, the High-king of the Noldor, rode alone upon Rochallor, his war-horse, across Anfauglith to challenge Morgoth to single combat. When he arrived at gate of the fortress of Angband, Morgoth accepted his challenge, and they fought. Fingolfin wounded Morgoth seven times with his sword Ringil; yet, he was slain by Morgoth's mace, Grond, and crushed beneath the foot of Morgoth. Fingolfin's body was taken away by Thorondor, King of the Eagles. Permanently scarred by these wounds, Morgoth walked with a limp from then on.

Morgoth and Fingolfin, as illustrated by John Howe
Later Phase - FA 456-466

Morgoth sent Sauron from Angband to command a great force of Orc-hosts, Werewolves, and Wolves against the fortress of Minas Tirith on Tol Sirion, which were still being held by Orodreth. Sauron took it and drove Orodreth out, and made Tol Sirion a base from which he spread terror and renamed it Tol-in-Gaurhoth (the Isle of Werewolves). He expanded the occupation of Dorthonion with such horror that even Orcs would only pass through with great speed.

Barahir and his men were hunted down until only his son Beren lived; he, too, was driven out (eventually coming to Doriath).  From the western gateway pass into Beleriand, Sauron sent Orc armies and legions  south to take Doriath from the west.

The marches of Doriath became a battleground for the Orcs and the Grey Elves. While Sauron sent Orcs in great forces, the Men of Brethil, aided by the Sindar of Doriath (led by Beleg), destroyed one of the Orc-legions at the crossing of Taeglin in FA 458. Thingol and the Sindar defeated the Orc-army occupying East Beleriand on Radhrim, the East March, in FA 462 and crushed the Orc-host of Boldog on the North March, in FA 465. A dispatch from Himring destroyed what was left of the Orcs; however, Galdor (Lord of Dor-lómin), died defending Barad Eithel during the second assault of Hithlum.

Next, Morgoth launched a two-pronged assault in FA 462: one Orc-host lay siege to forts of the mountain passes of Ered Wethrin, and the other came from the north, crossing the ice and attacking Fingon on the plains of Hithlum. Húrin, son of Galdor and the new lord of Dor-lómin, drove the armies of Morgoth back to Barad Eithel. Outnumbered, Fingon was reinforced by Círdan and the Falathrim who had sailed to his rescue in great strength, landing their warriors near the Gate of the Noldor. Caught between the armies of Hithlum and Falas, the Orc-host was destroyed. In FA 465, Lúthien Tinúviel, with the help of Huan the hound, first overthrew Sauron and destroyed his fortress Tol-in-Gaurhoth. In FA 466, with the help of Beren, in the depths of Angband, they took a Silmaril from the Crown of Morgoth in the depths of Angband, and achieved what all the armies of the Noldor had failed to do in nearly 500 years of war.

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