Origins of the Nazgûl and the Downfall of Númenor

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The spell uttered by Sauron when he forged the One Ring includes the line

Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die.

It might be assumed from this line that the Nine Rings were already doled out to men by the Mírdain, the guild of Noldorian smiths who made them in Eregion II 1500– II 1590 [1], but Tolkien explicitly says this is not what happened[2].

 

It appears that the line in his spell is an intention of Sauron’s, part of his plan to dominate Middle-earth.  Celebrimbor perceived it when Sauron put on the One Ring and betrayed the Mírdain, whom he had instructed in the making of the Rings of Power under the guise of Annatar, “Giver of Gifts”.  What followed was the war of the Elves and Sauron, often referred to as the “first war against Sauron,” beginning in II 1693[3], in which Celebrimbor was killed and Eregion’s principal city, Ost-en-Edhil, was destroyed in II 1697.  The forces of Gil-galad and Elrond were divided, and Gil-galad was forced back to the line of the River Lhûn in Lindon.[4] Shortly after this, the Númenorean king Tar-Minastir (born II 1474; sovereign ca II 1731; retired II 1869; died II 1873)[5] sent a fleet under his admiral Ciryatur, who landed a large force at Vinyalondë (later called Lond Daer) at the mouth of the Gwathló in II 1700, from whence the Númenorean army was able to fall upon the forces of Mordor from behind as they besieged Gil-galad, defeating and destroying Sauron’s army.[6]

 

The Nazgûl first appeared about II 2251[7], some 550 years after the war of the Elves and Sauron.  Since we know that Sauron did not possess the Nine Rings until at least 1697, we can assert that the Nazgûl were ensnared sometime after that.  Of the Nine Ringwraiths, we know the name and origin of only one, "Khamûl, the Black Easterling," but we also know from Tolkien that among those "ensnared with the Nine Rings three were great lords of Númenorean race."[8]  These three, then, were ensnared in that period of 550 years.  I assert that at least the first Númenorean was trapped fairly quickly.  The three Númenorean Nazgûl are the primary focus of this essay.

 

Tar-Ciryatan (born II 1634; sovereign ca II 1837; retired II 2029; died II 2386), twelfth king of Númenor and son of Tar-Minastir, broke from the pattern of his forefathers and began to loot the men of Middle-earth, carrying treasures back to Númenor.  While the Númenoreans could hardly be expected to be perfect people even at the zenith of their moral standing, thousands of years before the fall of Númenor, this seems to be a significant change in behavior.  It is said of Tar-Ciryatan “that he constrained his father to yield [the kingship] to him ere of his free will he would,” evincing “the first coming of the Shadow upon the bliss of Númenor.”[9]

 

Tar-Ciryatan’s son, Tar-Atanamir the Great (born II 1800; sovereign ca II 2029; died II 2221[10]), was even worse, and first spoke openly against the ban of the Valar, which forbade them to sail further toward Tol Eressëa than the sight of the western coast of Númenor.  Tar-Atanamir is also reported as having treated the men of Middle-earth cruelly; since Tar-Aldarion, his ancestor who first returned to Middle Earth, recognized the men of Eriador as his distant kindred who had remained behind in Middle-earth[11], this must be seen as a serious moral and ethical failing in itself, over and above the heresy pronounced in his denunciation of the ban of the Valar.  Tar-Atanamir was also the first of the Númenorean kings to die unwillingly, demonstrating a fear of death (and in this, perhaps, a guilty conscience, and so a fear of meeting his Maker!).[12]

 

By the time Tar-Ancalimon (born II 1986; sovereign II 2221 (but see endnote 10); died II 2386) son of Tar-Atanamir became king in II 2221, Tolkien says there was a “rift … between the King’s Men” (Númenoreans who, like Tar-Atanamir, denounced of the ban of the Valar) and the Faithful Númenóreans.  By this time as well, the Númenoreans had become superstitious, “forsaking the use of Elven-tongues” as their daily language, but taking “royal titles … in Quenya … for fear … of … ill-fortune.”[13]

 

Here is a timeline of these events:

Year

Event

1474

Tar-Minastir born

1634

Tar-Ciryatan born

1695

Sauron invades Eriador

1697

Sauron kills Celebrimbor and seizes the Nine Rings

1700

Tar-Minastir sends a large force to help Gil-galad; Sauron defeated

1731

Tar-Minastir sovereign (see endnote 5): “He loved the Eldar but envied them.”

1800

Tar-Atanamir born; “Númenoreans begin to establish dominions... The Shadow falls on Númenór.”[14]

1869

Tar-Minastir retires.  Tar-Ciryatan sovereign: “He scorned the yearnings of his father”

1873

Tar-Minastir dies

1986

Tar-Ancalimon born

2029

Tar-Ciryatan retires.  Tar-Atanamir sovereign: He “spoke openly against the ban of the Valar”

2035

Tar-Ciryatan dies

2221

Tar-Atanamir dies; Tar-Ancalimon sovereign (see endnote 10)

2251

Nazgûl first appear

2386

Tar-Ancalimon dies

 

Now, Christopher Tolkien remarks in Unfinished Tales in the first footnote of “The Line of Elros” that, “…all the Kings [descendants of Elros] from Vardamir to Tar-Ancalimon lived to or beyond their four hundredth year, and the three who did not died within one or two years of it.”  Númenoreans descended from Elros seem to have been living in excess of 200 years to the end of the Third Age, provided they were not killed.[15]

 

We know also that the Rings of Power gave long life to those mortals who possessed them, even forestalling death itself.[16]  I assert that one of the “three … great lords of Númenorean race" was a prince of Númenor: this was the Witch King of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgûl.  He was probably close in age to the royal heir, Tar-Ciryatan, which means he was likely born in Númenor between II 1550 and II 1650.  He need not have been a son of Tar-Minastir, although that is possible, but he was in all likelihood a close kinsman of Tar-Ciryatan and himself a descendant of Elros.

 

It is the order and timing of events that leads me to this conclusion.  The Nazgûl first appear around II 2250.  In other words, by II 2250, all nine men had fallen completely under Sauron’s control through the One Ring, so much so that “if one of them, even the Witch-king their captain, had seized the One Ring, he would have brought it back to his Master.”[17]  It makes sense that all nine Nazgûl appear: it would be unwise of Sauron to unveil them piecemeal: at best, fewer Nazgûl would wield less power, and at worst, one of those not completely overcome might seek salvation from his fate and relief from his affliction; there might even be the chance someone else, possibly a Númenórean not under the influence of one of the Nine Rings might try to save a friend or kinsman had he the opportunity to understand what was happening.

 

And if the Lord of Morgul was indeed the greatest of the nine men before their ruin, as it seems he must, then he must have been one of the Númenóreans, the greatest of three Númenoreans so enslaved.  Would he have fallen mid-way through life?  Not likely: Gandalf told Frodo, a mortal with a Ring of Power “becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the dark power that rules the Rings.”  (See endnote 16.)  So the Númenóreans, who lived to 200 years and more, had probably lived beyond their normal, mortal years, and faded; in other words, the three Númenoreans had been born no later than about II 1800 ort at most II 1850.

 

Notice that there are several references that the “Shadow falls on Númenor”, beginning first in II 1800 in the Tale of Years[18], and in the references for both Tar-Ciryatan and Tar-Atanamir in “The Line of Elros”.[19]  Something has gone wrong in Númenor itself by around II 1800, something that is affecting both Tar-Ciryatan and Tar-Atanamir so that they reject both their family allegiances — Tar-Ciryatan “constrained his father to yield to him” — and their faith — Tar-Atanamir spoke openly against the ban of the Valar.  It makes sense that someone is poisoning the atmosphere in Armenelos, the capital of Númenor.  But who could this be?  Sauron himself would not appear in Númenor until II 3262.[20]  No, this counsel must be coming from within Númenor itself.  But who would have access to two royal heirs?  It would have to be a member of the inner circle of the royal family itself, a member of the House of Elros.

 

Moreover, if this person were a descendant of Elros, a close kinsman of the kings, he would naturally possess the long life of that house: about 400 years until the days of Tar-Ancalimon.  And that would suggest that, if he were about 400 years old in II 2250, he had been born no earlier than II 1850.  But I will press the point further.

 

Again, describing a mortal bearing one of the Nine Rings, Gandalf in his discussion with Frodo (see endnote 16) says, “sooner or later — later, if he is strong or well-meaning to begin with, but neither strength nor good purpose will last — sooner or later the dark power will devour him.”  Let us give this prince of Númenor every consideration: he is both strong and well-meaning to begin with, and his fall takes longest of all he Nine.  He must also come before Sauron, who must prepare his weapons with meticulous planning and preparation – instructing them, equipping them, training them together.  This surely took many years, perhaps a few decades – altogether for the Númenorean prince, from the time he was compelled to present himself to Sauron until Sauron sent him forth again, perhaps a century slid past.  And his life must have wearied on as he faded under the influence of his Ring, whether in Númenor or in some stronghold of Númenor in Middle-earth, for perhaps another hundred years.  So he was born not about II 1850, but about II 1650 or even earlier.

 

But how and why would a Númenorean prince, “strong or well-meaning to begin with,” accept such an item so impregnated with evil?  Remember that he would be familiar with the details of the war: of its cause, of its nature, of Sauron and his powers, and quite possibly of the existence of the Rings of Power and even something of their hazards.

 

Sauron, of course, was still in his accustomed body, which he had since his beginning.  He had not been disembodied by Lúthien Tinúviel and Huan the Hound of Valinor at Tol Sirion: he had shifted shape when Huan released him.[21]  A master of shapes and disguises, Sauron had presented himself to the Noldor of Eregion as Annatar, "Lord of Gifts", with a suitable appearance pleasing even to Elves; and while Gil-galad and Galadriel could determine that he was not to be trusted, they could not determine who or what he was.[22]  Nor had he lost his corporeal form in the first war against Sauron, the war between the Elves and Sauron of II 1695 – II 1700.  It would have been an easy matter for Sauron to take another pleasing form and carefully, skillfully cozen and deceive a mortal – even a great scion of the line of Elros Tar-Minyatur – if he could catch the mortal unawares and unprepared.  While no hint of their encounter is given anywhere in the corpus of Tolkein’s published work, I suspect something of this sort must have taken place sometime between II 1700 and II 1750.

 

This would explain the Shadow that fell on Númenor beginning in II 1800.  One of the Númenorean princes sent in the armada to fight in the alliance with Lindon must have stayed behind in the years immediately following the war.  “In the Battle of the Gwathló [when Sauron was defeated in II 1700 by the Númenorean force from Vinyalondë,] Sauron was routed utterly and he himself only narrowly escaped.  … [H]umiliated he returned to Mordor, and vowed vengeance upon Númenor.”[23]  Now, how could he take vengeance upon Númenor?  He would have to poison hearts and minds of the Númenoreans.  How could he accomplish this?  By seducing, trapping, ruining, and perverting some of the leaders of Númenor left behind in Middle-earth, leaders who could return to sow discord among their countrymen.  And this is obviously what he did do.

 

Tar-Minastir gives up the throne – unwillingly and under pressure from his own son – in II 1869.  By this time, the Númenoreans have already established military fortifications along the west coast of Middle-earth, although neither Umbar nor Pelargir have yet been founded as the principal outposts of the Númenoreans in Middle-earth.[24]  In other words, someone has convince Tar-Ciryatan that he should be king in despite of his father’s wisdom, judgment, and good will, not to mention Númenorean law and custom.  This person must have had access to Tar-Ciryatan, but more importantly, he must have had Tar-Ciryatan’s respect and been deep in his counsels.  Moreover, this person must also have come under the sway of one of the Nine Rings – his personal power would have grown, his suasion and reason would seem stronger, he would likely have become unusually wealthy (and that likely from Middle-earth)[25], so that he would seem more “respectable” than his peers.  He would have to be someone close to Tar-Ciryatan, perhaps a member of the Council of the Scepter, someone who could whisper in private his poisons in the ear of the royal heir.  This person would have to be a friend and a contemporary, probably a friend of Tar-Ciryatan’s youth.  All these things strongly suggest a relative.  This would suggest both Tar-Ciryatan’s scorn for “the yearnings of his father”, and his unseemly grasp for his father’s throne.

 

That would also give this person access to the young Tar-Atanamir, who was born in II 1800.  Tar-Atanamir would naturally look up to his father’s friend and counselor, and he would give heed and credence to the lies this man would feed him, even when he was a young boy.  If he were left in the care of this trusted friend – and relative – he would receive instruction against the Valar, and against the ban of the Valar.  He would fail to teach his son Tar-Ancalimon to use Sindarin in his daily speech.  And he would be unlikely to willingly lay down his life at the end, as even his father had done despite his other failings: he had learned to fear death and the Dark.  He would be superstitious, and so would Tar-Ancalimon.

 

It serves a strong literary purpose for the Lord of the Nazgûl to be a Númenorean prince of the Line of Elros.  It explains the fall of the Shadow upon Númenor.  It explains the heresy and decay that suddenly appears in the royal family after II 1800.  It provides reason and context for the change in policy of the Númenoreans towards their kinsmen, the Men of the Twilight, left behind in Middle-earth.

 

Were the other two Númenoreans enslaved by the Nine Rings also of the Line of Elros?  Perhaps, but it no longer serves any literary purpose for these two men to have such a lineage, or such access to the inner sanctums of the palace in Armenelos.  (Although, for practical reasons, the Chief of the Nine would be compelled to bring them into that inner circle to reinforce his power, authority, and advice to the kings and their Council.)  And it is unlikely that Sauron would ensnare three members of the line of Elros: unlikely, but certainly not impossible.

 

Over the next two centuries of the Second Age, the three Númenorean wielders of the Nine Rings poisoned the government, society, culture, mores, and customs of the Dúnedain, thereby delivering Sauron’s first blow against Númenor.  Their infection of Númenorean society led ultimately to Sauron’s seduction of Ar-Pharazôn at the end of the age and to the Downfall of Númenor itself.

 

But the tale of their betrayal of their fellow Númenoreans does not end with the Second Age.  In the Third Age, the Nazgûl continued to wreck havoc with the Dúnedain in exile, and none of the Nazgûl was more determined, more cunning, more duplicitous in this than the Lord of the Nazgûl, the Witch King of Angmar.  About III 1300, the chief of the Nazgûl appeared openly in Angmar[26], but it is likely that he had been active in Eriador for many years, perhaps even centuries.  There are strong suggestions that “evil arts” were practiced in Arnor and its successor kingdoms, particularly Rhudaur.[27]  It might even be considered that the chief of the Nine had some hand in devising the dissension that split Arnor into three lesser kingdoms at the end of reign of Eärendur in III 861 and was followed by the frequent fighting amongst the northern Dúnedain.[28]

 

By III 1409, Angmar was strong enough to kill or drive out the Dúnedain of Rhudaur, and slay the last prince of Cardolan.  It would appear that the Witch King was after the palantír of Amon Sûl; but this prize was denied to him despite the destruction of the fortress that year; it is likely that the contentions amongst Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur were contrived in part to accomplish this goal.  Between III 1589 and III 1670, the Witch King was able to send “evil spirits out of Angmar and Rhudaur” into the burial mounds of Tyrn Gorthad, the Barrowdowns, which had ironically been a refuge for the Dúnedain of Cardolan in the III 1409 war.  By infesting Tyrn Gorthad in this way, the Witch King weakened his enemies by first denying them their strong defenses, and then inflicting a terrible enemy upon those who might be forced into the Barrowdowns.[29]

 

In III 1974, the ancient prince of Númenor caused the kingdom of Arthedain to collapse, setting himself up as king in Fornost and usurping the throne of his exiled kinsmen.  Indeed, usurping the throne of the Númenoreans may have been an underlying desire of this man from the beginning, the twisted dreams of a royal prince perhaps only a life or two removed from the throne of Elros in Númenor in II 1800.  The following year, III 1975, Círdan of Lindon and those Dúnedain who remained in the North led by Aranarth son of Arvedui, the last king of Arthedain, strengthened with a force out of Gondor led by Eärnur and joined by elves led by Glorfindel from Rivendell, defeated the armies of Angmar, although the Witch King escaped.  But Arnor and its successor kingdoms had all been utterly destroyed.[30]

 

Twenty-five years later, in III 2000, the Lord of the Nazgûl laid siege to Minas Ithil, taking control of the city in III 2002, finally obtaining from Gondor a palantír, a goal that had eluded him in Arnor.[31]  In III 2050, the Lord of the Nazgûl, now ruler of the renamed Minas Morgul, enticed Eärnur, who was by then himself King of Gondor, into the folly of an affair of honor.  Having no honor himself, the Lord of Morgul murdered his far kinsman Eärnur.[32]

 

Thus a prince of Númenor was the proximate cause of the weakening and diminution of the Dúnedain kingdom in exile of Gondor; the destruction of the Dúnedain kingdom in exile of Arnor; the fall of the Shadow upon his own home and native land, Númenor, and ultimately to Númenor’s destruction and the deaths of the vast majority of his own people.  He set himself up as king of Arnor in III 1974, only to be ousted by an alliance of Lindon, Rivendell, Gondor, and what little remained of the northern Dúnedain.  No doubt when he entered the gates of Minas Tirith and boasted to Gandalf, “This is my hour,”[33] he may well have believed that a Númenorean throne was his at long last.  But in any case, as a tool of Sauron, he brought to the brink of annihilation not one kingdom of his own people, but three.

 

The great irony of the fall and death of the Lord of the Nazgûl is that the people who killed him are people whom he despised.  We need not attribute misogyny to the Lord of the Nazgûl: he despised Éowyn because although she was descended of the Edain, she was not a Númenorean.  I purpose that he likely built his fortune as a living man and Númenorean prince by cruelly exploiting the people of Middle-earth, a pattern repeated by Tar-Ciryatan, Tar-Atanamir, Tar-Ancalimon, and their descendents.[34]  Of what significance could a woman of Middle-earth be to him?  No wonder he uttered “a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom”[35]: how dare such a lesser being raise her hand to smite him: descendent of Elros, prince of Númenor, king in Middle Earth, chief servant and prime instrument of Sauron?  And as for Meriadoc the hobbit, he “heeded him no more than a worm in the mud.”[36]  It was the people of Middle-earth, long tormented and abused by the Black Númenoreans, and not the Dúnedain, who at last executed justice upon this ancient malefactor.[37]

 

 



[1] I am using the dating convention II::Second Age, where I 265 would be First Age year 265, III 1975 would be Third Age year 1975; the reference of the dates II 1500– II 1590 for the forging of the Nine Rings and the Seven Rings is from The Return of the King, Appendix B.

[2] Unfinished Tales, “History of Galadriel and Celeborn”, section “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn”.

[3] The Return of the King, Appendix B.  J.R.R. Tolkien does not appear to have given this war a particular name in Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, or any of the works compiled in “The History of Middle–Earth”.

[4] It was at this time Elrond led the defeated Noldor of Eregion to the foothills of the Misty Mountains, where he founded Imladris in II 1697. 

[5] Christopher Tolkien states in Unfinished Tales, “The Line of Elros”, footnote 9, that “the accession of Tar-Minastir is strangely at variance with the dating, fixed by many references, of the first war against Sauron…  I cannot in any way account for the discrepancy.”  Since Tar-Minastir’s paternal aunt and predecessor, Tar-Telperiën, the second Ruling Queen, died the same year Tar-Minastir became king, it is possible that he was in some way functioning as a regent; in any case, it seems that the Númenorean fleet was sent at his behest.  Since the fleet “was delayed, and did not reach the coasts of Middle-earth until the year [II] 1700” (Unfinished Tales, “History of Galadriel and Celeborn”), it is possible that the delay was due to some disagreement, dispute, or other negotiation between Tar-Telperiën and an as-yet-uncrowned Minastir.  It may well be that this decision was imposed upon Tar-Telperiën by the “Council of the Scepter” (Unfinished Tales, “Aldarion and Erendis”, footnote 23), of which Minastir would have been a member as heir to the throne of the childless Tar-Telperiën.  Moreover, while Tar-Minastir is credited with sending the fleet, there is nothing that says it could not have been a cause Minastir as heir apparent championed before his sovereign aunt, as Aldarion as heir apparent championed Gil-galad’s cause before his father Tar-Meneldur.  (Unfinished Tales, “Aldarion and Erendis”)  Tar-Meneldur surrendered his scepter early to Tar-Aldarion as a “stroke of policy”, but Tar-Telperiën might well have resolved to remain sovereign, whether out of willfulness or out of concern for Minastir’s policies, or even the leanings of his son, Ciryatan: a forewarning that would have proved propitious; but nothing of which I am aware suggests that Tar-Telperiën might have been so foolish or willful as ultimately to deny aid to Gil-galad in extremis; or conversely that perhaps she perceived with the far sight of the Númenoreans that some evil would come of the venture.  I am arguing that some evil did indeed come of Minastir’s venture, but it may have been that this proved unavoidable in his alliance with and reinforcement of Gil-galad, without which Sauron would have defeated the Noldor of Lindon in II 1700 and wrested control of all Middle-earth.  Had that transpired, only Númenor of all mortal lands would have remained free; but whether it could have remained free is questionable, as Tar-Meneldur perceived when he considered Gil-galad’s plea for alliance.

[6] Unfinished Tales, “History of Galadriel and Celeborn”, toward the end of the section “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn”.

[7] The Return of the King, Appendix B, entry for Second Age 2251.

[8] The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth"

[9] Unfinished Tales, “The Line of Elros”, XII

[10] Christopher Tolkien notes in Unfinished Tales, “The Line of Elros”, footnote 10, that there is a discrepancy about the year Tar-Atanamir died and Tar-Ancalimon ascended the throne.  This appears in “The Line of Elros” as II 2221, but in the Tale of Years (The Return of the King, Appendix B) as II 2251 – the same year the Nazgûl appear.  It seems reasonable: it makes sense in terms of the story line for all three events to take place the same year, a black year for Númenor.

[11] Unfinished Tales, “Aldarion and Erendis”, footnote 3.

[12] Ibid, “The Line of Elros”, XIII.  Note that Tar-Atanamir is the thirteenth king of Númenor.  In The Hobbit, “An Unexpected Party”, when they complain about his selection of Bilbo as the party’s “thief”, Gandalf tells Thorin & Co., “Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at number thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal.”  In Sauron Defeated,

[13] All citations for this paragraph are from one source, Unfinished Tales, “The Line of Elros”, XIV

[14] The Return of the King, Appendix B, entry for Second Age 1800.

[15] Gimilkhâd, father of Ar-Pharazôn, lived to 198 years old, “which was accounted an early death for one of Elros’ line even in its waning.” (Unfinished Tales, “The Line of Elros”, footnote 14.)  Aragorn Elessar lived to 210 years (The Return of the King, Appendix B). 

[16] “A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness,” explains Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Shadow of the Past.”  The Dwarves did not suffer this fate: “The only power over them that the Rings wielded was to inflame their hearts with a greed of gold and precious things. … Though they could be slain or broken, they could not be reduced to shadows enslaved to another will; and for the same reason their lives were not affected by any Ring, to live either longer or shorter because of it.” The Return of the King, Appendix A, “Durin’s Folk.”

[17] Unfinished Tales, “The Hunt for the Ring”, (II) “Other Versions of the Story”

[18] The Return of the King, Appendix B

[19] Unfinished Tales, “The Line of Elros”: see endnote 9 and endnote 12.

[20] The Return of the King, Appendix B

[21] The Silmarillion, "Beren and Lúthien"; Huan defeated Wolf-Sauron in I 468 shortly after the death of Finrod Felagund. 

[22] Unfinished Tales, “History of Galadriel and Celeborn”, “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn”; The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power”.  Sauron lost his body in the wrack of Númenor, II 3319; but was not permanently unhoused until the destruction of the One Ring in III 3019.

[23] Unfinished Tales, “History of Galadriel and Celeborn”, “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn”

[24] The Return of the King, Appendix B, entry for Second Age 2280 and 2350

[25] In Sauron Defeated, which granted is not “canonical” among Tolkein’s works, Tolkien repeatedly stresses that both Morgoth and Sauron seemed at first to provide for the physical well-being and material prosperity of their adherents. 

[26] The Return of the King, Appendix B

[27] Cf. Faramir’s conversation with Frodo and Sam in The Two Towers, “The Window on the West”: “Many [of the exiled Númenoreans] became enamored of the Darkness and the black arts; … some fought among themselves until they were conquered in the weakness…” 

[28] The Return of the King, Appendix A, (iii) “Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur”, “The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain”. 

[29] Ibid.

[30] The Return of the King, Appendix A, (iv) “Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion”. 

[31] The palantír was probably important to Sauron as a tool for searching for the One Ring.  In “The Palantíri” in Unfinished Tales, Tolkien does not say that someone using a palantír could look into the past, although he explicitly states that only the stone of Elostirion in the Emyn Beraid, the only surviving palantír of Arnor, could “look back with ‘straight sight’ and see Eressëa in the vanished West; but the bent seas below covered Númenor for ever.”  (The Return of the King, Appendix A, (iii) “Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur”, “The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain”, footnote 2.)  But in The Two Towers, “The Palantír”, Gandalf tells Pippin that a palantír could “see small images of things far off and days remote.”  Later in the conversation Gandalf expresses his desire “’to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Fëanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!’”  Clearly, the primary purpose of the palantír to Sauron was its ability to search for the One Ring; but since it was lost in the dark of night, and the palantír could provide no illumination where it was not already present, he was unable to determine the position of his treasure.  Saruman faired no better in his search using a palantír, yet worse still: he was ensnared by Sauron in his pride and insolence.  Again and indirectly, the Lord of the Nazgûl worked to destroy the Númenoreans by depriving them of free use of a useful tool, the palantíri, eventually unhinging the mind of Denethor II, Steward of Gondor, through a palantír that he could by right, as Steward of Gondor, lawfully use.

[32] The Return of the King, Appendix A, (iv) “Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion”.

[33] The Return of the King, “The Siege of Gondor”, at the end of the chapter.

[34] The Númenorean “havens became fortresses, holding wide coastlands in subjection.  Atanamir and his successors levied heavy tribute, and the ships of the Númenoreans returned laden with spoil.”  The Return of the King, Appendix A, (i) “Númenor”.

[35] The Return of the King, “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields”

[36] Ibid.

[37] If my estimate of his birth is correct, the Lord of the Nazgûl was approximately 4850 years old when Merry and Éowyn finally destroyed him.  How short is one’s time in glory and power if what follows is eternal damnation!