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"Dwarves vs. Elves in Middle Earth" Topic

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3,169 hits since 28 May 2010
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Mooseworks828 May 2010 8:52 a.m. PST

Was there ever a war between the two?

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian28 May 2010 9:00 a.m. PST

Yes. Off the top of my head….

A Dwarf army sacked Menegroth in the 1st age… the Elves then retaliated and (with help) rubbed out the Dwarves that did the sacking.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2010 9:11 a.m. PST

IIRC some dwarves, like some men, also sided with Morgoth & Sauron in the 1st and 2nd ages. And there were squabbles over payment for services rendered between one elf king and the dwarves he hired to construct his underground palace, again IIRC. (Been a while since I read The Silmarillion).

mex10mm28 May 2010 11:48 a.m. PST

Battle of the five armies in "The Hobbit" COULD have been.

Cog Comp28 May 2010 2:13 p.m. PST

The "Squabble" between Elves and Dwarves over the construction of an Underground Palace was over Nargothrond, which Finrod basically stole from a group of Dwarves. No major battle was fought in this case due to the scarcity of the Dwarves in question.

I do not think any Dwarves sided with Morgoth, but it was said in the Appendixes that some Dwarves did side with Sauron in the Battle of the Last Alliance. Nothing is said about who they might have been, but in a very early sketch by Tolkien of the Maps of Eastern Middle Earth, there was a distinctively Naugrim sounding site in the Mountains near the Sea of Rhûn. Those, probably more so than any other known Dwarves were probably where Sauron got his Dwarves from… Also, it may be likely that the Dwarves didn't do a lot of fighting, and probably only provided engineering services (making battlefield works and working as sappers or engineers to bring down fieldworks throw up by the good guys)… I'll see if I can find the source for why I got that idea… It's in some of the photocopies I got to make of Tolkien's stuff at Marquette University (The source was just a scribbling of some numbers of troops at the Battle of the Last Alliance, and the number of Dwarves was really small compared to the other troops)

Wellspring28 May 2010 6:42 p.m. PST

This is the first I've ever read of Finrod Felagund "stealing" Nargothrond. In the Silmarillion, it explicitly says that Finrod builds it himself, with the assistance of the Dwarves. In fact, the dwarves also craft the Nauglamir (the necklace of the dwarves) as a gift for Finrod. In all this, he was imitating Thingol Greycloak, who had built the underground city of Menegroth with the help of the Dwarves of Nogrod. The elves paid in gems, especially pearls.

As VSB points out, the big Elf/Dwarf war was in Menegroth. King Thingol had received the Nauglamir, taken from the ruins of Nargothrond by Hurin. He also had the silmaril taken by Beren. His mistake was thinking of enhancing the most beautiful piece of jewelry by setting into it the most beautiful gem in the world. To do this, he hired a major force of Dwarves from Nogrod in the Blue Mountains.

When the work was completed, it was so beautiful that it filled both Thingol and the Dwarf craftsmen with greed for it. The Dwarves refused to turn it over, and Thingol refused to pay them. It came to fighting, and Thingol was killed in his own treasury. The Dwarves ran for it with the necklace. Beren heard about it and went with a group of silvan elves, massacring them (with the help of the Ents! This is one of their only other appearances in the legends, except of course LoTR itself). The few survivors escaped to Nogrod and lied about what happened, claiming they were cheated and murdered. So Nogrod sent an army and sacked Menegroth.

In the story of Turin, a group of petty-dwarves accuse the elves of being usurpers, but it's not clear what if any real grudge they have. It sounded like they were gradually displaced rather than defeated in battle.

Finally, as Cog described, Tolkien noted in the appendices that all kinds of creatures fought in that war, on both sides, except the Elves who never served the dark power. That implies that some dwarves were evil (it also somewhat controversially suggests that there were orcs on the side of good!)

Of all these, only the attack of the Dwarves of Nogrod on the elves of Menegroth is really gameable.

SonofThor28 May 2010 8:20 p.m. PST

The Battle of Five Armies started out as the Dwarves of The Lonely Mountain and the Dwarves of the Iron Hills vs. the Elves of Mirkwood and the Men of Esgaroth. That was the most well known battle in M.E.

I know there was one involving dwarves in the first age as well.

Cog Comp28 May 2010 9:51 p.m. PST

Read the Children of Hurin to get an account of Finrod stealing the Caves of Nargothrond from the Petty Dwarves. There was no real fight, but Finrod made promises he didn't keep.

And, at the Battle of Five Armies, the two sides never came to actual blows.

Wellspring29 May 2010 5:07 a.m. PST

@Cog: I'll have to re-read it, but that was what I was referring to when I said "displaced rather than conquered". The petty dwarf account is also a case of unreliable narrator (though obviously the Sil is from the elves' point of view, too.

Wellspring30 May 2010 10:50 a.m. PST

@Cog: You're absolutely right. I re-read it just now. While I interpreted it at the time as more of a displacement than conquest, certainly it could be interpreted the other way as well. The legends only report this as the petty-dwarves' accusation but also never dispute it.

Where is the part about Finrod making promises he didn't keep? I leafed through and couldn't find that.

The dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod did assist Finrod, but since the petty-dwarves were themselves outcasts, this is quite believable however Nargothrond was originally acquired.

(Nice to again hear from a fellow Tolkien junkie.)

Cog Comp30 May 2010 2:54 p.m. PST

The part about Finrod making promises is from The History of Middle Earth and from documents at Marquette University. It is the version of events that Christopher Tolkien went with when compiling the Silmarilion.

Cog Comp30 May 2010 2:58 p.m. PST

Oh! And BIG TIME Tolkien Junkie. I've made two trips to Marquette Univ. To get info on various topics. I wish that I had brought a digital camera, because they will only allow the documents to be photographed, and not photocopied. I found out that the origin of Orcs is so obscure because Tolkien had issues with himself for even considering how they originated and were produced.

Timbo W31 May 2010 1:49 p.m. PST

Wow – Cog Comp, what a throwaway line-

"It's in some of the photocopies I got to make of Tolkien's stuff at Marquette University (The source was just a scribbling of some numbers of troops at the Battle of the Last Alliance, and the number of Dwarves was really small compared to the other troops)"

Any more?


Cog Comp31 May 2010 4:57 p.m. PST

I have a small stack of stuff… Some photocopies (from materials they had already made copies of themselves) and some just hand copied (because I didn't bring a camera, not knowing that they wouldn't allow a lot of the materials to be photocopied – like the Orc stuff).

Unfortunately, most of what I have has already shown up in CJRT's The History of Middle Earth. I plan to make another trip when I can get some more brownie points to spend to get me access to the library again, this time, trying to sort out what is in some of the harder to read materials that are probably about Orcs, and Morgoth's early attempts to kidnap elves to turn to his cause… I got the feeling that Morgoth wanted the elves to join him voluntarily, but didn't understand (or, more likely, was just beyond his understanding) why the elves refused to have anything to do with him (I'd also like to see if there is anything about Sauron in the earlier materials and when he first appears in the earlier works, as Sauron WAS able to corrupt some elves later -albeit not how Morgoth had hoped. The elves would have never helped or fought for Sauron if they had a clue as to his real identity, but it does pose a good question, of would the elves of Eregion have fought for Sauron while he still had his more attractive guise if Sauron had concocted some scheme to get those elves to oppose Gondor, Lorien, or Imladris)…

Anyway… I do still have a lot about Orcs that I was able to dig up, including how they were created after Morgoth's original corruption of the elves. It was a MESSY and REALLY GROSS process.

Timbo W01 Jun 2010 3:51 a.m. PST

Hi Cog Comp,

interesting stuff! I've heard rumours that there are some rather dark bits re the elves to orcs thing (unsurprisingly really), and JRRT seems to have changed his mind quite often on the point.

What I'm really interested in is the troop numbers at Tolkien's battles. Last Alliance would great. Anything more than is in HoME or LoTR on the Pelennor etc would be fantastic!

Wellspring01 Jun 2010 6:12 a.m. PST

Thanks Cog, any more info would be great!

The Nargothrond story is surprising because Finrod is usually presented as one of the "good guys" of the mythos. He immediately befriended humans when they appeared, even at a time when they clearly had some shadow on them but were not powerful enough to be of much help against Morgoth. Of course, he's most famous for helping Beren.

The Orc thing-- that wasn't the cannibalism story, was it? I've heard several versions of how Orcs were made-- probably because as you point out there WERE several versions and Tolkien was never happy with any of them.

The problem is that, whatever Morgoth did to his captives, it hardly enriches readers to hear about the messy details. You have to kind of get down into the squick to even talk about it. And, once the reader hears, can it really match up to their own speculation?

Cog Comp02 Jun 2010 2:03 a.m. PST

Well, there is one version of Orc creation that never changed. Creation is probably the wrong word for it, as it is really how Orcs were mass produced after the creation of the first Orcs via the corruption of the Elves stolen from Cuiviénen by the infamous Black Rider (the first such figure, who was an opposition to Oromé).

Tolkien was not happy with the Orc creation stories because they all took him to places that he felt that no sane person should ever consider, and he remarked to himself once "How can I ever have allowed myself to consider this." on the side of a page that was remarking on how Orc Farming might be accomplished.

He did eventually rule out the breeding of Orcs by natural means (that means no female Orcs, ever), and stated that no Elve woman would allow herself to conceive such a monstrosity, and that humans who had been successfully impregnated by Orcs would usually die of the pregnancy (there is a crossed out bit that looks to read "Except in cases where the woman…"). I speculate that he might have suggested that very corrupted and evil human women might survive a pregnancy from an Orc fertilization, but the really awful part is that any such offspring would only be chopped up to be used as seed or fertilizer for other Orcs being grown in the pits of filth where they are farmed (with various other ingredients added during the gestation in their womb of filth in order to specialize the crop). This is where the addition of human remains would be important to the creation of your "Man-Orc" or Uruk-Hai, but even this would take many generations. Maybe 20 years for five to ten generations, depending upon the quality of Orc wanted, the longer the time, the better the quality of Orc. So, Uruks would probably be four to five years per generation. That is still a very short time to breed Orcs, as a HUGE Army could be raised in relatively short times.

Also, many of the Orcs in a batch might not make it, or they might be cannibalized as food by those "Hatching" early.

So, yes, Tolkien thought that it was best left to the Imagination. PJ in the movies did use the same passages that I read to show the "birthing pits" beneath Isengard when he was raising the Uruk-Hai.

On that subject… What people probably don't realize is that Saruman had probably been at his Orc breeding for quite a few generations before he even openly considered opposing the rest of the council… Probably since the assault on Dol Goldur, in fact. (given that his first batch was probably only 10 to 50 Orcs, with 1/5 of those being Uruk-Hai, and he would have needed to use almost all of the Uruk-Hai as seed crop (meaning that they would be killed in the process), it would take him about 10 generations to raise his army of 10,000 Uruk-Hai, or around 40 to 80 years. So, that could be another reason he was not so keen to attack Dol Goldur, as he knew that he would immediately have Sauron back in Mordor, breeding his own competitive hoard on a much larger breeding farm… Again, just speculation, but it does match with the numbers…

Timbo W02 Jun 2010 11:49 a.m. PST

er, Yuk!

Nearly as disturbing as the thought that PJ got this right!

Interesting information nonetheless, many thanks Cog, would you mind if I paraphrased and posted on another forum?

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