Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Battle of Unnumbered Tears|
|Conflict||Wars of Beleriand|
|Date||473 of the Years of the Sun, First Age|
|Result||Decisive Angband victory|
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, the Nirnaeth Arnoediad or (Battle of) Unnumbered Tears was the disastrous Fifth Battle in the Wars of Beleriand. The name was taken from the Doom of Mandos: "Tears unnumbered ye shall shed...".
In the year 473 of the Years of the Sun in the First Age, Maedhros decided that taking the offense against Angband might help the Ñoldor regain their former lands. In the almost two decades since their defeat in the Dagor Bragollach, the Ñoldor had lost control over the entire north of Beleriand, and were for the most part reduced to refugees dwelling in Hithlum and Nargothrond. Gondolin was shut and unknown.
Under the Union of Maedhros all the Elves of Beleriand, as well as the Edain, Dwarves, and the newly arrived Easterlings were invited to combine in arms and fight Morgoth. The Union first cleared Beleriand and Dorthonion from the Orcs, and then gathered to assault Thangorodrim.
The plan was for Maedhros's host to attack and draw out the army of Angband, after which Fingon's host would attack from the Ered Wethrin, taking the offensive in the west.
Under Fingon in the west were gathered the Elves and Men of Hithlum, the Elves of the Falas, the Haladin of Brethil and the companies sent from Nargothrond and the two elves of Doriath, Beleg and Mablung .
Because of the evil deeds of Celegorm and Curufin, two of Maedhros's brothers, Nargothrond would send only a small company of men under Gwindor. From Doriath, where Thingol had sworn never to support any son of Fëanor, came only Mablung and Beleg, who did not wish to remain behind. However, Turgon unexpectedly came forth with over ten thousand men from Gondolin, doubling the force of the west.
But Morgoth through his spies had learned of the battle plan, and his spy Ulfang, who proved to be a traitor, delayed Maedhros. Meanwhile a small force of Orcs went forth from Angband, provoking the western host. Within sight of the Ered Wethrin, Gwindor's brother Gelmir, captured during the Dagor Bragollach, was brought forth, and brutally slain. Enraged, Gwindor broke ranks, and with him most of Fingon's troops as well as a part of Turgon's men. Their rage was so great that they nearly destroyed the Orc host and foiled Morgoth's plans.
It is said that Morgoth trembled as Gwindor's company pounded at his gates. They burst through, and slew the guards on the steps of Angband. But then, they were surrounded by hidden forces, and all were slain or taken. From hidden gates around Angband thousands of Orcs erupted, driving back the host of Fingon from the walls. The elven army was driven back with great slaughter. Many Haladin fell in the rearguard.
Turgon, who had withheld his men from the reckless charge, now came upon the orc host. The phalanx of Turgon broke through the Angband lines, and met with the guard of Fingon. The meeting of the two brothers was glad.
Finally Maedhros arrived, but before he could meet with Fingon and Turgon Glaurung the dragon and Gothmog lord of Balrogs met him. Still they may have won, but Uldor, son of Ulfang and a traitor, turned ranks and attacked Maedhros in the rear, while more of his kin came down from the mountains and attacked. The eastern host was scattered, and only the valour of the Dwarves of Belegost helped them escape, as their lord Azaghâl and his forces held off Glaurung, allowing the sons of Fëanor to escape into Ossiriand.
Azaghâl and his army fought with fierce iron masks on, and they were able to resist the fire far better than any Elf or Man. Then Glaurung trampled Azaghâl beneath his feet, but Azaghâl ran a dagger through Glaurung's stomach, and the dragon fled in pain, screaming. With him fled many of the host of Morgoth. In a solemn ceremony the Dwarves picked up their fallen leader, forgetting about the battle, and they marched his corpse home. Their wrath was so great that none troubled them.
All this had not helped the western host, who were attacked by many Orcs under Gothmog. Fingon fell under his might, and Húrin begged Turgon to retreat to Gondolin. Huor and Húrin and the remaining Men of Dor-lómin formed a living wall across the Fens of Serech, buying time for Turgon to escape with most of the surviving Elves of the north. The Men of Dor-lómin were all slain, until Huor fell when his eye was pierced by a poisoned arrow, and his brother Húrin was captured alive when he was pinned under a mountain of slain Orcs and Trolls.
Morgoth's victory was near complete, as he had destroyed all the people of Hithlum and had scattered the sons of Fëanor away from Himring. Morgoth's Orcs razed all of Beleriand except for Doriath, which was still protected by the Girdle of Melian, and sacked the havens of the Falas.
Morgoth betrayed his servants the Easterlings, trapping them in Hithlum under penalty of death, and denied them the fertile lands of Beleriand. Still Morgoth knew fear, for Turgon, now High King of the Ñoldor after the death of Fingon in the battle, had survived, and his city Gondolin was still unknown to Morgoth.
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