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The Thain's Book
An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor


Detailed Biography: Ancient Times & the First Age * The Second Age * The Third Age * The War of the Ring
Important Dates
Names & Titles
Vital Statistics:

Race: Maiar
Date of Creation: Before the creation of the world
Date of Demise: March 25, 3019 of the Third Age
Residences:Angband; Isle of Werewolves; Taur-nu-Fuin; Dol Guldur; Barad-dur in Mordor
Parents: Not applicable
Siblings: None
Spouse: None
Children: None
Emblem: Red Eye

Sauron in fair form
as Annatar
 - unused imagery from
the New Line film
Sauron - movie
Sala Baker as Sauron
in the New Line film
Eye of Sauron
The Eye of Sauron
in the New Line film

Detailed Biography:

Sauron was the greatest enemy of the free peoples of Middle-earth in the Second and Third Ages. He was once a servant of Morgoth, but after Morgoth's defeat, Sauron became a Dark Lord himself and sought to conquer all of Middle-earth. He forged the One Ring to exert his will over others, but in the end it was the instrument of his downfall.

Ancient Times & The First Age:

Sauron was one of the Maiar - spirits who helped and served the Powers known as the Valar. He came into existence before the creation of the world. Sauron was not evil in the beginning. At first he was a Maia of Aule, the Vala whose domain was the substances of which the earth was made. Aule was a smith and a master of crafts and works of skill, and Sauron learned much from him about making, forging, and creating.

But Sauron was drawn to the strength and might of Melkor - a Power who desired dominion over the entire world. Sauron craved order and wanted to arrange things according to his will, and he believed that following Melkor was the best way to achieve this end. Melkor became known as Morgoth - the Dark Enemy - and Sauron became his most powerful minion and performed many evil deeds in his service.

Morgoth dwelled in the stronghold of Utumno in the far north of Middle-earth. Sauron was given command of another stronghold called Angband that had been built near the coast to defend against attack by the Valar from the Undying Lands across the Sea. When the Valar learned of the awakening of the Elves in Middle-earth, they decided to wage war against Morgoth. In the Battle of the Powers, Morgoth was taken prisoner, but Sauron hid deep in the caverns beneath Angband and escaped captivity.

Morgoth was imprisoned by the Valar for three ages. After Morgoth was released, he stole the jewels called the Silmarils that had been made by the great Elf-craftsman Feanor and he returned to Middle-earth. Feanor and many of his kinsmen the Noldor followed Morgoth in order to retrieve the Silmarils, and the War of the Jewels began which lasted most of the First Age.

Sauron once again became Morgoth's lieutenant. Morgoth rebuilt Angband as his primary stronghold, and he left Sauron in command when he was away.

Sauron had become wise and strong and cruel. All feared him and the torment he wrought. He was a powerful sorcerer who could change into many forms and could appear fair and pleasing if he wished. Sauron created werewolves by imprisoning dreadful spirits in the bodies of terrible beasts. Another of his minions was the vampire Thuringwethil, whom Sauron used as a messenger.

Around the year 457 of the First Age, Sauron attacked the Elven stronghold of Minas Tirith on the island of Tol Sirion. The Elves were overcome by fear and were forced to flee. Tol Sirion was renamed the Isle of Werewolves and Sauron took control of the watchtower. From that vantage point, he commanded the passage through the mountains, allowing the forces of Morgoth entry into Beleriand.

Morgoth commanded Sauron to kill Barahir, a Man who led a group of followers who resisted Morgoth. Sauron tricked Gorlim - one of Barahir's followers - by agreeing to reunite him with his missing wife. After Gorlim revealed Barahir's location, Sauron revealed that his wife was dead, and he kept his promise by slaying Gorlim as well.

Sauron sent his minions to kill Barahir and his followers. Sauron's captain cut off Barahir's hand which bore the Ring of Barahir to show Sauron that the mission had been completed. But Barahir's son Beren pursued them and slew the captain and retrieved his father's ring.

Beren wandered for four years pursuing and slaying the servants of Morgoth. Sauron led an army of werewolves after him, but Beren eluded them. Beren entered the hidden realm of Doriath, where he saw Luthien and fell in love with her. Beren agreed to her father Thingol's demand that he retrieve one of the Silmarils from Morgoth's crown in exchange for Luthien's hand.

Beren set out with Finrod Felagund and ten companions. When they ventured into the pass near the Isle of Werewolves, Finrod used his arts to disguise them as Orcs. But Sauron perceived that they were not what they seemed and he came down from his tower to challenge them. Sauron and Finrod strove in a duel of songs of power, and in the end Sauron was triumphant. He cast Finrod and Beren and their companions into a pit, and one by one they were devoured by werewolves until only Beren remained.

Luthien came to the Isle of Werewolves with Huan the Hound to rescue Beren. Sauron heard her singing and he sent wolves to capture her, but Huan slew them all including the greatest, Draugluin, who reported back to Sauron before he died. Then Sauron himself came in the form of a terrible werewolf. Huan leaped aside in fear, but Luthien cast her enchanted cloak over Sauron's eyes and Huan attacked him.

During the long struggle, Sauron changed his shape from a werewolf to a serpent and back to his own form. But Huan pinned him down and Luthien demanded that he surrender the Isle of Werewolves to her or she would send him bodiless back to Morgoth. At last Sauron gave up. Luthien rescued Beren and they continued the quest for the Silmaril, ultimately succeeding at great cost.

Sauron fled the Isle of Werewolves in the form of a vampire. He had been wounded by Huan and blood dripped from his throat. Sauron went to the forest of Taur-nu-Fuin and dwelled there for a time, filling it with horror.

At the end of the First Age, Morgoth was defeated by the Host of the Valar in the War of Wrath. Morgoth was banished from the world forever and was cast into the Void. After the war, Sauron feared the wrath of the Valar and he came forth in a fair form and renounced his evil deeds to Eonwe, the herald of the Vala Manwe. Eonwe told Sauron that he must go to the Undying Lands to be judged by Manwe. But Sauron was ashamed and humiliated and he wanted to escape punishment, so he fled and continued his evil ways.

The Second Age:

Around the year 500 of the Second Age, Sauron began to increase his power. He believed that the Valar had forsaken Middle-earth after the War of Wrath and he had plans to conquer it for himself. Unlike Morgoth, Sauron sought not to destroy the peoples of Middle-earth but to rule and control them, and in this way Sauron was wiser than his master had been.

In the lands of the far east and south, Sauron corrupted many Men and they turned to evil. Sauron found Men easy to ensnare, but he feared the Men of Numenor who were descended from the Men who had joined forces with the Elves against Morgoth in the First Age. The Numenoreans had begun exploring the coasts of Middle-earth and Sauron did not yet dare to move against them.

Sauron chose Mordor to be his realm around the year 1000. The land was enclosed on three sides by high mountain ranges. Within stood a volcanic mountain that became known as Mount Doom and Sauron intended to use its great heat as a powerful forge. In Mordor, Sauron built the stronghold of Barad-dur - the Dark Tower.

To further his plan to rule Middle-earth, Sauron wanted to persuade the Elves into his service because their power was great. Around 1200, he went to Eriador in a fair disguise pretending to be an emissary of the Valar and calling himself Annatar, Lord of Gifts. The High King Gil-galad did not recognize him, but he did not trust him and refused him admittance to Lindon.

Sauron then went to Eregion, where Celebrimbor and the Elven-smiths dwelled. Sauron played on their desire to improve their skills and craftsmanship and promised to teach them many things. The Elven-smiths were deceived and they welcomed Sauron. Using the skills they learned from him, they began forging the Rings of Power around 1500.

Sauron returned to Mordor, and in Mount Doom around 1600 he forged the One Ring to rule the others. He had to put much of his own strength and will into the Ring so that it could master the other Rings of Power. The One Ring allowed him to perceive and control the thoughts of those who bore the lesser Rings.

When he wielded the One Ring, Sauron's power was enhanced, but there were two inherent dangers. First, if someone with great strength of will claimed the Ring, that person could become Sauron's master. Second, if the Ring were destroyed, Sauron would also be destroyed because he would no longer have sufficient power to maintain his existence and would be reduced to nothing more than a shadow. But Sauron could not conceive that anyone would try to destroy the Ring, and he knew that no one - not even himself - would have the strength of will to do so.

When Sauron put on the One Ring, the Elves were aware of him. They realized they had been deceived and they took off their Rings. The Three greatest of these were Narya, Nenya, and Vilya, which Celebrimbor had made alone. Thus they were untouched by Sauron but they were still subject to the One Ring, so the Elves hid them from him.

Sauron was enraged and declared war against the Elves. He invaded Eriador with a great force in 1695 and launched an assault on Eregion. Elrond came with a force from Lindon to help the Elves of Eregion, but they were greatly outnumbered by Sauron's army and Eregion was destroyed. Sauron captured the Nine Rings and he tortured Celebrimbor to learn the location of the Seven Rings, but the Three Rings had been sent far away and Celebrimbor refused to reveal where they were.

Celebrimbor was slain and Sauron had his body mounted on a pole that was carried before his army like a banner. Elrond's forces retreated northward and the Dwarves shut themselves inside their mountain realm of Khazad-dum. Sauron's army overran Eriador in 1699. Gil-galad resisted Sauron's attempt to invade Lindon, and when a fleet from Numenor arrived in 1700, Sauron's forces were overwhelmed. Sauron himself narrowly escaped and he returned to Mordor in 1701 with only his personal guard.

Sauron gradually rebuilt his forces, gathering hosts of Orcs and other evil creatures. He extended his influence over the Men of Rhun and Harad to the east and south of Mordor and he set himself up as their King and God.

Sauron created his deadliest servants by distributing the Nine Rings to Men. It is said that three of these were great lords of Numenor. They were all enslaved to the will of Sauron and they became Wraiths. The Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, first appeared around 2251.

As his strength increased, Sauron's pride grew and he proclaimed himself King of Men and Lord of the Earth. He began to attack the settlements of the Numenoreans along the coasts of Middle-earth, which he had not previously dared to do. Sauron hated the Numenoreans and he desired revenge for their role in his defeat in Eriador.

But the power of Numenor proved too great. Ar-Pharazon, the King of Numenor, landed in Middle-earth with a mighty fleet and in 3262 he demanded that Sauron surrender to him. Sauron's armies refused to fight so great a foe. Sauron perceived that he could not win by force, but he still hoped that he could overthrow the Numenoreans by cunning and deceit, so he came down out of Barad-dur and allowed himself to be taken to the island realm of Numenor.

The Kings of Numenor had already become estranged from the Elves and the Valar and they neglected the worship of Eru, the One who had created them. They resented the fact that as Men they were fated to die. They also begrudged the fact that they were not allowed in the Undying Lands - although dwelling in the Undying Lands would not lift the Doom of Men and make them immortal.

Sauron nurtured these seeds of dissension and played upon the Numenoreans' fear of death. His form was pleasing and his demeanor was humble and flattering and he became a trusted counsellor of the King. He persuaded Ar-Pharazon to forsake Eru entirely and worship Morgoth instead. The Numenoreans began to perform human sacrifices in hopes of gaining immortality, but they remained mortal.

Then Sauron deceived Ar-Pharazon into believing that he would attain immortality if he went to the Undying Lands. Ar-Pharazon built a great fleet and sailed west in 3319, intending to take the Undying Lands by force. But when Ar-Pharazon set foot on the shore, Eru caused the Seas to open up. The fleet sank and Ar-Pharazon was buried underground and the island of Numenor was utterly destroyed by a great wave. Then Eru caused the Seas to be bent so that Men could never sail to the Undying Lands again.

A group of Numenoreans called the Faithful who had not succumbed to Sauron's deceits escaped the Downfall of Numenor. Chief among them were Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anarion. They sailed to Middle-earth and established the realms of Gondor and Arnor in 3320.

That same year, Sauron's spirit returned to Mordor. The destruction of Numenor had taken him by surprise; he had only intended for Ar-Pharazon's fleet to be destroyed. Sauron's body was lost, and he was never again able to assume a pleasing form. When he rebuilt a new form for himself, it was terrible to behold.

Sauron had rescued the One Ring from the Downfall of Numenor and once back in Barad-dur he began to wield it again. The Men who had been his subjects returned to his service. Among them were Men of Numenorean descent who had been corrupted by Sauron and were called Black Numenoreans.

Sauron resumed his plan of conquest, starting with the newly established realm of Gondor. He captured Minas Ithil, Isildur's stronghold on the borders of Mordor. But Sauron struck too soon, before he had regained sufficient strength. Anarion was able to prevent him from taking Osgiliath and Minas Anor and Sauron's forces withdrew to Mordor.

An army of Men led by Elendil and an army of Elves led by Gil-galad united against Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance. In 3434, the Battle of Dagorlad was fought outside the gates of Mordor. Sauron's forces were defeated and Sauron was besieged in his Dark Tower. The Siege of Barad-dur lasted seven years until 3441, when Sauron came down from his tower. He fought with Elendil and Gil-galad on the slopes of Mount Doom. In the struggle, Sauron was cast down and Elendil and Gil-galad were killed. Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand with the broken shard of his father's sword Narsil, and Sauron's spirit fled from his body.

The Third Age:

Isildur did not destroy the Ring, but instead claimed it for himself. In the year 2 of the Third Age, he was slain by Orcs in the Gladden Fields and the Ring was lost in the waters.

Since the Ring that held much of Sauron's power survived, Sauron's spirit endured. He rebuilt his physical form in the shape of a man of great stature, though it took him longer to do so this time than before. Sauron hid for about 1,000 years in the wastelands. Barad-dur had been destroyed and Mordor was guarded, so around the year 1050 of the Third Age, Sauron built a new stronghold called Dol Guldur in Greenwood the Great. A shadow fell over the forest and it became known as Mirkwood. At first no one knew that Sauron had returned and they called the evil presence in Dol Guldur the Necromancer.

During the second millennium of the Third Age, evil things began to multiply in Middle-earth. Orcs infested the Misty Mountains and beneath the roots of the mountains a Balrog awoke. Gondor and Arnor were beset by enemies and disease. In time it became apparent that a single will was behind it all.

In the north, the Lord of the Nazgul established the realm of Angmar around 1300 and his forces assaulted the Dunedain of Arnor over the course of the next several centuries. After the Battle of Fornost in 1975, the Lord of the Nazgul was driven from the north, but by that time the Dunedain had been so weakened that the North-kingdom ended and they became a wandering people.

In the south, the Great Plague came on winds out of the east and killed the King of Gondor and many of his subjects in 1636. As the population dwindled, the guard on Mordor began to relax. The Plague was most likely the work of Sauron, sent for this very purpose. The Plague spread to Eriador and contributed to the decline of the Dunedain of the North as well.

In 1851, Sauron's emissaries incited a group of Men from Rhun known as the Wainriders to attack Gondor. King Narmacil II of Gondor was slain in battle. Gondor lost much of its territory east of the Anduin as the borders were withdrawn to the river and the Emyn Muil. Narmacil's son Calimehtar defeated the Wainriders in battle in 1899, but the Wainriders made alliances with the Men of Khand and Near Harad in the south and attacked again in great force in 1944. King Ondoher was slain and Gondor nearly came to ruin, but Earnil, the Captain of the Southern Army, vanquished the Wainriders in the Battle of the Camp.

The Lord of the Nazgul returned to Mordor in 1980 and gathered the others to begin preparing for Sauron's return. The Nazgul captured Minas Ithil in 2002 and it was renamed Minas Morgul. From Minas Ithil, the Nazgul obtained the palantir called the Ithil-stone, which was later transferred to Barad-dur for Sauron's use.

In 2050, King Earnur of Gondor went to Minas Morgul in response to a challenge from the Lord of the Nazgul and was never seen again. From that time on, the Stewards ruled Gondor in the absence of a King.

Sauron remained in Dol Guldur for the time being, and his power grew. Gandalf the Grey began to suspect that the Necromancer of Dol Guldur was in fact Sauron returned. The Wizard went to Dol Guldur in 2063 to investigate, but Sauron fled into the east and remained there for several centuries. For a time there was a Watchful Peace which ended when Sauron returned to Dol Guldur with even greater strength in 2460.

To regain his full power, Sauron needed to find the One Ring, which had been lost in the waters of the Gladden Fields where Isildur had perished. Sauron learned of this and sought for it in vain, for in 2463 the Ring was found by a person of Hobbit-kind named Deagol. Deagol was murdered for the Ring by his friend Smeagol, who became the creature called Gollum. Gollum took the Ring deep under the Misty Mountains where it remained hidden for nearly 500 years.

The Orc population continued to increase. Orcs blocked the passes of the Misty Mountains and began to populate Moria along with other evil creatures. In Mordor, a new breed of Black Uruks of great strength appeared. In 2475, the Uruks attacked Ithilien and though they were driven back, Osgiliath was deserted.

Sauron also had power over a group of Men called the Balchoth who lived east of Mirkwood. The Balchoth along with Orcs from the Misty Mountains attacked Calenardhon in northwestern Gondor in 2510. At the Battle of the Field of Celebrant, Eorl the Young came to the aid of Gondor and defeated the enemy forces. Eorl and his people were given the land of Calenardhon, which was renamed Rohan. In 2758, Rohan and Gondor were attacked simultaneously but the enemy forces were ultimately repelled.

In 2845, Sauron captured Thrain II, the King of Durin's Line, and took the last of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves from him. Gandalf returned to Dol Guldur in disguise in 2850 and found Thrain dying. Gandalf learned that the Necromancer was indeed Sauron and that he was seeking the One Ring as well as news of Isildur's Heir. At a White Council meeting in 2851, Gandalf urged an attack on Dol Guldur, but he was overruled by Saruman, the head of the Council. Saruman wanted to find the One Ring for himself and hoped that Sauron's presence near the Gladden Fields would cause the Ring to reveal itself.

Sauron's emissaries provoked the Haradrim to attack Gondor from the south in 2885. They invaded Ithilien but were driven back by the combined forces of Gondor and Rohan. Ithilien continued to be raided by Uruks from Mordor over the years and eventually all the inhabitants fled.

In 2941, Gandalf again advised the White Council to attack Dol Guldur, and this time Saruman agreed because he had learned that Sauron was searching the Gladden Fields for the One Ring too. Sauron was prepared for the attack and he abandoned Dol Guldur and returned in secret to Mordor the next year.

Unknown to both Sauron and the Council, the One Ring had been found in 2941. The Ring had abandoned Gollum in order to seek its Master, but instead it was picked up by a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who took it back to the Shire. Gandalf was aware that Bilbo had found a magic ring, but at the time he did not know that it was the One Ring. Bilbo passed the Ring on to his heir Frodo Baggins in 3001.

Sauron openly declared himself in Mordor in 2951 and three years later Mount Doom burst into flame once more. Sauron began to rebuild his stronghold of Barad-dur and to amass armies of war. He had numerous Orcs and Trolls, including a special type of Troll that he had bred called the Olog-hai. The Olog-hai were subject to the evil will of Sauron and they were strong and agile and cunning and could endure the Sun. Sauron also began to gather armies of Men to him - Easterlings and Haradrim from the lands that were subject to him. Khamul and one or two other Nazgul were sent to occupy Dol Guldur.

Sauron now had the Ithil-stone in Barad-dur. Using it, he came into contact with the two other usable palantiri that remained in Middle-earth. Via Orthanc-stone, Sauron ensnared Saruman, bending the Wizard to his stronger will and making him act in his service. Saruman had plans to conquer Rohan, and this fit in with Sauron's designs by distracting Gondor's chief ally. Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, had the Anor-stone. Sauron could not break Denethor's will, but he showed him images of the might of Mordor that would soon come down upon Gondor.

In 3017, Gollum was captured on the outskirts of Mordor and was brought to Barad-dur for questioning. From Gollum, Sauron learned the names Baggins and Shire. Sauron allowed Gollum to escape in hopes that the creature would lead him to the Ring.

The War of the Ring:

On June 20, 3018, Sauron sent the Nazgul forth from Mordor. They led an attack on Osgiliath, where Gondor had an outpost to defend against the crossing of the Anduin. Sauron's purpose was two-fold: He wanted to test Gondor's defenses and he wanted to provide cover for the Nazgul's real mission, which was to seek the Shire and the Ring.

The Nazgul found the Shire in September of 3018 and discovered that the Ring-bearer was Frodo Baggins. But Frodo eluded them and escaped to Rivendell and the Nazgul were swept away in a flood in the River Bruinen created by Elrond. At Rivendell, the Council of Elrond was held on October 25. It was decided that the only way to defeat Sauron was to destroy the One Ring. Speaking of this decision, Gandalf later said:

"If it is destroyed, then he will fall; and his fall will be so low that none can foresee his arising ever again. For he will lose the best part of the strength that was native to him in his beginning, and all that was made or begun with that power will crumble, and he will be maimed for ever, becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape. And so a great evil of this world will be removed."
The Return of the King: "The Last Debate," p. 155
Frodo volunteered to undertake the quest, and eight companions were chosen to accompany him. The Fellowship of the Ring left Rivendell on December 25.

The Nazgul had been forced to retreat to Mordor, where Sauron gave them new mounts - terrible winged creatures called Fell Beasts. Sauron did not let the Winged Nazgul cross the Anduin at first, but he maintained patrols on the eastern bank. One of the Fell Beasts was shot by Legolas of the Fellowship on February 23, 3019.

On February 26, Frodo sat on the Seat of Seeing on Amon Hen and put on the Ring. Frodo felt the Eye of Sauron seeking him and he felt compelled to reveal himself. Far away, Gandalf became aware of Frodo's peril and he vied in thought with Sauron until Frodo was able to master himself and take off the Ring. Then the Eye of Sauron passed over Amon Hen and could not find Frodo.

A company of Orcs from Mordor led by Grishnakh crossed the river to Amon Hen. There they encountered a group of Uruk-hai from Isengard who had captured two Hobbits - Frodo's companions Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took. Grishnakh sent a message to Mordor and followed the Uruk-hai, but all the Orcs were slain by the Riders of Rohan and Merry and Pippin escaped.

Sauron knew that two Hobbits had been taken toward Isengard but he didn't know what had become of them. When Pippin Took looked into the Orthanc-stone on March 5, Sauron saw him and mistook him for the Ring-bearer. At first, Sauron thought this meant that Saruman had the Ring, and he proclaimed his intention to retrieve it.

But the next morning, Aragorn confronted Sauron in the Orthanc-stone and revealed that he was Isildur's Heir. Aragorn showed Sauron that the sword that had cut the Ring from his hand had been reforged. Then Aragorn was able to wrench control of the palantir away from Sauron and direct it to his own will.

Sauron was filled with doubt and he feared that Aragorn might come forth against him wielding the One Ring. Sauron thought that others might vie with Aragorn for control of the Ring, but it never occurred to him that anyone would try to destroy the Ring. Thus while Frodo approached Mordor on the quest to cast the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom, Sauron's attention was directed toward Gondor.

Sauron unleashed his forces for a preemptive strike on Gondor on March 10, the Dawnless Day. On that day Sauron sent a dark cloud out over Gondor and Rohan to cause fear and uncertainty among his adversaries. An army from the Black Gate captured the island of Cair Andros in the Anduin and crossed the river into Anorien in northern Gondor. That night, Sauron sent a flash of red light as a signal to the Lord of the Nazgul, who led a great host forth from Minas Morgul.

On March 12, the defenders of Gondor were driven back to the Rammas Echor - the outer wall surrounding the Pelennor Fields and Minas Tirith. The wall was breached on March 13 and the Pelennor Fields were overrun. Sauron's forces laid siege to Minas Tirith.

That night Denethor looked into the Anor-stone and Sauron showed him a fleet of Corsairs' ships that were poised to strike Minas Tirith from the south, causing Denethor to despair. But in fact, the Corsairs' fleet had been captured by Aragorn with the help of the Dead. Aragorn commandeered the ships and set sail for Minas Tirith with reinforcements.

On March 15, the Riders of Rohan came to the aid of Gondor in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. As the Rohirrim charged onto the battlefield, dawn broke and the Darkness sent by Sauron dissipated before he had intended it to. Eowyn of Rohan and Merry Brandybuck vanquished the Lord of the Nazgul, and the command of Sauron's forces passed to Gothmog. Sauron's army had the upper hand for a time, but after Aragorn arrived they were defeated. The Enemy forces were all slain or driven into the river.

The forces that Sauron lost at the Pelennor Fields were only a small part of his entire army. Despite this fact, the commanders of the West decided to march to the Black Gate and force Sauron's hand. It was hoped that Sauron would suspect that one of them was wielding the One Ring and that he would concentrate all his power at the Black Gate, giving Frodo time to complete his quest.

Frodo had been captured by Orcs on March 13 and was taken to the Tower of Cirith Ungol where he was questioned and stripped of his possessions. But Frodo did not have the Ring, for Sam Gamgee had taken it believing Frodo to be dead. Sam rescued Frodo from the Tower, but the Orc-captain Shagrat brought Frodo's mithril shirt and Elven cloak and Sam's sword to Barad-dur on March 17. Sauron responded by killing Shagrat.

Sauron did not know what to make of the presence of a Hobbit in his land. It still had not entered his thoughts that anyone would try to destroy the Ring, and besides, the Hobbit had not had the Ring with him. Although the Hobbit was still at large, Sauron thought that he might be able to make use of his possessions. They were given to Sauron's emissary, the Mouth of Sauron, who was told to show them to Gandalf especially.

When Gandalf and the Host of the West came to the Black Gate on March 25, the Mouth of Sauron brought forth the tokens and claimed that the one who had borne them would endure years of torment in Barad-dur unless they surrendered. The Mouth of Sauron then presented Sauron's terms: That all lands east of the Anduin would be Sauron's realm and that Gondor and Rohan would be subject to the rule of Mordor.

Gandalf utterly rejected Sauron's terms and the Battle of the Morannon began. The odds were overwhelming: Sauron's army was more than ten times greater than that of the Host of the West. Sauron seemed assured of victory.

But then Frodo reached Mount Doom, and there - unable to resist the will of the Ring any longer - he claimed it for himself. Sauron was immediately aware of him. In that moment he realized the extent of his own folly and he was consumed with fear. The Nazgul were sent racing to Mount Doom, but it was too late. Gollum bit the Ring from Frodo's hand and fell into the Cracks of Doom and the Ring was destroyed.

Mount Doom erupted as the Ring was consumed in its core, and the Nazgul were engulfed in flame. Bereft of Sauron's governing will, his Orcs and Trolls scattered mindlessly or slew themselves in despair, and the Men fled or surrendered. Barad-dur and the Black Gate and the Towers of Teeth collapsed into ruin.

Sauron's physical form was destroyed, never to be rebuilt, and his spirit dissipated, houseless and powerless.

And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud, there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away, and passed; and then a hush fell.
The Return of the King: "The Field of Cormallen," p. 227
With the greater part of his power destroyed with the Ring, Sauron was utterly vanquished, and although other evils troubled the world in the Ages to come, Sauron never arose again.

Additional Sources:

The Silmarillion covers Sauron's history from his creation through the First Age. It also includes an account of the Downfall of Numenor as well as  details on the making of the Rings and Sauron's rise to power.

Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings provides a summary of the Downfall of Numenor and details on the attacks on Gondor and Arnor that were orchestrated by Sauron in the Third Age.

"The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in Unfinished Tales gives details about the war with the Elves in Eriador in the Second Age, while "The Hunt for the Ring" provides more details about Sauron's search for the Ring-bearer.

Sauron's motives are explored in the essay entitled "Myths Transformed" (part VII) in The History of Middle-earth, vol. X, Morgoth's Ring.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien contain numerous references to Sauron including Letter #131 about Sauron's nature and his connection to the Ring; Letters #153 and #183 which give further insight into Sauron's nature; and Letters #200 and #246 which mention Sauron's loss and rebuilding of his bodily forms.

Important Dates:

Note that there is no definitive chronology of the First Age or the period before it. These dates are based on "The Annals of Aman" in The History of Middle-earth, vol. X, Morgoth's Ring and "The Grey Annals" and "The Tale of Years" in The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels. Other chronologies differ.

Years of the Trees:

The Battle of the Powers. Morgoth is captured by the Valar, but Sauron escapes.

Morgoth is released from captivity.

Morgoth steals the Silmarils and returns to Middle-earth. Sauron resumes his role as Morgoth's lieutenant.

First Age:

Sauron captures the island of Tol Sirion and it is renamed the Isle of Werewolves.

Sauron tricks Gorlim and learns Barahir's whereabouts. Sauron's minions kill Barahir and take his ring. Beren pursues them and retrieves it.

Sauron imprisons Beren on the Isle of Werewolves. Luthien and Huan come to his rescue. Sauron struggles with Huan and is forced to surrender. He flees in vampire form to Taur-nu-Fuin.

The War of Wrath (545-587). Morgoth banished from the world and cast into the Void (590). Sauron repents to Eonwe but flees rather than be taken to Manwe for judgment. End of the First Age.

Second Age:

c. 500
Sauron begins to stir in Middle-earth.

c. 1000
Sauron establishes his realm in Mordor and begins to build Barad-dur.

Sauron assumes a fair form and sets out to ensnare the Elves. He is turned away by Gil-galad and Elrond of Lindon, but is welcomed by the Elven-smiths of Eregion.

c. 1500
Under Sauron's instruction, the Elven-smiths of Eregion begin forging the Rings of Power.

c. 1590
The Three Rings of the Elves are made without Sauron's aid.

c. 1600
Sauron forges the One Ring in Mount Doom. Celebrimbor and the Elven-smiths become aware of him and realize they were deceived.

The War of the Elves and Sauron begins. The Three Rings are hidden.

Sauron invades Eriador. Elrond leads a force to confront him.

Sauron's forces destroy Eregion. Sauron seizes many of the Rings of Power and has Celebrimbor killed when he refuses to reveal the location of the Three. The Elves and Dwarves retreat before him.

Sauron overruns Eriador.

Sauron tries to invade Lindon but is stopped when a fleet arrives from Numenor. His army is driven back.

Sauron's forces are defeated at the Battle of the Gwathlo. Sauron leaves Eriador and returns to Mordor with only his personal guard.

c. 1800
Sauron extends his power eastward.

The Nazgul appear around this time.

Ar-Pharazon, King of Numenor, lands in Middle-earth.

Ar-Pharazon comes to Mordor with a great force and demands Sauron's surrender. Sauron submits to being taken to Numenor in hopes of bringing about their defeat by other means. In time he becomes a trusted counsellor of Ar-Pharazon and begins to corrupt him.

Ar-Pharazon begins to build the Great Armament.

Ar-Pharazon sets out to take the Undying Lands by force. Eru causes the fleet to sink and Numenor is destroyed under the waves. Sauron's body is destroyed but his spirit escapes. Elendil, Isildur, Anarion, and the Faithful also escape.

Sauron returns to Mordor. Elendil and his sons found the realms of Gondor and Arnor.

Sauron attacks Gondor and captures Minas Ithil. Anarion defends Osgiliath and Minas Anor and drives Sauron back to Mordor.

The Last Alliance of Men and Elves is formed.

Sauron's forces are defeated in the Battle of Dagorlad outside the Black Gate. The Siege of Barad-dur begins.

Sauron comes down from Barad-dur and fights Elendil and Gil-galad. Sauron is cast down and the One Ring is cut from his finger by Isildur. Sauron's spirit flees his body and goes into hiding. End of the Second Age.

Third Age:

Isildur is slain by Orcs in the Gladden Fields. The One Ring is lost in the waters.

Sauron establishes the stronghold of Dol Guldur in Greenwood. A shadow falls over the forest and it becomes known as Mirkwood.

c. 1100
The Wizards and chief Elves learn of the evil presence in Dol Guldur but do not know that it's Sauron.

c. 1300
The Lord of the Nazgul establishes the realm of Angmar in the north to weaken the North-kingdom of Arnor. Other evil things begin to multiply and Orcs infest the Misty Mountains.

The Lord of the Nazgul invades the North-kingdom and causes much devastation until he is driven back by the Dunedain and the Elves.

The Great Plague is sent out of the East by Sauron. Gondor is devastated. The King and many others die. The Plague spreads north to Eriador and the Shire and many Men and Hobbits perish.

After the great loss of life in the Plague, Mordor is left unguarded.

Sauron sends the Wainriders from the East to begin attacking Gondor.

Gondor loses its eastern territories, and Narmacil II falls in battle.

King Calimehtar defeats the Wainriders on Dagorlad.

King Ondoher is killed in battle with the Wainriders. Earnil defeats the Wainriders in the Battle of the Camp and drives them from Gondor.

The Lord of the Nazgul invades the North-kingdom and captures Fornost. The North-kingdom ends.

The Lord of the Nazgul is driven from the north by a force of Elves and Men of Gondor.

The Heirs of Isildur take the title Chieftain of the Dunedain and the Dunedain become a wandering people.

The Lord of the Nazgul returns to Mordor and gathers the others to prepare for Sauron's return. The Balrog awakes in Moria.

The Nazgul besiege Minas Ithil.

The Nazgul capture Minas Ithil, which is renamed Minas Morgul. The palantir called the Ithil-stone is also captured.

Earnur goes to Minas Morgul in response to a challenge from the Lord of the Nazgul and is never seen again. The Stewards rule Gondor in the absence of a King from this time on.

The power of Dol Guldur grows and the Wise begin to suspect that it is Sauron.

Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur. Sauron retreats and hides in the East. The Watchful Peace begins. The Nazgul remain quiet in Minas Morgul.

Sauron returns to Dol Guldur with increased strength and the Watchful Peace ends.

c. 2463
Deagol finds the One Ring and is killed for it by Smeagol.

Smeagol takes the Ring deep under the Misty Mountains.

Gondor is attacked by black Uruks from Mordor.

c. 2480
Orcs begin to make secret strongholds in the Misty Mountains to bar all the passes into Eriador. Sauron begins to people Moria with his creatures.

Orcs and Easterlings attack Calenardhon in northwestern Gondor. Eorl the Young comes from the North to the aid of Gondor. In return, he and his people are given Calenardhon which is renamed Rohan.

Rohan and Gondor are both attacked.

Sauron captures Thrain II and takes the last of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves from him.

Gandalf enters Dol Guldur in disguise and learns that the Necromancer is in fact Sauron.

Gandalf urges that the White Council attack Dol Guldur but Saruman overrules him.

Stirred up by emissaries of Sauron, the Haradrim invade Ithilien but are driven back by the forces of Gondor and Rohan.

Uruks from Mordor conduct raids on Ithilien and most of the inhabitants flee.

Saruman learns that Sauron's servants are searching the Gladden Fields for the One Ring.

Bilbo finds the One Ring in Gollum's cave. The White Council attacks Dol Guldur, but Sauron is prepared and abandons Dol Guldur.

Sauron returns in secret to Mordor.

Sauron declares himself openly and begins to gather power and rebuild Barad-dur. He sends a contingent of Nazgul to reoccupy Dol Guldur.

Mount Doom bursts into flame.

Denethor becomes Steward of Gondor and begins to use the palantir around this time. Eventually he comes in contact with Sauron and is shown images of the might of Mordor.

c. 3000
The Shadow of Mordor lengthens. Sauron ensnares Saruman with the palantir.

Bilbo passes the One Ring on to his heir Frodo Baggins.

Gollum is captured by Sauron. He is tortured and questioned about the Ring and Sauron learns the names Shire and Baggins. Gollum is allowed to escape.


Late April: Sauron receives word that Gollum was captured by Aragorn and is being held by the Elvenking Thranduil of Mirkwood.

June 20: Sauron sends the Nazgul to attack Osgiliath. Orcs attack the Elves of Mirkwood and Gollum escapes both the Elves and the Orcs.

July 1: The Witch-king leads the Nazgul of Minas Morgul across the Anduin in secret to hunt for the One Ring.

September 23: Nazgul enter the Shire and begin their pursuit of Frodo Baggins.

October 6: Frodo is wounded by the Lord of the Nazgul on Weathertop but escapes capture.
October 20: Frodo crosses the Ford of Bruinen into Rivendell.
October 25: At the Council of Elrond, Frodo volunteers to destroy the Ring in Mount Doom.

December 25: The Fellowship sets out on the quest to destroy the Ring.


February 23: A Fell Beast ridden by one of the Nazgul is shot by Legolas.
February 26: Frodo puts on the Ring on Amon Hen and is nearly seen by the Eye of Sauron.
February 27: Grishnakh sends word to Sauron that Saruman's Uruk-hai are taking two Hobbits to Isengard.

March 5: Pippin Took looks into the palantir and is confronted by Sauron, who mistakes him for the Ring-bearer.
March 6: Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron in the palantir and shows him that Narsil has been reforged. Sauron begins to doubt and prepares to strike Gondor.
March 9: Darkness begins to flow out of Mordor.
March 10: The Dawnless Day. An army from the Morannon takes Cair Andros and passes into Anorien. Sauron signals for the Lord of the Nazgul to lead forth his army to attack Minas Tirith.
March 11: Eastern Rohan is invaded from the north. First assault on Lorien.
March 12: The army led by the Lord of the Nazgul pushes the defenders of Minas Tirith back to the Rammas Echor.
March 13: The Rammas Echor is breached and the Pelennor Fields are overrun. Aragorn captures the fleet of the Corsairs. Frodo is captured and brought to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
March 14: Minas Tirith is besieged. Sam finds Frodo in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
March 15: Frodo and Sam escape from the Tower. Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The Lord of the Nazgul is vanquished. Aragorn arrives in the Corsairs' ships. Sauron's forces are defeated. Battle under the trees in Mirkwood; Thranduil repels the forces of Dol Guldur. Second assault on Lorien.
March 17: Battle of Dale. Shagrat brings Frodo's cloak and mithril shirt, and Sam's sword to Barad-dur.
March 18: The Host of the West marches from Minas Tirith.
March 22: Third assault on Lorien.
March 25: The Host of the West fights the forces of Sauron in the Battle of the Morannon. Frodo reaches Mount Doom and claims the Ring. Sauron becomes aware of him and sends the Nazgul to get him. Gollum bites the Ring from Frodo's finger and falls into the Cracks of Doom. The Ring is destroyed and Sauron is utterly and finally defeated.

Names & Titles:

Sauron means "the Abhorred," derived from the primitive Elvish word thaura meaning "detestable."
Letter #297

Gorthaur the Cruel
Gorthaur is the Sindarin equivalent of Sauron, containing the same element thaura as above as well as gor meaning "horror, dread."
The Silmarillion: Index and "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entry for gor

Lieutenant of Melkor
Sauron was the chief of the servants of Melkor, or Morgoth.
The Silmarillion: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor," p. 47

This is the name of the werewolf form that Sauron took in his battle with Huan the Hound.
The Silmarillion: "Of Beren and Luthien," p. 175

Annatar, Lord of Gifts
Sauron came to the Elves of Eregion in a fair guise as Annatar, Lord of Gifts. The word anna means "gift" and the word tar means "lord."
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entries for ANA and TA3

Sauron also called himself Artano meaning "High Smith" when he worked with the Elven smiths of Eregion. The word ar means "high, royal" and tano means "craftsman, smith."
Unfinished Tales: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 253-54 note 7
The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entry for TAN

Another name Sauron gave himself while in Eregion was Aulendil meaning "devoted to the Vala Aule." The element ndil means "devotion." Aule was a great smith and craftsman, and Sauron was originally one of his Maiar before he turned evil and switched his allegiance to Morgoth.
Unfinished Tales: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 253-54 note 7
The Silmarillion:Index and "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entry for (n)dil

Sauron the Deceiver
Sauron was called this by Elendil's father Amandil because of the lies that Sauron used to corrupt the Men of Numenor.
The Silmarillion:"Akallabeth," p. 275

The Necromancer
When Sauron occupied Dol Guldur in secret, he was known as the Necromancer. A necromancer is a sorcerer who can communicate with the dead, derived from the Greek nekros meaning "dead body" and manteia meaning "divination."

The Lord of the Rings
Sauron created the One Ring in order to rule the other Rings of Power and become the Lord of the Rings. He was also called the Ring-maker.

King of Men and Lord of the Earth
After creating the One Ring, Sauron proclaimed himself King of Men and Lord of the Earth and he sought to master all of Middle-earth.
The Silmarillion: "Akallabeth," p. 270; "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," p. 289

Dark Lord
Sauron was called variously the Dark Lord, the Lord of Mordor, the Lord of the Black Land, the Power of the Black Land, the Lord of Barad-dur, the Lord of the Dark Tower, the Black Master, the Black One, and the Black Hand.

The Lidless Eye
Sauron was represented by the Lidless Eye, which was his emblem. The Eye of Sauron was rimmed with red fire and the pupil was as black as a bottomless void. The Eye was ever-watchful and far-seeing.

Sauron was not actually a disembodied eye; rather, the Eye was a manifestation of his power. Sauron had a physical form in the Third Age. Tolkien wrote in Letter #246: "The form he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic."

Also referred to as the Great Eye, the Red Eye, the Eye of Barad-dur, the Eye of Mordor, the Evil Eye, and simply the Eye.

The Nameless
Sauron was called the Nameless, the Nameless One, and the Nameless Enemy by those who would not speak his name.

Sauron the Base Master of Treachery
Gandalf called Sauron this after hearing Sauron's terms of surrender at the Battle of the Morannon. (RotK, p. 166)

The Shadow
Sauron was referred to as the Shadow as his evil spread across Middle-earth.

The Enemy
Sauron was the Enemy of the free peoples of Middle-earth.

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