Monday, August 27, 2018

How could a relatively small island as Numenor support a population with an army able to defeat Sauron?

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Ar-Pharazon’s army, that Sauron surrendered to.

At this point Numenor was very advanced. Don’t quote me on this, but I remember to have read somewhere that they were on the verge of discovering gunpowder. And that they already had steelships?

In any case, we know that they were very advanced, which means that the population that they could support has to be very big.

Numenor was a fertile island, of roughly 435,000 sq kM.

How many people could live there then? I have found a very detailed estimate landing them at around a staggering 12 million on the island. In medieval times, sedimentary nation could at the most mobilize around 4% of their population into their armies. Which leaves us with approximately 480,000 men from the island itself. Now, it could very well be that the island could mobilize even more, since the men living there could live around 3 times the lifespan of a “middle man”. If we are generous and amp it up to even 8% we are left with a little less than a million men already. That is a HUGE army.

But the Numenorean population base wasn’t just the island, but also the colonies. The same guy that composed those numbers said estimated that there was around another 6 million Numenoreans in the northern and southern colonies in middle earth. If they were drafted as well, that gives us another 6,000,000 x 0,08=480,000

So, the Army Ar-Pharazon could muster is anywhere between 1,444,000 to 720,000 men.

Now, the strength in the Numenorean army wasn’t their numbers, but their quality. Don’t get me wrong, they certainly had a bigger army than whatever was in the 3rd age.

But, the Numenorean men were very well equipped. They had hollow steelbows, they had an amazing ranged and velocity, for example. Their equipment was probably the best in middle earth, with the exception of the remaining Noldor.

The real answer isn’t size of the Numenorean army or their equipment or huge fleet. It’s that it is Numenoreans. They are a very powerful people, and far superior to any orc or troll Sauron could muster. Taller, stronger, and more noble than any middle-man, or non-Numenorean human.

Tolkein is a horse breeder. He places a lot of importance on how noble a character is and its descent, its family tree. That’s why Aragorn is so powerful, it’s because he is a pure Numenorean and everyone else isn’t. It means everything in Tolkien’s legendarium.

So the answer to why such a small island could defeat Sauron, is because they were Numenoreans. They were the epitome of humanity in Tolkein’s eyes.

Sources:
Populations of Middle Earth - The Isle of Numenor (through the 2nd Age)
(1)    Who says Númenor was a small island? It was more like an island-continent (or mini-continent). I assume the map below is pretty accurate; it shows that Númenor was even bigger than Gondor and Rohan combined, and definitely bigger than Mordor.
(2)    By the time Ar-Pharazôn decided to counter Sauron, Númenor possessed extensive colonies and dependencies in Middle-earth. Harad was under their control, and Umbar was their most important port in the area. This means they had thousands, if not millions of people under their thumb, as well as great quantities of supply. Some Númenóreans had moved—permanently or temporarily—there as lords and colonists.
(3)    Númenor was very rich and could sustain a very large population even by itself. It literally had the blessings of the Valar.
(4)    Númenóreans were a blessed people. They were taller, smarter, more powerful, more impressive, and far longer-lived (~350 years) than any Orc or Man of Middle-earth. They could also most probably defeat any Elf or Dwarf. The average Númenórean was taller than 6′4″ or 1.93 m. Remember Denethor’s words to Pippin: “And how did you escape, and yet he did not, so mighty a man as he was, and only Orcs to withstand him?” He thought his son could easily defeat any Orc, even a group of them. Given that Boromir was probably no match for a skilled Númenórean warrior, it’s obvious that an army of 10,000 Númenóreans would take more than 200,000–400,000 Orcs to defeat them.
(5)    Númenóreans had learned the art of forging various weapons from the Noldor themselves. The arrows of their bows resembled dark clouds falling upon their enemies.

Colonies and tribute.
The truth is, I don’t think Tolkien thought much about military logistics, but he did leave enough information that we can come up with a credible explanation.

It is stated that the Numenoreans were great sailors, and that their ships started returning to Middle-earth during the reign of Tar-Elendil in the year SA 600. They soon began to establish colonies as well as relationships with the Men of Middle-earth. These relationships at first benefited these lesser Men, but later became oppressive. Of their colonies, Umbar is the best known. Pelargir was established as a haven of the Faithful.

So the Numenoreans probably obtained many resources—timber, food, labor—from their colonies. We are told that they demanded tribute from the local rulers. They might also have used locals in their armies either as troops (think Gurkhas) and almost certainly as support personnel. We also know that the Numenoreans in their late moral decline used slaves; Ar-Pharazon’s ships are rowed by “many strong slaves.”

I think there must have been a substantial number of Numenoreans who were not born on Numenor and may never have lived there, rather like Roman or British subjects born in colonies or remote territories. That’s the explanation I use in my head canon for why Elendil, with only seven (albeit large) ships’ worth of people and goods, was able to establish not one but two kingdoms in a very short span of time.


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What are the physical features of a Númenorean?

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The Númenóreans were tall. Adult males were normally around 6′4″ or so (2 rangar in Númenórean linear measure), but some individuals were taller. Elendil the Tall was supposedly 2–1/2 rangar, or 7′11″ tall. Númenor was a prosperous realm with advanced health care, so I assume that most Númenóreans were well grown and healthy.


The Númenóreans were descended from the three houses of the Edain. While people of Númenórean descent in LotR are described as dark haired with grey eyes and pale skin, the population of Númenor itself included blue-eyed blonds as well, descendants of the House of Hador (e.g., Tar-Aldarion was blond). The populace also included descendants of the House of Haleth, so there may have been some people with browner skin and eye coloring. The original population of Númenor also included some Drúedain, called Woses in the Third Age. (Ghân-buri-Ghân in LotR was one of the Woses.) The Drúedain living in Númenor started to emigrate from the island around the reign of Tar-Aldarion and were all gone by the time of the Downfall.


The people of Númenor were long lived. At the beginning of the Second Age the lifespan of an ordinary Númenórean seems to have been around 210-240 years; they enjoyed a period of vigor three times that of the Men of Middle-earth. Erendis wife of Tar-Aldarion had felt the approach of old age before her death by drowning at age 214. Members of the royal house lived to around 400, more or less, at least to the reign of Tar-Telemmaitë (2136–2526), who died at age 390. After his reign the distinctions between royalty and ordinary people, in lifespan as well as other attributes, began to grow less. Tar-Ardamin (SA 2816–2899) was the first ruler to die before age 300. Tar-Palantir, the last Númenórean ruler to die of natural causes, lived to age 220.
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Numenor colonies

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The Númenóreans had tasted power in Middle-earth, and from that time forward they began to make permanent settlements on the western coasts [dated "c. 1800" in the Tale of Years], becoming too powerful for Sauron to attempt to move west out of Mordor for a long time.

Moreover, after Minastir the Kings became greedy of wealth and power. At first the Númenóreans had come to Middle-earth as teachers and friends of lesser Men afflicted by Sauron; but now their havens became fortresses, holding wide coastlands in subjection.

The few faithful Númenóreans were saved from the flood, and they founded the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor amongst the numerous Númenórean colonists and the natives of north-western Middle-earth.

They visited the "primitive" Men residing there, and had some impact, but did NOT make any permanent abodes of any kind. And the emphasis that their early visits were in effect unarmed had quite an impact when they ran into the dark foe's minions in their early exploration.

The time they spent with these tribes didn't really make them colonies, only places to stop and rest and resupply (at the generosity (or not) of the locals).

Resources, especially trees were definitely (and I believe clearly stated by Tolkien) and issue, and thus the stripping of the treelines along the costs of Middle-earth, to be shipped back to Numenor.

"But for long the crews of the great Númenórean ships came unarmed among the men of Middle-earth; and though they had axes and bows aboard for the felling of timber and the hunting for food upon wild shores owned by no man,..." 

UT. Description of the island of Númenor

A very good comparison is the real-world Age of Exploration. Here the ships also went into uncharted waters and made numerous landfalls in uninhabitated lands.

In essence, the quote does not speak of settlements (only long voyages) and the real-world explorations, it is highly unlikely that the Númenóreans set up harbors or settlements wherever they went. They simply explored the world - nothing more (at least at this time). The later colonies are highly unlikely to have been located in the Inner Seas or beyond. The western shores (from north to south) were the territory for Númenor's overseas possessions.

There is no support for havens in these regions, but there is no support against also.
Let's examine the case of all the conflictual colonies:

Hithlond: a little Haven in the North, probably built in an association with the locals (Ulshyans).
Balkuloni: the same than Hithlond, a small Haven shared with locals of the Sea of Ormal
Sakal an-Khâr: this is the most important colony of Numenor. I see no reason to entirely delete it. No reset button please.
Azrathani: a small outpost, still shared with locals of Shay.
Anarikê: an important colony of Numenor, also in the Inner Sea.

All of these colonies have to be mentioned in the Numenorean essay.

Seas or beyond. The western shores (from north to south) were the territory for Númenor's oversea possessions.

Again, this is an interpretation, not a direct affirmation from a quote of Tolkien.

It is only important to know *that* they are there. Of course we have to include wide wild and unpopulated areas where mankind is still far from being the "Master of Middle-earth"

And even until 2nd Age Endorian civilization should be lagging far behind Númenor. Not only in terms of "Tech level", but especially in form of organization, sophistication etc. 

Powerful or even moderately powerful Endorian realms should be the exception rather than the norm in this time.

The exploration of the Inner Seas occurs much sooner - SA 1004 with Soronto, in the lands of the Chyan Empire and Olyas Kriis.

-Fortunately, we have a quote for Tolkien that gives a hint:

-"The first sign of the shadow that was to fall upon them appeared in the days of Tar-Minastir, eleventh King. He it was that sent a great force to the aid of Gil-galad. He loved the Eldar but envied them. The Númenoreans had now become great mariners, exploring all the seas eastward,..." LotR.Appendix A

-Interestingly, it is the time of Tar-Minastir (or a bit before him) that is associated with the far- flung voyages into the east. This would limit former times to the exploration of the western coasts.

The quote is relative to "all the seas eastward". This is why I placed the "start" of the exploration (i.e. the entrance into the Inner Sea) in the period immediately before, so that, in Tar-Minastir's time, his son Ciryatan would bring his ships to the eastern seas, beyond the Inner Sea.

"Other protected havens may have survived along the coast, and greater colonies in more remote lands, such as the Inner Seas or the East, may even have suffered little or no damage. Those realms who survived were greatly modified though (when they accepted the mixing with natives). Others, like Umbar, maintained for long the legacy of the Black Numenoreans, and in some cases, of the Mulkherites. Some other colonies of the Far South did not survive the first millennium of the Third Age."

Note 3 to Of Aldarion and Erendis":
"It was six hundred years after the departure of the survivors of the Atani [Edain] over the sea to Númenor that a ship first came again out of the West to Middle-earth and passed up the Gulf of Lhûn. Its captain and mariners were welcomed by Gilgalad; and thus was begun the friendship and alliance of Númenor with the Eldar of Lindon."

"The interesting times" begin when the Númenóreans go really bad, from the coronation of Ar-Gimilzôr in 3102 to the Downfall in 3319. During these two centuries, the ruling elite of Númenor openly break with the traditions of past and cut all ties with the Eldar and the Valar. Númenor is wracked by political intrigue in which egotistical noblemen vie for influence and the King's ear. The King's Men are chauvinistic and suffer from overbearing pride in their perceived superior qualities.

The King's Men have established extensive colonies in Middle-earth, while shunning its northwestern parts due to the proximity of the Elves in Lindon and Lothlórien. The closest one is Umbar (others are located further south). However, the royal authorities in Umbar are very suspicious what "those Elf-lovers" in the Anduin vale are up to. Sauron, now openly the King of Mordor, dislikes his next-door Dúnadan and Quendi neighbors, and would gladly see them crushed or expelled from the region. However, he is not yet willing to challenge the power of Númenor by a military move. He still remembers the defeat he suffered when fighting the united armies of Lindon and Númenor in Eriador around SA 1700.

Sauron assumes a stout defense of Mordor with great numbers of troops at his disposal. As the "Lord of the World" in the Second Age and with the One upon his finger, he judges the likelihood of a last stand in Mordor, with only few forces available, to be low. Since only the Númenóreans are considered serious enemies, the architecture of the forts resembles this potential enemy: To withstand the Númenórean skill in de- signing and building war machines, powerful bulwarks are necessary, sometimes even similar to modern bunkers.

In later days, in the wars upon Middle-earth, it was the bows of the Númenóreans that were most greatly feared. "The Men of the Sea," it was said, "send before them a great cloud, as a rain turned to serpents, or a black hail tipped with steel;" and in those days the great cohorts of the King's Archers used bows made of hollow steel, with black- feathered arrows a full ell long from point to notch.

When Ar-Pharazôn came to Umbar to challenge the might of Sauron, he brought with him a globe of crystal upon which he purposed to constrain his opponent to swear an oath of fealty. "For seven days he journeyed with banner and trumpet, and he came to a hill, and he went up and set there his pavilion and his throne; and he sat him down in the midst of the land.... Then he sent forth heralds, and he commanded Sauron to come before him and swear to him fealty (Sil: 270)." Ar-Pharazôn caused the crystal globe to be set in the ground before his throne. 

Ar-Pharazôn's challenge to Sauron had been over the latter's claim to the title "King of Men," and in swearing fealty to the king of Númenor (however falsely), Sauron ceded to him that prerogative of rule.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Numenorean contact with Middle Earth

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"It was six hundred years after the departure of the survivors of the Atani [Edain] over the sea to Númenor that a ship first came again out of the West to Middle-earth and passed up the Gulf of Lhûn. Its captain and mariners were welcomed by Gilgalad; and thus was begun the friendship and alliance of Númenor with the Eldar of Lindon."

Numenor colonies?
They visited the "primitive" Men residing there, and had some impact, but did NOT make any permanent abodes of any kind. And the emphasis that their early visits were in effect unarmed had quite an impact when they ran into the dark foe's minions in their early exploration.

The time they spent with these tribes didn't really make them colonies, only places to stop and rest and resupply (at the generosity (or not) of the locals).

Resources, especially trees were definitely (and I believe clearly stated by Tolkien) and issue, and thus the stripping of the treelines along the costs of Middle-earth, to be shipped back to Numenor.

In fact, not entirely. You have this another quote

 "They (the Númenóreans) ranged from Eressëa in the West to the shores of Middle-earth, and came even to the inner seas; and they sailed about the North and the South and glimpsed from their high prows the Gates of Morning in the East." (People of Middle Earth 149)

This is no support for havens in these remote regions. It only tells that the Númenóreans went there. IIRC the quote's context is the age of exploration when the Númenóreans began to explore the world as allowed by the Ban of the Valar. Note - they *sailed* there. They did not *settle* there - or made havens.

During such voyages, there is absolutely no need for own havens. Either they visit havens from men living there or they made landfall in a cozy little bay to re-provision themselves (e.g. by hunting) or repair their ships (by chopping wood). Both these are described in UT as well:
"But for long the crews of the great Númenórean ships came unarmed among the men of Middle-earth; and though they had axes and bows aboard for the felling of timber and the hunting for food upon wild shores owned by no man,..."  

UT. Description of the island of Númenor

In essence, the quote does not speak of settlements (only long voyages) and the real-world explorations, it is IMO highly unlikely that the Númenóreans set up harbors or settlements wherever they went. They simply explored the world - nothing more (at least at this time). The later colonies are highly unlikely to have been located in the Inner Seas or beyond. The western shores (from north to south) were the territory for Númenor's overseas possessions.

Let's examine the case of all the conflictual colonies:
Hithlond : a little Haven in the North, probably built in an association with the locals (Ulshyans).
Balkuloni : the same than Hithlond, a small Haven shared with locals of the Sea of Ormal
Sakal an-Khâr : this is the most important colony of Numenor.
Azrathani : a small outpost, still shared with locals of Shay.
Anarikê : an important colony of Numenor, also in the Inner Sea.
All of these colonies have to be mentioned in the Numenorean essay.

The later colonies are highly unlikely to have been located in the Inner Seas or beyond. The western shores (from north to south) were the territory for Númenor's oversea possessions.

Again, this is an interpretation, not a direct affirmation from a quote of Tolkien.

Since we begin with 2d Age 1000-1200, this essay should not burden itself with the way *how* these people got there. It is only important to know *that* they are there. Of course we have to include wide wild and unpopulated areas where mankind is still far from being the "Master of Middle-earth"

 For the level of civilisation, maybe a general note on plausible Technology  levels of Middle-earth Men before they are met by the Numenoreans would be sufficient. If necessary, maybe also pinpoint some civilisation centres on the map, to show areas where the Numenoreans might fight people with a higher degree of civilisation (find organised kingdom and cities).

Though these centres of civilization should be rare around 2d Age 1200.

One or two at the most. And even until 2dAge Endorian civilization should be lagging far behind Númenor. Not only in terms of "Tech level", but especially in form of organization, sophistication etc.
Powerful or even moderately powerful Endorian realms should be the exception rather than the norm in this time.

 The exploration of the Inner Seas occurs much sooner - SA 1004 with  Soronto, in the lands of the Chyan Empire and Olyas Kriis.

-Fortunately, we have a quote for Tolkien that gives a hint:
-"The first sign of the shadow that was to fall upon them appeared in the days of Tar-Minastir, eleventh King. He it was that sent a great force to the aid of Gil-galad. He loved the Eldar but envied them. The Númenoreans had now become great mariners, exploring all the seas eastward,..." LotR. Appendix A

-Interestingly, it is the time of Tar-Minastir (or a bit before him) that is associated with the far-flung voyages into the east. This would limit former times to the exploration of the western coasts.

The quote is relative to "all the seas eastward". This is why I placed the "start" of the exploration (i.e. the entrance into the Inner Sea) in the period immediately before, so that, in Tar-Minastir's time, his son Ciryatan would bring his ships to the eastern seas, beyond the Inner Sea.

 “Other protected havens may have survived along the coast, and greater colonies in more remote lands, such as the Inner Seas or the East, may even have suffered little or no damage. Those realms who survived were greatly modified though (when they accepted the mixing with natives). Others, like Umbar, maintained for long the legacy of the Black Numenoreans, and in some cases, of the Mulkherites. Some other colonies of the Far South did not survive the first millennium of the Third Age."
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