Revision [509]

This is an old revision of GondorWarcraft made by SampsaRydman on 2007-10-15 12:58:10.


Warcraft in Gondor


Following the destruction brought by Kin-Strife, Gondor's ancient political structure evolved to cope with decreasing wealth and population. The realm's decline became apparent to the ruling classes, who could do little to reverse the ominous trend. The loss of Umbar in T.A. 1448 caused a noticeable shrinking of southern Gondor's economic base. Umbar had been one of the richest cities of the realm and the hub for the southbound trade, giving the kings a sizable customs and tax income in coin. At the same time, parts of the Vale of Anduin were ravaged by the war, and generated little or no income for the goverment.

By then the will to invest in business and manufacturing was nearly gone, since most Gondorians preferred to place their money in safe and value-stable investments such as land and jewelry. The Crown subsequently faced a fiscal crisis, while the realm as a whole suffered from monetary shortage and a decline in trade. This development quickly accentuated the value of land and agriculture. Trade declined more severely. The power balance within southern Gondor's elite gradually shifted in the landowners' favour, at the expense of both the merchants and the royal goverment. The gradual process of feudalization had begun.

An expensive rearmament during the latter half of the fifteenth century aggravated the recession. Gondor faced an implacable southern foe, and diverted its dwindling resources. Its rulers had to maintain extensive military establishments in Harondor, Belfalas, and Lebennin to defend the realm from Corsair raids. At the same time, the navy had to be rebuilt from scratch.

There was no longer coin enough in the King's treasury to pay for these new forces. Instead, individuals were rewarded with land or privileges from their service. The realm also began to sell future revenues for cash. In outlying locales, many regular army Gwethyr (S. 'regiments') were substituted by Herthyr, companies sponsored by a lord.

It was each lord's responsibility to raise and maintain a troop in territorial army corps, whose task was to defend his domain. These forces were rarely expected to fight outside the provincial borders; such military ventures were still the responsibility of the Crown. A new kind of soldier came into existence, receiving a small farm from his lord for service in a provincial regiment. He conducted military exercises during the months allowed by agriculture. In case of war, he was mobilized and his regiment attached to the provincial corps.

The Great Plague caused Gondor's economic base to shrink even further. About two-fifths of the population died, a significant proportion of which were well-educated townsmen, again decreasing the realm's tax incomes. Unfortunately, the requirements of military defense remained high. King Tarondor was forced to use every available measure to raise capital and manpower. The settlement of soldiers on land in lieu of a salary, the hiring of private companies, the selling of future revenues and the use of conscription became very common, even in the Vale of Anduin.


The traditional Dúnadan army had been badly depleted, of both officers and men, in the Kin-Strife. Both in the aftermath and during the civil war, Eldacar called on as many barbarian irregular forces as he could muster. Initially, these were assorted northman groups, along with allies from Rhovanion, but later they included the main strength of the Éothraim settled under treaty, who contributed a reputed 20,000 men to his army in 1447. Northmen were recruited either individually, trained, equipped and disciplined to fill gaps in the ranks of regular units, or en bloc as federate allies under their own leaders (under treaty obligations, or for pay and loot, or both) in temporary campaign armies.

Eldacar had let a significant number of his northmen to settle in the southern provinces. But Aldamir, anxious to placate the feelings of his countrymen, dismissed 2/3 of his northmen federates, who returned to Rhovanion. Aldamir started the reconstruction of the Gondorian war machine. He was the first to introduce a territorial army system, where part-time soldiers, paid both in land and coin, manned the defensive fortifications along Gondor's northern and southern borders. Rich landowners were urged to finance the new companies in return of tax exemptions and new privileges. Due to battle and financial constraints, the quality and strategical mobility of the army continued to decline substantially during the 16th century. The 1540-1551 war against Haradwaith and Umbar, mainly fought in Harondor, badly depleted its ranks.

The regular army under Aldamir consisted of two components: the mobile field armies - Dagarim Aran - grouped into four regional bodies, and the territorial garrison armies based mainly along the frontiers. At the end of the 16th century, there were distinctions of pay, privilege and status between these grades. However, territorial units often fought well where needed, formed part of campaign armies based on their regions, and were occasionally raised to the field armies. Approximately two-thirds of the Gondorian forces consisted of territorials.

In addition, during the periods of relative peace which prevailed on the frontiers at times, the territorial corps were responsible for the day-to-day work of policing the borders: collecting information on enemy intentions, controlling routine movements and generally maintaining the peace. This customs and policing rôle was essential in providing a level of security for provincial economics, maintaining internal security (banditry was a serious and endemic problem in some areas) and controlling trade.

The Aldamiri organisation of the army under four independent top commanders plus one responsible for the Federates had been a rational response to challenges on different frontiers, as well as a mainstay of political stability. Yet it meant that even at full strength and efficiency, which was not always the case, only perhaps a quarter of the realm's full fighting resources were immediately available against an enemy threat at any time. Low-level attacks such as Haruze raiding could usually be dealt with locally, but serious invasions could not.

The territorial limitanei could hold their positions in defensive strong-points and hamper an invasion, but not defeat it in battle. To do this required the main field army. Dagarim Aran represented a strong mobile reserve, but even so it was hardly practical to deploy more than two field armies - one regional, one royal - in any campaign without creating dangerous weaknesses elsewhere. The Corsairs, as well as Asdriags and Dunlendings, were aware of large-scale Gondorian troop transfers and knew how to take maximum advantage of them.


The Great Plague in 1635-38 sapped Gondor's military strength even further. Many renowned companies were decimated, and it soon was obvious that the organization of Gondor's army required another complete overhaul.

A comparison of units known before 1621 and those surviving in the 1650s suggests that the southern field army had lost over half of their strength. Attempts to repair this damage had been made, partly through new recruitment but mainly through the paper exercise of upgrading territorial troops to the status of dagarim. Over 4500 men were designated this way. The damage to the Territorial Corps had also been on a massive scale: at least 20,000 men, roughly one-third of their strength, had been lost over a period of ten years.

As royal revenues dwindled, soldiers were paid only once in three years. In some cases pay was first postponed and then suspended. Many frontier regiments either deserted or crumbled into oblivion. Tarondor solved the problem by dividing the Territorial Corps into four groups which served for a full year on a rota basis once every three to six years, so that a small core of regulars was available at all times.

From the 1640s on, the bulk of the army consisted of provincial infantry forces, raised and maintained locally by lords and governors for defensive tasks. They enjoyed little strategic mobility or sophisticated logistical support. During this period, each lord and governor - except in Anórien, Ithilien and Lebennin - was responsible for recruiting and maintaining a territorial corps of a defined size and composition, which was to be stationed in the cities and fortresses of his domain. This force would consist of full-time soldiers (remnants of the old Territorial Corps) on rotation and part-time reservists. Living as freeholding peasants, the latter served during a few months each year.

Gondor's mobile force, the King's Corps or Dagarim Aran was re-established in 1643. Former, badly depleted field armies were disbanded and combined into a single host. Dagarim Aran was now even smaller than before, rarely exceeding a strength of 20,000, of which perhaps one tenth was cavalry. But under the command of king Tarondor's trusted uncle, Vinyaran (Tarondor nominated him as a berthir i dagarim, magister of the Armies), and later Minadir his grandson, Dagarim Aran became more versatile and efficient force than before, durable and highly mobile, and possessing excellent logistic capabilities. Trained to fight either at full strength or as an array of isolated detachments, it proved to be adequately flexible tool, as was aptly displayed in the capture of Umbar in 1810.


Gondorian soldiers were generally well paid. Territorial troops received six to nine erin (gold crowns weighing 1/36 of a pound) and royal troops ten erin per annum. In addition territorial soldiers also had grants of land, which king Aldamir (1330-1540) decreed must be worth at least to two pounds of gold (64 gold crowns) for infantrymen and four pounds (128 gold crowns) for cavalrymen. One additional crown was paid to King's regulars for every four years of service, up to 20 years. Vinyarion Hyarmendacil increased soldier's wage by giving additional donatives every five years. These quinquennial donatives were paid in precious metal and were worth of a pound of silver per soldier.

However, the regular pay of the army had deteriorated in value during the 16th and 17th centuries. This problem was dealth with by providing food, uniforms and weapons as payments in kind (earlier, soldiers were responsible for paying their supplies out of their pay), but this left soldiers at the mercy of the official issue for the quality of items, and removed any possibility of supplementing pay by being careful or frugal with the official issue.

Gondorian army in 1652-1670

Captain of the Hosts (Berthir i dagarim): Vinyaran Minardilion

Field Armies:
Territorial Corps:

Gondorian army during war of 1720-1721

Captain of the Hosts: (Berthir i dagarim): Minadir Mindacilion

Field Armies:
Territorial Corps:


Colours of the Territorial Corps:


The basic unit for both cavalry and infantry was the tulkarim, or squad, of sixteen men, including an officer called cainenhîr ('leader of ten'), and five methyr iaur ('veterans'). Six, nine or sixteen tulkarim would form a turma, or company, derived from high eldarin word for a shield or banner. Paper strength of a full infantry turma would be 256 men excluding standard-bearers, musicians and officers. Mounted troops followed a somewhat dissimilar: four cavalry tulkarim constituted a winglet, and two winglets a squadron, led by a Rochben Iaur, a 'senior knight'. By the second half of the 17th century there were only ten rather than sixteen men in cavalry tulkarimi. Actual units taking field were even more understrength.

At a higher lever army organization was in gwethyr and herthyr. Footsoldiers were divided in regiments (gweth), and consisted of a variable number of turmar, on average between two and five. Herthyr was a somewhat archaic sindarin term which originally meant an armed retinue or a band of warriors following a noble. During the reign of Vinyarion Hyarmendacil herth was used rather ambiguously; it could mean an élite cavalry troop or a territorial army regiment raised and financed by a local hîr (lord).

Other ranks, titles and offices were as follows.


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