"The loss of Umbar was grievous to Gondor, not only because the realm was diminished in the south and its hold upon the Men of the Harad was loosened, but because it was there that Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, last King of Númenor, had landed and humbled the might of Sauron. Though great evil had come after, even the followers of Elendil remembered with pride the coming of the great host of Ar-Pharazôn out of the deeps of the Sea; and on the highest hill of the headland above the Haven they had set a great white pillar as a monument. It was crowned with a globe of crystal that took the rays of the Sun and of the Moon and shone like a bright star that could be seen in clear weather even on the coasts of Gondor or far out upon the western sea."

-The Annals of Gondor

History of Umbar


THE ANCIENT REALM


We have no information on the condition in which Umbar survived the cataclysm of 3320 SA, when the shorelines of Middle-earth "were much changed in the tumult of the winds and seas, the Bay of Belfalas was much filled at the east and south, so that Pelargir which had been only a few miles from the sea was left far inland, and Anduin carved a new path by many mouths to the Bay. But the Isle of Tolfalas was almost destroyed, and was left at last like a barren and lonely mountain in the water not far from the issue of the River". It may be that its narrow exit and firth protected the Haven against the worst inundations. Umbar was evidently still strong enough to remain self-sustaining. And so, when Sauron returned and "gathered to him great strength of his servants out of the east and the south" to finally destroy the surviving Faithful and their Elvish allies, among them were not a few of the high race of Númenor.

After Akallabêth, a civil war broke out in Umbar between the followers of Mulkher (Melkor) and the more moderate elements among the King's Men. It took three years to resolve, while the authority of the governors of Umbar collapsed in outlying towns and nomads raided freely throughout the countryside. Finally, the Mulkherhil were broken, driven out of the city and their temple put to torch. A Council of Captains, patterned after the old ruling council of the Guild of Venturers, took control in all the lands of the Nen Umbar. The coastal lands as far as Ramlond also accepted the rule of this new government, but Mírlond did not. Gobel Ancalimon's ruling captains attempted to join the council, but Dúnadan landowners from the city's hinterland, fearing a bloody Haruze uprising against the specter of Númenórean colonialism, seized power from the ship-owners and declared the city independent.

Umbar's fortunes climaxed under the rule of Herumor and Fuinur, descendants of Imrazôr - the first Governor of Pelargir - and thus of royal blood. They were twin sons of Edhelion, Captain of the Faithful in Pelargir who later became lord of Belfalas. Dissatisfied with the royal claims of Elendili, Fuinur together with his younger brother rebelled against his father and defected to Umbar, claiming his own lordship. In his rebellion he stole the Karma of Aldarion, the heirloom of Imrazôr's line and a great item of Power; fashioned by maia Salmar and given to the Guild of Venturers by Uinen herself.

The brothers were enthusiastically received by the men of Umbar as harbingers of better days to come. Setting the Karma in place of Mulkher's fiery altar, Fuinur drew upon the aura of that venerated artifact to reinstate the traditional political relations between the Dúnedain and the Haradwaith. Still, neither Fuinur nor Herumor were satisfied with their lot. Deeming themselves exiles from the usurped authority of their father in Pelargir, they were eventually swayed by the entreaties of Mordor to ally themselves with the Dark Lord in return for the promise of restoration to the leadership of the Númenóreans.

After the fall of Herumor and Fuinur, Umbarean people continued the rule of two (duumvirate). While the other Númenorean settlements beyond Umbar had been absorbed by the cultures of the Haradrim or, being made by men already corrupted by Sauron in Númenor, had become hostile and parts of Sauron's dominions, the Haven of Umbar increased once again, no longer a satellite but a fully sovereign state. Its inland boundaries extended once again and ultimately it stretched all along the river Harnen as far as the Ephel Duath, even to the edge of Khand: a veritable third Realm in Exile that competed with fledgling Gondor for power.

Umbar of this period that may be defined as the Ancient Realm. Like enclaves of this kind incline to do, conservatively kept to the traditions of the King's Men of the Second Age. Never a proclaimed "King of Umbar" arose, for Black Númenoreans considered themselves the representatives of the last legal King of Westernesse, regarding the Elendili as usurpers. Consuls of Umbar claimed to rule "in the King's absence", enshrouding the dark events of the past and even subscribed to a myth that foretold Ar-Pharazôn's triumphant return from the West and reclaim of the throne in some distant future. The Black Númenóreans did not exchange Classical Adûnaic against an Elvish-influenced Westron either but retained it as a language of lore that might be called "Black Adûnaic". It eventually grew into a Southron equivalent of the Common Speech.

A notion that may come surprising to the historians of Middle-earth is that the minority policies of the Black Númenóreans were much more liberal than those of Númenor and the northern two Realms in Exile alike. While the Line of Elros kept inbreeding for many generations, Gondor observed with suspicion whether the ethnic purity of the royal heirs was maintained and even Aragorn liked to refer with pride to the purity of his Númenórean descent, the lords of Umbar never had such reservations. And so, as a Gondorian chronicler scornfully remarked, "after the Fall of Sauron, their race swiftly dwindled or became merged with the Men of Middle-earth." This was definitely written by the same spirit that led to the Kin-strife. The question may then be allowed what, after the War of the Last Alliance, the Black Númenóreans indeed had done to provoke the final clash with their northern neighbour.

Gondor's position on Umbar was at least ambiguous, if not to say dubious. The Ship-kings' ambitions were partially motivated by a certain public sentimentality with regard to the Firth of Umbar and its historical significance, for "even the followers of Elendil remembered with pride the coming of the great host of Ar-Pharazôn out of the deeps of the Sea." To many conservative nobles in Gondor, this served already as a justification to lay hands at the Haven. The survivors of the great host and their descendants were blamed "renegades", whether with religious or political intention, and that they had joined the opposite side in the War of the Last Alliance was reason enough for a lasting enmity.

The collision happened in 933 TA, and it came unprovoked to the Haven. Eärnil I laid siege by sea and land to Umbar, and took it, and it became a great harbour and fortress of the power of Gondor. But Eärnil did not long survive his triumph. He was lost in 936 "with many ships and men in a great storm off Umbar." Gondor had taken the main province, but not yet the empire. The lords of the Black Númenóreans retreated into exile in Ramlond and Gobel Ancalimon, and from there they contested the designs of Gondor to occupy the coast-lands beyond river Harnen.

It took them 82 years to build their forces, and then in the year 1015, "the Men of the Harad, led by the lords that had been driven from Umbar, came up with great power against that stronghold, and Ciryandil fell in battle in Haradwaith" or, as other sources say, "in the siege of Umbar". However, Gondor was in full control of the sea-routes and could easily replenish the defensive forces to hold out till 1050: "For many years Umbar was invested, but could not be taken because of the sea-power of Gondor. Ciryaher utterly defeated the Men of the Harad, and their kings were compelled to acknowledge the overlordship of Gondor in 1050." This marked the final collapse of the Ancient Realm, and the Black Númenóreans of Umbar disappeared as a distinct ethnic and political group.

1050-1448 : THE GONDORIAN PERIOD


Gondor now occupied all the land south of the Mouths of Anduin up to the river Harnen and the borders of Near Harad, and also all the coastlands as far as Dûsalan and Cuiviërant. Umbar became once again a great fortress and have of fleets for the dúnedain. The kings of Gondor left no doubt that they considered Umbar forever theirs. In concession to the patriotic feelings for Ar-Pharazôn among their own people, Hyarmendacil rebuilt the pillar of Ar-Pharazôn as Tarma Tar-Calion with white marble and granite to serve as the greatest lighthouse in the world. The crown of Tarma Tar-Calion took the rays of the Sun and of the Moon and shone like a bright star. This marvel lightened the southern border of the vast Gondorian empire for 400 years.

Descendants of King's Men in Umbar acknowledged Gondor's sway, repented and mingled with the conquerors. The star of Umbar began to rise again when that of Gondor began to wane. In the 15th century TA there was already rebellion in the southern provinces: Lebennin, Harondor and Umbar. For during the Kin-strife of 1432-1448 and the rule of the pro-Númenórean nationalist Castamir on the throne of Osgiliath, the usurper was supported by the people of the coasts and the great havens of Pelargir and Umbar. The end of the Gondorian period came when Castamir was slain in battle in Lebennin, at Ethraid Erui, but "Castamir's sons escaped, and with others of their kin and many people of the fleets they held out long at Pelargir. When they had gathered all the force that they could (for Eldacar had no ships to beset them at sea) they sailed away, and established themselves at Umbar. There they made a refuge for all the enemies of the king, and a lordship independent of his crown."

1448-1810 : CASTAMIRIONI DYNASTY


So with one stroke, Gondor had lost most of its naval power, and the rebellious fleets were hitherto effectively used by the Castamirioni family so that they were soon known as the "Corsairs of Umbar". On the first day of 1450, Castaher son of Castamir was recognized by the confederate rebels as the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. Five months later, he perished in a mysterious fire that immolated his residence. The governance of Umbar was assumed by a Regency Council for Castaher's newborn son Castamaitë. This council was originally comprised of nine members: Lord Morlaen (Castamir's uncle and architect of the Kin-strife), Queen Mûrabêth (Castamir's widow, of Umbarean descent), Telemnar (Mûrabêth's father, governor of Umbar) and Castarion (Castaher's younger brother), in addition to five powerful captains: Menelmir (Lord-Captain of the royal fleet), Alacatar of Isigir, Aradan of Caldúr, Zagarthôr of Ardûmir, Salkhôr of Pellardur and Thorondil of Erädas.

Allying himself with Menelmir and other captains, Morlaen succeeded in ousting Mûrabêth and his father from the council three years later on charges of plotting against Castamaitë. In 1470, with only five years remaining before Castamaitë reached his majority, the Regency Council ousted Castarion from its ranks as well, declaring the Regency itself terminated on the grounds that the remaining members had an equally legitimate claim to the throne of Gondor. Morlaen and Menelmir reestablished the duumvirate and the traditional Council of Captains. Soon after them, Morlaen's sons Caramir and Calimon rose to consulship.

Denied of any position in Umbar's government, Castamaitë left for his relatives in Ethir Harnen and started his own was against Gondor without any support from the Council. Over decades the number of raiders and the size of the raids increased significantly, and in 1540, the Men of Gondor identified Castamaitë as their most dangerous enemy. King Aldamir moved to stop the raids and took Harondor after particularly heavy fighting. Council of Captains sent significant reinforcements to Ethir Harnen and king Aldamir was slain when Umbarean forces retook Gobel Mírlond, though it was later lost again. The loss of Harondor came as a great shock to the people of Umbar. Refuges from Harondor, particularly the surviving large landowners and aristocracy accused the Council of incompetence. Within a month, public support for Castamaitë forced the Council to reorganize itself, recreating the position of High Admiral as its official head and as sole military commander in times of war.

17th century Corsairs considered themselves the legitimate continuation of the royal line of Anárion rather than the "mixed-blooded" Eldacar and his offspring, though they did not proclaim a kingdom of Umbar: It was part of their propaganda that the kingdom could only be Gondor as a whole, and their feud was directed against the line of Eldacar, not against the Heirs of Elendil in general. They were not as radical as their forefathers, though, and soon rejected the ethnic purity programme in favour of marrying Haradric women. Old manuscripts tell that within but three generations, the rebels families had lost most of their Númenórean blood. The Dúnedain rebels were however involuntarily replenished by the throne of Gondor: "Since that time the kings had become jealous and watchful of those near akin. Often those on whom suspicion fell had fled to Umbar and there joined the rebels." This constant influx of recruited suspects, whether justified or not, provoked an explosive mixture of Dúnedain leadership, reawakened national pride and Haradric fighting skill. For the Castamirioni readily made an alliance with the adjacent kingdoms of Harad that till then had been tributary to Gondor, convincing them to join the rebellion and support their side (and pay tribute rather to them). Thus, Gondor suddenly faced an open confrontation all along its southern border.

In 1634, Umbar was ruled together by the great-grandsons of Castamir, Angamaitë and Sangahyando, who worked out a terrible assault on the line of Eldacar. "Learning through spies that Minardil was at Pelargir, suspecting no peril since the crushing of Harad and Umbar by his father [Hyarmendacil II, they] made a raid up Anduin, slew the king, ravaged Pelargir and the coasts, and escaped with great booty. [Minardil's heir] Telemnar immediately began to fit out a fleet for the reduction of Umbar", but before it ever set sail this retaliation fleet was destroyed - not in war but by the Great Plague of 1636. Gondor took almost 200 years to recover from this blow. Even King Tarondor still was unable to do more than attempt to re-establish life and order within his borders.






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