Elvish terminology for weapons
Krist - Ñoldorin long knife, leaf-shaped
Lhang - Ñoldorin backsword, similar to kopis
Lango (pl. langor) - Ñoldorin style broadsword
Magol (pl. meigol) - Dúnadan cut and thrust sword
Eket (pl. ikit) - Short Dúnadan thrusting sword
Anket (pl. enkit) - Dúnadan long sword
Sigil - Dagger or dirk
Hathol (pl. heithol) - Battle axe
Ecthel (pl. ecthil) - Spear
Pictures
Eket
Gondorian infantry sword eket
Krist
Typical elvish krist and its scabbard
Númenórean guard
Númenórean guardsman by Jan Pospisil

Weapons, armour and military technology


Hosts of Gondor and Arnor


"Eönwë came among them and taught them great lore."
-The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

“They had with the teaching of the Noldor acquired great skill in the forging of swords, of axe-blades, and of spearheads and knives.”
-Unfinished Tales, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields.

WEAPONS


Weapons and armor of the fighting men of the Twin Kingdoms can be divided in two rough categories, military and civilian. There is some small overlap, and the growing middle class has given rise to some new fashions, but the basic template has stayed the same since the war of Last Alliance.

Their swords come in several sizes and shapes. Arguably the most common war sword is lango, a straight, two-edged, cut-and-thrust sword some 32 to 42 inches in length. It is used by both infantry and cavalry, and in right hands is effective against any armor it is likely to encounter. The longer varieties are preferred by cavalrymen, but the tall men of dúnedain can wield them comfortably even on foot.

A short and broad dwarven sword, named eket, is favoured among infantrymen. It is not as versatile as its longer brother, but against lightly armored targets it is fearfully effective; with a strong blow it will chop a limb clean off. It is also very useful in close, hand-to-hand and knee-to-groin combat, as it is short enough to be used as a thrusting weapon. Men prefer it in the crush of shieldwall (S. thangastan), while the dwarrovs ply it with fearsome skill in their subterranean fights against orcs and their kin.

There are also longer swords, called anket, usually 44 to 56 inches long. They tend to be quite heavy, but surprisingly easy to use, given their superb balance. Used in either one or two hands, they are most useful to the more heavily armored warriors. Quite fittingly, they have mostly been plied by the noble classes, and are actually prohibited from commoners. Carrying one in public is a coveted privilege restricted to the gentlemen of Dúnadan stock.

Some men prefer lhang or falchion, a shortish, tip-heavy backsword. These are usually a little shorter than langor, and of comparable weight, but designed more for chopping and less for fancy cut-and-thrust swordplay. They are especially treasured by engineers, skirmishers and mariners.

Another mainstay of fighting men is the spear (ecthil). Although subject to some local variation, a spear is a stout wooden staff, tipped with an iron point. The shaft is 1 to 1½ inches thick, usually made of ash, and anything from 6 to 10 feet long. Although not the most sophisticated of weapons, it is easy to use, and especially favoured as a militia weapon, since it is relatively easy and cheap to produce. Since the armies of Gondor and Arnor have ample missile fire capacity, their men do not throw their spears at opponents, but retain them for melee combat. A spear is also valuable to the cavalryman, for fighting against both mounted foes and infantry. Introduction of stirrups has made couching the spear underarm a viable option for the heavily equipped cavalry of the Twin Kingdoms.

For a long time, men of Gondor and Arnor fought mostly against enemies with far inferior equipment. Thus their native arms suited their needs admirably. However, on the second millennium of Third Age, they arose a need for weapons capable of crushing the heavy lamellar coats of the men of Harad and Khand, and the iron and steel armour of the hosts of Angmar. The weapon most effective for this kind of work was the mace, basically an iron or bronze weight attached to a wooden haft some 24 to 30 inches in length. A blow from a mace will break the bones of a lightly armored foe, and although it will not break or crush iron plate easily, the impact alone can be enough to incapacitate or even kill an opponent. It is mostly used as a sidearm by heavy cavalry, who are the most likely by far to encounter opponents encased in rigid armor.

Although less heavily armoured than the cavalry, infantrymen felt also a need for a weapon capable of hurting armoured enemies. Men of daen and northman extraction were already inordinately fond of axes, and the longer and heavier specimens could cut through mail with surprising ease. Although lighter than a woodsman's or shipbuilder's tool, the battleaxe is a fearsome weapon. With a haft over five feet long, and a blade with an edge of up to eighteen inches, it is able to cut an armored man in half. Not the most sophisticated of weapons, its use is nevertheless a skill in and of itself, requiring both strength of arm and coordination.

There are no specifically civilian weapons in the realms of the Dúnedain. In urban surroundings it is considered suspicious to go about heavily armed, unless belonging to the upper classes or to the retinue of a noble. A stout stick or a dagger is the extent of acceptable weaponry. In the countryside the rules are less strict, and carrying of arms depends on the local situation. In peaceful lands surrounding bigger cities, like Fornost, Minas Anor or Pelargir, people go about their business mostly unarmed, and even those expecting trouble carry no more than maybe a sword and buckler. In the wild lands of Cardolan and Dor Rhûnen, and the provinces of Lamedon, Andrast and Harondor, the situation is radically different. Travellers band together for protection, and no one comments on open carrying of weapons. Larger companies of unknown, heavily armed men will still raise questions among the local authorities, but the ordinary folk will mostly just stay out of the way.

There is one exception to the lack of civilian weapons. In the lawless years after the Kinstrife, the inhabitants of Anorien and Lebennin saw a need for a weapon for self-defense against highwaymen, robbers and other criminals. Thus emerged the hammacrist (dress-sword), a long and slender one-handed sword more suited for thrusting and lunging than strong cuts. They are usually next to useless against armor, but can run unarmored opponents through with ease. They have made their appearance in towns and cities of the Southern Kingdom, but are in no way common. Carrying a hammacrist openly is also likely to raise some comments among the town guards.

ARMOUR


"For with the aid and counsel of Sauron they multiplied their possessions, and they devised engines, and they built ever greater ships.”
-The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

“The teaching of Sauron has led to the invention of ships of metal that traverse the seas without sails, but which are hideous in the eyes of those who have not abandoned or forgotten Tol-eressea; to the building of grim fortresses and unlovely towers; and to missiles that pass with a noise like thunder to strike their targets many miles away.”
-History of Middle-earth 5, The Númenórean chapters, Chapter IV

“When Saruman was safe back in Orthanc, it was not long before he set some of his precious machinery to work. [...] Suddenly up came fires and foul fumes: the vents and shafts all over the plain began to spout and belch. Several of the Ents got scorched and blistered. One of them, Beechbone I think he was called, a very tall handsome Ent, got caught in a spray of some liquid fire and burned like a torch: a horrible sight.”
-The Two Towers, Flotsam and Jetsam

Hollow steel bows. Númenórean bows are either composite bows which used a levering system, usually of cables and pulleys, to bend the hollow steel limbs, or simple recurve bows, crafted from hollow steel. The steel bow is little affected by changes of temperature and humidity and gives superior accuracy, velocity, and distance in comparison to other bows. It is possible that númenórean armies also used alchemically prepared incendiary arrows. Hollow steel bows were used for great effect in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and their production was maintained in Gondor until the Great Plague, after which the secret was gradually lost and Númenórean bows were steadily replaced by ordinary longbows.
"Shooting with bows on foot and on horseback was a chief sport and pastime of the Númenóreans. 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."
-Unfinished Tales, Description of Númenor

"[The Orcs]... kept at a distance out of the range of the dreaded steel-bows of Númenor."
-Unfinished Tales, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

Naurnen, Númenórean Fire. An incendiary, resinous substance, impossible to extinguish with water, invented by alchemists of Númenor during the reign of Tar-Calmacil and used ever since. Kingdoms of Exile typically used it in naval battles to great effect as it could continue burning even on water. It provided a technological advantage, and was responsible for many key Gondorian military victories. The exact mixture is a closely guarded state secret; its proposed ingredients include naphtha, quicklime, sulphur and niter. In its earliest form, Naurnen was hurled onto enemy forces by firing a burning cloth-wrapped ball, containing a flask, using a form of light catapult. Later technological improvements in machining technology enabled the devising of a pump mechanism discharging a stream of burning fluid at close ranges, devastating wooden ships in naval warfare and also very effective on land as a counter-force suppression weapon used on besieging forces. Hand-held siphons were introduced during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn.
Black powder rockets. Númenórean alchemists discovered black powder while searching for the Elixir of Life; this accidental discovery led to experiments in the form of weapons such as bombs, grenades, incendiary fire arrows and rocket-propelled fire arrows during the reign of Ar-Pharazon. Rockets or arrows "that pass with a noise like thunder to strike their targets many miles away" were used succesfully against Men of Middle-earth and, after the Downfall, in the endemic internecine struggles between competing Númenórean colonies. According to some reports, these Númenórean "fire-pots" could be heard for 5 leagues (25 km) when they exploded upon impact, causing devastation for a radius of 2,000 feet. Varieties of Númenórean rocket weapons were named Heaven (Minal), Earth (Dâira), Black (Dulgî) and Yellow (Mâl). Development of incendiary weapons increased dramatically when Ar-Pharazôn was building his Great Armament with Sauron. Among many inventions were a timed grenade that flung out hundreds of metal shards upon explosion, and a machine capable of firing many arrows at once.
Ironclads. The teachings of Sauron during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn led to the invention of ships of metal that traverse the seas without sails, but which were ugly and emitted foul-smelling smoke. None survived the Downfall.

Greatships. Great ships which Elendil commanded were maybe partly built of steel. Biggest Númenórean windjammers could have been 2 500–3 500 tons and carried a maximum of 3 000 people. Arnor had to serviceable shipyards or facilities to repair this mighty ships when their steel masts were broken, and so the technology was soon lost. But in Gondor the windjammers of Isildur and Anárion were kept in service, and according to some apocryphal documents, one of them circumnavigated the world, thus proving it round.

...but the great wind took him [Elendil], wilder than any wind that Men had known, roaring from the west, and it swept his ships far away; and it rent their sails and snapped their masts, hunting the unhappy men like straws upon water.
-The Silmarillion, 337

AIRSHIPS


"Of old many of the exiles of Númenor could still see, some clearly and some more faintly, the paths to the True West; and they believed that at times from a high place they could descry the peaks of Taniquetil at the end of the straight road, high above the world. Therefore they built very high towers in those days, and their holy places were upon the tops of mountains, for they would climb, if it might be, above the mists of Middle-earth into the clearer air that doth not veil the vision of things far off.

But ever the number of those that had the ancient sight dwindled, and those that had it not and could not conceive it in their thought scorned the builders of towers, and trusted to ships that sailed upon the water. But they came only to the lands of the new world, and found them like to those of the old and subject to death; and they reported that the world was round. For upon the straight road only the gods could walk, and only the ships of the elves could journey; for being straight that road passed through the air of breath and flight and rose above it, and traversed
ilmen in which no mortal flesh can endure; whereas the surface of the earth was bent, and bent were the seas that lay upon it, and bent also were the heavy airs that were above them.

Yet it is said that even of those Númenóreans of old who had the straight vision there were some who did not comprehend this, and they were busy to contrive ships that should rise above the waters of the world and hold to the imagined seas. But they achieved only ships that would sail in the air of breath. And these ships, flying, came also to the lands of the new world, and to the east of the old world; and they reported that the world was round. Therefore many abandoned the Valar and put them out of their legends. But men of Middle-earth looked up with fear and wonder seeing the Númenóreans that descended out of the sky; and they took these mariners of the air to be gods, and some of the Númenóreans were content that this should be so."
-History of Middle-earth 9, The Drowning of Anadûnê, 338–9

Nothing is known about these craft.

Legends of Warcraft


"When the Fathers of Men came to Beleriand, there already dwelt numerous nations of elves, and dwarrovs had their twin delvings in the Ered Luin. From them the men of old acquired exceedingly intricate weapons and armour, and even learned some small skill themselves. This came to good use, when the three houses of Edain marched to war side by side with their allies, the Eldar. Although the Secondborn wrought iron and shaped it into weapons of war and hunt, they could never surpass elven smiths of Gondolin and Nargothrond. Foremost among these were Curufin and his father Fëanor, but as swordsmiths they did not compare with Eöl the Dark-Elven. Eöl himself learned his craft from his friends, the dwarrovs of Nogrod and Belegost. Greatest of them were Telchar and his master, old Gamil Zirak, and they are oft mentioned as first fashioning mail armor.

LEGACY OF NÚMENOR


When the Three Houses of Edain fled the wars in Beleriand and populated the Land of Gift, they brought with them the craft and heirlooms of their forefathers. In the beginning their island home knew neither grief nor conflict, and for long their weapons were only plied in hunt and ceremony. This all changed, however, when Aldarion became the captain of ships and departed on long voyages of exploration on the coasts of Endor. Contact with native peoples was not always peaceful in nature, but the superior blades and the fortitude of men of Westernesse usually carried the day. Wild, backward nations were eager to trade for these divine weapons of the Sea Giants, and in due time they became heirlooms of mannish tribes along the coasts.

When Men of Númenor began to rule the waves, they also brought war to Middle Earth. They wanted tribute and resources, and were ready to take them by force if necessary. They also needed timber for their fleets, and the excessive logging in Eriador angered the local inhabitants. Savage clashes ensued, but once again Adûnai emerged victorious. The land became barren, and the people of coasts retreated to highlands and remaining woods. So haughty had the númenóreans grown in their power, that they founded colonies all along the shores of Endor and made their rule over lesser men. Thus they came to conflict with Sauron.

Dark Lord had long been bent on the domination of Middle Earth, and the arrival of the men of Westernesse disturbed these plans. Sauron raised his flags and contested the right of Númenor to rule the continent, but was brought low by the armies of Ar-Pharazôn the Golden. His fleet landed in the haven of Umbar and marched to the fastness of Mordor, from whence he took Sauron, put him in chains and made him his prisoner. Sauron was, however, crafty beyond the ken of mortal men, and was soon able to endear himself to the king and become his trusted advisor. Sauron fanned the flames of his ambition ever higher, urged him to bring yet more nations under his rule and uttered whispers of immortality into his ear. Dark Lord also taught the númenóreans to fabricate wondrous weapons, more powerful than any seen before, although hideous to look at. Bows wrought of black iron, with fiery arrows against which no armor could stand; engines that could slay from afar; iron ships that could sail against wind without the help of neither oar nor sail, and swathed in noxious smoke.

Finally, in the folly of old age, Ar-Pharazôn bent his ear to Sauron’s whispers, and decided to conquer the Undying Lands to live there forever in the prime of his life. The people of Westernesse built the Great Armament, a fleet such as had never been seen, and set sail for Aman. This angered the Powers to such an extent that they buried Númenor under the waves of Belegaer and submerged Ar-Pharazôns’ fleet. Only thrice three ships managed to escape the Downfall.

WAR OF THE LAST ALLIANCE


Elendil, with his kin and folk, set to work to build Realms in Exile, the twin kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Although many secrets had been lost in the Atalantë, the skill of the craftsmen of dunedain was still unsurpassed among the men of Endor. Still their respite was but brief, for Sauron had escaped the Downfall, and returned to his citadel of Barad-Dûr, where he started raising another army and harassing the Exiles. To fight his aggression the dúnedain fashioned the Last Alliance of men and elves, to stem the rising tide of darkness.

The war raged for seven years, and although it ended in the utter defeat of Sauron, the price was high. Kings of both men and elves lay dead on the field, along with a multitude of warriors. The Eldar retreated to their fastnesses of Lindon and Imladris, while the men of Arnor and Gondor mourned the passing of their leaders. Never again would Middle Earth see such a dazzling host of warriors arrayed for battle..."



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