Battle of Azanulbizar
|Battle of Azanulbizar|
|Conflict: War of the Dwarves and Orcs|
|Date: T.A. 2799|
|Place: The Dimrill Dale and the steps of the East-gate of Moria|
|Outcome: Pyrrhic victory for the Dwarves|
Orcs from Moria, and the remnants of other Orc-dwellings throughout the Misty Mountains
"Beyond the count of grief." Half dead or dying.
The Battle of Azanulbizar (T.A. 2799) was the final battle in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. It was fought beneath the East-gate of Moria in the valley of Azanulbizar, called Nanduhirion in Sindarin or Dimrill Dale in Westron. Therefore the event is also known as the Battle of Nanduhirion and the Battle of Dimrill Dale.
The War of the Dwarves and Orcs began when Azog the Orc-chieftain of Moria captured and mutilated Thrór, King of Durin's Folk. Azog branded his own name in runes onto Thrór's severed head, then let Thrór's companion Nár escape so that all Dwarves would know that an Orc now ruled Moria. Full of righteous fury, Thrór's son Thráin II summoned a great army of Dwarves, including those not of Durin's Folk (Firebeards and Broadbeams from the Blue Mountains, and others from the far East of Middle-earth). For six years they systematically sacked the Orc strongholds of the Misty Mountains, until only Moria was left. There the Orcs that had survived the destruction had gathered to Azog.
The exact number for the Dwarves was not specified, but it can be estimated at being somewhere between six to ten thousand Longbeards, Firebeards, Broadbeams, Ironfists, Stonefoots, Blacklocks, and Stiffbeards. This is based off the assumption that the other Dwarf houses sent no more then a few thousand each to take part in the war, because they could not have sent too many for economic, financial and defense reasons. The Longbeards (Durin's Folk) could not have mustered a proper fighting force of no more than 1-3,000, because of a severely depleted populace and financial/economic problems (especially Thraín's following).
The battle began on a dark winter day, and no sun was said to have shined through the clouds. The Dwarves had marched into the Dimrill Dale where they found the East-Gate and sent up a great noise. They discovered that on the western slopes above thousands of Orcs had gathered, while more still came pouring out of the gate. The Dwarves there stood outnumbered and on the lower end of a sloping hill.
The first Vanguard led by King Thráin, assaulted the slopes only to be driven back with casualties. In a woods near the Mirrormere, the dwarves noted that Frerin youngest son of Thráin was slain along with Fundin, father of Balin; and many others. Thraín himself was wounded, as was his eldest son Thorin II Oakenshield, whose shield was broken during the battle, forcing him to resort to using an oak branch that he cut off a tree to defend himself.
Elsewhere, the battle swayed back and forth until Náin from the Iron Hills arrived with a contingent of fresh troops. Náin and his Dwarves cut through the Orc lines with their mattocks shouting, "AZOG! AZOG! AZOG!" until they had reached the steps of the gate, at which Naín called Azog to come out and fight. When Azog emerged from the inner gate with his guards, Náin was exhausted and half blind with rage. He tried to swing as hard as he could, but Azog darted aside and Náin missed, splintering his mattocks on the ground. The orc kicked him in the leg when he dodged the Dwarf's blow, making him stumble, at which point Azog attempted to thrust and behead him, succeeding only in breaking Náin's neck because of the strong mail he was wearing. Náin died instantly.
Even as Azog gloated over his duel, he looked out over the valley which the east gate overlooks, and came to the realization that his entire force was routed. Those that could were fleeing southwards, and all his guard was dead. With that he fled back to the gate. Náin's son, Dáin, leaped up the steps after him with his red axe, and there before the gate he decapitated the Orc chieftain, thus ending the battle. The slaying of Azog was considered an amazing feat, as Dáin was only 32 years of age (very young for a Dwarf). Dáin would later become King under the Mountain as Dáin II Ironfoot.
The Dwarves were victorious, but half of their forces were dead or mortally wounded. The Orcs suffered even worse casualties, with ten thousand dead. After the battle, Thráin wanted to enter and reclaim Moria, the ancestral home of Durin's folk. However, due to their losses, the other Houses not willing to participate, and since Dáin had seen Durin's Bane beyond the East-gate, Thráin refrained from entering.
The Dwarves stripped their dead so the Orcs could not plunder them, and cut down all the trees in the valley, which was to remain bare ever after. They made many pyres on which to burn their dead. They could not bury them all in tombs of stone, as was their custom, because it would take too long. From then on those that died in Dimrill Dale were known proudly as Burned Dwarves.
The Houses parted ways, returning to their homes to the North, East, and West. Thráin, with what was left of the Longbeard contingent, went back to Dunland and wandered in Eriador, eventually settling in the Southern Blue Mountains. There Durin's folk repopulated slowly, waiting for the day when they could take back the halls of Erebor and Khazad-dum.
Although the Dwarves suffered heavy casualties, the battle would have lasting effects for the Orcs of the Misty Mountains. Their numbers were severely reduced after the battle and never fully recovered.
The depletion of the Orc population contributed to the survival of Thorin and Company on their journey to Erebor, as well as the victory of the Elves, Men, and Dwarves at the Battle of Five Armies. It also allowed Balin, in T.A. 2989, to attempt the recolonization of Moria.
Portrayal in adaptations
- Referred to as the Battle of Moria in this film trilogy (and portrayed more as an isolated battle rather than the final conflict for an entire war), the battle is presented in a flashback sequence as Balin recounts Thorin's past to Bilbo Baggins. The narrative of the battle has been heavily condensed. In the film version, rather than recounting Thrór's death at the hands of Azog and the resulting war of many years, Balin simply says that after Smaug drove the Dwarves from Erebor, Thrór attempted to lead all of his people back to their ancestral realm in Moria, only to find that the Orcs had gotten there first. Azog does decapitate Thrór, but the deed takes place during the battle itself, and the head is thrown at Thorin's feet rather than Nár's. Balin similarly condenses Thráin's story, stating that he went mad with grief and wandered away, and his people never knew if he was dead or captured. Dáin Ironfoot is completely absent from the story, and it is Thorin who rallies the dwarves by facing Azog in single combat and hacking off his left arm at the elbow. The wounded Azog is dragged back into Moria by his subordinates, and the Dwarves assume he has died of his injuries, but he survives to appear in a present-time sub-plot in which he is hunting Thorin and Company for revenge. No mention is made of the burning of the Dwarves' dead, but Balin, Dwalin, Bifur, and Thorin are seen in the aftermath of the battle walking amidst heaps of their slain kin, and Balin recalls the battle as a pyrrhic victory, and the number of dead as beyond the count of grief, echoing closely the wording of the account from Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings.