Army building

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Dor-lůmin 21/Dec/2006 at 11:49 PM
Garment-crafter of Lothlorien Points: 529 Posts: 110 Joined: 20/Dec/2006

I was just thinking about how many wars hav gone on through the ages, and that was alot. Then i was thinkng why weren’t the elves and men of middle earth more prepared for the war of the ring?? i mean they must of knowen that the last alliance wasn’t going to be the last battle. They should hav leant from past experiences that evil is never completely gone. They should hav had  bigger armies.

Anyway thats just what i think, but then again it must take a while to build up ur army.

Thain Ironfoot 22/Dec/2006 at 12:06 AM
Blacksmith of Erebor Points: 860 Posts: 953 Joined: 29/Jun/2002
Why werenít the Free People prepared for the War of the Ring? Thereís bunch of reasons, the main probably being the the Ring hadnít been heard of for 2943 years, so they assumed it was gone. Any men that were alive then were long dead and only the Elve from the Last Alliance were still alive. They didnít know where the Ring was or if it was still even existing. Yes Sauron was attacWhy werenít the Free People prepared for the War of the Ring? Thereís bunch of reasons, the main probably being the the Ring hadnít been heard of for 2943 years, so they assumed it was gone. Any men that were alive then were long dead and only the Elves from the Last Alliance were still alive. They didnít know where the Ring was or if it was still even existing. Yes Sauron was attacking Gondor and the North Kingdom but they didn’t know it was Sauron necessarily, because the Witch-King was all they saw. Also,Gondor lost itís last king and was ruled by Stewards from 2050 of the Third Age on. By the time they knew about he Ring and Sauron, Denethor was Steward. he wasnít quite right in his head and when he was needed he had neglected to even make an effort t raise soldiers to defend Gondor. As for the Elves, they were heading to Valinor and leaving Middle-Earth.king Gondor and the North Kingdom but they ddinít know it was Sauron necessarilly, because the Wich-King was all they saw. Also,Gondor ost itís last king and was ruled by Stewards from 2050 of the Third Age on. By the time they knew abotut he Ring and Sauron, Denethor was Steward. he wasnít quite right in his head and when he was needed he had neglected to even make an effort t raise soldiers to defend Gondor. As for the Elvces, they were heading to Valinor and leaving Middle-Earth.WHy would they have any reason to have a large army?
Phil_d_one 22/Dec/2006 at 05:54 AM
Shipwright of Umbar Points: 13181 Posts: 12667 Joined: 14/Jan/2004

The idea that Denethor didnít prepare Gondor is wrong.
He sent the women and children out of Minas Tirith, bolstered the defences at Osgiliath and Rammas Echor, and prepared Gondor for war as any other leader would have done. His conduct after he has gone mad with grief is obviously not a fair reflection of the preparations he made to defend Gondor before and during the early days of the War of the Ring.

The idea that Theoden and Denethor didnít cooperate during the War of the Ring is wrong.
Denethor lit the beacons and sent Theoden the red arrow, calling for his help, immediately, and Theoden responded without any of the hesitation or misgivings that are present in the film.

The idea that the Elves or the Dwarves refused to help in the War of the Ring is wrong.
The Dwarves were involved in a battle as important as that at the Pelennor Fields at Dale, and at Erebor, where they held Sauronís forces in the North back, preventing them from reaching Eriador. The Elves were similarly involved -- Thranduil was attacked at the same time as Gondor was, and Lorien had to fend off three assaults from Dol Goldur.

The idea that the Free Peoples could, in some way, have raised a bigger army is flawed.
During the War of the Ring itself, The only time when a larger army was a possibility was when Theoden rode to Pelennor, where a larger force would probably have been available had he chosen to wait longer. But as we know, had he ridden any later, a larger force would have made no difference, as Minas Tirith would already have been overrun.
Should Gondor have begun preparing for war earlier than it did? Bearing in mind, of course, that there was no reason to think, for nearly the entire Third Age, that Sauron was still a threat? Once that became apparant, preparations were begun, of course, but why enter a state of war when no war is evident?

The Last Alliance couldnít be replicated because there was just no way to raise such an army at the time of the War of the Ring. Many more of the Elves had left Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age, the Numenorean influence, still fresh at the end of the Second Age, had been lessened by the end of the Third, and Sauron took the initiative before the Free Peoples did.

The Free Peoples did all they could, from a military perspective, and in the end, though it wouldnít have been enough, they were spared from that moment of reckoning.

Boromir88 22/Dec/2006 at 09:50 AM
Merchant of Minas Tirith Points: 3627 Posts: 2473 Joined: 24/Mar/2005

Phil provides an excellent summation that I can’t do.  But just to add in a few more points to be made...I hate the movies portrayal of Denethor, so I got to make sure he gets his just do.  Yes he lost his mind at the end, but as Phil puts it that is no way a reflection upon his time as a Steward.

He became corrupted by politics and most likely would not have abdicated his thrown had the real King proven himself.  That part is very clear.  However, he no doubt loved Gondor (or perhaps loved to be in control of it) and did whatever he could to defend it and prepare for Sauron’s attack:

Thus pride increased in Denethor together with despair, until he sa win all the deeds of that time only a single combat between the Lord of the White Tower and the Lord of the Barad-dur, and mistrusted all others who resisted Sauron, unless they served himself alone~Appendix A: The Stewards

Denethor reaches this point where he believes it’s Gondor vs. Sauron...and as Phil shows he did whatever he could to prepare Gondor against the oncoming attack.

Gandalf serves as the inspirational leader/morale booster to the Men of Minas Tirith; however he arrived way too late to effectively plan the defenses.  It was Denethor that planned and did all the defenses (which I think all are listed above) - if I’m not mistaken he also placed men in Lebennin to await the Corsairs that were coming.  Gandalf did the inspiirational leading, but for it would have been impossible for him to get adequate defenses set up in the that he arrived (He arrived March 9; fighting started the 10th and the Siege of the city started  the 14th).  And I would call the defenses Denethor set up to be quite effective considering not one enemy entered into the City...Early on the 15th the Witch-King broke down the gate, Gandalf forbids his entrance into the City, Rohan arrives, and the forces within Minas Tirith push out of the city to aid the Rohirrim.

Arvellas 22/Dec/2006 at 01:35 PM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 5462 Posts: 3016 Joined: 16/May/2006
To have a larger army, the extra soldiers have to come from somewhere, and just where would that somewhere be?  Armies don’t appear out of thin air.  There are fewer Elves in Middle-earth.  Rivendell is not very big and it not military-oriented anyway, and Lorien has enough trouble trying to protect itself, let alone send troops to some greater cause.  The same goes for the Dwarves, who have to protect Erebor, and Rohan, which has to fend off both troublemakers from Mordor and neighboring Isengard.  There was just no one available, and Gondor was lucky to get the amount of help that it did at the Pelennor.
Morgil 23/Dec/2006 at 11:16 PM
Minstrel of Lothlorien Points: 2614 Posts: 3542 Joined: 10/Dec/2008

In addition to the points already made, I will add the following. From its foundation , the Kingdom of Gondor was under almost constant attack. Whether it was by the forces of Sauron or his various allies ie. Harad, the Corsairs of Umbar, etc.. Ithilien was invaded repeatedly, until Minas Ithil fell to the Nazgul. Gondor suffered a disastrous civil war in the Kin-strife, was heavily hit by the Great Plague, and the took severe losses in the invasions of the Wainriders. All these factors had to have a considerable impact on its population, and therefore its military power.

And just because I can’t resist slamming him, I hated the way Peter "The Butcher of Middle-earth" Jackson portrayed Denethor as an incompetent, power hungry, drooling idiot who didn’t care about Gondor or its people.     

Brandywine74 25/Dec/2006 at 09:54 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1291 Posts: 562 Joined: 20/Apr/2006

I don’t think this is too difficult to understand. When the second world war began Britain, France etc. were woefully unprepared even though they had fought a terrible war only twenty years previously. This unpreparedness is one of the reasons for the early German advances that would cost so many lives on both sides for the Allies to win back. Given this, is it any wonder that cultures didn’t maintain strong armies over hundreds of years?

It must also be remembered that large armies would have to be provisioned and paid, which is always expensive. A large standing army is also a threat in terms of overthrowing the government.

Morgil 26/Dec/2006 at 03:40 AM
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Brandywine74...No offense, but I believe you are taking far too simplistic a view. Their is a vast difference between the military need and obligations of a feudal realm like Gondor and modern industrialized nations of our own world. Industrialized nations must develop defense plans based on perceived scenarios. They then designate appropriate budget figures. Then these budgets must be approved by a relatively large elected body, which is subject to a large and diverse number of considerations. As you point out, the last war Britain and France were involved in was 20 years before  WWII. Due to this and various other factors, most notably the Great epression and its crippling of the world’s economies, defense spending was at an all time low on practically a world wide basis in the 1930’s. Whereas a feudal realm like Gondor, with a feudal economy, having one person with ultimate authority, and with constant threats lying on most its borders, would not have the luxury of allowing its military strength to decline. I believe the reasons already given would be far more applicable than those you list. As for your remark about a large military  being a threat to the established goverment, I won’t respond to that, as that topic could far too easily become political, and politics are a no-no here on the Plaza.  
Boromir88 26/Dec/2006 at 07:31 AM
Merchant of Minas Tirith Points: 3627 Posts: 2473 Joined: 24/Mar/2005

Brandywine, that is a good point, but I agree with Morgil here that the two systems are dramatically different...and to compare them would be like comparing apples to oranges. 

I’d also like to point out that Britain and France weren’t prepared because they just didn’t want to deal with another war.  As Morgil pointed out the economies were crippled due to the great depression, they were just in a horrendous and awful war 20 years ago that pretty much ended in a stalemate and didn’t solve any of the problems.  They just didn’t want to deal with another war, so they simply let Hitler keep taking and taking for a while; as they didn’t wanted to avoid war...causing them to be unprepared when they  actually did declare it.

Perhaps there was a sense of ’lull’ for the people’s against Sauron after Sauron was killed...as would be expected.  Their enemy had been defeated Hurray!  However, once news goes around that Sauron is back, and the leaders know, they do a pretty good job of preparing for the onslaught...or at least the best that they can do with what they have.  The Council of the Wise start watching him and what he’s doing in Dol Guldur more closely...that ends with an attack on Dol Guldur and Sauron fleeing to Mordor.  Also, Gondor starts figuring out something is wrong when the Witch-King had escaped from Angmar and laid siege to Minas Ithil; taking it.  So, I think the people were prepared as best as they could get.  There was no chance for militarily beating down Sauron, so no matter how good you plan and prepare, eventually Sauron would just have the sheer numbers and mass to defeat everyone.  Though I think unlike the WWII scenari0, everyone was prepared for Sauron’s assaults in the best way that they could prepare; by the time that Sauron did decide to attack.

Oin 26/Dec/2006 at 01:13 PM
Architect of Erebor Points: 11372 Posts: 8807 Joined: 14/Feb/2004

Boromir: You are partially correct about the reaction to the disembodiment and apparent death of Sauron. Yes, most people (especially the Elves) basically thought everything was over and let their guard down, with many Elves departing for Valinor. However, it is worth noting that the Men of Gondor did keep a watch on Mordor just in case for more than a millenium afterward. Yes, they did eventually cease to watch the Black Land, but that was due to the decline of Gondor among other things. Also keep in mind that Gondor was at war from 2002-3019 pretty much constantly - from the Fall of Minas Ithil to the destruction of the One Ring Gondor always had to be ready, although things such as the invasion of the Balchoth prevented Gondor from growing any stronger. As Morgil pointed out - it was a rare thing when they had a century that went by without being attacked in force.

However, that said, Brandywine’s analogy does work on a limited basis when discussing the Elves. They were essentially unwilling to fight the evil that had returned. Lorien and Northern Mirkwood were the only elf-lands that did any fighting, and that was only because they were attacked. Whereas GIl-galad and Elendil were partners in the Last Alliance, the Elves were no longer proactive and no longer were active in the fight against Sauron save indirectly through advice, etc. This goes along with the Allies’ desire to avoid another World War like the Great War.

But Tolkien hated allegory, particularly ones that had to do with the two World Wars, so I think that analogy is best not used in this case.

Brandywine74 26/Dec/2006 at 10:50 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1291 Posts: 562 Joined: 20/Apr/2006

Of course I realise that the situations are differnt. I was merely using the example of WW2 to show unpreparedness for war and thereby pointing out how difficult it would be to remain vigilant over periods of hundreds of years. I agree with Oin that the main reason for Gondor and others unpreparedness is due more to lack of will to prepare, which was also the same in WW2. Some hold that the depression would have caused countries to cut defense spending but Germany was also affected and still rearmed.

Morgil, I didn’t mean my comment about standing armies and governments to open a political debate, just to point out that unless the king or ruler can effectively control a large army they would be a threat to civil society and the King/ruler. There are many examples of this happening around the world.

Morgil 27/Dec/2006 at 01:11 AM
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Gondor was NOT unwilling or unprepared to fight a war. Denethor had sent the vast majority of noncombatants out of Minas Tirith, ordered repairs to the Rammas Echor, had the Rangers of Ithilien conducting guerrilla attacks and probably gathering information on enemy troop movements, ordered the outlying provinces send available forces to reinforce the garrison of Minas Tirith, had laid in great stores of food and consumables, and had even risked using the palantir to gather information. All these were done before Sauron launched his attacks. Notice I said attacks, meaning the plural. Sauron’s plan was to attack and overwhelm Gondor on two fronts. Gondor did not lack the will or preparation to fight, it simply lacked the adequate resources to fight what was essentially a two-front war.

As for the Elves, they too had suffered significant losses over time. Before the Last Alliance, Sauron had destroyed Ost -In-Edhil in the War of the Elves and Sauron. And Tolkien indicates in his writings that the firstborn had continued to diminish through the Third Age. Yes Lorien and Thranduil’s realm were the only lands to engage Sauron’s forces, and through a defensive campaign. But consider the fact that they were both woodland realms. That terrain is ideal for a military force familiar with them to conduct a defensive campaign. They would have known the "highways and byways", so to speak and could have used that knowledge to their advantage, and their foes’ disadvantage. And after repelling the attack on Lorien, Celeborn took the offensive and attacked Dol Guldur. As far as the Elves not sending aid to anyone, what land, besides Rohan, did? And Rohan could only do so after Saruman was defeated. Again, we have a realm of the Free Folk not having adequate military strength to conduct campains on two fronts. Every realm of the Free Folk east and south of the Misty Mountains was faced with attack by Sauron or his allies. And most of these would most likely have not had sufficient military strength to both defend themselves and aid any allies.

Brandywine74...I was not implying that was your intention. And while history, from antiquity to the present day, has shown us that a nation’s military can be a threat to its leaders, I don’t believe that is a consideration that would apply to the Elven or Dunedain realms. Gondor was a realm where a military coup would have been unlikely in the extreme. In over 3,000 years of existence, it only had one serious internal conflict. And the military did not start that, but a dispute over succession. And with the lessons that history had taught them,I seriously doubt any Elf could successfully orchestrate a military takeover.    

Oin 27/Dec/2006 at 02:13 PM
Architect of Erebor Points: 11372 Posts: 8807 Joined: 14/Feb/2004

Brandywine: I did not say that Gondor was unprepared or unwilling to fight. I said the Elves were.

Morgil: And after repelling the attack on Lorien, Celeborn took the offensive and attacked Dol Guldur. The first phrase of this quote is the most important. Celeborn did not take the initiative. He stayed in Lorien and let himself be attacked, only marching out when he had repelled Sauron 3 times. As I said in my first pots, they only fought because they were attacked first. And remember, when they finally did march on Dol Guldur and destroy it, Sauron had already been destroyed. They weren’t fighting against him anymore, they were fighting against his severely demoralized and in many ways already defeated minions. And as far as sending aid goes, the Ents did (destroying the force sent from the North to destroy the undefended Edoras); it is a sort of military blunder to send aid to unwilling allies (Theoden was dominated by Saruman and Grima, remember) when you yourself are facing a much bigger threat. It’s quite unreasonable to imply that the Elves were in the same boat as the Elves - certainly neither Rivendell nor Lindon was attacked at any point during the war at all. No, the Elves weren’t really proactive in the fight at all.

Morgil 28/Dec/2006 at 02:14 AM
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Oin...I have to shamefacedly admit I forgot about the Ents when writing that post. Thanks for the reminder.

But regarding the quote you cited, I was not contesting the argument that the Elves were lacking initiative, but that they were unwilling to fight. Whether its in an offensive or defensive capacity, engaging in combat indicates a willingness to fight. The Galadrim did not flee Lorien, but stayed and defended it, indicating that they were not pacifists. And following a defeated, confused enemy to inflict further damage is a sound strategy. 

Aslar Haechil 01/Jan/2007 at 12:23 PM
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You have to consider too, that to have a stable civilization capable of growth, technological advancement, and a pleasant social structure, militarys are needed to be kept as small as possible. A man actively serving in the military is one less person to tend to the fields or specialize in trade. The military would have had to consist of those people not needed to further the function of the kingdom, and with scirmishes taking place regularly, and a constant loss of life, it would have been hard to find many to spare.
Morgil 02/Jan/2007 at 12:34 AM
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Aslar Haechill...The considerations you list are not really applicable. Gondor not only had feudal levies, but permanent, professional forces like the Guards of the Citadel and other garrisons. As has already been established,  Gondor was a feudal realm with a need for as large a standing army as possible, due to the number of threats it was faced with. In the days of its power it maintained 2 permanent field armies, each possibly greater than its entire might at the time of the War of the Ring, and still had the population and resources to be the greatest and most powerful realm in Middle-earth.