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Old 04-25-2020, 06:24 PM   #1
The Mouth of Sauron
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The brave people of Ithilien

The Nazgul laid siege to Minas Ithil in FA 2000, with the city falling in FA 2002 and becoming Minas Morgul. Yet Ithilien remained populated by Gondorians until FA 2954 when Mount Doom burst into flame.

For people to live so close to the Nazgul and Minas Morgul for 952 years must have taken some courage, How did they manage to survive for so long?
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Old 04-26-2020, 05:45 AM   #2
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The Nazgűl don't appear to have done much after taking the city, for a long time.
Sauron was absent from Mordor until TA 2941, occupying Dol Guldur. The Ringwraiths would seem to have just needed a place to hide while they kept a watch on both Mordor and Gondor, secretly preparing for their master's eventual return. Away from Morgul itself, those dwelling in Ithilien were probably fairly safe then.

The Tale of Years entry for 2901 states:

Quote:
Most of the remaining inhabitants of Ithilien desert it owing to the attacks of Uruks of Mordor. The secret refuge of Henneth Annűn is built.
"Most" probably means women and children, with armed men remaining to resist the Orcs and keep a foothold.
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Old 04-26-2020, 07:28 AM   #3
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Are you thinking "haunted city"? Because I'm thinking haunted city.

If we assume the Nazgul didn't keep an army on hand, then what we have is a valley with a noxious stream, bordered by white flowers which may have been cursed(? the Gateway says this, but I don't remember it). If you're brave enough to follow the path - up towards the black mountains, towards the foul land of Mordor - you eventually come to a sickly-glowing empty city. Empty, that is, except for a shadow of fear thick enough to walk across. We know what the Nazgul's shadow does to people - now imagine a city festering in it for hundreds of years. Nobody would ever get close.

But outside the Valley of Sorcery (not sorcerers, note), Ithilien is still basically fine. Just Don't Go Into The Valley.

-- though actually, the Gateway seems very confused about the population of Ithilien. Check this out:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien Gateway: Ithilien
When Minas Ithil was captured by Mordor in T.A. 2002 it was renamed Minas Morgul, the Tower of Black Sorcery, a place of dread, and the remaining Gondorians deserted Ithilien.

During the Watchful Peace the lords of Morgul had secretly bred the Uruk-hai, and in T.A. 2475 these creatures assailed and overran Ithilien, captured Osgiliath. Boromir defeated the host of Morgul and regained Ithilien. However, from that time on no people dwelt in that region, and for Gondor, there was never full peace again until after the defeat of Sauron.

In the days of Steward Túrin II Ithilien was infested by Mordor-orcs and more people fled west of the Anduin; only the hardest people remained. Túrin built secret refuges around Ithilien for his soldiers.

In T.A. 2885, Ithilien was invaded in great strength of Haradrim from South Gondor. With the aid of King Folcwine of Rohan Túrin won a victory at the Crossings of Poros, though the princes Fastred and Folcred were slain.

The majority of the people of Ithilien fled across the Anduin to escape further attacks by Uruks from Mordor (T.A. 2901), but Túrin still kept scouts there, operating out of secret locations such as Henneth Annűn. Sauron returned to Mordor in T.A. 2951, and the remaining people started abandoning the area.
By my count, Ithilien was abandoned by Gondor in 2002, 2475, 2885, 2901, and 2951. Did they... like, keep going back? I feel that that would be a hard sell - "Hey kids, we're moving to the countryside! Don't worry, it's usually a couple hundred years between invasions of monsters and sorcerers, I'm sure we'll be fine!"

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Old 04-26-2020, 07:43 AM   #4
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As Benjamin Franklin said, "Don't believe everything you read on the internet."

Going back to the source (Appendix A & B) we have

2000 Nazgul besiege M Ithil
2002 City falls
2050 Earnur rides there and is lost

No mention of Ithilien's population so far

2475 Uruks take Osgiliath. Boromir I drives them back and re-takes Ithilien, but Osgiliath is ruined and deserted

2885 Haradrim invade Ithilien, but get their butts kicked
2901 (i.e. during Turin II's stewardship) Uruks drive out most of Ithilien's population. The tough, the stubborn and the stupid remain. Henneth Annun built
2942 Sauron returns to Mordor
2951 Sauron declares himself openly
2954 Mt Doom erupts. Last inhabitants flee Ithilien


So, basically for nine centuries, with one rocky bit around the halfway point, Ithilien and its people were pretty much fine. Just stay away from the spooky old city that radiates EVIL! like a frickin' neon warning sign.
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Old 04-27-2020, 08:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
By my count, Ithilien was abandoned by Gondor in 2002, 2475, 2885, 2901, and 2951. Did they... like, keep going back? I feel that that would be a hard sell - "Hey kids, we're moving to the countryside! Don't worry, it's usually a couple hundred years between invasions of monsters and sorcerers, I'm sure we'll be fine!"
Honestly, how many people are temporarily relocated out of cities that have been destroyed in a natural disaster and then go back as soon as the disaster is over, only for it to happen again a few years later? A few hundred years really makes you forget how bad it was the last time the Witch King was in town.
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Old 04-27-2020, 09:12 PM   #6
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Yes, multiple generations would have lived and died in Ithilien, apparently largely unmolested, between, for instance, the fall of Osgiliath (when Rohan still wasn't even founded yet!) and the Haradrim crossing the Poros in 2885. Survival doesn't appear to have been much of a struggle for multiple centuries at a time, given that Minas Morgul appears to have just sat there looking spooky for lengthy periods.
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Old 04-28-2020, 04:14 PM   #7
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In RL, can anyone think of a populated region in Europe that ever enjoyed four-plus centuries of uninterrupted peace?
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Old 04-29-2020, 02:29 AM   #8
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In RL, would a dynasty last as long as Aragorn's *and* return to more or less Emperor status after centuries as wandering chieftains?
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
In RL, can anyone think of a populated region in Europe that ever enjoyed four-plus centuries of uninterrupted peace?
First off, this is an excellent point; sometimes I forget how short human generations actually are!

Secondly: Peace, or freedom from invasion? I know they call it the Watchful Peace, but I suspect Gondor still squabbled with Umbar, so Ithilien soldiers would still have gone off to war. For that matter, they were probably still in border skirmishes in South Gondor - and with Mordor still orc-infested, I can't imagine there weren't raiding parties bopping around.

For Europe, though: Wales springs to mind. I don't know whether there was any action there during the English Civil Wars, but I don't think anything happened after that until... oh, WWI zeppelin bombings, maybe? That's... wait, no, that's actually only 250 years. Hmm. Apparently I'm losing track of how long centuries are, too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pervinca Took View Post
In RL, would a dynasty last as long as Aragorn's *and* return to more or less Emperor status after centuries as wandering chieftains?
Okay, now I want to know what the longest a real dynasty was 'out of power' for was... the question that springs to mind is whether Augustus (or any other Roman Emperor) claimed descent from Romulus (or indeed any of the other kings). That would be a very analogous situation, given that the Republic lasted some 500 years.

Alternately: the Solominic Dynasty of Ethiopia is held to have actually begun around 900 CE, but claimed its authority from the Biblical King Solomon, ca. 900 BCE. That's a nearly 2000 year gap, and involves a priestly lineage very similar to Aragorn's.

The main difference is that nobody really believes it, whereas Gondor seems to uncritically accept Aragorn's claim. I suppose when you have a bunch of immortals wandering around who can vouch for his entire family tree, this sort of thing gets a bit easier...

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Old 04-29-2020, 01:49 PM   #10
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Mind you, given the length of a Numenoran royal generation, the comparable span of RL generations would only cover ~half as many years. And the Jacobites are still pushing Franz von Bayern well over 300 years after James II was run off.
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Old 07-09-2020, 01:17 PM   #11
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It was good land, thus “the garden of Gondor” (Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit). I could see the people wanting to do all they could to be there.
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