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Old 01-30-2009, 10:47 PM   #1
Kuruharan
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Boots The Way We War

I was playing The Fourth Age the other day when something hit me.

I think Tolkien got the dwarven way of war all wrong.

I think in a way he stumbled on this little bit of an issue himself in the battle of the Hornburg when he has Gimli say

but I looked on the hillmen and they seemed overlarge for me

The axe is not exactly a handy weapon for fighting people taller than you are as you expose yourself even more when you make your stroke.

I think a better way would have been if the dwarves fought more along the lines of the Roman legionaries whose fighting style was made to order (literally) for short people fighting taller ones.

There is some evidence of dwarven equipment of this typespeaking of the dwarves of the Iron Hills

but each of them had a short broad sword at his side and a round shield slung at his back

Now Im not suggesting that there is really anything in that to support my idea. Im presenting this as an idea that I had rather than something that is in any way supported by Tolkien.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:31 AM   #2
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That is a very interesting topic. How did the dwarves fight? We know nothing other then they were good in fighting below ground. What about the battles above ground? The Battle of Azanulbizar was very costly for the dwarves, because the orcs held the high ground and the greater numbers. However, the dwarves fought bravely despite all odds and eventually won the battle. In the Battle of Five Armies 500 Dain's dwarves charged on a combined host of elves and men, who again had the high ground. If it weren't for the goblins' attack, there would be another massacre.

Apparently the dwarves here didn't care much for the odds or enemy's superiority in numbers (or even in size for that matter). I always imagined the dwarves fighting the enemy with no more than sheer bravery, endurance and physical strength. So in my opinion it would be no problem for a band of dwarves to beat a band of hillmen or whomever. Maybe Gimli didn't attack them just because there were no more dwarves around. And if there were, I'm sure they would have beaten the Dunlendings. I thought of dwarves as very strong, possibly as strong as the hillmen, and that they do not retreat. Ever. Quite the contrast of Romans, who were physically weaker then the barbarians. And they retreated when outnumbered.
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:39 AM   #3
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In regards to Dain's folk...

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In battle they wielded heavy two-handed mattocks; but each of them had also a short broad sword at his side and a roundshield at his back.
Tolkien never claimed all dwarves used axes, or even used them generally in battle, that is an accretion piled on Tolkien lore from elsewhere (like dwarves speaking in a Scot's accent, laddie). Mattocks are a miner's tool, and would be readily available to any dwarf (axes not being of much use in the type of subterranean manses dwarves engineered). Also, there is a tradition of dwarvish sword-making that goes back to Telchar of Nogrod.
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:08 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BGreg View Post
Apparently the dwarves here didn't care much for the odds or enemy's superiority in numbers (or even in size for that matter). I always imagined the dwarves fighting the enemy with no more than sheer bravery, endurance and physical strength. So in my opinion it would be no problem for a band of dwarves to beat a band of hillmen or whomever. Maybe Gimli didn't attack them just because there were no more dwarves around. And if there were, I'm sure they would have beaten the Dunlendings. I thought of dwarves as very strong, possibly as strong as the hillmen, and that they do not retreat. Ever. Quite the contrast of Romans, who were physically weaker then the barbarians. And they retreated when outnumbered.
I agree. I think the Dwarves usually won because of their ferocity and toughness (and let's not forget about their good armor - and also the quality of their weapons, which was superior to the simple things made by Men, or even Orcs). Gimli very likely didn't have that much experience with fighting Men - tall Men - even before, he said something of similar sort to omer (that he would chop his head off, if only it was a bit lower - it was a sort of saying, but still probably reflected what he thought. Of course, not to mention that against a mounted opponent, it would have to be something completely different).

As for when he didn't attack the Dunlanders, another thing was probably simply that he did not want to interfere when tall men were fighting tall men - he was not coordinated with omer and Aragorn, he could be useful, but he could also make a mess. Had he been with a group of Dwarves, they would all use similar tactics in battle and it would have been very different.

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Tolkien never claimed all dwarves used axes, or even used them generally in battle, that is an accretion piled on Tolkien lore from elsewhere (like dwarves speaking in a Scot's accent, laddie). Mattocks are a miner's tool, and would be readily available to any dwarf (axes not being of much use in the type of subterranean manses dwarves engineered). Also, there is a tradition of dwarvish sword-making that goes back to Telchar of Nogrod.
Exactly. I believe this is never emphasised strongly enough. Gimli had an axe, and there was also some Durin's Axe etc., but that by no means suggests that Dwarves were using axes overall. We don't know any legends about Durin, but perhaps he just stumbled upon an axe somewhere in his youth and became skilled with this weapon, and using an axe was sort of specialisation thing for the Dwarves, a symbol of honor, something pointing towards their ancestor (and perhaps this concerned only the tribe of Durin?). Maybe it was a kind of special fighter thing, really, just like, I can't recall any good example from the Middle Ages now, but for example among the ancient Israeli warriors there has been a caste of special fighters trained to fight left-handedly, or such, you have all sorts of special groups of warriors trained to fight with some unusual weapon or in some unusual style throughout the cultures and times, so perhaps the Dwarven axemen were something of that sort, too? And Gimli (and Din, for example - battle of Azanulbizar) were of that sort too. Certainly they were both quite young, but skilful with that, so perhaps indeed they were trained since their youth?

Certainly the Dwarves used axes above ground, though: around their settlements and cities, they used them to get wood (as Aul says). Treebeard and people from other cultures seemed to have some experience with Dwarves using axes, so it must not have been that unusual: however, I would like to propose here that it supports my theory about the axes being an item used by a special caste of warriors by that it became something specific for the Dwarves, and thus well known. Meaning: in a battle where you saw some Dwarves, let's say 90% of them would have had some other weapons, but then there would be this special group of axemen (or perhaps individuals), but they would be so skilled in their use of the axes, that in some way it will make the impression (I have no idea how they could use the axes to really be so much feared - I am no weapon specialist, somebody else tell us what could that be, if it could) and people will forever remember "yea, Dwarves, these are those with the axes". The same way as people in the Middle Ages remembered the longbowmen or such, even though of course the whole army was not composed of longbowmen.

Another possibility is that Dwarves using axes (i.e. normal woodcutters) in Beleriand were at some times attacked, and they just had to learn to use axes for their defense. And since they were probably the few Dwarves that other races have ever seen (others were hidden underground all the time), they simply learned to associate Dwarves with axes (since mostly every Dwarf they have seen had an axe).
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:27 AM   #5
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One thing I have been wondering about, ever since the Dwarf vs. Balrog thread: Is there any evidence that the Dwarves used distance weapons of any kind? Bows, javelins, catapult, trebuchet, slingshot, whatever? If not, that might have some bearing on the way they fight, I should think. Just wondering....
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:13 AM   #6
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Tolkien never claimed all dwarves used axes, or even used them generally in battle, that is an accretion piled on Tolkien lore from elsewhere (like dwarves speaking in a Scot's accent, laddie).
I'm not sure I agree with that. I think we do have evidence that Tolkien thought of the axe as being the primary dwarven weapon.

Gimli used an axe (obviously). Thorin used an axe at the Battle of Five Armies and Azanulbizar. When speaking of Thorin's condition in exile Tolkien used the phrase "the axes of his people were few." The dwarves whalloped Glaurung with "their great axes."

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I can't recall any good example from the Middle Ages now, but for example among the ancient Israeli warriors there has been a caste of special fighters trained to fight left-handedly, or such, you have all sorts of special groups of warriors trained to fight with some unusual weapon or in some unusual style throughout the cultures and times, so perhaps the Dwarven axemen were something of that sort, too?
It is an interesting theory. I'm not sure its one I can agree with, but it is interesting.

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Is there any evidence that the Dwarves used distance weapons of any kind? Bows, javelins, catapult, trebuchet, slingshot, whatever?
Thorin used a bow that just happeend to be lying around (implying that the dwarves kept stockpiles of them to use) to shoot at the messenger. The dwarves did use (without much success) the bows Beorn gave them...which I think has largely led to the stereotype that dwarves can't use bows effectively.

Slings would be an interesting weapon for dwarves to use if they were incapable of using a bow effectively, but I don't think there is a single example in Tolkien of a sling being used.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
Gimli used an axe (obviously). Thorin used an axe at the Battle of Five Armies and Azanulbizar. When speaking of Thorin's condition in exile Tolkien used the phrase "the axes of his people were few." The dwarves whalloped Glaurung with "their great axes."
Well, as for the Thorin thing, that could be a very nice way of Dwarven phrasing, a saying, if the axes were something specific. It would only emphasise that Thorin was not doing very well, he "did not reach the status of nobility" in the exile, beside that his men just were small in numbers. Of course, here I am unleashing my imagination.

As for the other occassions, Glaurung - that could be one of these occassions when the "special forces" with axes managed to do something.

And in either case, we have the evidence of the Battle of the Five Armies, like Morth pointed out - I believe the equipment of a regular soldier - i.e. not the elite, but also not the random "armed civilians" - could have been like the one described there.

As for the missile weapons, I would believe the Dwarves would be capable of using bows at least, like Kuru said, and I think it's not necessary that they would be bad in it - but one has to bear in mind that the primary fighting condition for a Dwarf would be underground. And, except for some really large underground caverns or long corridors, not mentioning the darkness, the missile weapons are not really built for that.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:20 PM   #8
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I'm pretty sure the dwarves did use missile weapons. How else would they defend the Bridge of Khazad-dum, which seems to be built exactly to be defended with arrows.
Of course, there would be axe-wielding dwarves on the western end, but archers were certainly needed to pepper the attackers and not to allow them to form their own bowmen line on the eastern side of the bridge.

Besides, Thorin was pretty accurate with a bow, killing that deer over the Enchanted Stream, and firing an arrow directly to the messenger's shield. He didn't mean to kill him, I'm sure. Why the other dwarves weren't succesful shooting the animals in Mirkwood, I cannot say. Perhaps something was afoul with the squirrels there.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:28 PM   #9
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"...the battle cry which (Gimli) uttered in the siege of the Hornburg. That at least was not secret, and had been heard on many a field since the world was young. Baruk Khazad! Khazad aimenu! 'Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!'" - LotR Appendix F
My feeling is that the axe is the favoured weapon - though there are many kinds of war/battle-axe http://www.probertencyclopaedia.com/j/ba/BATTLE-AXE.HTM & most can be thrown - some were designed for that purpose. I don't see that the height of an opponent comes into it - you just need a longer haft to extend your reach.

None of which rules out the use of other weaponry - the sword was always the weapon of a knight, even down to the fifteenth century, when development of plate armour had rendered it all but useless against all other knights. The sword was the symbolic weapon of a knight - but in battle he would be more likely to use a pollaxe, battle hammer or shortened lance, etc.

The problem with swords is that the Dwarves are too short to use anything longer than a foot or two, which would allow their enemies to get too close. And a long hafted axe is probably the ideal weapon for bringing an enemy down to your size - you just cut them off at the knees.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:47 PM   #10
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I would think a devastating dwarf weapon,
especially for use against cavalry would be
something akin to the Swiss halberd.
Obviously shortened for Middle-earth dwarf use.
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[A halberd (also called halbert or Swiss voulge) is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word halberd comes from the German words Halm (staff), and Barte (axe). The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It always has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants. It is very similar to certain forms of the voulge in design and usage. The halberd was 1.5 to 1.8 meters (4 to 6 feet) long.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Tuor in Gondolin View Post
I would think a devastating dwarf weapon,
especially for use against cavalry would be
something like the Swiss halberd.
I think this is an important point - as I've indicated, the term 'axe' covers a wide range of bladed weapons, & the halberd/pollaxe 'hook' could be used to bring an orc off a warg, but equally could be used to hook a taller opponent around the neck or leg & bring them down to earth, where they could be quickly dispatched.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tuor in Gondolin View Post
I would think a devastating dwarf weapon,
especially for use against cavalry would be
something akin to the Swiss halberd.
Obviously shortened for Middle-earth dwarf use.
Ha, yes, that actually sounds good. Indeed, it would have been shortened a lot, though.

Still, we have to count on the one thing - that the battle against tall Men or even cavalry, and archery combat were really not regular forms of battle for the Dwarves. 90% of their battles were against Orcs and underground. Sure, as BGreg says, circumstances like Durin's bridge supported the use of ranged weapons, but these were rare cases. The Dwarves did for sure use bows, they knew how to use them - but most of their time, they simply were not in the circumstances to even use them. Though I believe they made sure, as dilligent as they were, to train their own kin to use them to the best of their ability just for the case when it would be handy.
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Old 01-31-2009, 01:14 PM   #13
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Another point to be considered when looking at possible types of weapon - on a medieval battlefield the main concern was taking your opponent out of action - it didn't matter whether or not you killed them, only that they couldn't kill you. So, a quick death in battle was often the exception rather than the rule (hence the 'misericorde' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misericorde_(weapon) carried by warriors to dispatch wounded foes with a quick stab through the eye socket into the brain after the main fighting was over). A heavy weapon like an axe will do that more quickly & effectively than a sword (short or long), particularly if your opponent is wearing armour - an axe or hammer blow would break bones even beneath plate armour, let alone mail.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:00 PM   #14
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It would only emphasise that Thorin was not doing very well, he "did not reach the status of nobility" in the exile
An interesting interpretation.

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"...the battle cry which (Gimli) uttered in the siege of the Hornburg. That at least was not secret, and had been heard on many a field since the world was young. Baruk Khazad! Khazad aimenu! 'Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!'" - LotR Appendix F


I'd forgotten that one.

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The problem with swords is that the Dwarves are too short to use anything longer than a foot or two, which would allow their enemies to get too close.
That's where the Roman fighting method comes into play. Hunkering down behind a big shield and quickly punching out with a short sword (stabbing not slicing).

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I would think a devastating dwarf weapon,
especially for use against cavalry would be
something akin to the Swiss halberd.
Obviously shortened for Middle-earth dwarf use.
Also a valid idea.

Quote:
Ha, yes, that actually sounds good. Indeed, it would have been shortened a lot, though.
Maybe, although dwarven strength might allow them to manage weapons that might at first glance look like they were too long.

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Old 01-31-2009, 03:13 PM   #15
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That's where the Roman fighting method comes into play. Hunkering down behind a big shield and quickly punching out with a short sword (stabbing not slicing).
To my mind that's too 'organised' & regimented an approach for Dwarves - unless in extremis. I have always seen the Dwarves as more 'Berserker' in their approach to battle - charging at their enemies & screaming their famous battle-cry. Shields would be worn protectively across the back in battle, leaving both arms free to swing an axe/shoot a bow. Of course, if they had developed plate armour sufficiently there would be no need for shields at all.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:50 PM   #16
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Ditto. An axe requires a fair bit of room, especially since (if Gimli is representative) they favored a horizontal swing.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:51 PM   #17
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Quote:
By Davem: To my mind that's too 'organised' & regimented an approach for Dwarves - unless in extremis. I have always seen the Dwarves as more 'Berserker' in their approach to battle - charging at their enemies & screaming their famous battle-cry.
A classic example (in tactics and in short-term
positive results) being Thorin's charge at the
Battle of Five Armies.

Quote:
Of course, if they had developed plate armour sufficiently there would be no need for shields at all.
But another argument against dwarf open field
warfare could be their use of chain mail.
Even as good as mithrail mail was, it wouldn't help
with a key problem with chain mail, internal
injuries inflicted by either projectile weapons or heavy
swords.
Btw, meaning Frodo in Moria was either very lucky or hobbits
were really tough.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:52 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by davem View Post
To my mind that's too 'organised' & regimented an approach for Dwarves - unless in extremis. I have always seen the Dwarves as more 'Berserker' in their approach to battle - charging at their enemies & screaming their famous battle-cry. Shields would be worn protectively across the back in battle, leaving both arms free to swing an axe/shoot a bow. Of course, if they had developed plate armour sufficiently there would be no need for shields at all.
That is a valid interpretation. However, mine is rather different as I do think the dwarves were more regimented and organized than the berzerker model, even given their descriptions in Tolkien as being axe-wielding.

However, when it comes down to interpretations like this on rather sparse evidence one is as good as another.

Quote:
But another argument against dwarf open field
warfare could be their use of chain mail.
Even as good as mithrail mail was, it wouldn't help
with a key problem with chain mail, internal
injuries inflicted by either projectilee weapons or heavy
swords.
The problems of chain mail are true, but I don't recall any place where anything more advanced is described anywhere in Tolkien. It would have been a problem everyone was dealing with.

Last edited by Kuruharan; 01-31-2009 at 04:54 PM. Reason: Everybody posted at once.
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Thorin used a bow that just happeend to be lying around (implying that the dwarves kept stockpiles of them to use) to shoot at the messenger. The dwarves did use (without much success) the bows Beorn gave them...which I think has largely led to the stereotype that dwarves can't use bows effectively.

Slings would be an interesting weapon for dwarves to use if they were incapable of using a bow effectively, but I don't think there is a single example in Tolkien of a sling being used.
Quote:
Thorin seized a bow of horn and shot an arrow at the speaker. It smote into his shield and stuck there quivering.
A pretty good shot, indicative of a dwarf who had used a bow previously.

As far as slings, I thought I remembered Hobbits using slings, but apparently they only were deadly accurate at throwing things (in a cursory glance over the books, I couldn't find anything else of value sling-wise).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc
And in either case, we have the evidence of the Battle of the Five Armies, like Morth pointed out - I believe the equipment of a regular soldier - i.e. not the elite, but also not the random "armed civilians" - could have been like the one described there.
Well, 500 dwarves of the Iron Mountains under Dain used mattocks and sword, so it is evident that the use of axes was not universal in battle among dwarves. Perhaps it was a familial thing, with the Iron Hill folk preferring mattocks over the Erebor folks use of axes (and as Gimli's father was Gloin of Erebor, he would follow his direct kin's example).
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Old 01-31-2009, 06:34 PM   #20
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Perhaps it was a familial thing, with the Iron Hill folk preferring mattocks over the Erebor folks use of axes
I wonder if there was an interesting story behind that.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:38 PM   #21
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned in this catalogue of Dwarven battle-preferences harkens back to the First Age. From the Silmarillion:

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Originally Posted by Of the Sindar
Therefore he called upon Denethor; and the Elves came in force from Region beyond Aros and from Ossiriand, and fought the first battle in the Wars of Beleriand. And the eastern host of the Orcs was taken between the armies of the Eldar, north of the Andram and midway between Aros and Gelion, and there they were utterly defeated, and those that fled north from the great slaughter were waylaid by the axes of the Naugrim that issued from Mount Dolmed: few indeed returned to Angband.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the Fifth Battle, Nirnaeth Arnoediad
And but for them Glaurung and his brood would have withered all that was left of the Noldor. But the Naugrim made a circle about him when he assailed them, and even his mighty armour was not full proof against the blows of their great axes; and when in his rage Glaurung turned and struck down Azaghal, Lord of Belegost, and crawled over him, with his last stroke Azaghal drove a knife into his belly, and so wounded him that he fled the field, and the beasts of Angband in dismay followed after him.
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Originally Posted by Of Trin Turambar
But now at last they had dwindled and died out of Middle-earth, all save Mm and his two sons; and Mm was old even in the reckoning of Dwarves, old and forgotten. And in his halls the smithies were idle, and the axes rusted, and their name was remembered only in ancient tales of Doriath and Nargothrond.

Though not necessarily conclusive, these texts definitely support the supposition that the axe was the main weapon of the Dwarves--and it is a case outside Durin's Line. It's also interesting to note that the armouries of Thingol were partially filled by Dwarven smiths, listing axes as first among the weapons of the Sindar's armoury.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the Sindar
At this time therefore the Sindar were well-armed, and they drove off all creatures of evil, and had peace again; but Thingol's armouries were stored with axes and with spears and swords, and tall helms, and long coats of bright mail; for the hauberks of the Dwarves were so fashioned that they rusted not but shone ever as if they were new-burnished. And that proved well for Thingol in the time that was to come.
Indeed, it seems to me that the Sindar have a preference for axes as their chief weapon, and since they learned the making of weapons not from the Noldor but from the Naugrim, this may be why. As evidence of the Sindar's preference:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
Then Beleg Strongbow, chief of the marchwardens of Thingol, brought great strength of the Sindar armed with axes into Brethil; and issuing from the deeps of the forest Halmir and Beleg took an Orc-legion at unawares and destroyed it
Actually, from a related quote, it seems that the Halethrim, the people of Halmir, had a predilection for axes too... but this would seem natural, given that they were a nation of foresters:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the Fifth Battle, Nirnaeth Arnoediad
. In the forest of Brethil Halmir, lord of the People of Haleth, gathered his men, and they whetted their axes; but Halmir died ere the war came, and Haldir his son ruled that people.
And, apart from a mention of the Noldor forging axes when they were busy with their initial forging of weapons in the unrest in Valinor incited by Melkor, that's it that I could find for axes in the Silmarillion. It definitely seems to show a Dwarven bias for the weapon.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:34 PM   #22
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Question A thought/query on axes...

This may come as a shock to some...but I'm not particularly up on my metalsmithing.

But it seems to me that an axe would be a lot easier to make than say a sword.

Kind of odd for a race that prides itself on its metalsmithery.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:38 PM   #23
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Since no one's mentioned it yet, I'd like to say that the thread title, "The Way We War" is punnishly delicious and I applaud the author, Kuruharan.
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:57 AM   #24
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This may come as a shock to some...but I'm not particularly up on my metalsmithing.

But it seems to me that an axe would be a lot easier to make than say a sword.

Kind of odd for a race that prides itself on its metalsmithery.
Depends on the kind of axe. If you look at the pic I linked to in my first post you'll see a number of variations. aside from the main blade you could have a hook or hammerhead on the back & a spike on the end (or both ends) of the haft.

A sword is an effective weapon against an unarmoured opponent, but its slashing effect is useless against mail, Brigandine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigandine or even a basic Jack http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambeson. An axe has the advantage over a sword in that its heavier blade (as has been noted) will break bones or damage internal organs even when there is no penetration. And swords blunt (& bend) more easily than an axe or battle hammer. And we're talking actual combat here, so its all to do with effectiveness. A knight may have carried a sword for all kinds of symbolic reasons (it was the weapon of a knight, as I said, & the blade & hilts formed a nice 'Cross' shape for a Christian Knight) but on the field, particularly in the late medieval period when the development of plate armour had reached its apogee, it was fairly useless, & most knights would favour something with more weight & power like a poleaxe or battlehammer - remember, on the field you're not concerned with killing your opponents so much as with taking them out of the fight (they can be left to die, or despatched afterwards with a dagger). You'd go for something heavy which would do the job in as few blows as possible so that you could move on to the next guy.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:28 AM   #25
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Well, other than what has been said, I think that Tolkien preferred axes, or used them as a symbol of power.

I mean, the dwarves (after the first age Noldor and debatably during the time of the first age Noldor) were the best craftsmen around, so it would make sense that they would create the best weapons. After all, they created the best armour ever, and the best non-magical swords as well (not to mention the fact that El learned his sword-making from the dwarves too). It would also follow that after such experience, they would make the best weapons possible for themselves.

Also Tuor, who was arguably one of the greatest Men of all time, wieled an axe.


Just some thoughts from your friendly neighbourhood Enw.
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Old 02-01-2009, 06:18 PM   #26
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Ha, yes, that actually sounds good. Indeed, it would have been shortened a lot, though.
I don't see why. Thorin (by the way, I love that everyone is using him as an analogy so often) wielded Orcrist, an elven sword, which was made to fit the stature of a tall elven king.

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Originally Posted by Davem
An axe has the advantage over a sword in that its heavier blade (as has been noted) will break bones or damage internal organs even when there is no penetration. And swords blunt (& bend) more easily than an axe or battle hammer.
Exactly! thank you Davem for making that point. Not only does the axe have the power to wound its opponents upon the battle field, but it can also be crafted into different uses. As it has been mentioned, a Dwarf could take up a halberd for against calvary such as warg riders and wain riders; or a Dwarf could take up a small throwing axe (as seen in the trilogy) or a larger Francisca type axe.

Quote:
Perhaps it was a familial thing, with the Iron Hill folk preferring mattocks over the Erebor folks use of axes.
It seems to be that this just proves that the Dwarves were in a hurry to get to Erebor and to aid Thorin. Mustering an army of 500 Dwarves in so short a time is no small feat and I'm sure they could not all be armed in time, ergo they would grab the closest fighting tool. What is a miners favorite tool (I mean besides dynamite): a pickaxe, or a mattock. Some interesting things about a mattock is that it has a flat edge for scooping at dirt and a pointed end (sometimes three pronged). With that sharp end on it, a Dwarf could easily pierce through plate and shield alike.

Continuing Eonwe's thought about Tuor, it is also worth noting that the most valiant and numerous house of the elves of Gondolin were the house of the House of the Hammer(Hammer of Wrath). They were great smiths and craftsmen, and revered Aul. In battle they carried great maces like hammers, and heavy shields, for they had strong arms. The device of this people was the Stricken Anvil, and a hammer that smites sparks about it; this was set upon their shields, for red gold and black iron was their delight. So again we see the relationship between smiths and Aul, to whom the Dwarves were obviously close to, and their favored weapon: the mace, or axe.

I would have to agree with those who say that Dwarves have the nature to go berserk in battle instead of fighting Roman style. The warriors of The House of the Hammer were certainly berserk in their fighting style and the reference to the Dwarves of the Iron Hills don't strike me as the organized type. Of course, if the Dwarves were to be fighting in an organized fashion, the Roman/Greek style would be the one that would make the most sense.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:24 PM   #27
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It seems to be that this just proves that the Dwarves were in a hurry to get to Erebor and to aid Thorin. Mustering an army of 500 Dwarves in so short a time is no small feat and I'm sure they could not all be armed in time, ergo they would grab the closest fighting tool.
So, you're saying that they had no time to grab their axes, but had time to grab their short swords and shields and don their iron helmets and their chain mail hauberks and mail hose?

Ummm...no, Groin.

Mattocks would seem to be the preferred weapon for the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, with a sword as an auxiliary stabbing weapon for close quarter combat.
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:34 PM   #28
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I don't see why. Thorin (by the way, I love that everyone is using him as an analogy so often) wielded Orcrist, an elven sword, which was made to fit the stature of a tall elven king.
A very good point.

It must be remembered that Tolkien's dwarves were not as short as people tend to think they were.

They were certainly much taller than Lewis' dwarfs, for example.

Quote:
I would have to agree with those who say that Dwarves have the nature to go berserk in battle instead of fighting Roman style. The warriors of The House of the Hammer were certainly berserk in their fighting style and the reference to the Dwarves of the Iron Hills don't strike me as the organized type. Of course, if the Dwarves were to be fighting in an organized fashion, the Roman/Greek style would be the one that would make the most sense.
Not sure that I see the connection there between the House of the Hammer and the dwarven fighting style. True there is the reverance for Aule and smithcraft, but other than that elves and dwarves tended to be very different peoples.

I don't think a berzerk fighting style would serve the dwarves very well given their generally shorter stature than their foes...yes I remember what I said above.
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:59 AM   #29
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A very good point.

It must be remembered that Tolkien's dwarves were not as short as people tend to think they were.
Even if Thorin was about 3-4 feet tall he would still have been capable of using a full size (3-3 1/2 ft sword) - take a look at this piece on Long sword fighting, particularly the bottom two pictures http://www.thearma.org/essays/Talhoffer/HT-Web.htm
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:59 AM   #30
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Not only does the axe have the power to wound its opponents upon the battle field, but it can also be crafted into different uses. As it has been mentioned, a Dwarf could take up a halberd for against calvary such as warg riders and wain riders; or a Dwarf could take up a small throwing axe (as seen in the trilogy) or a larger Francisca type axe.
Exactly, and as I was saying, Dwarves would have no problem making such weapons (or ones more adjusted to their way of fighting, or even just better- think they way we'd have gone with no gunpowder/explosives/greek fire). And as they are so strong and hardy, I suppose they could carry heavy weapons that humans of a similar size (or really tall hobbits) couldn't, and not get tired.

On Dain's small army, if you think about, mattocks aren't actually that bad for fighting with. They can cause crush injuries through armour, and could also probably pierce it.

I like the image of them being beserker warriors (not actually wearing bear skins, or being Beorn, but you ge t the idea), but I think they'd be a bit more organised (though not like the Roman and Greek phalanxes.
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:35 PM   #31
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So, you're saying that they had no time to grab their axes, but had time to grab their short swords and shields and don their iron helmets and their chain mail hauberks and mail hose?
You seem to be doing just fine assuming what I said, why ask? Dont assume. But you are right about the Iron Hill Dwarfs using Mattocks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
I don't think a berzerk fighting style would serve the dwarves very well given their generally shorter stature than their foes...yes I remember what I said above.
One reason why I think that the Dwarf style of fighting would be more independent (I that is a better style to describe them than berserk) is the need for shields used by the Romans and Greeks. While it mentions the use of shields with the Dwarfs of the Iron Hills (and let us not forget Thorin Oakenshield) the book also mentions the use of two handed weapons. How are Dwarfs suppose to fight in an organized fashion with no means of defense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe
On Dain's small army, if you think about, mattocks aren't actually that bad for fighting with. They can cause crush injuries through armour, and could also probably pierce it.
Exactly, Nain the son of Gror used a mattock in his duel with Azog. So the mattock must have been somewhat sophisticated for a King to have used it. Though, Dain II Ironfoot is described as wielding a red axe so the use of a mattock wasnt universal with Iron Hill Dwarfs.

In my opinion, the battle axe is an offensive weapon made for keeping your foes at bay. Unlike the sword, it does not allow for stabbing (well you can, as seen by the movie Gimli) and needs to be swung or chopped in order to hit your foe. If the Dwarfs are to fight in groups they would constantly be in danger of hitting one another.
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:49 PM   #32
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Exactly, Nain the son of Gror used a mattock in his duel with Azog. So the mattock must have been somewhat sophisticated for a King to have used it. .
Of course, the 'mattock' may not have been the actual mining/digging implement, but a weapon developed from it, as the medieval 'Bill' grew out of the agricultural implement of the same name http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_(weapon). In other words, I suspect that the 'mattock' used could well have been a weapon based on the traditional mattock because that had a symbolic meaning to the dwarves, but with 'extras' - metal strips down the haft to prevent it being cut through, top spike, so that you'd end up with something similar to the war hammer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_hammer.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:35 PM   #33
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Even if Thorin was about 3-4 feet tall he would still have been capable of using a full size (3-3 1/2 ft sword)
Hobbits were 3-4 feet, and LotR Prologue says they were smaller than Dwarves. Personally, I imagine Tolkien's Dwarves as something between 4 and 5 feet (maybe a little closer to 5), which would mean that an exceptionally tall Dwarf might well pass as an exceptionally short Man (of non-Numenorean descent); and even an average-sized Dwarf would be able to use a Mannish or Elven sword like a claymore.

As for missile weapons, I wonder whether Dwarves had crossbows. If anybody in Middle-Earth had discovered this rather advanced weapons technology, I'd guess it would be Aule's inventive children. (On the other hand, this may well be just an ide fixe left over from countless hours of playing Elder Scrolls III and IV, where a Dwemer crossbow was one of the best ranged weapons you could get your hands on...)

Last not least, I'm not convinced that most of the Dwarves' fighting was being done underground. Unless they were really busy fighting nameless things gnawing at the roots of the world all the time, I'd rather think that any battle that had them facing the enemy within their own subterranean homes was already half lost. Wouldn't they do their damnedest to repel any enemy way before they came close to their gates?
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:35 PM   #34
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Hobbits were 2-3 feet (except Merry and Pippin), NOT 3-4 feet.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:54 PM   #35
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While it mentions the use of shields with the Dwarfs of the Iron Hills (and let us not forget Thorin Oakenshield) the book also mentions the use of two handed weapons. How are Dwarfs suppose to fight in an organized fashion with no means of defense.
I wouldn't propose that they do at all. However, the shield appears to have been a fairly standard piece of dwarven equipment. Their standard practice may well have been to swap back and forth.

Quote:
Unlike the sword, it does not allow for stabbing (well you can, as seen by the movie Gimli) and needs to be swung or chopped in order to hit your foe. If the Dwarfs are to fight in groups they would constantly be in danger of hitting one another.
However, when you are shorter and outnumbered, which they ususally were, fighting individually isn't a prudent course to pursue.

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I wonder whether Dwarves had crossbows.
Never any reference to them in the books.

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Hobbits were 2-3 feet
Two feet...that seems just a bit too small.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:16 PM   #36
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Pipe HobbitHeight

As I recall, a range of four feet max down to two feet min, and commonly three to three-six.

From the prologue:

Quote:
For they are a little people, smaller than Dwarves: less stout and stocky, that is, even when they are not actually much shorter. Their height is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our measure. They seldom now reach three feet; but they have dwindled, they say, and in ancient days they were taller. According to the Red Book, Bandobras Took (Bullroarer), son of Isengrim the Second, was four foot five and able to ride a horse. He was surpassed in all Hobbit records only by two famous characters of old; but that curious matter is dealt with in this book.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:45 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pitchwife
Last not least, I'm not convinced that most of the Dwarves' fighting was being done underground. Unless they were really busy fighting nameless things gnawing at the roots of the world all the time, I'd rather think that any battle that had them facing the enemy within their own subterranean homes was already half lost. Wouldn't they do their damnedest to repel any enemy way before they came close to their gates?
I believe there were numerous dwarf/orc battles fought
underground.

LOTR, Appendix A
Quote:
Thrain...stood up and said: 'This cannot be borne!'
That was the beginning of the War of the Dwarves and the
Orcs, which was long and deadly, and fought for the most
part in deep places beneath the earth.
...When all was ready they assailed and sacked one by one
all the strongholds of the Orcs that they could find from Gundabad
to the Gladden. Both sides were pitiless, and there was death
and cruel deeds by dark and by light. But the Dwarves had the
victory through their strength and their matchless weapons,
and the fire of their anger, as they hunted for Azog in every
den under mountain.
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:49 AM   #38
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...even an average-sized Dwarf would be able to use a Mannish or Elven sword like a claymore.
I though a claymore was a super-sized sword, at least double the size and weight of a standard longsword, and only usable by unusally large and strong men.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:36 AM   #39
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I though a claymore was a super-sized sword, at least double the size and weight of a standard longsword, and only usable by unusally large and strong men.
I believe Pitchwife was referring to an average-size sword seeming like a claymore in the hands of a dwarf; rather like Sting -- a knife -- seemed to be a short sword in the hands of Bilbo.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:31 AM   #40
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I dunno- I think I can imagine Dwarves making and deploying curved plastic housings packed with C-4 and shrapnel, detonatable either by remote command or tripwire.......
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Last edited by William Cloud Hicklin; 02-03-2009 at 10:00 AM.
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