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Old 07-21-2016, 12:36 AM   #41
Zigūr
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Originally Posted by Marwhini View Post
We do have a few statements, for instance, that Khamūl ruled over the East of Rhūn.
I can't find statements to this effect. Khamūl was an Easterling, but no reference to him in Unfinished Tales, which, to the best of my knowledge, is the only text in which he is named, says that he ruled in Rhūn, only that he was "the Shadow of the East" and "the Black Easterling", but in command of Dol Guldur.
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Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
Another thought regarding Mordor: I can't really prove it with quotes but I get the distinct impression that Saurons Rule, the "political structure" of his empire in the third age is also "medieval", that is to say feudal, indirect and "looser" than in the second age.
An interesting thought, and if I may focus on the "modernity" question (rather than too much speculation on things internal to the narrative) we might imagine Sauron having a "sphere of influence", as it were, in a like manner to the way in which the world was carved up among the Allies towards the end of the Second World War (or as had been the case when the world was more or less divided between eight Great Powers before the First).

This seems heavily implied by the Mouth of Sauron's "terms" for Middle-earth west of Anduin should the Free Peoples have surrendered to Sauron: a "tributary" governed from a strong place, in this case Isengard, which is simply an outpost or colonial headquarters of a foreign authority, much like any other colonial power.

It seems to me that increasingly imperialist Nśmenor was much the same. This is why, when considering the Nśmenórean Ringwraith question, I imagine "colonial lords" lost in the enormous bureaucracy of a vast state who seize power for themselves while playing lip service to the home government, as it were - a "Mister Kurtz" situation and a modern concern. Certainly if one reads the Nśmenor sections of "The Lost Road" distinct totalitarian overtones can also be noticed, such as political disappearances.

denethorthefirst your comparison to totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century was clear and to the point and I wholeheartedly agree.
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Old 07-21-2016, 05:58 AM   #42
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But the totalitarianism of Saurons Rule seems to be limited to Mordor: it is clearly a totalitarian, dystopian Dictatorship, but outside of his directly ruled heartland, Saurons rule seems to be a lot more indirect.
Im just playing devils advocate here (i don't believe this) but you could argue that it didn't really matter for the average peasant in Rhun or Far-Harad if his local Ruler pledged allegiance to Sauron or some distant King in Minas Tirith ...
I don't believe this because this interpretation would obviously lessen Sauron as a credible threat and villain and render the whole struggle somewhat moot. Even if he didn't (need to) directly rule the East and the South with an iron fist, Saurons Influence was still negative (regular Tributes, negative cultural and religious practices like human sacrifices, corrupt local elites, etc.).
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Old 07-21-2016, 06:43 AM   #43
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Im just playing devils advocate here (i don't believe this) but you could argue that it didn't really matter for the average peasant in Rhun or Far-Harad if his local Ruler pledged allegiance to Sauron or some distant King in Minas Tirith ...
I think you've struck something very interesting here, because it evokes the situation of the proles in Nineteen Eighty-Four who are not actually as oppressed as the more affluent and educated Party members because it is not necessary for the Party to oppress them to the same extent.

This might be compared to the fact that the reserves Gothmog of Morgul sent into the fray at the Pelennor were "mustered for the sack of the City and the rape of Gondor"; seemingly many had been promised booty and plunder; not all were acting out of particular devotion to Sauron.

This needn't lessen Sauron's threat (even though we know he desired "divine honour from all rational creatures and absolute temporal power over the whole world" [Letter 183]) because it is not inconsistent with the idea that Sauron denied the Easterlings, Haradrim and so on the spiritual/intellectual/cultural resources they needed and were perhaps their right in order to discover the Truth. This denial of cultural resources is something Hannah Arendt discusses in The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951).
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Old 08-13-2016, 10:59 AM   #44
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Tyranny and dictatorship have always made use of puppet states, from the Warsaw Pact right back to the "Friends and Allies of the Roman People" (i.e. puppet kings), or the "allies" of the League of Delos who were in reality just Athens' vassals.
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Old 08-15-2017, 09:51 AM   #45
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I have something in the spirit of recent thread revivals. In the thread Sauron's Great Miscalculation there was some discussion of Sauron's Orc armies. A few quotes I found were as follows:
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the Orcs of his own trained armies were so completely under his will that they would sacrifice themselves without hesitation at his command. (Morgoth's Ring)
Quote:
many were by training as tough as Dwarves in enduring hardship (Morgoth's Ring)
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a troop of heavy-armed uruks from Barad-dūr (The Lord of the Rings)
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In the last years of Denethor I the race of uruks, black orcs of great strength, first appeared out of Mordor, and in 2475 they swept across Ithilien and took Osgiliath. Boromir son of Denethor (after whom Boromir of the Nine Walkers was later named) defeated them and regained Ithilien; but Osgiliath was finally ruined, and its great stone-bridge was broken. (The Lord of the Rings)
Kuruharan rightly pointed out that we see little evidence of Orcs as effective soldiers (they are not the main threat at the Pelennor, for instance) and that their tactics usually involved "human waves".

However, I've found myself lately wondering if there's a modern conceit in the conception of Sauron's Uruks. Is it at all possible that there is a latent idea, however underdeveloped, of trained soldier-Orcs being reminiscent of Great War era storm troops, who had special training and were deployed to make rapid advances into enemy territory, as the Uruks did in Ithilien in 2475?

I believe that in real life casualties were very high among such forces despite their formidable training and weapons, and this would seem to suit Sauron's callous disregard for life. However, perhaps someone who is more of a medievalist than I am can suggest a less modern alternative to whatever Professor Tolkien was musing upon when he made his observations about "trained Orcs" being utilised in this manner.
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Old 12-03-2017, 09:00 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Zigūr View Post
I believe that in real life casualties were very high among such forces despite their formidable training and weapons, and this would seem to suit Sauron's callous disregard for life. However, perhaps someone who is more of a medievalist than I am can suggest a less modern alternative to whatever Professor Tolkien was musing upon when he made his observations about "trained Orcs" being utilised in this manner.
I had not wanted to answer this as I don't possess the expertise to answer the question with a sufficient degree of reliability. However, since everyone else seems gripped with the same uncertainty, I will take a stab at it.

I don't believe that there is a good direct parallel with the German Stoßtruppen (<-- gratuitous German thrown in to make people think I know what I'm talking about) in the Medieval era(s) because the methods and tools of war were so utterly different. There were certainly corps of professional soldiers that existed in the Medieval world, such soldiers gaining greater social acceptance, mainly in the Islamic world although not exclusively so. However, that being said, the soldiers of a culture tended to be trained in a similar way to do similar things with only limited specialization.

This is the point where my knowledge grows potentially flimsy...but taking sieges as our setting, since in a way that is the closest circumstance to World War I warfare, I do not know of a particular group of soldiers being given systemic training on particular methods of siege assault that made that group of soldiers particularly more effective than other groups. I am sure that a dissemination of knowledge took place, but I would not describe it as being on a systemic level and I don't think that it was exclusive to one particular sub-group.

I think, as has been mentioned, life in Morder among the orcs is a bit of the 20th Century dropped into Middle-earth.
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:11 AM   #47
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I forget the quote but Tolkien says that Sauron was worshipped as God-King in Rhun, Harad, Khand and other parts of middle earth under his sway in a situation where he demanded both worship and absolute obedience.

Gandalf says something similar-that Sauron still had many kings, Chiefs, and nations under his sway(paraphrasing).
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Old 12-04-2017, 12:35 PM   #48
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The closest thing the European Middle Ages had to "specialized shock troops" were the armored knights, especially in the 11th-12th centuries when there was very little that could oppose their charge effectively. These were after all professional warriors (especially during the above era) whose entire job description was (a) fight; (b) train to fight; (c) hunt (as training to fight); (d) participate in tournaments (as training to fight). They started as young as 10 or 11 as apprentices to the military trade, i.e. as squires.

By the High Middle Ages of course the original feudal system (of both economy and caste) had started to break down; both kings and their vassals generally found it more convenient to pay/collect cash taxes which could be used to hire mercenaries, and nobles and the knightly class increasingly found things to do that didn't involve hitting people with cutlery.
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