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Old 12-11-2017, 05:27 PM   #1
Rhun charioteer
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Mercenaries in the third age(and middle earth more generally)

So in the long history of middle earth in spite of the many wars and population losses in said wars we never read of mercenaries or the like.

Were there ever mercenaries or soldiers for hire in middle earth at any time? If so when? If not why not?

Thoughts?
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Old 12-12-2017, 09:30 AM   #2
Huinesoron
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Hmm. Well, the first thought that springs to mind is 'if they're willing to work for the Dark Lord for pay, the Free People ain't gonna want them'. But there could be neutral parties in various wars who would neverthless join up with the Good side under the right circumstances.

The obvious example is Mablung and Beleg, who went along to the Nirnaeth despite that being 'the Noldor's war'. Though, of course, they weren't paid. And House Feanor's pet mortals in the Nirnaeth were basically working for land - oh, and did flip side because they were promised better pay, so they're fairly classic mercenaries.

In the later Second Age, I imagine Numenor could have acted along Roman/American Colonial lines in Middle-earth, giving gifts to some of the tribes to get them on-side against their less bribe-able neighbours. It's hard to imagine the Eldar acting as mercenaries for the Edain, but Durin's folk might have come to a similar arrangement as long as they thought it was for a good cause.

On to the Third Age... well, Gondor and Arnor were bound by treaty, and Angmar preferred to conquer (ie, Rhudaur) than buy in. I think the Riders were treaty-partners with Gondor, too - though before that, they may have been expert cavalry for hire.

Beyond that... we know Gondor did a lot of messing about in Harad, and it seems very likely that they would be open to offers like 'if you pay us, we'll attack them in the next valley'. They may have been the 'nice' Numenoreans, but they were still as arrogant as... well... Elves. ^_^

I think that's probably your best bet, if you want to look for evidence: scour the accounts of Gondor's wars in the south and see if you can find any hint of mercenary or client-kingdom behaviour.
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Old 12-12-2017, 04:23 PM   #3
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The only use of mercenaries in the classically understood sense by that name that I can recall is in The Nauglafring when the dwarves hire orcs to help them.

That is an early version of the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath" and the detail of the dwarves hiring orcs was not retained.
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Old 12-13-2017, 04:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
The only use of mercenaries in the classically understood sense by that name that I can recall is in The Nauglafring when the dwarves hire orcs to help them.

That is an early version of the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath" and the detail of the dwarves hiring orcs was not retained.
Letter 183 also offers this small morsel in relation to the moral position of the participants in the War of the Ring:
Quote:
...even if in desperation 'the West' had bred or hired hordes of orcs and had cruelly ravaged the lands of other Men as allies of Sauron...
This seems to imply, however vaguely, that Professor Tolkien considered Orcs fighting for hire as at least a hypothetical possibility in 1956.
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Old 12-14-2017, 11:23 AM   #5
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Hiring orcs to use against Mordor's human allies? That is intriguing.
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