Lord of The Rings Tolkein Middle Earth Military

Aug 2018
I was speculating about the militaries various cultures and kingdoms in the world of Middle Earth created by Tolkein. Keeping the obvious clash between good vs evil and keeping out the magic, I was speculating about the military,tactics,technology used by various factions.

Noldor Elves - They were really great at weapons and Armour. They probably had a class based warrior aristocracy who could afford expensive weapons and armour, had the time to train extensively. The dicepline,tactics and organisation of the Noldor Military could only be done with a highly trained fighting force. I have feeling they didn't have a professional standing army though. Best they could have had were the household guards being commanded by the warrior nobility. They had a strong cavalry component alongside heavy infantry and brilliant archers.

Silvan Elves - They were mainly composed of light infantry and archers. Since they barely lived in great cities like the Noldors but were based in small settlements, they lacked the infrastructure and tax to really fund a powerful fighting force. Their armies were probably based on citizen militia. Most of the male population had a basic knowledge of archery.

Numenoreans - They had great armies and navies. Very well armed and well trained. They probably had a centralised government headed by the King and boosted a standing armed forces. Since they were expansionist, they had the military power to garrison settled/conquered lands.

Gondor - The military was certainly based on Numenorean Military. But it underwent massive changes. They had professional Army but was also supported by allied/vassal troops of various quality. Vassal Kings of Rhovanion certainly provided Gondor with a large cavlry but probably under the command of local leaders.

Arnor - Similar to Gondor in the beginning based on Numenorean Military. But as their empire broke into warring states, their armies grew smaller and probaly feudal in nature.

Rohan - Cavalry based army with a small professional cavalry based on Nobility and Household Guards. All men who owned horse did had some basic training.

Rhovanion - Ancestors of the people of Rohan. Their armies were cavalry based with significant infantry as well. They were after all settled people in fertile lands. Boosted both heavy and light cavalry.

Dwarven Kingdoms - Well armored and based on heavy infantry. Lacked cavalry.

Dale - Well trained and armed but a small professional army.

Umbar - They were naval based so probably had light armed soldiers with some heavy troops commanded by the elite.

Morgoth/Sauron - Assuming that orcs as human, these armies were poorly trained and equipped. Their main potential was in numbers.

Harad - Harad had light to medium infantry. Had a strong cavalry component composed of tribal chiefs and their retuine. Special troops were elephantry but could only be supplied by the nobility of southern Harad.

Rhun - A completely cavalry based army. Every child learns to ride horse before they can speak. Composed of Horse Archers with Heavy Cavalry of the Warrior Elite.

What are your thoughts?
Sep 2017
United States
I'm much too tired to respond now, but I have a book on in-depth arms and armor guide for the LotR universe. Some really interesting things. The movie generally did a good job with the weapons and armor designs, but they had some really dumb moments (and not just the Legolas parts).


Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
I saw the Numenorians as similar to the Assyrians. Built beautiful buildings, professional army, and occasionally very terrible in their deeds and their ambitions.

When I think of the Sea Peoples of the Bronze Age, I think of Numenor. The Noldor Kingdoms, IMO, were similar to those of the East Germanics, except shaped around their immortality... to be honest, the East Germanics are more like the most similar culture, I don’t think there’s anything like them in history, just pieces of them. They were also very much about building huge fortified cities, and perhaps had a bit of a civilized Norse longhouse culture as well... I can’t help but to think of that in the scenes of Elrond’s house with all the oral storytelling and such; though I think Rohan has a version that captures the grit a lot more. I believe was also a part of early East Germanic culture. So I am uncertain where Tolkien gets his inspiration. The Noldor are fascinating, one of the most influential peoples in fantasy writing.