THE RINGS OF POWER: Who Is Morgoth? - Nerdist
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THE RINGS OF POWER: Who Is Morgoth?

Spoiler Alert

Morgoth looms over The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Though the War of Wrath ended with Morgoth’s defeat, his touch spreads across all of Arda into the Second Age and beyond. Morgoth, also known as Melkor (we’ll use Morgoth throughout this article for simplification), has been around Arda since the very beginning. And the evil being started stirring up trouble almost from the moment he came into being. He trained Sauron and spread the first battles and bloodshed across Middle-earth. We don’t know if we’ll see Morgoth in The Rings of Power, but since his name comes up regularly, let’s look back at Morgoth’s history and what you need to know.

Morgoth’s Earliest History

A ship sailing into the distance in Middle-earth from The Rings of Power.
Prime Video

Morgoth is one of the Ainur (also known as the Valar), the earliest beings to exist in Arda. Ilúvatar created the Ainur from his thoughts and then he created Arda with them by harmonizing in song. But Morgoth felt jealous of his creator and his creator’s power from the beginning. He brought discordant notes to the music. While Ilúvatar put Morgoth in his place, Morgoth’s greed only grew.

Ilúvatar still permitted Morgoth to go into Arda with the other Valar. Once there, Morgoth tried to take over. Basically, he tried to stamp his feet and throw a temper tantrum and exert control over the entire world. Shockingly, the Valar did not put up with that and for a little while, Morgoth retreated to remote regions and left everyone alone.

Morgoth’s Many, Many Attempts to Rule

An orc sneers in The Rings of Power
Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

The respite from Morgoth’s meddling didn’t last. He went to war with the Valar. He couldn’t rule Arda, so he wanted to destroy it and stop the Valar’s further progress. That was the First War with Melkor. The Valar won and they completed Arda.

But then Morgoth planted spies among the Valar and gathered intel. When the Valar completed Arda and had a party of sorts to celebrate their accomplishments. Morgoth knew about said party and attacked. The Valar could see Morgoth’s touch across Arda in nature. Morgoth disrupted the balance of the world by destroying Almaren, where the Valar lived. He retreated before the Valar could find him, plus they kind of had their world to save. The Valar then built Valinor and its Two Trees to light the world.

Morgoth wandered Middle-earth causing problems before establishing himself in the north. He created monsters (like the Balrog) and a fortress—a fortress he appointed his most loyal servant to lead. That servant was Sauron. The Valar tried to fight Morgoth but they didn’t have the forces, so Morgoth’s power and resources continued to grow.

Morgoth and the Silmarils

Galadriel places a helmet in a pyramid of them on The Rings of Power
Prime Video

That was only the beginning of the battles between Morgoth and the Valar. The struggle continued with the Battle of Powers. At one point, the Valar captured Morgoth. But the deceptive being begged for pardon, which his brother Manwë granted. You won’t be surprised to learn that Morgoth was not, in fact, reformed. He started spreading his nefarious influence among the Elves and plotting revenge.

When Morgoth found out about Fëanor’s Silmarils, three unbelievably beautiful and powerful gems, he coveted them. He focused his designs on Fëanor and spread rumors to make Fëanor question the Valar. The extreme manipulation worked for a time, but Fëanor eventually caught on (kind of). The damage was done though. Morgoth split the crack of doubt he made and destroyed the Two Trees and stole the Silmarils (this is when he got the name Morgoth).

Morgoth made a crown to hold the three Silmarils. And then the war with Elves and the Valar continued for most of the First Age of Middle-earth. Countless Elves died.

How Did Morgoth Die?

Morgoth’s end came in the War of Wrath. The half-elf Eärendil (Elrond’s father) led the Valar in the War of Wrath. During this battle, they seized Morgoth and chained him up in Angband. The Valar ejected Morgoth into the Void, an empty place where time did not exist.

Morgoth and Sauron

Sauron forging the One Ring in Mount Doom from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
New Line Cinema

Morgoth’s principal lieutenant and right-hand man was Sauron. A powerful Maiar, he saw Morgoth trying to make things of his own instead of waiting for Ilúvatar to do what he wanted. Sauron decided to ally with Morgoth. He could change his shape and that helped him influence and attack Elves. Morgoth trusted Sauron above all his other servants.

When Morgoth lost the war, Sauron tried to carry his former master’s vision forward. He wanted to conquer Middle-earth and succeed where Morgoth failed. Sauron rallied Morgoth’s servants, such as the Orcs and also creatures. We know he eventually went on to establish himself in Mordor.

In The Rings of Power, Morgoth seemingly left a contingency plan for Sauron. The lieutenant was to continue his work and raze the Southlands to make a new hub for evil.

Amy Ratcliffe is the Editor-in-Chief for Nerdist and the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy, The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, The Jedi Mind, and more. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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