The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain among other names, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths), the chief servants of the Dark Lord Sauron. His true name is not revealed in any of Tolkien's writings, nor are the names of any of the other Nazgûl, except Khamûl.
In the manuscript of his notes for translators Tolkien stated that the Witch-king's name and background were not recorded, but that he was probably of Númenór descent. It is unknown if his association with the realm of Angmar (or use of sorcery) can be traced to a time before he received one of the Rings of Power. In the Second Age, the Rings of Power were forged by the Elves of Eregion under Sauron's direction, and nine of these were given to men of the time, one of whom became the Witch-king. The rings gave them immense power, and they "became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old." The rings also made them immortal, but eventually corrupted them, turning them into the ghastly, undead Nazgûl. The Witch-king became their leader. The Lord of the Nazgûl served Sauron as his second in command for over 4000 years. He fought in the war against the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. When Sauron was defeated by the Alliance, the nine Nazgûl went "into the shadows".
A millennium into the Third Age, the Witch-king reappeared in Angmar, a realm in the far North straddling the Misty Mountains. He quickly dominated Angmar, and turned to wage war against the three splinter kingdoms of Arnor (Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan); for Sauron, seeing that Gondor remained strong, sought to capitalise on the dissension among the northern kingdoms. It was during these northern wars, prosecuted against the Dúnedain for the next several hundred years, that the King of Angmar became known as the Witch-king. Rhudaur was soon compromised; power there was seized by evil Hillmen allied with Angmar. Argeleb I of Arthedain fortified the border against Rhudaur along the Weather Hills, but was killed in battle with Angmar and Rhudaur. The Witch-king then invaded Cardolan. King Arveleg I of Arthedain was killed defending Weathertop, but the palantír there was saved and moved to Fornost. The last Prince of Cardolan was killed, and most of the Dúnedain of Rhudaur were killed or driven out. Later the Great Plague destroyed many of the remaining Dúnedain of Cardolan, and evil spirits from Rhudaur and Angmar infested the burial mounds in the Barrow Downs.
Only Arthedain remained to resist the Witch-king (though with frequent help from both Lindon and Rivendell). Araval won a victory over Angmar and sought to reoccupy Cardolan, but the Barrow-wights terrified all who tried to live near the Barrows. Finally, as it became apparent that Angmar was preparing another attack, Arvedui appealed for help from King Eärnil II of Gondor. But before help could arrive, Angmar overran Arthedain. The Witch-king captured Fornost Erain, the capital of Arthedain. Arvedui fled north, only to drown in the Ice Bay of Forochel early the next year when the ship from Lindon that rescued him sank.
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