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‘Rings of Power’: Did the men of the Southlands fight with Morgoth?

The men of the Southlands were on the wrong side of the First Age's defining conflict.

Image via Amazon Studios / The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

WARNING: Spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power below.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes place thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it’s not set at the beginning of time. As a result, even this tale relies in part on history, and much of that history took place during what is known as the First Age. During that age, men and elves united to take on Morgoth, the supreme villain who attempted to defeat the Valar, or the gods of Middle Earth.

Morgoth ultimately failed in his quest and was banished to another realm at the end of the First Age. After his defeat, his former lieutenant Sauron was the one who ultimately stepped in to become the most troublesome villain in the realm of Middle Earth. The Rings of Power takes place in the Second Age, but its informed by this history, and especially by what sides various groups of people took during that initial war against Morgoth.

The men of the Southlands allied with Morgoth

During the First Age, not all of the men allied themselves with the Elves against Morgoth. Instead, the men were essentially divided into two camps. One camp sided with the Elves, and essentially found themselves on the morally correct side of the battle. The other group sided with Morgoth, and ultimately lost when he was defeated.

This split in the realm of men is essential for understanding what’s going on in Rings of Power. As we see in the first episode, the men of the Southlands are still being supervised by Elves because of a belief that it’s in their nature to turn towards evil. They live in small villages and seem to be existing largely in squalor and without their king. In many ways, it seems like they are still being punished for their decision to ally with Morgoth, even though the men who made that decision have long since died.

Meanwhile, the men that we meet in Numenor are the descendants of the men who fought for the side of good alongside the Elves. They were victorious when Morgoth was defeated, and the Valar were so pleased with them that they were gifted the island of Numenor, as well as extended lives. As a result, the men of Numenor exist somewhere between the realms of Men and Elves. Their extended lives mean that they live for sometimes as four times as long as the Men of the Southlands.

That’s why it is a little surprising that the men of Numenor are so willing to return to Middle Earth to aid their fellow men in Rings of Power. Essentially, the two groups separated hundreds of years ago, and have interacted very little in that time. As we’ve seen, the Numenorians have thrived and built a society that rivals the splendor of the Dwarves or the Elves. The men of the Southlands, meanwhile, live in more squalid conditions and are currently being overrun by orcs.

Those less-than-ideal conditions are punishment for their alliance with Morgoth, but they also fuel the resentment that defines the modern men of the Southlands. Elves were never willing to forgive, and so the men of the Southlands never forgot.

The Rings of Power is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

About the author

Joe Allen

Joe Allen is a freelance writer based out of upstate New York who has been covering movies and TV for more than five years. Joe has been featured in The Washington Post, Paste Magazine, and The Charleston Post Courier, and has a Master's in journalism from Syracuse University