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Slain I 472
One of the three sons of Bór
As followers of Maedhros and Maglor, Borlad and his family would have settled at Himring or in the lands eastward


About this entry:

  • Updated 17 March 2023
  • This entry is complete


One of the three sons of Bór

The so-called Swarthy Men were a populous people of the Easterlings in the later First Age, who crossed the Blue Mountains into Beleriand in the years after the great battle of the Dagor Bragollach. Among these people, one of the greatest chieftains was a Man named Bór, and Bór had three sons: Borlad, Borlach and Borthand. Bór joined his people in allegiance to Maedhros and Maglor, the elder brothers among the seven Sons of Fëanor.

At the time Bór and his people travelled into Beleriand, another leader of the Swarthy Men also crossed the mountains from the East. This was the chieftain Ulfang who, like Bór, had three sons: Ulfast, Ulwarth and Uldor. These Easterlings also joined themselves to a force of the Sons of Fëanor, choosing to follow Caranthir the Dark.

Maedhros planned revenge against Morgoth for the defeats of the Dagor Bragollach, and allied himself with Elves and Men from across Beleriand to form a vast army. As that army prepared to assault Angband, however, Maedhros found himself delayed, and it would later be seen that this was due to the machinations of Ulfang's people, who were secretly in league with Morgoth.

Maedhros and his army did eventually reach the field, with Borlad and his brothers among that force.2 Once there, the sons of Ulfang openly betrayed their supposed lord, turning on their own troops and calling hidden allies down from the eastern hills. Borlad and his brothers, however, remained faithful to the Elves. Together they slew Ulfast and Ulwarth, before all three were slain themselves in the dreadful defeat that became known as Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Unnumbered Tears.



The Etymologies in volume V of The History of Middle-earth give special attention to the names of Bór and his sons, and from that source we can be sure that the Bor- element of Borlad's name means 'faithful'. That is, he was one of those who remained faithful to the cause of the Elves (which implies that he was given the name after the events of the Nirnaeth, in which he demonstrated this faithfulness).

Unfortunately the names of Bór's sons addressed in The Etymologies belong to an earlier phase of Tolkien's writing, and are not quite the same as those in the published Silmarillion. The Etymologies name the sons as Borthandos, Borlas and Boromir, but by the time of the Silmarillion texts these had become Borlad, Borlach and Borthand. Thus we are lacking an explanation of the -lad element of Borlad's name. (Lad is indeed a well-attested Elvish word, meaning 'open land, plain', but that meaning does not seem to apply in Borlad's case, so we must assume that the element comes from some other source.)


Neither of the chieftains Bór nor Ulfang apparently went to war themselves, but their absence is not explained. The great battle took place some seventeen years after the Dagor Bragollach, so perhaps they had simply died by that time, or at least were too old or infirm to march into battle.

See also...

Borlach, Borthand


About this entry:

  • Updated 17 March 2023
  • This entry is complete

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