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Emerged during the later Second Age;1 Númenor came to an end in the Downfall of II 3319
Originated in Númenor, but fought in Middle-earth
The Kings of Númenor were descended from the House of Elros


About this entry:

  • Updated 23 April 2022
  • This entry is complete

King’s Archers

The bowmen of the King of Númenor

"The Men of the Sea ... send before them a great cloud, as a rain turned to serpents, or a black hail tipped with steel..."
Unfinished Tales Part Two I
A Description of the Island of Númenor

The art of shooting with a bow was a sport among the Númenóreans even in the peaceful early days of their realm, and they had great skill in the art, whether firing from foot or horseback. In later years, as Númenor became involved in conflicts in Middle-earth, the most feared of its soldiers were the cohorts2 of the King's Archers. Each of the Archers carried a bow made of hollow steel, from which they fired arrows with black flight feathers, each measuring an ell in length (that is, a little over a metre, or just short of four feet).



Though archery had always been a sport in Númenor, the King's Archers as a military unit did not emerge until the later Second Age, when the Númenóreans began to war with the Men of Middle-earth. We're not given a date for their formation, but we know that the oppression of the peoples of Middle-earth began with King Tar-Ciryatan (who ruled II 1869 - II 2029) and worsened under his successor Tar-Atanamir (ruled II 2029 - II 2251). It was about this time, then, that the King's Archers would first have been seen in Middle-earth.

The Dúnedain continued to use archers in warfare after the Downfall, but the King's Archers were formally named for the King of Númenor, and so would have ceased to exist when that line came to an end.


We're told little of the organisation or numbers of the King's Archers, other than the use of the word 'cohorts' (ibid). In the Roman army, a cohort (Latin cohors) would classically have contained about five hundred men, though this number varied according to period or circumstances. It's unclear exactly how applicable this would be to the armies of the Númenóreans, but it seems safe to imagine the King's Archers as being organised into companies of at least several hundred bowmen each.


About this entry:

  • Updated 23 April 2022
  • This entry is complete

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