A Blade Worthy of the Lord of the Nazgul: Witch King Sword
Canonically, the Witch King’s most iconic weapon would be his enormous black mace. In the Peter Jackson films, this mace was depicted as a flail, so large that no ordinary man could have wielded it. However, many adaptations also show him with a sword, and it’s not a huge leap to imagine that the Witch King was able to use a sword.
When it comes to LARPing or Cosplay, the Witch King sword is by far the more practical choice, while still having a distinctive design. This sword in particular is battle ready, meaning that it’s a usable sword rather than a decorative piece.
However, if you collect swords as display pieces, then this is a fine example of a fantasy sword. It’s proportioned nicely, with a blade that is similar to historical 15th century styles. It also strongly evokes the Witch King’s aesthetic, so it’s a fantastic addition to any fantasy sword collections.
So, let’s start with the basics. The Witch King sword is an impressive two handed sword, which means that the guard is designed to comfortably fit both hands and that the blade is fairly long (36 inches).
The blade itself has a double-edge diamond shape, which makes it suitable for both cutting and thrusting. The first few inches of the blade are an unsharpened ricasso, which then widens out into the blade proper.
The ricasso forms a section of the blade that can be easily gripped to provide extra power while thrusting. This feature was common historically at a time when plate armor was widespread, which led to swords being designed to be capable of piercing the more vulnerable parts of the armor.
The guard of the Witch King Sword has a classic shape. It is curved slightly towards the blade and features a V-shape in the middle which juts out over the ricasso part of the blade. What makes the guard interesting are the acid etched patterns which look like twisting thorns.
This thorn motif carries on with the rest of the hilt. The handle has two black hand grips which are separated by a wide metallic ring, which is adorned with the same thorn pattern. Finally, the sword is capped off by a unique crown-like pommel, which also features the thorn acid etchings. The crown shape of the pommel fittingly mirrors the Witch King’s own distinctive crown of steel.
The pommel is what really ties this weapon together and makes it perfect for the Witch King of Angmar. Sword, mace, flail, or anything in between, what truly matters is that the weapon truly evokes the character.
As a display piece for a collector, this sword is undoubtedly beautiful and sings the praises of Tolkien’s world. If you’re after a sword for LARPing or Cosplaying, either as the Witch King himself, or for a similar dark knight or sorcerer character, then you’ll likely appreciate the black scabbard which will keep the sword secure and make it easier to carry around.
The Corrupted King: The Rise and Fall of the Witch King
The Witch King of Angmar is one of the most famous bad guys in fantasy. He was Sauron’s right hand man (well, wraith) and the leader of the Nazgul, a truly intimidating figure. Even among his Ringwraith brethren, the Witch King stood out, being the tallest of the group.
Understandably, such an iconic character has captured the imagination of fantasy fans worldwide. So, who really was the Witch King of Angmar, and what did he do during his long haunt of Middle Earth?
From Mighty Man to Bound Beast: The Birth of Sauron’s Servant
Like the other Nazgul, the Witch King was originally a man. His true identity was never revealed, but we know that the men targeted by Sauron were powerful men, usually kings. Many of these men were Numenorean, so it’s not a stretch to imagine that the Witch King had such a background.
The story of the Lord of the Rings takes place in the Third Age, but the “Rings” in question were forged thousands of years earlier, in the Second Age. There were nineteen of these Rings of Power, made by Elven craftsmen. Sixteen were made under the guidance of Sauron, while three were made without his influence.
After these Rings of Power were forged, Sauron created his own Ring, which would bind the others to his will. In turn, they would bind the wearers of the rings. Sauron had intended to ensnare the powerful Elves in this way, but his plan fell short.
Instead, Sauron resorted to openly attacking Elves, succeeding in claiming the sixteen rings made with his assistance. He gave seven of these rings to the Dwarf-Lords, and nine to the most powerful of Man.
The Dwarves had a measure of resistance to Sauron’s corrupting influence, so didn’t fall in the way that he had hoped. However, humans had no such resistance. To begin with, the Rings of Power afforded these men the ability to amass great wealth and acclaim, as well as an extended lifespan.
However, this lengthened lifespan did not provide true vitality, but merely ‘stretched’ their lives out. Over time, these men began to turn invisible, losing their corporeal form and slipping into the shadow-world. When this happened, they became Nazgul, wraiths bound to the will of Sauron.
One of these Ringwraiths commanded Sauron’s army as the Lord of the Nazgul for over a thousand years, until his master was defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Isildur, heir to the throne of Gondor, cut the One Ring from Sauron’s finger with his father’s broken sword.
In doing so, Isildur caused Sauron’s power to dissipate. Because Sauron’s power fuelled the Nazgul, they too were weakened to the point where they couldn’t maintain their corporeal form and so were banished from Middle Earth. This signalled the end of the Second Age, and the start of the Third Age.
However, Sauron was not completely defeated. He took form once more a thousand years later, albeit weakened to the point that he remained incognito, only known as ‘the Necromancer’. With the return of Sauron, came the return of the Nine.
This included the greatest of the Nine, who would become known as the Witch King of Angmar.
The Rise of the Witch King of Angmar, and the Fall of the Dunedain
At one point, the realm of Gondor had a sister kingdom to the North, known as Arnor. This Kingdom included many of Numernoran descent, known as the Dunedain. This Northern Kingdom had close ties to the nearby Elves, and for a while, it prospered.
Eight hundred years after Sauron was originally defeated, Arnor was split into three kingdoms. So, why are we talking about a Northern human realm?
Some five hundred years after the split of Arnor (or about 1300 years after Sauron was defeated), the Lord of the Nazgul founded a region called Angmar. This region was Northeast of Arnor and set in the misty mountains.
First, the forces of Angmar drove the nearby Dwarves out of their mines and halls, then gathered its strength. The nearby Dunedain were aware of the evil in the mountains, but it was several decades before Angmar first struck.
Over the coming centuries, Angmar would eat away at the realm of Arnor and strike at the nearby Elves. It was during this period that the Witch King of Angmar was named by the Dunedain. Because Arnor was split into three kingdoms, the Witch King was soon able to annex one of these kingdoms and destroy the other, before being pushed back by the combined forces of Men and Elves.
For five hundred years, the final kingdom of Arnor struggled with the Witch King, keeping the realm of Angmar busy, until Angmar gathered its forces and descended upon the capital. The Dunedain lands of the North were lost, and its people scattered.
Help did come from Gondor and the Elves of Rivendell, but it arrived too late. The army of Gondor defeated the forces of Angmar and drove the Witch King away. The realm of Angmar collapsed, but its true purpose of destroying the Northern Kingdoms had been fulfilled.
During the Witch King’s escape from Gondor’s army, he was cut off by the Gondor forces and the Elves, led by Earnur (then Prince of Gondor) and Glorfindel respectively. He challenged Earnur, whose horse was so afraid of the Witch King that it bucked. However, the Witch King fled from Glorfindel.
When Earnur went to pursue the Witch King, Glorfindel gave his famous warning:
“Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man shall he fall.”
The Witch King retreated to Mordor, and along with his fellow Ringwraiths, rebuilt Mordor to its former might, gathering orc hordes. The forces of Mordor attacked Gondor, taking the fortress of Minas Ithil and turning it into Minas Morgul, the Tower of Dark Sorcery.
Shortly after these attacks on Gondor, our old friend Earnur became King of Gondor. The Witch King challenged Earnur to a duel and, upon the second challenge, Earnur finally accepted. Earnur was the final king of Gondor, as he never returned from his duel with the Witch King. This broke the royal line of Gondor and weakened the race of Men once more.
For four hundred years, Mordor remained quiet, biding its time before striking at Gondor once more and attacking and ruining the once-great city of Osgiliath. Another five hundred years of relative quiet passed, until Sauron finally returned to Mordor and announced his presence.
Sauron’s Return and The War of the Ring
After Sauron returned, he immediately sent his Ringwraiths to search for the One Ring. Gollum was captured and tortured, saying two words: “Shire” and “Baggins”. Unfortunately, this meant very little to the Dark Lord. It was only when the Witch King spoke to Grima Wormtongue that they were finally led to the Shire’s location.
From here, the Nazgul came scarily close to succeeding in their quest. The Witch King managed to stab Frodo Baggins with a Morgul-knife, and it was only thanks to the intervention of the Elves that Frodo didn’t turn into a wraith himself. The Nazgul were driven off by an unnatural flood, which destroyed their corporeal forms and sent them back to Mordor, where they received flying fell-beasts.
The Witch King then resumed his task of leading the forces of Sauron against Gondor, striking a final blow against the city of Osgiliath. The city had been partially reclaimed by Gondor and was being used as a fortress, but the Witch King’s assault broke it at last.
From here, the Witch King led Mordor’s armies onto Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor and the final bastion of Men. The Witch King displayed his incredible sorcery in full might during this battle, having been empowered by Sauron.
The sense of dread that accompanied him was enhanced, paralysing the defenders with fear. He set the city itself ablaze and strengthened a battering ram to break through the city gates. As his forces prepared to swarm the city, the Ring Wraith was faced by Gandalf.
Sadly, the pair never had the chance to truly duel. The forces of Rohan interrupted the pair, and the Witch King flew off to deal with this new threat. During the ensuing battle, the Witch King zeroed in on King Theoden, causing the King of Rohan to be crushed by his own horse.
Before the Witch King could finish off the mortally wounded king, he was met by Eowyn. Understandably, he wasn’t too frightened of this seemingly random warrior, and for good reason. With a scream, the Witch King shattered her shield, and with a single blow of his great mace, the Witch King broke her arm.
But then things went a bit wrong for the Witch King. While he wouldn’t fall to the hand of man, Glorfindel hadn’t said anything about the hand of a hobbit or a woman. Merry, armed with an enchanted blade, stabbed at the Witch King. Weakened, distracted, and vulnerable, the Witch King could not stop Eowyn from driving her sword into his formless face.
With his death, the tide of the battle turned, and the forces of Man rallied.
The technical specifications of the Witch King Sword are as follows:
- Blade Material: 5160 High carbon steel. Dual tempered HRc 60, 48-50 at the core (HRc refers to the hardness of the steel).
- Total Length: 51 inches or 129.5 cm.
- Blade Length: 36 inches or 91.4 cm.
- Blade Width at Guard: 2 inches or 5 cm.
- Point of Balance: 2.75 inches or 7 cm.
- Weight: 4 lbs, 4oz or 1.93 kg.