LotR: The House of Durin – Did They Really Spring Up Out of Holes in the Ground?
From Durin the Deathless on down, the house of Durin is strong and proud. Here’s everything you need to know about the Dwarven royal family.
The title of oldest of the Dwarven houses belongs to Durin’s Folk, also known as the Longbeards. And no, they didn’t spring up from holes in the ground. Well, the first Durin did. And he was buried without a mate, unlike the other six Dwarven Fathers. Okay, so maybe they do spring up from holes in the ground. The jury might be out on that one. But holes in the ground aside here’s everything you need to know about the House of Durin.
There are spoilers for Amazon’s ‘Rings of Power’ in this article.
But First, a Bit About Dwarves
The Dwarves were created underneath a mountain by Aulë, the Smith of the Valar. His whole thing was, you guessed it, makin’ stuff. It’s said that he was impatient for the arrival of the Children of Ilúvetar, or the races of Elves and Men, so he fashioned his own creatures and laid them to sleep deep in the ground.
Ilúvetar is essentially the head of the Valar, the omniscient and omnipotent creator of all the things. When he found out about the Dwarves, he pointed out that it wasn’t Aulë’s place to create life. Still, it was Ilúvetar himself who gave them life after Aulë apologized profusely, we can assume. It was then that the Dwarves began to wake up.
Durin the Deathless
Durin was the first Dwarf Father to wake up, and he did so underneath Mount Gundabad in the Misty Mountains. After he awoke, he wandered through the mountains exploring, enjoying the landscape, and naming lots of natural structures. A real Parks & Recreation kinda guy.
During his explorations, he came upon a lake that reflected a beautiful landscape and stars hanging above them like a crown. The caves above that lake would soon become known as Khazad-dûm, the Dwarven empire. There he would go on to rule, to mine, and to live for a really long time.
He did earn the nickname “Durin the Deathless”, but he wasn’t immortal. He died before the First Age. His son, who was also named Durin, inherited his name, kingdom, and possibly his spirit? The legend was the Durin I would be reincarnated for six more generations, although it’s not quite clear if or how the son actually inherited the father’s soul.
In Amazon Prime’s Rings of Power series, this is explained when Durin III tells his son that when each of them became king, they’d hear the voices of past kings offering council. This is the series’ explanation for Durin I’s reincarnation.
During the reign of Durin III, Khazad-dûm began a trade relationship with the Ñoldor, the Elves of Eregion. Guided by Annatar (who is Sauron, people, he’s SAURON), the Elves made the Rings of Power, one of which was given to Durin III. It’s believed that Celebrimbor himself gave Durin the most powerful of these seven rings.
But when Sauron popped on his One Ring, he realized things hadn’t gone quite according to plan. For one, the Elves were onto him immediately – Galadriel, Gil-Galad, and Elrond got together to hide the three Elven rings from him.
And the Dwarves? Well, something about their constitution made it very difficult for Sauron to bend them to his will. Instead, the malevolent vibes of the rings made the Dwarves greedy, making them targets for dragons, orcs, and Balrogs. Of course, the Orcs were only further incensed when Durin’s folk attacked Sauron’s Orc army from behind during the saccing of Eregion, allowing Elrond and his people to escape.
The First Nain, Thráin, & Thorin
Fast forward to the Third Age. Durin’s Folk have just been chased out of Khazad-dûm by a Balrog on account of the “dwelling too greedily and too deep”. Durin VI and his son Náin I were both killed by the Balrog, and Náin’s son, Thráin I, took his surviving people to the Lonely Mountain, where they made their home in what would become the Kingdom Under the Mountain.
From there, Thorin I (Thráin’s son) Thorin decided to leave the Lonely Mountain for the Grey Mountains and their rumored riches. He and his people took the Archenstone with them. After his death, his son Glóin took the throne. After him came his son, Óin.
Náin II, Dáin I, & Borin
Óin’s son Náin II came next, and his reign is regarded as the last period of real peace for Durin’s Folk. Toward the end of his rule, dragons came down to make war on them.
Náin II was the first in Durin’s line (that we know of) to have two sons. Dáin I became king after his father passed. The second son, Borin, would be a descendant to many members of Thorin Oakensheild’s traveling party, and predecessor to our beloved fellow Gimli.
Dáin I didn’t have a very long rule as the last king of the Grey Mountains. Sadly, he and his second son were killed by a dragon, which likely inspired the Dwarves to abandon the mountain soon after.
The War of Dwarves & Orcs
Dáin’s oldest son Thrór led Durin’s Folk back to the Lonely Mountain and later died trying to reclaim Khazad-dûm. One of Dáin’s two other sons, Grór, settled in the Iron Hills. Thrór’s death came at the hands of the Orc lord Azog.
Thrór and his people traveled to the hills of Dunland, where they lived in relative squalor. The plight of their situation became too much for Thrór’s mind to handle. He gave his son Thráin II his Ring of Power, a map, and a key to a door to the Lonely Mountain. He then went to the fallen kingdom of Khazad-dûm, which was now full of Orcs and called Moria. Thrór attempted to take on Azog, and lost his head in the attempt.
His death caused Thráin, now king, to put out the call to the other Dwarven Houses to go to war against the Orcs. With their combined forces, Azog was killed by Thráin’s second-cousin Dáin Ironfoot. The House of Durin would travel back to Dunland, eventually finding prosperity and security in the Blue Mountains.
Eventually, Thráin, pushed by the encouragement of his Ring of Power, took a group of followers to attempt to reclaim the Lonely Mountain. The party woke one morning to find Thráin missing. It turns out he and his ring had been captured and he was left for dead in Dol Guldur. As the weak king wandered the land, he ran into Gandalf the Grey, to whom he gave the map and key his father had given to him. Soon after, he died.
Thorin Oakensheild was the son of Thrór, and had two younger brothers Frerin and Dís. Of course, he’s famously the king who retook the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug thanks to that handy key given to him by Gandalf. He did, as you know, travel along with the son of Belladonna Took, a Mister Bilbo Baggins.
The rest of the story you probably know.