A count of the Khazad
Bernie Roessler 1113 West Hermosa Tulare, CA 93274 USA
This article presents my idea of the early population history of the Dwarves. Unlike Jason Beresford’s and Gunnar Brolin’s articles on human populations in earlier issues of Other Hands (#3: 4 – 10; #4: 22 – 23], it does not use any scientific or historical methodology to arrive at its conclusions. I feel that calculating the population of a Dwarven culture by using average population densities would be impossible anyway. It is rather my own extrapolations from the little information that J.R.R. Tolkien himself has written on these matters. I admittedly have “cooked” the numbers in order to get the results I wanted (e.g., that of Durin’s Folk at their peak). Readers may use or dismiss my efforts as they wish. To my knowledge, nothing in this article contradicts Tolkien’s writings, and where my opinion differs from that of ICE, I have made note of it.
The creation of the Dwarves by Aulë and their adoption by Eru is told in Chapter Two of The Silmarillion. In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (page 287), we learn that there were only thirteen original Dwarves: Durin and six other pairs of males and females. If this is true, then why were there seven Houses of Dwarves rather than six? Also, how could Durin have been the ancestor of all the Kings of the Longbeards (Hobbit: 63)?
My solution is as follows. Although the Dwarves were laid in far-sundered places during their long slumber, I believe that when they were finally allowed to awaken, they were reunited in one place. When this occurred, the preeminence of Durin, being both the oldest and alone, must have been recognized. This preeminence was still honored well into the Third Age, as indicated by the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs in “Appendix A” (RotK: 352 – 357).
In addition, my interpretation of the opening paragraphs of the section is that all the Dwarven Houses originally lived in or near Khazad-dûm. To quote directly, Tolkien writes that Durin at “the awakening of that people … came to Azanulbizar, and in the caves above Kheled-Zâram he made his dwelling, where afterwards were the Mines of Moria renowned in song (ibid: 352).”
During these early years, I believe it was highly probable that Durin performed for the Dwarves many of the functions that Michael Hickman ascribes to Dúnadan monarchs (OH 8: 7). This would have continued until the later sundering of the Houses, when each ruling heir would have received this honor. Tolkien also tells us that Durin was granted a lifespan much longer than that of any other Dwarf, and was thereby known as Durin the Deathless. As the children of the other six pairs of Dwarves reached maturity, they may have begun to see which could wed their daughter to Durin.
Such a union would have enhanced the prestige of die successful House well above that of the others. Dissent between the Houses at such an early stage would have been disastrous for the Dwarves. Therefore, I propose that Durin (perhaps with Aulë’s guidance) decided to wed a daughter of each of the six other couples. In addition to settling any dissension, this would have established Durin’s line not only as the largest House, but also the one in which ran the blood of all seven of the fathers of the Dwarves. This was probably the only case of sanctioned polygamy in Dwarven history (although I have heard rumors that among some of the eastern Dwarves the women sometimes take more than one husband).
It is also my opinion that during these critical, early years, the birthrate for Dwarves would have been quite a bit higher than in later ages. In fact, I propose that each and every Dwarven woman for the first seven generations had (Surprise!) exactly seven children. This was, of course, a supernatural event brought about by the workings of Aulë and/or Eru. These seven generations of births also would have coincided with the lifetime of Durin I.
Much intermarriage occurred between the Houses during the time of these first generations. It would have had to, because of the initially small number of Dwarves. As seen on the table at the end of this article, of the seven children born to each of the original six pairs, four were male and three female. Succeeding generations all had the normal ratio for Dwarves of two males born for every female. Because of this, even with seven children born to each female, the population grew relatively slowly.
After the birth of the eighth generation and Durin’s death, the Houses began to sunder. The Dwarves must have realized they had lost the one individual who could communicate with Aulë (or “Mahal”, as he was known to them) on a regular and direct basis. It was also at this time that the birthrate among the Dwarves began to decline. I have it dropping by about half a child for each successive generation (see table below).
This rate of decline continued until the fifteenth generation (which was the fourteenth actually born in Middle-earth), at which point it stabilized at an average of three and one-third children for each married Dwarf woman. The unwillingness of all Dwarven women to take a husband which Tolkien mentions also began with the eighth generation, or at least marriage was no longer required regardless of their wishes1.
Another important question is the number of years between the birth of each generation of Dwarves. Again, the best source of information to answer this question is “Appendix A.” On the chart showing the Line of the Dwarves of Erebor (RotK: 361), each Dwarf listed fathered a child at the age of about a hundred, and lived (unless they met an unnatural death) to about two hundred and fifty. Although this is a royal line, I see no reason why this would not be typical for all Dwarves. Certainly, if two hundred and fifty is the upper age limit for Dwarves of a royal line, other Dwarves would not live much beyond this2.
In Chapter 10 of The Silmarillion, we find that Dwarves first came to Beleriand during the second age of the captivity of Melkor (page 91). My interpretation of this passage is that it seems the Dwarves had actually been living in the Blue Mountains for sometime before the Sindar discovered them, which leads me to believe that the awakening of the first Dwarves occurred sometime during the first half of the first age of Melkor’s captivity. A time soon after the arrival of the Eldar in Valinor seems the most likely.
This would mean that the fifteenth generation of Dwarves was born sometime near the middle of the second age of Melkor’s captivity. Dwarven numbers would reach their peak two centuries after this and remain stable until the return of Melkor more than a thousand years later. This event began the slow decline of the Naugrim, and while Khazad-dûm would still increase in numbers after Morgoth’s fall due to the influx of refugees from the Blue Mountains, the springtime of the Dwarves had already past.
Dwarven census by generation
After the seventh generation, there would be a wider natural variance in the numbers than what I have shown here. Presenting them as I have done, calculated out to the last digit, is therefore probably misleading in terms of accuracy, but the numbers provided do give a good average (On the other hand, since this is my creation, I suppose I can be as accurate as I choose.). The table also shows the importance an extra wife or two in an early generation can have in affecting the final population of a House.
After the fifteenth generation, all generations would be more or less the same size until the minions of Melkor became active. Even then because of the fact that Dwarven women would seldom go abroad, the long-term population would not be affected unless a Dwarven mansion was lost. Since a Dwarven generation is 100 years in length with a typical lifespan of 200 years, one can determine the approximate number of total (living) Dwarves of a House by taking the figures given by the fifteenth generation and multiplying by 2.S. For example, the total numbers for Dunn’s Folk would be 108615 (72410 males and 3620S females, 32S8S of these latter being wives). I would like to add that I agree with the idea to which some of ICE’s writers have alluded: that not all of Dunn’s Folk dwelt in Khazad-dûm at its peak. To discuss this, however, would entail another article.
Birthrate = 7.0
Birthrate = 7.0
Birthrate = 7.0
Birthrate = 7.0
Birthrate = 7.0
Birthrate = 7.0
Birthrate = 6.5
Birthrate = 6.0
Birthrate = 5.5
|11 th gen||I||II||III||IV||V||VI||VII|
Birthrate = 5.0
Birthrate = 4.5
Birthrate = 4.0
Birthrate = 3.5
Birthrate = 3.3
Roman numerals = Dwarven Houses (House I = Durin’s Folk).
Total births = number of Dwarves born to the wives of each House.
Wives = number of Dwarven women women who married Dwarven men of each House.
Birthrate = average number of children born to each wife (subsequent to the 15th generation, the birthrate remains stable at 3.3).
I would like to point out that the conception rate for Dwarves given on the table in Rolemaster Companion I is unrealistically low. Were it accurate, Dwarves would probably have been extinct long before the Third Age. ↩
I therefore disagree with the four-hundred-year lifespan for Dwarves listed in ICE’s description of the race. ↩
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