The Black Numenóreans were a fallen race of Númenóreans who were descended from those that were loyal to the Númenórean crown (the Rulers) that were opposed to the Valar and relations with the Elves, and listened to Sauron and his ill counsel. They soon became corrupted by the Dark Lords and worshiped the Darkness and Morgoth.
As their power and knowledge had grown throughout the course of the Second Age, all the Númenóreans had become increasingly preoccupied with the limits placed on their contentment - and eventually their power - by mortality, the purpose of which they began to question.
This growing wish to escape death, known as 'The Doom of Men', also made most of the Númenóreans envious of the immortal elves (the Eldar), whom they had come to physically resemble as part of their reward from Ilúvatar for having been their allies. The Eldar sought ever to remind the Men of Númenor however, that death was a gift from Ilúvatar to all men, and to lose faith in Ilúvatar would be heretical.
Eventually, in Númenor's last years, its hugely powerful but elderly King Ar-Pharazôn, who had become "frightened of old age" (Letters ~ No.156), was persuaded by Sauron that Ilúvatar was a lie invented by the Valar, and seduced him. Within Númenor, the majority immediately followed suit, and this worship quickly passed across the ocean when they sailed eastwards from the Numenor, to most of Númenor's colonies in Middle-earth where the group started in proper.
The group thrived in Middle-earth, particularly in Umbar after the destruction of Númenor. They continued to oppose The Faithful, from which came the Kings of Arnor and Gondor, the Black Númenóreans remained loyal towards Sauron.
These sacrilegous 'black arts' and 'follies', which arose as a consequence of their worship of 'The Dark' and Melkor, marked the final, irrevocable division between the 'King's Men' and the minority known as the 'Faithful' Númenóreans, or the 'Elendili', who kept to their old faith in Ilúvatar. They were also presumably the earliest culture traits of those who became known afterwards as Black Númenóreans.
After the Fall of NúmenorEdit
For many centuries after the Downfall, descendants of the 'King's Men' held onto colonies in Middle-earth, what became the most northerly and famous of their Realms in Exile, Umbar.
Most of those few Númenóreans who had never disavowed the Eldar, and had always remained true to their belief in Ilúvatar, also survived the destruction of their homeland, and they established their own Realms in Exile north of Umbar, in familiar and friendly colonies. The Faithful Númenóreans saw their southern counterparts as renegades. The Black Númenóreans held a similarly low opinion of 'The Faithful' and their descendants.Two early Black Númenórean lords are named from the time of the late Second Age: Herumor and Fuinur. Like all Black Númenóreans and 'King's Men' before them, Herumor and Fuinur desired power over men of other, lesser races, and they "rose to (great) power amongst the Haradrim", the peoples neighbouring Umbar. Their fate is unknown, but they likely shared Sauron's defeat at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.
The Black Númenórean style of governing was no doubt tyrannical, but may also have involved a tradition of duumviracy, at least in Umbar, whose lords are usually paired when mentioned; Herumor/Fuinur for example, were probably rulers of Umbar, as much later Angamaitë/Sangahyando were. Whatever political system was in place, however, the Black Númenóreans did not govern effectively.
The triumph of the Last Alliance marked the decline of the Black Númenórean race and the end of their racial superiority. Nevertheless, the Black Númenórean elite survived at least in Umbar for over a thousand years after Númenor's fall, maintaining much influence in Haradwaith. As late as Angamaitë for example, even after being exiled from their homeland for nearly a century.
Black Numenoreans in the 3rd age eventually joined The Witch King of Angmar in his conquests of Arnor. The fate of the Black Numenoreans of Angmar is unknown, but it's most likely they either all died or disbanded after the Battle of Fornost.
The Black Númenóreans did not use Westron, but probably retained their old tongue Adûnaic, speaking a dialect of it. (In The Notion Club Papers, part of Sauron Defeated, Arundel Lowdham cited two descendants of classical Adûnaic. One of these must have been Westron, the other the tongue of the Black Númenóreans (Black Adûnaic?).The Black Númenóreans are absent from recorded history after their defeat by Ciryaher in TA 1050, but a population of sorts must have survived somewhere at least until the end of the Third Age, as the Mouth of Sauron, who mocked the army of King Elessar in front of the Morannon was described both as a Black Númenórean and "Renegade", which is presumably the term used by the Free Peoples of that time to describe all folk of similar ancestry.
In one of his letters, Tolkien wrote that Queen Berúthiel, wife of Gondor's King Tarannon Falastur was a Black Númenórean, from a Black Númenórean realm he describes as "the inland city" somewhere south of Umbar. This was a loveless union, and was presumaby a political accommodation: that such arrangements were possible implies the existence at that time of more Gondor-friendly Black Númenóreans than the much later Mouth of Sauron.
Three of the Ringwraiths can be considered among the first and most powerful Black Númenóreans, even though their origin predates Númenor's fall by about 1000 years: they served Sauron, being enslaved to his will, having become so because of their lust for power and/or knowledge.
Portrayal in AdaptationsEdit
In The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king, the Black Númenórean's were conquered and subjected by the Witch-king, and serve as Angmar's elite units. They are portrayed as wearing fearsome iron masks, proud of their heritage as "the King's Men". They are split into Thrall Masters, Swordsmen, Dark Rangers and Sorcerers of the Temple of Twilight. Angmar is portrayed as a frozen wasteland, with units including the Black Númenóreans focusing upon this aspect in terms of clothing and weaponry.
In the Third Age: Total War (Medieval II Total War modification), the Black Númenóreans are an elite bodyguard and soldier unit, either mounted or dismounted. They can do far more damage than Uruk-hai Berserkers, Troll-Men of Harad, or Arnor Longswordmen put together.
- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
- The History of Middle-earth: Sauron Defeated
- The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien