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AJ Padlock


Lake-town, or Esgaroth, known fully as "Esgaroth upon the Long Lake", was a small settlement and community of Men in the north-western part of the Long Lake in the Rhovanion. The town was constructed entirely of wood and stands upon wooden pillars sunk into the bed of the Long Lake, south of the Lonely Mountain and east of Mirkwood. It seems that the town's prosperity was built on trade between the Men, Elves and Dwarves of northern Middle-earth.[1]

It was also known as the final resting place of the Dragon Smaug, whose bones ended up at the bottom of the lake, and by whom it was destroyed. [1]

History

ESGAROTH location map in middle earth

The location of Lake-town on a map of Middle-earth

Lake-town may have been separate settlements established on the same site, one predating Smaug's destruction of Dale and the Lonely Mountain in TA 2770[2] and the other built afterwards. Uniquely, of all of the towns, settlements, fortresses, and cities of Middle-earth, Lake-town utilized water as its defense. The Long Lake was also surrounded by towering cliffs and high mountains, all helpful natural barriers that had the potential to aid its defenders in a siege (such as the Easterling invasion of the North in TA 3018). While these defenses slowed and diverted Lake-town's human enemies, it did nothing to prepare its inhabitants against Smaug. The villagers would be harassed on a regular basis by Smaug. Smaug would steal an occasional maiden or just burn down their homes.

Lake-town was founded sometime during the Third Age and its inhabitants traded extensively with the Elves of Thranduil's Woodland Realm, the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain and the Iron Hills, their kin in Dale and Dorwinion to the south, and possibly with the Easterlings (in times of peace, of course). The Men of Lake-town traded with Dorwinion (a human realm on the fertile coastal plain on the west shore of the Sea of Rhûn) in a unique way; wine barrels were floated down from Thranduil's caverns in Mirkwood (the Elves were known as copious wine drinkers, as found in the Hobbit) along the Celduin down to Lake-town, where they were redirected to Dorwinion. The wine was then paid for and filled with the necessary goods before being shipped back north, and the cycle of trade resumed once more. These barrels were also quite large, for they could fit a Hobbit or Dwarf (even the extremely fat Bombur).

Lake town

A sketch of the city of Lake-town.

It is also where Bilbo and the Dwarves travelled in their adventure to reclaim the Lonely Mountain. In the year TA 2941 of the Third Age the town was attacked by the dragon, but Bard the Bowman, who had indirectly learned of a weakness in Smaug's armor that had first been noticed by Bilbo Baggins,
TBOT5A 08

Smaug destroys Lake-town

slew the dragon. Smaug, livid with bestial fury, had winged his way to the town in the dead of night and promptly began to immolate the wooden matchwood structures there, materials that burst into flame at the slightest provocation. Its inhabitants realized all too late their predicament and while some, including most of the women and children, got away safely on boats, many perished in the maelstrom of fire that ensued. A brave company of spearmen and archers attempted, in vain, to shoot down the dragon, but were mostly immolated themselves. It wasn't until Bard managed to kill the dragon, that the destruction finally ended. The town was wrecked by the dragon, but afterwards it was rebuilt using some of the treasure that Smaug had stolen, though the town's Master ran off with some of the Gold. Part of the town's population followed Bard to resettle the Kingdom of Dale.[4]

As trading people, the Men of Lake-town knew the Common Speech, Westron. However, amongst themselves they spoke an ancient form of it, which was loosely related to but distinct from the also ancient language of the Rohirrim. Tolkien "translated" Westron into English in his text, so to represent its ancient relative that the Rohirrim spoke he substituted Old English. Thus, Tolkien substituted Old Norse for the language of the Men of Esgaroth (in person and place names, etc.) because it is an ancient relative of English that is related to Old English.

After the town's near destruction following Smaug's rage, its inhabitants rebuilt it with more splendor and grandeur further down the lake. Lake-town is used to refer to the pre-Smaug town upon the Long Lake, while the rebuilt, larger cousin further down the waterway is referred to as Esgaroth. The inhabitants also learned a crucially important, but painful, lesson bought with the blood of loved ones: the town was built to be less susceptible to flame and its military was expanded. These lessons greatly aided it during the War of the Ring.

Portrayal in adaptations

The Hobbit film trilogy

In Peter Jackson's The Hobbit movie trilogy, the clear Eastern design and culture of Lake-town and its inhabitants (including, the military and political leaders) are primarily derived from medieval Russian influences - i.e., the early Rus' states of Kievan Rus' and its successors. Indeed, Lake-town is reminiscent of the old northern Rus' trading city of Novgorod - itself, like Lake-town, also situated on a lake.

Also, as presented in the movies, per the complex nature of Russian ethno-cultural history, Lake-town itself and its people are also infused with Finnic, Baltic, and Turkic influences. In the movies, Peter Jackson clearly defines the culture of Lake-town and Dale as a part of the East. Due to the location of Lake-town in the North-East of Middle-earth, these elements are highly appropriate.

Gallery

Art hobbit-laketown-05
Art hobbit-laketown-07
Art hobbit-laketown-06
Art hobbit-laketown-04
Concept Art
Lake-Town TORn
The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Concept Art of Lake-town.
Ss hobbit-laketown-01
Lake-town
Smaug in Lake town
Smaug in Lake-town
Lake town after Smaug attack
Lake Town Burning

Translations around the World

Foreign Language Translated name
Afrikaans Meer-dorp
Albanian Liqeni-qytet
Amharic ሐይቅ-ከተማ
Arabic بحيرة بلدة
Armenian Լիճ-քաղաք
Azerbaijani Göl-şəhər
Basque Aintzira-herri
Belarusian Cyrillic горад возера
Bengali লেক শহরে
Bosnian Jezero-grad
Bulgarian Cyrillic Град на езерото
Burmese ရေကန် မြို့
Cambodian ទីក្រុងបឹង
Catalan Ciutat del Llac
Cebuano Lungsod sa lanaw
Chinese (Hong Kong) 長湖鎮
Croatian Jezergrad
Czech Jezero-město
Danish Søenby
Dutch Meerstad
Esperanto Lago-urbo
Estonian Järve linn
Filipino Lawa bayan
Finnish Järvikaupunki
French Bourg-du-Lac / Lacville
Galician Cidade do lago
Georgian ტბა ქალაქი
German Seestadt
Greek Λίμνη-πόλη
Gujarati તળાવ-નગર
Haitian Creole Lak-bouk
Hausa Tafki-garin
Hebrew אגם העיר
Hindi झील शहर
Hungarian Tóváros
Icelandic Vatnabænum
Indonesian Danau kotamadya
Irish Gaelic Loch-baile
Italian Pontelagolungo / Città del Lago
Japanese レイクタウン
Kannada ಸರೋವರ ಪಟ್ಟಣ
Kazakh Cyrillic Көл-қала
Korean 호수 마을
Kurdish Gol bajar (Latin)
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Көл шаар
Latin lacus oppidum
Latvian Ezers-pilsēta
Lithuanian Ežeras-miestas
Luxembourgish Séi-stad
Macedonian Cyrillic Езеро-град
Malagasy Farihy tanàna
Malay Tasik bandar
Manx Logh Balley
Marathi लेक-टाउन
Mongolian Cyrillic Нуур-хот
Nepalese ताल-शहर
Norwegian Langsjøby
Occitan Estanh ciutat
Persian شهر دریاچه
Polish Miasto na Jeziorze
Portuguese (Brazil) Cidade do Lago
Punjabi ਝੀਲ ਦਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ
Romanian Lacului Orașul
Romansh citad Lai
Russian Эсгарот
Serbian Град језера (Cyrillic) Grad jezera (Latin)
Scottish Gaelic Loch a 'bhaile
Shona Nyanza-taundi
Sindhi ڍنڍ جو ڳوٺ
Sinhalese ලේක් නගරය
Slovak Jazero-mesto
Slovenian Jezero-mesto
Somalian Harada magaalada
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Ciudad del Lago
Swahili Ziwa mji
Swedish Sjöstaden
Tajik Cyrillic шаҳраки кӯл
Tamil ஏரி-நகரம்
Tatar Күл шәһәр
Telugu లేక్ పట్టణం
Thai เมืองริมทะเลสาบ
Turkish Göl Kasabası
Turkmen Kol Şäher
Ukrainian Cyrillic Озеро-місто
Urdu جھیل قصبہ
Uzbek Кўл шаҳар (Cyrillic) Ko'l shahar (Latin)
Vietnamese Thị trấn hồ
Welsh Llyn-dref
Xhosa Echibi idolophu
Yiddish אָזערע שטאָט
Yoruba Adágún ilu
Zulu Ichibi idolobha

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Hobbit, "Lake-town"
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Third Age"
  3. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Thematic Maps, "Languages"
  4. The Hobbit

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