Rhûn, also known as The East and Eastlands in the Westron tongue, is a large region in the far eastern part of Middle-earth. It was the home and kingdom of the Easterlings in the Second and Third Ages. It had many different groups who ultimately fought together and were in Sauron's service.
Very little is known of the lands beyond the great Sea of Rhûn that stood on its borders with the western lands. Even Gandalf had never explored there, and although Aragorn visited once, his activities are not recounted.
Something is known of its ancient geography from The Silmarillion; far beyond the Sea of Rhûn was another inland sea, the Sea of Helcar, and beyond that a range of mountains known as the Orocarni (Red Mountains). Somewhere in the lost east, too, lay Cuiviénen and Hildórien, where Elves and Men first awoke: all the Children of Ilúvatar could trace their ancestries back to the eastward regions of Middle-earth.
The Easterlings were a race of Men who ultimately followed both Dark Lords and fought as their allies in war in different parts of history.
During the Third Age, Rhûn was visited by three Wizards; Saruman, Alatar, and Pallando, and though Saruman returned to the west, the two Blue Wizards remained. Their fates are unknown and whether they were successful in inspiring the peoples they had contact with to resist Sauron's influence is unknown. Sauron himself journeyed into the eastward lands, in hiding from the White Council during the centuries known in the west as the Watchful Peace.
The people of Rhûn were finally subdued in the Fourth Age under King Elessar (Aragorn) and his son Eldarion. King Elessar eventually made peace with the Easterlings, and they were allowed to remain in Rhûn.
In times of peace (or unstable lulls between Easterling attacks), the Men of Rhûn traded their products to their erstwhile enemies as well. As seen in The Hobbit, a number of Elvish guardsmen in the cellar of King Thranduil's subterranean palace drank themselves into a stupor and blindly let Bilbo Baggins and his Dwarf companions escape down the River Running to Lake-town. The massive, wild white Kine of Araw (from which Boromir's Horn of Gondor was crafted) would also prove to provide a source of rare and highly-valued meat that was famed around the land and greatly desired by the monarchs of many kingdoms, from the Elvenking to the Steward of Gondor.
The western part of Rhûn was visible in maps of the Westlands of Middle-earth. It contained the great Sea of Rhûn, into which ran the River Running from the northwest. A forest lay to the northeast of the Sea, and near the southwestern shores, there were many hills. Southwest of the Sea of Rhûn lay also the land of Dorwinion.
The Inland Sea of Rhûn was located in western Rhûn on the border between Rhûn and Wilderland. There were mountains on the southwest side of the Sea of Rhûn and a forest on the north-east side. Wild white Kine of Araw, or oxen, lived near the shores of the Sea of Rhûn.
Further east in Rhûn were ancient regions where the Children of Ilúvatar first awoke: Cuiviénen for the Elves, which lay on the shores of Sea of Helcar near the Orocarni (Red Mountains); and Hildórien for Men. Four Dwarven clans were also located in Rhûn (Orocarni); their strongholds were at least as far east from Mount Gundabad in the Misty Mountains as Mount Gundabad lay east of the Blue Mountains. Additionally, Sauron maintained a fortress in Rhûn in the Third Age.
The Dwarves of RhûnEdit
Dwarves emerged in Middle-earth in the Years of the Trees: after Elves but before Men. When the seven Fathers of the Dwarves awoke in far-flung corners of Middle-earth, some of them found themselves in Rhûn, and there they founded kingdoms under the mountains of Orocarni. The following clans are the Houses that resided in the Orocarni: Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks, Stonefoots. In the Third Age, Dwarves of those kingdoms journeyed out of Rhûn to join all Middle-earth's other Dwarf clans in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, which was fought in and under the Misty Mountains. After this war, the survivors returned home. Late in the Third Age, when war and terror grew in Rhûn itself, considerable numbers of its Dwarves left their ancient homelands. They sought refuge in Middle-earth's western lands, where some of them met Frodo Baggins. 
Rhûn was known for numerous fighting forces, nearly spelling the doom of Gondor and almost heralding Sauron's complete victory over the entirety of Middle-earth. (See the article entitled "Easterlings" for a complete digest of their military structure.) However, it can be assumed that their military was not of the quality of the three houses of the Edain. Because of their distance from the high culture of the Eldar, their weaponry and armor would most likely be inferior to that of their Edain brothers that were armed by the Elves of Beleriand. On their other hand, their work with Morgoth's Orcs would place them in a position to utilize his weaponry after large losses and attrition.
The main weapon of the infantry of Rhûn that marched upon Gondor seemed to be the spear although there were reports of short, swarthy men wielding axes during Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
However, they are not all footmen. In the books, they are described as having bowmen upon horses and then they are described as companies of horsemen. Both the Wainriders and the Balchoth also used chariots. These were supremely effective in the flat no-man's lands that characterized much of Rhovanion in the wide corridor between the southern eaves of Mirkwood and the northern flanks of Mordor, routing and destroying the armies of Gondor under King Narmacil II in the Battle of the Plains. They were to take a considerable toll on the Eotheod as well.
The Easterlings that fought in the War of the Ring established and built on the solid foundation of military excellence and fearsome savagery that characterized their all-conquering ancestors. Often, the Easterlings in a mixed contingent of Orcs, Haradrim, Variags, Corsairs, or Uruk-hai would be the first to clash with the enemy and the last to leave the field. The Rhûnic tradition of bravery and self-sacrifice was imbued within every warrior of Rhûn, instilling him with a concoction of bloodlust and fury that would ensure that he fought to the last. As evidenced in countless battles during the Third Age, the Easterlings would always stand their ground and fight to the last man unless ordered otherwise. This was proven in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The Easterlings' resolve to fight to the death was also exemplified the next day when the tables turned against Sauron. While the host of Mordor dropped their weapons, shed their armor, and fled en masse across the bridge to Osgiliath, the host of the Easterlings halted with their backs to the River Anduin and stood their ground. None survived, despite inflicting numerous casualties upon their hated enemies.
The vast Rhûnic army that besieged Dale and the Lonely Mountains in TA 3019 most likely had a sizable support element traveling along with them, for one does not simply win a siege with footmen. It is likely that the siege weapons brought along by the Easterlings differed greatly from their primitive and savage Orc allies.
The first Elves awoke far east of the Sea of Rhûn, and many of them were led to the Westlands by Oromë. Some Elves forsook this Great Journey and chose to remain in the east; they were called the Avari.
The first Men also awoke in the far east, where they first met Dwarves and Avari. The ancestors of the Edain and Drúedain traveled west out of Rhûn. At the shores of the Sea of Rhûn, some of the Mannish tribes traveling west separated and their languages soon diverged. Other men remained in Rhûn, and many of them came under the dominion of Morgoth and, later, Sauron. These men were called Easterlings, and they led many attacks against Gondor and its allies during the Third Age.
The most western parts of Rhûn were conquered by Gondor twice, under the Kings Rómendacil I and Rómendacil II, but the Númenóreans never had full control over it. Western Rhûn was finally subdued in the Fourth Age under King Elessar and his son Eldarion.
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