In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Easterlings of the First Age were Men who lived in the east of Middle-earth, and mostly fought under Morgoth. They are different from the Easterlings of later Ages.
They were short and broad, long and strong in the arm, and grew much hair on face and breast; their locks were dark as were their eyes, and their skins were sallow or swart. But they were not all of one kind, in looks or in temper, or in tongue. Some were not uncomely and were fair to deal with; some were grim and ill-favoured and of little trust. Their houses were many, and there was little love among them.
The prime reason for their migrating was the rumour of the wealth and peace of Beleriand as it was during the Siege of Angband, but many Easterlings have journeyed on behalf of Morgoth the Dark Lord, for he had secretly corrupted some tribes and chieftains to his service. The Dwarves of the Blue Mountains had reported to the Elven-lord Maedhros of the coming of Easterlings. Maedhros then decided to make alliance with them in hope of overthrowing Morgoth, and gave them wide lands in Lothlann and in East Beleriand to the south of the March of Maedhros. The most powerful of their chieftains with the greatest followings and authority were Bór and Ulfang; their men were marshalled and trained for war by the Sons of Fëanor, and more of their kinsfolk from Eriador were summoned.
House of Bór
The kinsfolk of the people of Bór that remained in Eriador are said to be the ancestors of the Forodwaith and Lossoth of the Second and Third Ages. The sons of Bór were Borlach, Borlad and Borthand, and his people swore allegiance to Maedhros and his brother Maglor. They remained faithful, and "cheated the hope of Morgoth." During the Nírnaeth Arnoediad they fought on the side of the Eldar and Edain, and after the treachery of Ulfang, the sons of Bór slew Ulfast and Ulwarth, but were themselves wiped out together with all of their folk.
House of Ulfang
Ulfang, called also the Black or the Swart, was the father of Ulfast, Ulwarth, and Uldor the Accursed. Ulfang was also welcomed by the Sons of Fëanor, and his people swore allegiance to Caranthir. Ulfang and his sons were deeper in the secret allegiance with Morgoth, and betrayed the Eldar and Edain during the Nírnaeth Arnoediad in what was later known as the Treachery of Men.
Before the beginning of the battle Uldor, the leader in treason, deceived Maedhros with false warning of assault from Angband and hindered his setting forth. When the battle was at last joined, a part of the people of Ulfang fled in fear, but the majority, together with their kin that recently came in secret, suddenly went over to Morgoth. In the resulting confusion the host of Maedhros was broken and scattered, though Maglor slew Uldor and the sons of Bór slew Ulwarth and Ulfast. (Ulfang died two years before the battle - see Dates.)
Incomers of Hithlum
However, Ulfang's Easterlings were also betrayed by their lord Morgoth, who had promised them vast lands in Beleriand, but now he commanded them to settle in the cold land of Hithlum and forbade them to leave it. There they plundered and harassed the remnant of the House of Hador, mostly old, women and children; those able to work they enslaved, others they drove out to starve. And many married women of the Folk of Hador by force, because there were few women in their following and "none to compare with the daughters of the Edain". The Easterlings called the Folk of Hador Strawheads, and were met with such names as Incomers or Wolf-folk.
Each of the chieftains of Easterlings in Hithlum claimed to be their overlord; the most powerful were:
- He was held the chieftain of the Easterlings and claimed Dor-lómin or even all Hithlum as a fief under Morgoth. Tuor was captured and enslaved by him, but his lot was lighter than of other thralls, as "Lorgan fed his beasts of burden well, while they were young and could work". Tuor in the end escaped, and Lorgan set a high price upon his head. Lorgan also plotted to take Nienor as wife, hearing of her beauty, and this hastened her departure from Dor-lómin. Húrin after his release by Morgoth came to Lorgan to "take leave of the lord of the land". But Lorgan "was wary, and more cunning and wicked than the others", and guessed Morgoth's intents for the fate of Húrin and let him depart freely, prophesying that evil fortune awaits him.
- He took his abode in the south-east of Dor-lómin and seized most of the goods, people and cattle of Húrin former Lord of the land. Húrin's kinswoman Aerin he took to wife by force, as "he hoped to make himself a lordship in that country, and have an heir to hold it after him." "He was a bold man, but of small account among his own people before they came to Hithlum; and so, seeking wealth, he was ready to hold lands that others of his sort did not covet." The enthralled Men of Hador he set to build him a wooden hall, and "within a stockade his slaves were herded like cattle in a byre."
- Aerin helped Morwen in secret, and was beaten by Brodda for this. He was always afraid of Morwen, but when she finally departed from Dor-lómin, he took for himself all that remained of her household. When Túrin Turambar, son of Húrin, returned to Dor-lómin in Y.S. 495, he learned all this from Aerin, and in his rage he killed Brodda. The beggars of the former Folk of Hador that were in his house revolted then, and many were slain on both sides. Survivors fled into hiding, but Aerin's fate was sealed, and she burnt herself alive in Brodda's hall. The remainder of the House of Hador now was persecuted even more cruelly.
The Easterlings usurped Hithlum for nearly a century, until the War of Wrath, when they and those newly come from the East fought for Morgoth against the Host of the Valar and were defeated. Those that survived fled back over the Ered Luin to Eriador and beyond.
Etymology of names
In early works Tolkien stated that the names of the prominent Easterlings were given to them by the Elves, and are thus from Sindarin language. The meanings proposed for the names as they were then are: Bór 'faithful vassal', Borthandos 'faithful intelligent (one)', Borlas 'faithful joy', Boromir 'faithful jewel'; Ulfang 'hideous beard', Uldor 'hideous ruler', Ulfast 'hideous shaggy hair' and Ulwarth 'hideous betrayer'. Later, however, Tolkien changed both the names and conception, assuming that all the names of the Easterlings are uninterpretable in languages of Eldar or Edain (this was true of Brodda even in early texts).
The sons of Bór and Ulfang, and Bór himself, were all slain in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad of Y.S. 472 of the First Age. Their birthdates are given in a single work of J. R. R. Tolkien and form a part of an early stage of the legendarium, but can possibly be updated to fit the later versions of the history: Ulfang 400-470, Uldor b. 425, Ulfast 428, Ulwarth 430; Bór b. 420, Borlad 443, Borlach 445, Borthand 447.
- Easterlings for Men of the East in later Ages
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Grey Annals, p. 60-64, ISBN 0-395-71041-3
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Narn i Hîn H��rin: "The Departure of Túrin" and "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin", ISBN 0-395-29917-9
- Unfinished Tales: Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin.
- The War of the Jewels: The continuation of the Grey Annals, pp. 253-266.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1987), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Quenta Silmarillion, p. 286, ISBN 0-395-45519-7 Actually the Quenya name was invented by Tolkien when the generic term for Men was Hildi (from Primitive Quendian khil-do), but later he changed the latter to Hildor (from khil-dō). However, the form used in compounds would still be -hildi, and thus Rómenildi fits the changed etymology.
- The Lost Road: The Etymologies, stems BOR-, KHAN-, GALAS-, MIR-; ULUG-, SPANAG-, TĀ-, PHAS-, WAR-.
- A similar statement in The Lhammas (The Lost Road, p. 179) can equally be earlier or later than the conception in The Etymologies.
- The genealogies done in early 1930s. See The Lost Road, pp. 403-4: Ulfand 100-170, Uldor b. 125, Ulfast 128, Ulwar 130; Bór b. 120, Borlas 143, Boromir 145, Borthandos 147. For names cf. pp. 452-3 and The War of the Jewels, p. 240.