This weekend, I sat down with a friend in the middle of the clouded hills of the Lone Lands and told him the story of Melkor, as well as I could. It inspired me to try to gather just his story into a tale, which perhaps is little known in Middle-Earth.
Dear listener, did you know that Sauron was once just a lieutenant of an even greater evil - and had a master? In the beginning of all, when Arda was created by Ilúvatar and the Ainur (sometimes called the gods) were sent down to shape it, among them was Melkor – also known as Morgoth and later as Lord of Darkness or the Great Enemy.
Melkor was on of the higher Ainur, called Valar (the lesser were called Maiar) and of the Valar, he was the most powerful. During the time of the vision of Arda, he grew jealous of Ilúvatar and wished to create life and things of his own and rule and be called master. Like the other higher gods he was drawn to creating and shaping a particular part of Arda – and he was drawn to the part that had to do with extremes and violence, such as earthquakes and dire colds and heats. He therefore tried to change the plans that had been visioned by the Ainur and he disrupted the work of his fellow Ainur, marring their shaping so that nothing never really became exactly as they wanted.
None of the other Valar could restrain him and not until another Valar, Tulkas, arrived was Melkor subdued and sent away from Arda, so that they could work in peace. However, it did not last long, as he found a way to return and managed to destroy the lamps that gave Arda light and also to destroy the first home of the Ainur, called Almaren, which is a tale in itself.
After this, the Ainur created a new home for themselves, called Valinor, and they fortified it against Melkor and more or less forsook Middle-Earth where Melkor could now roam and rule freely as he pleased.
Melkor made his fortress Utumno in the north of Arda and it was not until the Elves awakened in Middle-Earth that he was contested. The Valar grew afraid when they learned that the first born, the Elves, had awakened under the stars in this time when Melkor was still dominating Arda completely. Therefore, they began a war against Melkor in which they finally managed to sentence and imprison him.
Melkor was pardoned before his sentence ran out and he was largely allowed to travel and work freely in Valinor, where both the Ainur and many of the Elves now lived. Pretending that he regretted and to help, the Elves learned a lot of craftsmanship from him, especially the Noldor Elves, who were eager to always improve their knowledge and talent. But cunning as he was, he sought to place distrust among the Elves and the Ainur and he succeeded well in secret. There arouse discontent among the Noldor and they were afraid of secrets the Ainur might hold from them about the comming race of Men and why they had been summoned to Valinor in the first place.
Melkor fled Valinor once the Ainur found out what was going on and sought to stop him again and he returned to his fortress of Angband in the north of Arda. He later returned to Valinor with the terrible creature Ungoliant the Spider and destroyed the two trees of Valinor, Telperion and Laurelin, and stole the three Silmarils, which the Noldor Fëanor had made. This resulted in many of the Noldor Elves leaving Valinor and returning to Middle-Earth to make war upon Melkor to reclaim the silmarils. This also, is a long tale in itself.
Countless of battles between Melkor, or Morgoth as he was now better known, took place. Elves allied with Humans, Morgoth gained the support of the men of the East and it finally culminated when Eärendil, father of Elrond and Elros, sailed to Valinor with only the silmaril that Beren and Luthien had stolen from Melkor as his guide. There, he pleaded with the Ainur to show mercy upon the children of Arda and help them in their battle against Morgoth.
This resulted in the War of Wrath, as the Elves name it and Morgoth was utterly defeated in this war and cast into the endless void until the end of time, but all of the north of Arda was also reshaped and changed and some of Morgoth’s servants were not destroyed. Some dragons remained who fled and scattered, some balrogs hid deep beneath the earth, Sauron survived and lived in hiding for a long time and many many orcs remained and multiplied. But this was the story of Melkor.