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The Great Plague, known also as the Dark Plague, was a disastrous pestilence in Middle-earth in the mid-Third Age.



The Great Plague began in the east beyond Mordor, reaching Osgiliath in TA 1636 just two years after King Minardil of Gondor had been killed at Pelargir by the Corsairs of Umbar, and two centuries after the Kin-strife of Gondor. The new king, Telemnar died along with his children, as well as many others of the Dúnedain. These losses served to greatly weaken the people of Gondor.[1]

Movement of the plague

The Plague had first hit Rhûn and Rhovanion, and after the plague had passed more than half, the people had been killed. From Osgiliath, the plague spread west and then north. Minhiriath and Cardolan were especially hard hit and the remaining population in those regions mostly wiped out. The last of the Dúnedain of Cardolan died at the Barrowdowns, and evil spirits from Angmar entered the tombs there.

Thankfully, the Plague weakened as it passed north and Arthedain was scarcely affected, although the Shire was hit harder, with the Hobbits suffering great losses.[1]

In Gondor, the cities of Osgiliath and Minas Ithil were hit especially hard, suffering the highest casualties outside of Rhovanion. Many fled both cities and re-located to Ithilien and Anórien, and Minas Anor became the King's seat as Osgiliath was so depopulated it began to fall into ruin.[1] After this time, the province of Calenardhon, never densely populated, was mostly empty.


The casualties were so high that the fortresses guarding Mordor were abandoned along with the garrisons in Enedwaith, as the surviving troops were recalled. For the next two centuries, Gondor, as well as its enemies, did little but try to regain strength. Gondor had begun to recover by the 19th century of the Third Age, but was then hit by the Wainrider War.

Portrayal in adaptations

The Great Plague appears in The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king, in which the plague is planned by the Witch-king to weaken the Dunedain kingdoms even further. The plague is created by Angmar's sorcerers by corrupting the Barrow-downs of Cardolan, creating many Barrow-wights, including Karsh. Afterwards, the plague ravages Arnor, then spreads across the Misty Mountains, affecting Osgiliath, Rhovanion, and Rhun, presumably in the same way as in the books.

In The Lord of the Rings Online, the Great Plague is revealed to be an evil of Sauron, created by his chief poisoner Lhaereth the Stained. Various versions of it were tested in Rhun before a suitable variant was unleashed onto the lands in the west. However, despite the devastation it brought, the Plague was deemed a failure by Sauron for not being deadly enough, and Lhaereth fell out of his favor for many years hence. It is revealed that the Rangers of the North could heal those affected by the Plague with kingsfoil. After the downfall of Sauron, the player works with two Rangers to stop Lhaereth from unleashing a new, improved version of the Great Plague.


Foreign Language Translated name
Afrikaans Groot Pes
Albanian murtajë e Madhe
Amharic ታላቁ መቅሰፍት
Arabic العظيم طاعون
Armenian Մեծ ժանտախտը
Azerbaijani Böyük vəbası
Basque Izurri handia
Belarusian Cyrillic Вялікая Чума
Bengali গ্রেট প্লেগ
Bosnian Velika kuga
Bulgarian Cyrillic Голямата чума
Burmese ဂရိတ်ဘေးကပ်ရောဂါ
Cambodian ជំងឺប៉េស្តដ៏អស្ចារ្យ
Catalan Gran plaga
Cebuano Dakong katalagman
Chinese 大大瘟疫
Croatian Velika kuga
Czech Velký mor
Danish Den Store Pest
Dutch Grote Plaag
Esperanto Granda pesto
Estonian Suur katk
Filipino Mahusay na Peste
Finnish Suuri rutto
French Grande Peste
Frisian Grutte pest
Galician Gran peste
Georgian დიდი ჭირი
German Große Pest
Greek Μεγάλη πληγή
Gujarati ગ્રેટ પ્લેગ
Hausa Babban annoba
Hebrew הגדול המגפה
Hindi महान प्लेग
Hungarian Nagy pestis
Icelandic Mikill plága
Indonesian Wabah Besar
Irish Gaelic An Phlá Mór
Italian Grande Epidemia
Japanese グレートペスト
Kannada ಗ್ರೇಟ್ ಪ್ಲೇಗ್
Kazakh Үлкен оба (Cyrillic) Ülken oba (Latin)
Korean 그레이트 역병
Laotian ໄພພິບັດທີ່ຍິ່ງໃຫຍ່
Latvian Liela nelaime
Lithuanian Didysis maras
Luxembourgish Grouss Pescht
Macedonian Cyrillic Голема чума
Malagasy aretina Lehibe
Malay Wabak besar
Malayalam വലിയ പ്ലേഗ്
Maltese Pesta Kbira
Marathi ग्रेट प्लेग
Norwegian Stor Pesten
Persian طاعون بزرگ
Polish Wielki Mór
Portuguese Grande Praga
Punjabi ਮਹਾਨ ਪਲੇਗ
Romanian Ciuma mare
Russian Великая Чума
Serbian Велика куга (Cyrillic) Velika kuga (Latin)
Sinhalese මහා වසංගතය
Slovak Veľký mor
Slovenian Velika kuga
Spanish Gran Plaga
Sudanese Pagebug Hébat
Swahili Tauni Kubwa
Swedish Stor Pest
Tajik Cyrillic Бемории калон
Tamil பெரிய பிளேக்
Telugu గ్రేట్ ప్లేగు
Thai โรคระบาดครั้งใหญ่
Turkish Büyük Veba
Ukrainian Cyrillic Велика чума
Urdu عظیم پلیگ
Uzbek Катта чума (Cyrillic) Katta chuma (Latin)
Vietnamese Đại dịch hạch
Welsh Pla mawr
Xhosa Kakhulu Isibetho
Yiddish גרויס פּלאָגן


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Third Age"