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What happened to the population of Minas Tirith?

pgt

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Minas Tirith (& Gondor) is portrayed as a city that has seen better days and most notably the population has declined.

But I don't see any specific reason(s) attributed to this in the books. Are there any?
 

Ståle

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I guess they lost a lot back in the days of the Plague, and never fully recovered.
 
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Gurthang

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Being at war for a long, long time can kinda decimate your population. No more young males? Why, sirrah, you do indeed have a problem.
 

Lantarion

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The near waning of the line of Numenor and Isildur may have discouraged the people; but I think it was the Plague, and the troubling times.
 

pgt

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I too thought but I think the plague that I recall was smething like 1500 years prior so I didn't really consider that a factor after such time. I think there was a nasty winter and flood since then but I believe Gondor was largely immune to those events as well. I also get the feeling that the lands of Gondor are quite fertile and well situated geographically.

Gondor's history essentialy spans the III age. Throughout that time they fight their wars with East, South and or Orcs (presumably) from Morgul at times. There are plenty of spans of peace throughout that 3000 years too or at least no notable mention of war. They have smashing successes and defeats as you would expect. At the time of the war of the ring, other men's civlizations who were Gondor's primary antagonists out of the East and South seem to have reproduced sufficiently.

But IF that's the case it doesn't leave much except maybe their birthrate was lower than others... At least I come back to that possibility. But I don't find or recall anything in the books that specifically substantiates it. Hmmmm.
 

Pops

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I believe I recall Boromir stating that the Men of Gondor had been battling with the armies of Mordor (at Osgiliath?....hmm, don't recall precisely)for a long while prior to the Council...perhaps that is reason for the decline in population.
 

pgt

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I thought a little more about Boromir at the council and his mention of conflict etc.

Looking at Appendix B Chronology and going backwards from III 3018 you have to go way back (before the battle of 5 armies) to III 2885 to find a 'mentionable' conflict in the chronology. 133 years.

Not worth mentioning in the chronology, we know that Thorongil (Aragorn) led a raid on Umbar in 2980 with small losses. No other mention of significant conflict from Gondor's perspective was made in that passage. In fact Thorongil went on to the East with the full knowledge of Gondor suggesting there may not have been a specific conflict with the East at that particular time.

I looked up Boromir's words. It's interesting but not entirely helpfull though I'm beginning to suspect it's the best we'll get.

He states "But this very year, in the days of June, sudden war came upon us out of Mordor, and we were swept away." He also mentions the loss of their "Eastern Force".

He mentions some occurences like losing their foothold in Ithilian and a defensive battle at the last bridge of Osgiliath.

Now Ithilian was formally given up long before or so says the Chronologies. Same goes for the Bridge(s) at Osgiliath which makes me wonder if the last bridge he is referring to is indeed minor or made of something other than stone like wood/rope. For that matter this makes me wonder if their foothold was a minor one. This, combined with knowledge we learn through Frodo of their continuing guerrilla activities in the area make me wonder if this is more skirmishing activities w/ one notable loss compared to say the full scale war that strikes when Aragorn looks into the Palantir and Mithrandir arrives. They obviously haven't completely given up their foothold based on Faramirs activites either.

We have no real idea how large the Eastern Force was relative to the strength of MT or Gondor. Boromir's information 'seems' relatively minor compared to the war we see as well as events in the Appendix/Chronology making me think his words are overly dramatic IMHO of course.

Now how does this lead back to the population issue? I don't see that it fully does. While there is a shortness of men of age to be of service perhaps due to war among other things, the overall population is low for a city the size of MT. I presume the survivors of that Eastern Force still reside in MT (families, women, children etc). Surely it's not a force of single bachelors. And even considering the folks that were evacuated from the City, it appears to have been a city w/ many an empty dwelling.

I feel like birthrate may be an issue in reading of the waning of Numenor. Purely a rationalization on my part. But I never felt like Gondor (or Arnor?) is populated entirely Numenoreans. By and large many people of Gondor are just that, of Gondor. Those of Nemenorean lineage sat at the top of Gondorean politics. So I'm not thinking that the waning of Numenoreans thing can be fully pointed at the overall population of Gondor or MT. Yet I still wonder if the decline of birthrate may be a good logical fit here.

Interestingly enough, other cultures of men 'appear' to be procreating in recent centuries OK such as Dale/Laketown, Rohan (maintained status quo?), Easterlings, Harad, etc. The latter two, if they are in conflict are likely in it with Gondor and probably suffer equal if not greater losses.

But as far as the books go I suppose Boromir's words at Imladris are probably the best hint we'll get from the books. Still I think my birthrate theory fits pretty good too and perhaps takes into acoutn the waning of Numenoreans.
 

Walter

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I agree with You, pgt, that indeed the birthrate seemed to have played a major role in the decrease of the population. In Appendix A Chapter "GONDOR AND THE HEIRS OF ANARION" we find right at the beginning:

There were thirty-one kings in Gondor after Anárion who was slain before the Barad-dûr. Though war never ceased on their borders, for more than a thousand years the Dunedain of the South grew in wealth and power by land and sea, until the reign of Atanatar II, who was called Alcarin, the Glorious. Yet the signs of decay had then already appeared; for the high men of the South married late, and their children were few. The first childless king was Falastur, and the second Narmacil I, the son of Atanatar Alcarin.

Denethor II, e.g., born 2935 became ruling steward 2984 at the age of 49, his first son Boromir was born 2978 when he was 43, Faramir was born 5 years later when he was 48.

As the text goes on other reasons - that have to a great part already been mentioned here - are explained in more detail too: More or less constantly being under attack from Sauron and his allies, the plage, the kin-strife, the great plague, the invasions of the wainriders and last not least an ongoing degeneration of the Númenóreans.
 
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pgt

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I'm not sure I fully agree that they were constantly under attack. I think peace and war were somewhat intermixed. Oh I'm sure there were encounters and skirmishes and raids during those peace times. When reviewing the chronology I was trying not to fall into the news media trap of just concentrating on the bad news (e.g. war). I was also trying to concentrate on the last 100 or 200 years or so though it doesn't hurt to go as far back as desired.

In your example, Denethor and his wife would have acheived ZPG or zero pop. growth presuming Faramir and Eowyn had 2 children. I know it's a tiny sample size but if that was the norm, war would have slowly reduced the population here and there given time.

What are your thoughts on the general population of Gondor?

I was thinking they were 'men' like those in other man cultures in ME as opposed to Numenorean per se. Those that were more or less numenorean and subject to the waning were concentrated in the upper echelons of Gondoran nobility. I got some clues to this as it was always important in the earlier days of Gondor that it was important for the King, Dunedain etc. to always marry those that were similarly Numenorean. THis suggests that they may have had 'options' or 'availability' or 'access' to relationships with Gondoran 'commoners' (for the lack of a better term?) that may not necessarily have been Numenorean. That left me with the impression that any old shield maiden or farmer from the interior or Gondor was perhaps not Numenorean.

There is one or 2 mentions of outside marriages that were part of the whole kin-strife thing and such. That is about where I recall mention of the marriage traditions.

'IF' all that is true we come back to not specifically pointing to the waning of Numenoreans as the reason for declines in birthrate. If not true, the Numenorean condition fits nicely to explain the birthrate. In either case, I come back to Birthrate in combination with intermittent wars as the cause anyway - just no explanation for the birthrate.
 

Walter

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When I read through the chapter I mentioned my impression was that the events mentioned would well explain a decrease of population in Minas Anor/Tirith as well as in Gondor generally. From what I read there and in the Sil I get the impression that the pupulation is indeed mixed from different races or tribes, surely not strictly Númenórean...

What I have not found so far are any notations about absolute population numbers or densities of Middle-earth which makes any - even rough - calculations difficult if not impossible.

As for your example: if we take a couple like Denethor and his wife and the chance for an untimely dead of one of their children is 50% (Boromir) we would already have a decrease of 50% within one generation (what I actually intend to say is we can't apply laws of statistics for calculations with the small numbers we have)
 

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