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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
A discussion of "Law and Arda" by Douglas Kane
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Jun 5 2013, 4:19pm

Post #101 of 101 (360 views)
NICE set of inquiries CG! [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
What do people think about international laws on diplomacy in Arda? I can only think of two examples:
1. Right after their return to MEarth and their first battle with Morgoth, the Noldor agree to a parley over peace. Each side justifiably suspects the other will send more troops than agreed on, so they both cheat and send more. Did they make up the rules on the spot (both Noldor and Morgoth had just come from war-free Valinor), or was there some longstanding agreement on legal proceedings for negotiations?
I do think it was on-the-spot, especially for Maehdros, as the emissary comes within minutes of Feanor's death: he has emotions running high. But, I wonder here if Melkor, having learned from the assault on Utumno and his imprisonment, wanted to 'talk' to his enemy this time, to see if he could either work his will into the situation or take advantage of a weaker, trusting enemy (ha, Maehdros gotcha there.) Is this a first in ME? Would Morgoth have been 'negotiating' with anyone else? It seems his prior activities were elf-napping, mountain-rearing and fog-making, not anything diplomatic. Potentially the 'emissary' concept - was this where it began?

2. The other one that strikes me is the conversation with the Mouth of Sauron at the Morannon. He starts off by insulting everyone, then Aragorn holds him with his eye and seems to telepathically harm or threaten him, since the Mouth recoils and says he can't be harmed, claiming diplomatic immunity. Gandalf replies that where such laws hold, diplomats are supposed to be more, after all, diplomatic. Then the Mouth presents peace terms, which do sound like a rather typical peace treaty after a war in real life (no matter that they were lopsided). If there were no diplomacy and no laws, there would be no talk of treaties, and the Mouth would just say at the beginning, "You are all going to die." Were there other treaties in the past with Sauron? What rules of diplomacy existed between kingdoms of Men? If Gondor fought Harad and the Easterlings in its prime, were there peace treaties afterward complete with diplomatic immunity? Were these treaties mere pieces of paper, or were they considered binding legal documents? I'm not really talking about fealty, since that's different (Rohan swearing to come to Gondor's aid seems more an oath of fealty than a treaty between equals). Or maybe I'm wrong and fealty is a treaty too. I see Sauron as a very talky sort, more so than Melkor. I think he would try any means to exert control, even with the pretense of treaty; and as you say, we have Gandalf's mention of the process. As far as Sauron goes, I think he would have learned from Melkor (if the above theory might hold, that he began the 'emissary' way of trying to talk one's way out of difficulty or create distraction at least) if he could try to bargain his way out of a bad scenario, I feel certain he would. So I think the Mouth did have practice in negotiations. An example here might be the Haradrim, who I never saw ruled by fear but by their own old hatreds for Numenor. Such people may certainly 'deal' with Sauron, and perhaps have oaths but as fear might not have been the primary cause for the political union, also have negotiated agreements relating to borders, perhaps the limitations of Orc raids and activities, conscription requirements and possibly even weapons trading. So I tend to think documents *may* come into place, depending on the literacy of the Haradrim. (For example, we have the Rohirrim as holding vocal traditions versus paper. Not sure on Haradrim.) So I think sauron might have simply used whatever form of international interactions that suited him, in the cardinal plan...interested in other people's ideas, this is a fascinating topic (I should say Symposium-worthy potentially...) Awesome thoughts CG!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."

(This post was edited by Brethil on Jun 5 2013, 4:26pm)

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