In a great hall under the mountains of Middle-earth, Aulë, the smith of the Valar, fashioned the Seven Fathers of Dwarves during the Ages of Darkness, when Melkor and his evil servants in Utumno and Angband held sway over all of Middle-earth. Therefore Aulë made Dwarves stout and strong, unaffected by cold and fire, and sturdier than the races that followed. Aulë knew of the great evil of Melkor, so he made the Dwarves stubborn, indomitable, and persistent in labor and hardship. They were brave in battles and their pride and will could not be broken.
The Dwarves were deep-delving miners, masons, metalworkers and the most wondrous stone-carvers. They were well-suited for the crafts of Aulë, who had shaped the mountains, for they were made strong, long-bearded and tough, but not tall, being four to five feet in height. As their toil was long, they were each granted a life about two and a half centuries, for they were mortal; they could also be slain in battle. Aulë made the Dwarves wise with the knowledge of his crafts and gave them a language of their own called Khuzdul. In this toungue Aulë was called Mahal and the Dwarves Khazâd, but it was a secret toungue unknown but for a few words to all but Dwarves, who guarded it jealously. The Dwarves always gave thanks to Aulë and acknowledged that by him they were given shape. Yet they were given true life by Ilúvatar.
It is said that once Aulë made the Dwarves, he secretly hid them from the other Valar and thought himself and them hidden as well from Ilúvatar. Yet Ilúvatar was aware of Aulë's deeds and judged that Aulë's act was made without malice, and thus He sanctified the Dwarves. Yet He would not permit that this race should come before His chosen children, the Elves, who were to be the firstborn, So, though the Dwarves were full-wrought, Aulë took them and laid them deeply under stone, and in this darkness the Seven Fathers of Dwarves slept for many ages before the Stars were rekindled and the time of awakening draw near.
So it was that the Elves awoke in Cuiviénen in the East in the First Age of Stars. In the years that followed the Seven Fathers of Dwarves stirred, and their stone chamber was broken open, and they arose and were filled with awe.
It is said that each of the Seven Fathers made a great mansion under the mountains of Middle-earth, but the Elven histories spoke only of three. These were the Dwarf-realms called Belegost and Nogrod in the Blue Mountains and Khazad-Dûm in the Misty Mountains. The tale of Khazad-Dûm is longest for this was the House of the First Father called King Durin I and Durin the Deathless.
To the Elves in Beleriand in the First Age of Stars the Dwarves of Belegond and Nogrond were a boon indeed. For they came into the realm of Grey-elves with weapon and tools of steel and displayed their great skills in the working of stone. And though the Grey-elves had not previously known of this people, whom they thought unlovely, calling them the Naugrim, the "stunted people", they soon understood the Dwarves were wise in the crafts of Aulë, and so they called them the Gonnhirrim, "masters of stone". There was much trade between Elves and Dwarves, and both people prospered.
And though an ungainly people without graceful form, the Dwarves brought forth much beauty. Their mansions had grand halls filled with bright banners, armor, jeweled weapons and fine tapestries. Starlight shone down great light-wells and played upon mirroring pools and sparkling silver fountains. In echoing domes, by the light of crystal lamps, bright gemstones and veins of precious ores might be seen. In walls of jet polished like glass, dreaming marble forms were visible, and winding stairs or twisting avenues might lead to a tall, fair tower or a court of many-colored stone. Tunnels led to court-yards and grottos with columns of alabaster, fluted by Time and the gentle promptings of Dwarf-chisels.
In the Ages of Starlight, the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains fashioned the finest steel that the World had ever seen. In Belegost, which was also named Gabilgathol and Mickleburg, the famous Dwarf-mail of linked rings was first made, while in Nogrod, which was called Tumunzahar and Hollowbold, resided Telchar, the greatest Dwarf-smith of all time. At this time these Dwarves forged the weapons of the Sindar and built for the Grey-elves of king Thingol their citadel of Menegroth, the Thousand Caves, reputed to be the fairest of mansions in Middle-earth.
The War of the Jewels came in the First Age of Sun and in it most of the Dwarves fought with the Elves against the servants of Morgoth. Of all Dwarves of that Age, greatest fame was won by King Azaghâl, the lord of Belegost. In the Battle of Unnumbered Tears only the Dwarves could withstand the blaze of Dragon-fire, for they were a race of smiths used to great heat, and on their heads they wore masks of steel that protected their faces from flames. Thus the Dwarves of Belegost could stop the advance of the Dragon-horde, and, though slain in the act King Azaghâl drove his sword in the belly of Glaurung, the Father of Dragons, and so Glaurung and his brood fled from the battle field.
Not all the deeds of Dwarves in that Age were praiseworthy. For, it is told, the Dwarves of Nogrod desired the Silmaril, and for it they murdered King Thingol and sacked the citadel of Menegroth. In turn the Dwarves were caught by the Laiquendi at the ford of Gelion and the Silmaril was taken from them, and those who escaped the ambush were attacked by Ents and utterly destroyed.
From the endings of the First Age of Sun the histories of Elves and Men that speak of Dwarves tells primarily of those of Durin's line who lived in Khazad-Dûm. When the destruction of Beleriand came with the War of Wrath, the mansions of Nogrond and Belegost were broken and lost. The Dwarves of those kingdoms came into the Misty Mountains in the Second Age and made Khazad-Dûm, the greatest mansion of Dwarves on Middle-earth, greater still. The vast halls filled with these prosperous people, whose craftsmen achieved matchless deeds and whose miners delved deep and long into the mountain's heart. In the Second Age many of the Noldorin Elves of Lindon entered into Eregion near the West Door of Khazad-Dûm and made a kingdom so that they might trade with the Dwarves for the precious metal mithril, which was found in abundance there. These Elves were the Gwaith-i-Mírdan who were called the Elven-smiths in later times. By the wisdom of these Elves and by Sauron's deceit, the rings of power were forged in this place. And though Dwarves were given seven of these Rings, they were not drawn into the terrible wars that followed for all the years that remained in the Second Age. In Khazad-Dûm the Dwarves closed the doors of their mansions to the troubles of the World. None could force an entry to their realm; but ever after it was thought to be a closed and dark kingdom, and so Khazad-Dûm was named Moria.
Thus the Dwarves of Durin's line survived into the Third age of Sun, though by then they had seen their greatest days and the Dwarvish people had begun to dwindle. Yet Moria stood for five Ages of Stars and three of Sun and until the twentieth century of the Third Age were still wealthy and proud. But in the year 1980, when Durin VI was king, the delving Dwarves quarried too deep beneath the mountains, because they released a great demon. This was one of Morgoth's Balrogs, and it came in wrath and slew King Durin and his son Náin and drove the Dwarves of Moria out for ever.
Durin's people were made a homeless, wandering folk, but in the year 1999 Náin's son Thrain founded the kingdom under the mountain in Erebor. For a while Thrain and some of the people from Moria prospered, for Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, was rich in ore and stones. But Thrain's son, Thorin, left that place and in the year 2210, went to the Grey Mountains, where it was said that the greatest number of the scattered Dwarves from Moria already lived. Here Thorin was accepted as king, and with his Ring of Power his people grew wealthy again. After Thorin his son Gróin ruled, then Óin and Náin II, and the Grey Mountains became famed for Dwarf-gold. And so, during the reign of Náin II's son Dáin, out of the Northern Waste there came many Cold-drakes of the deserts. Lusting for the wealth of the Dwarves, these Dragons came prepared for war and they slew the Dwarves and drove them out of the Grey Mountains.
In the year 2590 the heir of Dáin I, Thrór, took part of the survivors of the Grey Mountain realm back to the kingdom under the Mountain in Erebor, while in the same year his brother Grór took those others who remained to the Iron Hills. And again for a time all these people prospered, for there was great trade between Dwarves, Men of Dale and Esgaroth, and the Elves of Mirkwood. Yet for Durin's Folk the peace was short-lived, for in 2770, during the long reign of Thrór, the greatest Dragon of the Third Age, the winged Fire-drake called Smaug the Golden, came to Erebor. None could stand before this great Dragon He slew wantonly, sacked Dale and drove the Dwarves from the Mountain. There for two centuries Smaug remained, lord of the Lonely Mountain.
So again the Dwarves were driven from their homes. Some retreated into the Iron hills colony for shelter, but other survivors followed King Thrór and his son Thráin II and grandson Thorin II in wandering companies.
In this period Thrór was slain by the Orcs of Moria and his body was mutilated and his severed head was delivered to his people. The Dwarves, who had already suffered grievously from various evil hands, felt they could not bare this last insult. All the houses of Dwarves gathered together and they decided to wage a great war.
This was the terrible and bloody War of the Dwarves and Orcs. It raged for seven long years, and through all the Westlands the Dwarf army hunted out every Orc cavern and slew every Orc band, until at last it reached Moria's East Gate in the year 2799. Here was fought the Battle of Azanulbizar, which is famous even in the histories of the Elves. In that battle the Orcs of the North were all but exterminated by the Dwarves. Yet the Dwarves had little joy in their victory, for half of all their warriors perished in that war. Such a loss could never be regained by this already dwindling folk. Even in spoils and territory they gained little from this war, for though the Orcs were slain, the Balrog still held Moria and Dragons occupied the kingdom under the mountain in Erebor and the Dwarf-realms of the Grey Mountains.
The Dwarves returned to their kingdom filled with sadness. The grandson of Grór, Dáin Ironfoot, returned to rule in the Iron Hills, while Thráin II with his son Thorin II (now called Oakenshield) went West to the Blue Mountains and made a humble kingdom there. Yet Thráin II did not rule long, because while travelling he was captured by Sauron near Mirkwood and imprisoned in Dol Guldur. The last Ring of the Dwarves was taken from him and he was tortured to death.
Yet Thorin Oakenshield remained in the Blue Mountains, for he did not know the fate of his father. Many wandering Dwarves came to the Blue Mountains and high halls grew, but he was unhappy and desired to return to Erebor to the kingdom under the Mountain, which had been his grandfather's. With such thoughts in mind, Thorin Oakenshield approached the Wizard Gandalf in the year 2941 and then immediately fell to a plan of great adventure, which is told by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins in the "Red book of Westmarch". This one Hobbit and thirteen Dwarves accompanied Thorin in his mission to regain his kingdom. They were: Ori, Nori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Balin, Fili, Kili, Dwalin, Dori and Thorin. As is well told in the Hobbit's tale, Thorin more or less achieved his aim. For, in the end, the Dragon Smaug the Golden was slain and Thorin II took possession of his rightful kingdom, yet his grasp of it was brief. There followed the battle of Five Armies, in which Orcs, Wolves and Bats battled against Dwarves, Elves, Men and Eagles. And though the Orcish legions were destroyed, so too was Thorin's life.
This was not, however, the end of Durin's Line, for Dáin Ironfoot had come to the battle of Five Armies with five hundred warriors out of the Iron Hills and he was Thorin's rightful heir, being like Thorin a great-grandson of Dáin I. So Dáin Ironfoot became Dáin II and he ruled wisely until the last days of the War of the Ring, when he fell with King Brand of Dale before the gates of the kingdom under the Mountain. Yet this Dwarf kingdom withstood the attack by Sauron's minions, and Dáin's heir Thorin III, who was also called Thorin Stonehelm, ruled there long and prosperously into the Fourth Age of Sun.
Yet the kingdom under the Mountain was not the last and only home of Durin's Folk in the Fourth Age. Another noble Dwarf descended from Borin, brother of Dáin I, had founded a kingdom of Dwarves at the beginning of the Fourth Age, after the War of the Ring. This Dwarf was Gimli, son of Glóin; he had won great fame in the war and he had been of the fellowship chosen for the Quest of the Ring. He had acquitted himself well in the task and the song of his axe had been a terror to his foes at the Battles of the Hornburg, Pelennor Fields and before the Black Gate. At the war's end, Gimli had taken many of the Dwarves out of the kingdom under the Mountain into the wondrous caverns of Helm's Deep, and by all he was named lord of Aglarond, the "glittering caves".
For more than a century Gimli the Elf-friend ruled Aglarond, but after the death of King Elessar he allowed others to govern and went to the great realm of his friend Legolas, Elf lord of Ithilien. Here it is claimed Gimli boarded an Elven-ship and with his companion sailed over the Great Sea to the Undying Lands.
This is the last that the histories of Middle-earth tell of Dwarves. It is not known if their kingdoms survived the Fourth Age and the Dominion of Men. It is known that they dwindled further, but whether they still live within secret caverns of the World or have now gone to the Mansions of Aulë cannot be learned.