"You have been brought here before the Council of Magical Law so that we may pass judgement on you, for a crime so heinous that we have rarely heard the like of it within this court."
—Description of the attack on the Longbottoms[src]
The Attack on Frank and Alice Longbottom was committed by Bartemius Crouch Jr and Bellatrix, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange, who were all Death Eaters, shortly after the downfall of Lord Voldemort during the First Wizarding War in 1981[1]. It was widely considered to be the most horrendous crime committed in the modern wizarding world by most wizards and witches.
"The Longbottoms were very popular. The attacks on them came after Voldemort's fall from power, just when everyone thought they were safe. Those attacks caused a wave of fury such as I have never known. The Ministry was under great pressure to catch those who had done it. Unfortunately, the Longbottoms' evidence was – given their condition – none too reliable."
—Dumbledore telling Harry about why Neville lives with his grandmother [[src]]


The attack

On 31 October, 1981, the reign of Lord Voldemort ended abruptly with the Dark Lord's downfall.[1] While some Death Eaters pretended to have been bewitched into doing Lord Voldemort's bidding and others were killed by Aurors, yet others were arrested and imprisoned, some remained at large.[3] Though the Dark Lord had fled, the danger was not yet over.[3]

Frank Longbottom was the first to be captured out of the couple.[2] He was subjugated and imprisoned at an undisclosed location, before being heavily tortured by all four of the Death Eaters by the means of the Cruciatus Curse for information about their fallen master, hoping to locate him and restore him to power.[2] Unaware that Lord Voldemort had fled to Albania, Frank Longbottom could not give them what they wanted. This, however, did not discourage the four comrades from trying, ultimately resulting in the Auror being left him physically and mentally depleted, and he soon became insane.[1] When he was no longer able to provide them with anything useful, they targeted his wife, Alice.[1][2] She, too, was kidnapped, and was tortured in the same manner.[1] Like her husband, she had no knowledge of Voldemort's whereabouts, yet was forced to endure the curse until her mind snapped like that of her husband.[1]


Punishment and escape


The four culprits tried before the Council of Magical Law

All four of the torturers were captured shortly after the horrendous crime, and were brought before the Council of Magical Law for trial[1]. Bartemius Crouch Snr presided primarily over the hearing, which was short and merciless; Crouch Jr screamed continuously at his father that he was innocent, and begged for mercy, but none was granted, and Crouch disowned his son, causing his wife to faint[1]. The crime was described as so heinous that such a crime was rarely heard of in court. The crowd roared savage pleasure when Crouch announced that he planned to send the Death Eaters to Azkaban for life, and the sentence was given without question[1].

Less than a year after his sentence, Barty Crouch, Jr was aided to escape the prison by his parents[4]. Mrs Crouch was dying, and wanted nothing more than for her son to be free, to enjoy the life he had been given[4]. They took Polyjuice Potion, becoming each others' doubles, and Crouch Jr was liberated once more[4].

Like Bellatrix had told Crouch Snr at the end of the trial, their master would come for them[1]. In January of 1996, Voldemort initiated a mass breakout from Azkaban, which set free ten long-imprisoned Death Eaters, including Bellatrix, Rodolphus and Rabastan.

Effect on the victims

"I know people really wanted some hope for that, and I can quite see why because, in a way, what happens to Neville's parents is even worse than what happened to Harry's parents. The damage that is done, in some cases with very dark magic, is done permanently."
J. K. Rowling expands on Neville's parents[src]

The continuous use of the Curse destroyed the victims' sanity[5]. Following the attack, Frank and Alice Longbottom were moved to the Janus Thickey Ward of St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries in London[5]. Neville Longbottom, their son, was sent to live with his grandmother Augusta, Frank's mother, and visits his parents for Christmas[5] and on summer holidays[1]. Neither one recognised him as their son, but they did acknowledge his presence and recalled that he was a loved one; Alice gave him chewing gum wrappers every time he came to see them, so many that he could paper his bedroom with them if he so desired[5].


Notes and references