"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."
Bartemius Crouch Snr's description of the attack on the Longbottoms[src]

The Attack on Frank and Alice Longbottom was committed by Death Eaters Bartemius Crouch Jr and Bellatrix, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange 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.



Trelawney first prophecy

The prophecy that altered Harry's life forever

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies."
Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy[src]

At the end of 1979, Lord Voldemort was at the peak of a reign of terror in the First Wizarding War. He was told of a prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney to Albus Dumbledore during a job interview. Trelawney told him of a boy who would be born in the closing days of July 1980 whose parents have defied Voldemort three times and lived to tell the tale of it. He would have a power that Voldemort was unable or unwilling to comprehend, who could one day kill him, and that Voldemort would pick the child who was equal to him.

There were two children born at the end of July. On the 30 July, Neville Longbottom was born to Frank and Alice. However, Neville was pure-blood while the second child born the next day, Harry Potter was half-blood like Voldemort. Voldemort picked Harry believing he was the danger to him and he saw himself in Harry before even seeing him.

However, the Death Eaters in the know about Neville and Harry remembered the fact when Lord Voldemort went missing and presumed dead, following the show-down between him and Lily Potter on 31 October 1981. Four of them decided Frank and Alice knew information about what happened to the missing Voldemort and where they could find him.

The attack

"My son and his wife were tortured into insanity by You-Know-Who's followers. They were Aurors, you know, and very well respected within the wizarding community. Highly gifted, the pair of them."
Augusta Longbottom regarding her son and daughter-in-law[src]
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. He was tortured for information about the Death Eaters fallen master, hoping to locate the Dark Lord and restore him to power, being convinced that he and his wife were involved with Dark Lord's fall, since they were included in the prophecy.[2] Unaware that Lord Voldemort had fled to Albania, Frank Longbottom could not give them what they wanted. However, this did not discourage the four comrades from trying, ultimately resulting in the Auror being left him physically and mentally depleted, he soon became insane.[1] When he was no longer able to provide them with anything useful, they targeted Alice.[1][2] She was kidnapped as well and tortured in the same manner.[1] She also had no knowledge of Voldemort's whereabouts, yet was forced to endure the curse until her mind snapped like that of her husband.[1]


"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."
—Albus Dumbledore explains to Harry Potter, why Neville lives with his grandmother[src]

Punishment and escape

"The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait! He will rise again and will come for us, he will reward us beyond any of his other supporters! We alone were faithful! We alone tried to find him!"
Bellatrix Lestrange's parting words to the Council of Magical Law[src]

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