Minister Cornelius Oswald Fudge, O.M. (First Class), was the Minister for Magic from 1990 to 1996. He thus had complete control of the Ministry of Magic, the main governing body of the British wizarding world. Fudge began his career in the Ministry as Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. He then succeeded Millicent Bagnold as Minister for Magic, and thus had the responsibility of meeting with the Muggle Prime Minister when necessary.
In 1993, following attacks on Muggle-borns at Hogwarts School due to the opening of the Chamber of Secrets, Fudge had Rubeus Hagrid taken to Azkaban so it would look like the Ministry was doing something despite Hagrid's innocence. In 1993-1994, Fudge had to deal with the escape of the prisoner Sirius Black from Azkaban; as Fudge believed Black to be a threat to society, he had Dementors stationed in Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. However, Black narrowly escaped from Fudge's fingers. During the summer holiday, he organised the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament with Ludo Bagman and Bartemius Crouch Sr.
After Cedric Diggory's death in the Tournament and Harry claiming Voldemort had returned, Fudge refused to believe it, because it would mean the end of the world he worked so hard to build. Instead, he used his influence at the Daily Prophet to launch a smear campaign against both Harry and Albus Dumbledore, as Fudge was paranoid that Dumbledore was after his job and was simply telling lies. However, following the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Fudge saw Voldemort with his own eyes and was forced to admit that Harry and Dumbledore had been telling the truth the whole time, causing the wizarding community to protest and scream for his resignation. He was replaced as Minister for Magic by Rufus Scrimgeour, but stayed in an advisory capacity and communicated news of the Second Wizarding War to the Muggle Prime Minister if Scrimgeour was unable to.
Early years (Pre 1965-1990)
During his childhood and teenage years, Fudge attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the years before he became Minister, Fudge was previously the Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. In 1981, he was one of the first on the scene after Sirius Black seemed to kill Peter Pettigrew, but, unknown by anybody else, Black had been framed by Pettigrew himself. Fudge watched Sirius laughing maniacally, and twelve years later still remembered the giant crater in the street.
Albus Dumbledore was the top candidate to succeed Millicent Bagnold as the next Minister for Magic, as many people requested him to accept the position, but he refused multiple times. Therefore, Bartemius Crouch was favoured to be the next Minister for his effective methods of fighting the Death Eaters, but it was Fudge who finally replaced Bagnold when Crouch lost popularity. However, Fudge never forgot how much popular support that Dumbledore received during the election.
Minister for Magic (1990-1996)
- "A Fair Deal for Wizards Who Deal Fair with Muggles."
- —Cornelius Fudge's campaign slogan[src]
In 1990, Fudge was appointed Minister for Magic, and had his first meeting with the Muggle Prime Minister to introduce himself and to explain the existence of the wizarding world. Fudge cheerily hoped that the pair would never need to meet again; during this meeting, Fudge noted that the previous Prime Minister had tried to throw Fudge out of the office window at the thought of Fudge being a sabotage attempt at his career.
According to the magazine The Quibbler, Fudge desired to conquer Gringotts Wizarding Bank, and in order to do so, he allegedly had goblins killed in ludicrous ways such as drowning them, dropping them off buildings, poisoning them, and cooking them in pies, earning him the epithet "Goblin-Crusher." However, as The Quibbler is a tabloid magazine, this theory is debatable and most likely untrue. Similarly, according to Luna Lovegood, daughter of the editor of The Quibbler, Cornelius has a private army of Heliopaths, spirits of fire whose existence is doubted as much as Luna's claim.
At some point early on during his Ministerial career (certainly before 1995), Fudge awarded himself an Order of Merlin, First Class. This caused a good deal of muttering among the wizarding community, since the common view was that his career was "less than distinguished", thus subverting the worth of this award (which is given out "for acts of outstanding bravery or distinction").
After four attacks on Muggle-born witches and wizards, Fudge arrived at Hogwarts in the spring of 1993 to remove Rubeus Hagrid to Azkaban prison, not as a punishment, but as a precaution. Fudge assured Hagrid that he would be released immediately if another person was found to be responsible. Dumbledore tried to convince Fudge that taking Hagrid would make no difference, but Fudge would not be dissuaded. At the same time, Lucius Malfoy, then school governor, had Dumbledore suspended, which Fudge tried to protest against, but in futility. Eventually, it was proven that Hagrid was indeed innocent, and he was released.
That summer, Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban, which unhinged Fudge and started him on a downward spiral of poor decisions. A few weeks prior to Black's escape, Fudge visited him while on a tour of Azkaban prison and was unnerved at how normal Black seemed relative to the other prisoners.
Convinced Black would be caught quickly, Fudge alerted the Muggle Prime Minister of the situation and asked that the Muggles keep an eye out for Black, as well; the Ministry set up a special hot line for the Muggles to call with any information. Because of Black's connection to Harry Potter, Fudge was reluctant to inform Harry of the truth, something to which Arthur Weasley voiced his opposing opinion.
When Harry left the Dursleys' after blowing up his Aunt Marge, Fudge intercepted him outside the Leaky Cauldron after disembarking from the Knight Bus during his misguided attempt to go on the run. Fudge assured Harry that the problem had been dealt with; Marge had been punctured by members of the Accidental Magical Reversal Squad, and her memory modified by Obliviators. When Harry asked what would happen to him, Fudge told him not to worry, and that he would forgo punishment, since the circumstances had changed. The truth was, Fudge had let Harry off because he had been relieved to find him alive. Fudge then asked that for his protection, Harry stay at the Leaky Cauldron for what remained of the summer and not to venture back into Muggle London. Harry agreed and then asked Fudge if he would consider signing his Hogsmeade permission slip, to which Fudge uncomfortably declined. Fudge then bid Harry goodbye, and he left the room.
As a misguided attempt to protect the students, Fudge posted Dementors around the school, which nearly produced tragic results. The teachers, as well as Madam Rosmerta in Hogsmeade, found the creatures' presence distracting and highly unpleasant, and Harry was a frequent target of the Dementors' actions.
In October, Fudge was alerted to Black's entry into Hogwarts on Hallowe'en night. Convinced Black was hiding either in or around Hogsmeade, Fudge had the Dementors search the area, calling it a necessary precaution. In December, he journeyed to the school, and stopped at the Three Broomsticks with Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, and Hagrid. Inviting Rosmerta to join them, Fudge proceeded to explain Black's connection to Voldemort, and that it was Black who told him where the Potters were hidden. Fudge then admitted that he believed Black's eventual plan was to find Voldemort and return him to power. After this, Fudge left the pub for a meeting with Dumbledore. Unbeknownst to him, Harry Potter overheard this conversation and was greatly affected by it, hoping for the opportunity to kill Black.
In June, Fudge arrived at Hogwarts again, this time for two reasons: (1) to check on the Black situation, and (2) to witness the execution of Buckbeak the Hippogriff. At two o'clock, Fudge attended Buckbeak's appeal, but the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures did not reverse its decision. At five that evening, Fudge returned to Hagrid's cabin to witness the execution, but when Macnair stepped outside to perform the act, he noticed that Buckbeak had disappeared.
When Severus Snape returned Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Black to the school after the events in the Shrieking Shack, Fudge informed him that for his actions, Fudge would try to wangle an Order of Merlin, Second or First Class for him. Moments later, Fudge entered the hospital wing after hearing Harry's shouts; Harry and Hermione attempted to convince Fudge that Peter Pettigrew was still alive. Several minutes later, when Professor Dumbledore arrived to speak privately with Harry and Hermione, Fudge decided to meet the Dementors and rendezvous with Dumbledore later. While talking to Snape soon after, he said he suspected that once Harry was back in his right mind he would want to tell the Prophet exactly how Snape saved him.
When they learned Black had escaped again, Fudge returned with Snape and Dumbledore to the hospital wing, where Snape furiously ordered Harry to explain his involvement. However, Fudge seemed to think Harry being involved was impossible, and left to inform the Ministry about the situation, and agreed to remove the Dementors from the grounds due to their attempt to use the Dementor's Kiss on Harry the previous night.
Fudge met again with the Muggle Prime Minister, to inform him of the magical creatures he was bringing into the country for the Tournament.
At the World Cup, Fudge greeted Harry in a fatherly fashion, and introduced him to several foreign wizards, including the Bulgarian Minister for Magic. Fudge also extended friendly greetings to the Malfoy family.
After the match ended, Fudge was irritated to learn that the Bulgarian Minister could speak English, and that his own need to communicate through sign language had not been necessary. Along with the Bulgarian Minister, Fudge then shook hands with the two teams.
- "Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing. He had always thought of Fudge as a kindly figure, a little blustering, a little pompous, but essentially good-natured. But now a short, angry wizard stood before him refusing, point-blank, to accept the prospect of disruption in his comfortable and ordered world — to believe that Voldemort could have risen."
- —Harry's incredulity at Fudge's denial of Voldemort's return[src]
In the spring of 1995, Fudge was summoned to Hogwarts after Barty Crouch was seen going mad and then disappeared. Fudge decided to cover up this embarrassing situation, and also refused to believe anything Crouch said, believing it to be the words of a lunatic. Fudge even suggested that Olympe Maxime had murdered him due to her being a half-giant, since the incident occurred near the Beauxbatons carriage that night. When Dumbledore expressed his belief that Fudge's accusation was due to his personal prejudice towards half-breeds, Fudge, in turn, believed that Dumbledore's friendship with Rubeus Hagrid, another half-giant, was clouding his judgement. Fudge was later asked to fill in for Mr Crouch as a judge of the Triwizard Tournament, since his assistant, Percy Weasley, was hauled in for questioning regarding the incident and was unable to attend.
When Harry exited the Triwizard maze holding Cedric Diggory's dead body, Fudge informed the crowd, and then tried to get Harry to release him. Fudge suggested Harry go to the hospital wing, but Dumbledore refused, wanting Harry to remain where he was.
When Fudge was informed the Death Eater responsible had been caught, and feeling his personal safety was in jeopardy, he summoned a Dementor to accompany him into the castle, disregarding both Dumbledore's obvious dislike for the creatures and the fact that the culprit was already restrained; said Dementor then sucked out Barty Crouch Jr's soul, leaving him an empty shell of his former self, unable to give testimony about Voldemort's return. This lack of testimony helped Fudge discredit Dumbledore the following year.
Paranoid that Dumbledore may have had designs on the role of
Minister himself, Fudge refused to believe the warning that Voldemort had returned. Fudge's decision was also influenced by one of Rita Skeeter's articles about Harry, suggesting that he may have been hallucinating, making Harry an unreliable witness in Fudge's mind; when Harry started naming the identities of the Death Eaters who returned to Voldemort's side, he could only identify those who had been cleared by the Wizengamot, which Fudge claimed Harry could have looked up in old copies of the Daily Prophet, and took it as a great offence. Seeing Dumbledore's suggestions of removing the Dementors from Azkaban and sending envoys to the giants as ludicrous (fearing he would be forced out of office for even suggesting it), Fudge and Dumbledore accepted that they had reached a parting of the ways; Fudge was left to act as he saw fit, while Dumbledore acted immediately to reactivate the Order of the Phoenix. Even a screaming argument with Minerva McGonagall and seeing Severus Snape's reactivated Dark Mark branding did not convince Fudge in the very least; if anything, he was increasingly angry at Minerva and revolted at Severus. Before leaving, Fudge was courteous enough to hand Harry his winnings for the Tournament, though he cancelled the award ceremony due to circumstances.
He made it clear that anyone in league with Dumbledore could consider themselves dismissed from the Ministry, leading to many members of the Order of the Phoenix to become more discreet with their meetings. He also changed many laws to benefit his own agenda at the potential cost of others, turning a simple case of under-age magic into a trial by the entire Wizengamot; in his great haste to withhold certain laws, he ended up neglecting a few, as well. He also invited Percy Weasley to become his Junior Minister, in an attempt to spy on the Dumbledore-loyal Weasley family. Even though Percy accepted, he defected from his family due to a quarrel, though Fudge was allegedly gracious of this (at least, according to Percy).
When Harry was accused of using magic illegally in the presence of a Muggle, Fudge took a leading role in Harry's prosecution before the Wizengamot, and actively sought to discredit Harry, going so far as to change the time and location of the hearing in an attempt to make him miss it, and during the actual hearing, introducing irrelevant considerations and highly biased accusations based around Harry's past offences, while seeking to deny Harry's right to a fair chance to present his own version of events. Only the intervention of witness Arabella Figg and Dumbledore himself spared Harry from expulsion, though Fudge attempted to deny their testimonies and voted for Harry's conviction himself.
Driven by paranoia, Fudge sought to undermine Dumbledore's credibility and authority both at Hogwarts and at large in the wizarding world, which he accomplished, first by ensuring that Dumbledore was presented in the news as a crackpot. Soon afterwards, Fudge's Senior Undersecretary, Dolores Umbridge, was installed at Hogwarts as the school's new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. Fudge had Umbridge teach Hogwarts students to read their textbooks instead of practising defensive spells, out of a paranoid belief that Dumbledore intended to train his students into an army to overtake the Ministry. By means of numerous Ministry decrees, Fudge gradually extended her powers while suppressing Dumbledore's and Harry's freedom of expressing their claims. Fudge eventually handed full control of Hogwarts to Umbridge when, one evening, Harry was caught violating Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four; Dumbledore took the blame and escaped after swiftly defeating Fudge, Umbridge, Kingsley Shacklebolt and John Dawlish, thus being dismissed as headmaster and became a wanted criminal.
After the mass breakout of Azkaban in 1996, Fudge continued to refuse to believe Harry and Dumbledore, instead suggesting that Sirius Black was the leader of the breakout, due to his relation with Bellatrix Lestrange, either unaware or neglecting that Sirius had been disowned by his family and the two were mortal enemies. The Death Eaters took full advantage of Fudge's ignorance and poor decisions, and were able to rebuild their forces with little detection and interference. Lucius, amongst other falsely-reformed Death Eaters, remained in Fudge's trust, while discreetly manipulating him to assist their master and their own benefits. While the Order and Harry considered the possibility of Fudge being under the Imperius Curse, Dumbledore believed otherwise, which was of little comfort.
Dismissal from office
- "My dear Prime Minister, you can't honestly think I'm still Minister for Magic after all this? I was sacked three days ago! The whole wizarding community has been screaming for my resignation for a fortnight. I've never known them so united in my whole term of office!"
- —Fudge to the Muggle Prime Minister about his resignation[src]
Fudge's term ended in 1996 when, shortly after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, he and several other Ministry officials saw Voldemort for themselves in the Ministry Atrium. Forced to accept the truth, Fudge was pressured by the public and media, and resigned within a fortnight of the incident, on 2 July, 1996, for failing to see the danger at hand and act on it.
Prior to his dismissal, he made desperate attempts to remain in office, and tried to have Dumbledore arrange a meeting with Harry to persuade him to tell the wizarding world that the Ministry was doing a good job in maintaining order and security. This failed, as Dumbledore refused to make the arrangement, knowing that Harry would think the idea ludicrous, but the idea did not die out when Rufus Scrimgeour took over. Also, prior to his dismissal, Fudge was threatened by Voldemort to stand aside as Minister, or a mass murder of Muggles would take place. Fudge refused, which resulted in the collapse of the Brockdale Bridge.
He stayed on as an adviser and messenger to the Muggle Prime Minister for Scrimgeour, as Scrimgeour was too busy to contact the Muggle Minister himself.
Legacy and later life (Post 1996)
- "Take the steps I have suggested, and you will be remembered, in office or out, as one of the bravest and greatest Ministers for Magic we have ever known. Fail to act, and history will remember you as the man who stepped aside, and allowed Voldemort a second chance to destroy the world we have tried to rebuild!"
- —Albus Dumbledore's warning to Fudge of how his actions of denial will make him go down in history as a disgrace[src]
Several people, including Rubeus Hagrid, considered Fudge a well-meaning, but ineffective, bumbler while he was in office. This failed to worry many, as long as he was willing to accept advice from more confident and trustworthy people, particularly Albus Dumbledore.
When the full consequences of his actions (or rather, lack of it) after Lord Voldemort's return became known, the wizard community issued a virtually unanimous condemnation of his tenure. Fudge would later comment sadly that he had never known the wizard community to be so united on any other issue during his administration. Given this universal disapproval, he was likely memorialised, like Dumbledore warned, as one of the least effective Ministers in British history.
In 1997, Fudge was one of the many citizens of the wizarding world to attend the funeral of Albus Dumbledore. It is unknown what happened to Fudge after Lord Voldemort took over the Ministry of Magic, but he lost his position as messenger between the Minister and the Muggle Prime Minister, as the Death Eaters had no use for Muggle liaisons.
Fudge was described as "portly little man," with rumpled grey hair. He was recognisable by his lime green bowler hat, which he usually wore or held and often wore a pinstriped cloak, but not exclusively. When Harry Potter first saw him, Fudge was wearing a pinstriped suit, scarlet tie, long black travelling cloak, pointed purple boots, and lime green bowler hat. On another occasion he wore a bottle-green suit. For the execution of Buckbeak he had a gold pocket watch dangling from his waistcoat.
Personality and traits
During his tenure as Minister for Magic, he appeared in the early years as a bumptious, good-natured wizard trying to manage and smooth over the occasional crisis, such as Harry Potter's misuse of magic to inflate his Aunt Marge in 1993.
Fudge seemed to favour people born with high status, particularly the Malfoys, over lower class, such as the Weasleys, as seen in his friendship with Lucius Malfoy and neglect of Arthur Weasley, all the while being unable to tell Lucius was manipulating him. Also, despite being accepting towards Muggles, Fudge favoured pure-bloods, and showed little respect for Squibs and half-breeds, as he spoke in disinterest when interrogating Arabella Figg, while accusing half-giant Olympe Maxime of murdering Barty Crouch; Fudge neglected Arthur due to believing the man's obsession with Muggles to be a telltale sign of lacking wizarding pride. He was rather tactless, as he was making crude body gestures to communicate with the Bulgarian Minister for Magic and revolted aloud the moment he saw Marietta Edgecombe's disfigured face, having little sensitivity to the girl's feelings. Upon discovering Harry was a Parselmouth, Fudge caved into prejudice, and started to doubt Harry simply because he could speak a language that was usually affiliated with the Dark Arts. He was also arrogant enough to award himself with the Order of Merlin, First class medal, which caused controversies throughout the community, as it was common view that Fudge's career was "less than distinguished".
Although Fudge started out as a well-meaning man, he favoured peace and tranquility for the sake of his own position over a truth that would cause disruption of that peace; this was demonstrated when he was reluctant about telling Harry Potter the reason for Sirius Black's breakout from Azkaban, due to not wanting to worry Harry, despite the importance to Harry's safety. As long as he deemed the evidence to the otherwise as insufficient, Fudge would lie through his teeth in order to cover up the truth, and was perfectly willing to ruin the reputation of those who dared to oppose him, even if it meant abusing the powers of his position and making changes in the laws to do so. Even prior to his dismissal, Fudge attempted to persuade Harry to lie to the wizarding world that the Ministry was performing well in security and maintenance, despite how he mistreated Harry for an entire year, as well as the fact that his inadequacy had already endangered the entire world by denying Voldemort's return; he was seemingly more desperate in saving his own career and reputation than repairing the damage he inflicted to the community's defences against the Death Eaters. Due to the power going to his head, Fudge had spiralled into corruption and used falsified propaganda to maintain his own position at the expense of those who he believed were his enemies, even if that so-called enemy was someone who had helped him out for many years, to which he had no trouble in being ungrateful, and then later shamelessly asking favours from people he had offended.
Fudge also appeared to be more reactive than proactive; he would often wait for a solution to appear, rather than take the initiative and create a solution. Because of his indecisive nature, he would often ask Dumbledore for advice in his early days as Minister. Unfortunately, when Fudge did take the initiative and made his own decisions in attempt of accomplishing his job, they were all misguided and led to disastrous consequences, as seen when he sent Rubeus Hagrid to Azkaban for supposedly opening the Chamber of Secrets, only because Hagrid's record was against him, despite Dumbledore's insistence. Fudge also placed Dementors at Hogwarts to recapture Sirius Black, which led to students being traumatised and Harry Potter to nearly receive the Dementor's Kiss at the end of the school year. He insisted on summoning a Dementor to Barty Crouch Jr's interrogation for his own protection, despite knowing that Barty had been tied up and guarded by Professor McGonagall, and the possibility that the Dementor would attack the prisoner on sight (which did happen) and the destruction of their one piece of evidence at that time. However, the mistake that led to Fudge's own undoing was when he led a smear campaign against Dumbledore and Harry Potter, denying the wizarding world the chance to protect themselves and effectively allowing Voldemort a full year to build his forces uninterrupted.
Fudge grew more and more paranoid over the years, believing himself to be the smart one, and Dumbledore a troublemaker who conspired to overthrow him for the post of Minister for Magic (despite the fact that Dumbledore had previously refused the post three times when offered) and apparently being more ungrateful for Dumbledore's years of friendly and helpful advice. This was partly due to Fudge remembering Dumbledore's superiority and popularity in the past and present. This paranoia was usually kept suppressed, as Fudge continued to respect Dumbledore over the years, and accepted many of Dumbledore's eccentric decisions.
As he became more and more overwhelmed, however, his paranoia rose and began to cloud his judgement; by ignoring Dumbledore, Fudge had metaphorically shot himself in the foot. His declining lack of preventive action affected his popularity with the wizarding world: despite Fudge's efforts of keeping control, several people chose to believe Dumbledore and Harry over him, and by the summer of 1996, he had been forced to resign from office in disgrace, and replaced by the more proactive Rufus Scrimgeour.
However, despite all his faults, Fudge did have a compassionate side to him. He intended to protect Harry from the recently escaped Sirius Black to the best of his ability. After hearing that the Dementors had attacked Harry twice within Hogwarts' Grounds, he had the sense to order them immediately away from the school. At times, he could develop a sense of humour as well: he once assured Harry that "the Ministry doesn't send people to Azkaban for blowing up their aunts." He also sarcastically responded that Harry might have "a twin brother" when Dumbledore attempted to absolve him of forming the DA.
Although his behaviour throughout 1995 made him appear to be such, Fudge was not a totally unreasonable man, as he simply buried himself in his own self-denial, love for office, delusions and paranoia. He is capable of admitting when he was wrong but only with damnable and solid evidence which he could see with his own eyes. For instance he was able to admit with somewhat humbleness to the British Prime Minister that despite starting a ruthless manhunt for Sirius Black he was in fact innocent all along which Fudge only discovered after he was killed by his cousin during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. After witnessing Voldemort's return with his own eyes Fudge could no longer bury himself in lies and denial and clears Dumbledore's and Harry's name, at the price of him being removed from his title. Interestingly however in the article in The Daily Prophet absolving Dumbledore and Harry it states the two of them prevailed despite being constantly slandered, ignoring the fact that it was Fudge who ordered the Daily Prophet itself to do such.
Magical abilities and skills
Despite rarely being shown to use magic, Fudge was shown to use some rather advanced, or at least difficult, spells. However, he seems to be limited with certain areas of magic, as he could not remove the "SNEAK" jinx off of Marietta Edgecombe's face. He also has very little political skills, as he would bombard Dumbledore for advice in his early years, while making very poor choices in the last years of his tenure.
- Transfiguration: During his first visit to the British Prime Minister, Fudge used a number of Transfiguration spells, which included turning a teacup into a gerbil, and making whiskey appear out of thin air. His spells were also non-verbal which shows further skill. Transfiguration is, by common consent, a particularly difficult branch of magic. Fudge was also known to be the Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Catastrophes, which given its haphazard and on the spot nature for responses, likely required Fudge to use a number of Transfiguration-based magic in order to rectify them.
- Duellist: Fudge challenged Albus Dumbledore to a duel but this was only because he was being backed up by Dolores Umbridge, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and John Dawlish. Dumbledore effortlessly defeated Fudge, Umbridge and Dawlish and put a hex on Kingsley to make it convincing since Kingsley was a member of the Order of the Phoenix.
- "Deep down, Fudge knows Dumbledore's much cleverer than he is, a much more powerful wizard, and in the early days of his Ministry he was forever asking Dumbledore for help and advice. But it seems that he's become fond of power now, and much more confident. He loves being Minister for Magic, and he's managed to convince himself that he's the clever one and Dumbledore's simply stirring up trouble for the sake of it."
- —Remus Lupin on Cornelius Fudge's attempts to discredit Dumbledore[src]
In Fudge's early days as Minister for Magic, he was forever bombarding Albus Dumbledore for help and advice. In return he expressed confidence in Dumbledore. When Lucius Malfoy had an Order of Suspension for Dumbledore due to his failure to prevent petrification-attacks on students, Fudge said it was the "last thing we want just now," and "if Dumbledore can't stop them... who can?"
Besides advice, it seems that Albus Dumbledore informed Fudge of important events at Hogwarts, such as Sirius Black's escape from there being due to "a reversal of time." Apparently, he did not inform Fudge that Harry Potter was a Parselmouth, and learned of it after Rita Skeeter's article in the Daily Prophet.
Over the years, though, Fudge became paranoid that Dumbledore was seeking the Minister position for himself, despite Dumbledore clearly showing lack of interest in the position, rejecting it at least three times. This paranoia was kept suppressed, as Fudge continued to respect Dumbledore over the years and accepted his decisions, despite their eccentricity. Despite constantly seeking advice from the more able wizard, Fudge would nevertheless succumb to the public's views and sometimes go against Dumbledore's insistence on certain issues, such as sending Hagrid to Azkaban or placing Dementors around Hogwarts as guardians. Fudge was only successful in gaining the people's confidence because they knew he was willing to accept Dumbledore's advice.
However, in 1995, after Dumbledore told him that Voldemort had returned, Fudge refused to believe him, even when Severus Snape showed him the reactivated Dark Mark, as he finally succumbed to his paranoia. As a result, Fudge started a smear campaign to discredit and ruin Albus's reputation, ungratefully rejecting and forgetting all the assistance and advice he received from Dumbledore for the past six years. As an attempt to wrest control of Hogwarts from Dumbledore, he appointed Dolores Umbridge as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher against the headmaster's will, and empowered her greatly and eventually attempted (in failure) to arrest Dumbledore on a trumped-up charge.
After seeing Voldemort's return in the Ministry, Fudge was forced to accept it all, as well as reinstate Albus' reputation. Following this, Fudge resigned as Minister in disgrace because he refused to take the steps Dumbledore offered him. When Fudge requested Dumbledore to persuade Harry Potter to lie for the Ministry's behalf to the wizarding world in order to cling onto his position, Dumbledore refused, seeing no more desire or purpose in helping Cornelius.
In 1997, Fudge attended Dumbledore's funeral, with a miserable expression on his face and twirling his green bowler. Harry had wondered whether any of the Ministry officials who showed up were genuinely saddened by Dumbledore's death, or simply putting up a facade.
- "After everything Fudge did last year? After Umbridge?"
- —Harry showing disgust at Fudge's shamelessness[src]
Initially, Fudge treated Harry Potter like a favourite nephew, and gave him lenience when the underage wizard inflated his aunt Marge from anger, rather than expel him, despite a previous offence (which was actually Dobby's doing, though Fudge did not believe it). This was partly due to the Azkaban escapee Sirius Black, who Fudge believed to be after Harry; however, in a misguided attempt to protect Harry, Fudge refused to tell the boy about Black's supposed goals. However, Fudge did refuse to so much as listen to Harry and Hermione's attempts to explain Sirius' innocence, instead believing them to be confunded. This kindness continued until the end of the Triwizard Tournament, when Harry brought back Cedric Diggory's corpse and claimed that Voldemort had returned.
Fudge, in fear that this would jeopardise the peace of his community and his seat as Minister for Magic, refused to believe Harry and Dumbledore, and spread a smear campaign to make it look like they were liars and nutters who were trying to gain attention, as well as take over the Ministry; his decision had partly been influenced by Rita Skeeter's writings, believing Harry to be hallucinating and that being a Parselmouth made him even more untrustworthy. Because of this, Fudge transformed Harry's disciplinary hearing of underage magic used to defend against Dementors into a heavily biased full-court trial, made the Daily Prophet print slander stories against him as though he was something of a slip-in joke, and granted Umbridge many new privileges to extensively punish and torment the boy. One of Fudge's ultimate goals was to expel Potter from Hogwarts and oust him from the magical community as an untrustworthy troublemaker.
At first, Harry was shocked at Fudge's blatant denial, and somewhat desperate in regaining recognition during the trial, which did not occur, while, in extension, trying to persuade his right-hand woman Umbridge. However, as Fudge's antagonism continued, Harry lost faith in the Minister, and began to feel more disgusted at Fudge's increasingly tyrannical hold; Harry only felt more angry when Fudge refused to accept Voldemort's return even when an Azkaban mass breakout occurred, instead blaming it on Sirius. When Fudge came to Hogwarts to deal with the Dumbledore's Army business, he sneered at the captured Harry, who replied with the filthiest look he could muster, and thought it was worth watching Fudge's blood pressure rise from anger by denying his transgression of Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four.
When undeniable evidence of Voldemort's revival was finally given, Fudge, in a last ditch effort to remain in office, tried to persuade Harry to tell the world that the Ministry was doing a good job in security, but failed, as Harry still resented Fudge's actions from the previous year.
- "What Cornelius doesn't know won't hurt him."
- —Umbridge attempting to break the law behind Fudge's back[src]
Dolores Umbridge was Fudge's right-hand woman, being his Senior-Undersecretary, and he trusted her greatly to place her into Hogwarts to control it. He granted her many powers through Educational Decrees, and full-heartedly agreed with all of her comments and mockeries against Dumbledore and Harry. Fudge seemed to be unaware of Umbridge's sadistic and dark nature. In return, Umbridge was loyal to Fudge only because of the power he was offering her, and felt no true attachments to the misguided man. She was also willing to break the law behind the Minister's back to achieve results, such as summoning Dementors in an attempt to expel Harry, as well as using the illegal Cruciatus Curse for interrogation, all the while stating that "what Cornelius doesn't know won't hurt him". In short, Umbridge used Fudge to further her lust for power. When Fudge was dismissed, Umbridge stood beside the new Ministers instead.
Fudge had a close professional association with Lucius Malfoy who was a wealthy and respectable pure-blood. (Lucius was cleared in 1981 of serving Lord Voldemort, claiming to have been under the Imperius Curse, which Fudge believed absolutely.) This association may have encouraged Fudge's own belief in the superiority of pure-bloods over those with mixed parentage, as well as "half-breeds" and creatures with "near-human intelligence" which his senior assistant, Umbridge, expressed. Fudge admired Lucius for giving donations of gold to the right causes. In return, Fudge granted him many privileges, such as personal access to him, favours in delaying laws and revealing classified information (e.g. the Triwizard Tournament). Fudge gave Lucius tickets to sit in the top box for the Quidditch World Cup final after his generous gift to St Mungo's. Fudge first met Narcissa Malfoy and Draco there in the top box, which suggests the Malfoys and Fudges did not meet socially prior to that. Despite receiving the Minister's favours, Lucius caused him great embarrassment by secretly leading the unconvicted Death Eaters and anti-Muggle supporters in a riot that night.
Fudge did have disagreements with Lucius and his views. For instance, Fudge did not oppose Arthur Weasley's Muggle Protection Act, and allowed Ministry officials to conduct raids on wizard homes (later including Lucius's), searching for artefacts harmful to Muggles. This may have turned Lucius back to the Dark Arts as his plot to open the Chamber of Secrets and discredit Arthur Weasley came about when he did not get his way. Then, when the twelve school governors suspended Dumbledore for not being able to prevent the Chamber of Secrets incident, Fudge said it was the wrong thing to do, but did not use the law to interfere with the running of Hogwarts as he would later.
After Harry survived Voldemort's rebirth and reported to him that Lucius was a Death Eater, Fudge took this as a great personal offence, and absolutely refused to believe it, continuing to treat Lucius with great respect and meeting him at the Ministry. He said Harry was just throwing out names of people who were cleared thirteen years previously, and began a campaign to discredit Harry and Dumbledore. The next year, when Lucius' son, Draco Malfoy, captured Harry for being in the illegal organisation calling itself Dumbledore's Army, Fudge commented that his father must be informed of this achievement. Fudge was completely oblivious to Lucius' dark nature. Lucius, in turn, used this to his advantage and manipulated the gullible Minister to delay laws and other factors that would benefit the Death Eaters. By the time Lucius was caught red-handed as a renewed Death Eater, Lord Voldemort had a year to regain power and followers unopposed by the Ministry, making it that much harder for his successor to protect the wizarding world, even with Lucius being locked up in Azkaban. As a result, Fudge suffered almost exactly the same consequences as Lucius: both lost their positions of influence, while desperately and unsuccessfully trying to reclaim it.
As Arthur was a lower-class person and having a poor family, Fudge always neglected Arthur while having a manipulated friendship with his wealthy rival, Lucius Malfoy, due to Fudge's swaying of money and power. Fudge also happened to consider Arthur a weirdo because of his obsession with Muggles, causing Fudge to think he lacks proper wizarding pride, thus holding Arthur back within the Ministry. When Lord Voldemort had returned, Fudge suspected Arthur being in league with Dumbledore since he was aware that the two of them were friendly. He even invited Arthur's son, Percy to become his Junior Assistant in an attempt to spy on the Weasley family and Dumbledore, which led to Percy defecting from his family after a row with Arthur. Fudge ignored Arthur and Harry's existences when he and the Wizengamot exited Courtroom Ten. After Fudge was disgraced and forced to resign, Arthur was instantly promoted by Fudge's successor.
Prime Minister of Muggles
- Fudge: "Prime Minister, I am very sorry to have to tell you that he's back. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back."
- Prime Minister: "Back? When you say 'back'...he's alive? I mean —"
- Fudge: "Yes, alive. That is- I don't know- is a man alive if he can't be killed? I don't really understand it, and Dumbledore won't explain properly- but anyway, he's certainly got a body and is walking and talking and killing, so I suppose, for the purposes of our discussion, yes, he's alive."
- — Cornelius Fudge and Prime Minister of Muggles about Lord Voldemort[src]
In 1996, when Lord Voldemort returned and Fudge had been forced out as Minister for Magic, he went to alert the Muggle Minister concerning the return of Voldemort. He also visited when the Prime Minister was elected, when Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban.
Percy Weasley and his family were originally looked down on by Fudge, due to their lack of wealth and having more affiliation with Muggles.
However, in 1995, Fudge promoted Percy to become his Junior Minister. This was an attempt to spy on the Weasley family, but Percy's defection from his family made it pointless. However, Percy commented in his letter to his younger brother Ron that the Minister would not be more gracious to him for this defection, and he agreed with Fudge on that Harry was violent and disturbed and Dumbledore is plotting to overthrow Fudge when the Ministry began publishing articles, leading to a quarrel with his family. By Percy's claim, Fudge was actually glad that Percy left his family for the sake of the Ministry. Over the final year of Fudge's term as Minister, he kept using Percy as the court scribe for both Harry's disciplinary hearing and the discovery of Dumbledore's Army. Percy, during both moments, heartily agreed with Fudge's decisions, and laughed when Fudge made insulting mockeries at Harry and Dumbledore. When Fudge's folly had been exposed and he was forced to resign as Minister in disgrace, Percy remained loyal to the Ministry, but did not show any sympathy for or against Fudge's dismissal.
- "The whole wizarding community has been screaming for my resignation for a fortnight. I've never known them so united in my whole term of office!"
- —Fudge sadly commenting on how the world turned against him[src]
When Fudge first ascended his ranks to the Minister for Magic, his bumbling nature failed to worry the citizens, as long as he was willing to take advice from more able people such as Albus Dumbledore. However, Fudge never forgot how much the community supported Dumbledore to become the Minister in the past. As his position was the leader of the entire government, he was nevertheless highly influenced and affected by the opinion of the people as a whole. When a few people would oppose his rule which threatened his administration, he would abuse his powers to discredit such people to maintain his hold on the likings of the rest of them, as well as threatening any employees with dismissal for not supporting his rule; ironically, Fudge only became popular because he took Dumbledore's advice to begin with. When Fudge awarded himself with the Order of Merlin, First Class medal, it caused controversies throughout the community, as it was common view that Fudge's career was "less than distinguished".
However, by ignoring Dumbledore's and Potter's warning of Voldemort's return, he endangered the entire world, and despite his increasingly tyrannical hold on them, about half of the British wizard community chose to believe Dumbledore and Potter instead. When the undeniable truth came out, the entire community issued a unanimous condemnation of Fudge's tenure, while Fudge made one last (unsuccessful) attempt to lie to them to regain their trust, which would have further endangered them by denying more preparation. Fudge was ultimately forced to resign after two weeks of pressure, and was remembered by history, as Dumbledore had warned him, "as the man who stepped aside, and allowed Voldemort a second chance to destroy the world we have tried to rebuild".
- Cornelius is an old Roman clan's name, possibly related to the Latin word cornu (horn). Name of early Christian saints with a medieval cult in the Low Countries.
- Oswald is of old German origin, and means "God's power". This is a reference of Fudge's political power amongst the British wizarding world is the highest, to the point of god-like. The name Oswald has had negative connotations since the 1930s due to British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley - and ally of Adolf Hitler's - as well as Lee Harvey Oswald - assassin of U.S. President John F. Kennedy - since the 1960s. Both can allude to Fudge's negative impact upon the wizarding world, the former due to his blood purity and social elitism, as exemplified by his favouritism of Lucius Malfoy, and the latter due to his attempt to assassinate Dumbledore's reputation.
- Fudge (Verb) To alter something from its true state, as to hide a flaw or uncertainty. Always deliberate, but not necessarily dishonest or immoral.
- (intransitive) To try to avoid giving a direct answer; to waffle or equivocate.
- "Fudge," besides being a toffee-like confection (though softer, and crumbly rather than chewy), can mean "nonsense." This meaning originated from (probably 18th-century) sailors; it was derived from a merchant-Captain Fudge, who was renowned as a teller of tall tales. As a verb, it means to "evade" or to "falsify." In technological jargon, it means "to perform in an incomplete but marginally acceptable way."
Behind the scenes
- Fudge was portrayed in the Harry Potter films by Robert Hardy for all films the character makes an appearance, except the sixth film.
- He was voiced by Dov Reiser in a dub of the fifth video game.
- The Muggle Prime Minister tried to throw Fudge out the window as he believed him to be a hoax from the opposition.
- He also sports a hairstyle unusual for the time period in the 2nd film.
- While Fudge avoids using Voldemort's name throughout the series, to the point of being rude to the Muggle Prime Minister when he began to read it aloud, Fudge calls him "Lord Voldemort" in the fourth book.
- The Goblet of Fire film omits Fudge ordering the Dementor's Kiss on Barty Crouch Jr, and the beginning of his doubt of Dumbledore and Harry. The latter part is covered in the following film.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it revealed Fudge's resignation. In the books Fudge's resignation was revealed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- Also in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Fudge didn't seem as antagonistic towards Harry and Dumbledore as he was in the book, though this was simply because he was not given much screen-time in comparison to the novel or possibly because in the movies, antagonism between some characters is reduced to being less obnoxious than in the novels.
- Several comparisons have been made between Fudge and real-life British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who gave in to Adolf Hitler at the Munich Conference and foolishly announced "peace in our time" in 1938, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Despite any of his other accomplishments, he has largely had a historical reputation as a bumbler. However, Chamberlain was simply buying time while quickly rearming Britain and preparing for war, while Fudge not only blocked any attempts to hinder Voldemort but actually went so far as to forbid any teaching of defensive magic to students at Hogwarts.
- Fudge entered office in 1990, the same year as real-life British Prime Minister Sir John Major.
- Ironically, Hardy is well known for playing Chamberlain's successor, Winston Churchill, in a series of television miniseries.
- Fudge's wand in the films has a striking resemblance to Filius Flitwick's wand.
- While Fudge disagrees with Dumbledore and Harry, they were actually trying to help him with his career (albeit indirectly) by announcing Voldemort's return. In contrast, the people Fudge is friendly with, Lucius and Umbridge, are merely using him to help with their own personal agendas and have no true attachments to him.
- It is always mentioned in the books that Fudge sports a lime green bowler hat. However, in the films, Fudge is shown wearing a black bowler hat.
- Fudge is described in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with a gold pocket watch, yet in the films he is shown with a silver pocket watch.
- There was a real person named Cornelius Fudge, a naval captain on the H.M.S. London in the 19th century. However, J. K. Rowling has denied basing Minister Fudge's name off this person or any other real personage, saying as much in a letter to John Jeffries, the owner of a narwhal tusk that had been engraved to the real Fudge. Despite the two characters not having any link, Jeffries gave a small portion of the proceeds from the auction of the tusk to a multiple sclerosis charity, a cause with personal importance to Rowling.
- Fudge's refusal to believe the return of Voldemort and thus lack of preparation for war was very similar to Lord Denethor from Lord of the Rings. Both of their lack of preparations would nearly lose the entire loss of the war against their respective Dark Lords (Voldemort, Sauron), and thus be responsible for innumerable loss of life. They both also refused to listen to the counsel of those who wished to aid them (Gandalf, Dumbledore). However, while Fudge was driven by a fear of losing everything he had built and a simple case of denial, Denethor had been driven mad by looking into a Palantir, as well as the recent death of his favourite son, Boromir.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (GBC version only) (Heard in PS1 version)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (GBA version only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Voice heard in opening titles) (Seen in flashback on Disc 2)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Daily Prophet Newsletters
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (heard on speaker)
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ Fudge also says that he was a Junior Minister of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes in 1981; he had to have been at least seventeen at the time (the wizarding age of majority), so he cannot have been born after 1964.
- ↑ 
- ↑ Fudge has always favored pure-blood wizards like Lucius Malfoy, also disdaining families like the Weasleys, considered "Blood traitor" by supremacist, indicating he's, most likely, at least a half-blood who strongly favours his wizarding side, possibly a pure-blood.
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 8
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film), Chapter 29 (Onlookers to the rescue.) - Dumbledore comments "You remember this footpath, Minister, from your school days here?"
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 19 (The Lion and the Serpent)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Pottermore - New from J.K. Rowling: "Order of Merlin"
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- ↑ Martin Gardner, The Annotated "Hunting of the Snark", W. W. Norton and Company, 2006; footnote 60
- ↑ JK Rowling denies finding Harry Potter inspiration on narwhal tusk - The Telegraph
|Minister for Magic: |
|Advisor to the Minister for Magic |
|Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic: |
|Junior Assistant to the Minister for Magic: |
|Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission |
(1997 to 1998 only)
|Others: Eduardus Limus (Exotic Symbol Analyst) • Mdme. Miraforum (Quill Control & Rune Translation) • Loretta Fieldwake (Special Advisor for Elf Legislation)|