- "Imagine that Voldemort's powerful now. You don't know who his supporters are, you don't know who's working for him and who isn't; you know he can control people so that they do terrible things without being able to stop themselves. You're scared for yourself, and your family, and your friends. Every week, news comes of more deaths, more disappearances, more torturing… The Ministry of Magic's in disarray, they don't know what to do, they're trying to keep everything hidden from the Muggles, but meanwhile, Muggles are dying too. Terror everywhere… panic… confusion… that's how it used to be."
- —Sirius Black regarding the First Wizarding War[src]
The First Wizarding War was a major conflict with foundations as early as the 1940s, but officially beginning in 1970 and ending abruptly in 1981. It marked the original "reign" of the Dark Lord Voldemort.
The Dark Lord's rebellion occurred with the help of his Death Eaters, Dark wizards and witches who served him and brought terror to both Muggle and magical innocents. They were opposed by the Ministry of Magic and the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation founded by Albus Dumbledore that would play a crucial role in both of Voldemort's defeats.
The First Wizarding War ended on 31 October, 1981, which resulted in Lord Voldemort's first fall and the defeat of his Death Eaters at the hands of the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter.
Rise of the Heir of Slytherin (1940s-1950s)
- Harry Potter: "You. You're the Heir of Slytherin. You're Voldemort."
- Tom Riddle: "Surely you didn't think I was going to keep my filthy Muggle father's name, did you? Keep the name of a man who abandoned my mother when he found out that she was a witch? No! I fashioned myself a new name, a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I became the greatest sorcerer in the world!"
- — Tom Riddle and Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets in 1993[src]
Voldemort was born Tom Marvolo Riddle in 1926. Between then and the time he entered the wizarding world in 1938 at the age of 11, there were new developments in anti-Muggle sentiment. Gellert Grindelwald launched his magical supremacist war on the European mainland and Cantankerus Nott published the Pure-Blood Directory, which listed the 28 remaining pure-blood families in Britain. Many of these families, who would go on to support Voldemort, considered themselves nobility due to their blood status and looked down on "blood traitors" and "mudbloods."
Tom Riddle, who already displayed early warning signs of sociopathy in his youth at a Muggle orphanage, began attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1938 and was sorted into Slytherin, the house of his ancestor. It was here that he began his quest for domination. An exceptionally gifted student, he used his good looks and charm to ingratiate himself with his teachers, with the notable exception of Albus Dumbledore. He also assembled a group of like-minded friends (consisting of Antonin Dolohov, Nott, Rosier, Mulciber, Avery, and Lestrange) who would later become his first Death Eaters.
In 1943, Riddle discovered that he was the heir of Salazar Slytherin and used Parseltongue to open the Chamber of Secrets and unleash a basilisk on the school with the task of killing Muggle-born students. Several were petrified and one, Myrtle Warren, was killed. However, this prompted discussions about closing the school, and, as Riddle did not want this to occur, he abandoned the Chamber of Secrets and framed a fellow student named Rubeus Hagrid and his pet acromantula Aragog for the crimes. As a result, Hagrid was expelled and Riddle earned an award for special services to the school.
Afraid of dying, Riddle used the murder of Myrtle to turn his diary into a Horcrux. Around this time, he also tracked down his long-lost relatives in Little Hangleton. He murdered his Muggle father Tom Riddle Senior and his grandparents, framing his maternal uncle Morfin Gaunt for the crimes. He began wearing the House of Gaunt's signet ring as a trophy. Having learned that his name came from his "filthy Muggle father," he gave himself a new name: "Lord Voldemort." Afterwards, resolving to take steps to make himself truly immortal, he discussed the theoretical possibility of creating six Horcruxes (thus splitting the soul into seven pieces) with Professor Horace Slughorn, and then turned the ring into an unprecedented second Horcrux. At some point, Riddle charmed the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw, more commonly known as the Grey Lady and the ghost of Ravenclaw House, into revealing the location of Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem. He planned to find this and other relics of the four founders and turn them into Horcruxes.
In 1945, Albus Dumbledore, the only person who could see through Riddle's façade and thus the only one he feared, defeated Grindelwald, who was imprisoned in Nurmengard. That same year, Riddle graduated from Hogwarts and applied for the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, which had just been vacated by Galatea Merrythought. Headmaster Armando Dippet rejected him on the basis of being too young. As a result, Riddle began working at Borgin and Burkes, a dirty, disreputable, Dark shop in Knockturn Alley, which many believed was a waste of his talents. He used this position to befriend Hepzibah Smith, a wealthy old witch and antiques collector who was soon found dead with two of her most prized possessions (Salazar Slytherin's locket and Helga Hufflepuff's cup) stolen. Riddle framed her house-elf Hokey for the crime and turned the cup into his third Horcrux. Shortly afterwards, he murdered a Muggle tramp, turned the locket into a fourth Horcrux. Either immediately before or after his tenure at Borgin and Burkes, Riddle travelled to Albania where he retrieved Ravenclaw's Diadem, and after murdering an Albanian peasant, transformed it into a horcrux as well.
Immersion in the Dark Arts (1950s-1970s)
Riddle, now going exclusively by Lord Voldemort, laid low and travelled around the world. He studied the Dark Arts extensively, studying obscure and arcane magic and consorting with Dark Wizards. He underwent several transformations which made him more powerful and less human. He was occasionally accompanied by his old school friends, who became known as the Death Eaters. As they grew in size, they began allying with dark creatures such as Giants and Werewolves (including Fenrir Greyback). When Albus Dumbledore ascended to the post of Headmaster, between March 1965 and March 1971, Voldemort visited Hogwarts to again request to be hired as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Unlike last time, it is unlikely that this desire was sincere, and he wanted to find the Sword of Godric Gryffindor and turn it into a Horcrux. When Dumbledore refused to hire him, Voldemort placed a jinx on the position, making it so that the job could not be held more than a year, insidiously causing decades of students to have poor knowledge of Defence Against the Dark Arts.]].
While in Hogwarts, Voldemort took the opportunity to conceal the diadem in the Room of Requirement. He also hid the ring in the ruins of the Gaunt shack in Little Hangleton and placed the locket in a seaside cave where he had once tortured fellow orphans as a child (guarded by a lake full of Inferi, most of whom were formerly Muggle vagrants). He entrusted the cup into the Gringotts vault of the Lestrange family, as the elder Lestrange was one of his earliest followers and his sons, Rodolphus and Rabastan, and daughter-in-law Bellatrix soon joined the cause. Voldemort kept the diary in his own possession.
In the wider British wizarding world, the 1960s were a time when the tide of social progress clashed with the entrenched conservative order. In 1962, Nobby Leach became the first Muggle-born Minister for Magic, which led to senior members of the Wizengamot resigning in protest. Mordicus Egg published The Philosophy of the Mundane: Why the Muggles Prefer Not to Know in 1963, which posited actual theories about why Muggles continued to be unaware of magic, rather than just assuming them to be stupid, ignorant beasts. In 1965, there was a high profile case involving Werewolves, as Fenrir Greyback managed to avoid prosecution for killing two Muggle children by posing as a homeless Muggle, then was broken out of the Ministry by his accomplices. Lyall Lupin declared that Werewolves were "soulless, evil, deserving nothing but death," and, in revenge, Greyback infected Lupin's son Remus. Albus Dumbledore, a noted social progressive who believed strongly in the rights of Muggles as well as Muggle-borns and other oppressed minorities, controversially became Headmaster of Hogwarts. Nobby Leach left office under suspicious circumstances in 1968, with many believing he had been poisoned by pure-blood supremacist Abraxas Malfoy. That same year, social reformer Eugenia Jenkins became Minister. When Squibs began marching for their rights, pure-blood supremacists rioted. At the close of the decade, the situation was ready to be brought to a boil.
It was in this charged climate that, in 1970, Voldemort proclaimed himself the new Dark Lord. With his army of followers and his Horcruxes making him invincible, he planned a revolution against the Ministry of Magic with the intention of toppling it and creating a new world order run by pure-bloods with Muggles kept in bondage and Lord Voldemort himself as the immortal ruler for all time.
To achieve these ends, the Death Eaters and their allies (including the particularly destructive Giants) began carrying out attacks on Muggles for sport and to sow chaos. As they grew in strength, they began targeting Muggle-born and Blood Traitor witches and wizards as well. The elder members of the prominent Bones family were killed by Voldemort, which shocked many. Other "inferior" magical beings such as house-elves (who were treated like vermin) and Goblins (a family of which was slaughtered) also suffered under their reign of terror.
With many Death Eaters occupying strategic positions within the Ministry of Magic itself, they used blackmail and the Imperius Curse to expand their influence and destabilise the government, which was desperately trying to keep order and continue to maintain secrecy from the Muggle world. Augustus Rookwood, an Unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries, managed to set up a particularly successful network of espionage. Minister for Magic Eugenia Jenkins was ill-prepared to lead during wartime, and it seemed that the Ministry was incapable of gaining the upper hand. In response to the growing threat of Lord Voldemort and his minions, Albus Dumbledore formed the Order of the Phoenix to take the fight directly to the Death Eaters. A number of Ministry officials (such as Elphias Doge and the Aurors Alastor Moody and Frank and Alice Longbottom) joined to participate in more secretive, sudden assaults to crush the Dark Rebellion.
Height of the War
- Remus Lupin: "The last time Voldemort had power he almost destroyed everything we hold most dear."
- Sirius Black: " Fourteen years ago he had huge numbers at his command — not just witches and wizards but all manner of Dark creatures."
- — Remus Lupin and Sirius Black regarding the height of the war[src]
In 1975, Eugenia Jenkins was ousted as Minister for Magic and replaced by Harold Minchum, a hardliner who placed more dementors around Azkaban. The ruthless Bartemius Crouch Senior rose rapidly through the ranks until he became the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The Order of the Phoenix strengthened as well, as its ranks were bolstered in 1978 with the addition of Hogwarts graduates James Potter, Lily Evans, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, enabling the forces of good to make headway on both fronts.
However, the Death Eaters were also reinforced, as Severus Snape, Evan Rosier, Wilkes, Avery, and Mulciber graduated and joined Voldemort's cause that same year. Terror and chaos continued to grip the populace of wizarding Britain, to the point that many began to fear to speak Voldemort's name. Numerous ordinary witches and wizards died in the war (including the father of Dean Thomas, among many others) and the identities of their killers, the Death Eaters, were still largely unknown. This made people suspicious of one another, even within the Order: Sirius Black, for instance, came to distrust his old friend Remus Lupin, suspecting that he might be a spy.
In 1979, Regulus Black, a member of the pro-Voldemort House of Black and the brother of Order member Sirius Black, graduated from Hogwarts and joined the Death Eaters. Despite his pure-blood supremacist beliefs, he became disenchanted with the cause's insane and brutal leader. He was the first to deduce that Voldemort had created a Horcrux, and attempted to destroy Salazar Slytherin's Locket at its hiding place in a seaside cave. This failed and resulted in his death at the hands of the Inferi, but he managed to replace the locket with a fake and entrust the real Horcrux to his family's loyal house-elf Kreacher. This incident would prove to have major ramifications in the Second Wizarding War Around this time, Voldemort entrusted his diary to Lucius Malfoy. As Voldemort could not attack Hogwarts directly with Dumbledore as Headmaster, he planned to use his Horcrux to open the Chamber of Secrets once more and purge the school of Muggle-borns, though this did not come to fruition.
Despite being in the midst of a war, life went on for those who had not yet become its victims. Under the leadership of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts remained a bastion of magical education. Furthermore, it was suggested after the war that marriages and births increased significantly during these years, as the future was uncertain. Recently married Order members James and Lily Potter had a son, Harry, while Frank and Alice Longbottom had Neville. At the same time, Death Eater Lucius Malfoy and his wife Narcissa had Draco, while Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott also had sons.
In 1980, Minister for Magic Harold Minchum was removed from office due to his failure to end Voldemort's rebellion was and replaced with Millicent Bagnold. Not long afterwards, Order member Peter Pettigrew was secretly initiated as a Death Eater and began feeding information on the Order's movements to Voldemort. Due to his betrayal, Death Eaters began killing Order members and the war entered its bloodiest phase in early 1981. Marlene McKinnon was slaughtered alongside her entire family by Travers and several accomplices. Edgar Bones, his wife, and their children were murdered. Fabian and Gideon Prewett fought bravely but were ultimately killed by a group of Death Eaters led by Antonin Dolohov. Dorcas Meadowes was murdered by Voldemort himself. Caradoc Dearborn disappeared and was never found, though he was presumed dead. Benjy Fenwick was killed and so brutally mutilated that only bits of him were recovered.
Meanwhile, Head of Magical Law Enforcement Barty Crouch issued an edict giving Aurors permission to employ the Unforgivable Curses against their enemies. The Aurors fought hard to resist the giants, killing many of them and wiping out entire tribes. Eventually, the giants retreated and went into hiding, with those that remained leaving the British isles entirely and resettling on the European mainland. Finally, the Ministry began to identify and apprehend Death Eaters. Igor Karkaroff and Antonin Dolohov were arrested and sent to Azkaban while Evan Rosier and Wilkes resisted arrest and were killed.
The Prophecy and the Fall of the Dark Lord
- "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 prophecy of Voldemort's fall[src]
During the worst days of the war, Albus Dumbledore met with Sybill Trelawney at the Hog's Head Inn in Hogsmeade regarding the position of Divination professor. During the interview, she made a prophecy about the person who would have the ability to defeat Lord Voldemort. There were two possible candidates, both born to members of the Order of the Phoenix in July of 1980: Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Severus Snape overheard only part of the prophecy before being thrown out by tavern keeper and Order member Aberforth Dumbledore. Upon hearing the report, Voldemort assumed it meant the Potters' son (a half-blood like himself) and resolved to kill the infant.
However, Snape was in love with Lily Potter, and he covertly defected to the Order of the Phoenix, informing Dumbledore that Voldemort had marked the Potter family for death. Dumbledore bade the Potters go into hiding with with the protection of the Fidelius Charm. While James and Lily wanted to have their close friend Sirius Black be their Secret-Keeper, Sirius thought Voldemort would suspect him, but not a “weak, talentless thing” like Peter Pettigrew. Thus, the traitor Pettigrew became the Potters' Secret-Keeper. No one, not even Dumbledore or Remus Lupin, knew of the switch. Pettigrew quickly told his master that the Potters were hiding in Godric's Hollow.
On 31 October, 1981, Voldemort travelled there himself. He murdered James when the latter opposed Voldemort unarmed, but offered Lily a chance to save herself if she stepped away from the crib containing her infant son — Snape had requested that she be spared. Lily refused and Voldemort murdered her before using the Killing Curse on Harry Potter. However, Lily's loving sacrifice gave her son the protection of an ancient magic and the curse backfired, destroying Voldemort's physical body and leaving a lightning-shaped scar on Harry's forehead that a fragment of Voldemort's soul became attached to, inadvertently making Harry a Horcrux.
End of the War
- "To Harry Potter — the boy who lived!"
- —Celebrations going on at the end of the war and the destiny forced upon the young Harry Potter[src]
Voldemort's body was destroyed, but his Horcruxes enabled him to survive as a mangled soul. He fled the collapsing house to go into hiding. Pettigrew recovered the Dark Lord's wand shortly before Harry himself was rescued by Order member Rubeus Hagrid. That night, news of Voldemort's downfall and presumed death spread like wildfire, with celebrations breaking out all across the country so strenuously that numerous mild violations of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy that were noticed by the Muggle media were excused by Minister Bagnold, who asserted the war-weary wizarding community's "inalienable right to party."
Harry Potter, now orphaned, was taken to 4 Privet Drive, the residence of his maternal aunt Petunia and her husband Vernon. Waiting for Hagrid in the Muggle neighbourhood of Little Whinging was Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall. Dumbledore left a note with the sleeping baby Harry explaining everything to the Dursleys: most importantly, that they must allow Harry to grow up in their home and return there once a year in order to ensure that his mother's protection would continue working, as he knew that Harry would be in danger and that Voldemort would someday return. Order member Arabella Figg, who lived several streets down, accepted the task of keeping watch over Harry and the Dursleys.
- "The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait!"
- —Bellatrix Lestrange's parting words at her trial[src]
Although Voldemort had been defeated, many Death Eaters were still at large. Peter Pettigrew attempted to go into hiding, but Sirius Black tracked him down and confronted him. Faking his own death, Pettigrew conjured an explosion that killed twelve Muggle bystanders and then transformed into his Animagus form of a rat and escaped. Black was quickly arrested and, as he was universally perceived as a traitor, Death Eater, and mass murderer, Head of Magical Law Enforcement Bartemius Crouch sent him to Azakaban without a trial. Other actual Death Eaters, including Travers and Mulciber, were likewise captured and imprisoned, while Dumbledore gave testimony exonerating Snape, who he hired as Potions Master to replace the retiring Horace Slughorn. Fenrir Greyback and the other Werewolves went back underground.
The imprisoned Igor Karkaroff gave up Augustus Rookwood, who was arrested and thrown in Azkaban. In exchange, Karkaroff was freed and fled the country, eventually gaining employment as a professor at Durmstrang Institute. The subsequent investigation of Rookwood's spy network led to numerous individuals being questioned (including Ludovic Bagman, Beater for the Wimbourne Wasps, who was found not guilty).
Despite the Ministry crackdown, many Death Eaters were able to walk free. Many innocent people were released from the Imperius Curse following Voldemort's defeat, so some of them used this as an excuse. Others simply used their wealth, power, and influence to avoid punishment for their crimes. Lucius Malfoy, Walden Macnair, Corban Yaxley, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Avery, Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott were officially considered innocent in the years after the war. Assuming that Voldemort was dead and gone, they simply carried on with their daily lives.
However, not all Death Eaters were content to give up Voldemort's cause. Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange, along with Bartemius Crouch's own son, Bartemius Crouch Junior, abducted and interrogated Frank and Alice Longbottom. Believing that they had information on Voldemort's whereabouts, they tortured them with the Cruciatus Curse so severely that they were left permanently mentally disabled. After the Death Eaters were arrested, the Longbottoms were moved to St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries for long-term care and their infant son Neville was raised by his grandmother Augusta. The horrific attack enraged the public, and Bartemius Crouch Senior sentenced them all, including his son, to life in Azkaban. Bellatrix proudly proclaimed her loyalty and declared that the Dark Lord would return as they were dragged away by the dementors.
Voldemort began hiding in a remote Albanian forest, desperately hoping that one of his followers would find him and restore him to power. Meanwhile, Pettigrew entered the home of the wizarding Weasley family as a pet rat named "Scabbers." At his dying wife's request, Barty Crouch Sr. smuggled his son out of Azkaban disguised as his mother, then imprisoned him in their home with the Imperius Curse under the care of his house-elf Winky. After his "son's" death in Azkaban, Crouch's reputation began to falter and his meteoric political career was effectively ended. Voldemort had suffered major setbacks, but the seeds of his eventual return were planted.
Many people, including the next Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, believed that Voldemort was truly dead. However, Albus Dumbledore and his supporters from the now disbanded Order of the Phoenix knew that Voldemort would return. As a precaution, he contacted his friend Nicolas Flamel, who agreed to lock up the Philosopher's Stone, one of the few methods by which Voldemort could regain his power, in a Gringotts vault. Severus Snape vowed that he would protect Harry Potter at all costs, as the boy was destined to defeat the Dark Lord once and for all.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned) (Indirect mention)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (First appearance) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Indirect mention)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Indirect mention)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in flashback(s))
Notes and references
- ↑ Pottermore - From the Story: Evan Rosier
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- ↑ Bloomsbury Live Chat
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs) Remus Lupin says - "“I was a very small boy when I received the bite...But then Dumbledore became Headmaster, and he was sympathetic." According to Pottermore - Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Remus Lupin" , Remus Lupin became a werewolf shortly before he turned 5 in March 1965 and Dumbledore visited him as Headmaster shortly before his eleventh birthday. This means Dumbledore became Headmaster between March 1965 and March 1971.
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows