"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[1] was a major conflict with foundations as early as the 1940s, but officially beginning in 1970 and ending 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.

Voldemort's first defeat took place on 31 October, 1981 at the hands of an infant Harry Potter. By December of that year, all of his remaining Death Eaters were imprisoned, killed, or acquitted, bringing the war to an end.



Birth of Lord Voldemort

"Once, there was a young man who, like you, sat in this very hall, walked this castle's corridors, stepped under its roof. He seemed to all the world a student like any other. His name: Tom Riddle. Today, of course, he's known all over the world by another name."
Albus Dumbledore on Voldemort's early years[src]

The notorious Dark Wizard commonly known as "Lord Voldemort" was born Tom Marvolo Riddle on 31 December, 1926, to Tom Riddle Snr, a wealthy Muggle gentleman from an old family of squires considered the most locally prominent but unpopular land gentry within the Yorkshire village of Little Hangleton, and Merope Gaunt, an abused pure-blood witch from a poverty-stricken wizarding family whose mental instability was caused by generations of inbreeding within their pure-blood supremacist ideology. Having been conceived under the coercive (and nonconsensual) influence of a Love Potion placed on his father, he was given an innate inability to feel any emotion or empathy after the drink's effect wore off, and Riddle Snr abandoned his new family in disgust. Merope died with a broken moments after giving birth to their son, leaving the orphaned Riddle to spend the first eleven years of his life in the Muggle-run Wool's Orphanage in London, where he displayed many early warning signs of psychopathy. During this time, the secret wizarding world to which he unknowingly belonged was starting 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, including the Gaunts. Many of these families considered themselves nobility due to their blood status and looked down on "blood traitors" and "Mudbloods."

Young Death Eaters

A picture of Tom Riddle with his first followers

Riddle was brought into the wizarding world in 1938 by Professor Albus Dumbledore, the renowned Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, who noticed the boy's apathy and selfishness but otherwise felt no greater concern for his flaws. Riddle began attending Hogwarts later that year and was sorted into Slytherin House. There, he proved to be an exceptionally gifted student, but his unhealthy mental state worsened as he began his quest for domination. He simultaneously got better at concealing it and used his good looks and charm to ingratiate himself with his teachers (with the notable exception of Dumbledore) and classmates. By his second year, Riddle was made the leader of a gang of like-minded Slytherin boys known as the Knights of Walpurgis (consisting of Antonin Dolohov, Nott, Rosier, Mulciber, Avery and Lestrange), all of whom belonged to wealthy pure-blood families and were taken in by his charismatic leadership. They were involved in a number of nasty incidents during their school years, though he was careful to never become implicated in any wrongdoing and he was generally held to be a model student. Over time, Riddle grew obsessed with discovering his magical ancestry. He came to the conclusion that his father must have been a wizard because his mother had died, a mysterious and terrifying fate he assumed powerful witches and wizards could avoid. When he could find no trace of any Riddles with magical blood, he was forced to accept that his father was a "filthy Muggle" and that the magically powerful could indeed die. Enraged by this discovery, he rearranged the letters of his own full name ("Tom Marvolo Riddle") to give himself a new one: "I Am Lord Voldemort", which he used among his friends.

Heir of Slytherin

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]
Tom in the Chamber

Tom Riddle standing in the Chamber of Secrets

Riddle finally found his magical ancestry in his fourth year, when he used his middle name Marvolo (which was derived from his maternal grandfather Marvolo Gaunt) to discover the Gaunt family and its descent from the Slytherin family. This explained that his exceptionally rare ability to speak Parseltongue made him the "Heir of Slytherin", rumoured to be the sole person who could open the legendary Chamber of Secrets. However, his most burning obsession remained the Chamber itself, the hidden entrance of which he spent the majority of his fifth year searching for despite most people insisting it was nothing but a myth. Finally, near the end of the school, he succeeded where countless others had failed by discovering the entrance in a girl's bathroom which led down into the sewers beneath Hogwarts Lake. Entering the chamber, Riddle encountered the millennium-old Basilisk living inside and confirmed his connection to the historical dark wizard that bred it with his commands, which it obeyed.

First time

Tom Riddle creating a Horcrux for the first time during his sixth year at Hogwarts

On 13 June, 1943 he unleashed the beast into Hogwarts to continue Slytherin's "noble work" of purge the school of Muggle-born students. Several were petrified and one named Myrtle Warren was killed. However, this prompted Headmaster Armando Dippet and the Hogwarts Board of Governors to discuss closing the school in the interest of safety. Faced with returning to the Muggle orphanage he so despised, Riddle abandoned the Chamber of Secrets and framed half-giant third year Gryffindor Rubeus Hagrid and his pet acromantula Aragog for the crimes. As a result, Hagrid was expelled with his wand snapped, and Riddle was unjustly rewarded the Special Award for Services to the School. With his fear of death exacerbated by having stared it in the face, he used the murder of Myrtle to turn his school diary into his first Horcrux, the method to create which he feverishly researched in the Hogwarts Library's Restricted Section and learned from a copy of Secrets of the Darkest Art that was held there.[2]

Tom with ring

The ring in Tom Riddle's possession after he murdered his father and paternal grandparents

Around August, 1943, Riddle tracked down his Gaunt relatives to Little Hangleton, where his maternal uncle Morfin Gaunt gave him a biassed account of his father leaving his mother to die and abandoning him to the orphanage. In a desire for revenge, he entered the Riddle House and used the Killing Curse to kill his father alongside his Muggle grandparents, Thomas and Mary, then framed Morfin for the crimes by placing him under the influence of a False Memory Charm. Consequently, Morfin was sentenced the wizard prison Azkaban (and, meanwhile, the Riddles' caretaker Frank Bryce was blamed, though not prosecuted, for the murders within the Muggle community). Riddle stole the Gaunts' signet ring (which, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, contained one of the Deathly Hallows: the Resurrection Stone) and began wearing it as a trophy. Shortly afterwards, he returned to Hogwarts for his sixth year and discussed the theoretical possibility of creating six Horcruxes (thus splitting the soul into seven pieces) with Professor Horace Slughorn, the Potions Master and his Head of House, who was taken aback by Riddle's interest in such Dark Magic. Although reluctant at first, Slughorn nonetheless gave him an overview of such an experiment with the promise of keeping their discussion between only them. This apparently gave Riddle what he wanted to hear, and he used the murder of his own father to turn the ring into his second Horcrux.[3]

In 1945, Albus Dumbledore, the only person who could see through Riddle's façade and thus the only one he feared, demonstrated his astounding magical mastery by defeating the extremely dangerous dark wizard Grindelwald in a duel. As a result, Dumbledore gained the Elder Wand (another of the Deathly Hallows), Grindelwald was imprisoned for life in his own fortress Nurmengard, and peace was restored to the wizarding communities of continental Europe. Around this time, Riddle graduated from Hogwarts and quickly applied for the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, which had just been vacated by Galatea Merrythought. Dumbledore, now a world-famous household name, argued against having him on the staff, so Dippet ended up cordially rejecting Riddle on the basis of being too young. However, Riddle began developing an interest in the relics of the Hogwarts founders, and before leaving used his charm to get the Grey Lady, the ghost of Ravenclaw House who was in life a member of the Ravenclaw family, to reveal the location of Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem: a remote forest in Albania. So he travelled there and retrieved it from from a hollow tree, using the murder of an Albanian peasant he encountered along the way to turn it into his third Horcrux.[4]

Riddle Hepzibah

Hepzibah shows Slytherin's Locket to Tom Riddle. Hokey stands with the box containing Hufflepuff's Cup

When he returned to England, Riddle was offered several positions in the British Ministry of Magic, but turned them all down and began working at Borgin and Burkes, a dirty and disreputable Dark Arts shop in Knockturn Alley run by Caracracus Burke. Many lamented the wasted potential of a talented and promising young man and the name Tom Riddle largely faded into obscurity. Tasked with smooth-talking people into parting with their possessions for far less than they were worth, Riddle used his position to learn more about the Dark Arts. Through his work, he formed a one-sided friendship with Hepzibah Smith, a wealthy old antiques collector descended from the Hufflepuff family who was attracted to him. At some point between 1955 and 1961[5], he visited her to negotiate the sale of a goblin-made suit of armour in her possession, and she used this as an opportunity to show the ostensibly trustworthy and handsome Riddle two of her most prized treasures: Helga Hufflepuff's cup and Salazar Slytherin's locket, the latter of which she bought from Burke, who Merope sold it to before leaving to give birth to Riddle at the orphanage. Desiring the relics for the symbolic power of their historical value, he used a little known poison to kill Hepzibah, then framed her house-elf Hokey for the crime by placing her under the influence of another False Memory Charm. As a result, Hokey was convicted of accidental manslaughter and Riddle stole both the cup and locket and disappeared without a trace. He resigned his post at Borgin and Burkes and used the murder of Hepzibah to turn the cup into his fourth Horcrux. Shortly afterwards, he used the murder of a Muggle tramp to turn the locket into his fifth Horcrux before fleeing the country entirely.[6]

Immersion in the Dark Arts

Dumbledore: "You call it 'greatness,' what you have been doing, do you?"
Voldemort: "Certainly. I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed —"
— Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort discussing the latters immersion into the Dark Arts[src]

Now going exclusively by Lord Voldemort, Riddle laid low and travelled around the world. Little is known of his activities during this period, though he explored 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, and was occasionally accompanied by the Knights of Walpurgis, who became known as the "Death Eaters".

Inferi 2

Inferi in the Crystal Cave

Voldemort devised a symbol called the Dark Mark (likely visually inspired by the Basilisk and the Chamber of Secrets) which he magically branded onto the forearms of his followers, enabling him to summon them to his side. They began establishing relations with various kinds of dark creatures, including giants and werewolves. Though the Death Eaters were generally even less tolerant of them than wizarding society in general, these creatures were receptive of their violent and destructive goals. Dark activity throughout Britain rose, and Voldemort and his followers began surreptitiously killing Muggles, targeting the poor and homeless whose absences would not be noticed. Voldemort used Necromancy to reanimate their corpses until he had an army of Inferi, which he concealed in an inaccessible seaside cave he had visited in his youth.


Voldemort wearing a hooded cloak during the First War, as a possible means to invoke fear

Between March 1965 and March 1971[7], Albus Dumbledore ascended to the post of Headmaster. Voldemort returned to Hogwarts to reapply for the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Unlike last time, it is unlikely that this desire was sincere, and his main goal was to search the castle for Godric Gryffindor's sword and turn it into his sixth Horcrux, which would complete his goal of splitting his soul into seven pieces. Unsurprisingly, Dumbledore declined to hire him. Perhaps out of spite for the Headmaster, Voldemort placed a jinx on the position, making it so a professor could not hold it for more than one school year.[3] Whatever the reason, this ended up having insidious benefits to his long-term plans, as decades of students (including many of his future enemies) would be stuck with erratic, poor-quality knowledge of Defence Against the Dark Arts.

While in the school, Voldemort also 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 the cave, guarded by his Inferi and other enchantments. He entrusted the cup into the Gringotts vault of the Lestrange family, as the elder Lestrange was one of his earliest followers whose sons, Rodolphus and Rabastan, and daughter-in-law Bellatrix, soon joined the cause. As for the diary, Voldemort kept it in his own possession. With his secret and safely-hidden Horcruxes insuring him against death and his power growing, the time for Voldemort to carry out his plans grew near.

In the wider British wizarding world, the early actions of the Death Eaters were almost totally unknown and the 1960s were a time when the tide of social progress clashed with the entrenched social order. In 1962, Nobby Leach became the first Muggle-born Minister for Magic, which led to senior members of the Wizengamot resigning in protest. Professor 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.[8]


Savage werewolf Fenrir Greyback doing Voldemort's dirty work in exchange for victims

In 1965, the werewolf Fenrir Greyback killed two Muggle children, avoided prosecution, and broke out of the Ministry of Magic. this lead Lyall Lupin to declare that Werewolves were "soulless, evil, and deserving nothing but death." In revenge, Greyback attacked and infected Lupin's young son Remus. Also 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.

Minister Leach left office for mysterious health reasons in 1968, leading to a conspiracy theory that he had been poisoned by pure-blood supremacist Abraxas Malfoy. He was replaced as Minister for Magic by Eugenia Jenkins, who, like her predecessor, was sympathetic to issues of social justice. Squibs began marching for their rights, which spurred pure-blood supremacists to riot. Throughout the decade, with various minority groups demanding to be treated as equals, many of the old, elite pure-blood houses, to which all of the Death Eaters belonged, increasingly felt that their very way of life was being threatened. Many pure-blood supremacists who did not join the ranks of the Death Eaters nonetheless gave their wholehearted support to Voldemort's cause. At the close of the decade, the situation was ready to erupt.


Dark Rebellion

"Voldemort... this wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin' fer followers. Got 'em, too –– some were afraid, some just wanted a bit o' his power, 'cause he was gettin' himself power, all right. Dark days, Harry. "
Rubeus Hagrid regarding how the first war began[src]

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 launched 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 openly carrying out attacks on Muggles for sport and to sow chaos. Cleaning up these attacks, healing survivors, modifying memories, searching for the perpetrators, and attempting to prevent future attacks occupied more and more of the Ministry's time and attention. As their confidence grew, they began targeting Muggle-born and Blood Traitor witches and wizards as well, torturing and sometimes killing their victims. Voldemort personally murdered the elder members of the prominent Bones family, which shocked wizarding society. 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 Jenkins was ill-prepared to lead during wartime, and it seemed that the Ministry was incapable of gaining the upper hand.


The original Order of the Phoenix

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. Though the Ministry officially viewed the Order as a renegade outfit, 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.[9] When Dumbledore help black market trader Mundungus Fletcher out of trouble, he joined the Order and, due to his knowledge of the criminal underworld, proved useful. To allow members of the Order to covertly communicate with each other, Dumbledore invented a method of sending messages via the Patronus Charm.

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."
— Conversation regarding the height of the war[src]
78152 gal-1

Voldemort and his Death Eaters followers at the height of the war

The nascent Order initially had very little success, and terror and chaos gripped the populace of wizarding Britain to the point that many began to fear to speak Voldemort's name. He became widely referred to as "He Who Must Not Be Named," or, less formally, "You Know Who". Numerous ordinary witches and wizards (such as Mr Thomas and Robert McGonagall Jr) lost their lives, and the Death Eaters frequently cast the Dark Mark over the scenes of their murders. To protect the organisation, Voldemort ensured that Death Eaters did not know the identities of too many of their fellows, and, to society at large, their identities were completely unknown.[10] Increasing the confusion and paranoia even further, they often placed innocent victims under the Imperius Curse and forced them to carry out their dirty work. Even friends and family members were not above suspicion of one another.

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 rose rapidly through the ranks until he became the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Minchum and Crouch began to make headway, though the anonymous and elusive Death Eaters still retained the advantage.

In 1978, Severus Snape graduated from Hogwarts and entered the ranks of the Death Eaters, joining his schoolmates Evan Rosier, Wilkes, Avery, and Mulciber. Likely at Snape's urging, Voldemort attempted to recruit Lily Evans, whose prodigious talents made up for her status as a Muggle-born, along with her Blood Traitor boyfriend James Potter. Naturally, they refused, defying Voldemort for the first time, and were soon married. Around this time, James and his best friend Sirius Black, who had been disowned by the pure-blood supremacist House of Black, were pursued by a trio of Death Eaters.[11] Though they managed to escape, this incident contributed to them joining the Order of the Phoenix, along with Lily and their friends Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.

The Cave

The cave where Voldemort hid his locket Horcrux

Voldemort gravitated towards several of his younger recruits who were magically powerful and fanatically loyal. He took Bellatrix Lestrange under his wing, sharing with her his knowledge of the Dark Arts and inspiring in her a delusional attraction bordering on obsession. He entrusted his diary to Lucius Malfoy, with which, because Voldemort did not dare attack Hogwarts directly with Dumbledore as Headmaster, he schemed to use to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, though this did not come to fruition. Severus Snape, a fellow Half-blood with whom he had much in common, became one of his most trusted lieutenants.

In 1979, Regulus Black, the younger brother of Order member Sirius Black, graduated from Hogwarts and joined the Death Eaters. He remained a pure-blood supremacist, but he quickly became disenchanted with the cause's insane and brutal leader. Around this time, Voldemort felt the need to test the defences around his Horcruxes. To make sure Slytherin's locket was secure, he requested the use of Regulus's house-elf Kreacher and then callously left him to die. When Kreacher managed to return home, Regulus deduced that Voldemort had created a Horcrux and attempted to destroy it. This failed and resulted in his violent death at the hands of the Inferi, though he did manage to replace the locket with a fake and entrust the real Horcrux to Kreacher. This minor incident would prove to have major ramifications in the Second Wizarding War.[12]

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. It was suggested after the war that marriages and births increased significantly during these years, as the future was uncertain.[12] 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 Minchum was removed from office due to his failure to end the war 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. Members began regarding each other uneasily, and Sirius Black suspected that his friend Remus Lupin, who was frequently undercover among the Werewolves, was a spy.[13] When the entire order gathered for a group photograph in July 1981, no one suspected the truth. Shortly afterwards, due to Pettigrew's betrayal, Death Eaters began killing Order members and the war entered its most desperate phase. 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.[9]

In response to this brutal onslaught, Barty Crouch issued an edict giving Aurors permission to employ the Unforgivable Curses against their enemies. They initially focused their efforts on resisting the giants, killing many of them and wiping out entire tribes until they forced the survivors to go into hiding.[9] Finally, the Ministry began to identify and apprehend Death Eaters. Auror and Order member Alastor Moody became legendary for his successes, arresting Igor Karkaroff along with many other supporters of the Dark Lord, and killing Evan Rosier when he resisted arrest (losing a chunk of his nose in the process). Wilkes also met his death at the hands of Magical Law Enforcement and Antonin Dolohov, one of Voldemort's earliest followers, was captured and sent to Azkaban.

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, James and Lily Potter lived in Godric's Hollow with their son, Harry. James lent his family heirloom invisibility cloak to Dumbledore, who was curious about its properties. Around this time, Dumbledore met with Sybill Trelawney at the Hog's Head Inn in Hogsmeade regarding the vacant position of Divination professor. During the interview, she made a prophecy about a person who would have the ability to defeat Lord Voldemort. There were two possible candidates, both born in July of 1980 to members of the Order of the Phoenix who had thrice defied the Dark Lord: Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom.[9] Severus Snape snuck into the tavern and managed to overhear only part of the prophecy before being thrown out by the tavern keeper, Order member Aberforth Dumbledore. He immediately reported what he had heard to Voldemort, who was greatly concerned. He assumed that it meant the Potters' son (a half-blood like himself) and resolved to kill the infant. Dumbledore hired Trelawney so that she would be safe from the Death Eaters.

Voldemort arrives

Voldemort arrives at Godric's Hollow intending to murder infant Harry

Complicating Voldemort's plan, Snape still harboured love for Lily Potter, enough that he covertly defected to the Order of the Phoenix so he could tell Dumbledore that Voldemort had marked her and her family for death.[12] Dumbledore bade the Potters go into hiding under the protection of the Fidelius Charm. While James and Lily wanted Sirius Black to be their Secret-Keeper because he was their closest and most trusted friend, it was for exactly those reasons that Black claimed Voldemort would suspect him. Instead, he suggested Peter Pettigrew, a "weak, talentless thing" who no one would ever expect. Thus, the real traitor became the Potters' Secret-Keeper, though no one (not even Dumbledore or Lupin) knew of the switch. Pettigrew quickly told his master that the Potters were hiding in Godric's Hollow.[13] Meanwhile, Dumbledore discovered that James's invisibility cloak was in fact the Cloak of Invisibility, the third of the legendary Deathly Hallows.

Potter family murder

Voldemort murdering Lily Potter as she refuses to stop protecting her son

On 31 October, 1981, Voldemort travelled to Godric's Hollow 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, as Snape had requested that she be spared. Lily refused and Voldemort murdered her before using the Killing Curse on Harry. 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.[12]

The Boy Who Lived

"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]

Although Voldemort's body was destroyed, he did not die because years of preparation were finally validated when his Horcruxes enabled him to survive, albeit as a powerless mangled soul. He fled the collapsing house and the country, unable to be seen in such a weakened state. Hagrid arrived on Dumbledore's orders to rescue Harry from the cottage ruins with unexpected help from Black, who became aware of Pettigrew's treachery after finding his hovel empty with little sign of a struggle. Failing to convince Hagrid to give him Harry (since he was named the boy's guardian at the event of James and Lily's deaths), Black lent the half-giant his flying motorbike so thar to carry the baby on for the journey to meet with Dumbledore. That night, news of Voldemort's downfall and apparent death spread like wildfire, with celebrations breaking out all across the country so strenuously that numerous large-scale breaches of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy were noticed by the Muggle media. This was excused by Minister Bagnold, who asserted the war-weary wizarding community's "inalienable right to party."


Harry Potter is delivered to 4 Privet Drive by Hagrid

Touted as "The Boy Who Lived", Harry Potter's status as the first person ever to survive the Killing Curse and the reason for Voldemort's downfall led to him becoming a world famous household name overnight. However, he was also an orphan, so Hagrid took him to the Surrey town of Little Whinging, where Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall were waiting. They left Harry at the doorstep of 4 Privet Drive, the residence of his maternal aunt Petunia Dursley and her husband Vernon. Dumbledore left a note with him explaining the circumstances 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 Voldemort would someday return and that Harry would be in danger. Order member Arabella Figg, who lived several streets down, accepted the task of keeping watch over Harry and the Dursleys.

Decline of the Death Eaters

"The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait!"
—Bellatrix Lestrange's parting words at her trial[src]

Dolohov in his high-security cell in Azkaban

In the aftermath of Voldemort's shockingly abrupt defeat and subsequent disappearance without a trace, many were sceptical that he was really dead. Aurors searched at home and abroad for any sign of him. Although they eventually came to the conclusion that Voldemort had truly been defeated, many Death Eaters were still at large. Pettigrew attempted to go into hiding the next day after recovering from his master's wand from the destroyed Potter Cottage, which he hid in an undisclosed location to prevent the Ministry from discovering his treason via inspecting it. Before doing so, however, he was confronted by Black on a London street, but faked his own death by conjuring an explosion that killed twelve Muggle bystanders and escaped by transforming into his Animagus form of a rat, leaving behind a severed index finger as evidence against his opponent. This left Black universally perceived as a traitor and mass murderer, for which he was quickly arrested and carted off to Azkaban without a trial, which supposedly delighted his mother. Pettigrew, on the other hand, was unjustly awarded the Order of Merlin (First Class) for his supposed willingness to stand up for the safety of a friend, which was "posthumously" delivered to his mother.[13]

Other actual Death Eaters, including Travers, Mulciber and three others , were likewise captured and imprisoned, while Dumbledore gave testimony exonerating Snape, who he hired as Potions professor to replace the retiring Slughorn. Fenrir Greyback and the other Werewolves went back underground, and the few remaining Giants left the British Isles entirely and resettled in the last remaining Giant colony in the world.[9] The imprisoned Karkaroff gave up Rookwood, who was thrown into 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).[10] 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, Corban Yaxley, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Walden Macnair, 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.


Rodolphus, Bellatrix, Rabastan, and Barty Crouch Jr, tried before the Council of Magical Law

However, not all Death Eaters were content to give up Voldemort's cause. Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange, along with 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 and 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.[10]


Voldemort in Albanian Forest

Voldemort in exile within an Albanian forest

Now stripped of almost all magical abilities, Voldemort eventually made his way to Albania, where he started haunting the remote forest he visited years earlier. There, he tried to gain physical form by briefly possessing the bodies of snakes, which only reduced their lifespan due to them being ill-equipped to perform magic. Any help he possibly had in order to potentially render himself mostly required the use of a wand, yet it was not optional for Voldemort to enter the outside world and possess humans, for he was aware that the Aurors were still abroad in search for any sign of him. So he waited, desperately hoping that one of his faithful followers would find him and restore him to power.

In fear of being perceived a traitor by the Death Eaters since his information caused Voldemort's downfall, Pettigrew scurried all the way to Devon, where he was taken in by the Weasley family through their third oldest son Percy Weasley as a pet named "Scabbers". This enabled the rat to stay aware of magical current events until hearing any rumor of the Dark Lord rebuilding his power, which would thus make it safe for Pettigrew to return to him. It was made clear to the Weasleys that Scabbers was very extraordinary; since all rats of his species had a life expectancy of three years, they continued owning him for much longer up to and from the point where he was inherited by their youngest son Ron Weasley. Since Ron would later become best friends with Harry Potter at Hogwarts, Pettigrew took it as opportunity to capture and deliver the Boy Who Lived to Voldemort as a welcome-back gift, as well as dissuading his fellow Death Eaters from ever daring to claim him a traitor. But he never took action in doing so immediately without his master's protection, for he knew Voldemort was no longer strong enough to help. Furthermore, the rat avoided getting into any public attention with the Weasleys, especially when it meant giving himself away to any friends who would conclude his continuing existence

At his dying wife's request, Barty Crouch Snr orchestrated the first known breakout of Azkaban to save his son from a life imprisonment. He accomplished this by having the two switch appearances via Polyjuice Potion, at which point he left with his son while his wife stayed behind. Crouch used the Imperius Curse and an invisibility cloak to imprison his son in their home under the constant care of his house-elf Winky. After his "son" died in Azkaban, he also faked the death of his wife to uphold the deception. With the war over, the public began to reexamine Crouch's relationship with his son, and his reputation took a major hit. Whereas it had been anticipated that he would replace Millicent Bagnold as Minister for Magic, his meteoric political career was effectively ended, and he was demoted to Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation. His son, meanwhile, grew increasingly insane and fanatical the longer he was imprisoned.

With dark forces having terrorised the wizarding communities of Great Britain for over a decade, claimed numerous victims, and scarred, bereaved, and traumatised countless others, the survivors of the war began to rebuild. The spectre of Lord Voldemort, who had supplanted Grindelwald as the most dangerous Dark Wizard of the 20th century, still held a terrible influence, as the widespread fear of the sound of his name continued even over a decade after his downfall. The horrifying idea that he had not truly been defeated lingered, though it was largely eclipsed by the vehement insistence that he was dead and would never come back, a belief maintained by many witches and wizards, including Cornelius Fudge, who would become the next Minister for Magic. 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.[4] 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.[12]

Behind the scenes

  • Since both this conflict and The Second Wizarding War took place mainly in Britain, with British wizards fighting British wizards, then both wars were technically civil wars, similar to the War of The Roses.


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See also

Notes and references

  1. Pottermore - From the Story: Evan Rosier
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs)>Hepzibah died ten years before Voldemort met with Dumbledore. Lupin's quote in the PoA tells us Dumbledore became Headmaster between 1965 and 1971, meaning Hepzibah died between 1955 and 1961
  6. Bloomsbury Live Chat
  7. 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 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Remus Lupin" at Pottermore , 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.
  8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  11. Harry Potter Prequel
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban