Hello once again, back to History of Magic 201!
Today’s class is the seventh lesson of the academic year and an interesting one many of you have been looking forward to taking -- a lesson regarding the first official wizarding school in the UK.
Would anyone want to make a guess which school that might be? Yes indeed. We are talking about Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We will be touching on a brief overview and history of the school, the founders of the school, as well as a tiny bit of the topic on the architecture of the castle.
Brief Overview and History of the School
Located in Scotland, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is the most established magical school in Britain. It was built between the 9th to 10th century (some suspect that it is built in 990 A.D). It is a coeducational boarding school that houses students from aged 11 to 18. There are four houses in Hogwarts, namely Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. They are named after the four founding members of the school, which you will learn more about in the later part of the lesson.
Though they are founding members, none of them were made headmaster or headmistress of the school when it first started. No one truly knows the name of the first headmaster of the school, but there is the existence of a statue of him rumored to be located in a hidden room of the castle.
Despite knowing that the school is located in Scotland, the exact point of location is untraceable and unable to be seen by the Muggle eye. This is because a large variety of charms and spells are used to protect the identity and facade of the school. So, the Muggles are only able to see a large patch of grassland and ruins instead of the compound which consists of the castle, the Black Lake, Quidditch pitch, and various other parts.
Why would we want to keep away from the prying eyes of the Muggles, you might ask? We have to constantly remind ourselves of the era when Hogwarts was founded. It was between the 9th and 10th century. Though we understand from Lesson Two that witchcraft was officially banned between the 12th to 14th century, the fear of magic had already arisen and persecution of magical folk had already taken place. Thus, in order for students to remain safe whilst studying in the compounds, such charms were necessary to protect students from any possible external harm.
Next, let’s look into our school motto. I am not sure about you, but when I was still a student here many years ago, the school motto constantly puzzled me. Literally, “Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus” means “Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon”. Metaphorically, it is similar to the popular idiom “Let sleeping dogs lie”. The school motto that can be colloquially translated to “Don’t mess with Hogwarts”. Consider Hogwarts to be the dragon that is at rest while students learn and grow peacefully. However, when threatened, the school rises up, meets the occasion and “bites back”.
Like I mentioned before, Hogwarts had four founding members (known as the Hogwarts Four): Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff, and Rowena Ravenclaw. Now, let’s learn more about them.
Founders of the School
The founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry wanted to represent each aspect they would like to see in new students. Each brought different character and personality traits to the table and allowed for students to fit into the four different houses based upon said traits.
Godric Gryffindor is known to be one of the most powerful duellers of his time. Another interesting fact about him is that some called -- and still call -- him the “crusader against Muggle discrimination”.
Of all the founders, Godric Gryffindor was closest friends with Salazar Slytherin. However, as most of you might have already known, there was a large argument between these two friends when they noticed the difference in what they would like Hogwarts to become. Godric Gryffindor, born in Godric’s Hollow (Lesson Three), had a soft spot for Muggle-born witches and wizards, as he believed that they should also have a chance to receive the highest form of education the wizarding world had to offer.
Like the other founders, Godric tried to shape the Gryffindor house to be like him: loyal, brave, and fearless. It was known that many times, he stood up for his friends, including Salazar Slytherin, when others slandered or spoke false accusations against them, sometimes with drastic consequences. Even now, some believe that he acted before thinking things through.
As Second Years, you will have already gone through your very own sorting ceremony, but did you know that the Sorting Hat once belonged to Godric Gryffindor? While the founders were alive, they were able to sort the students of Hogwarts into different houses, but they got worried about what to do when they passed on. Relying on all four of them becoming ghosts was an unlikely option. Thus, Godric removed his hat and all four witches and wizards enchanted the hat together to give it the “brains” to sort even when they were no longer available.
Salazar Slytherin had a great many achievements, beliefs, and discoveries attributed to him, including being an adept Legilimens. Unfortunately, however, the thing about him most people know him for is his belief that magic should always remain within a strict group of pure-blooded families; he insisted the Hogwarts must not allow anyone else into the school. This was also the beginning of the well-known argument between the founders. However, contrary to popular belief, Salazar Slytherin was actually a loyal friend, and not a bigoted villain. His scorning of Muggle-born students was actually born out of a desire to protect the rest of the students in the school, as he believed they may betray them to Muggles.
Salazar Slytherin had a special talent. He was a Parselmouth, meaning he could speak with serpents. It was due to his talent that he was almost killed as a child d. He tried to defend a Muggle girl, who was bullied, by speaking to a snake and telling it to attack the aggressors. Frightened, the girl ran home and told her parents about what Salazar had done, causing him to be brutally beaten. Salazar’s parents were able to save him and get their revenge, killing the man, but his hatred of Muggles remained.
As I previously mentioned, Salazar was a loyal friend, especially to Godric Gryffindor, and even promised to stay out of his mind. Thus, Salazar had no idea that Godric was in fact a Muggle-born. When he turned to the other founders for support, he was only met with rejection, as Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff did not see a reason to bar Muggle-borns from their institution.
Students of Slytherin are known to be ambitious and cunning. They would do anything to achieve what they believe in. They tend to be (but are not always) strong supporters of pure-blood supremacy and believe that magic should always remain only with those who deserved to have it.
Following Salazar’s failed attempt to only accept pure-bloods in the school, he created the Chamber of Secrets and placed a basilisk inside it. This basilisk was placed in order to rid all Muggle-borns in Hogwarts, should the worst come to pass, and fulfill this “noble purpose” Salazar had set for it to do.
Helga Hufflepuff came from a very mundane and simple family in Wales. She was the oldest of three children, though the other two children were adopted (one magical and one Muggle). This has allowed her to nurture the motherly characteristics she became famous for and that she has brought to her house in Hogwarts. Caring for her students’ well-being was more important than anything else.
Interestingly, Helga was famous for her wide variety of food-related charms, many of which were, and still are, present in Hogwarts’ feasts. Through food, she was able to form connections with people of many different backgrounds. She had an avid interest in various cultures, Muggle and magical alike. Helga immersed herself in many a culture and was always open to learning about others. This also contributed to her charismatic nature.
A little known fact, Helga attended Muggle school until the age of thirteen. Instead of studying, she was mostly seen practicing her magical abilities with her brother after school hours. Then, it became extremely apparent that her talent was in the magical realm. Even though she had started learning magic officially a lot later than her peers (most people start at 11, but she started magical schooling at 13), she worked hard and ended up surpassing most of them.
Born in Scotland, Rowena’s maiden name was actually not Ravenclaw. She took the name from her husband, Jares Ravenclaw. Jares was Helga’s cousin. Rowena knew Helga before knowing Jares, and through her friendship with Helga met Jares Ravenclaw, who was ten years her senior. He was persistent in winning her heart, despite her sole interest and love for knowledge rather than relationships. In the end, she was won over with not only his perseverance but also his wit.
As a child, Rowena was always a lover of knowledge and learning. This allowed her to advance her skills in various realms of magic and brought about her interest in magical architecture. It was a relatively rare topic at that time as resources were scarce, but Rowena was determined to use this ability in one form or another. The opportunity arose when Helga introduced her to Salazar and Godric, and thus the idea for Hogwarts was born. Then, she invested all her time into the magical architecture of Hogwarts, the magic behind which is still a mystery to witches and wizards to this very day.
Rowena Ravenclaw became a widow when a wizard’s misfired spell killed her husband. Thus, she brought her daughter, Helena Ravenclaw, with her to live in Hogwarts castle, where she dedicated all her time to teaching and learning. She buried herself in work to distance herself from the hurt in her heart caused by her husband’s death. However, this caused tension between her and her daughter as the latter felt neglected. As a result, Helena later fled the castle with the fabled diadem of wisdom her mother had enchanted. This brought about more hurt to Rowena -- more than she was willing to admit -- as she refused to let go of her pride and denied that her daughter had run away.
Even on her deathbed, Rowena never got to see her daughter one last time. She died of illness and a broken heart in 1000 A.D.
Rowena Ravenclaw had formed the Ravenclaw house with knowledge and wisdom above all else, and had a fair bit of trouble establishing relationships with people. Instead, she sought comfort in her collection of books that was later donated to the Hogwarts Library. The amount of books from Rowena make up a substantial part of the Hogwarts Library to this very day.
Architecture of the Castle
There are two parts of the Hogwarts we are going to consider today, namely the castle itself and the Common Rooms.
As mentioned before, Rowena Ravenclaw was the brains behind the architectural design of the castle, while the other three founders did most of the collaborative spellwork and charms that helped to protect and build the castle itself (such as the Anti-Disapparition Jinx).
Hogwarts did not actually start off as a castle but instead a mansion that housed a small number of students. However, it was an aim of the founders that one day this school would house so many students that the building would not be able to handle the number, Thus, over time, they charmed the building to grow along with the number of students. Along with quirky moving staircases, Rowena Ravenclaw designed the castle in a way where the rooms could actually change its location. This allowed the school to possess a mystery factor in the building itself. As the years went on and the school started to grow, this ability for rooms to move about was gradually incorporated to many other parts of the school and came in handy for expansion. Some believed that Rowena Ravenclaw did this so that if the castle was ever to be attacked, the professors and the students would be able to understand the movements and features of the building to hide away from their opponent. However, the opponents would be confused, as they would not know what was going on in the building.
The paintings and pictures were hung up much later, at Salazar Slytherin’s instruction, and they cover almost every inch of the castle walls. While some believe that the moving paintings and photographs acted as a tool for spying on his fellow founders, this was not necessarily the goal. In any case, the portraits have lasted long after the departure and death of Salazar Slytherin and remain here today.
Lastly, due to the magic that occurs throughout the castle, a magical atmosphere is created that disallows any form of technology to be used in the castle grounds. The connection and interference between magic and technology will either cause the technology to break down or not work at all. Thus, electric lights are not used in the school grounds but instead, candles are used as a form of light. Of course, some things have changed and in some specific areas, specific technology can be used.
Each house has its own set of common rooms, allowing students to stay in dormitory-style lodgings. Each dormitory consists of about four to five beds, as you already well know. However, what you might not know is that each common room has the ability to expand according to the number of students.
The respective common rooms also have the characteristics of its respective house and colour scheme.
The entrance to each house’s common room is guarded by their own individual portrait that holds a password. This password changes multiple times throughout every academic year and without it, you will not be able to enter the common room.
This also marks the end of today’s lesson on the first wizarding school. I hope you’ve enjoyed the lesson as much as I have enjoyed telling you the history about our school.
If you have any questions regarding today’s lesson, feel free to contact me via owl or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember to study hard because the finals are coming very very soon! I’ll see you then.
Original lesson written by Professor Autumn Maddox