Famous British Wizards - Lesson 6, History of Magic-201
Welcome, students, to week number six of the Second Year of History of Magic. I hope you all did well on your midterms! Because you all have the midterms freshly in your memories, I will not summarize the previous lesson. Instead, immediately get your notebooks out, because we will move right on to the good stuff!
Famous or Infamous?
As you all know -- unless you forgot to read the syllabus handed out in the first lesson (for those, we’re now at Lesson Six!) -- the remaining lessons of this year will all cover outstanding contributions to the wizarding world, ranging from individual to collective achievements in educational, governmental, or cultural areas. The Museum of Magic’s British Hall of Fame details the lives and accomplishments of an amazing array of 593 wizards and witches renowned for their outstanding contributions to the wizarding world, ensuring they will be remembered for their historical contributions to the British nation.
Obviously, all of the wizards we are going to discuss in this lesson are in that Hall of Fame, but before we learn about their interesting lives and historical actions, I must first address the general reason that makes them special enough to enter the Hall of Fame in the first place. Of course, I talked about the requirement of individual or collective achievements. However, if you look at almost all of the Hall of Fame entries, you’ll notice that having fame is intentionally labelled beneficial to the community, while infamous wizards never will make it in the same list, because they did something detrimental to the society. Therefore, we avoid the issue inherent to having a “Hall of Fame”. Most often, calling people famous is analogous as calling the weather nice or any book boring; they are all personal opinions.
That said, in alphabetical order, we are discussing three wizards today!
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
One of the best known headmasters of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore lived constantly under the watchful eyes of what amounted to nearly the entire wizarding community. Born in the small, protective town of Mould-on-the-Wold in 1881, he shouldn’t have had a difficult youth. However, due to a Muggle attack on his sister and the imprisonment of his father -- as you learned in Lesson Four -- there was nothing easy about his early life. After that, his mother, Kendra Dumbledore, moved them to Godric’s Hollow to escape accusing eyes, and Albus enrolled in Hogwarts and was sorted into the Gryffindor house during the autumn of 1892.
Albus excelled during his Hogwarts years, achieving several honors (read: all awards the school offered) and the praise of multiple people, mainly because he showed great magical abilities. He was an autodidact on multiple magical subjects, even though he had excellent teachers at that time. Being an expert at nonverbal spells, Alchemy (having worked together with Nicholas Flamel), and Transfiguration, he was an admirable and exceptional wizard.
During his lifetime, and particularly during the Wizarding Wars, he was famed as a wise man, but with fame often comes controversy, and Dumbledore’s situation was no different. Some say that around the time he and Grindelwald met, Dumbledore developed anti-Muggle sentiments, a trait not consistent with Dumbledore’s affection for the power of love and the ability to see the good in people. Whatever the case, Dumbledore eventually duelled Grindelwald, leading to the death of his sister, Ariana. Although contact broke, they eventually met up in 1945, duelling once again -- at the height of Grindelwald’s power -- and Dumbledore destroyed Grindelwald’s supremacy, earning more admirers and opportunities for power. One should notice that the fall of Grindelwald was indirectly connected with the Muggle Second World War, occurring around the same time. Moreover, many historians suggest that that, if Dumbledore had not interfered with Grindelwald’s plans, more Muggles would have died in this Second World War. One might ask if that particular reason was the driving force behind the former headmaster’s actions.
After that, Dumbledore was asked to head the British Ministry of Magic several times, though he declined all requests. He did, however, accept a teaching job at Hogwarts, starting to teach the noble and difficult subject of Transfiguration. Soon after, he became Headmaster of Hogwarts, a position he held until his death. Apart from the educational branch, he also served as Supreme Mugwump, the highest position of the International Confederation of Wizards, and served as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot several times.
The Peverell Family
Although not a person per se, many members of the Peverell Family are currently in the British Hall of Fame. A lot of famous -- or infamous -- wizards have enriched this family with their knowledge of Charms, the Dark Arts (or the defence thereof), and the possible possession of the Deathly Hallows, which, interestingly, may be more of a family heirloom. The three brothers Peverell, Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus, were allegedly the brothers in the Bard’s story ‘Tale of the Three Brothers’, possessing the Deadly Hallows - the Invisibility Cloak, the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand.
Although most of the Peverell family was famous for its anti-Dark Arts propaganda -- including the three brothers mentioned earlier and multiple descendants like Augusta Peverell -- some authors and genealogists, including those who wrote Nature's Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy, do state that the Slytherin, Gaunt, and the Riddle families are likely pretty involved in this lineage. Others believe that these families were nowhere near the family tree of the Peverell’s and could never be in any way logically be connected.
A wide variety of families descend from the Peverell family; the Weasleys and the Potters also intermixed with the Peverell lineage, making it a very interesting and complex family tree for genealogists to study. However, it has been discovered and agreed upon by several genealogists that the Peverell family line was one of the first Pureblood families to become extinct in the male line -- and thus, presently speaking, no pure descendant of the Peverell family exists.
Newton Artemis Fido Scamander
Born in 1897, Newton -- or Newt, as he was known to his friends -- compiled a long list of achievements in his life. He was bestowed with the honor of the Order of Merlin, Second Class; was an exceptional magizoologist; and published the popular book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well as several other academic essays in various magizoology magazines. His mother, an ardent Hippogriff breeder, possibly stimulated Scamander’s affection for the breeding and care of magical creatures. Scamander’s love for magical beasts was further explored during his few years at Hogwarts, in which he explored the subject Care of Magical Creatures.
Having been expelled from Hogwarts, he set off to get practical experience in the subject he loved. His pursuits were wildly successful, resulting in the publication of his famous work, Fantastic Beasts, and eventually his appointment to the Ministry to work for the Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures, where he wrote on two of the department’s excellent acts (Werewolf Register Act, 1947; Ban on Experimental Breeding Act, 1965), becoming famous for his strong political views on the pro-freedom of magical creatures.
Some magizoologists, however, actively believe that his anti-experimental breeding act has sent the magical community back in time, stating that experimental breeding should be allowed for better knowledge and understanding of anatomical and zoological facets of magical creatures. The question remains whether either Scamander or his critics are correct.
The assignment of this week is pretty standard, and even though you all deserve a break, will consist of a small essay about one of three statements and your opinion about those. Furthermore, you also need to hand in your journal for Weeks 4 through 6, so prepare for this and hand that as well!
Take care and I’ll see you in the next lesson.
Original lesson written by Professor Julius Dowler