Those who think that the story of the Wizarding World begins with The Philosopher's Stone are incredibly wrong. A large number of other events took place long before the Boy Who Lived was even born. Each of the characters had a past. The Ministry of Magic, Hogwarts, Ilvermorny, and other wizarding institutions had quite an interesting history. And the wizarding society as a whole went through a number of challenges that weren't described in the books and movies.
Learning more about the past of the Wizarding World of Potterverse, we can better understand its characters. The choices they made in some points of their lives defined their personalities and turned them into those we admire and those we despise. So let's shed light on the way the Wizarding World functioned before Harry Potter was born and the story about him began.
15 When The International Statute Of Wizarding Secrecy Was Introduced
The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy was was first signed in 1689. And in 1692, it was established as an official law. The Statute was introduced to protect the wizarding society from Muggles and make sure that their presence was thoroughly hidden from everyone who shouldn't know about them.
It's interesting to mention that the history might show us the reason why the Statute was officially established in this exact year. In the same year, the Salem Witch Trials occurred. You should remember that it was a horrible time for the wizarding society, as during this year, multiple people were accused of witchcraft and some of them were even hanged. Even though it's not stated officially, it's possible that this occurrence impacted wizards to act quickly and find a way to protect themselves.
14 Once Hogwarts Was Evacuated Because Of Peeves
Peeves had terrorized Hogwarts long before Harry Potter entered the school. Back in 1876, he became so unbearable that the current school caretaker decided to banish the poltergeist. He even came up with an elaborate trap that contained a number of weapons, as well as a bell jar reinforced by Containment Charms. However, catching the cunning poltergeist wasn't as easy as it seemed. He easily broke through the jar and remained armed with all the weapons that were inside the trap.
As a result, the entire school had to be evacuated for three days, while Peeves was having fun in the castle with all his new weapons. He was calmed down only after the current Headmistress signed a contract with the poltergeist and promised additional privileges to him. One of these privileges was the ability to swim in the boys' toilet once a week, so it seems that Peeves didn't really ask much. Since then, no one ever tried to remove the poltergeist from Hogwarts.
13 Minister Diggory Wanted To Stop Using Dementors As Guards
It has always seemed weird to me that the Ministry kept Dementors as prison guards, even considering the fact that this prison contained dangerous criminals. The same idea came across the minds of other people as well.
In the 1700s, Minister Eldritch Diggory visited Azkaban several times and was horrified by the inhumane conditions under which the prisoners were held. He even created a committee to dismiss Dementors from the prison and find alternative guards. However, many people feared, thinking that in this case Dementors would be deprived of their food source and begin attack the civilians.
Anyway, Minister Diggory didn't finish his initiative, because he died of Dragon Pox, and no one else wanted to continue searching for an alternative solution. Only in 1998, after the Second Wizarding War, Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt finally dismissed the Dementors and replaced them with Aurors.
12 Slytherin's Descendant Helped Found America's Ilvermorny
Hogwarts is connected with Ilvermorny, the American School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in more ways than you think. It was co-founded by Isolt Sayre, the woman who was born into House of Gaunt. And do you know who the Gaunts were? If not, I'm here to tell you: they were a pure-blood family that descended from Salazar Slytherin himself!
Even though Isolt was a descendant of the family that considered pure blood to be the most important thing in the world, and despised everything who wasn't pure-blooded, she was against the infliction of superiority above Muggle-borns. The difference in views started from Isolt's mother, Rionach, who distanced herself from House of Gaunt. As a result, Isolt's parents were killed in a fire by Rionach's fanatic sister. Later, Isolt moved to the American continent, married a Muggle, and eventually helped found Ilvermorny.
11 Newt Scamander And His Dragons
While Muggles were fighting in World War I, Ministry of Magic had other things to do. In 1914-1918, Newt Scamander took charge of a confidential dragon-wrangling program on the Eastern Front, where he had to work with Ukrainian Ironbelly dragons. It's unclear what main purpose the program had, but we know that it was wrapped up shortly.
Since Newt devoted much of his time to the dragons (and, of course, because he had a special talent in dealing with magical creatures), he managed to establish a connection with them. So, as a result, he was the only one who could handle them. Everyone else who approached the dragons risked being eaten in that moment. Since no one wanted to face this fate for themselves, the Ministry canceled the program.
10 Muggles Didn't Get Any Magical Help During World War I
Obviously, Muggles needed help during World War I, and if the wizarding society provided it, they'd appreciate it a lot. However, it never happened. The current Minister for Magic, Archer Evremonde, banned the involvement of the Wizarding World into the war. It can be understood, since giving active help would certainly breach the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. Just imagine that while soldiers were battling at the front, strange people would Apparate out of nowhere and begin casting spells with their wands. What kind of secrecy would that be?
However, there were some people in the Wizarding World, who opposed the Minister's decision and wanted to help Muggles as much as they could and as discretely as they could. More details on that in the next entry!
9 Henry Potter (Harry's Great-Grandfather) Opposed The Decision
The main proponent of helping Muggles during World War I was James Potter's grandfather and Harry's great-grandfather, Henry Potter. He was a Wizengamot member back then. He publicly condemned the Minister's decision and actively demonstrated his pro-Muggle views. Later—mostly due to this fact the Potter family was excluded from the Sacred Twenty-Eight—the list of truly pure-blood wizards. I'm sure that the Potters weren't too sad about it, because all this pure blood thing wasn't so important for them.
Now we see that Harry's strive for justice and selfless help was in his blood. I'm sure he'd do the same thing, if he was at his great-grandfather's place. It's also possible that the boy was named after Henry Potter, who was known as Harry to his friends and family.
8 How Remus Lupin Became A Werewolf
Remus Lupin's lycanthropy was one of the main reasons of his bad luck. He felt like an outcast at school before he made friends. After finishing Hogwarts, he couldn't find a job, because no one wanted to give a workplace to a werewolf. But have you ever asked how it all started? How did he become a werewolf?
In fact, Remus' life-changing moment happened partly because of his father, Lyall Lupin. He worked for the Ministry and was well-versed in handling dark creatures. Once, he took part in the commission that decided whether Fenrir Greyback was a werewolf. Lyall knew that Greyback killed two Muggle kids and said that he deserved "nothing but death." Greyback was later released and decided to revenge by sneaking into Lyall's house and biting his 5-year-old son Remus. Due to Lyall's timely arrival, Remus' life was saved, but he still got the condition he had to struggle for all his life.
7 Umbridge's Lies Got Her A Position At The Ministry
Dolores Umbridge's mother was a Muggle and her brother was a Squib. Under the influence of her father, Umbridge despised them, along with all other people with no magical abilities. At some point, Dolores and her father denounced them. But several years after that, Dolores also denounced her father. She didn't want to be associated with him, because he worked as a janitor in the Ministry, and she wanted to get a good post there. So she made him retire, leave the public sight, and promised to pay him a small monthly allowance in exchange for that.
Right after that, Umbridge claimed that she was a pure-blood witch and began her way to the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic and other high-ranked positions.
6 Minerva McGonnagal Almost Married A Muggle
After Minerva McGonagall graduated from Hogwarts, she returned to her hometown for a summer before starting working at the Ministry of Magic. During that summer, she met a local farmer, who was a Muggle, and fell in love with him. The romance between them began, and, at some point, they even decided to get married. However, she couldn't reveal her wizarding abilities to him, since she had to obey the International Statute of Secrecy. Minerva realized that by marrying him, she'd repeat her mother's destiny, who also married a Muggle and had her wand and wizarding life locked away. So she refused to marry him and left for London.
Years after that, during the First Wizarding War, McGonagall learnt that her ex-fiance was killed at a random anti-Muggle attack. This news left her devastated and wondering if she could save him, being his wife.
5 Aurors Could Use Unforgivable Curses During The War
Let me remind you: there were three Unforgivable Curses in the Wizarding World: Imperius (complete submission), Cruciatus (excruciating pain), and Avada Kedavra (instant kill). The use of each one of these curses would "earn you a one-way ticket to Azkaban." During the First Wizarding War, Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters were ready to use these curses at any given point, without any hesitation. They didn't care about the legal implications, because they only wanted things their way.
In an attempt to even things out, the Ministry of Magic allowed the Aurors to use Unforgivable Curses in battles. However, it's only known that Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody used the Killing Curse several times against Death Eaters, and it's unclear whether other Aurors used them.
The ban on Unforgivable Curses was lifted for Aurors during the Second Wizarding War, once again.
4 Ollivander Invented A New Way To Make Wands
Garrick Ollivander was a noticeable wandmaker. He was known all over the world, partly because he was the one who revolutionized the way wands were made and given to their owners. Before him, young wizards had to choose the core they wanted for their wands, which often resulted in incompatibility of temperaments of the wand and its owner. Ollivander decided that it was better to use powerful magical substances as wand cores that would be able to choose a wizard who'd own them.
Like many other innovative ideas, Ollivander's new wandcraft methods were met with skepticism. However, very soon everyone realized that his way of creating wands was excellent. It allowed creating the synergy of the wand and its owner, and, finally, it helped Harry defeat Voldemort, since their wands turned out to have twin cores.
3 Centaurs And Merpeople Didn't Want To Become "Beings"
According to the classification of the Ministry of Magic, a being is "any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws." Under this classification, humans (both wizards and Muggles), as well as veelas, vampires, werewolves, hags, house elves, and giants are considered beings. Since centaurs and merpeople are sentient creatures, they were offered a status of beings at some point, as well. However, representatives of both species refused to go to the same group as hags and vampires and didn't want this for their people.
For this reason, even though centaurs and merpeople can speak and have high intelligence levels, they're considered beasts by default. Very proud and smart beasts, I'd say...
2 Voldemort Wanted To Recruit James And Lily Potter As Death Eaters
When Lord Voldemort rose to power for the first time, he knew that gathering the strongest wizards around him was one of the keys to success. At this point, learning about the extraordinary magical talents of James and Lily Potter, the Dark Lord decided that it would be good to make them his followers, as well. Besides, James Potter was a pure-blood wizard, and Voldemort seemed to be willing to make an exception for the Muggle-born Lily. J.K. Rowling talked about this in one of her interviews, "James and Lily turned him down, that was established in 'Philosopher's Stone'. He wanted them, and they wouldn’t come over, so that's one strike against them before they were even out of their teens."
It's obvious why James and Lily Potter turned Voldemort's offer down. No one who knew them could imagine them joining his cause.
1 Why Were The Potters So Rich?
In The Philosopher's Stone, Harry was surprised to learn that his parents left him a huge fortune in his Gringotts vault. But, since James and Lily Potter were only 21 years old when Voldemort killed them, how was it possible that they amassed such a large pile of coins?
In one of her interviews, J.K. Rowling revealed this secret to us. In the 12th century, one of the forefathers of the Potter family, Linfred of Stinchcombe, invented Skele-gro, the medicine that allowed regrowing bones (Harry needed it in The Chamber of Secrets). It made him quite a fortune, which was inherited by all other Potters afterwards. Then, in the 20th century, Fleamont Potter (James' father) quadrupled this fortune by creating and selling Sleekeazy's Hair Potion, a beauty product that became extremely popular among witches (including Hermione and Ginny). When Fleamont died, James inherited the fortune and, after his death, it went to Harry.