|"Are you a wizard or not?"
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- "You have been brought here before the Council of Magical Law so that we may pass judgement on you, for a crime so heinous that we have rarely heard the like of it within this court."
- — Description of the attack on the Longbottoms[src]
The Attack on Frank and Alice Longbottom was committed by Death Eaters Bartemius Crouch Jnr and Bellatrix, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange shortly after the downfall of Lord Voldemort during the First Wizarding War in 1981. It was widely considered to be the most horrendous crime committed in the modern wizarding world by most wizards and witches.
- "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 one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies."
- — Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy[src]
At the end of 1979, Lord Voldemort was at the peak of a reign of terror in the First Wizarding War. He was told of a prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney to Albus Dumbledore during a job interview. Trelawney told him of a boy who would be born in the closing days of July 1980 whose parents have defied Voldemort three times and lived to tell the tale of it. He would have a power that Voldemort was unable or unwilling to comprehend, who could one day kill him, and that Voldemort would pick the child who was equal to him.
There were two boys who fit the prophecy. On 30 July, Neville Longbottom was born to Frank and Alice. However, Neville was pure-blood while the second boy born the next day, Harry Potter, to Lily and James Potter, was half-blood like Voldemort. Voldemort chose Harry believing he was the danger to him and he saw himself in Harry before even seeing him ("the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal"). After receiving their whereabouts from his spy Peter Pettigrew, he went to their home in Godric's Hollow and killed both James and Lily but failed to kill Harry due to Lily sacrificing her own life to save her child which created a powerful protection within her son that deflected Voldemort's killing curse which backfired upon him and destroyed his body, forcing him to flee from Britain and leaving the Death Eaters in disarray and chaos.
Four Death Eaters who had managed to evade capture by the Ministry resolved to find their master and return him to full strength. Bellatrix Lestrange, her husband Rodolphus, his brother Rabastan, and Barty Crouch Jr targeted both Frank and Alice Longbottom for information about where Voldemort was due to the couple's strong reputation as Aurors who had fought Voldemort and his supporters successfully. Frank Longbottom was the first to be captured.
He was subjugated and imprisoned at an undisclosed location, before being heavily tortured by all four of the Death Eaters with the Cruciatus Curse. The Death Eaters were hoping to find information about their fallen master in order to locate the Dark Lord and restore him to power. The group was convinced that the Longbottoms were involved with the Dark Lord's fall because they were included in the prophecy.
Unaware that Lord Voldemort had fled to Albania, Frank Longbottom could not give them what they wanted. However, this did not discourage the four assailants from trying to uncover Voldemort's whereabouts. The torture resulted in Frank being so physically and mentally depleted that he spiralled into insanity. When he was unable to provide them with anything useful, they targeted Alice. She was kidnapped and tortured in the same manner. Although she had no knowledge of Voldemort's whereabouts, she was forced to endure the same torture and met the same fate as her husband.
- "The Longbottoms were very popular. The attacks on them came after Voldemort's fall from power, just when everyone thought they were safe. Those attacks caused a wave of fury such as I have never known. The Ministry was under great pressure to catch those who had done it. Unfortunately, the Longbottoms' evidence was — given their condition — none too reliable."
- — Why Neville lives with his grandmother[src]
All four of the torturers were captured shortly after the attack and were brought before the Council of Magical Law for trial. Bartemius Crouch, Snr. presided primarily over the hearing, which was short and merciless; Crouch Jr screamed continuously at his father that he was innocent and begged fruitlessly for mercy. Crouch disowned his son, causing his wife to faint. The crime was described as so heinous that such a crime was rarely heard of in court. The crowd roared with savage pleasure when Crouch announced that he planned to send the Death Eaters to Azkaban for life, and the sentence was given without question.
Less than a year after his sentence, Barty Crouch, Junior was aided to escape the prison by his parents. Mrs Crouch was dying and wanted nothing more than for her son to be free to enjoy the life he had been given..They took Polyjuice Potion to become each others' doubles, and Crouch Junior was liberated.
As Bellatrix had told Crouch Snr at the end of the trial, their master would come for them and reward them for their loyalty to him.
- "We find ourselves, most unfortunately, in the same position we were two and a half years ago when the murderer Sirius Black escaped. Nor do we think the two breakouts are unre- lated. An escape of this magnitude suggests outside help, and we must remember that Black, as the first person ever to break out of Azkaban, would be ideally placed to help others follow in his footsteps. We think it likely that these individuals, who include Black’s cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange, have rallied around Black as their leader. We are, however, doing all we can to round up the criminals and beg the magical community to remain alert and cautious. On no account should any of these individuals be approached."
- — Cornelius Fudge interview to the Daily Prophet about the Azkaban mass breakout[src]
In January 1996, a mass breakout from Azkaban set ten long-imprisoned Death Eaters loose. Lord Voldemort had little trouble arranging this, as many of the Dementors were happy to oblige his dark whims. Cornelius Fudge refused to believe that Voldemort returned expressed to the Daily Prophet the Ministry's fear that Sirius Black was responsible for the incident. Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange were among the escapees.
These ten were considered to be some of the most dangerous and highly guarded convicts due to their crimes being legendary. Most of the escapees (as well as a few other Death Eaters) were returned to prison after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, with the exception being Bellatrix Lestrange.
Effect on the victims
- "I know people really wanted some hope for that, and I can quite see why because, in a way, what happens to Neville's parents is even worse than what happened to Harry's parents. The damage that is done, in some cases with very dark magic, is done permanently."
- — J. K. Rowling exbounds on Neville's parents[src]
The continuous use of the Curse destroyed the victims' sanity. Following the attack, Frank and Alice Longbottom were moved to the Janus Thickey Ward of St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries in London. Neville Longbottom, their son, was sent to live with his grandmother Augusta, Frank's mother, and visits his parents for Christmas and on summer holidays. Neither one recognised him as their son, but they did acknowledge his presence, and seemed to know that he was someone they were fond of; Alice gave him chewing gum wrappers every time he came to see them, so many that he could paper his bedroom with them if he so desired.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Mentioned only)
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)