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"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They're coming."
Kingsley Shacklebolt's warning[src]

The British Ministry of Magic was considered fallen after Lord Voldemort's coup of the Ministry on 1 August 1997, during the height of the Second Wizarding War.[1] The coup was preceded by the Death Eaters using the Imperius Curse to gain servants high up in the Ministry, including Pius Thicknesse, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.[2]

The Death Eaters eventually managed to get enough people in place to assassinate Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour and install Thicknesse in his place, as Voldemort's puppet. Over the course of the next year, the Ministry carried out many atrocities in line with Death Eater ideology, notably creating the Muggle-Born Registration Commission in order to imprison innocent Muggle-borns in Azkaban.[3]

After the Battle of Hogwarts on 2 May 1998, which resulted in Voldemort's final defeat at the hands of Harry Potter and the end of the war, the Ministry was immediately taken back and reinstated and later reformed.


Background and plan[]

He who must be not be named returns

The Daily Prophet announcing Voldemort's return

Over a year since the declaration of open warfare, the situation in the wizarding world was critical. There were continual deaths all over the country, in the wizarding community and Muggle community alike.[4]

Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters were ascending in strength. Most of this was due to the former Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge refusing to acknowledge Voldemort's return. Fudge's desire to prevent the destruction of the peace that the Ministry has worked so hard to maintain resulted in losing the chance for the citizens to prepare themselves for this tragedy and allowing the Death Eaters to have a full year to rebuild their forces unhindered.[4]

Following the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Voldemort's return became apparent and Fudge himself was forced to admit it publicly, formally starting the Second Wizarding War; Fudge's misconduct caused a major scandal in the Wizarding community of Great Britain and Ireland, resulting in his dismissal from office, despite the feeble and unrealistic attempts by the disgraced Minister to save his reputation.[4]

By this time, however, the Ministry had found themselves fallen too far back to get back on track, which was made worse when the new Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour was more worried about the Ministry's reputation than actual security, engaging in policies such as covering up breakouts and arresting random suspects.[5]

Lord Voldemort: "Well, Yaxley? Will the Ministry have fallen by next Saturday?"
Yaxley: "My Lord, I have good news on that score. I have — with difficulty, and after great effort — succeeded in placing an Imperius Curse upon Pius Thicknesse."
Lord Voldemort: "It is a start. But Thicknesse is only one man. Scrimgeour must be surrounded by our people before I act."
— Lord Voldemort and Yaxley at a Death Eater meeting[src]
Meeting at Malfoy Manor DHF1

Death Eater meeting at Malfoy Manor during the height of the Second Wizarding War

In the summer of 1997, a few weeks after Albus Dumbledore's death, Voldemort and his followers plotted to overthrow the Ministry of Magic. To this end, there was a massive break-out of Death Eaters from Azkaban, which the Ministry decided to keep quiet in order not to spread panic. Voldemort set up his headquarters at Malfoy Manor and had his servants use the Imperius Curse to gain servants in high working positions within the Ministry.

Meeting at Malfoy Manor

Death Eaters discussing their infiltration of the Ministry

By July, Corban Yaxley relayed information to Voldemort during the meeting at Malfoy Manor that he (with difficulty and after great effort) had managed to place Pius Thicknesse, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, under the Imperius Curse. Because Thicknesse had regular contact with Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour and with the heads of other Ministry departments, he was useful in subjugating the others to Death Eater control and then having many people help Voldemort when he eventually decided to stage the coup.[2]

The Death Eaters also made use of their growing control of the Ministry to monitor if Harry Potter used the Floo Network or a Portkey or attempted to Apparate. This forced the Order of the Phoenix to transport him away from his relatives' home by flight using broomsticks, Thestrals, and Hagrid's motorbike. When they were ambushed by Death Eaters, a battle ensued.[6][7]

The coup and new order[]

"You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide"
Pius Thicknesse speaking on the Ministry of Magic's new stance on Muggle-borns[src]
Magic is Might

The Atrium of the Ministry after its fall with its newly added Magic is Might monument

On 1 August 1997, the Death Eaters put their plan into action and staged a coup against the Ministry. Scrimgeour was captured and interrogated by Voldemort, who brutally tortured him through the Cruciatus Curse for information on the whereabouts of Harry Potter, but Scrimgeour refused to divulge anything he knew and was thus murdered at Voldemort's hands. Thicknesse was installed in his place as Voldemort's puppet.

The coup was described as "swift and quiet" and virtually silent, and many members of the public were unaware of the take-over. This was intended to clearly ensure the community was suppressed with confusion and distrust, as if Voldemort had declared himself Minister outright, it might have induced open rebellion. The official version of what happened was that Scrimgeour has voluntarily resigned as Minister.


Harry Potter labelled as "Undesirable No. 1" by the Ministry

The coup also resulted in Voldemort taking control of the newspaper Daily Prophet, allowing him to control the information given to the public. With this new tool he spread propaganda against Harry Potter, Muggle-borns, and allies of the Order of the Phoenix. This was disguised as the Ministry's new policy.[8] Independent media outlets such as The Quibbler attempted to resist censorship, but were eventually subdued through threats and violence[9], forcing the Order of the Phoenix to resort to pirate publications, such as the radio programme Potterwatch.[10]

Using the power of the Ministry, the Death Eaters managed to take down the protections the Order had placed around its new headquarters, The Burrow, and its safehouses, as well as using illegal spells to full effects without fear of detection and prosecution. Death Eaters arrived at the Burrow during the wedding reception of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, but Kingsley Shacklebolt had managed to send warning just in time using his talking lynx Patronus.[1]

Some guests escaped, including Harry, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley.[11] Those who remained were interrogated and roughed up, but no one was killed. Others connected to the Order, such as Ted and Andromeda Tonks, were also tortured for information about Harry, but left alive. The Death Eaters also attacked the home of Dedalus Diggle in an attempt on his life. However, he was not there, and his house was burned down.[8]

Fallen Ministry

Pius Thicknesse, alongside Dolores Umbridge, Albert Runcorn, and Corban Yaxley, introducing the new regime to Ministry of Magic employees

Various Death Eaters were given high-ranking positions in the Ministry (including Travers and Selwyn); Yaxley became the new head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The Taboo was placed upon Voldemort's name almost immediately, as a method of tracking enemies. This method proved highly effective, since the only people brave enough to call Voldemort by his name were Order of the Phoenix members.

Antonin Dolohov and Thorfinn Rowle nearly captured Harry, Ron and Hermione this way after tracking them to Tottenham Court Road.[11] Harry Potter was declared Undesirable No.1, with a reward on his head, and anyone with known connections to him were placed under surveillance, such as Arthur Weasley.[3] Muggle-borns and blood traitors were marked as Undesirables as well.

Under Death Eaters' control[]

"Recent research undertaken by the Department of Mysteries reveals that magic can only be passed from person to person when wizards reproduce. Where no proven wizarding ancestry exists, therefore, the so-called Muggle-born is likely to have obtained magical power by theft or force. The Ministry is determined to root out such usurpers of magical power, and to this end has issued an invitation to every so-called Muggle-born to present themselves for interview by the newly appointed Muggle-born Registration Commission."
Daily Prophet article in August of 1997[src]
DH1 Mudbloods and the Dangers they Pose pamphlet

Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society

The Ministry under Voldemort made a drastic number of sweeping changes in line with Death Eater ideology. It was claimed by the Daily Prophet and by Ministry-printed propaganda, that magic could only be inherited, meaning that Muggle-borns must have stolen it from "real" wizards and witches. The infiltrated Ministry used this excuse to force Muggle-borns to register for the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, which falsely convicted them of theft and sentenced them to life imprisonment in Azkaban, and/or stripping them of their wands, jobs, homes, and families, and leaving them as impoverished beggars.

Attendance at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry became strictly obligatory throughout the entire wizarding world and blood status had to be carefully verified on all students, which greatly enabled the Death Eaters to easily weed out all Muggle-born children. Despite the seeming ridiculousness of this "research" that Ronald Weasley believed that nobody would accept, the public was drenched in confusion by Voldemort's secrecy and distrust that they fully complied with the arrest and degradation of all Muggle-borns.[8]

Viaduct Courtyard

A Death Eater-controlled Hogwarts

Severus Snape was appointed the new headmaster of Hogwarts and Death Eaters Alecto and Amycus Carrow were made the new professors of Muggle Studies and Defence Against the Dark Arts classes, respectively.[12] The latter essentially became the Dark Arts, and the former nothing but hateful propaganda against Muggles, Squibs, and Muggle-borns.[13] Under these circumstances, Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood restarted Dumbledore's Army to defy the Death Eater professors.[14][13] All the other professors remained in school not only to continue to provide education to all the students, but also to protect them from the Death Eaters as much as possible.[12]

The Order of the Phoenix continued to lead an underground resistance effort, broadcasting messages of truth and hope through Potterwatch and protecting Muggles.[15] The Quibbler also initially supported Harry Potter by printing stories advocating him, until the editor's daughter Luna Lovegood was taken hostage, forcing it to turn on Harry.[16]

Reinstatement and restoration[]

After Lord Voldemort was finally killed for good by Harry during the Battle of Hogwarts, the fall of the Ministry was almost immediately reverted and its original regulations were restored, with Kingsley Shacklebolt being the newly appointed Minister for Magic.


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1 (The Dark Lord Ascending)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 13 (The Muggle-Born Registration Commission)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
  5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16 (A Very Frosty Christmas)
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 4 (The Seven Potters)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 5 (Fallen Warrior)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)
  9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 21 (The Tale of the Three Brothers)
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 22 (The Deathly Hallows)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 9 (A Place to Hide)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 12 (Magic is Might)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 16 (Godric's Hollow)
  15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 22 (The Deathly Hallows)
  16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 21 (The Tale of the Three Brothers)

See also[]