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

The Fall of the Ministry of Magic refers to Lord Voldemort's coup of the Ministry of Magic on 1 August 1997, during the height of the Second Wizarding War.

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. They 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.

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 taken back and later reformed.


Background information

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The Daily Prophet announces Voldemort's return

Over a year since the declaration of open warfare, the situation in the wizarding world was not very good. There were continued deaths all over the country, in the wizarding community and Muggle community alike.

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.

By the time irrefutable evidence of Voldemort's return was shown, the Ministry had found themselves fallen too far back to get back on track, which was made worse when both Fudge and his successor Rufus Scrimgeour were more worried about the Ministry's reputation than actual security, such as covering up breakouts and arresting random suspects.

The plan

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]

Death Eater meeting at the height of the Second Wizarding War

In the summer of 1997, Voldemort and his followers plotted to overthrow the Ministry of Magic. To this end, there was a 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 places within the Ministry. By July, Corban Yaxley relayed information to Voldemort at the Meeting at Malfoy Manor that he 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.[1]

The Death Eaters also made use of their growing control of the Ministry to monitor if Harry Potter used the Floo Network or attempted to Apparate. This forced the Order of the Phoenix to transport him away from his relatives' home by flight. When they were ambushed by Death Eaters, a battle ensued.[2]

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
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. Rufus Scrimgeour was interrogated for information about the whereabouts of Harry Potter, but refused to give in, he was brutally tortured and murdered. 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 to 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 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.

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 use 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 using his Patronus. Some guests escaped, including Harry, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. 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.[3] They also attacked the home of Dedalus Diggle in an attempt on his life. However, he was not there, and the house was burned down.

Thicknesse regime

Pius Thicknesse, alongside Dolores Umbridge, Albert Runcorn, and Corban Yaxley, introduces 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 curse was placed upon Voldemort's name almost immediately, as a method of tracking enemies. This method worked 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.[4] Harry Potter was declared Undesirable No.1, with a reward on his head, and anyone with known connections to him was placed under surveillance, such as Arthur Weasley[5]. Muggle-borns and Blood-traitors were marked as Undesirables as well. 


"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]
MBRC clear

The Ministry under Voldemort made a great many 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 Ministry used this excuse to force Muggle-borns to register with the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, which convicted them of theft and sentenced them to Azkaban. Attendance at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry became mandatory and blood status had to be proven for all students, enabling the Death Eaters to weed out 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 complied with the arrest and degradation of all Muggle-borns.[3]

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, respectively[6]. The latter essentially became the Dark Arts, and the former nothing but hateful propaganda against Muggles and Muggle-borns. Under these circumstances, Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood restarted Dumbledore's Army to defy the professors.

The Order of the Phoenix continued to lead an underground resistance effort, broadcasting messages of truth and hope through Potterwatch and protecting Muggles.


Notes and references

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1 (The Dark Lord Ascending)
  2. Deathly Hallows, Ch. 4-5
  3. 3.0 3.1 Deathly Hallows, Ch. 11
  4. Deathly Hallows, Ch. 9
  5. Deathly Hallows, Ch. 13
  6. Deathly Hallows, Ch. 12