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"We are talking about a different breed of being. Dealings between wizards and goblins have been fraught for centuries ... There has been fault on both sides, I would never claim that wizards have been innocent. However, there is a belief among some goblins, and those at Gringotts are perhaps most prone to it, that wizards cannot be trusted in matters of gold and treasure, that they have no respect for goblin ownership."
Bill Weasley on the mindset of goblins[src]

Goblins were a highly intelligent race of small magical humanoid beings with long fingers and feet that coexisted with the wizarding world. Their diet consisted of meat, roots, and fungi. Goblins conversed in a language known as Gobbledegook, and were adept metalsmiths notable for their silverwork; they even minted coins for wizarding currency. Due to their skills with money and finances, they controlled the wizarding economy to a large extent and ran Gringotts Wizarding Bank.[4]

Goblins had their type of magic and could do magic without a wand. They were represented by the Goblin Liaison Office of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in the British Ministry of Magic. Goblins were considered to be inferior by many wizards, who foolishly believed that the goblins were comfortable with that arrangement.

Description

Physical appearance

Goblins were short and fair-skinned, as they spent very little time outside. They had very long fingers and feet, dome-shaped heads and were slightly larger than house-elves. Griphook, one of the hundreds of goblins working at Gringotts, had a bald head, pointed nose, and pointed ears. Some had dark, slanted eyes, and some goblins even wore pointed hats.[4]

Intelligence

Harry Potter: "Wizards have banks?"
Rubeus Hagrid: "Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins."
Harry Potter: "Goblins?"
Rubeus Hagrid: "Yeah — so yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it, I'll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry."
Harry Potter and Rubeus Hagrid discussing Goblins[src]

A Goblin

Goblins were extremely clever and over the years had dealt with wizard-kind effectively. They were still subservient in the minds of most wizards, but they had established themselves as a vital part of wizarding society. The goblins ran Gringotts, the wizarding bank. Therefore, they controlled the wizarding economy to a large extent.[4]

Goblins were extremely clever and more than able to stand up to wizards. The fact that the wizarding population treated them poorly was evidence of the severe injustice built into wizard culture. Ironically, the Fountain of Magical Brethren in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic showed a goblin, along with a house-elf and a centaur, gazing admiringly at a witch and wizard.[6]

Apart from their cleverness with money and finances, goblins were also very capable metalsmiths. Their silverwork was well known and prized (Sirius Black's wealthy family had dishes which were 'finest fifteenth-century goblin-wrought silver, embossed with the Black family crest').[7] When Rubeus Hagrid visited the Giants, one of the presents he brought was a goblin-wrought helmet which was described as "indestructible".[8] Goblins minted the Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts used in the Wizarding world; each coin was stamped with a serial number identifying the goblin who cast it. They were also able to tell the difference between genuine and counterfeit, as Griphook easily discerned the Sword of Gryffindor,[9] while Leprechaun gold couldn't fool them.[10]

It is possible that part-goblin Filius Flitwick had inherited such cleverness since he was in Ravenclaw. He had also demonstrated such intelligence on many occasions, such as during the Battle of Hogwarts, with his successful charms work.

History

Ragnuk the First was the king of the goblins during the lifetime of Godric Gryffindor. As the king of the goblins was also their finest silversmith, he was commissioned by Gryffindor to forge a sword of pure goblin's silver, with rubies set into the hilt. By the time Ragnuk had finished the sword, he liked it so much that he sought to steal it back from Gryffindor. He sent a group of his subjects to retrieve the sword, but they were all fought off by Gryffindor. A legend persisted in the goblin community that Gryffindor had stolen the sword.[11]

Gringotts Wizarding Bank

"Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safe — 'cept maybe Hogwarts."
— Gringotts' top notch security[src]

GringottsLogoDH.png

Gringott was a celebrated goblin who founded Gringotts Wizarding Bank in 1474. For the Bank's founding and presumable management, Gringott was featured on a Chocolate Frog Card.[12]

Partway down Diagon Alley, near its intersection with Knockturn Alley, stood an imposing snow-white marble building: Gringotts Wizarding Bank. "Towering over the other shops", it was the place where British witches and wizards stored their money and other valuables, in vaults miles below ground. The vaults were heavily guarded.[4][5]

The centuries-old bank was run by goblins, and they alone knew the secrets of the twisting underground passages and the enchantments (and creatures) in place to defend against intruders. The goblins had a code that forbade them to speak of the bank's secrets and would consider it "base treachery" to break any part of that code. Dragons were said to guard the bank's high-security vaults — a rumour that was later confirmed as true.[5]

It is unknown if Gringotts was the only bank in the wizarding world. Rubeus Hagrid said it was the only wizard bank,[4] but it isn't clear if he meant in Britain, or in the wizarding world as a whole. It is known, however, that the bank at least had dealings in Egypt, where Bill Weasley worked as a Curse-Breaker as of 1993.[13]

Rebellions

Main article: Goblin Rebellions

Urg the Unclean, a goblin activist who led some Goblin Rebellions

Throughout the history of the wizarding world, there had been rebellions where the goblins had fought against discrimination and prejudice. They were still considered subservient in the minds of most wizards, and they were forbidden by the Ministry from carrying wands, which had led to deep-seated resentment. During the 16th century, Yardley Platt was a serial killer of goblins.[14]

These rebellions were most prevalent in the 17th and 18th centuries. One rebellion, in 1612, took place in the vicinity of Hogsmeade; an unidentified inn was used as headquarters for the rebellion. The rebellions had been described as "bloody and vicious". The names of the rebels tended to run along the lines of "Bodrod the Bearded" and "Urg the Unclean", according to Ron Weasley.

According to the Daily Prophet, even today there were subversive goblin groups who worked in secret against the Ministry, although the validity of these claims is uncertain.[15]

The reasons for starting some of the varied Goblin Rebellions included all but one of the following (according to the 3rd W.O.M.B.A.T. test, all but one of the following were true): an allegation by Ragnuk the First that Godric Gryffindor stole his sword; the pursuit and imprisonment of Ug the Unreliable, who was peddling leprechaun gold; the accidental death of Nagnok, Gringotts Wizarding Bank goblin, at the hands of an untrained security troll sent by the Ministry of Magic; imprisonment of the notoriously violent Hodrod the Horny-Handed, who attempted to kill three wizards; the public ducking in the village pond by a gang of young wizards of goblin activist Urg the Unclean; and the Ministry of Magic decree of 1631 preventing magical beings other than wizards and witches from carrying a wand.[16]

Wizarding Wars

The goblins suffered their share of losses during the first rise of Lord Voldemort in the 1970s. A family living near Nottingham had been murdered by Voldemort. Bill Weasley had been approaching the goblins, appealing to their sense of belonging to the wizarding community. This proved problematic, however, because a Ministry official, Ludo Bagman, swindled a group of goblins out of a large amount of gold at the Quidditch World Cup in the summer of 1994,[10] leading the goblins to distrust both sides and become neutral during the war. In the aftermath of the trio's successful robbery of the Lestrange Vault in 1998, Voldemort personally murdered many goblins present in the bank in fury and to eliminate witnesses of those who knew of his cup Horcrux.[17]

Human relations

"Gold, filthy gold! We cannot live without it, yet I confess I deplore the necessity of consorting with our long-fingered friends."
Travers's distaste for goblins[src]

A goblin stockbroker, who lost a lot of Galleons

Despite this troubled history, they had established themselves as a vital part of wizarding society. Being in charge of Gringotts, they controlled the wizarding economy to a large extent. Apart from their cleverness with money and finances, goblins were also very capable metalsmiths. Their silverwork was well known and prized. Sirius Black's wealthy family had dishes which were "finest fifteenth-century goblin-wrought silver, embossed with the Black family crest".[7] When Hagrid visited the giants, one of the presents he brought was a goblin-wrought helmet which was described as "indestructible".[8] At her wedding to Bill, Fleur Delacour wore a goblin-made tiara owned by the Weasley's Auntie Muriel.[18]

Goblins minted the Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts used in the wizarding world; each coin was stamped with a serial number identifying the goblin who cast it. Perhaps the most famous goblin-made artifact was the Sword of Gryffindor.[11]

There were rumours, almost certainly unfounded, that Cornelius Fudge was plotting ways to wrestle control of the money supply and the economy from the goblins while in office. Ludo Bagman, got on the wrong side of a group of goblins when he swindled them out of a large amount of gold at the Quidditch World Cup in the summer of 1995.[10] This exacerbated the anti-Ministry feeling, which made it difficult for Bill Weasley who was tasked with the job of trying to persuade the goblins to side with wizards against Voldemort.[19]

When the Death Eaters started rising in power, people feared the goblins would have joined Voldemort, as did other oppressed such as werewolves and giants. However, this did not happen, as Voldemort even murdered a Goblin family near Nottingham, leading to them standing at a neutral point.[19] Death Eater Travers even made it clear he disliked the goblins as a whole, and only tolerated them for their ability to maintain the wizarding currency in check.[17]

Goblins could use magic without the aid of a wand, although they were insulted by the refusal of wizards to allow them to use wands. In turn, goblins concealed the secrets of their magic from wizards. Their weaponry and armour were nearly indestructible when created and had their kinds of magical properties.

Wizard jobs at Gringotts

There seemed to be several jobs available at Gringotts for wizards, in addition to those positions held by goblins, though they were largely behind-the-scenes. Bill Weasley took a job as a Curse-Breaker, hunting treasure in Egypt after his graduation from Hogwarts. The job was described in a pamphlet available to Hogwarts students.[20]

When he wanted to do work for the Order of the Phoenix, Bill transferred to a desk job in England to be near home. That same year, Fleur Delacour took a job at Gringotts as well, to improve her English, though she only worked part-time. There also seemed to be a full-time security force that was comprised of wizards, and that rushed to the scene when the Lestranges vault was broken into. They also employed Dragon Feeders, a job with a high mortality rate, at 7 Galleons per week.[5]

Goblin values

"To a goblin, the rightful and true master of any object is the maker, not the purchaser. All goblin-made objects are, in goblin eyes, rightfully theirs."
— Explanation of goblin notions of payment and ownership[src]

Griphook holding the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, a goblin-made object which he believes rightfully belongs to the makers, not the buyers

Overall, goblins' idea of payment and repayment were not the same as humans. Goblins disliked theft but used a different definition of the word. By goblin standards, the maker of an item, not the purchaser, was the rightful owner; the item was required to be returned to its maker after the death of the purchaser. Goblins believed that the wizard paying for a goblin-made artefact was merely renting it, not owning it. Goblins considered the passing of an item from one wizard or witch to another without further payment to its maker "little more than theft", as Bill Weasley put it.[11]

Goblins also held the debt to extremes, as they hunted down Ludo Bagman after he lost a bet with them, and even though they took everything of value from him after he cheated them with Leprechaun gold, they still hounded him due to it being not enough to cover his debt.[10] When Bagman ran out on his final loss against the goblins, they refused to side with the humans due to this cheat.

Known Goblins

Goblin(s) Notes
Alguff the Awful A commercialist.
Bogrod An employee at Gringotts.
Brodrig the Boss-Eyed Spokesgoblin at the Brotherhood of Goblins.
Burgock An employee at Gringotts.
Clever goblin An employee at Gringotts.
Eargit the Ugly A spokes-goblin.
Filius Flitwick's goblin ancestor A distant ancestor of Filius Flitwick.
Gnarlak American goblin, owner of the speakeasy, The Blind Pig.
Gornuk An employee at Gringotts.
Gringott Founder of Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
Gringotts Head Goblin Employee and head at Gringotts.
Griphook An employee at Gringotts.
Ludovic Bagman's goblin creditors Some goblins that put Bagman under pressure because he could not pay the money.
Magic goblin An employee at Gringotts.
Nagnok An employee at Gringotts.
Odbert An employee at Gringotts.
A goblin who had himself pictured in portraits A famous goblin.
Ragnok An associate of Bill Weasley.
Ragnok the Pigeon-Toed An author and activist.
Ragnuk the First The maker of the Sword of Gryffindor.
Red MACUSA bellboy.
Tall goblin An employee at Gringotts.
Unidentified goblin associate of Oswald Beamish A goblin that was an associate of Beamish.
Unidentified goblin killed by Voldemort A former employee at Gringotts.
Unidentified goblin philosopher A philosopher goblin.
Unidentified Gringotts Bank goblin guard A goblin that guarded the silver doors at Gringotts.
Unidentified Gringotts Bank teller A goblin that was counting the cash-money.
Unidentified Gringotts spokesgoblin A goblin that told about serious events.
Unidentified goblin stockbroker A goblin that worked at the British Ministry of Magic.
Ug the Unreliable A con-artist.
Urg the Unclean An activist.
Urgruff the Unwary A goblin who made a perfect dragon egg replica.
Goblin jazz singer

Known part-goblins

Behind the scenes

  • The goblin is an evil, mischievous creature from European mythology. Though they are described inconsistently in the myths of different countries, common traits include short stature, the magical ability of some form, and a love of money.
    • The Goblins being good metalsmiths seems to be based on the dwarves of Nordic mythology.
  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that goblins fear sunlight, which may explain why Humans guarded the outside doors of Gringotts.
  • At Gringotts, goblins appear to have a lounge, where they can relax and dance. It is located in Vault 712.
  • Goblins are known to have not agreed with the Statute of Secrecy summit decisions of 1692.
  • Former Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge was nicknamed "Goblin-Crusher" by the tabloid magazine The Quibbler due to debatable claims that Fudge kills goblins in ways that may seem ridiculous, such as cooking them in pies.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 the goblin that asked Hagrid for Harry's keys appeared to have been taking notes. However, when the goblin went to fetch Griphook, Hagrid caught a glimpse of the paper, revealing it to have simply been a child's drawing of a house.
  • Oddly only one female goblin, a goblin jazz singer has ever appeared in any Harry Potter media; they seem to be the inverse of Veela, with one gender being more visible to the magical world.
  • Goblin's ideas of ownership are similar to the theory of Georgism.
  • Rowling perhaps used the fact that the goblins were a vital part of Wizarding life, controlling their only bank, no matter how wizards see goblins as an inferior race, inspired by the prejudice of Nazis against Jews (hitherto anti-Semitism) and Adolf Hitler's theory of Jews coveting world domination by controlling banks all over the world. This is supported by the fact that some wizards, like Hermione Granger, negatively see this prejudice.
  • Goblins have the power to do magic. However, in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, they only come with a key.
  • In the second part of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, many of the Gringotts goblins were portrayed by members of Willow Management, an agency founded in part by Warwick Davis, specialising in representing actors under 5 feet tall.
  • Goblin culture seems to not include surnames.
  • In the first film, Rubeus Hagrid referred to goblins as beasts, although they are classified as beings. However, he may simply have been speaking metaphorically.

Appearances

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Notes and references

London's Wizarding Quarter
England, Great Britain
Carkitt Market - Diagon Alley - Horizont Alley - Knockturn Alley
Diagon Alley
Shops

2nd Hand Brooms · Amanuensis Quills · Broomstix · Broom Brakes Service · Broom Shop · Cauldron Workshop · Cranville Quincey's Magical Junkshop · Fine Enchanting Cauldrons · Floo-Pow · Florist's stall · Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop · J. Pippin's Potions · Jimmy Kiddell's Wonderful Wands · The Junk Shop · Madam Primpernelle's Beautifying Potions · Mr Mulpepper's Apothecary · Obscurus Books · Ollivanders · Rosa Lee Teabag · Scribbulus Writing Implements · Second-Hand Bookshop · Second-Hand Robes · Slug & Jiggers Apothecary · Sugarplum's Sweets Shop · Surgical and Dental Operator · Twilfitt and Tattings · Wand Showroom · Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes · Whizz Hard Books

Other services

Brews and Stews · Daily Prophet's main office · Diagon Alley stalls · GalloLoans · Gringotts Wizarding Bank · The Ministry Press · Peter Boat · TerrorTours

Locations

1 Diagon Alley · 18a Diagon Alley · 129b Diagon Alley · 275 Diagon Alley · 343 Diagon Alley South · 59 Diagon Alley · 92 Diagon Alley · 93 Diagon Alley · 94 Diagon Alley

Known residents and shop employees

Archibald Bennett · Broom Shop shopkeeper · Clutterbuck Crispe · Cranville Quincey · Daily Prophet personnel · Edwin Avarus · Fred Weasley (deceased) · Garrick Ollivander · George Weasley · Healer · Jimmy Kiddell · J. Pippin · Madam Primpernelle · Manager of Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop · Mulpepper · Podric Batworthy · Ronald Weasley · Shimmy Hardoteer · Sugarplum · Unidentified florist in Diagon Alley · Verity · Villanelle

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