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"The true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying."
Albus Dumbledore[src]
Deathly Hallows Illustration

The three Deathly Hallows, which granted the one who united all three the title of "Master of Death"

The Master of Death (also known as Conqueror of Death, Vanquisher of Death and others)[1] was the one who had all three of the legendary Deathly Hallows in their possession; the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand ever made, the Resurrection Stone, which had the power to summon loved ones back from the afterlife, and the Cloak of Invisibility, which was said to conceal its wearer so completely, even Death could not find them.[1]

While it was generally assumed that becoming the Master of Death referred to some form of immortality, according to Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, the true Master of Death was actually one who had accepted the fact that death was inevitable, and that there were other things much worse than death.[2]


There were two different beliefs concerning how the Deathly Hallows came to be. According to legend - as noted in The Tales of Beedle the Bard - they were created by Death himself and gifted to the Peverell brothers under the false pretext of being a reward for having been clever enough to evaded him.[1] However, according to Albus Dumbledore, they were probably made by the Peverells themselves.[3]


Peverell brothers conjure a bridge to cross a dangerous river

The legend went that in the 13th century, the Peverell brothers managed to avoid Death by using magic to conjure a bridge to cross a dangerous river. Death appeared before them because he felt cheated, as most travellers would have drowned. Death would not be denied his quarry so easily, so he pretended to congratulate them and offered them each a reward, which was secretly a way to corrupt them and lead them to their deaths in another way.

Peverell brothers with the Deathly Hallows

Peverell brothers with the Deathly Hallows

This was true in the case of Antioch Peverell, who was the original owner of the Elder Wand, and Cadmus Peverell, who was the original owner of the Resurrection Stone. However, while his older brothers each asked for something which gave them power, Ignotus Peverell, the wisest and most humble of the three, asked for something that would allow him to continue on his way and live out the rest of his days without Death being able to follow or find him, the Cloak of Invisibility. Once he reached a very old age, Ignotus eventually accepted that he must die, so he finally removed the Cloak, passed it down to his son, and greeted Death as an old friend.[1][3]

Over time, the Hallows fell into legend. Very few knew they truly existed and because of this, very few tried to search for them. Out of this sprung a legend which said that whoever united the Hallows by possessing all three at the same time would become the Master of Death. Many had incorrectly assumed that becoming the "Master of Death" would grant a form of immortality.[1]

Known searches for the Hallows[]

Main article: Hallows Quest
Ron Weasley: "When you say 'Master of Death' -"
Xenophilius Lovegood: "Master. Conqueror. Vanquisher. Whichever term you prefer."
Xenophilius telling Harry, Ron, and Hermione about the Deathly Hallows[src]

The symbol of the Deathly Hallows: the line represented the Elder Wand, the circle the Resurrection Stone, and the triangle the Cloak of Invisibility

People who believed the Hallows were real often wore the Sign of the Deathly Hallows, as a way to reveal oneself to their fellow believers, in the hope that they might help each other in the search.

In their youth, both Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore had been obsessed with the dream of uniting the Hallows and becoming the Masters of Death. Grindelwald managed to lay claim to the Elder Wand by stealing it from its previous master, the famous wandmaker Mykew Gregorovitch, but never found the other two Hallows.

Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter were the only known people to have held each of the three Hallows, although neither possessed all three simultaneously (the closest was Harry being the Elder Wand's master, though not in physical possession of it, while having both the Stone and the Cloak in his physical possession). Dumbledore regarded Harry as the "true master of death", not because of the fact that he had united the Hallows, but for truly accepting death and not fearing it.[4]

Known Masters of Death[]

"You are the worthy possessor of the Hallows."
Albus Dumbledore talking to Harry Potter[src]

Ignotus Peverell mastered only one of the Hallows, but accepted the inevitability of death, which would make him an honorary Master of Death as per Albus Dumbledore's interpretation of the title's meaning.[3]

Albus Dumbledore POA promo

Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore possessed all three Hallows, but not at the same time. He mastered the Elder Wand, borrowed the Cloak of Invisibility from James Potter before giving it to Harry during his first year at Hogwarts, and found the Resurrection Stone in the Gaunt shack. He accepted his own death, also qualifying for his own definition.

However, it can also be implied as Dumbledore tried to bring his deceased family back with the help of Resurrection Stone so he didn't consider himself as true master of death because he felt he didn't accept death as inevitable. Though it could be possible Dumbledore wanted to see his parents and sister to make peace with them before he died.

Harry Potter (HBP promo) 3

Harry Potter

Harry Potter possessed all three Hallows and accepted his own death. First, he inherited the Cloak of Invisibility from his father, James. Then, he inherited the Resurrection Stone from Dumbledore, which was inside a snitch. Finally, he won the Elder Wand from Draco Malfoy during the escape from Malfoy Manor. Even though he did not physically own every Hallow at the same time – by the time he physically possessed the Elder Wand, he had left the Resurrection Stone behind in the Forbidden Forest - he employed the use of all three directly and indirectly when he allowed Lord Voldemort to kill him: He was wearing the Cloak, using the Stone, and killed by the Wand, which Harry had already won. However, the true master didn't only unite the Hallows. The true master must accept he would die, and when Harry went to his own death willingly while directly and indirectly possessing the Hallows, he became the Master of Death, because death never defeated him.

All wands with Thestral tail hair cores, including the Elder Wand, would only work at their best for a wielder who had accepted death.[5] Thus, one would need to be an honorary Master of Death (per Albus Dumbledore's interpretation of the title's meaning) in order to wield any Thestral tail hair wand at its best.


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 21 (The Tale of the Three Brothers)
  2. Interview with J.K. Rowling on Bloomsbury.com
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Tales of Beedle the Bard, "The Tale of the Three Brothers"
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  5. JK Rowling Official Site, Archived Dec 8 2007