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Lily Evans: "Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?"
Severus Snape: "No. It doesn’t make any difference."
— The true importance of blood status[src]

Muggle-born Hermione Granger was the daughter of two Muggle dentists

A Muggle-born (No-Maj-born in the United States),[1] once known as a Magbob and also known by the pejorative Mudblood,[2] was a witch or wizard who was born to two non-magical parents. Their magical abilities did not seem to be at all affected by their Muggle parentage. On the contrary, many Muggle-borns were among the most talented witches and wizards of their age, such as Lily Evans and Hermione Granger.

The proportion of the wizarding population that was Muggle-born was on the rise throughout the Harry Potter series, and as a result of their growing population pure-blood families shrank in size and number.[3]

Magical origins

Muggle-borns inherited magic from a distant ancestor; they were descended from Squibs who had married Muggles and whose families had lost the knowledge of their wizarding legacy. The magic resurfaced unexpectedly many generations later.[4]

Because of the heritable traits of magic, Muggle-born siblings were possible, as in the case of Colin and Dennis Creevey. However, this was not always the case, as Lily Evans' sister Petunia was a Muggle.

When Muggle-born witches and wizards reached the age of eleven in the British wizarding community, their Hogwarts acceptance letters were delivered in person by a member of the staff, instead of by owl post (the usual postal system for wizards and witches). The purpose was to reassure the parents or guardians about the sudden news, and explain to them about the concealed magical society. They would also assist the family with the preparation for going to their desired wizarding school and for the buying of school supplies.[5]

Treatment

"No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood."
— An example of wizarding prejudice[src]

Bellatrix Lestrange carves the derogatory term "Mudblood" into Hermione Granger's arm

Muggle-born witches and wizards were often subjects of deeply prejudicial and discriminatory beliefs akin to racism. They were often derided by pure-bloods and called disparaging names such as "Mudblood", a term implying that they were somehow dirty and impure, or at the very least, common. These prejudiced pure-bloods believed that Muggle-borns were unworthy of magic and should not be allowed into the wizarding world. During the period of time where Muggle-borns were being persecuted, a news article from the Daily Prophet stated that Muggle-borns could have only obtained magic by force or theft.

The pure-bloods who did not share these beliefs, such as the Weasley family, were often labelled as "blood traitors".[6] Harry Potter, who was half-blood, was marked as "Undesirable No.1" during the height of the Second Wizarding War for his pro-Muggle views and his stance against Lord Voldemort and his new regime.

Ron Weasley described the entire prejudice as being ridiculous: not only were most modern wizards half-blood, if Muggle-borns had not been accepted into the wizard community, wizardkind would have inevitably died out altogether.[6]

Subtler prejudice

Horace Slughorn: "Your mother was Muggle-born of course. Couldn't believe it when I found out. Thought she must have been pure-blood, she was so good... Funny how that sometimes happens, isn't it?"
Harry Potter: "Not really."
— Slughorn's subtle form of prejudice[src]

The Slug Club, Slughorn's hand-picked students, some of which are Muggle-born

There are also indications that a subtler, less virulent form of prejudice against Muggle-borns was relatively common in the wizarding world. For example, Horace Slughorn discriminated more on the grounds of talent or fame, rather than blood status. Thus he included talented Muggle-borns such as Hermione Granger, Lily Evans, and Dirk Cresswell among his favourite students.

However, Slughorn generally expected his more talented students to be pure-bloods, and was surprised when Muggle-borns performed very well. When he remarked upon this to Harry Potter in 1996 and Harry responded coldly, Slughorn was genuinely surprised, and insisted that he was not prejudiced.[7] This may indicate that even among those who did not believe Muggle-borns were inherently inferior or "dirty", there tended to be a false belief that most Muggle-borns were less magically talented than those with a full or much recent wizarding heritage. However, Slughorn could have also meant that since Muggle-borns were not raised around magic it was all the more astonishing when they did very well in school.

The British Ministry of Magic also seemed to have mildly favoured pure-bloods for many years before it was reformed after the Second Wizarding War, as there were still "pro-pure-blood laws" in existence, which Hermione later eliminated. Albus Dumbledore also once accused Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge himself of placing too much importance on blood purity, as Fudge was sided more with old, wealthy and influential pure-blood families such as the Malfoys, and looked down upon those who had less wealth and more affiliation with Muggles, like the Weasleys.[8]

It was a widely held belief in the wizarding world that Muggle-borns were more likely to produce Squib children and slower to show signs of magic in childhood than pure or half-blood wizards. These stereotypes were disproven by the Institute of Muggle Studies, though they also disproved the positive beliefs that Muggle-borns have greater immunity to wizarding illnesses and a natural sense of rhythm.[9]

History of persecution

10th century

"We’ll teach just those whose ancestry’s purest."
— Slytherin's opinion regarding the running of Hogwarts[src]

Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts, argued that the school should only admit pure-bloods as students, as the Durmstrang Institute did. Slytherin's views were considered unusual at the time. Most wizards of his era not only accepted Muggle-borns but actually considered them especially gifted, and referred to them by the affectionate term "Magbobs".[2] The other three founders of Hogwarts favoured admitting all witches and wizards as students and opposed Slytherin on this point.

As a result of the disagreement, Slytherin left the school. Before leaving, he created the Chamber of Secrets, hoping that his true heir would one day release the Basilisk out of the Chamber and kill wizards and witches he thought didn't deserve to have access to magic (particularly Muggle-borns).

16th century

"Unstable and cruel, Gormlaith was a fanatical pure-blood who believed that her sister’s helpfulness to her Muggle neighbours, was setting Isolt upon a dangerous path to intermarriage with a non-magical man."
— Gormlaith's prejudice and supremacist beliefs[src]

Gormlaith Gaunt sets fire to the Sayre cottage

Gormlaith Gaunt believed strongly in pure-blood supremacy and had an intense hatred for anyone that went against these extreme views. Her hatred went so deep that she murdered her own sister and brother-in-law for showing sympathy towards her Muggle neighbours. It can be assumed that Gormlaith's hatred also extended to Muggle-borns as well.[10]

It seemed that it was typical for decedents of Salazar Slytherin to have inherited his prejudice. In the 1700s, Corvinus Gaunt was instrumental in keeping the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets hidden for example.

20th century

"Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic."
— Tom Riddle Jnr opened the Chamber with the intention of killing Muggle-borns[src]

Muggle-born Myrtle Warren was killed by the Serpent of Slytherin

About one thousand years later, Tom Marvolo Riddle, having discovered his ancestry, went on to set the basilisk on his fellow Hogwarts students. He was finally successful in killing one fourteen year old Muggle-born student, named Myrtle Warren, in 1943. She later became to be known as Moaning Myrtle and lived in the girls bathroom for years after her death.

Minister Nobby Leach was the British Minister for Magic elected in 1962. He was the first Muggle-born Minister for Magic to ever hold office. Several of the oldest members of the Wizengamot resigned government posts in protest of his appointment.[11] Additionally, several old pure-blood families were outranged at his appointment as well. He left his post in 1968 due to a shady plot, of which Abraxas Malfoy was believed part,[12] that resulted in his contracting a mysterious illness.[13] It would be decades before another Muggle-born Minister was elated.

First Wizarding War (1970-1981)

In 1970, Voldemort revealed himself openly, proclaiming himself the Dark Lord, and started to commit extreme acts of terrorism in Britain. With his army of dark wizards and dark creatures at his command, Voldemort launched an assault against the British Ministry of Magic. He had the intention of toppling it and creating a new world order run by pure-bloods. Voldemort's ideals included either killing Muggle-borns en masse or keeping them in utter bondage.

As the Death Eaters' confidence grew, their ideals were put into motion. They began targeting Muggle-born and blood traitor witches and wizards. They tortured and sometimes murdered their victims, which shocked wizarding society.

Between the Wars

"No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood."
Draco Malfoy throwing the slur at Hermione Granger[src]

Petrified Muggle-borns in the Hogwarts Hospital Wing

Fifty years later in 1992, by means of his diary Horcrux, he possessed Ginny Weasley and reopened the Chamber of Secrets. The monster petrified several people, including Colin Creevey, Penelope Clearwater, Hermione Granger, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and even the Gryffindor ghost, Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, as well as Filch's cat, Mrs Norris.[6]

Tom Riddle, later known as Lord Voldemort, took this prejudice to an even greater extreme with his followers, the Death Eaters, despite the fact that he himself was a half-blood.[6]

Second Wizarding War

"Muggle-borns are being rounded up as we speak... unless you can prove that you have at least one close wizarding relative, you are now deemed to have obtained your magical power illegally and must suffer the punishment."
— The Ministry of Magic's new regime[src]

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

When Voldemort seized control of the British Ministry of Magic in 1997, Muggle-borns were required to register with the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. Political propaganda claimed that Muggle-borns were really Muggles who had stolen magic from "real" witches and wizards, supported by research supposedly carried out by the Department of Mysteries. The Ministry continued to promote the belief with the distribution of agitprop such as the pamphlet Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society.

The Commission punished anyone who could not prove to have wizarding heritage for this alleged action, sentencing them to Azkaban. Anyone who resisted was threatened with, and perhaps given, the Dementor's Kiss. They also issued two Ministerial Decrees stating that it was any wizards' duty to report suspected "Mudbloods" to them and that failure to do so would result in imprisonment.[5]

This led some Muggle-borns, such as Dirk Cresswell, to forge their family trees. Those who refused to register, such as Ted Tonks, were forced to go on the run and were pursued by Snatchers, sometimes fatally.

After the War

This was ended with Voldemort's final defeat in 1998 and the reform of the Ministry under new Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt. It can be assumed that imprisoned Muggle-borns were released, children were able to resume their education, and Muggle-born witches and wizards were allowed wands once more. Several Ministry employees were also arrested and sentenced to Azkaban for crimes against Muggle-borns, Dolores Umbridge for example. Hermione Granger would also be crucial in eliminating pro-pure-blood laws as a high-ranking member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.[5]

Known Muggle-borns

Behind the scenes

Appearances

Notes and references

See also

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