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An Order of Merlin award

Cornelius Fudge: "Order of Merlin, Second Class, I'd say. First Class, if I can wangle it!"
Severus Snape: "Thank you very much indeed, Minister."
Cornelius Fudge's expected offering of this award to Severus Snape[src]

The Order of Merlin (abbreviated O.M.) was an award bestowed upon wizards and witches who had achieved great things for the wizarding world. It had three different award levels: First Class, Second Class, and Third Class. It was the wizarding world's equivalent to the Order of the British Empire, with first class being the equivalent to the most senior order: a knighthood.[1]


"...an Order of Merlin, First Class, that had been awarded to Sirius’s grandfather for “Services to the Ministry"."
— Arcturus Black was awarded the Order of Merlin for donating a lot of gold[src]

Merlin, whom the Order of Merlin award was named

An organisation called the Order of Merlin was founded by Merlin in the Middle Ages.[2] Merlin believed that wizards and witches should help Muggles, and, thus, the Order of Merlin established rules against the use of magic on Muggles.[2]

The award known as the Order of Merlin was created in commemoration of Merlin and was first given out by the Wizengamot in the 15th century.[1] It is unknown whether this award was connected to the earlier organisation of the same name.

As often happened with such highly coveted awards, Ministry of Magic favourites seemed to receive the Order of Merlin, especially the higher classes, more often than one might expect. Notable unworthy recipients were Cornelius Fudge, who gave it to himself despite his less-than-distinguishable career, the fraudulent Gilderoy Lockhart, the treacherous Peter Pettigrew, and Arcturus Black, who was widely believed to have bought it by loaning the Ministry a large amount of gold.[1]

Minerva McGonagall's Order of Merlin award which she kept in her office at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry became a Foundable in the Calamity which affected the wizarding world in the late 2010s/early 2020s. It was returned to her office by members of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force.[3]

Appearance and classes

The Order of Merlin consisted of a "handsome" golden medal which hung on a coloured ribbon indicating its class.[1]

There were three different classes of Order of Merlin that were awarded:

  • First Class: Awarded for "acts of outstanding bravery or distinction" in magic. The colour of the ribbon for this class was green, which was believed to represent Merlin's Hogwarts house, Slytherin.[1]
  • Second Class: Awarded for "achievement or endeavour beyond the ordinary." The colour of the ribbon for this class was purple.[1]
  • Third Class: Awarded to individuals who "have made a contribution to our store of knowledge or entertainment." The colour of the ribbon for this class was white.[1]

Known recipients

Order of Merlin, First Class

Portrait Name Date Notes
PodricBatworthy2.jpg Podric Batworthy Unknown Batworthy held, additionally, the title of Grand Sorcerer, which suggests he was particularly accomplished in magic.[4]
Arcturus Black III.jpg Arcturus Black Between 1901 and 1991 Awarded for his "services to the Ministry", which, according to his grandson Sirius Black, was another way of saying that he had given them a lot of gold. Medal thrown into the rubbish when 12 Grimmauld Place was being cleaned out in August, 1995.[5]
Albus Dumbledore (HBP promo) 1.jpg Albus Dumbledore 1945
(Minister Leonard Spencer-Moon)
Awarded for his defeat of the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald, effectively putting an end to the Global wizarding war. During the campaign to discredit him, it was suggested by Remus Lupin that the Ministry would consider taking away the Order of Merlin from Dumbledore. Dumbledore claimed that he didn't care as long as he wasn't taken off of the Chocolate Frog Cards.[6] However, when Dumbledore's credibility was restored, the Ministry's consideration to retract the medal was cancelled.[7]
Cornelius Fudge 2.jpg Cornelius Fudge Between 1990 and 1995
(Minister Cornelius Fudge)
Presumably for his work as Minister for Magic; awarded by Fudge to himself, which caused controversy in the wizarding community.[1]
Remus Lupin profile 2.jpg Remus Lupin 1998
(Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt)
Awarded posthumously for his role as a member of the Order of the Phoenix and for his death during the Battle of Hogwarts. Remus was the first werewolf ever to be accorded this honour.[8]
Mcgonagall.jpg Minerva McGonagall 1998
(Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt)
Awarded for her unwavering allegiance to the Order of the Phoenix during the Second Wizarding War, and her actions during the Battle of Hogwarts.[9]
Orabella Nuttley.png Orabella Nuttley 1754
(Minister Hesphaestus Gore)
Awarded for her use of the Mending Charm to repair the Colosseum after it was destroyed by an explosion that occurred when a fight broke out between supporters of two broom racers in 1754.[10]
Pettigrew COS UE booklet 1.jpg Peter Pettigrew 1981
(Minister Millicent Bagnold)
Awarded posthumously (or so it was believed at the time) for a "heroic confrontation" with Sirius Black. The medal was given to Pettigrew's mother.[11] In 1994 and later, it was revealed that he had been the one who betrayed the Potter family, and that Black was just the scapegoat.[12] Unknown whether revealed this to other people later. Had his position been made public, it is very likely his award would have been revoked.
Tilly Toke.jpg Tilly Toke and her family 1932
(Minister Hector Fawley)
Awarded for saving the lives of several Muggles during the Ilfracombe Incident in 1932.[13]
Norvel Twonk.jpg Norvel Twonk 1957
(Minister Wilhelmina Tuft)
Awarded posthumously for saving the life of a Muggle child from a runaway manticore.[13]

Order of Merlin, Second Class

Portrait Name Date Notes
Newton Scamander Profile crop.png Newton Scamander 1979
(Minister Harold Minchum)
Awarded "in recognition of his services to the study of magical beasts, Magizoology".

Order of Merlin, Third Class

Portrait Name Date Notes
Lockhart CoS.png Gilderoy Lockhart Between 1982 and 1992
(Minister Millicent Bagnold
Minister Cornelius Fudge)
Awarded for his encounters with many dark creatures and penning his autobiographic works with instructions on how to safely repel them.[14] In 1993 and later, it was revealed that he had only taken credit for these deeds and had not really done any of them.[15] Unknown whether revealed this to other people later. Had his fraudulence been made public, it is very likely his award would have been revoked.

Recipients of unknown class

Portrait Name Date Notes
CottonmoreCrome.jpg Cottismore Croyne Unknown May have been awarded for his tenure as Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards.
AlbertGibberingStump2.jpg Albert Gibbering Stump Between 1662 and 1700
(Wizards' Council)
For unknown reasons.
Damocles Belby Sometime after the mid-1970s[16] May have been awarded for his invention of the lycanthropy-treating Wolfsbane Potion.[17]

Behind the scenes

  • The "Muggle" counterpart to the Order of Merlin could include the Order of the British Empire, Order of St Michael and St George, or the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert. Each is/was a British system of honours which was divided into various classes and could be won by a person from any rank of society.
  • Since 1966, the International Brotherhood of Magicians has been awarding its own Order of Merlin to long-standing members.
  • Since Albus Dumbledore was on the verge of losing his Order of Merlin during Cornelius Fudge's campaign to discredit him and Harry Potter, it means that a certain level of disgrace is capable of causing a recipient to lose the Order of Merlin.
    • As Fudge was heavily disgraced for his lack of actions against Lord Voldemort's return (not to mention that the worth of his award was heavily questioned to begin with), it's possible that his Order of Merlin has been retracted following his sacking from office.
    • When Peter Pettigrew's true actions of betrayal and frame-up of his friends, and his membership in the Death Eaters are revealed, it is possible his Order of Merlin was retracted from his mother's possession and passed on to Sirius Black for his leadership in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
  • It is possible that Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Neville Longbottom were awarded the Order of Merlin later in their lives due to their contributions throughout the Second Wizarding War and their crucial roles in the defeat of Lord Voldemort.
    • It is also likely that Severus Snape was posthumously given the Order of Merlin, First or Second Class, for his role as a double agent during the Second Wizarding War.
      • Snape was originally promised to be given such Order of Merlin by Cornelius Fudge for returning Sirius Black (assumed to be a fugitive murderer at the time) to Ministry custody, but Black escaped before Fudge could follow through on his word. It was later stated that the loss of this Order of Merlin hit Snape hard, and allegedly was the reason that he let it slip that Remus Lupin was a werewolf.
  • During the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, on 12 May 2018, a stage invader disrupted the United Kingdom performance, grabbing singer SuRie's microphone and shouting "Nazis of the UK media, we demand freedom", before being swiftly dragged offstage.[18] Australian commentator Joel Creasey described the stage invader as "some absolute cockhead" during the live broadcast; on Twitter, J. K. Rowling commended Creasey and awarded him with the Order of Merlin, First Class.[19]


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Order of Merlin" at Wizarding World
  2. 2.0 2.1 Famous Wizard Card (Merlin)
  3. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite "Brilliant Event: Lost Love"
  4. Harry Potter Limited Edition - The Paintings of Hogwarts: Masterpieces from the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Sets
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black)
  6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)
  7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
  8. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Remus Lupin" at Wizarding World
  9. Pottermore Presents: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies - Chapter 1 (Minerva McGonagall)
  10. Wonderbook: Book of Spells
  11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10 (The Marauder's Map)
  12. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 19 (The Servant of Lord Voldemort)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6 (Gilderoy Lockhart)
  15. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
  16. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs), page 258 "The Potion that Professor Snape has been making is a very recent discovery...Before the Wolfsbane Potion was discovered, however, I became a fully fledged monster once a month [when I went to Hogwarts]"
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club) - Horace Slughorn: "I was just telling young Marcus here that I had the pleasure of teaching his Uncle Damocles. Outstanding wizard, outstanding, and his Order of Merlin most well-deserved."
  18. McKee, Ruth (12 May 2018). "Man invades stage and grabs mic during UK Eurovision song", The Guardian. Retrieved on 2018-05-13
  19. Apparently the Australian commentator called @surieofficial's stage invader 'some absolute cockhead' and I don't want to hear another word about Australia being in #Eurovision ever again. [...] Order of Merlin, First Class x by J.K. Rowling on Twitter