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The Malfoys and the Lestranges were bastions of the philosophy of pure-blood supremacism

"I really don't think they should let the other sort in, do you? They're just not the same, they've never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families."
— Draco Malfoy's pure-blood prejudice at an early age[src]

Pure-blood supremacy[1] was the belief that wizards and witches whose family has not married any muggles or Muggle-borns were inherently biologically superior to wizards and witches who had done so. Proponents of this ideology typically regarded Muggle-born wizards as impure, unworthy of possessing magical ability, and often actively discriminated against them.[2]

Attitude and beliefs

Lucius Malfoy: "Dear me, what’s the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don’t even pay you well for it?"
Arthur Weasley: "We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy"
Lucius Malfoy: "Clearly, the company you keep, Weasley… and I thought your family could sink no lower."
— An intense argument over blood status[src]

A piece of propaganda directed towards Muggle-borns

The byproduct of aeons of wizarding history, pure-blood supremacists were of the opinion that only pure-bloods were real witches and wizards, and were often inclined to consider themselves as the elite of the Magical world; a place in which they believed that Muggle-borns did not belong. Despite their magical ability, pure-blood supremacists were prone to be very hostile towards both Muggle-borns, as well as those that were accepting of them, fearing that the promotion and acceptance of the the mixture of magical and non-magical blood would dilute or even negate the wizard identity. More militant subscribers of this philosophy even considered considered themselves to be akin to royalty. They viewed Muggles, Muggle-borns, half-bloods, half-breeds with contempt and considered the Muggle world to be inferior to their own. Pure-bloods, and even half-bloods, who do not share this view are considered traitors to their own kind or "blood traitors." They were considered disgraces by pure-blood supremacists such as the Malfoys.[2]

Elitist pure-bloods even believed that it was a sign of weak magic to enjoy non-magical company[3] and seemed to believe that some of the supposed dirtiness of Muggles and Muggle-borns would rub off on those who associated with them, thus they considered blood traitors to be "filthy" as well[4]. Some extremists considered blood traitors to be nearly as bad as the Muggle-borns they were prejudiced against. Bellatrix Lestrange, for example, claimed that "blood traitor is next to Mudblood in [her] book," and her family often disowned and blasted off the family tree any members who could be considered blood traitors. Blood traitors might also be shunned by their families and acquaintances: for example, Bellatrix and her younger sister Narcissa Malfoy stopped seeing their sister Andromeda after she married a Muggle-born wizard, Ted Tonks.[5]

The Magic is Might statue showing Muggles in their "rightful place"

Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters targeted blood traitors during the First and Second Wizarding Wars because they opposed their goals. When they were temporarily in control of the Ministry of Magic in late 1997 and early 1998, they kept blood traitors such as Arthur Weasley under surveillance. However, even most Death Eaters were reluctant to kill pure-bloods, even "traitorous" ones, if it could be avoided. Similarly, although disdaining half-bloods and considering them inferior, they recognised that there were not enough Pure Blood families left and so (if only begrudgingly), accepted half-bloods in their new world order. The same situation existed at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while Voldemort was in power.[6]

Degrees of prejudice

Pure-blood elitism

"Toujours Pur"
— "Always Pure," the motto of the House of Black[src]

The most extreme of the pure-blood supremacists sought to purge the world of those they consider "impure." They often tolerated half-bloods out of necessity (though still disdained them), but Muggle-borns were persecuted and Muggles were viewed as nothing more than animals. Supremacists debated amongst themselves whether Muggles and Muggle-borns should be subject to death or slavery, but the generally agreed goal of pure-blood supremacy was a world where Muggles are relegated to a lesser role.

“Pure-blood elitists” Reason(s)
House of Black The Blacks' family motto meant "always pure" in French. As such, they guarded their strict adherence to blood purity zealously, going as far as inbreeding occasionally to retain great good looks. Many members of the House of Black were disowned for marrying Muggles or Muggle-borns, or for refusing to uphold the family's prejudiced views. Even being a Squib is considered to be impure as well and would be disowned.[2]
Phineas Nigellus Black was Headmaster of Hogwarts from some point in the late 19th century to 1925. He disowned his second eldest son Phineas for supporting Muggle rights.[7]
Elladora Black started the family tradition of beheading House-elves whenever they got too old to carry tea trays.[7]
Cygnus Black II disowned his youngest son Marius for being a Squib.
Pollux Black disowned his eldest son Alphard for supporting his disowned nephew.[7]
Orion and Walburga Black were distant supporters of the Death Eater cause. They disowned their eldest son Sirius for running away to the Blood traitor Potter family whilst supporting their youngest Regulus for joining the Death Eaters.[7]
Cygnus Black III disowned his middle daughter Andromeda for marrying Muggle-born Edward Tonks.
Araminta Meliflua Black was an activist for Muggle-hunting, she attempted to force passage of a bill at the Ministry that would have legalised it as a sport.[7]
House of Gaunt The Gaunts represented the worst aspects of pure-blood supremacy. Having been descended from important families such as the Slytherins and Peverells, they were known to have inbred most heavily than any pure-blood elitist, in order to retain the ability to speak Parseltongue. This tendency forced them to squander the family gold up until the early 20th century.[8]
Gormlaith Gaunt resided on Coomcallee from 1603 to 1634, jinxing any Muggles who wandered near her home. Since murdering her sister Rionach and brother-in-law William Sayre for fraternising with their Muggle neighbours, she raised their daughter Isolt in seclusion, and forbade her of attending Hogwarts due to its pro-Muggle leanings. However, Isolt fled to the New World aboard the Mayflower in 1620, and went on to found Ilvermorny with her Muggle husband James Steward and adopted sons Chadwick and Webster Boot. Tracking her down, Gormlaith attempted to kill the couple and take their daughters with her, but was killed by a poisoned arrow from the Pukwudgie William in the duel that followed.[9]
Corvinus Gaunt had a hand in helping install an elaborate plumbing system within Hogwarts, which placed the secrecy of the Chamber of Secrets at risk. Having inherited the right to know the location of the Chamber's trapdoor entrance, he concealed the trapdoor behind plumbing fixtures and a sink.[10]
Marvolo Gaunt was obsessed with being pure-blood and certain of his superiority over those of "lesser" blood status, despite living in poverty. He considered that his blood purity made him practically royal, and disowned his daughter Merope for supposedly being a Squib and coercively marrying a Muggle, Tom Riddle Senior.[8]
Malfoy family The Malfoys' family motto means "purity always conquers" in Latin. As such they were best known for a command of political influence and respect that flourished with their traditional tendency for courtship with richness and power around them. They are known for their disdain of Muggles and Muggle-borns.[11][12][13] While they strongly believe in the concept of blood purity, they did not take it to the interbreeding extremes, thus allowing half-bloods to appear on their family tree.[2][14]
Nicholas Malfoy was widely believed to have dispatched many Muggle tenants in the late 1340s, under the guise of the Black Death. However, this was never proven, but it was likely because he escaped censure by the Wizard's Council, and therefore was never punished.[14]
Lucius Malfoy I was an aspirant for the hand of Elizabeth I. Although never proven, it was widely believed that her opposition towards marriage was due to a jinx that he left on her in retaliation for his unsuccessful attempt to woo her.[14]
Brutus Malfoy was editor of the anti-Muggle periodical Warlock at War, which ran during the 1670s. With the persecution of wizards in Muggle supremacy having reached its height, he campaigned to compare blood traitors to Squibs, stating in 1675 that "nothing is a surer sign of weak magic than a weakness for [Muggle] company".[15]
Septimus Malfoy was Advisor to the Minister for Magic from 1789 to 1798.
Abraxas Malfoy was suspected of being part of a plot that forced Nobby Leach, the first Muggle-born Minister for Magic, to leave the post prematurely in 1968.
Lestrange family The Lestranges were an ancient pure-blood wizarding family, and one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. Many Lestranges practise the Dark Arts and believe in the notion of pure-blood supremacy, disdaining Muggles and Muggle-borns. They also have many Death Eater family members.
Greengrass family The Greengrasses were known to have espoused the philosophy of pure-blood supremacy.
Following the horrors of the Second Wizarding War Astoria Greengrass abandoned the beliefs of blood supremacy in favour of a more tolerant world view. She even refused to raise her son to believe that "Muggles [are] scum", even though that created tension with her parents-in-law, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy.
Durmstrang Institute Durmstrang did not allow Muggle Borns to attend,[16] though, unlike most other examples of "pure-blood elitism" listed here, they did not seem to have a violent, murderous, or destructive attitude towards muggle-borns and muggles either (and indeed, some individual students such as Viktor Krum were more tolerant and accepting of Muggle-Borns).
Death Eaters Possibly the largest and most destructive Muggle haters and blood purity fanatics of their time (if not of all time). Led by Voldemort, who thought that magical blood was pure and special. Under their regime, Muggle-borns were stripped of their wands and reduced to beggars,[17] or alternatively, if unable to prove relations to any wizard in kangaroo courts overseen by Dolores Umbridge,[18] they were subjected to the Dementor's Kiss or else imprisoned in Azkaban. Meanwhile, Muggles were killed indiscriminately and seen as nothing but slaves or cattle. Ironically, however, Voldemort himself was half-blood, his mother being a pure-blood witch and his father a Muggle.[19]
Lord Voldemort
Dolores Umbridge Umbridge hated Muggles, Muggle-borns, as well as half-breeds and had no problem throwing in with the Death Eater's blood purity obsessed worldview (despite hypocritically being herself a half-blood).[20] She was head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission during Voldemort's control of the Ministry and actively persecuted "Mudbloods," stripping them of their wands.[18] After Voldemort's defeat, she was arrested and sentenced to Azkaban for life for her crimes against Muggle-borns.
Salazar Slytherin Slytherin did not accept Muggle-borns in his house and subsequently ended his friendship with Godric Gryffindor. He left a Basilisk in a hidden chamber beneath Hogwarts so that it could one day "purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic".[21][22]
Elizabeth Burke Elizabeth Burke seemed to have hated Muggle-borns, as her portrait at Hogwarts Castle encouraged Slytherins to be "nasty to Mudbloods."[23]

Pure-blood bias

"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."
— Horace Slughorn showing bias[src]

Some wizards, while believing somewhat in the inherent superiority of pure-bloods, do not actively discriminate against or show hostility to Muggle-borns and are even fond of them in some cases.

“Pure-blood bias” Reason(s)
Horace Slughorn Although Slughorn thought that pure-bloods were normally more magically skilled, he is aware that half-bloods and Muggle-borns have much to offer, and nonetheless had many talented Muggle-borns in his Slug Club, including Lily Evans and Hermione Granger. He even wanted Lily Evans to be in his house of Slytherin.[24]
Cornelius Fudge Fudge showed great favouritism toward influential pure-bloods such as the Malfoys.[25] However, until 1995, he relied heavily on the counsel of Albus Dumbledore, a supporter of Muggle rights, as well as was very polite to Harry Potter, a half-blood (at least initially). He also had a cordial, if somewhat patronising, relationship with the Muggle Prime Minister and was highly distraught at the gruesome murder of twelve Muggles earlier in his days at the Ministry.[26] However, Fudge allowed the passage of anti-half-breed legislation, ennabled the cruelty of Dolores Umbridge (herself an extreme case of pure-blood supremacy), and his pro-pure blood attitude and policies as Minister were cited as major flaws of his and the reason why his administration ultimately failed. Albus Dumbledore had the belief that Fudge believed too much in the importance of blood purity.[27]
Severus Snape During his time at Hogwarts, Severus fell in with a group of future Death Eaters in his desire for power and acceptance.[28] Despite his childhood claim that blood status didn't matter,[29] he began to use the term "Mudblood" to describe Muggle-borns. However, an accidental application of the term during an argument towards Lily Evans ended their friendship.[30] Snape was upset by this, and attempted to atone for using the remark and being prejudiced by becoming a double agent for Albus Dumbledore,[29] however, he was still supportive of actions of many pure-blood elitists, for example by often being cruel to muggle-born Hermione Granger and favouring the poor attitudes and behaviours of pure-blood Slytherins. Due to these combinations of actions, however, Snape is a somewhat ambiguous case.

Behind the scenes

  • It is unknown if Muriel could be considered biased, as she once condescendingly referred to Hermione Granger as "the Muggle-born" at her nephew's wedding. However, as Ron pointed out, she was rude to everyone. She also made snide remarks about Fleur Delacour, not because she was a quarter breed, but because she was French.[31] However, whether Muriel was aware of Fleur being a quarter-Veela is not revealed.
  • According to JK Rowling, when asked about the term given for the magical offspring of one magical and one non-magical parent, she said that non-bigots in the wizarding world would say "half-blood", while pure-blood supremacists would say "mudblood".[32]

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. Wizard of the Month archive on J.K. Rowling's Official Site
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Pure-Blood" at Wizarding World
  3. The Tales of Beedle the Bard
  4. The various terms for blood traitors, such as Dunglicker, Scumsucker and Mudwallower, all make associations with uncleanliness. Marvolo Gaunt also called his daughter a "filthy little blood traitor" for admiring a Muggle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt), and Blaise Zabini once declared that he would never so much as touch a "filthy blood traitor" like Ginny Weasley, despite finding her physically attractive in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club).
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1 (The Dark Lord Ascending)
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem) - Neville Longbottom says of the Carrows: "They don’t want to spill too much pure blood, so they’ll torture us a bit if we’re mouthy but they won’t actually kill us.” Given this statement, as well as the fact that the Weasleys were only in direct danger after Ron Weasley's help of Harry Potter was revealed to the Death Eaters, it seems that they were hesitant to kill blood traitors unless they were very rebellious.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  9. Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" at Wizarding World
  10. Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Chamber of Secrets" at Wizarding World
  11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  12. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts)
  13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 7 (Mudbloods And Murmurs)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "The Malfoy Family" at Wizarding World
  15. The Tales of Beedle the Bard - "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot"
  16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 11 (Aboard the Hogwarts Express)
  17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 26 (Gringotts)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 13 (The Muggle-Born Registration Commission)
  19. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)
  20. Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Dolores Umbridge" at Wizarding World
  21. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  22. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  23. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
  24. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
  25. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 8 (The Hearing)
  26. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
  27. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
  28. Bloomsbury Live Chat with J.K. Rowling
  29. 29.0 29.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  30. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
  31. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
  32. https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1040526726835650560