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- "The Prime Minister's first, foolish thought was that Rufus Scrimgeour looked rather like an old lion. There were streaks of grey in his mane of tawny hair and his bushy eyebrows, he had keen yellowish eyes behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and a certain rangy, loping grace even though he walked with a slight limp. There was an immediate impression of shrewdness and toughness; the Prime Minister thought he understood why the wizarding community preferred Scrimgeour to Fudge as a leader in these dangerous times."
- —Scrimgeour's outward disposition[src]
Minister Rufus Scrimgeour (d. 1 August, 1997) was a British wizard who was a powerful ranking official in the Ministry of Magic. He originally joined the Ministry of Magic as an Auror, where he became a hardened veteran, spending most of his life fighting Dark Wizards. Eventually he rose to become Head of the Auror Office. During the Second Wizarding War, Scrimgeour was appointed in 1996 to succeed Cornelius Fudge as Minister for Magic, being the third ex-Auror to hold the post. While he appeared to provide a much tougher and resolute stance against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, he made the same mistake of creating the appearance of safety and security, while in truth Scrimgeour's efforts were waning in progress in the war.
This policy of giving the appearance of false safety would ultimately cost Scrimgeour his life, as it left the Ministry open to infiltration by the Death Eaters, who used several high-ranking Ministry officials, all of whom had been subverted to their control, to launch a successful coup and bring the Ministry under Voldemort's control. Voldemort, wanting the location of Harry Potter, captured and brutally tortured Scrimgeour, though when Scrimgeour refused to talk, Voldemort murdered him.
- Horace Slughorn: "Now, you, Cormac. I happen to know you see a lot of your Uncle Tiberius, because he has a rather splendid picture of the two of you hunting Nogtails in, I think, Norfolk?"
- Cormac McLaggen: "Oh, yeah, that was fun, that was. We went with Bertie Higgs and Rufus Scrimgeour; this was before he became Minister, obviously —"
- — Horace Slughorn hosting a small Slug Club luncheon[src]
Scrimgeour was born (possibly in Scotland or Wales) into the wizarding Scrimgeour family on a date no later than 1968. It was highly likely Scrimgeour attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during his youth, where he would have received his magical education. Scrimgeour joined the Ministry of Magic, and completed a stringent series of character and aptitude tests to join the Auror Office. At some point before he became Minister, Scrimgeour joined Bertie Higgs, Tiberius, and Cormac McLaggen to hunt recreationally for Nogtails in Norfolk.
Head of the Auror Office (1990s-1996)
Eventually, after serving as an Auror for some time and having fought Dark Wizards for most of his working life, Scrimgeour rose to the post of Head of the Auror Office, which he occupied at least in the early-to-mid-1990s. In this capacity, Scrimgeour worked alongside John Dawlish, Proudfoot, Savage, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Gawain Robards.
When he was the Head of the Auror Office, he often questioned Tonks and Shacklebolt about Sirius Black, as they were in charge of the investigation of his whereabouts after his escape from Azkaban.
Second Wizarding War (1996-1998)
Minister for Magic
- "These are dark times, there is no denying. Our world has, perhaps, faced no greater threat than it does today. But I say this to our citizenry: we, ever your servants, will continue to defend your liberty and repel the forces that seek to take it from you! Your Ministry… remains… strong!"
- —Scrimgeour makes a speech on the situation of wizarding world[src]
With Voldemort finally into the open and declaring open war on Britain's wizarding and Muggle communities, it forced the wizarding community to unite and call for Cornelius Fudge's resignation. In the fortnight following the Battle of the Department of Mysteries and the Ministry's acknowledgement of Lord Voldemort's return in June of 1996, Minister Cornelius Fudge was, as The Quibbler went on to report, "chased from his office." Fudge left office in disgrace and was replaced by the ostensibly more proactive Scrimgeour. Gawain Robards replaced Scrimgeour as Head of the Auror Office. Soon after, Scrimgeour made a speech to the the Ministry and the Daily Prophet about "dark times", and trying to better protect Britain from dark wizards than the previous year, as the Ministry under Fudge had denied any evidence of Voldemort's return and branded Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter liars for saying the opposite.
Scrimgeour, though seemingly more capable than Fudge, decided to prioritise appearances over truth in his battle against Voldemort. Apparently, Scrimgeour distrusted Albus Dumbledore in a similar way to Fudge before him, as he assigned Auror John Dawlish to follow Dumbledore during his frequent departures from Hogwarts, ultimately resulting in the Auror being jinxed by Dumbledore. He ordered the arrest of Stan Shunpike, a conductor on the Knight Bus, to give the impression that the Ministry was actively seeking and arresting Death Eaters, even though it was apparent to Harry that Shunpike was innocent and merely foolish.
He also quarrelled with Albus Dumbledore over the use of Harry Potter, the alleged "Chosen One", as a mascot for the Ministry to "boost morale".
On Christmas Day 1996, which Harry spent at The Burrow in Devon, Scrimgeour came to visit him, accompanied by Percy Weasley, whom he used as a pretext. Scrimgeour took Harry for a walk around the garden, during which he tried to get answers out of Harry about what Dumbledore was doing, and suggested that the Ministry would be grateful if Harry was to visibly align himself with them. Harry, revolted by the Ministry's hypocrisy, refused further assistance, saying that the new Ministry was as bad in its own way as the old one.
After Dumbledore's death atop the Astronomy Tower, in the summer of 1997, Scrimgeour and a delegation of Ministry officials came for a short stay at Hogwarts Castle, so that they could attend Dumbledore's funeral. Scrimgeour was seated in the front row, with Minerva McGonagall, looking "grave and dignified". After the service, Scrimgeour once more tried to convince Harry Potter to openly support the Ministry's endeavours, and Harry once again refused.
Scrimgeour spoke to Harry once more at the Burrow on 31 July, a month after Dumbledore's death, to release the contents of the late wizard's will to Harry, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger, interrupting Harry's birthday party.
Scrimgeour appeared to have aged considerably as a result of working to retain control of the wizarding community, which was in a state of open warfare. He had delayed releasing Dumbledore's personal bequests for thirty-one days, under the Decree for Justifiable Confiscation, in order to inspect the items. Scrimgeour bombarded the trio with questions, attempting to discern Dumbledore's intentions, and was highly suspicious of the gifts he had left them: the Deluminator for Ron, a Golden Snitch for Harry, and an original copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard for Hermione. Scrimgeour refused to give Harry Dumbledore's final bequest, Godric Gryffindor's Sword, believing it to be a historical artefact and public property, which Dumbledore therefore had no right to dispose of as he saw fit.
When Harry criticised Scrimgeour for wasting his time scrutinising Dumbledore's things, and for covering up the recent escape of dozens of Death Eaters from Azkaban, the two came close to a duel, in spite of Scrimgeour's claim that he in fact sought to work together, in order to fight Voldemort. The arrival of Arthur and Molly Weasley forced Scrimgeour to regain composure and then depart. Scrimgeour correctly guessed that there might be something hidden inside the Golden Snitch, although he never found out what, as Dumbledore had ensured that the Snitch would only open "at the close".
The following day, 1 August, 1997, the Death Eaters staged a successful coup on the Ministry, as they now had agents loyal to them surrounding the Minister, and as such were able to make a successful attempt on his life. Pius Thicknesse, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and several other high-ranking Ministry officials had all been placed under the Imperius Curse.
Scrimgeour was captured and brutally tortured by Voldemort for information on Harry Potter's whereabouts. Scrimgeour, having "put up quite a fight" in his final moments, refused to talk despite knowing where Harry was. The official line to Scrimgeour's murder was that he resigned. In his place Thicknesse was appointed as a puppet Minister.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione came to respect Scrimgeour after learning of his sacrifice. It is assumed that after Lord Voldemort's defeat Scrimgeour's assassination was exposed, but the subject is unclear.
Scrimgeour was a man with a certain rangy loping grace; he walked with a slight limp, and looked rather like an old lion with grey streaks in his mane of tawny hair and bushy eyebrows. He had keen yellowish eyes and wore wire-rimmed spectacles. He sometimes used a walking stick. With time, the stresses of the failing conflict reached him, and when last seen he appeared badly-shaven, scraggy, and grim.
Personality and traits
- Scrimgeour: "Remembered you're not at school, have you? Remembered that I am not Dumbledore, who forgave your insolence and insubordination? You may wear that scar like a crown, Potter, but it is not up to a seventeen-year-old boy to tell me how to do my job! It's time you learned some respect!"
- Harry Potter: "It's time you earned it."
- — An intense row regarding respect and responsibility [src]
Scrimgeour was, according to Dumbledore, a "man of action", having fought against Dark Wizards throughout his career as an Auror and climbed ambitiously through the Ministry. He gave an impression of shrewd toughness and was more decisive and forceful than his predecessor, Cornelius Fudge. Scrimgeour did not underestimate Voldemort as much as Fudge did, which he demonstrated by taking more action for the Wizarding World to fight Voldemort and the Death Eaters, and cared a great deal about the Ministry's reputation.
However, despite appearing more proactive, Scrimgeour possessed a more hypocritical, deceitful and shameless side as he prioritised appearances over truth and cared more for the Ministry's reputation than the safety of the wizarding community, just as his predecessor had done. As a result, he did not allow the reporting of devastating events which had occurred such as the death of renowned Auror Alastor Moody and the 1997 mass breakout of Azkaban, due to believing it would cause panic and ruin the Ministry's reputation, and to keep an appearance of false security and safety. At the expense of true justice, he even allowed the the arrest of innocent people — such as Stanley Shunpike — to give the impression that the Ministry was making progress in the war, similar to what Bartemius Crouch Senior had done. This was most likely fueled by a belief that maintaining peace and giving false appearances of progress were important for the Ministry to regain trust from the wizarding community after they unanimously condemned Fudge's tenure as Minister, when in reality it only further endangered the wizarding community by keeping them more oblivious and unprepared of Voldemort's actions and intentions. Scrimgeour also appeared ignorant of corruption within the Ministry, as he was oblivious of Dolores Umbridge's tyrannical crimes during her temporary rule over Hogwarts, and the fact that Pius Thicknesse and other Ministry employees were put under the Imperius Curse to serve Voldemort. Along with his tendency to keep an appearance of false security, this would ultimately prove to be Scrimgeour's undoing.
Under his shamelessness and hypocrisy, he was also willing to gain the trust of those who the Ministry had previously attempted to discredit in order to keep a false pretence of peace. He tried unsuccessfully at various times to convince Harry Potter to work for the Ministry as a "mascot" to improve morale: once during the Christmas holidays, and another time after Dumbledore's funeral. Like Snape, he thought of Harry as arrogant and conceited, and disliked him for it while Harry disliked his hypocrisy and false pretences, claiming Scrimgeour's tenure as Minister was just as bad as Fudge's tenure was. When Dumbledore disagreed with his intended use of Harry as a mascot and refused to reveal his plans against Voldemort to him, Scrimgeour deeply distrusted Dumbledore to the point that he attempted to spy on him and control the matter of Dumbledore's will after his death rather than prioritising the fight against Voldemort. Despite his flaws, Scrimgeour in the end proved his bravery and strength of character when he refused, under torture, to tell Voldemort of Harry's whereabouts.
Magical abilities and skills
- Auror skills: An accomplished wizard, Rufus Scrimgeour was more than proficient in at least Potions, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Herbology, and Charms, as all these subjects at Hogwarts are required at both N.E.W.T. and O.W.L. level, at either "Exceeds Expectations" or "Outstanding" level. Given his status as Head Auror, his skill presumably surpassed most of the highly trained Dark Wizard capturers working under him, having fought many Dark Wizard and Witches during his career as an Auror, which displayed his considerable duelling and martial magic abilities, the most essential ability to everyone working in his profession. Scrimgeour was also noted to have put up a valiant fight against Lord Voldemort, though it is unknown if this meant his duelling prowess or resilience to torture, although it was likely a combination of both.
- Apparition: Like most accomplished adult wizards, Scrimgeour was capable of apparating at will.
- Charms: Scrimgeour was capable of producing a non-corporeal Patronus Charm, a mark of superior magical ability and talent, given the immense difficulty of performing the charm. Furthermore, he would have needed both an O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. in the subject, showing his accomplishment in this field.
- Leadership skills: Scrimgeour obviously had the necessary skills of leadership as the wizarding community together called for Scrimgeour to become Minister for Magic to take control over the Second Wizarding War. He also had to skills to command over the Aurors which would take extreme effort, though he put more effort into getting the cooperation of Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter instead of focusing on the upcoming war, which would prove to be a mistake that cost him his life. In a different view, however, this was not such a bad idea as Albus Dumbledore was the most powerful wizard, and he was the leader Order of the Phoenix, an organisation whose members have put up valiant efforts against Death Eaters and even killed some of them.
- Wand: Scrimgeour owned a wand, which was of an unknown length, wood and core material. Like most wizards in Great Britain, he likely purchased his wand from Ollivanders in Diagon Alley. He would have wielded his wand throughout his career in the British Ministry of Magic and as Head of the Auror Office.
- Walking stick: Scrimgeour owned and used a walking stick, which helped ease his limp when he took longer walks or journeys.
Rufus is a Latin name meaning "red". It was a Roman cognomen as well as the nickname of King William II of England, who had the reputation for being an effective soldier but a ruthless and unpopular ruler. Scrimgeour is a Scottish surname that is believed to probably mean "skirmish", from the French escrimeur, meaning "swordsman". His name therefore loosely translates to "Red Skirmish" or "Red Swordsman".
Behind the scenes
- Bill Nighy portrayed Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
- Nighy was originally cast for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; however, Scrimgeour was cut from that film.
- Although it is likely Scrimgeour was raised in Scotland, Nighy played the character with a Welsh accent.
- In the film, Scrimgeour does not sport a mane-like beard, and he doesn't seem to be as tough and ruthless as he is in the book.
- Due to his being cut in Half-Blood Prince, Scrimgeour's relationship with Dumbledore is not mentioned in the film, and Harry's relationship with him is far from antagonistic.
- Luna Lovegood once mentioned to Harry Potter that Scrimgeour was a vampire, a story her father was supposed to publish in the magazine The Quibbler. The authenticity of this claim is quite questionable, as The Quibbler has a reputation for publishing unlikely and outrageous stories. Interestingly, Bill Nighy also played Viktor, a vampire in the Underworld series.
- It is possible that he is related to Brutus Scrimgeour, the author of the book The Beaters' Bible, and a reviewer of the book Quidditch Through the Ages.
- Scrimgeour shares the same given name as his predecessor's nephew.
- Although stated in the book Scrimgeour sports glasses, in the film he does not — even though Nighy himself does.
- In the film adaptations, Scrimgeour's negative personality aspects never come to light in the way and to the extent they do in the book.
- Scrimgeour's anti-Death Eater propaganda, particularly the Ministry's attitude towards Stan Shunpike, is similar to Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-communist ideas during the Second Red Scare in the 1950s.
- In the books, Scrimgeour protects Harry's whereabouts when the Ministry has fallen. This shows his protection of Harry, even though he has argued with him many times in the books.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Cut from final version; mentioned as "Minister for Magic")
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (NintendoDS version)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Notes and references
- ↑ According to J.K. Rowling, Harry became the youngest Head of the Auror Office in 2007 at the age of 27. Scrimgeour, who 'was the Head of the Auror Office before becoming Minister for Magic cannot, therefore, be younger than twenty eight at the time he becomes Minister.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
- ↑ Quidditch Through the Ages - (Praise for Quidditch Through the Ages)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 7 (The Will of Albus Dumbledore)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 3 (Will and Won't)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 7 (The Ministry of Magic)
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Ministers for Magic" at Wizarding World
- ↑ Scrimgeour is a Scottish surname.
- ↑ Bill Nighy plays Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 with a Welsh accent.
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3 (The Advance Guard)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club)
- ↑ J. K. Rowling's official site - Rumours!
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16 (A Very Frosty Christmas)
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 11 (Hermione's Helping Hand)
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1 (The Dark Lord Ascending)
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)
- ↑ Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 29 (The Phoenix Lament)
- ↑ HPL: Rufus Scrimgeour
- ↑ "Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" at The Leaky Cauldron
- ↑ "Up close: David Yates"