- "The high Wizard court of law, held in a dungeon; the accused is magically bound to a chair in the centre of the room. A jury sits on the right of the prosecutor who states the case against the accused and eventually asks for a verdict. The courtrooms are located on the tenth level of the Ministry of Magic; during the Voldemort years, prisoners are escorted and guarded by groups of Dementors. The members of the Wizengamot, of which there are about fifty, wear plum-covered robes with elaborate silver initials on them (the letter 'W')."
- —Description of the Wizengamot[src]
The Wizengamot is wizarding Britain's high court of law and parliament. It predates the Ministry of Magic itself, dating back to the days of the medieval Wizards' Council. Its administrative headquarters are located in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Magic, whilst the trials take place in the dungeons of the lower levels.
While court is in session, members wear plum-coloured robes embroidered with a silver letter W.
In 1707, when the Ministry of Magic was established, the Wizengamot was incorporated into the newly-created Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The first Minister for Magic, Ulick Gamp, had previously been Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.
Albus Dumbledore held the position of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot in the 20th century, except during the period of July 1995 to June 1996, in which he was removed from the post because of his insistence that Lord Voldemort had returned. He was reinstated when the Ministry was forced to acknowledge Voldemort's return, specifically when he appeared in person at the Ministry of Magic in 1996.
In the same period, two of the Wizengamot's oldest members, Griselda Marchbanks and Tiberius Ogden, resigned from the court in protest after Cornelius Fudge created the position of Hogwarts High Inquisitor to usurp control of Hogwarts from Dumbledore and were subsequently discredited alongside him; it is unknown if they were reinstated afterwards.
Nowadays, the Wizengamot functions as a combination of court and parliament.
It is made up of around fifty members. The process for selecting members is unclear, though the Minister for Magic appears to have some power over the final selection. Aside from the judges and the Head Warlock, there is a Court Scribe that records the proceedings while the Wizengamot is in session. The Minister for Magic, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement have been known to attend significant trials and hearings, but it is unknown if this is routine. A British Youth Representative, who shall be no more than 17 years old, is present at times as well. An incorrect answer on the W.O.M.B.A.T test was that the average age of a Wizengamot member was 87 years old, this is presumably not true.
Given that the Wizengamot was presided over by the Minister for Magic in the 1995 trial of Harry Potter, the period in which Albus Dumbledore had lost this title of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, it is unclear whether the Minister always heads the Wizengamot, or if he took on the role of Chief Warlock himself. It is also possible that the Chief Warlock acts as an impartial executive figure, much like the Queen does over the British and Commonwealth Parliaments.
Trials appear to be brief and concise. The accused may present witnesses to be questioned by the Wizengamot. A third-party with legal knowledge may speak on behalf of a defendant, fulfilling a similar role to that of a modern barrister. However, no wizarding lawyers seem to exist, and the practise of having a spokesperson on behalf of a defendant appears to be rare.
Aberforth Dumbledore and the goat
Dementor Attack in Little Whinging
- See also: Disciplinary hearing of Harry Potter
On 12 August 1995, the Wizengamot tried Harry on a charge of violating the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. Harry had been forced to produce a Patronus to defend himself and his cousin Dudley Dursley against two Dementors. The time of the hearing was changed sometime the night before the trial, and although the Wizengamot sent a letter to Harry informing of this, it was sent so close to the time of the trial that it was intended that he not receive it in time. Nonetheless, Albus Dumbledore presented Harry's defence and Cornelius Fudge reluctantly dismissed the charges after a majority ruled in favour of clearing him. It was later revealed that Dolores Umbridge had sent the Dementors to attack Harry in order to silence him.
Percy Weasley later sent a letter to his brother Ron referring to "the whole Wizengamot," implying that this type of trial was unusual. Smaller disciplinary hearings do not require the court's attention at all and are dealt with by a single investigator, as the original hearing was supposed to be in Amelia Bones's office, and that Dumbledore himself noted the unnatural change to press forward with a full trial on a simple case of underage magic due to Fudge's haste in law changing.
The word "Wizengamot" is a portmanteau formed with the words "wizard" and "Witenagemot." The Witenagemot was a council of powerful nobles who convened to advise and appoint kings in Anglo-Saxon England. The word derives from the Old English for "meeting of wise men" - witan, meaning "wise man" or "counsellor", and gemot, meaning "assembly". So it can be said that "Wizengamot" means "assembly of wizards".
Behind the scenes
- In the video game adaption of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix it is Arthur Weasley who mentions a full Wizengamot, implying that this is the same as in the book and film adaptions.
- There are several differences between the appearance of the Wizengamot in the film adaptation and how they are described in the novel
- The robes in the film have a more formal appearance to them.
- In the novel, the members of the Wizengamot are described as plum coloured robes while in the movie, according to Jany Temime, are a puce colour known as Victoria Lake..
- Black robes are also worn by a number of members, including Cornelius Fudge, Amelia Bones and Dolores Umbridge.
- None of the robes have the embroidered silver letter W on them.
- Along with the difference of robes in the film, the members of Wizengamot are seen wearing judicial headwear, that match the colour of their robes, which is not mentioned at all in the novel.
- The headwear that the members of the Wizengamot wear in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, are reminiscent of ones worn by French and German judges.
- Another type of headwear that is similar in appearance is the Biretta which is worn occasionally by advocates in various law courts.
- The Wizengamot logo seen in the Harry Potter films bears the motto ignorantia juris neminem excusat, a combination of the legal terms ignorantia juris non excusat and ignorantia legis neminem excusat, both of which roughly mean "ignorance of the law excuses no one" The term itself translates into "Ignorance of law is no excuse".
- The Wizengamot appears also to have jurisdiction over Ireland as well as Britain.
- Dolores Umbridge lied to other people that her deceased father was a distinguished member of the Wizengamot. This was to cover her father's career as an unambitious janitorial worker in the Magical Maintenance Department.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ Wonderbook: Book of Spells
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Ministers for Magic" at Pottermore
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 8 (The Hearing)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
- ↑ [Writing by J.K.Rowling: The Order of Merlin]
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore)
- ↑ Wizards' Ordinary Magic and Basic Aptitude Test
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 24 (Rita Skeeter's Scoop)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 2 (A Peck of Owls)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot)
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter The Character Vault
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Dolores Umbridge" at Pottermore