The Founders of Hogwarts
"You all know, of course, that Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago - the precise date is uncertain - by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. They built this castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution."
-- Professor Binns (CS)
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Over a thousand years ago, the four greatest witches and wizards of the age shared a dream, to create a school where young people of the wizarding world could study and be trained in the magical arts they needed to become skilled, fully-trained wizards. These four great wizards each founded one of the Houses of the school that they worked together to form: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They have been referred to as 'The Hogwarts Four.'
For a number of years, this arrangement worked just fine. Each of the founders took a group of students to be in their own house and even though they had differences of opinion about who should be trained, the house system helped them all to work together. However, as the years went by, the differences between Gryffindor and Slytherin became a serious rift. Eventually Slytherin left the school.
The Founders, circa 1,000 A.D.
Godric Gryffindor believed that anyone who showed magical ability should be allowed to attend Hogwarts.
Appearance: Based upon the image by Lightmaker from JKR's website (shown here), he has mane-like red hair, green eyes, and a powerful build. Canon, or artistic license? Only Jo (and Lightmaker) know for sure.
Home: According to the Sorting Hat, Gryffindor came "from wild moor." Bathilda Bagshot's A History of Magic is a little more specific: Gryffindor was born in the West Country village of Godric's Hollow, named for Godric himself (DH16).
Skills: According to JKR, "Godric Gryffindor was the most accomplished dueller of his time, an enlightened fighter against Muggle-discrimination."
Artifacts: The Sorting Hat originally belonged to Gryffindor. His goblin-made sword, with rubies in the handle, has also survived and was, at various times, in the possession of Dumbledore, Harry, Ron and Neville. The sword was not stolen, though the goblins feel othervise (BLC).
Colors: Red and gold.
JKR's "Wizard of the Month for July 2007.
Appearance: Based upon the image by Lightmaker from JKR's website (shown here), Hufflepuff has gingery red hair, blue eyes, and a plump figure. Canon, or artistic license? Only Jo (and Lightmaker) know for sure.
Home: According to the Sorting Hat, Hufflepuff came "from valley broad," which Lexicon reader Ian tells us probably indicates Wales.
Skills: According to JKR's website, Hufflepuff was particularly famous for her dexterity at food-related Charms. Many recipes traditionally served at Hogwarts feasts originated with Hufflepuff (JKR). Her Famous Wizard card states that "[s]he brought people from different walks of life together to help build Hogwarts and was loved for her charming ways." (fw12). Another accomplishment of Hufflepuff's was her concern for the treatment of House-elves in the Wizarding world. She made Hogwarts a refuge for them, and as a result they were treated more kindly there than elsewhere (PC122, PC130).
Colors: Yellow and black.
"Wizard of the Month" on jkrowling.com for May 2007.
Appearance: In CS17, the statue of Slytherin was described as being "ancient and monkey-like."
Based upon the image by Lightmaker from JKR's website (shown here), Slytherin is gaunt with a long grey beard and pale grey eyes. Canon, or artistic license? Only Jo (and Lightmaker) know for sure.
Home: According to the Sorting Hat, Slytherin came from the fen. In the UK, fens are located in the eastern portion of England, East Anglia and in particular Norfolk which is North East of London.
Skills: Slytherin was one of the first recorded Parselmouths and an accomplished Legilimens (JKR).
Artifacts: A heavy gold locket carrying Salazar Slytherin's mark (an ornate serpentine "S"). The locket was inherited by Merope Gaunt Riddle, pawned during her pregnancy to Borgin and Burkes, purchased by Hepzibah Smith, and subsequently stolen by Tom Riddle upon Smith's murder (HBP20).
Colors: Green and silver.
Salazar Slytherin believed that only pure-blood witches and wizards should be allowed to attend Hogwarts. He got into an argument with Godric Gryffindor about this and eventually left the school. There was a legend that Slytherin built a secret chamber somewhere in Hogwarts that only his true heir would be able to open. This chamber, called the Chamber of Secrets, contained a monster that would finish his "noble purpose" of killing all the Muggle-born students at Hogwarts. As Slytherin's heir, Tom Riddle did open the Chamber and released the monster, a basilisk. Harry Potter defeated the basilisk with the help of Fawkes the phoenix and the sword of Gryffindor (CS).
Harry Potter has many qualities Salazar Slytherin prized in his hand-picked students: Parselmouth -- resourcefulness -- determination -- a certain disregard for rules.
JKR's "Wizard of the Month" for June 2007.
Appearance: "Fair Ravenclaw, from glen," (GF12). The word "fair" can refer to overall attractiveness (as in "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all" in Snow White) as well as paleness of skin color or hair. Although neither one is canon, both the image by Lightmaker from Jo's website (see left) and the one on the original Famous Wizard card (Electronic Arts ™) show Ravenclaw with long dark hair and brown eyes.
Home: According to the Sorting Hat..."Ravenclaw came "from glen," which, according to Lexicon reader Ian, probably means somewhere in Scotland, such as Glencoe or the Great Glen where Loch Ness is.
Skills: Her Famous Wizard card tells us that "[i]t's thought that she came up with the ever-changing floor plan. She's best remembered for her intelligence and creativity."
Artifacts: Diadem (tiara) inscribed "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure" which bestows wisdom when worn. Stolen by her daughter Helena, who ran away to Albania and hid the diadem in a tree. It was later found by Tom Riddle who made a Horcrux with it and hid it in the room of Requirement. The diadem was destroyed by Fiendfyre (DH31) (see Horcruxes page for more information).
Colors: Blue and bronze.
According to Jo's website, Ravenclaw was "the most brilliant witch of her time," who, according to legend, died of a broken heart (cause unknown) (JKR).
She is said to have stated: "We will teach those whose intelligence is surest." (OP11) (fw16) Rowena was dear friends with Helga Hufflepuff.