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A look at the Fanon Wizengamot, incl. a complete list of purebloods

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Sesc, Oct 7, 2020.

  1. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Preface

    Everyone who ever wanted to write about politics in the Wizarding World sooner or later ended up wondering what, exactly, the Wizengamot is. Typically, and because creativity is hard to come by, it ends up some sort of legislative body, modelled after everything from an Ancient Roman Senate to an old-fashioned English parliament (I’m excluding total shit here where people have straight-up no clue wtf they are even doing).

    This post, then, is intended to decrease creativity even further: the next step after creating that body is, in 90% of all cases, to populate it with some sort of nobility or quasi-nobility, i.e. purebloods, and this is the definitive list of all purebloods in Canon; long enough to fill the Wizengamot.

    To be clear: We do not know what the Wizengamot is, beyond a High Court. Anything about making laws and seats and noble families is, obviously, Fanon. The best “evidence” we have is the name, for which the “Witenagamot” used to be a council advising kings in anglo-saxon times; made up of nobles and clergy.

    How exactly this so-created Fanon Wizengamot looks should depend on the way the greater society looks. Having a 500 seat Wizengamot that is supposed to denote an “elite” makes no sense if there are only 1,000 wizards in total.

    Therefore, first, here is a look at some key data; the assumptions I use throughout this exercise:
    • The median life expectancy (that is, 50% of all wizards reach this age) is 150.

    • 120 children are born each year, the total population is ~18,000.

    • Wizards have children early, on average with 25, so an average family* has 11 members.

    • Historically, anything from 0.1 to 10% of a population were “nobles”, I assumed 5-6%.

    • All nobles and rich children, and 50% of the social bottom half (i.e., one child out of two in a family) go to Hogwarts. That yields 90 OWL students/year, just about the most that can be made to work with doubling all classes and only the Canon teachers. If you change this, you need to also change the number of:

    • Noble students in a year on average: 120*5-6% = 6-7.
    *“Family” here means the paternal line only; this is for bookkeeping purposes, so I don’t count people twice. I.e., a typical student at Hogwarts has a sibling, two parents, two grandparents, two great-grandparents, two great-great-grandparents, and one great-great-great-grandparent as “family”. If you assume the family name stays in the paternal line, this is also the number of people bearing the same name. Obviously, in practice all of this will vary, and in particular, there will be cousins sharing a name and conversely others lacking a large “family”, but it’s the average that’s relevant here; and – as a side note – giving you a perspective for writing, because the great-great-greats are a direct consequence of the longevity. Remember to include them in your story.

    So, why is that relevant? Well, the thing is that we count in families, not people, because one seat in the Wizengamot will represent one family. Calculating 5-6% of 18,000 is pointless, because 900 people will not be sitting in the Wizengamot. Instead, 1/11 of them will, the rest are “noble”, but belong to the same family, sharing one seat: There are, thus, 80-100 seats.


    General remarks about the Wizengamot and the pureblood status

    I used the common trope of picking apart the title of the Blacks. Additionally, I used a symbolical meaning for “pureblood”: What matters is not having all-magical ancestors, but being able to trace your family name back to old times. So, Harry is a “pureblood” by this definition.

    The reason for that is practical use. It’s impossible to decide whether any random family name has or hasn’t had only magical ancestors, but it is possible to decide that they have been around for some time: All you need is one ancestor way back when, and one in modern times, and you have a “pureblood”. This expands the possible sources greatly. Nevertheless, as I describe below, I marked “true” purebloods, so you can decide for yourself; all you have to keep in mind is that you then have to make up the status of most families.

    So, ranks amongst purebloods (in my sense) look like this:
    • Most Ancient Houses

    • Ancient Houses

    • Simple Purebloods
    Additionally, if a family has a Wizengamot Seat, they are “Noble” (cause and effect here: adjust to your liking) and the current heads are formally called “Lord” or “Lady”. The person owning the seat is a “Wizengamot Elder” (a Canon term). So you get any of the combinations – Most Ancient and Noble House, Noble House, Ancient House … there is a correlation (all Most Ancient, and most Ancient Houses are noble), but not a perfect one. Also, in practice you’d expect some families to be extinct.

    And then you make up the usual rules for formal introductions, so Harry James Potter, Heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, waits for Heiress Daphne Greengrass of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Greengrass (note the order of the words) to introduce herself, because despite his heir-apparent and de-facto head-of-House status, as long as the latter is not formally recognised (i.e., Lord Potter :D), her house plus heir-presumptive status still ranks higher, and the higher ranking always approaches the lower ranking person, not the other way round.

    The discriminating factor here is how long the families have been around. The Most Ancient Houses are anglo-saxon. Ancient Houses are mostly norman, but in any case younger, and simple purebloods are younger still. Make up requirements as you like. Personally, I won’t use a hard-and-fast rule; if you manage to convince enough people in the Wizengamot to recognise a higher status, you get that status.


    Sources

    There is a really rich extended Canon to use, and I did use that, so you will find names from the movies or chocolate frog cards here. Below is the list of sources I’ve used; they are colour-coded in the spreadsheet, so you will see where each name comes from. If they appear in two sources, the highest is listed, and if there are conflicts, the highest is used to decide. As such, here is my ranking:

    1. People who are called “pureblood” throughout (book-) Canon. In particular, in extension:

    2. The Sacred 28. Obviously, all families on this list are purebloods, in the strict sense.

    3. The extended, movie Black Family Tree. Rowling provided that information, and the Blacks only marry purebloods in the strict sense, or they get blasted off.

    4. The Original 40 classlist, on which strict blood status is marked (as far as it could be read)

    5. Names of important Death Eaters. Given their ideology, it is highly likely they are purebloods in the strict sense.

      In my eyes, those are perfect or very reasonable assumptions for strict purebloods. Now purebloods in the less strict sense, or more uncertain inference:

    6. Non-book declarations, in as far as they don’t contradict book sources

    7. Notable historical figures, mostly from the Chocolate Frog cards Rowling wrote. As mentioned above, if a name appears in 1700something, and again today, e.g. at Hogwarts, then by my definition, this family is pureblooded. Also, we are granted the only actual Lord in Canon: Lord Stoddard Withers, breeder of flying horses.

    8. Historical Headmasters, Wizengamot elders, Ministers and high-ranking Ministry officials, especially those we see in the Voldemort Ministry (say, Thicknesse). Given the bias of the wizarding world, they are likely purebloods in the strict sense (there was only one Muggleborn Minister to date), and again we can add contextual information. So if Cormac McLaggen and his dad go hunting with Higgs and Scrimgeour, then this is the definition of the Old Boy’s Club, and with Scrimgeour being a Minister and a Higgs appearing in Slytherin, a reasonable (if impossible-to-prove) guess is all three are purebloods. Another good tell is implementing pureblood policies.

    9. Students in Slytherin. In as far as they weren’t already used as contextual information, there is a better-than-50%-chance we get a pureblood, not a halfblood. No Muggleborns are in Slytherin.

    10. Some other random sources and making guesses based on hints. E.g. shop owners in Knockturn, people expressing conservative opinions throughout Canon, people mentioned favourably by DE or sympathisers.

    11. Making shit up about people, because I like it.

    12. Making even the names and families up, because I needed them for regional distribution.


    Those are canon-based information. In the further columns, I added my personal ranking as Most Ancient, Ancient, Pureblood and/or Noble. Some of the former is obvious. Some could go either way. For some, I simply decided they aren’t ancient (e.g. Bobbin from Bobbin’s Apothecary I wanted to be wealthy business-owners with a Seat, not an Ancient House). If you want to use that, and be certain, you’ll have to research it yourself. The same is true for the geographics. Some are very obvious (say, Longbottom or the Scottish Macs), others are my best-guess decision. Generally, I tried to a) get a decent regional spread, but b) clumps in places we know have wizarding settlements; the latter was the reason for inventing two more Cornish families, because Tinworth only had the Carrows.

    And obviously, which of those you ennoble and give an actual Wizengamot Seat is entirely arbitrary. You can always invent a reason why any given family has or hasn’t got a seat. Say, “Crabbe is an Ancient House, but they became poor, so they got kicked out”.

    Some general ideas to keep in mind here: You want to avoid making everyone in Harry’s year important (i.e., noble). If 80-100 families are noble, and there are 90 students/year, then using statistics, you can expect there to be ~50 noble children (half of which are heirs) at Hogwarts at any time, i.e. 7/year (see the preface). So even if you say Harry’s year is special (say, noble families had more children during the war, in order to protect their legacy), it probably shouldn’t exceed twice the average, that is, 14. As you will quickly realise when putting the list together, you get there fast.

    For my story, I used the Canon students of Abbot, Macmillan, Smith; Bulstrode, Greengrass, Malfoy, Nott, Parkinson, Potter; Longbottom; MacDougal and Perks. I’ll probably add one or two more made-up families.

    With that said, here’s now the list of exactly 157 names (and below that, because I was already looking up shit anyway, the Slytherin Quidditch team throughout Harry’s years).
     

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  2. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    upload_2020-10-7_4-50-32.png

    Fig.1: Complete list of purebloods.
     
  3. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    upload_2020-10-7_4-51-21.png

    Fig.2: The Slytherin Quidditch Team.
     
  4. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    The thread is strictly not intended for discussions about any tangentially related HP topics, and I am going to delete or move posts at my discretion -- it's a writing resource -- but if there are questions or remarks about the list or the methods, feel free to comment.
     
  5. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I notice the inclusion of merchant class "newcomers" like Bobbin and Alderton. I do like their inclusion, which reflects how the Muggle Parliament over time was diluted by the addition of new money who had made their riches in India before returning to Britain to splash the cash and buy a political career.

    However, I'm curious as to how you envisage the mechanism of this occurring in the Wizengamot. In real life, the way it happened was that they would simply buy a rotten borough - a Parliamentary constituency small enough that you could guarantee your own victory in the election, such as the constituency of Old Sarum, whose population of 7 elected 2 MPs.

    But membership of your Wizengamot appears to be purely aristocratic/passed on by inheritance. How, in this configuration, do you envisage members of the merchant class buying themselves seats? Marriage to a heiress?

    It would be terribly amusing if the reason everyone found Daphne an object of desire was not because she was stunningly beautiful but instead because whoever marries her basically elevates their family to the highest status when their child inherits the Greengrass seat.
     
  6. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    So this is more a loose guideline that can be fitted to whatever you need for the story, which is why some details are lacking.
    That would be one way, I guess. On the other hand, you could also say that in that case, they'd have to take up the Greengrass name, or lose the seat, so that wouldn't get you new families into the Wizengamot.


    My own plans were that the Wizengamot itself could vote for ennoblement of a family. You'd need a quorum and a sponsor, and if you managed to convince enough people, you are newly fitted with a Wizengamot seat. That would be how any of the families not around at the inception entered the Wizengamot, and naturally, it doesn't happen very often. In here, the Aldertons (in the broomstick business), Bobbin (apothecary) and Gambol (various retail business) have one, and the Tugwoods (beauty potions imperium, the youngest scions will be purebloods*) want one. I think that's just about it for this century.

    But this also touches on what I meant with causality; do you have a seat because you are noble, or are you noble because you have a seat? Since I didn't go the full wizarding aristoracy trope and it's more a honorific (as is calling them Lords and Ladies), in my case it goes hand-in-hand and doesn't mean much more than having a seat and being recognised as vaguely important. Therefore, the threshold to enter the Wizengamot is a bit lower than it otherwise would be.


    *Re: purebloods, as I noted there are conflicting definitions around, and I definitely view that as a feature in writing a story, much like @Taure -- people can't agree on what a "pureblood" is -- but the one I added was 'being a seventh generation', i.e. tracing back your family (name) in the wizarding world for six generations. And that is the case with the Tugwoods, and the would-be dowager Lady Tugwood, Sacharissa, hired tutors for her great-great-granddaughters, as they will enter the world as purebloods -- of the proper sort.
     
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