Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/Death Eaters

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event
Death Eaters
Location Throughout the series
Time Period Throughout the series; first named in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Important Characters Numerous, see Event Description

Overview[edit]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Lord Voldemort's followers are called Death Eaters. Given Voldemort's fascination with death and immortality, it is likely that he chose this name, rather than it being one they created for themselves. They were apparently calling themselves this by the time they and Voldemort, who was still known as Tom Riddle, graduated from Hogwarts.

Event Details[edit]

We first hear the term Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Harry asks what the meaning is of the Dark Mark floating in the sky, and Hermione and the Weasleys explain that it is the mark of Voldemort, used by the Death Eaters to show places where they have been and have worked their evil.

The term is then used frequently through the rest of that book, for instance when Sirius Black tells Harry, Hermione, and Ron that Karkaroff was a Death Eater, or that Snape had been suspected but never brought to trial. The book ends with the duel in the cemetery, which starts with Voldemort summoning his Death Eaters to announce his return.

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, there is a mass escape of Death Eaters from Azkaban prison after the prison guards, the Dementors, defect and join Voldemort. Harry perceives the actions of some of these Death Eaters by way of the connection between his mind and Voldemort's, but it is only at the end of the story that we see what the Death Eaters are up to, when Harry and his friends are trapped in the Department of Mysteries by twelve Death Eaters.

As Voldemort's return is now accepted by the Ministry, the actions of the Death Eaters become somewhat more open. However, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we do not see much of them, though we see that the Ministry is actively promoting possibly-useful defensive tactics, and some characters, notably Horace Slughorn, have gone into hiding for their own protection. Protection at Hogwarts is also heightened because of the threat. However, the only open activity by Death Eaters, apart from action by Draco Malfoy, who Harry alone suspects is a Death Eater, appears at the end of the story, in the Battle of the Lightning-Struck Tower. There, Death Eaters invade the school, and act to support Draco in his mission, which is apparently to kill Dumbledore. Eventually, when he fails in his mission, it is taken over by Severus Snape, who thus declares himself to be firmly on the side of the Dark Lord.

In the first few chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Ministry falls completely to Voldemort, and the activities of the Death Eaters move completely into the open.

Voldemort makes a very clear distinction between the full Death Eater and the collaborator. The members of the group who are allowed to call themselves Death Eaters are marked with a tattoo of the Dark Mark on their left forearm. Touching this mark allows the person touching it to send a message to all others bearing the mark, but in the process evidently pains all bearers of the mark. This is a form of the Protean Charm.

It is also well worth noting that there is a continual battle for status within the ranks of the Death Eaters. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we see Voldemort assigning places for his Death Eaters to sit. Pride of place is accorded to Snape, who is seated at Voldemort's right hand. The Malfoy family, in disgrace for having failed multiple times, is seated at the foot of the table.

Known Death Eaters include:

  • Avery, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, he was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Regulus Black, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power. He apparently decided that Voldemort's ideas were too evil for him, and tried to leave the group. Rumour is that Voldemort killed him personally.
  • Alecto Carrow, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, she was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Amycus Carrow, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, he was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Crabbe, Sr., a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was apparently tried but not convicted, and returned to Voldemort's service at his return
  • Barty Crouch Jr. may not have been formally a Death Eater, but did take part in an attempt to find where Voldemort had gone after his first rise to power. He was sentenced to Azkaban, escaped, and subsequently was instrumental in allowing Voldemort to return
  • Antonin Dolohov, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Gibbon, a Death eater in Voldemort's second rise to power, died in the Battle of the Lightning-Struck Tower.
  • Goyle, Sr., a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was apparently tried but not convicted, and returned to Voldemort's service at his return
  • Fenrir Greyback, though not one of the true Death Eaters (distinguished by the tattoo of the Dark Mark on the left forearm), was all the same a member of Voldemort's forces, though apparently working for loot rather than "glory". He does claim to be a Death Eater at one point, but not in front of Voldemort or any of the true Death Eaters.
  • Jugson, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Igor Karkaroff, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but had his sentence commuted when he revealed the names of other Death Eaters then unknown to the Ministry.
  • Bellatrix Lestrange, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Rabastan Lestrange, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, and may have died in prison.
  • Rodolphus Lestrange, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Walden Macnair, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was apparently tried but not convicted, and returned to Voldemort's service at his return
  • Draco Malfoy, apparently made a Death Eater in Voldemort's second rise to power.
  • Lucius Malfoy, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was apparently tried but not convicted, and returned to Voldemort's service at his return
  • Narcissa Malfoy, possibly a tattooed Death Eater, but definitely in the group because her husband and son were part of it. It is unknown whether she had been part of the Death Eaters organization in Voldemort's first rise to power.
  • Mulciber, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, and apparently died there.
  • Nott, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Peter Pettigrew, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, he was involved in the death of James and Lily Potter, and the imprisonment of Sirius Black. Going into hiding, he was later instrumental in the return of Voldemort to power.
  • Augustus Rookwood, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, but escaped when the Dementors left the prison.
  • Evan Rosier, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, his fate is not mentioned in the books.
  • Thorfinn Rowle, a Death Eater in Voldemort's second rise to power, his previous history is unknown
  • Selwyn, a Death Eater in Voldemort's second rise to power, his previous history is unknown
  • Stan Shunpike, not actually a Death Eater, but boasts in a pub of being close enough to the Dark Lord to know some of his secrets in the early days of Voldemort's second rise to power. Sentenced to Azkaban, and later escapes. When we see him, he is working with the Death Eaters under the effects of the Imperius curse.
  • Severus Snape, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, was either tried and released, or did not come to trial, based on Dumbledore's testimony that he had turned in place and was now working against Voldemort. His loyalties remain uncertain throughout much of Voldemort's second rise to power.
  • Pius Thicknesse, not actually a Death Eater, but working for the Death Eaters under the effects of the Imperius curse.
  • Travers, a Death Eater in Voldemort's second rise to power, his previous history is unknown
  • Wilkes, a Death Eater in Voldemort's first rise to power, killed by Aurors before Voldemort fell
  • Yaxley, a Death Eater in Voldemort's second rise to power, his previous history is unknown

Notable Consequences[edit]

The reappearance of the Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after thirteen years of quiescence, causes a certain amount of panic at the Ministry and in the populace. This panic is fueled additionally by stories appearing in the Daily Prophet, written by Rita Skeeter. Rita is a popular muck-raking journalist, whose scurrilous stories are calculated to improve the circulation of the paper.

The ever-increasing presence of Death Eaters in the Wizarding world does cause an increase in tension, and an increase in the number of refugees, either leaving England or going into hiding within the country.

Analysis[edit]

There is some question as to exactly when the name "Death Eaters" first came into use. There is a suggestion that the name was in use before Tom Riddle had even left school; it is certain that he was already using the name "Lord Voldemort" at that time, as the diary Horcrux, created when Riddle was a sixth-year student, already uses that name for himself / itself. However, in Dumbledore's memory of Tom's request to become a teacher of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Dumbledore says that he is aware that Tom's followers are now calling themselves Death Eaters, which implies that the name is new at that time. We are told that this memory was recorded ten years after the death of Hepzibah Smith, which in turn occurred some time after Tom Riddle had graduated from Hogwarts.

The name of the group surely reflects Voldemort's obsession with, and fear of, death. The name that Voldemort has chosen for himself, based on the French "vol de mort", "flies or runs from death", is another indication of this obsessive fear. The name of his followers, the Death Eaters, seems cut from the same fabric. It is most likely that Voldemort has chosen this name for his followers himself. The same is likely true for the Order of the Phoenix, set up by Dumbledore, whose familiar is a Phoenix, to oppose Voldemort.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.