Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Bathilda Bagshot
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
Role in the Books
One of the books that Harry must purchase in Diagon Alley is A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot.
The book A History of Magic is mentioned early in the book as Harry has to do homework over the summer and is using this book as reference. Note that some editions of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban mistakenly list this book as being written by Adalbert Waffling.
At Fleur and Bill's wedding, Harry speaks with Elphias Doge and Ron's Auntie Muriel. There, he learns that the source used by Rita Skeeter for her scurrilous book about Albus Dumbledore was most likely Bathilda Bagshot, who is apparently living in Godric's Hollow, where Harry's parents had lived, and to Harry's surprise, where the Dumbledore family had lived. This cements Harry's intention to go to Godric's Hollow.
It is mentioned that Bathilda at the time was very nearly senile, and that Rita Skeeter had used Veritaserum to get the recollections of Dumbledore's early life from her.
On arriving at Godric's Hollow near Christmas of that year, Harry and Hermione are surprised to find that a resident of the village can apparently perceive them, despite their being under the Invisibility Cloak. The resident responds positively when asked if she is Bathilda Bagshot; she takes them to her house, which is an absolute mess, and Harry notes a strange odor, as of rotten meat. Taking Harry upstairs, Bathilda collapses and a large snake, Nagini, leaves her body and starts attacking Harry. Hermione comes to the rescue, and the two of them Disapparate under Voldemort's nose.
Later, Harry hears that Bathilda has been found dead, and Dark magic involvement is suspected.
Bathilda wrote the definitive textbook on the History of Magic, so clearly her understanding of history must have been exceptionally good. Whether she had access to special magic to aid her historical research is unknown, as we never see any such, but it seems somehow likely.
By the time we first hear of her, Bathilda is extremely old, and we can expect that apart from the senility that Rita Skeeter mentions, other age-related weakness will have eliminated almost all of her strength, magical and otherwise.
Relationships with Other Characters
In the letter which Lily Potter writes to Sirius Black, and which Harry sees in Grimmauld Place when he searches Sirius' room, Lily mentions that Bathilda seems friendly. Rita Skeeter's book quotes Bathilda as saying that she had tried to be friends with the Dumbledore family but had been rebuffed. One gets the impression that Bathilda is an outgoing person, perhaps one who likes to be the center of a gossip circle.
We never meet Bathilda Bagshot in person; by the time we actually see her, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she is apparently a dead body, animated sketchily either by the presence of Nagini within her, or by the same magic that creates and preserves Inferi. Harry detects the odor of spoiled meat in her house, and we come to understand that this is Bathilda herself. There is no indication of how long she has been dead, but it is likely that it has been some time, as it seems that her author's copy of Rita Skeeter's book, presumably sent in August or September, has not been touched. It is possible that Voldemort had set this trap as long as some five months before. We see that Nagini is with him in the first chapter of the book, which occurs in late July. This suggests that Bathilda had died sometime after July, and quite possibly at Voldemort's hand, after which Nagini would have been living within her remains. While the fact that Bathilda's copy of Skeeter's book had been set on the mantel, rather than being left sitting on the doormat, this does not really give us any certainty as to the time of her death. The book having been set on the mantel argues that it was placed there by Bathilda, and then forgotten, putting her death after the August or September release date. It is also possible that Nagini might have moved the book in order to remain inconspicuous, though it seems unlikely that Nagini would have carefully placed it on the mantel, instead just pushing it into an inconspicuous corner. And of course, it is possible that the delivery owl, not finding Bathilda at home, might have dropped the book on the mantel; we have seen, as early as the first book, that delivery owls will enter structures to make deliveries. It is perhaps suggestive, though certainly inconclusive, that we do not see Nagini after the first chapter, until Harry triggers the trap late Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning.
- The author has said that Albus Dumbledore was born in 1881, and apparently died in 1997 at age 115 or 116. Remembering that Bathilda Bagshot was already mature enough to be host for Gellert Grindelwald when he and Dumbledore were about 17, how old must Bathilda have been at her death in 1997?
- Bathilda shouts "Come!" during Deathly Hallows, which both Harry and Hermione seem to be able to understand. Is this Dark magic animating her speech, or Nagini speaking Parseltongue?