Death Eaters (originally the Knights of Walpurgis) was the name given to Lord Voldemort's followers. The group primarily consisted of wizards and witches who were pure blood supremacists, who practised the Dark Arts without regard or fear of Wizarding law. Lord Voldemort used this select group of wizards and witches during both the First and Second Wizarding Wars, employing them as his elite force. They often wore black hoods with snake-like eye slits to cover their faces. Only the members of the inner circle of the Death Eaters had Dark Marks burned into their left forearms. When Voldemort touched one of them, each of the Death Eaters felt it, signaling for them to Apparate to their leader's side.By 1970, the Knights of Walpurgis (later renamed the "Death Eaters") were an organisation formed from people Tom Marvolo Riddle, who became Lord Voldemort, knew from his time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as their relations. Nearly all of those recruited were from Slytherin House as students. Actively recruiting an army of Dark Wizards and creatures, with the belief that his hidden Horcruxes granted him immortality, Voldemort and his followers planned to overthrow the Ministry of Magic and rule their way.
Death Eater activity during the First Wizarding War consisted of attacks on wizards and witches, and large numbers of Muggles. These were initiated by the Death Eaters often, but not always, on the orders of Voldemort. When the Ministry did not suffer an ostensible collapse in the eleven years of Voldemort's reign, the Death Eaters began to attack prominent wizarding families. As a result, fear gripped the wider wizard community, but the Death Eaters remained opposed by the Order of the Phoenix, founded by Albus Dumbledore.
At the height of the war, Severus Snape reported to Lord Voldemort the part of the prophecy he had heard while listening in on a conversation between Dumbledore and Sybill Trelawney which predicted that either Harry Potter, the son of Order members James and Lily Potter, or Neville Longbottom, son of Order members Alice and Frank Longbottom, would be the one to destroy Voldemort. Voldemort attacked the Potters personally, seeing them as a greater danger to him. He chose Harry over Neville because Harry was a half-blood, like himself. Despite being under the protection of the Fidelius Charm, Voldemort was able to get into their home because James entrusted his old friend Peter Pettigrew as Secret-Keeper, and Pettigrew subsequently betrayed the secret to Voldemort.
Snape failed to overhear the entire prophecy, including the announcement that Voldemort himself would mark his own equal. Although Voldemort killed James and, despite Snape's pleas that she be spared, Lily, the Killing Curse rebounded off Harry and hit Voldemort, destroying his living body. However, due to his extensive performance of Dark magic, Voldemort's soul survived and escaped.
With their leader's disappearance, the Death Eaters largely fell into chaos. Many were rounded up and imprisoned without trial, as part of the hard line taken by Ministry official Barty Crouch Sr. Sirius Black, whom Pettigrew framed for his crimes, was among those imprisoned in Azkaban without a trial. Soon afterward, Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange, and Barty Crouch Jr., tortured the Longbottoms into insanity while trying to procure information about Voldemort's whereabouts. They were captured and sentenced to Azkaban, but Bellatrix proudly proclaimed that the Dark Lord would rise again.
Some Death Eaters managed to elude justice by claiming the Imperius Curse had been used on them, such as Lucius Malfoy, or by turning in other Death Eaters, as Igor Karkaroff did. Most followers hid their allegiance to Voldemort and therefore did not try to find him, although a handful of Death Eaters, such as the Lestranges and Barty Crouch Jr., remained fiercely loyal to their fallen master and sought him out. They were supposedly rewarded by Voldemort for their loyalty. Some, such as Evan Rosier, chose to resist arrest and fought to the death.
Outbreaks of Death Eater activity did occur, although rarely and sporadically, during the thirteen years of Voldemort's absence. Perhaps the most notable event was the riots at the four hundred and twenty-second Quidditch World Cup in 1994, during which a group of Death Eaters attacked the camp of wizards and witches as well as a nearby Muggle family. The Death Eaters seemed to consider torturing and humiliating Muggles a form of entertainment.
The Outbreak of the Second Wizarding WarEditEdit
On 24 June 1995, Lord Voldemort finally returned to a physical body through a Dark potion created by Peter Pettigrew. The body was human-shaped, though hairless and with many serpentine features such as slits for nostrils.
Moments after Lord Voldemort had finally regained his body, he summoned his followers to him by touching Peter Pettigrew's Dark Mark. Some proved too afraid to return to him, such as defector Igor Karkaroff, while others who were dead or imprisoned remained absent. Severus Snape did not return on the guise that he had to appear more loyal to Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix; Snape returned two hours later. Despite several absences, there were several who returned the call, including Lucius Malfoy, Nott, Crabbe, and Goyle, who had sons at Hogwarts School.
Harry Potter was present for Voldemort's return to power, and even duelled him in a spectacular display of Priori Incantatem, revealing that the cores of Voldemort's and Harry's wands were related. Harry managed to escape and tell Headmaster Albus Dumbledore of Voldemort's return.
Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, and most of the Ministry of Magic originally refused to believe that Lord Voldemort had returned. Though Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore served as dissenting voices, the majority of the public chose to believe in the Ministry, as well as its wider propaganda and smear campaign against Potter and Dumbledore, printed in news outlets such as the Daily Prophet.
Armed with the advantage of the Ministry's denial, the Death Eaters kept a low profile in order to maintain their standing in the wizarding world. Due in part to the Ministry's refusal to remove the Dementors from Azkaban, a proposition Dumbledore supported immediately following Voldemort's return, the Death Eaters informally recruited the Dementors to the cause. Similar progress was made with giants. The quiet revolt of the Dementors fostered a mass breakout of imprisoned Death Eaters from Azkaban in early 1996.
In early summer of 1996, Voldemort sent a group of twelve Death Eaters, led by Lucius Malfoy, into the Department of Mysteries in order to steal the prophecy concerning himself and Harry Potter. Having originally attacked Harry Potter based upon a partial recounting of it, Voldemort now desired to hear the full version in order to understand entirely the nature of the connection between himself and Potter. Harry was lured there, along with five other members of Dumbledore's Army, when Voldemort used their connection to give Harry a vision of his godfather being tortured.
However, Harry and his friends managed to elude the Death Eaters and the prophecy was eventually destroyed. A battle ensued between the Death Eaters and several members of the Order of the Phoenix. Eleven of the twelve Death Eaters were captured and Sirius Black was killed; Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange fled, but not before Ministry officials witnessed the returned Dark Lord.
The raid was a failure for the Death Eaters because their reactivation was no longer a secret and several members were deported to Azkaban, and the return of Voldemort was proved to the skeptical Ministry. Revealed at last to the wizarding community, the Death Eaters proceeded to resume their earlier lifestyle and behaviour. Kidnapping, torturing, and assassinations of wizards and witches, and Muggles began anew as the Second War began.
During the Second Wizarding War, Voldemort plotted to be rid of Albus Dumbledore. At the close of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry year in June 1997, Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter obtained a locket that they believed to be one of the Horcruxes of Voldemort from a cave filled with Inferi. They apparated to Hogsmeade and through the assistance of Madam Rosmerta, they saw a Dark Mark hanging in the sky above Hogwarts Castle. Dumbledore and Potter borrowed broomsticks and flew to Hogwarts' highest tower in the castle, the Astronomy Tower.
Dumbledore encountered Draco Malfoy and froze Harry who was hidden under the Invisibility Cloak. Draco revealed how he successfully used a Vanishing Cabinet to help the Death Eaters to enter at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and according to him, one of Dumbledore's allies is dead (it was revealed later that Bill Weasley is the one Draco is alluding to, but Bill was not really dead, just bitten by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback). Dumbledore then informed Malfoy that he already knew about the assassination plot, the cursed necklace and the poison intended to kill him. He also delayed Draco in his plans to murder him, until Severus Snape and four other Death Eaters arrived at the scene. Severus Snape successfully cast the Killing Curse on Dumbledore in front of the four Death Eaters, Fenrir Greyback, Draco, and Harry who was still unnoticed and hidden. After Dumbledore's death, the Death Eaters retreated on Snape's orders. Harry Potter, free from Dumbledore's Full Body-Bind Curse, quickly chased after the Death Eaters and cast several unsuccessful spells at Snape when they reached the grounds. A fellow Dark Wizard and Follower of the Dark Lord named Thorfinn Rowle set fire to Rubeus Hagrid's hut, and the Death Eaters Disapparated when they reached the gate.
Among the Death Eaters present were siblings Alecto and Amycus Carrow, Yaxley, Thorfinn Rowle, Gibbon, Fenrir Greyback, and Bellatrix Lestrange. Draco Malfoy became a Death Eater and was branded with the Dark Mark in 1996. Bill Weasley was attacked by Fenrir Greyback and received scars on his face, but because Greyback was not fully transformed at the time of the attack, Bill sustained minimal lycanthropic symptoms. On the Death Eaters' side, the only death was that of Gibbon, killed by a stray Killing Curse from Thorfinn Rowle.
Voldemort began to understand more about his failures in killing Harry Potter, and with his Death Eaters, planned several courses of action. One was the overthrowing of the Ministry of Magic. Another was capturing Harry Potter and killing him. While Voldemort went on his own personal quests and stayed out of sight of the wizarding community's eye, he worked through others, including Yaxley at the Ministry, and Severus Snape and the Carrows at Hogwarts.
The meeting place for the Death Eaters was the Malfoy Manor. At this place, the Death Eaters would make reports and the Dark Lord would give them orders. On one occasion, Voldemort took reports on goings on at the Ministry of Magic by Yaxley, though was more impressed with reports by Snape regarding the Order of the Phoenix's plans to move Harry Potter. Voldemort also ridiculed Bellatrix Lestrange and the Malfoys for the marriage of Remus Lupin, a known werewolf, to Nymphadora Tonks, a relative of theirs. At this meeting, Charity Burbage, a professor of Muggle Studies at Hogwarts, was murdered by Voldemort and then fed to Nagini. Voldemort also took Lucius Malfoy's wand to fight against Harry Potter, believing his own to be inferior to Harry's.
Still opposed by the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army, who knew it was not safe to trust the Ministry of Magic, Voldemort knew through Snape that Harry Potter would be moved from the house of his aunt and uncle a few days before his seventeenth birthday, which is when spells protecting him would have broken. The exact details of this move were unknown to the Death Eaters at large, though Snape manipulated Mundungus Fletcher with magic and knew the plans, only telling the Dark Lord enough to display loyalty.
As a congregation of members of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army including Alastor Moody, Arthur Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Rubeus Hagrid, Bill Weasley, Fleur Delacour, Fred and George Weasley, Mundungus Fletcher, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, along with Harry Potter himself, left the home of the Dursleys, the Death Eaters attacked immediately. They could not tell right away which pair included the real Harry Potter, because six of the congregation had used Polyjuice Potion. It was assumed that Harry would be with the strongest members, so Moody and Shacklebolt were attacked most fervently at first.
During the ensuing battle, Snape used Sectumsempra to attack the Death Eater in front of him, but missed and slashed the ear off George Weasley. Bellatrix Lestrange tried very hard to kill Tonks, but she did not succeed in while Tonks herself injured Rodolphus Lestrange. Alastor Moody was killed by Voldemort himself. However, numerous Death Eaters were injured, and one was supposedly killed.
When Harry Potter used Expelliarmus, which they had come to consider Potter's trademark spell, against Stan Shunpike, who was under the Imperius Curse, they knew the real Harry to be with Hagrid. Voldemort himself was present, flying without the aid of a broomstick, and led the charge against Harry. Despite their attempts to capture the boy, they were thwarted by Harry's spellwork, Hagrid's selfless courage, and finally, when Harry crossed into a protective spell over the home of Ted Tonks. Lucius' wand was snapped by a spell cast by Harry's wand, infuriating Voldemort even more.
On 1 August, 1997, the Ministry of Magic was overthrown and Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour was killed by Death Eaters. Pius Thicknesse was installed in his place, controlled by the Imperius Curse placed on him by Yaxley and effectively Voldemort's puppet, and several Death Eaters became employees of the Ministry. The Death Eaters used the Ministry's resources to eliminate the Order of the Phoenix's defences, attacking the Burrow and other homes of Order members, as well as some of their allies, such as Ted and Andromeda Tonks. While no one was killed, many were hurt under questioning about the whereabouts of Harry Potter, and all were subsequently put under surveillance.
Under the control of the Death Eaters, the Ministry created the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, an instrument of humiliation and persecution against Muggle-borns, who were falsely accused of having "stolen" magic and imprisoned in Azkaban for it. Propaganda against Muggle-borns and Harry Potter was spread; Harry was considered "Undesirable Number One" and there was a 10,000 Galleon reward for his capture. The Taboo curse was also placed upon Voldemort's name as a method of locating anybody who was brave enough to say the name Voldemort.
Attendance at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry became mandatory during the 1997–1998 school year, as Voldemort wanted all the population under his control, as well as a way to weed out Muggle-borns. Students were required to prove blood status, and any caught Muggle-born children were sent to the Muggle-Born Registration Commission and then to Azkaban.
Severus Snape was appointed Headmaster, though he faced fierce opposition from Minerva McGonagall and other professors, as well as the remaining members of Dumbledore's Army, including Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley. They encouraged rebellion, saved students from detention, and eventually stopped attending classes and took up residence in the Room of Requirement.
The Carrows were also there at the school, with Amycus Carrow teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, though in reality he taught the Dark Arts. Any favoured students such as Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle who were encouraged to practice the Cruciatus Curse on rule-breakers. His sister, Alecto, took over the now mandatory Muggle Studies, though the course became a brainwashing of the superiority of wizardkind over Muggles.
During Harry Potter's time hidden from the Death Eaters, he accidentally said Voldemort's name and thus triggered the Taboo placed upon the name. He, Ron and Hermione were captured by a group of Snatchers led by Fenrir Greyback and brought to Malfoy Manor, where they were confronted by Bellatrix Lestrange and the Malfoys. Before either Lucius or Bellatrix could summon the Dark Lord, Bellatrix spotted Godric Gryffindor's Sword among the trio's possessions and interrogated Hermione using the Cruciatus Curse to find out where they got the item. She lied, claiming it was only a copy, a story Harry convinced the goblin Griphook to support. In the meantime, Dobby the house-elf came and rescued Harry, Ron, Ollivander, Luna Lovegood, and Dean Thomas from the basement. He, Harry and Ron saved Hermione and Griphook and took various wands from the house's occupants before fleeing; Dobby was killed by Bellatrix in the process.
As punishment for summoning him without successfully holding Potter, Voldemort punished all present and forbade them to leave the manor.
Unknown to Voldemort or his Death Eaters, Harry, along with Ron and Hermione, was out seeking the Horcruxes of Voldemort. Regulus Black had already removed Salazar Slytherin's Locket from its hiding place, though he had been unable to destroy it. Albus Dumbledore destroyed Marvolo Gaunt's Ring with Godric Gryffindor's Sword and Tom Riddle's Diary had been destroyed by Harry in his second year with a basilisk fang. Thanks to Snape's help through his doe Patronus, Ron Weasley was able to find the sword of Gryffindor and destroy the locket horcrux.
Harry Potter concluded from Bellatrix's behaviour at Malfoy Manor that a horcrux was in her safe at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. With the help of Griphook, Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered the bank and took Helga Hufflepuff's Cup, escaping on a dragon. The Cup was later destroyed by Hermione Granger using a basilisk fang when she and Ron entered the Chamber of Secrets.
Though the three companions were successful, Voldemort learned from hearing about Harry's venture into the bank that they were seeking his horcruxes. In panic, he went to the places the horcruxes were hidden, leaving Hogwarts last, but in the process revealing to Harry Potter that Hogwarts was indeed the last place to go.
Voldemort, along with his Death Eaters and other allies, attacked Hogwarts and those defending it in May 1998. During this battle, Harry, Hermione and Ron managed to find the final horcrux, Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem, in the Room of Requirement. It was accidentally destroyed by Vincent Crabbe's out of control fiendfyre curse. In the meantime, Death Eaters and their allies were storming the castle; Fred Weasley died in an explosion caused by Augustus Rookwood, and Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks were killed in duels with Antonin Dolohov and Bellatrix Lestrange, respectively. Voldemort had Nagini kill Severus Snape, believing it would make him the true master of the Elder Wand, and then issued an ultimatum to the other side: Harry turns himself over within an hour, or everyone in Hogwarts would be killed.
It was then revealed to Harry that he himself had accidentally been turned into a horcrux. He willingly took a Killing Curse from Lord Voldemort in order to destroy it, but because his mother's sacrifice lived on in his blood, the blood Voldemort took in himself in order to regain a body, Harry was not killed. An army of reinforcements stormed the castle and the Death Eaters were defeated until only Bellatrix Lestrange (killed by Molly Weasley) and Voldemort himself were left. Because he was the true master of the Elder Wand, Harry won the final duel, killing Voldemort once and for all.
After the battle was lost by the Death Eaters, many of those who survived were arrested, while others went into hiding. After Voldemort's death, the Dark Marks on the Death Eaters' forearms faded into scars.