Who Is Godric: A Brief History of House Gryffindor


In our new series, we look at some of the legends of the wizarding world and how they shaped history. In our first installment, we focus on Godric Gryffindor.

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The history of the first century of the common era is one that is riddled with holes and gaps in the narrative, but as far as Wizardkind goes, it was a time when magic was still practiced openly. Places like Diagon Alley did not yet exist, though the shops that would come to define it, like The Diagon Dispensary and Ollivander’s Wandmakers, were both established in the very early part of the period. But like most of our history, it wasn’t until the late part of the period, in the mid 900s and into the 11th century, that the wizarding world as it is known today began to take shape.

One of the major events of the time was the coming together of the four greatest wizards and witches of the age: Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Godric Gryffindor. Together, they founded the school known as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, located in the Scottish Highlands, and considered one of the premiere schools of magic today. In this installment, we will discuss the one of them who stood for bravery, courage and determination: Godric Gryffindor.

The symbol of House Gryffindor is a lion, and that’s not an accident. Gryffindor himself has been described as looking a bit like a lion himself, with a large mane of red hair. (Yes, Gryffindor was a ginger.) He was big man, muscular, and considered one of the best duelists of his day. The moor upon which he was born was later converted into a town, named Godric’s Hollow after him. Though some believe that all four founders were pure-blooded, there is no evidence that confirms or denies this about Gryffindor. The rumor that he was descended from the Peverells and therefore an ancestor of Harry Potter himself has been disproved, even though both hail from Godric’s Hollow.

The rumor that he was descended from the Peverells and therefore an ancestor of Harry Potter himself has been disproved.

Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded somewhere around the 990s. Some suggest it was around or just before 993. The school is state-sponsored, and the Ministry takes care of all of its financial needs. House Gryffindor is one of the four houses within the school. Each house is named for a founder, and students are sorted into them based on what values its founder prized in pupils. This is true even today, as Gryffindor transfigured his own hat into an intelligent creature that was imbued with the combined intelligence of all four founders. Now known as the “Sorting Hat,” it sorts students into the four houses to this day.

Though the hat technically holds the intelligence of all four founders, it is, in the end, Godric’s hat. That’s why the relic known as “the Sword of Gryffindor” resides inside it, ready to be drawn out by “a true Gryffindor in need.” Note the wording of that: “a true Gryffindor,” which means that any student of the house who is pure of heart and brave can draw out the sword and wield it. This is very different than some other houses, where relics are for “the true born heir” instead of anyone, Muggle-born or otherwise, who has the right sort of heart.

That inclusive sort of thinking was part of Gryffindor’s legacy. Though the creation of a school of Witchcraft and Wizardry was partly in response to the growing need seen by Wizardkind to remove themselves from Muggle society, Gryffindor was very pro-Muggle himself, and believed that any Muggle-born with magical ability should be able to attend Hogwarts. Many famous Gryffindors from over the centuries were Muggle-born, one of the latest being Hermione Granger, the greatest witch of her age.

Gryffindor was a man beloved in his time, and still so today, where many still consider him a prime example of what every wizard and witch should aspire to be. His defending of Muggles, especially during this time when Wizardkind was beginning to consider puling away from the non-magical world, was very influential. Though his name was removed from the memories of Muggles, during his own time, he was a figure as beloved by them as he was by wizarding society.

Notable members of the House include award-winning authors like Selina Sapworthy and J.K. Rowling.

House Gryffindor has produced many notable graduates during the ten centuries since the school’s founding. Sir Cadogan, for example, a knight of King Arthur’s Roundtable, is one of the earliest famous graduates of Gryffindor House. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, who was a wizard to the royal court during the War of the Roses, is another. Sadly he (nearly) lost his head during this cataclysmic time, and returned to Hogwarts as the Gryffindor “House Ghost.”

Other notable members of the House include award-winning authors like Selina Sapworthy and J.K. Rowling, as well as singing sensation Madam Celestina Warbeck. In more modern times, the House has graduated Albus Dumbledore, who was highly regarded as the most powerful wizard of his generation, followed by the aforementioned Hermione Granger. And of course, The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, is a member of this house.

Next: Harry Potter and the Order of Archetypes Ron Weasley the Sidekick

Have you been sorted into Gryffindor? Have strong feelings about it as a house? Is Godric Gryffindor lauded as he should be, or does history tend to overrate him? Sound off in the comments!