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Thread: Founders Era: Hogwarts, Sorting Hat, and Slytherin.

  1. #1
    SilverBadger
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    Founders Era: Hogwarts, Sorting Hat, and Slytherin.

    Hello. I’m trying to write a story about the Founders, but there are a few things I’d like to get other opinions on.

    My first question has to do with the actual founding of Hogwarts. How long would it have taken? Did the four friends just get together one day and decide they were going to start a school and then go right out and do it? Did they plan for it? Or was it more of a gradual idea that came on over time? This concerns me quite a bit because it plays into their ages – how old they would have been when the idea was formed, how long they worked on it, and how old they’d be by the time of my fanfiction.

    I kind of feel like it would have taken a while to found the school, because a castle the size of Hogwarts doesn’t just spring up overnight. Unless they used an already existing castle that had been abandoned, and just fixed it up a bit?

    My other question is about the Sorting Hat. When was it created? Any ideas? It’s song in Goblet of Fire says: While still alive they did divide/Their favorites from the throng/Yet how to pick the worthy ones/When they were dead and gone?/Twas Gryffindor who found the way/He whipped me off his head/The founders put some brains in me/So I could choose instead!

    Do you think they did that before any of them died, or after? And would it have been before or after Slytherin left the school?

    And, speaking of Slytherin, how much time do you think passed between the founding/opening of Hogwarts, and the time he left the school? According to the song in Order of the Phoenix:
    So Hogwarts worked in harmony/For several happy years/But then discord crept among us/Feeding on our faults and fears/The houses that, like pillars four/Had once held up our school/Now turned upon each other, and/Divided, sought to rule/And for a while it seemed the school/Must meet an early end/What with dueling and with fighting/And the clash of friend on friend/Then at last there came a morning/When old Slytherin departed/And though the fighting then died out/He left us quite downhearted.
    The only references to time here are “for several happy years” and then “for a while” before Slytherin left “at last.” We also know that Slytherin had something to do with the Chamber of Secrets, whether he built it himself or simply used a tunnel the others didn’t know about. What do you think? How long did it take Slytherin to become discontented enough with the other founders to leave the school?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Ascendio
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilverBadger View Post
    Do you think they did that before any of them died, or after? And would it have been before or after Slytherin left the school?
    I would think that they would have definitely done this before any of them died. It would make most sense to have each of the four founders as the heads of their respective houses. And definitely before Slytherin left, he wanted those with the purest of blood in his house, while Ravenclaw only wanted those whose intelligence is surest, etc etc etc, so the Sorting Hat would've been a way for each of them to get what they want. I don't think they'd be likely to give Slytherin a way to get what he wants after the schism, as they most likely didn't have as much faith in dear Salazar's decisions as they may have before. I would imagine they decided to use the hat maybe after the first year the school first was officially open for students. I think the first year, I suppose they must have had SOME way to divide the students, and then they would decide to use the Sorting Hat, to make it maybe more official, more uniform.

  3. #3
    Fifth Year Gryffindor
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    Interesting topic!

    I think they used an existing castle but used all sorts of charms to fix it up and enlarge it. I think it would have taken a few years at least as they had to find a castle, make in inhabitable, make sure muggles can't see it or get in, find a way to find all the magical children in the country and a way to get them there.
    I think the sorting hat was created not long after Hogwarts opened. I want to think that it was created when the tension started to build between the founders so maybe that's a possibility.
    As you said the sorting hat made it seem like the school had been open for quite along time before Slytherin left so I think it was possible for him to build the chamber from scratch that way the others had no way of knowing where it is.
    I love talking about the founders because we know so little about them so any other questions I will be happy to discuss
    Hope I've been of some help,
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  4. #4
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    I kind of feel like it would have taken a while to found the school, because a castle the size of Hogwarts doesn’t just spring up overnight. Unless they used an already existing castle that had been abandoned, and just fixed it up a bit?
    Let's see what I remember from my castle obsession of many years past...

    The problem is, there were no true castles in Scotland (or Britain for that matter) circa 1000 AD. Anti-Viking defenses typically consisted of a tall round tower that everyone ran to during a raid, with an elevated entrance only accesible via ladder, which could be pulled up. You'd sometimes also see manor houses with thick walls and a parapet on top, but they were basically just fortified houses.

    After the Norman Conquest, you start seeing motte and bailey castles springing up in England, but they were only simple earth mounds with a wooden palisade and a tower at the top, also usually of wood. Even as castles started to be made out of stone, it took time for them to evolve from a stone keep to a fully fledged castle with a keep, inner ward, outer ward, inner and outer curtain walls, gatehouses, and so forth. These mature castles only really become commonplace in the 13th century.

    So no, the Founders wouldn't happen to find an abandoned castle and touch it up. They would have to build something from the ground up. And given the architectural styles at the time, the school would look very different from what is described in the book - probably Romanesque with small windows and round arches, as opposed to the popular vision of big Gothic windows and pointed arches. It would also be much smaller, since you have to take into account how many students four witches and wizards can practically teach.

    The Hogwarts as described in canon and seen in the movies is most probably a later creation, and does not date from the original founders era.

    Tim the Enchanter

  5. #5
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    Beaten to the punch by Tim.

    All I'd add to what he said is that there was no UK in the founders era, either. In GoF the Sorting hat sings "One thousand years ago or more" so we're talking 994CE when England's King was Ethelred (the Unready). England is beset by vikings, Wales wouldn'r be united for another 60+ years and parts of Scotland and Ireland were Scandinavian provinces.

    Unfortunately, as Hogwarts is somewhere in northern Scotland, so you can't even look for a decent Roman fort.

    It's possible that the original Hogwarts was no more than a great hall, perhaps bits of it exist in the modern great hall. The Scandinavian longhouses, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic halls were surprisingly similar. I suggest you search for Regia Anglorum, they're a re-enactment group but they're well organised and they are about the right period for you.

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  6. #6
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    Originally posted by Tim the Enchanter
    The Hogwarts as described in canon and seen in the movies is most probably a later creation, and does not date from the original founders era.
    But the thing is, it would have to. The fact that an original, Founder-built room (the Chamber of Secrets) is linked to something so specific as the second-floor girls' bathroom without anyone noticing necessitates both of them being there since the original construction of the school. It's possible that only the Chamber, dungeons, Great Hall, and first two floors were built originally, but I doubt it. The Founders were rather grandiose (making a school for all wizards in the British Isles...) and they would want their school to be awe-inspiring. As concerns the matter of numbers, the Founders' vision was, again, grandiose; they imagined a school where hundreds or thousands of young witches and wizards could study.

    In every way, Hogwarts has been the exception rather than the rule. What other castle has moving staircases and a three-headed dog on the third floor? For this reason, I think it's reasonable to believe that the Founders were able to construct a Gothic-style castle several centuries before proper castles came into vogue, and even longer before the Gothic style. Just because the Gothic style didn't exist in medieval times doesn't mean that Rowena Ravenclaw couldn't make the windows the way she wanted. It's even possible that the style of Hogwarts inspired the Gothic style.


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  7. #7
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    In every way, Hogwarts has been the exception rather than the rule. What other castle has moving staircases and a three-headed dog on the third floor? For this reason, I think it's reasonable to believe that the Founders were able to construct a Gothic-style castle several centuries before proper castles came into vogue, and even longer before the Gothic style. Just because the Gothic style didn't exist in medieval times doesn't mean that Rowena Ravenclaw couldn't make the windows the way she wanted. It's even possible that the style of Hogwarts inspired the Gothic style.
    This.

    The castle question has been bothering me too and honestly this is what I finally decided on - that they're wizards, they can do things the Muggles aren't going to do quite yet. (Maybe wizards started out as "ahead of the times" and somewhere around the Statute of Secrecy or something they slowed down to the point that they started to get "behind the times"). It probably helps that they can build the castle with magic rather than slaving away for decades like Muggles did with stone cathedrals...and since they're hidden with magic they probably don't have to deal with wars and stuff so much.

    Also, I'm not sure where in the books Hogwarts is described as Gothic style. It's entirely probable that it's not at all Gothic in style, perhaps with some of the details Tim suggested, or perhaps with a style all the Founders' own.

    Random question, but how do you think the Founders found students? How many do you think they had - do you think they started out teaching all magical people, or did that come later? (Hope this doesn't seem like I'm highjacking your thread but I'm writing FE too and this is a useful thread).
    Last edited by minnabird; 09-04-2011 at 03:49 AM.

  8. #8
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    My first question has to do with the actual founding of Hogwarts. How long would it have taken? Did the four friends just get together one day and decide they were going to start a school and then go right out and do it? Did they plan for it? Or was it more of a gradual idea that came on over time? This concerns me quite a bit because it plays into their ages – how old they would have been when the idea was formed, how long they worked on it, and how old they’d be by the time of my fanfiction
    .

    I think it would have taken a while, and that they were friends before all of this came about. I see the idea planted in one of their heads, and then suggesting to the group, and maybe some of them needed some convincing to be okay with it all. Since Rowena was involved in all of this, I see her wanting to have some sort of plan, and not just rush into it, because that's just something a Ravenclaw would do, and since we're based off of Rowena herself...

    I kind of feel like it would have taken a while to found the school, because a castle the size of Hogwarts doesn’t just spring up overnight. Unless they used an already existing castle that had been abandoned, and just fixed it up a bit?
    They're witches and wizards, they don't need an existing castle. Like I saw Minna said above, they have magic on their side. They could have had an idea in their head and just sprung the castle up around it. I mean, they have magic, so it won't be so difficult, and they definitely have the brains on their side. They wanted a school for all wizarding kind to go to. Even if they only had four of them in the beginning, I think they were dreaming big. I think in their mind they saw something like how we see Hogwarts, with all of those students, and many, many professors. I don't know how they might have worked it out in the beginning, but I most definitely agree with those who say the castle was built by the founders themself.

    My other question is about the Sorting Hat. When was it created? Any ideas? It’s song in Goblet of Fire says: While still alive they did divide/Their favorites from the throng/Yet how to pick the worthy ones/When they were dead and gone?/Twas Gryffindor who found the way/He whipped me off his head/The founders put some brains in me/So I could choose instead!

    Do you think they did that before any of them died, or after? And would it have been before or after Slytherin left the school?
    Personally, I feel like they were starting to get older, and the school was open for a while. Maybe someone came down with some sickness, and even they were okay, it still brought their attention on the fact that they needed some way for the students to be sorted once they were dead. Salazar most definitely would have still been in the school at the time, though I think tensions between him and the rest would have been rising. Salazar doesn't strike me as a type who would have left and not left a say in how his house is run and who is in it. I mean, he loves purebloods after all. I don't think he'd leave without making sure Muggleborns aren't ever in his house.

    And, speaking of Slytherin, how much time do you think passed between the founding/opening of Hogwarts, and the time he left the school? According to the song in Order of the Phoenix:
    So Hogwarts worked in harmony/For several happy years/But then discord crept among us/Feeding on our faults and fears/The houses that, like pillars four/Had once held up our school/Now turned upon each other, and/Divided, sought to rule/And for a while it seemed the school/Must meet an early end/What with dueling and with fighting/And the clash of friend on friend/Then at last there came a morning/When old Slytherin departed/And though the fighting then died out/He left us quite downhearted.
    The only references to time here are “for several happy years” and then “for a while” before Slytherin left “at last.” We also know that Slytherin had something to do with the Chamber of Secrets, whether he built it himself or simply used a tunnel the others didn’t know about. What do you think? How long did it take Slytherin to become discontented enough with the other founders to leave the school?
    I never pictured it taking too long. I think that it was at least ten or so years probably. Salazar would have made the Chamber already, because it would have taken him a while. Not because it would be hard to make by magic, but because he had to hide it from the others, and build it in secret. He couldn't recruit others help. I think the tunnel would have been built by him; it's the only way to make sure he was the only founder who knew about it at all.

    The castle question has been bothering me too and honestly this is what I finally decided on - that they're wizards, they can do things the Muggles aren't going to do quite yet. (Maybe wizards started out as "ahead of the times" and somewhere around the Statute of Secrecy or something they slowed down to the point that they started to get "behind the times"). It probably helps that they can build the castle with magic rather than slaving away for decades like Muggles did with stone cathedrals...and since they're hidden with magic they probably don't have to deal with wars and stuff so much.

    Also, I'm not sure where in the books Hogwarts is described as Gothic style. It's entirely probable that it's not at all Gothic in style, perhaps with some of the details Tim suggested, or perhaps with a style all the Founders' own.
    I completely agree with you Minna. I've imagined it that way for a long time now.

    Random question, but how do you think the Founders found students? How many do you think they had - do you think they started out teaching all magical people, or did that come later?
    I don't honestly know for some of this question, but I will put in my two cents. I don't think they had a huge student population at first, I think that started after the first couple years maybe that it really started to grow. I'm imagining they started off with only first years, because it is the only thing that makes sense. So maybe they had a hundred students over all, at max? I can't honestly figure out if they would have hired additional professors the first year or not. I imagine by the second year they would have too, there would just be too many kids for them all to teach. After all, four people can only do so much. One year of students might be manageable for four teachers, though.

    I think anyone with magic in their blood, even Muggleborns were probably admitted. Because Hufflepuff said they'd teach them all, regardless, which makes me feel like they were there even then. Maybe there was some way that they were able to find out from the Ministry itself? Maybe some version of the Magical Quill existed then.

    I don't know, I'm going to have to think about this some more. Very good thought inspiring questions...

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apollonious View Post
    But the thing is, it would have to. The fact that an original, Founder-built room (the Chamber of Secrets) is linked to something so specific as the second-floor girls' bathroom without anyone noticing necessitates both of them being there since the original construction of the school. It's possible that only the Chamber, dungeons, Great Hall, and first two floors were built originally, but I doubt it.
    This is something which has always bothered me. It bothered me the first time I read CoS. Things to reconcile:
    The size of Hogwarts: the earliest keeps (or donjons) appear at around the time of the founding, in France. If the founders were very old (120+) when they quarrelled then they are into Norman England.
    The girls toilet: While you could stretch things by 100 years to scrape into the early castle-building period, plumbing and flush toilets are a Victorian thing, and Arthur doesn't know what a plumber does! Perhaps the castle can magically rebuild and update itself. Perhaps the garderobe on the second floor of the original keepop led to Slytherin's chamber and that link was magically retained during remodelling.

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  10. #10
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    Originally posted by Northumbrian:

    The girls toilet: While you could stretch things by 100 years to scrape into the early castle-building period, plumbing and flush toilets are a Victorian thing, and Arthur doesn't know what a plumber does! Perhaps the castle can magically rebuild and update itself. Perhaps the garderobe on the second floor of the original keepop led to Slytherin's chamber and that link was magically retained during remodelling.
    Very true, since, you know, magical castle and all. The fact that the tunnel to the Chamber opened from a sink gives me pause though. I mean, how do you have a sink without indoor plumbing? A bucket in the corner, perhaps. Or, if the Founders were splurging, a basin and pitcher. Neither of which lend themselves to revealing tunnels. Perhaps, going with your theory of automatic remodelling over the centuries, the sinks started out as a fountain or something. That would still necessitate running water, both to pump fresh water in and remove soapy water from people washing their hands. And I mean, these are wizards. If they decided that running water was the best way to keep their students clean and healthy, they could probably just make indoor plumbing.


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