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

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  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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    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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  8. #8
    Seventh Year Hufflepuff
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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.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by minnabird View Post
    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.
    The books do not say that Hogwarts is built in the Gothic style, but the descriptions of the castle's gargoyles and big, tall windows create that impression.

    Also, wouldn't the very uncertainty of the date of Hogwarts' founding suggest that the current castle dates from after the Founder's era? You can pretty accurately date buildings by analyting layers of soot built up over centuries in fireplaces and any part of the castle built with timber, like the doors. Furthermore, Dumbledore said in HBP that all magic leaves traces, so there should also be reliable methods of dating magical edifices by studying these traces. So if the castle was indeed original, people in canon should have a much better understanding of when exactly Hogwarts was founded. The very fact that nobody, not even a professional historian like Bagshot, knows when Hogwarts was founded beyond a vague 1000+ years ago indicates that the current castle is not original, otherwise they could use the above methods to find a relatively accurate date.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apollonious
    It's even possible that the style of Hogwarts inspired the Gothic style.
    How can the castle inspire the Gothic style if Muggles can't see it?

    Tim the Enchanter

  10. #10
    SilverBadger
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    A huge thanks to everyone who's replied, you've given me a lot to consider.

    Quote Originally Posted by minnabird View Post
    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).
    I don't think they'd have very many to begin with. For one thing, I don't see them having a very large teaching staff, assuming they hire other teachers as the years pass. That would limit the number of students they can realistically teach. I have roughly 80 students attending Hogwarts in my notes for my fanfiction.

    I also think they would have taught all students with magical blood - otherwise why would Slytherin have made such a fuss about pure-bloods versus muggleborns?

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