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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Guest Editorial: Godric Gryffindor Makes No Sense

Godric Gryffindor Makes No Sense
(Guest Editorial by Reecey).

I had a review all written by Monday afternoon, but considering the events of that night, I’m not comfortable putting up that review this week.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to talk a lot about Harry Potter.

Specifically how the presented history of Hogwarts, and Godric Gryffindor in particular, don’t make a lot of sense in the context of British history.

Quick side note, I got all of this information from the Harry Potter wiki, because Pottermore is the LSD induced vomit of a web designer commissioned by a pretentious moron who would murder Jill Murphy (no relation) and wear her skin if she could get away with it.

I went to that site because I thought, ‘oh, I’ll get this information from the horse’s mouth’ but apparently she doesn’t think putting this basic information on her site is as important as quoting herself on starry sky backgrounds.

So, let’s get into the problems that the British Wizarding community presents in relation to the real world history that the universe is set in.

Hogwarts was founded circa 993 AD.

Well, for one, there was no such thing as a unified Britain at the time.

Like, at all.

(I find the suggestion that Salazar Slytherin, the snake guy, came from Ireland, a place that famously doesn’t have snakes, deeply insulting. So Great Britain is the only thing we’re discussing.)

England was barely unified at this point. In the earlier part of that very century, the country now known as England was still in various smaller kingdoms, and some of those were constantly changing hands between the ‘English’ and Norse powers like Denmark and Norway.

The king in 993 was a guy named ÆÞelræd, aka, ‘The Unready’, and throughout his reign, we were facing constant invasions from Denmark. In addition to that, actually ruled by Denmark during the run up to the Norman Conquests.

Wales was still a handful of small kingdoms that were constantly uniting, and splitting up, and only really became close to being fully united in 1055. (They were also under a lot of pressure from Danish raids in 993.)

Scotland was also still in the process of unification, including the recent integration of the different Pictish and Gaelic ethnic groups, and its relationship with England was more or less in constant flux. Not to mention that the Western Isles were technically under the rule of Norway.

So, why would anyone decide to have a united magical school on an island with this political climate?

Like, how is this even occurring to them? These are different ethnic groups with different cultures, different laws, different allegiances and different languages. They weren’t even all united under Roman rule. How did they even come to this conclusion as an option?

And, notice, I keep bringing up Norway and Denmark here. Considering that Hogwarts is a first millennium institution, and England especially, and Scotland partially, had close ties to these two countries, why don’t Scandinavian kids go to Hogwarts? At the very least you’d expect it to soak up the muggleborns excluded from Durmstrang after that school’s founding.

But no.

So, you might be wondering why Britain is so distant from Scandinavia in the modern day considering this close history.

Well, that would be the second great problem with the history of Hogwarts as presented.

The Norman Conquest.

This happened around seventy three years after the founding of Hogwarts in the famous year 1066. A year that J.K. Rowling definitely knew about when she wrote these books, so there is no excuse.

What’s the major impact of this? Well, everything.

I don’t think this is necessarily common knowledge even in England, let alone the rest of the world, but the Norman Conquest changed everything.

It changed our king, our ruling class, our common names, our cultural associations and our very language.

(That’s why we have different words for the meat of an animal and the animal itself, for example.)

The reality of this puts the wizarding community at large and Hogwarts specifically in a rather odd position. This is true of a lot of ‘hidden society’ fiction, but Harry Potter hasn’t dealt with the changes in the outside world well at all.

Like the monument to the Potters being disguised as a cenotaph, one that presumably was actually there long, long before Harry was born. A move in such bad taste that it shows the wizarding community’s lack of compassion for normal people almost as well as the fact that they regularly steal their children.

Despite this regular influx of stolen children into their society, the wizarding world is incredibly insular and almost unbelievably archaic.

Yeah, they have photos, radio and print, but have you noticed what they don’t have?

Computers, television, cars, biros, typewriters, paperbacks, fountain pens, or paper.

No, seriously, they don’t have paper.

Why else would they make children write on parchment, and not exercise books like literally every other school in the country and probably most countries in the world.

Paper is not a widespread resource in the wizarding world, and if nothing else convinces you of how out of touch with, and resistant to, regular societal change the wizarding world are, this should.

So, now you know how shockingly out of touch the wizarding world is with the rest of us, tell me, do you really think that the Norman Conquests were going to have any kind of impact on the wizarding society?

This is a society that was so insulated from WWII that they thought that sending pupils back out into a war torn and bombed out country was acceptable.

It strikes me as intensely weird that the old pureblood families act in such a Norman defined upper class manner when the wizarding community is this archaic and isolated. Especially considering that one of the oldest families is so obviously French.

But I’m largely talking about the impact all this would have on Hogwarts, even though it shouldn’t.

Here is where we step into talking about Godric Gryffindor, a man with a name derived from the word ‘griffin’ and the french term ‘d’or’, meaning golden.

“Well, that makes sense,” you might say, “because he is so leonine and golden!”

Well, it would, if that aspect of his character made any damn sense at all.

Remember, he lived in the West Country prior to the Norman Conquest. His first name was Godric, implying that he was a Saxon (despite there being a compelling argument that he was actually Celtic, making his given name nonsensical).

So, why, why does he have as his symbol half the symbol of Normandy?

A golden lion on a red background is not a Saxon symbol, it’s the symbol of the country’s Norman rulers.

It’s also got sweet F.A. to do with the Celts of Cornwall and Wales, since their symbol of choice was a red dragon, and their symbol for the Saxons was a white dragon.

Is Godric Gryffindor some kind of time travelling ethnic traitor? Did he divine the future and decide to side with an oppressive foreign invader?

If that is what happened, then that shows that even Mr ‘Let’s steal kids’ has no compassion for normal people, because we can plainly see that the wizarding community didn’t suffer to anywhere near the same extent as the rest of us.

Exhibit A, the Wizengamot, based on the Witanagemot, an Anglo-Saxon moot.

(Which doesn’t make sense with all the Celtic stuff going on in the rest of the island!)

Nothing about the history of the period surrounding the founding of Hogwarts logically lines up with what is actually presented in Harry Potter.

It makes no sense and is really quite frustrating.

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