If you thought that our knowledge of Quidditch stopped with the Harry Potter novels, you couldn’t be more wrong – J.K Rowling has since released a host of information on the Pottermore website and in her book, ‘Quidditch Through The Ages.’ From how the sport got its name to the introduction of the Golden Snitch, we’ve summed up a brief history of Quidditch for you – and if you want to know even more, you can purchase your very own Quidditch Through The Ages here!
Despite being played for nearly a thousand years, Quidditch wasn’t the first ever game to be played on broomsticks – although it is the only one to have reached global popularity. The sport as we know it takes elements from ancient broomstick games such as Shuntbumps – a type of broomstick jousting – the German game Stichstock, the Irish game Aingingein and Swivenhodge, which is like tennis on brooms! But it’s the violent Scottish game of Creaothceann that’s thought to have most inspired Quidditch – and in particular the Beater position. Large boulders were charmed to hover in the air, while players flew around with cauldrons on their heads, trying to catch as many as possible; the player who caught the most rocks was the winner.
Did you know…? J.K Rowling invented Quidditch after having a row with her then-boyfriend! She wrote in an annotated first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: “It infuriates men…which is quite satisfying given my state of mind when I invented it.”
The name ‘Quidditch’ came from the location of the first ever recorded game, said to have taken place on Queerditch Marsh around the year 1050. A witch called Gertie Keddle, who lived on the edge of the marsh, wrote a series of diary entries about people playing a game with broomsticks and a ball over the marsh – including a “big Scottish warlock,” who may well have been a Creaothceann player. Her second diary entry describes the players trying to score goals by shooting their balls through the trees, while the third entry refers to bewitched rocks trying to knock players off their brooms – which sound rather a lot like Bludgers!
By the time the next historical record of the game appears a hundred years later – in a letter from wizard Goodwin Kneen to his Norwegian cousin Olaf – it’s clear that it had become more organised, with teams and titles appearing.
Did you know…? Chasers were originally called Catchers, and the Bludger was first referred to as the Blooder!
The Snidget and the Snitch
The idea of the Snitch didn’t emerge until over a century later, during a match played in Kent in 1269. By now the game was being watched by large numbers of people, and at this particular game Barberus Bragge – Chief of the Wizards’ Council – decided to release a Snidget bird from its cage onto the pitch, offering 150 Galleons to the player who caught the tiny, fast-moving bird. The players were all in hot pursuit of the Snidget – until a witch called Modesty Rabnott rescued it from certain death and hid it in her robes. But it was too late: Snidget hunting had become an exciting addition to the game, and each team appointed a Hunter (later called the Seeker) whose job it was to catch the bird for 150 points.
But as Quidditch became increasingly popular, Snidget numbers began to fall rapidly, and the Wizards Council had to make it a protected species in the mid-14th century. Metal charmer Bowman Wright soon found the solution to the problem with his invention: the Golden Snitch! Measuring the same as a Snidget in both size and weight, and enchanted to follow its flight paths, the Golden Snitch was approved as the official Snidget substitute and has appeared in games ever since. The other balls used in the modern version of the game also appeared by this time, but it was to be a few more years (in 1883, to be exact) before the layout of the pitch would finally be agreed.
Did you know…? The early Quidditch goals were floating barrels. These were replaced by baskets on stilts, but the size of the baskets would vary drastically between pitches; so in 1883, regulatory size hoops became the standard Quidditch goal.
Rules and regulations
The growing popularity of the sport also made it necessary to enforce rules and regulations. Following the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy act in 1692, which listed the Quidditch World Cup as a major security risk, The International Confederation of Wizards Quidditch Committee (ICWQC) was established to tackle the logistical issues of keeping noisy Quidditch matches away from the eyes and ears of Muggles. All Ministries of Magic were placed in charge of the fallout of magical sports in their own territories, and the British Ministry of Magic published the first official set of Quidditch rules half a century later, in 1750.
Did you know…? There are 700 ways to ‘foul’ in a Quidditch match, and supposedly “all of them happened during a World Cup match in 1473″!
The Hogwarts Quidditch Cup
The Hogwarts Quidditch Cup – or Inter-House Quidditch Cup – is played every year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with each House Quidditch team playing in a mini-league throughout the school year. The winning House is calculated according to the number of points gained over all matches played, as opposed to the number of matches won, and they receive the huge silver Quidditch Cup trophy. The first championship was played in the 1691-1692 school year, when Gryffindor received the biggest defeat that it would suffer for another 300 years.
Did you know…? Just like her mother before her, Professor McGonagall was a talented Quidditch player and represented Gryffindor while studying at Hogwarts.
The Quidditch World Cup
The Official Guide to the Quidditch World Cup, written by the ICWQC, claims there has been a Quidditch World Cup tournament every four years since 1473 (read on to see if you think that’s true!); others date the tournament back to the 17th century when it became open to all continents, not just Europe. It’s the job of the ICWQC to regulate the heated contest, and there are 19 volumes of rules about the use of on- and off-pitch magic – including: “no dragon is to be introduced into the stadium for any purpose including, but not limited to, team mascot, coach or cup warmer”!
The most infamous Quidditch World Cup tournaments include the Attack of the Killer Forest in 1809, when fiery-tempered player Niko Nenad jinxed an entire forest to attack the stadium, killing and injuring many in a battle lasting seven hours; the Tournament that Nobody Remembered in 1877, which nobody can recall but seems to have taken place (if the tickets sold and injuries sustained by English and Canadian players are anything to go by); and of course the Ireland vs. Bulgaria World Cup Final of 1994, when Voldemort supporters attacked fellow wizards and even muggles, and the Dark Mark appeared in the sky for the first time in fourteen years.
Did you know…? There are 45 National Quidditch teams and 19 regional teams across Britain and Ireland.
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