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The Death Eaters were a group of wizards and witches who espoused a policy of pure-blood supremacy and followed Lord Voldemort (a.k.a. Tom Riddle).


Tom Riddle began to gather followers during his days at Hogwarts. Anti-Muggle sentiment had risen in England and all over Europe during the years of the global wizarding war, and Riddle capitalised on this to build the following he would later need to establish his dictatorship. Recognising the blood-supremacist leanings that were particularly prevalent in Britain (notably England and Scotland), he borrowed the rhetoric of this movement to convince some of his schoolmates, and through them, their families, into believing he intended to take Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald's wizarding supremacy policies—which did not place any particular emphasis on so-called "blood-purity"— further in Britain, extending them to include not only Muggles, but also half-bloods, Squibs, and any others whose bloodlines were tradtionally considered "tainted" by some members of pure-blood wizarding society.


The name Riddle selected for his nascent organisation (in part to differentiate his group from Grindelwald's Blackrobes), the "Death Eaters", reflected his personal preoccupations rather than the aims he projected for the group. Nevertheless, the name stuck, and by the late 1950s, the group was using it actively; however it wasn't until the dawn of the First Wizarding War in the early 1970s that the name entered the common wizarding lexicon.

Early activities

The defeat of Gellert Grindelwald in February 1945 forced the early Death Eaters underground, and Riddle and his closest acquaintance, Rufinus Lestrange, focussed their efforts on quietly recruiting members from among disgruntled pure-blood families with supremacist leanings. When Riddle went abroad in the late 1940s, Lestrange took over the recruiting duties, and when Riddle returned in the mid-1950s, he was pleased to find that several influential families had joined the cause, including the Macnairs, the Notts, the Carrows, the Averys, and the Rosiers.

Emboldened by the return of their leader, several of the younger Death Eaters began a quiet program of anti-Muggle terrorism, which attracted the attention of Albus Dumbledore, who began to suspect that the boy he had known as Tom Riddle was now styling himself "Lord Voldemort" and was leading the group. When Riddle became aware of Dumbledore's scrutiny, he instructed his followers to cease any overt activity.

Dark Mark

Sometime in the mid-1950s, Riddle began to explore the idea of branding his followers, and he began to research the possibility of using an enslavement mark, the existence of which had been the topic of much debate among wizarding historians. In 1957, one of his followers, Byron Macnair, procured a book that described a mark allegedly used by both Darius I and Sargon of Akkad to bind their followers to them. Riddle—by then calling himself "Lord Voldemort"—adapted the spell to create a mark of his own design that allowed him to summon his followers by touching his own mark. This would create a burning sensation in the follower, which would increase until he or she responded to the summons. Later, Riddle would further adapt the spell to allow certain of his followers to alert him to their locations by touching their marks.

Riddle's disappearance

In November 1957, Riddle suddenly disappeared after a skirmish with Albus Dumbledore (about which his followers knew nothing), leaving Rufinus Lestrange in charge of the Death Eaters. Over the ten-year period during which he remained away, he stayed in contact with Lestrange and directed his activities, which were largely confined to gathering more followers, particularly among wizarding Britain's most influential families. Lestrange, with his familiy connections, proved very successful at this, eventually bringing in members of newly wealthy families with supremacist leanings (and often dubious pedigrees that they were anxious to shed), notably the Malfoys. He also succeeded in recruiting Bellatrix Black, a daughter of the House of Black, one of Britain's oldest and wealthiest families. The Blacks had long been known for their support of blood-purity laws, but no member of the family had ever been directly involved in the pure-blood supremacist movement.

Growing influence

Riddle directed Lestrange to keep Death-Eater activity quiet—there was to be absolutely no Muggle-baiting or the like—while building up their sphere of influence in wizarding Britain. Lestrange's new recruits were invaluable in this; many were instructed to take positions in the Ministry of Magic, and a number of these would eventually rise to positions of influence, including several who secured seats on the Wizengamot.

First Wizarding War

Riddle's return from abroad in 1969 was cause for quiet celebration among the Death Eaters, who had been growing increasingly restive and anxious to take definative action. Under Riddle's direction, they began a slow campaign of terrorism combined with political action designed to undermine the Ministry and marginalise those who opposed them.

By 1980, there was open warfare between the Death Eaters and the Ministry (as well as the Order of the Phoenix, led by Albus Dumbledore).

Notable members


  • Rufinus Lestrange
  • Remus Lestrange
  • Romulus Lestrange
  • George Avery
  • Byron Macnair
  • Graham Nott (defected)
  • Sebastian Nott
  • Gordon Mulciber
  • Laurence Rosier
  • Orcus Carrow
  • Madoc Borgin