Within the humid, idyllic countryside of Scotland lies a vast castle that resembles the foundation for all magical education in Europe. This castle is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the renowned institution throughout the wizarding world since the year 990 AD.
Most historians, students, and even illiterate magical citizens know of the founding of the marvelous Hogwarts, being named after a warty hog that showed up in a dream that Rowena Ravenclaw had. Ravenclaw was one of four Founders, alongside Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, and Helga Hufflepuff. Each of the Founders had “Houses,” or grouping of students that they led based on their image of the ideal student that they would like to see attend the school. Although down the line, idealism turned into stereotypes, but at the moment the Houses were set up, they were set in such a definitive way. For instance, Gryffindor was considered to be for the brave and courageous; Hufflepuff was considered for the loyal and the trustworthy; Slytherin was for the sly and calculated; Ravenclaw was for the intelligent and the creative.
Unlike other magical schools and their founders, the Hogwarts Founders never held the title of Headmaster, instead leaving it to another trusted man to lead the school amongst the others. This was primarily done due to the fact that the Original Four had figured they would consistently argue over schooling policies. A prime example of this dissonance was between arguments of Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin over the attendance of Muggle-born students. Although Salazar’s wishes were not granted as the first Headmaster allowed all magical students to the school, he still practiced anti-muggle-born ideology throughout his mannerisms that carried on well into the future. Yet, there were certain boundaries that the Founder could not cross, as dictated by the control and rule of the Headmaster.
The concept of a Headmaster, one professor to be considered the above all the others in dictating educational and social policies of the school, is far before its time. Although, there is always going to be a natural leader overseeing a large group of people, as seen through the rise of civilization itself in the wizarding and non-magical worlds. The primary aspect that is far ahead of its time is the concept of a place of learning for magical humans. Surely, small urban groups would be taught by the local sorcerer or sorceress who was said to be the most omnipotent of all witches and wizards. However, the creation of Hogwarts shined an exposing light on this ideation, although the Headmaster was still seen as the primary sorcerer.
It later became a requirement for the Headmaster to somewhat live up to this reputation and yield a vast knowledge of magic, whether it be in relation to Charms, Transfiguration, Alchemy, Herbology, or even Care of Magical Creatures. The Headmaster was, essentially, supposed to be the omnipotent when there was still much to be discovered in magical theory and application.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was said to be the hub of European magical expansion, and its impact was largely seen in centuries to follow, considering both Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and the Durmstrang Institute were founded in the late 1200’s. The Founders, and subsequent Headmasters of each school were the top tier of witch or wizard there was in their area, despite the many challenges that ensued.
However, there was another school that had risen up within the United Kingdom far into the future within the early 1600’s that really went against the concept of an omnipotent Headmaster knowing all there is to magic (despite the ideation still being put into practice). This school was Malvern Academy of Witchcraft, founded by Jarvis Malvern, who never considered himself an all-knowing wizard and instead took on the role of a student consistently learning. This precedent towards the avoidance of having an all-knowing wizard as Headmaster was seen as radical in its days and was not even to be considered until the very aged Jarvis Malvern went to Hogwarts on a pilgrimage of peace. Although true peace was not attained until much later, an agreement was struck between the schools in that they would share any new curriculum that passed their way, whether they were integrating it into their current teachings or not. This was seen as a way for Malvern to check up on Hogwarts or even vice-versa, but it was quite the contrary for Malvern Academy as they later decided to focus on education beyond the elementary essentials for wizarding children. This cornerstone for education began the movement for mastery level education to be eventually certified to teach or practice magic at such an advanced level. Malvern Academy of Witchcraft had begun to hold more classes at differing levels, calling into question the true meaning and definition of an all-knowing Headmaster. Instead, the role began to depend more on the family line, and even beyond that, if the descendant to the role was more than capable of running a school along with academically prevailing. This assurance of capability is something that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry did not look for until many years and even centuries down into the future.
Nevertheless, as time did progress, the role of Headmaster at Hogwarts was passed down from one notable professor (or strong figure) to another. Given the rather commonplace nature of the history of Hogwarts, we shall bring the story to the 1920’s, a time where things are at a social and political unrest within the wizarding world and even more at Hogwarts.
Our story truly begins with one particular Headmaster of Hogwarts, Phineas Nigellus Black. Now unfortunately, Phineas Black was not a very empathetic person and remained intolerant towards the problems of others. This led to vast disagreement between a Headmaster and the majority of the staff, yet he remained in office for quite the amount of time. This is due to the fact that despite his apathy for others, he still cared enough about the school to ensure that the students were moderately safe and that the proper curriculum was being taught.
This, of course, could be taken in a variety of ways considering that pure-blooded Phineas Nigellus Black was a true Slytherin at heart. To illustrate, his policies mimicked that of the late Founder Salazar Slytherin, as he was very restricting on the social acceptance of muggle-born wizards and very lenient with the (sometimes rowdy and troublemaking) purebloods. Naturally, he could not close off the admittance of muggle-borns, as he would be inherently removed from the position, but he was tempted with each passing day. This prejudice for muggle-born students would then take a rather unprecedented turn of events.
As the wizarding world entered the 1920’s, it was taken ahold by a growing threat of dark forces under the command of one Gellert Grindlewald. This man was said to be the darkest wizard of his time, who stuck to a radicalized ideology of Salazar Slytherin’s view on muggle-borns and, even further, muggle affairs with wizards. This clearly put Phineas Black in quite the conundrum, as he held similar, but not exactly the same views as this mad dark wizard. He also knew that potentially his family, and even his children, could be involved within these alleged growing dark forces. This hidden knowledge followed by overt secrecy piqued the interest of the Ministry of Magic, and in 1924 they began their formal investigation into the Hogwarts Headmaster. Fortunately, they respected some of his already invaded privacy and allowed this investigation to undergo without notice of the public, for the parents at Hogwarts would most likely rescind their admittance of students. While he was under investigation though, Phineas Black was on the search for a successor.
The staff at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at this time were considered the “Silent Staff” as they didn’t want to speak out against the Headmaster in fear they would lose their jobs, or even worse events would transpire. This made the search rather difficult for Phineas, for he began to notice that he was unapproachable unless it was absolutely necessary for someone to speak to him. Naturally, this was a result of his personality, but this started to take a worse turn as he was beginning to become irritated with all of them. It wasn’t until one curious professor by the name of Jaye Elsweyr began to notice such a change, that the future began to look just a little brighter.
Elsweyr, a stereotypical Slytherin who was at the time Potions Master, knew that this was not necessarily the best of ages for anyone within Slytherin House with the rise of Grindelwald. Therefore, he decided it best to try and warm up to the very unimpressionable Headmaster and try to act as his confidante. It took some time for Phineas Nigellus Black to finally reveal aspects of his worries (and eventually about his impending investigation) to the similarly unemotional Elsweyr, but he finally felt that Hogwarts had at least one good man. As time went on, Black saw the similarities between himself and his confidante, especially bonding over the fact that they were both Slytherin, rather apathetic and exceeding expectations at their brewing methods. The only thing that dissuaded Black from seeing it through that Elsweyr would take his place was the fact that Jaye was indifferent to the inclusion of muggle relations and attendance of muggle-born students. Nevertheless, the investigation would ultimately ring the rumors true of Phineas Black’s involvement regarding his potential ties to Grindlewald, and left him no choice but to entrust Elsweyr with running Hogwarts.
As acting Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Jaye took the role upon himself with a reaction of indifferent acceptance, in that he knew nothing could be changed about it. Although, little did he know there was in fact something that could be done about it.
Within the subsequent weeks as Headmaster, Jaye decided to shatter the barrier of the “Silent Staff” mentality and tried to be as open and inclusive to his staff as he could. In doing so, he found a variety of allies within his own staff team that would result in him being coached on new ways to open up Hogwarts to become an academic and all-inclusive school. However, in doing this he realized that he needed a bit of help, and was open about this to a certain outspoken Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, Blaise Vanderbilt.
Blaise was originally a strong proponent of the Silent Staff of Hogwarts in that he refused to be outspoken in his opposition against his own employer Phineas Black. However, he was not completely in the shadows of hiding, and did a variety of things behind the back of the Headmaster. Since Phineas Black controlled the curricula of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Blaise was restricted in what was to be taught for means of applicable defense in the wizarding world. Yet, this did not stop him there. Being the clever Ravenclaw he is, Blaise sought out a teaching method where he would teach select students the proper spells and tools to push dark forces back.
Ever since he was young, Blaise Vanderbilt always found a way to make things right. Being the only child to a prominent robemaker and a Ministry of Magic official in the magistracy, he was innately a critical thinker and slight perfectionist. Granted, his parents were a strong influence in the development in Blaise’s very acute curiosity for knowledge, it would later become apparent that this was his expression of individuality. Such a trait made it very easy for the Sorting Hat at Hogwarts to place him into Ravenclaw, where he would learn new methods, ideologies and practices of magic that he would use for the rest of his years. Although, despite graduating from Hogwarts having taken a plethora of NEWT level classes, Blaise pursued a higher education.
It was only then during his tenure at Mahoutokoro Academy of Advanced Magic that he found a passion for spreading his knowledge to others. While studying there, he ran into a rather introverted, but very ambitious American named Niles Montgomery with whom the two shared a mutual interest for the magical world and its applications. Granted, the two were studying different areas of specialty, the spells they had to perform and master were very similar and so the two began to study a variety together. Ultimately, the two formed a bit of a rivalry, but Niles Montgomery knew that Blaise was far advanced into the theoretical application of spells rather than staying within their known practical uses.
As Blaise’s tenure at Mahoutokoro ended, Niles tried to convince Blaise to come back to America with him since he heard that there was another position open at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, Blaise denied, maintaining his loyalties to Hogwarts and decided to pursue the same position over there. Upon arrival to Hogwarts, he was greeted by the same man he would later resent, Phineas Nigellus Black, who gave Blaise his job nearly instantaneously after seeing his vast credentials (including family ties, something Blaise never wanted considered in applications anywhere).
Nevertheless, he began his job with a vigor and passion for what he planned on teaching, only to be systematically silenced by the withdrawing of core curriculum from the Headmaster. Blaise knew that ultimately he could not make too much of a stand without facing unemployment, or worse circumstances. While he knew that he could easily take on the Headmaster and any of his allies in a duel, he never wished to pursue violence for individual gain. Therefore, he joined with the rest of the Hogwarts staff in becoming a silent and unapproachable barrier.
Yet, with the removal of Phineas Black as the Ministry investigation found incriminating evidence, this sparked a new flame in his personality to try and help make right what was taken from not only his subject, but the school as a whole. Once he found that the successor was to be Jaye Elsweyr, Blaise was pleased in knowing that he held very different views from the previous Headmaster. Although, he did wish to coach his colleague on what needed drastic change. Such coaching would later turn into him becoming the undeclared Deputy Headmaster of Hogwarts.
The influence did not end there though, and after much thought from Headmaster Elsweyr and the majority of the Hogwarts staff, Jaye decided to step down from his position for his own sake as he preferred being just a Potions Master perfecting his art. Nevertheless, he declared his successor to be Blaise Vanderbilt, and it was such from that day forth.
With the reign of Blaise Vanderbilt, academic expansion, student inclusivity, and amicable foreign relations became very apparent and clear. It even came as a delight for him to see that when reaching out to the Headmaster of Ilvermorny that he should receive a letter back from an old friend. This especially became a pivotal moment in the coexistence between Hogwarts and Ilvermorny, sister schools with one taking a variety of influence from. Nonetheless, there was much done, but much more to be done for Blaise Vanderbilt, but he was ready to face the future for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.