By Jayden Lukas
“Eternal glory! That’s what awaits the student who wins The Triwizard Tournament, but to do this, that student must survive three tasks. Three extremely dangerous tasks.“
These words still echo throughout the halls of Hogwarts having been spoken by Albus Dumbledore. When were similar words to these first spoken? Who first decided it was a good idea to have the Tri-Wizard Tournament? What was the purpose for having this tournament? How and when did this contest first originate? These are questions that this article will endeavour to answer.
Back in the year 1294 now more than seven hundred years in the distant past it was decided that the three largest wizarding schools of Europe including Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Durmstrang Institute, and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic should take part in a contest designed to test magical ability, intelligence and courage. Each school would be represented by one Champion. These Champions compete for the eternal honour and glory of winning both the tournament and the large cash prize that accompanies it. They also compete for the honour of dying in the attempt. This is because the contest is famous for being extremely dangerous. So much so that in 1792 almost five hundred years after its inception it was discontinued. Five hundred years worth of deaths was enough for the contest to be discontinued. At least until 1994 when it was restarted with several new restrictions placed on it in the effort to avoid any new deaths. For those unfamiliar with History that was unsuccessful. The contest resulted in the death of Cedric Diggory and the rebirth of Lord Voldemort.
Perhaps to understand the need for these intense battles of skill it would be good to look at the history of the time when the contest first originated. Let us take some time to review the year 1294 historically. The contest was founded well before the time when the International Statute of Secrecy was instituted in 1692. The contest was established in what has been referred to as the middle years after the founding of Hogwarts and the establishment of Quidditch as a sport and before the occurrence of several crisis periods that would forever change the face of the wizarding world including the institution of the Statute of Secrecy.
There was no separation as yet between the non-magical and the magical world. The Roman empire had fallen and the idea of Europe as its own distinct cultural unit was emerging. The Roman imperial traditions had given way to those of Germanic people who established kingdoms in the former Western empire. This is all just a brief background in an effort to understand better the mindset at the time when the Tri-Wizard tournament was established.
As the Middle Ages continued there was even more dramatic growth that was marked with economic and territorial expansion, urban growth, the emergence of national identities. Both secular and religious institutions were being restructured. The Middle Ages were the time of the Crusades, Gothic art and architecture, the papal monarchy, the formation of the university and much much more. This was a period of time that was very active and it is not hard to understand how the tournament would have also arisen during this time. The Tri-Wizard tournament is also a call back to the time of the Roman tournaments when Champions fought and died in the arena in the quest for eternal glory and honour. This may have been some of the reasoning for the establishment of the tournament. Competition was high among the areas where the three schools are located geographically. The wizards became like the Roman gladiators of old, each vying to show that they were the strongest and most skilled of the wizarding community.
This is a tournament that racked up the death count for five hundred years before it was discontinued. It was restarted in 1994 and the results were catastrophic. The Diggory family was devastated by the loss of their promising son, Cedric. The rebirth of Voldemort led to even more deaths in the Second Wizarding War. Now in 2027 the Tri-Wizard Tournament is back. Once more three gladiators will be chosen to battle for honour, glory and riches. Three will enter the arena.
There is no doubt that the tournament is dangerous. Champions have died while competing. Despite the death toll becoming too high, the Tournament was reinstated with restrictions in place in an effort to prevent further deaths. Let us hope that this tournament, that is part of a tradition established more than 700 years ago, will once again start being held every five years at one of the participating schools. Modern gladiators following an ancient tradition from an age when there was no Statute of Secrecy. The tournament was established in the age of chivalry at a time when honour and glory were worth fighting and dying for.