Quidditch through the ag.., p.2
Quidditch Through the Ages, p.2Part #2 of Hogwarts Library series by J. K. Rowling
Madam Rabnott’s brave action might have saved one Snidget, but she could not save them all. Chief Bragge’s idea had for ever changed the nature of Quidditch. Golden Snidgets were soon being released during all Quidditch games, one player on each team (the Hunter) having the sole task of catching it. When the bird was killed, the game was over and the Hunter’s team was awarded an extra one hundred and fifty points, in memory of the one hundred and fifty Galleons promised by Chief Bragge. The crowd undertook to keep the Snidget on the pitch by using the Repelling Spells mentioned by Madam Rabnott.
By the middle of the following century, however, Golden Snidget numbers had fallen so low that the Wizards’ Council, now headed by the considerably more enlightened Elfrida Clagg, made the Golden Snidget a protected species, outlawing both its killing and its use in Quidditch games. The Modesty Rabnott Snidget Reservation was founded in Somerset and a substitute for the bird was frantically sought to enable the game of Quidditch to proceed.
The invention of the Golden Snitch is credited to the wizard Bowman Wright of Godric’s Hollow. While Quidditch teams all over the country tried to find bird substitutes for the Snidget, Wright, who was a skilled metal-charmer, set himself to the task of creating a ball that mimicked the behaviour and flight patterns of the Snidget. That he succeeded perfectly is clear from the many rolls of parchment he left behind him on his death (now in the possession of a private collector), listing the orders that he had received from all over the country. The Golden Snitch, as Bowman called his invention, was a walnut-sized ball exactly the weight of a Snidget. Its silvery wings had rotational joints like the Snidget’s, enabling it to change direction with the lightning speed and precision of its living model. Unlike the Snidget, however, the Snitch had been bewitched to remain within the boundaries of the field. The introduction of the Golden Snitch may be said to have finished the process begun three hundred years before on Queerditch Marsh. Quidditch had been truly born.
In 1398 the wizard Zacharias Mumps set down the first full description of the game of Quidditch. He began by emphasising the need for anti-Muggle security while playing the game: ‘Choose areas of deserted moorland far from Muggle habitations and make sure that you cannot be seen once you take off on your brooms. Muggle-repelling charms are useful if you are setting up a permanent pitch. It is advisable, too, to play at night.’
We deduce that Mumps’s excellent advice was not always followed from the fact that the Wizards’ Council outlawed all Quidditch-playing within fifty miles of towns in 1362. Clearly the popularity of the game was increasing rapidly, for the Council found it necessary to amend the ban in 1368, making it illegal to play within a hundred miles of a town. In 1419, the Council issued the famously worded decree that Quidditch should not be played ‘anywhere near any place where there is the slightest chance that a Muggle might be watching or we’ll see how well you can play whilst chained to a dungeon wall’.
As every school-age wizard knows, the fact that we fly on broomsticks is probably our worst-kept secret. No Muggle illustration of a witch is complete without a broom and however ludicrous these drawings are (for none of the broomsticks depicted by Muggles could stay up in the air for a moment), they remind us that we were careless for too many centuries to be surprised that broomsticks and magic are inextricably linked in the Muggle mind.
Adequate security measures were not enforced until the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy of 1692 made every Ministry of Magic directly responsible for the consequences of magical sports played within their territories. This subsequently led, in Britain, to the formation of the Department of Magical Games and Sports, Quidditch teams that flouted the Ministry guidelines were henceforth forced to disband. The most famous instance of this was the Banchory Bangers, a Scottish team renowned not only for their poor Quidditch skills but also for their post-match parties. After their 1814 match against the Appleby Arrows (see Chapter Seven), the Bangers not only allowed their Bludgers to zoom away into the night, but also set out to capture a Hebridean Black for their team mascot. Ministry of Magic representatives apprehended them as they were flying over Inverness and the Banchory Bangers never played again.
Nowadays Quidditch teams do not play locally, but travel to pitches which have been set up by the Department of Magical Games and Sports where adequate anti-Muggle security is maintained. As Zacharias Mumps so rightly suggested six hundred years ago, Quidditch pitches are safest on deserted moors.
Changes in Quidditch since the Fourteenth Century
Zacharias Mumps describes the fourteenth-century pitch as oval-shaped, five hundred feet long and a hundred and eighty feet wide with a small central circle (approximately two feet in diameter) in the middle. Mumps tells us that the referee (or Quijudge, as he or she was then known) carried the four balls into this central circle while the fourteen players stood around him. The moment the balls were released (the Quaffle was thrown by the referee; see ‘Quaffle’ below), the players raced into the air. The goalposts in Mumps’s time were still large baskets on poles, as seen in Fig. C.
In 1620 Quintius Umfraville wrote a book called The Noble Sport of Warlocks, which included a diagram of the seventeenth-century pitch (see Fig. D). Here we see the addition of what we know as ‘scoring areas’ (see ‘Rules’ below). The baskets on top of the goalposts were considerably smaller and higher than in Mumps’s time.
By 1883 baskets had ceased to be used for scoring and were replaced with the goalposts we use today, an innovation reported in the Daily Prophet of the time (see below). The Quidditch pitch has not altered since that time.
Bring Back Our Baskets!
That was the cry heard from Quidditch players across the nation last night as it became clear that the Department of Magical Games and Sports had decided to burn the baskets used for centuries for goal-scoring in Quidditch.
‘We’re not burning them, don’t exaggerate,’ said an irritable-looking Departmental representative last night when asked to comment, ‘Baskets, as you may have noticed, come in different sizes. We have found it impossible to standardise basket size so as to make goalposts throughout Britain equal. Surely you can see it’s a matter of fairness. I mean, there’s a team up near Barnton, they’ve got these minuscule little baskets attached to the opposing team’s posts, you couldn’t get a grape in them. And up their own end they’ve got these great wicker caves swinging around. It’s not on. We’ve settled on a fixed hoop size and that’s it. Everything nice and fair.’
At this point, the Departmental representative was forced to retreat under a hail of baskets thrown by the angry demonstrators assembled in the hall. Although the ensuing riot was later blamed on goblin agitators, there can be no doubt that Quidditch fans across Britain are tonight mourning the end of the game as we know it.
‘’T won’t be t’ same wi’out baskets,’ said one apple-cheeked old wizard sadly. ‘I remember when I were a lad, we used to set fire to 'em for a laugh during t’ match. You can’t do that with goal hoops. ’Alf t’ fun’s gone.’
Daily Prophet, 12 February 1883
As we know from Gertie Keddle’s diary, the Quaffle was from earliest times made of leather. Alone of the four Quidditch balls, the Quaffle was not originally enchanted, but merely a patched leather ball, often with a strap (see Fig. E), as it had to be caught and thrown one-handed. Some old Quaffles have finger holes. With the discovery of Gripping Charms in 1875, however, straps and finger holes have become unnecessary, as the Chaser is able to keep a one-handed hold on the charmed leather without such aids.
The modern Quaffle is twelve inches in diameter and seamless. It was first coloured scarlet in the winter of 1711, after a game when heavy rain had made it indistinguishable from the muddy ground whenever it was dropped. Chasers were also becoming increasingly irritated by the necessity of diving continu
The first Bludgers (or ‘Blooders’) were, as we have seen, flying rocks, and in Mumps's time they had merely progressed to rocks carved into the shape of balls. These had one important disadvantage, however: they could be cracked by the magically reinforced Beaters’ bats of the fifteenth century, in which case all players would be pursued by flying gravel for the remainder of the game.
It was probably for this reason that some Quidditch teams began experimenting with metal Bludgers in the early sixteenth century. Agatha Chubb, expert in ancient wizarding artefacts, has identified no fewer than twelve lead Bludgers dating from this period, discovered both in Irish peat bogs and English marshes. ‘They are undoubtedly Bludgers rather than cannon balls,’ she writes.
The faint indentations of magically reinforced Beaters’ bats are visible and one can see the distinctive hallmarks of manufacture by a wizard (as opposed to a Muggle) the smoothness of line, the perfect symmetry. A final clue was the fact that each and every one of them whizzed around my study and attempted to knock me to the floor when released from its ease.
Lead was eventually discovered to be too soft for the purpose of Bludger manufacture (any indentation left on a Bludger will affect its ability to fly straight). Nowadays all Bludgers arc made of iron. They are ten inches in diameter.
Bludgers are bewitched to chase players indiscriminately. If left to their own devices, they will attack the player closest to them, hence the Beaters’ task is to knock the Bludgers as far away from their own team as possible.
The Golden Snitch
The Golden Snitch is walnut-sized, as was the Golden Snidget. It is bewitched to evade capture as long as possible. There is a tale that a Golden Snitch evaded capture for six months on Bodmin Moor in 1884, both teams finally giving up in disgust at their Seekers’ poor performances. Cornish wizards familiar with the area insist to this day that the Snitch is still living wild on the moor, though I have not been able to confirm this story.
The position of Keeper has certainly existed since the thirteenth century (see Chapter Four), though the role has changed since that time.
According to Zacharias Mumps, the Keeper
should be first to reach the goal baskets for it is his job to prevent the Quaffle entering therein. The Keeper should beware of straying too far towards the other end of the pitch, in case his baskets come under threat in his absence. However, a fast Keeper may be able to score a goal and then return to his baskets in time to prevent the other team equalising. It is a matter for the individual conscience of the Keeper.
It is clear from this that in Mumps’s day the Keepers performed like Chasers with extra responsibilities. They were allowed to move all over the pitch and to score goals.
By the time Quintius Umfraville wrote The Noble Sport of Warlocks in 1620, however, the Keeper’s job had been simplified. The scoring areas had now been added to the pitch and the Keepers were advised to remain within them, guarding their goal baskets, though Keepers may fly out of this area in an attempt to intimidate opposing Chasers or head them off early.
The duties of the Beaters have changed little through the centuries and it is likely that Beaters have existed ever since the introduction of the Bludgers. Their first duty is to guard their team members from the Bludgers, which they do with the aid of bats (once clubs, see Goodwin Kneen’s letter in Chapter Three). Beaters have never been goal-scorers, nor is there any indication that they have handled the Quaffle.
Beaters need a good deal of physical strength to repel the Bludgers. This is therefore the position that, more than any other, has tended to be taken by wizards rather than witches. Beaters also need to have an excellent sense of balance, as it is sometimes necessary for them to take both hands from their brooms for a double-handed assault on a Bludger.
Chaser is the oldest position in Quidditch, for the game once consisted wholly of goal-scoring. The Chasers throw the Quaffle to each other and score ten points for every time they get it through one of the goal hoops.
The only significant change in Chasing came about in 1884, one year after the substitution of goal hoops for goal baskets. A new rule was introduced which stated that only the Chaser carrying the Quaffle could enter the scoring area. If more than one Chaser entered, the goal would be disallowed. The rule was designed to outlaw ‘stooging’ (see ‘Fouls’ below), a move by which two Chasers would enter the scoring area and ram the Keeper aside, leaving a goal hoop clear for the third Chaser. Reaction to this new rule was reported in the Daily Prophet of the time.
Our Chasers Aren’t Cheating!
That was the stunned reaction of Quidditch fans across Britain last night when the so-called ‘Stooging Penalty’ was announced by the Department of Magical Games and Sports last night.
‘Instances of Stooging have been on the increase,’ said a harassed-looking Departmental representative last night, ‘We feel that this new rule will eliminate the severe Keeper injuries we have been seeing only too often. From now on, one Chaser will attempt to beat the Keeper, as opposed to three Chasers beating the Keeper up. Everything will be much cleaner and fairer.’
At this point the Departmental representative was forced to retreat as the angry crowd started to bombard him with Quaffles. Wizards from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement arrived to disperse the crowd, who were threatening to Stooge the Minister for Magic himself.
One freckle-faced six-year-old left the hall in tears.
‘I loved Stooging,’ he sobbed to the Daily Prophet. ‘Me and me dad like watching them Keepers flattened. I don’t want to go to Quidditch no more.’
Daily Prophet, 22 June 1884
Usually the lightest and fastest fliers, Seekers need both a sharp eye and the ability to fly one- or no-handed. Given their immense importance in the overall outcome of the match, for the capture of the Snitch so often snatches victory from the jaws of defeat, Seekers arc most likely to be fouled by members of the opposition. Indeed, while there is considerable glamour attached to the position of Seeker, for they arc traditionally the best fliers on the pitch, they are usually the players who receive the worst injuries. ‘Take out the Seeker’ is the first rule in Brutus Scrimgeour’s The Beaters' Bible.
The following rules were set down by the Department of Magical Games and Sports upon its formation in 1750:
1. Though there is no limit imposed on the height to which a player may rise during the game, he or she must not stray over the boundary lines of the pitch. Should a player fly over the boundary, his or her team must surrender the Quaffle to the opposing team.
2. The Captain of a team may call for ‘time out’ by signalling to the referee. This is the only time players’ feet are allowed to touch the ground during a match. Time out may be extended to a two-hour period if a game has lasted more than twelve hours. Failure to return to the pitch after two hours leads to the team’s disqualification.
3. The referee may award penalties against a team. The Chaser taking the penalty will fly from the central circle towards the scoring area. All players other than the opposing Keeper must keep well back while the penalty is taken.
4. The Quaffle may be taken from another player’s grasp but under no circumstances must one player seize hold of any part of another player’s anatomy.
Quidditch Through the Ages by J. K. Rowling / Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 5.3 out of 5 / Based on42 votes