10 of JK Rowling’s Best Historical References

While critics may not have found it magical, fans are still thrilled with the release of Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secretsas evidenced by its solid Audience rotten tomatoes score. The carefully crafted world of magic and mystery that JK Rowling has presented will never fail to entertain and bring audiences back for more. Real-life lessons about loyalty, trust, unity, and friendship are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the learning material found in the novels.

JK Rowling drew a significant portion of her characters and plots from historical examples and people. The number of cultural references and connections that are made in the books and movies could be a novel in itself. What makes Harry Potter such an influential and comprehensive tale is the limitless layers the author has presented so that readers always learn more.


ten Nicolas Flamel was a real French scribe

Nicolas Flamel meets Jacob Kowalski

A well-known fact is that Nicolas Flamel was a real man and legend of the 17th century. He humbly made a living as a former librarian by writing books and manuscripts for his city. People suspected him of experimenting with alchemy and discovering the way to create the philosopher’s stone that gave him an immortal inheritance, according to the Magic world.

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He is referenced in the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as Dumbledore’s close and immortal acquaintance. The Stone of Flamel fuels the narrative with desperate attempts by the protagonist’s role to guard Voldemort’s Stone. Flamel then reappears in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald as an influential figure.

9 Voldemort or Oedipus?

Lord Voldemort and Wormtail in Harry Potter

Throughout the films and books, Voldemort has provided quotes and context illustrating his character and his horrific past. He is known to have murdered his father because he was a Muggle and pursued a life of self-imposed “lordship”. JK Rowling has cleverly slipped in important ties to the story of Oedipus.

Much like Tom Riddle Jr., Oedipus killed his father over a disagreement and left victorious fighting with the whole land to rule. Although both men had mothers named Merope, Voldemort did not marry his mother like Oedipus. This subtle connection to the well-known story hinted to literature buffs that Voldemort was doomed.

8 Quirrell in Ancient Rome

Professor Quirrell starred in the first book as Voldemort’s devoted servant. He had both literal and figurative faces in his temper and his shocking ability to house the Dark Lord in the back of his head. Quirrell’s ability to manipulate others and keep his true desires and character a secret revealed his nature.

His character is a reference to the Roman god Janus Quirinus who is famous for having two faces. Janus is a trickster known to be the god of doors and beginnings. In ancient lore, he often misleads people in order to achieve his goals, much like Professor Quirrell.

seven Sybill Trelawney and the Ancient Fortune Tellers

Professor Sybill Trelawney stands out as one of the show’s most eccentric and interesting characters, renowned for his lack of social skills and heartbreaking prophecies. Sybil, it turns out, is a form of a Greek word meaning “prophetess,” which hints from the start that she’s a powerful witch.

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It is also mentioned in the books that Sybill’s great-great-grandmother is Cassandra Trelawney, who was a true seer and is likely a reference to the Greek prophetess of myth, Cassandra. Similar to Professor Trelawney, Cassandra was cursed with the ability to see the future without anyone else believing the predictions she shared.

6 Death Eaters and the IRA

The Death Eaters brought many questions as well as significant depth to the villainy that makes up the Harry Potter series. Due to the obvious biases between different wizards and Muggles, comparisons are often made to the events of World War II. This is just the tip of the iceberg of wickedness that the Death Eaters are connected to.

The Irish Republican Army was rampant with terrorist attacks with the aim of ending British rule in Ireland until 2005. During this period, while Rowling was writing the books, they carried out a series of bombings which can clearly be compared to the destruction of the bridge in Ireland. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. There are also similarities between the black balaclavas with eye slits worn by Death Eaters in the books and the black ski masks worn by the IRA.

5 The Phoenix Fawkes is named after Guy Fawkes

Another historical name reference is Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes. In the books, Fawkes has impressive magical abilities, including tear healing, super strength, and the ability to rise from the ashes of his own cremation. Its namesake also has a connection with fire.

Guy Fawkes is the inspiration for the British party “Bonfire Night”. In an attempt to end Protestant rule in England, Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament to kill the King and his representatives. Like the holidays, the beloved phoenix in Harry Potter is a symbol of celebration of rebirth and life, although Fawks certainly takes a more peaceful approach.

4 Foreshadowing of werewolves

Remus Lupin, who is one of the most beloved characters by fans of the Harry Potter the franchise is also named after a boy from Roman mythology, Remus, who was raised by a wolf. His character is exemplified in the books as Lupine cites the struggles and heartache that being a werewolf brought into his life.

Fenrir Greyback is another iconic werewolf in the series, embodying terror and evil in every appearance. His character is a nod to ancient Norse mythology where there is a giant wolf named Fenrir. Similar to Greyback, the wolf represents evil and preys on the innocent.

3 Hermione’s petrified namesake

Hermione Granger fights with her wand.

Hermione is a very unique name that is most often seen in the Shakespeare play, The Winter’s Tale. In the play, the queen who had previously died is brought back to life through a stone statue made in her honor. In a story of love and sacrifice, Queen Hermione is returned to those she loves most.

Hermione Granger also reenacted this dramatic event in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. After being petrified, she is miraculously brought back to life safe and sound thanks to her friends’ dedicated work to save her. Like her namesake, and understandably, as one of the most powerful wizards, Hermione returned to the story in style.

2 The Salem Witch Trials

the witch of salem tries the witch

Highly referenced in the Harry Potter prequel, fantastic beasts and where to find them, is the appearance of the discrimination muggles had against wizards. A famous part of American history is the Salem Witch Trials where 25 people were murdered due to alleged witchcraft.

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The historical significance of prejudice against witchcraft or anything that humans cannot understand has fueled the impact and mission of Fantastic Beasts. In fact, the real historic witch trials in Salem also took place in the Potter universe and acted as a major influence on wizarding families not coming to the New World (according to the Magic world).

1 The Black Sisters and the Mitford Sisters

Bellatrix Lastrange casting a spell in one of the Harry Potter movies.

The black sisters were infamous for their loyalty and determination to serve those close to them, no matter how twisted and evil they were. With the exception of Sirius, Regulus, and Andromeda, the Black family were known for their dark arts and prejudice against the rest of the world.

Narcissa and Bellatrix may have been modeled after the Mitford sisters, who were known Nazi devotees. They sacrificed everything they had to start a new life with sworn fascists. Bellatrix in particular is comparable to Unity Mitford, who was openly in love with Hitler.

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