The character of Lucius Malfoy can hardly be defined as any sort of a Man of Mystery. But there are still rather a lot of fairly important things about him which we do not know. Rowling will ever got around to telling us any of them, either. We didn’t really expect her to.
But he does certainly stand as one of Rowling’s more successful creations. Lucius Malfoy makes a throughly satisfactory villain.
Much more so than Tom Marvolo Riddle ever did.
It is apparent to the reader that if Lucius Malfoy had been the primary villain of the piece, we would be reading a rather different story. Lucius does not have any sort of an instinct for epic endeavors. He is, at heart, a political animal. If he took over the wizarding world, he would want to rule it. Openly, and to all appearances, legally. And he would make a concerted effort to do it, too.
And he did want to take it over. Or at least to take over wizarding Britain.
Legally. From the inside.
Which is a part of why the portions of the series in which Lucius was acting on his own behalf (Years 2–4) have such an unequivocal political reading once you examine what appears to have been unfolding at the Ministry in the background of the central story. Malfoy was trying to stage a palace coup.
And it almost worked.
Probably our most recalcitrant and persistent conundrum is why Sirius Black did not mention Malfoy when he was giving us his little list of the baby Death Eaters that Snape hung out with when he first came up to Hogwarts. Although post-DHs that conundrum has almost been eclipsed by the question of why he did not mention Mulciber.
Particularly since it has always been quite evident since about CoS that Snape has had long associations with Lucius Malfoy. But, although Sirius gave us the information that Malfoy, like Avery, had gotten off on an Imperius defense at the end of VoldWar I, he did not include Malfoy among the future DEs in Snape’s “gang”.
So why not?
Well, who did Sirius name in his little list? Rosier and Wilkes. Avery. The Lestranges, described as a married couple, now in Azkaban. What do these all have in common?
Well, they were Slytherins. But that doesn’t really get us any forwarder.
And, post-HBP, we knew that all of them except possibly Wilkes, (and maybe Bellatrix) share family names with known contemporaries, or early associates of young Tom Riddle.
Ergo: they were all 2nd-generation Death Eaters. And it is not much of a stretch to suppose that Wilkes probably was as well.
The ballots are not really in regarding Bellatrix. But her mother was a Rosier. So there is indeed a connection to have been invoked. With the recent adjustment to her father’s birth year on the Black family tapestry sketch, there is a strong possibility that Cygnus Black might have also been persuaded early to follow Tom Riddle, or have been enlisted by his in-laws, off the rest of the Back family’s radar.
And it finally occurred to me that Sirius Black must have only learned about Malfoy getting off on that Imperius defense after he escaped from Azkaban. We have absolutely nothing to say whether Abraxus Malfoy was “connected” — and there is nothing in canon to suggest that he was.
If Abe was out of Hogwarts before Riddle started gaining influence there, he wouldn’t have been one of the ones that Riddle recruited. Riddle made few overtures toward anyone significantly older than himself. He’d use them, but he wouldn’t induct them into his circle. He targeted their kids instead.
If Abraxus was six or seven years younger than Riddle he’d have missed falling under his influence as well. Riddle didn’t stick around Hogwarts after he left it, and within a few years had disappeared from the British wizarding world altogether. Most of Riddle’s “first generation” followers were probably born between, oh, say, 1924 and 1934.
Sirius Black was inside from the day after Voldemort fell, and he tells us as a preface to his story of the decline and fall of Barty Crouch Sr, that he only pieced most of it together in the year he had been dodging the Aurors — after he escaped. I think he had very little word from outside until Fudge showed up on an inspection tour and gave him a newspaper.
He would have remembered that Malfoy had a social circle of his own. and that his was a rival circle to Bella’s. He clearly knows that Snape was taken up by Malfoy after Bella either dropped him, or finished school herself. Which may be why Sirius states that there was no suspicion about Snape having been connected before the end of the war. Snape had ended up in Malfoy’s crowd, not Bella’s.
So if Sirius didn’t grow up knowing that the Malfoys were also DEs or on a fast track to become so, he probably wouldn’t have brought him up in that context.
Particularly since Malfoy certainly wasn’t a part of Bella’s gang. He had probably never been a part of Bella’s gang. There was clearly no love lost between Lucius and Bella to the day she died, and I am coming more and more to the conclusion that there never had been.
In fact, some of the fan suspicions that the Malfoys are jumped-up nouveau riche rather than “old guard” purebloods may have something to it. But, regardless of the cause, Lucius certainly never made the cut where Bella was concerned. (Of course that may simply be because Lucius was too arrogant to defer to her.)
And, let’s face it, Sirius Black clearly had every reason to know that you can easily be a pureblood extremist twerp and a Dark wizard without being a DE.
So what else does this have to say about Lucius Malfoy?
Well, Malfoy married Narcissia Black didn’t he? Possibly as early as 1975 the year Narcissia finished Hogwarts.
How do we know that Malfoy wasn’t recruited by his father-in-law?
Which means that he may NOT have been, himself, a DE kid. Just another snobbish, bigoted pureblood, who fit the profile, and was receptive to the message.
Malfoy, a year younger than Bellatrix, had his own gang which did not intersect with Bellatrix and her circle. After all, they were coming from two slightly different contexts, and there was a certain degree of “shared awareness” which ran through one of these circles that was not present in the other.
And it appears that Snape seems to have been taken up by, and then later left (or been dropped by) the one group, only to be picked up by the other. Or, if he was indeed the sort of “pushing, thrusting young man” that Sybil paints him, he may have transferred his attentions and deliberately attached himself to the other most influential group still in range.
For that matter, I can’t readily suppose that Andromeda Black hung about much with her sister Bella and her crowd, either. And Narcissa, four years younger than Bellatrix, would probably have been beneath Bellatrix’s contempt while she was still a scrubby schoolgirl. Cissy would have gravitated to a younger group. Evidently Malfoy’s.
But we still have been told nothing of any sort about the character and/or loyalties of Abraxus Malfoy, Lucius’s father. Nor do we even know who Lucius’s mother was. And it looks like we never will.
Until the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, one of the issues with the widest degree of controversy in fanon was Lucius Malfoy’s age. The animosity displayed between Lucius and Arthur Weasley in the Flourish and Blotts encounter at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets is so clearly “personal” that it gives a strong hint of there having been a long history between them. One could easily have seen Lucius and Arthur being the pre-eminent Gryffindor/Slytherin rivals of their mutual years at Hogwarts (with Arthur narrowly beating Lucius out for the honor of being Head Boy.) The alternate, and, actually rather more widespread fanon theory placed Malfoy in the same year as Severus Snape.
Well, neither of these readings turned out to be altogether correct. In OotP Lucius Malfoy was stated in a Daily Prophet article to be 41 years old in the Autumn that his son Draco was appointed a Slytherin 5th year Prefect (1995). Given the ages of his oldest sons (now known to have been at least 21 and 23 at that point), Arthur Weasley is bound to be at least a few years older than Lucius. After all, such a thing is Not Done.
It is still quite evident that the two of them share a long and acrimonious history, however. And their time at Hogwarts would have overlapped. I cannot really see Arthur Weasley throwing a punch at a man who was either very much older, or very much younger than himself.
Another indication of some kind of personal history is the fact that Draco starts spitting slurs at the whole Weasley tribe the minute he lays eyes on Ron on the Hogwarts express all the way back in PS/SS, which by the internal timeline of the series took place in 1991. This had to come from somewhere.
We have absolutely no reason to suppose that the Burrow is located anywhere that the Malfoys would be required to have any interaction with the Weasleys, so it is unlikely that Draco had ever seen Ron before. And, now that we know that Arthur was one of only three brothers (and no sisters), the contempt for the Weasley’s large family had to have been deliberately aimed at Arthur’s family rather than that of his parents’.
Draco has clearly been sent off to school well-primed with fulminations regarding penniless redheads who breed like rabbits from his father (who he clearly idolizes). One glance at shabby, red-headed Ron is enough to identify him as the “hereditary enemy”.
According to Pharnabazus’s theories, [http://www.livejournal.com/users/pharnabazus/715.html] this may be an indirect indication that if Lucius and Barty Crouch Sr cut a deal in the aftermath of VoldWar I, now that Crouch has been shunted to one side in the course of a rotation of Department Heads, he is no longer able to hold up his end of the agreement, with the result that Ministry raids are now affecting wizards dependent on Malfoy’s sponsorship.
Indeed, Malfoy himself appears to have been subjected to at least one raid by the opening of CoS and Arthur Weasley’s position as the Head of a Division of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement is of a sort which might well have required that he take part in it. The possibility of a widespread personnel rotation inside the Ministry attendant upon Fudge’s accession to the post of Minister of Magic in 1990 would certainly fit this reading.
However, the HBP information that Malfoy’s father Abraxus Malfoy was still alive at the end of VoldWar I would dictate that some degree of modification to Phanabazus’s original theory be made.
What now seems most probable is that it was not Lucius who cut that deal (if deal there was) with Barty Crouch, But Abraxus.
And, for the record, I think there was a deal cut.
For that matter, I can easily picture an old martinet of a Malfoy paterfamilias keeping the son who had publicly embarrassed him by getting involved in a terrorist organization firmly under his thumb thereafter. Even after his partner in the cover-up, Barty Sr had been shunted sideways out of the DMLE.
One thing that a lot of people are a bit slow at picking up on is that even among the Pureblood extremists, Lord Voldemort’s actual DEs are a considerable minority. Wizards may individually be scofflaws, but the majority still believe in a rule of law. And it is obvious that Lord Voldemort doesn’t.
Riddle never put any real effort into trying to recruit the older generation. He’ll use them as Imperio’ed puppets without compunction, but even Karkaroff may have been not much older than Riddle, for all his silver hair (It had been black only 10 years earlier). Pretty much anyone more than about 3 years older than Tom were fairly safe from attempted recruitment. Tom wasn’t interested in them.
Tom will go for the sure thing if he can. That’s why just about all of his followers are the descendants of his own schoolmates and a few similar types that he picked up on the Continent. For all that Sirius Black raved on about how LV wanted to enlist more DEs, we don’t seem to get a lot of indication of this in the books.
Even though the rest of the extremists are perfectly willing enough to fall in line once he starts laying down the law, and designating them as the “ruling class”.
On the other hand, prior to the release of OotP most fanon writers who produced Marauder-era fics seemed to have been determined to put Lucius Malfoy into the same year as Severus Snape. Which was another widely adopted theory that the Daily Prophet article exploded.
Lucius, now revealed to be some 6 years older than Snape, is old enough to have been a 7th year in Snape’s first year, unless he has a birthday after September 1. Their time at Hogwarts is shown to have overlapped, but they are not exact contemporaries. I’ll admit that I never could believe the Malfoy/Snape year-mates theory, but it has made for some lively and engaging storytelling, both dramatic and comic. At least one example of which can be found posted in the Publications area, elsewhere on this site.
It has also been pointed out to me that if Lucius Malfoy had only *just* turned 41 when the Daily Prophet article ran in September of ’95, then he would have been only five years ahead of Snape, which would certainly make a better argument for their continuing association afterwards. But I would tend to suspect that it might be unwise to depend upon that being the case. Not that we will ever be told.
As to Lucius’s circumstances; We have known from an early point in the series that the Malfoy’s do indeed own a “mansion”. In Wiltshire. (We do not know whether it is in close proximity to Salisbury Plain.) For that matter we have known about the manor since we first encountered the Malfoys pere et fils in Borgin & Burke’s at the beginning of CoS.
It should be pointed out that a manor house, is not necessarily on a scale to be classified as a stately home, although it can be. And the Malfoy’s manor house is unlikely to be the Georgian confection that fanon paints it. By the time of the Georges, the wizarding world was in formal Seclusion and unlikely to be drawing attention to itself with building mansions. Indeed, when we finally got there in DHs, Malfoy Manor does indeed appear to be no more recent than the late Tudor to early Stuart periods. Which would fit very nicely.
For that manner, that the Malfoys did at one time also have a House Elf would imply that this property is probably neither small nor even remotely modern. We do not yet know for certain whether Dobby was the Malfoy’s “hereditary” elf or whether he was awarded to the Malfoys by the House Elf Relocation Department of the Ministry of Magic at some point before, during, or after VoldWar I. But the probability is that he was “hereditary”.
Our information to date has some gaps on this issue, however. The story to date suggests that a number of fine old families may have met their ends during the previous conflict. And due to the tendencies of families to eventually die out anyway, some relocation of House Elves may continue to be ongoing. But the likelihood is that even if Dobby had not been the Malfoy’s Elf originally, he had been in the possession of another family of Dark wizards during the “war”. His statement that House Elves were “treated like vermin” when Voldemort was “in power” does not suggest that he had been formerly the Elf of a family like the Potters. (As the Potters are usually depicted.)
Although Pharnabazus raises a very good question, in his excellent ‘Expecto Patronum’ series, as to whether Lucius Malfoy is really as rich as he appears, there is little question that throughout the British wizarding world he is accounted a wealthy man. It is not difficult to regard the Malfoys as one of those families who have been living on the proceeds of their investments for generations.
Wizard or Muggle, once a fortune reaches a certain level, the holder’s primary job is managing their money, no other occupation is deemed necessary. Lucius is probably at least the second or third head of the Malfoy family who has been in the “business” of money farming.
Or, if the Malfoys go back anything like as far as the Blacks, quite possibly much, much more. There is no assurance of that, however.
However, Lucius’s determination to make a public parade of his wealth, and his son’s tendency to boast of it leads many fans to conclude that the Malfoy fortune might be very “new” money. This may or may not actually be the case, nor does it matter. But it must be admitted that their obsession on the subject is certainly as vulgar as any stereotypical sketch meant to be representative of the nouveau riche. Indeed, “rich, rude and snobbish” is a description which fits the Malfoys every bit as well as it did the Riddles. Astonishingly, this behaviour seems to be a manner to which a surprising number of people somehow manage to respond very favorably.
A minor point in support of this reading is that — rather to our surprise — the Malfoys do not appear to rate a seat on the Wizengamot. Since the members of the Wizengamot appear in the main to also hold posts within the Ministry of Magic, or other branches of the government, it is at this point uncertain whether this is a relevant factor or not.
My own interpretation of the Malfoys’ background, which is just for fun, completely irrelevant, and altogether unsupported, is that they did not come over “with the Conqueror”, despite a determined effort later to give that impression. They did settle in England around the end of the reign of the Plantagenets (possibly coming over in the wake of Henry Tudor after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485), but rather than being landowners, they were engaged in trade, at some reasonably successful level.
At some point prior to the establishment of Seclusion, possibly during the brief reign of Mary Tudor, they managed to make enough of a killing in their commercial enterprises to enable their eldest son and heir to “marry up”, which is the point at which the manor came into Malfoy hands, either directly by marriage or by purchase enabled by young Madam Malfoy’s dowery.
The family, which clearly has long-established isolationist sympathies, went into hiding on their own initiative some decades before wizarding Seclusion was imposed by statute, possibly as early as some point during the reign of James I, certainly well before Parliamentary rule, and upon the formal establishment of Seclusion they liquidated all of their holdings but the manor itself in order to buy into the Ministry-sanctioned cabal of wizarding traders. The bulk of their current fortune dates from the Seclusion period. That trade cabal has done very well for its shareholders.
Like I say, there is absolutely no support of this reading in canon. Nor any contradiction of it.
Although farming his money appears to be Malfoy’s primary occupation, his most active one seems to be to farm his influence, which, of course, protects the sources of his money.
To this end he probably has a finger in just about every pie worth the baking in the British (and possibly international) wizarding world into which he or his forebearers have been able to insert one. This draws in any number of additional advantages.
For one thing, natural-born toadies in high places, like Cornelius Fudge, are easily guided to follow policies which further the Malfoy agenda. A reasonable “donation” here and there and some judicious flattery — balanced by some misdirection in the form of drawing attention to phantom threats to Fudge’s authority, and Fudge, even if he is not “ever-so-evil” is eating out of Malfoy’s hand. By the end of OotP, Fudge, as any reader will notice, had become second only to Draco in the cast of characters with a habit of quoting “the world according to Lucius Malfoy”.
For the record; I believe that for the previous couple of years, Malfoy had been fostering the impression that it was he who had helped keep Fudge where he was and didn’t let him forget to whom he “owed” it. It is also evident that he had very early won Dolores Umbridge’s support in this campaign to separate Fudge from Dumbledore’s influence.
Fudge, for his part, is only slightly cleverer than he comes across (he could hardly be less so) and he does use that pompous, fussy, bumbling manner to disarm critics, much as Peter Pettigrew uses his cowering little wimp mode to deflect his enemies. But where manipulation is concerned, Fudge is seriously outclassed by just about everybody around him, with the exception of Percy Weasley. The only uncertainty remaining is just how deeply aware Fudge was of exactly whose purposes he had been serving. He can certainly never have been unaware of Lucius’s sentiments, and he seems in general to share them. Just how thoroughly shocked (“Shocked! I mean! Shocked!”) he may have been by the unquestionable evidence that Malfoy actually was a Death Eater rather than one of their formerly-Imperio’d tools remains uncertain.
For another thing, the right donations to the right worthy causes gets you a place on the Board of Directors, and into a position to set the policy of institutions, as well as to convey a sense of those institutions’ obligation to oneself.
We know that Lucius, or more probably his father, enabled the means for him to elude justice in the first round of Death Eater trials by convincing the Court (and had he purchased that Court? Even under Crouch Sr? I’ve come solidly around to the view that Abraxus Malfoy and Barty Crouch did cut a deal there) that Lucius had acted under the force of the Imperius curse during Voldemort’s first rise and could not have been held accountable for any actions he had performed during it.
And, while we are on the subject of Malfoy’s Imperius defense: from the outside looking in, to the majority of the wizarding public this defense might have appeared quite plausible. It has become evident that Voldemort and his followers employed extravagant use of the Imperius curse in his campaign to disrupt the wizarding government. Malfoy and Avery could hardly have been the only wizards who used that defense, and most of the others who did so probably had been bewitched by it. We also know from Karkaroff’s plea-bargain hearing that many people were used to facilitate the Dark Lord’s agenda under the force of Imperius. And Malfoy’s public profile probably fitted very well with that of the people who were most likely to be used in this manner. (For the record, Horace Slughorn fits it even better.)
Consequently, during the Voldemort trials, a strong case could probably have been made that the Malfoy heir would be one of the first people that Voldemort wanted under control, both for the sake of his family’s influential position, access to the Malfoy resources, and also to limit any potential damage Malfoy might have done to Voldemort’s cause had he been allowed to continue to act independently. If Malfoy had any kind of connection, either social or through family to “Mulciber”, one of Voldemort’s Imperius specialists, this particular claim would have looked even more plausible.
We all know that the claim was manifestly untrue, of course, but the defense would have been readily believed by a wizarding world primed by the articles covering the trial in the Daily Prophet. (Did I mention that there was a Malfoy appointee on the Board of the Prophet? Did I really need to? There still is, if you ask me. Possibly Lucius himself. Or, by this time, Narcissia.)
As to his standing as a father; Up to the end of OotP Lucius does appear to be rather cooly fond of his son, widely indulges the boy, and holds him to higher standards in behavior and accomplishments than the boy wants to put in the effort to meet. Nor is Lucius impressed by whining and general brattiness. I do not know, given the fact that for the first five books of the series the boy seemed to have next to no common sense and even less sense of self-preservation, whether Lucius actually took a lot of pride in him. But by the end of DHs it is clear that Lucius values his son very highly indeed.
I have always tended to very much doubt that he is a physically abusive parent. Draco shows none of the behavior of a physically abused child. But as parents go, Lucius does seems to be a somewhat remote and intimidating one. He is a Dark wizard, after all. They tend to gradually lose whatever capacity for empathy they may have started out with. And he certainly does not hesitate to coldly depress the boy’s pretensions. Consequently, Draco’s burning ambition is to someday manage to impress his father. Unlikely as it is that Draco has ever been subjected to physical abuse, a cold word from his father can still crush him.
Lucius also appears to come from the kind of social background which among Muggles of an earlier age traditionally kept mistresses, almost in the manner of a political statement. And if he is nothing else, Lucius Malfoy is, beyond question, primarily a political animal. But we do not know whether such arrangements have ever been the case with wizards. Witches are, after all, persons of power themselves.
Indeed, given the fairly high status of witches in traditional wizarding society it does not seem particularly likely. Or at least not among married wizards. For that matter, given the overall demographic rarity of witches of childbearing age in the wizarding world, I would expect comparatively few of them to opt for the role of a kept mistress when they would have no difficulty finding husbands. Molly Weasley’s disapproving references to “scarlet women” however suggests that the oldest profession is not altogether unknown in the wizarding world.
Since Lucius seems not to have married directly out of Hogwarts, he might have been accustomed to making such arrangements as a bachelor. But we are given no reason in canon to suppose so, nor that he might continue to do so.
On the contrary, we have been given every reason to suppose that he and Narcissia are extremely well-suited to one another, and that both of them are very well aware of it. You definitely do not need to be a good person in order to have a good marriage in JK Rowling’s Potterverse. One sharp look at the Dursleys should be evidence enough of that. Vernon Dursley takes a distinctly tender concern for Petunia’s comfort and peace of mind, and Lucius Malfoy clearly defers to Narcissia’s feelings in nearly every matter that concerns his heir, from the boy’s name to his education, and probably his only child status as well.
An additional contextual lens through which to view the development of the series, particularly as it concerns the actions of Lucius Malfoy, can be noted in any close examination of the position Albus Dumbledore holds in British wizarding society.
Up to the opening of OotP, as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot (the body which appoints the Minister for Magic and must approve any of the Ministry’s new policies), Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederacy of Wizards AND Headmaster of Hogwarts Academy, Albus Dumbledore virtually owned the British wizarding world, and was in a position to direct policy without having to be the one to implement it. From a political standpoint, he was the uncrowned king of wizarding Britain. And Dumbledore is an old man who cannot live forever.
With no designated successors.
This kind of situation is likely to be irresistible to the Young Turks of any given society. And Lucius was certainly highly enough positioned to be taking an interest.
Or was he?
It blew past us in OotP that Lucius Malfoy, despite his apparent social prominence and his much-vaunted “influence”, does not have a seat on the Wizengamot. Not even once he was the Head of the family after his father’s death. In fact, most of the members of the “Full Wizengamot” that we ever managed to identify seemed to be upper-level Ministry officials (and Fudge’s senior assistant). Lucius Malfoy had not, apparently, managed to get his foot in the requisite door to the real power in the wizarding world just yet. And now he is never likely to.
We are lacking much of the necessary data to draw any sort of informed conclusion as to just who does qualify for a seat on the Wizengamot. Without that information is it impossible to speculate further on exactly what the recognized “Paths to Power” in the British wizarding world are.
But regardless of whatever those paths may be, it has rather belatedly become evident that there is a perfectly valid (if incorrect) reading of the conflict between Albus Dumbledore and Tom Marvolo Riddle which, rather than being the widely perceived interpretation of a straightforward opposition of good vs. evil, falls solidly within the context of its being a largely political conflict.
And that goes double, in spades, for Lucius Malfoy.
And in his case a political reading would not be incorrect.
In a society where we have been given to believe the life expectancy is something more than a century, Lucius Malfoy, at no more than the age of 40, seems inordinately young to be able to throw his weight around to the degree that he does from CoS to GoF.
And as far as that goes, one has to ask oneself, just what became of his father? And for that matter, his grandfather, whom one might reasonably expect to still be in full control of the Malfoy fortunes and policies, leaving Lucius kicking his heels as the secondary heir, with no defined purpose, in a general state of frustration.
And just what had the elder Malfoys’ opinion been of this upstart “Lord Voldemort” person?
We were given a little more background on the matter in HBP.
And even more of a suggestion in the Black family tapestry sketch.
There is certainly no Malfoy mentioned by name in the pair of Pensieve memories connected to the young Tom Riddle or the slightly older, but still young Voldemort. There is a Lestrange and an Avery in attendance in our visit to an early meeting of the Slug Club. And Riddle, of course. We do not know the identity of the other three youngsters in the group of a half a dozen boys. But Harry noticed no resemblance in any of them to the Malfoys he’s met.
Some 15–20 years later; soon after his return to the wizarding world at the end of an absence of some ten years, we learn Voldemort’s “fellow travelers” are Doholov, Mulciber, Nott, and one of the Rosiers. But we hear nothing of a Malfoy.
Horace Slughorn knew Abraxus Malfoy. There is no certainty that Tom Riddle did. Or, at least not while he was at school.
Draco claims to remember statements made by his grandfather regarding his former acquaintance with Slughorn when he makes an attempt to curry favor. Slughorn mentions his regret at hearing of the elder Malfoy’s passing in an outbreak of dragon pox, but states that “at his age” such a passing was not to be wondered at.
If we can assume that Draco Malfoy was old enough to be expected to have some authentic memories of his grandfather by the time of that gentleman’s death, then Abraxus Malfoy must have at least lived into the 1980s before being carried off in an outbreak of dragon pox.
Well, on the sketch of the Black family tapestry, released to the public some months after the release of HBP, we may have some information that sheds additional light on this issue. We discover that there were no fewer than four deaths recorded in the Black family over the course of 1991–1992.
These deaths were variously: Arcturus; 1901-1991, Cassiopeia; 1915-1992, Lucretia; 1925-1992, and Cygnus, the Black sisters’ father; 1938-1992.
Cygnus’s dates have since been changed in the film’s version of the tapestry to 1929–1979, and the version posted on the HP Lexicon has followed suit. But his death was originally noted as being in 1992.
1992 would have covered the last two terms of Harry’s first year at Hogwarts. (As well as the Autumn term of his 2nd.) 1991 was the year that Harry first started Hogwarts, in September.
Is it possible that the sudden deaths of no fewer than four (now 3) members of the Black family over what could have been no more than a matter of a few months, or even weeks, have signified the outbreak of an epidemic?
Might this have been the same outbreak of dragon pox which carried off Abraxus Malfoy?
If Abraxus Malfoy lived until late 1991 or early 1992, keeping his son Lucius firmly under his thumb, that might explain why — apart from Draco’s parroting his father’s sentiments — we never had to deal with Lucius Malfoy until the following summer. When he launched the Year of the Basilisk.
Because he was certainly constantly underfoot from that point on, until they finally hauled him off to Azkaban, four years later.
His father’s being still alive could readily explain why Lucius did not deploy the Diary until he was off his leash at the beginning of his own son’s 2nd year.
Given that Dobby claims to have heard something related to the plan to deploy the Diary, in the face of Barty Crouch’s failure to protect the family from raids by Aurors, I could fairly easily picture Lucius campaigning to do *something*, trying to soft-pedal the LV associations of the Riddle Diary to his father, and to play up the purge the mudbloods angle. But even that doesn't completely satisfy the requirements. For, so far as we know, From Lucius Malfoy’s position, the point of deploying the Diary was to remove Albus Dumbledore as Headmaster. I cannot see any manner in which that would necessarily serve Abraxus Malfoy's purposes. If there was some other element about which we have not been informed, there might have been a great deal of discussion for Dobby to have overheard but the chances of our ever knowing that are negligible. Abraxus probably wanted no part of it. Even if it might have dislodged Dumbledore, raising havoc at Hogwarts would not have stopped the Ministry raids.Dumbledore had nothing to do with the Minstry raids.
And while we are on the subject, neither did Arthour Weasley, although he had no doubt taken part in some of them.
Weasley’s department is indeed a part of the DMLE, which was in charge of the raids. However, Weasley’s own department’s responsibility was to discourage the enchantment of Muggle artifacts, and to prevent the releasing of enchanted artifacts into Muggle hands. The discovery of enchanted Muggle artifacts in wizarding hands — which remain in wizarding hands, is not really much of an issue. Arthur Weasley was certainly not the one in charge of proposing raids of Dark wizard’s households in order to search for enchanted Muggle artifacts. He was included in these exercises in order to identify and confiscate any such artifacts that might have turned up in the course of them, but the raids themselves were looking for something of rather more significance than the odd charmed tea set.
But the highest likelihood is that the discussions that Dobby heard were between Lucius and Narcissa after the death of Abraxus had set Lucius free from his father’s restraint. The news that Voldemort had attempted a return the previous year, and had failed at it — which would have been reported by Draco, and confirmed by Snape at the end of the year, must have seemed to offer a green-light to his own bid for political power.
Therefore; it is probably safe to conclude that either Abraxus Malfoy was already some time gone from Hogwarts before Riddle appeared there. Perhaps a long time gone. (And not all wizards start their families right out of Hogwarts.) Or he was just far enough behind Riddle to have missed recruitment by the younger siblings of Riddle’s original followers, through having finished Hogwarts before Riddle’s return from his first exile.
Lucius may have been roped into the DE movement either by his father-in-law, Cygnus Black, or by the 2nd-generation Death Eaters who were at Hogwarts at the same time that he was; Evan Rosier, Avery and the Lestrange brothers — all of whom we know about, or possibly younger representatives of other families whose names we have not been told; and consequently became the first actual Death Eater in the Malfoy family.
However, we can probably still safely assume that any elder Malfoys were pretty nasty customers themselves. Death Eaters or not. Molly’s comment that “that whole family” was trouble didn’t come out of nowhere, suggesting some past friction between the Malfoys and possibly the Prewetts. Lucius’s ingrained conviction of pureblood supremacy does not have any of the signs of new convert’s fervor that Arthur Weasley’s love affair with Muggle technology does. Abraxus Malfoy would probably have found Lord Voldemort’s reported sentiments attractive.
But what did he think of him?
Rhetoric that appeals to an 18-year-old might not be so impressive to older and cooler heads who might regard the man’s lack of traceable background, and his adoption of an obviously bogus Muggle-style title to be in poor taste, if nothing else — and more suggestive of a charlatan than of a leader who rated his family’s valuable support. Or did he, like the elder Blacks simply take his son’s word for what this “Dark Lord” fellow stood for, agree that he had the “right ideas” and go on about his own business?
We know that Lucius’s Imperius defense was bogus. We know that Abraxus was not in Azkaban, or Draco would hardly be quoting him. Did he let Lucius go his own way and support him unofficially from the background. Or was he truly not aware that his son and heir had gotten involved with a terrorist movement?
Or not until Lucius was caught out at it.
And we still do not know for certain whether Lucius’s long-range, (nearly successful!) campaign to depose Albus Dumbledore was set up for his Master’s benefit, or for his own. Although we can harbor some pretty sound suspicions. By all indications he and Rita set up the groundwork for the smear campaign all the way back at the Quidditch World Cup, in the afternoon before there was any indication that Voldemort was solidly on the comeback trail.
Indeed, while there is still a good deal of uncertainly as to just exactly what Lucius thought he was doing when he decided to deploy the Riddle diary without his Master’s knowledge or permission, by every indication we have been given of his actions since that point, his intentions appear to have been less calculated to assist Voldemort than to supplant him.
And, indeed, deploying the Riddle diary, and, in fact, deploying it at that particular time, seems to be the sticking point of any attempt to understand or interpret where Lucius Malfoy is coming from. And it isn’t likely that we will ever be given any additional information to sort that issue with any certainty, either.
On the one hand, we do not know just how much of the adventure of the Philosophers’ Stone Lucius Malfoy was ever made aware of. We assume that Severus Snape reported at least some of the business to him. He could hardly do less and maintain his “reliable source” persona. Besides, the Adventure of the Philosophers’ Stone had already managed to get away from the staff of Hogwarts. Dumbledore was not able to hush it up. Some version of the business (probably many versions of the business) was circulating throughout the castle by the time Harry regained consciousness. So Snape would have had to fill Lucius in on enough to maintain his cover.
Consequently, we can assume that when the school year ended Lucius would have soon been made aware that Voldemort had possessed Professor Quirrell and made an attempt to stage his return. And failed. Lucius may have concluded that even if Voldemort was not dead, he was no longer to be regarded as an obstacle.
On the other hand, we have Dobby’s claim that he had known of the plot of Bad Things planned to happen at Hogwarts “for months” by the time he showed up in #4 Privet Drive to deliver his warning. Strongly suggesting that the plot was already in the making before Lucius Malfoy learned of Voldemort’s abortive attempt to return.
Well, okay. A few things that need to be considered:
1. Harry Potter may be Dobby’s hero, but he is not his master. Dobby can lie to Harry Potter if he feels he must. He could have exaggerated the amount of time he had known about the plot.
2. At some point during that year Lucius Malfoy had been subjected to a raid by the DMLE. He would have had a great deal to say on the subject once it was over. Much of it on the subject of revenge. Dobby almost certainly did overhear this.
3. The diary is exactly the sort of Dark artifact that it would have been a Very Bad Thing to have been caught with. Lucius dodged that bullet, this time, but getting it out of his possession might not be a bad idea. He also knows that the diary is a weapon, but he doesn’t know the details of how it works.
4. Even if the plot was in the works months before the summer, it was not set in motion before the summer break. It may well not have been finalized before the summer break.
Lucius Malfoy is not the kind of man to pour his soul out to a diary. But it is possible that he might have gotten into a dialog with the diary revenant. And he might have been careless enough to take the revenant at its word. Tom is very persuasive.
And we don’t know what the revenant might have told him. All we know for sure is that at some point he had been informed that that if someone got the diary into the hands of a student bound for Hogwarts, the Chamber of Secrets would be opened and all hell would break loose. Pharnabazus could perhaps be right and Lucius always had intended to give the diary to Ginny Weasley. But Harry’s stack of books were the first ones that were put into the cauldron the Diary landed in, and I still suspect that Dobby would not have got his pillowslip in such a twist unless the primary threat was to Harry Potter.
For that matter, what was Dobby lurking around Privet Drive for, anyway, unless he had been ordered to keep an eye on Potter?
And it may only have been after Lucius learned that Potter had vanquished the Dark Lord again and that his own son had managed to alienate Potter, that he did finally decide to offload the Diary to Harry Potter. Severus Snape is probably telling the truth when he states that many of the Dark Lord’s followers wondered whether Harry Potter might turn out to be a powerful Dark wizard himself, and a standard around whom they might all rally once more. And if Draco had already managed to alienate Potter, from Lucius Malfoy’s standpoint, that made the boy both; a. Competition, and; b. A potential threat. Malfoy does not like it when things threaten his family.
And for that matter there is also the not-at-all-minor point of material gain to be considered. This is not a matter which it is likely that a man of Lucius Malfoy's caliber is likely to overlook.
What do I mean by that? Why, just the standard exhortation to “follow the money”. Or, in this case, the property, up to and including all the nasty knick-knacks. In plain language, the Black family property.
With the death of Sirius Black, the Black family name has officially become extinct. But the writing on that particular wall had been on exhibition for quite some time. Ever since 1981, in fact. When the last scion of the Blacks was consigned to Azkaban for life and expected to die there, without issue.
But the name is not the whole sum of a family. Especially not a family which owns property. With the failure of the male line, the family’s property would have defaulted to the female line. Which is to say, the present female line. The property was not going to default back some 2–3 generations looking for a senior female line to follow. It would default to one of the female lines available to it now. And there isn’t quite so much of a shortage of claimants to the Black holdings among sons descended from Black females. There appear to be several separate claims on the inheritance to be made by various Black females and their descendants.
With the death of Sirius Black, Arcturus’s branch of the family, that of the former Heads of the family will be extinct. There are no known living claimants remaining from this branch of the family.
The senior cadet branch of the family, Arcturus’s cousin Pollux’s branch of the family, includes three surviving claimants. Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa Malfoy, and her descendants, and dropping back to Pollux’s own generation, the descendants of his younger sister, Doria Potter. Who is lower in the succession.
Yes, that’s right. By passing over Bellatrix and Narcissa’s somewhat stronger claims, Sirius Black settled the property upon Harry Potter, who (but for his technically halfblood status) was the collateral heir anyway. And even though Harry’s mother was Muggle-born, and he is regarded a halfblood, his father is still clearly shown on the family tapestry. The Potters have not been blasted off that tapestry, as have the Weasleys and the Tonkses.
After the claims of the Potters we shift to those of a yet more junior cadet branch of the family, the daughters of the earlier Arcturus Black.
The first of these is Callidora Longbottom, who, according to the tapestry is still alive, and who produced one son and one daughter. It is possible that she is Frank Longbottom’s grandmother.
The second claimants from this cadet branch are no longer in the running, since the Crouch family is also now extinct, but in 1982 both Barty Crouch and his son were still alive, and walking free.
Lestrange, Longbottom, Crouch. One really does have to ask oneself just what was behind that attack on the Longbottoms. Why were the Longbottoms attacked specifically.
Was this Malfoy removing Bellatrix from the equation before she and her husband produced a child who would have a stronger claim on the Black holdings than his own infant son?
And did he intend to remove Barty Crouch Jr as well, even though his claim was so much weaker? And what about the Longbottoms? Incapacitating Frank did not remove Neville from the succession, although I doubt that Augusta would be likely to make much of a push for his claim on the Black legacy.
But as of 1982 (the probable year of the attack on the Longbottoms) no one could get at Harry Potter. No one seems to have been able to find Harry Potter until he had returned to the ww and enrolled at Hogwarts.
And by then Lucius was a school Governor.
I very much doubt that Lucius would have decided to pass Harry the Diary solely to remove him as a claimant of the Black family holdings, but it does make for an additional reason to do so.
Lucius did seem to know that nothing good would happen to the child who was given the diary. And this may have been when he started talking about sending Draco to Durmstrang to get him out of the way of the situation. I suspect that Lucius had no idea that deploying the diary would reincarnate a young Tom Riddle. That would probably have been a nasty surprise if it had come off, and we don’t know what he would have done about it.
But, had he known, he might have thought he could control a young Riddle. Which would have been a mistake. Riddle is not amenable to control. He is not vulnerable to the demands and unspoken agreements which underlie social “contracts” and only goes through the motions as long as he is getting something he wants from them. And he doesn’t give squat about politics.
On the other hand, it is easy to postulate that Lucius might have attempted to do a salvage job, and possibly solve his problem by sending Riddle to Albania (if he knew about Albania. Snape may not have told him that) and put him in the way of his future/former self, to be taken over and be ultimately destroyed by it as Quirrell was. Now that we know what the diary revenant was, it begins to look as though we had a closer call than we realized in CoS. I very much doubt that if VaporMort had possessed the reincarnated Tom Riddle the result would have duplicated Professor Quirrell’s experience of the process. (Assuming that he would have been able to possess his former self at all. This is far from certain. We do not even know whether the Diary revenant would have ever become completely solid.)
But the situation did not arise and I still do not think that Lucius would have anticipated it if it had.
Since the failure of the diary plot, however, it seems clear to me that Lucius Malfoy’s actions over the following two years could really only further his own ambitions. And he came very close to succeeding. Only his Master’s eventual return thrust a spoke into his wheel, and co-opted his efforts. But while this reading certainly holds for the events of PoA, it does not entirely account for Malfoy’s actions over the course of GoF.
Snape is telling no less than the truth at Spinners’ End, in that it had to have been apparent that the Dark Lord’s return was eminent. The Marks had been growing clearer over the course of the year. Lucius could not have failed to notice it.
Particularly not after Barty Crouch Jr inadvertently(?) made a general stand-by announcement by sending up the Dark Mark at the Quidditch World Cup.
And yet it was clearly at the World Cup that Lucius first made contact with Rita Skeeter, and set up the projected smear campaign against both Dumbledore and Potter. He did not cancel this campaign once the Dark Mark was sent up. In fact, he may have only set it in motion after Crouch did so. The campaign was already in play before the representatives of the visiting Schools even reached Britain. And it escalated over the course of the year. So what was Malfoy playing at?
The Slytherins in Draco’s year were obviously instructed to cooperate with Rita, and vice versa, and the purpose of the campaign appears to have been, on the surface, to discredit Dumbledore and Harry before they had anything to say on the subject of the Dark Lord, and, in the background, to continue to drive the wedge between Fudge and Dumbledore. One suspects that this wedge had been inserted during the year that Fudge was surrounding himself with Dementors, and it appears to be evident (after the fact) that Malfoy had already managed to suborn Dolores Umbridge during the course of Year 3 when he was running in and out of the Ministry agitating over Draco’s injury by a hippogryff. Umbridge was clearly never a supporter of Dumbledore, or his outdated inclusionary views, and would have readily allied herself with Malfoy.
However, by launching his smear campaign and sticking to it we can see that Malfoy had devised a multi-purpose resource which could have been deployed profitably either by the Dark Lord or himself. If Voldemort chose to make use of it, it would pass for a “welcome home” gift. And might partially off-set the loss of that Diary. Indeed, we are forced to conclude it did.
Which brings us to the question of whether or not Lucius is particularly intelligent. He is certainly capable of laying very insidious, long-term plots which display a fair degree of cleverness. But we’ve also watched him make some very dumb mistakes (usually whenever he has been openly thwarted or challenged) and anyone who gets swept up in something like a pureblood supremacist movement simply cannot have the best of judgement in the first place. Certainly not if you stop to consider even the obvious consequences of carrying through any of such a movement’s goals to their logical conclusion in a world such as the Potterverse, as it has been set up.
He may have some degree of native intelligence, or at least a fair degree of cunning, and he is certainly more effective than his son seemed likely to be up to Book 6, but he has totally blinkered himself with prejudices, and he is so wrapped up in himself and the importance of being Lucius Malfoy that he is never going to get any farther in the world than he had already.
Which turned out to be Azkaban. Ironic, that.
Lucius Malfoy is demonstrably ambitious, calculating and cunning. But his tactics are not particularly subtle, and he does not operate well under any sort of pressure. Particularly not in situations where his pride might come under attack. In very much the same manner as his son, he seems to expect everything to be handed over to him as soon as he decides that he wants it, and his hackles go up if it doesn’t happen immediately. As effective as he might be behind the scenes, (blackmail and extortion seem to be his specialties) it is a Bad Idea to put him on the front lines. And he completely looses it when he is angry. As soon as he flies off the handle he is more likely than not to say or do something truly stupid.
Still, unlike many of Voldemort’s followers, he is not notably delusional. He MAY have been arrogant enough to have once harbored some intention of “using” Voldemort to further his own ends and he may well have engaged in mulling over possible ways to supplant the Dark Lord once the wizarding world had been “conquered”. He also may well have viewed their association as an “alliance” rather than an “allegiance”. Voldemort, conversely, probably returned the compliment by intending to dispense with Lucius once the wizarding world was securely under his own control.
But all bargains are off, as of the opening of OotP. Once Voldemort had discovered the loss of the diary Horcrux, which might have been been even more damaging to his future plans than we ever guessed, Lucius would have done best to prepare for a long stay inside if he expected to live past his next birthday. By the following year Voldemort was determined to cut off the Malfoys, root and branch, and take their property for his own.
On the other hand, we have no clear idea of the Malfoys’ current circumstances. Malfoy’s actual resources may have been greatly exaggerated. Pharnabazus and A.J. Hall both may well be right, and Lucius Malfoy was just one step ahead of bankruptcy by the end of OotP. But we didn’t get any clear indications of that in HBP. And the manor itself is worth taking.
Still, however large the fortune may have been that Lucius Malfoy stood to inherit from his father, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that a sizable portion of that fortune had already been dissipated in the Dark Lord’s service over that crucial 22 months or so before his first defeat; and the remainder may well have been squandered over the course of the series on Lucius’s own attempt at a power grab, which was ultimately co-opted by his Master. To say nothing of the Dark Lord’s out-of-pocket expenses over the course of OotP, while he was remaining in hiding.
There is also the little matter of Fenrir Greyback, whose “family friend” status does not sound like what that term would usually be expected to signify. (And which is not supported at all in DHs. Indeed that thread had been summarily dropped.)
Yes, I would imagine that Fenrir sometimes made himself “useful” to Lucius Malfoy over the past 14 years or so. And the threat of him was probably even more so, since that way Lucius didn’t actually have to deal directly with the creature. But it seems more likely to me that the whole relationship was solidly based on a foundation of extortion.
Whatever goes around in the ww definitely comes around.
Lucius was one of the only DEs to have been “outed”, but not imprisoned by the end of the Death Eater trials. Consequently Fenrir knew who Lucius was. And where he could find him.
And Lucius had a small child to be used as a bargaining chip.
Given that we never heard of Fenrir Greyback before HBP, I am inclined to regard Draco’s claim to Borgin that Greyback was a family friend with a healthy degree of skepticism. Greyback was not so much the “family friend” I think, as the wolf at the door.
And by HBP, Draco’s father was no longer around to protect him.
He now had to depend on Lord Voldemort for that.
And Voldemort has not forgiven his followers their 13-year abandonment of him. Nor is he likely to permit them to assume otherwise. He may have wrung Malfoy dry by the time of that raid in the DoM; and, finally, as an object lesson, threw him into the front line where he was least qualified to be able to function effectively. If Lucius had managed to pull it off, he could only have expected to be kept on as one of the grunts for as long as he lasted, and if he didn’t, well, then he had already served his highest purpose, hadn’t he?
Of course I had also originally believed that once Lucius was off in Azkaban, Voldemort got a nasty surprise. I honestly thought he didn’t learn about the loss of the Diary until Lucius was arrested and he turned his attentions from Potter to removing Albus.
He hadn’t entrusted the Diary to Narcissa, after all. And Draco was just a kid.
I thought that as soon as the school year was over, he ordered Snape to fetch it back.
But no, Albus tells us that he had already pried the story of what had happened to his Diary out of Lucius, himself.
And if that took place at a time that Snape could have given Albus an eyewitness account of it — as seems to have been the case — then it had to have been all the way back during the summer before 5th year.
And he left Lucius alive after that?
He must have really needed Malfoy for the sake of his influence on Fudge. But Lucius must have known that he was walking on eggs over the course of the whole year.
Raising the possibility that he volunteered to lead that raid.
And that when he saw it going pear-shaped, he let himself be captured and taken out of the range of Voldemort’s anger.
I wonder if anyone sent him word of how Voldemort chose to retaliate?
Making us now wonder whether that retaliation was the wisest course or not. Although Rowling never went anywhere with that possibility. In fact when she sat down to write DHs she seems to have decided to start with a clean slate and write a different story altogether.
But Lucius Malfoy isn’t the only person who does stupid things when he is angry.
And Voldemort is always angry.