|“||He's NOT back!||„|
|~ Fudge denying Lord Voldermort's return.|
|~ Fudge upon seeing Lord Voldermort is alive and in person.|
Cornelius Oswald Fudge is a recurring but an influential character in the Harry Potter franchise. Fudge made his debut in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as a minor character, before receiving a proper introduction in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In both the aforementioned novel/film and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Fudge was a supporting character but returned as the secondary antagonist of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He made his final appearance, as a minor character in the novel Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Fudge was the British Minister for Magic from 1990 to 1996. He thus had complete control over the Ministry of Magic, the main governing body of the British wizarding world.
In the Harry Potter film adaptations, he was portrayed by the late Robert Hardy.
Nothing is known about Fudge's early life, but it can be assumed that like most of the wizards living in Britain, he was educated at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His house has never been revealed. In regards to his personal life, Fudge had at least one sibling by whom he had a nephew. Fudge himself was also married but it is unknown if he and his wife had any children.
Fudge began his career at the Ministry at some point before or during the First Wizarding War. By 1981 he was serving as Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. He was one of the first people on the scene at of Sirius Black's supposed murder of Peter Pettigrew. Fudge like everybody else at the time believed to Sirius to have been the recently deceased James and Lily Potter's secret keeper, who betrayed them because he was secretly in league with Lord Voldemort. In truth, it was Pettigrew that had betrayed them, who framed Sirius for it before making his escape.
In 1990, Fudge succeeded Millicent Bagnold as the Minister for Magic. Thus had the responsibility of running the magical community, and meeting with the Muggle Prime Minister when necessary fell to him. Fudge wasn't the first choice for Minister, however. Many people had originally wanted Albus Dumbledore or Barty Crouch Sr. to lead them, following the Dark Lord's demise. Dumbledore politely declined all offers, not trusting himself with power, whilst Crouch fell out of favor following the treatment of his Death Eater son, Barty Crouch Jr.
In his early years, Fudge kept asking Albus Dumbledore for help and advise, which the Hogwarts headmaster was more than happy to provide. Although he eventually gained enough confidence to start governing on his own, Fudge never forgot how popular Dumbledore was.
Many people, like Rubeus Hagrid, viewed Fudge as a well-intentioned minister, but also viewed him as a bit of a bungler. While Fudge was accepting of all blood types of Wizards and witches, he mostly favored Pure Bloods, but he also agreed with Arthur Weasley's Muggle Protection act. However, Fudge did allow for the passage of laws that would oppress half-breeds such as Werewolves, Giants and Centaurs (an act which would come back to haunt him, as it led to both the Giants and the majority of the Werewolves to join Voldemort's side).
Chamber of Secrets (1992 - 1993)
During Harry Potter's second year at Hogwarts, there were a series of attacks on Muggle-born students at Hogwarts School due to the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. In 1993, Fudge bowed to public pressure and had Rubeus Hagrid taken to Azkaban so it would look like the Ministry was doing something. Despite Dumbledore's insistence of Hagrid's innocence, Fudge admitted he had no choice, as Hagrid's record was against him. Fudge, however, appeared to have his doubts about Hagrid's involvement, as he re-assured Hagrid that if someone else was found to be responsible for the attacks then he would be released.
Fudge was present when Lucius Malfoy arrived to issue Dumbledore his letter of suspension. Like Hagrid, Fudge objected to this but backed down when Dumbledore agreed to step aside for the time being. Ultimately, it turned out that Voldemort was the guilty party as his horcrux diary possessed Arthur Weasley's daughter Ginny. Fudge was as good as his word, and upon being presented with this evidence immediately released Hagrid.
Prisoner of Azkaban (1993 - 1994)
In the 1993 to 1994 school year, Fudge had to deal with the escape of the notorious prisoner Sirius Black from Azkaban. Fudge later revealed to Hagrid, Madam Rosmerta and Professors McGonagall and Flitwick that he had visited the prison a few weeks prior to Sirius' escape. He was unnerved by how normal Black appeared despite being in close proximity to the Dementors both day and night.
It later turned out that Fudge had unwittingly provided Sirius with his motivation to escape. During the visit to Azkaban, Sirius had asked if he could have Fudge's newspaper (since he missed doing the crossword), which the unnerved Minister handed over. Inside was an article mentioning Arthur Weasley, who had won a prize draw at the ministry. A photograph of the family was included, which featured Peter Pettigrew disguised as Ron Weasley's pet rat Scabbers. Recognizing his former friend turned enemy and knowing that he was in a perfect position to kidnap Harry, Sirius, who also desired personal revenge, gained motivation to escape.
Unaware of these details, Fudge, who believed Black to be a threat to society, took several measures to protect both the magical and muggle communities. He alerted the Muggle Prime Minister to the danger and believing that Sirius was planning to kill Harry. He forgave Harry's intentional illegal use of magic against his Uncle Vernon's sister Marge, but he also firmly told him that running away with a killer on the loose was very irresponsible.
Unable to capture Black before the start of the Hogwarts term, Fudge in a desperate bid to protect the students had Dementors stationed around Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. This action was disapproved of by both Dumbledore and the Hogsmeade residents, but Fudge viewed it as a necessary precaution. He said as much to Madam Rosmerta when he visited the Three Broomsticks, before telling her the tale of Sirius' supposed betrayal. Unknown to Fudge or any of the other adults, this conversation was overheard by Harry, who became motivated to kill Sirius.
Fudge was present for the execution of the supposedly dangerous Hippogriff named Buckbeak, who was, in fact, innocent and harmless, and only attacked when provoked by Draco Malfoy despite clear warnings from Hagrid. Buckbeak's death had been enforced by the influence of Draco's father Lucius. Thanks to the intervention of a time-travelling Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, Buckbeak was saved, leaving Fudge confused.
Later that same evening, Sirius Black was captured following a near-fatal Dementor attack near the Hogwarts lake, one that almost saw Harry Potter killed as well. Fudge was delighted at having finally caught Sirius, and immediately sanctioned his execution via the Dementors kiss, whilst promising to award Severus Snape, the supposed hero of the incident an Order of Merlin. He ignored Harry and Hermione's declarations that Sirius was innocent, believing them to be under the influence of a magic spell or traumatized and confused by the events of that night. Ultimately, the time travelling Harry and Hermione were able to save Sirius from right under Fudge's nose, leaving the Minister both displeased and infuriated but unaware of their involvement. As he left to bring the Ministry up to speed, Fudge promised to remove the Dementor's right away for nearly attacking Harry, and was heard suggesting that they should get dragons to guard the castle instead.
Goblet of Fire (1994 - 1995)
In the summer of 1994, Fudge with the help of Ludo Bagman and Barty Crouch Sr. began organizing two major events. Both of these were relayed by Fudge to the Muggle Prime Minister. The first was the Quidditch World Cup final between Bulgaria and Ireland. Fudge attended the match in the top box, alongside the Bulgarian Minister of Magic and the Malfoy family, who were his guests of honor. There he met Harry and greeted him warmly. In the movie Fudge served as an announcer, opening the match. At the end of the game, Fudge and the Bulgarian Minister shook hands with the players from both teams. Although happy that Ireland had won, Fudge none the less was left a little humiliated, as the Bulgarian Minister had been pretending he couldn't speak English forcing Fudge to use sign language.
The second event was the Triwizard tournament. This was an international competition between three schools, Hogwarts, Beaubaxton and Durmstrang, in which three champions were selected to represent their schools, and face a number of dangerous tasks with the intention of winning. As part of this event Fudge authorized the importation of dangerous creatures, including four dragons and a sphinx for the champions to face.
What Fudge didn't know was that the Dark Lord Voldemort was making plans behind the scenes. Thanks to the help provided by Peter Pettigrew, and information from the now deceased Ministry worker Bertha Jorkins, Voldemort had learnt about the Triwizard Tournament, and of the survival of his loyal servant Barty Crouch Jr. As such Voldemort came up with a plan that if successful would allow him to return to life, and instigate another war.
Voldemort and Wormtail freed Crouch Jr. and placed his father under the Imperius Curse. They then captured and imprisoned the famed Auror Alastor Moody, who was due to start teaching at Hogwarts that year and had Crouch Jr. take his place via poly juice potion. The plan was to have Harry Potter enter the tournament as a champion, then fix events so that he would win, then transport him to Voldemort who would use his blood as part of a dark ritual to restore himself to life before killing the boy.
The plan was almost undone by Barty Crouch Sr. who started to fight off the Imperius curse and ran to Hogwarts intending to tell Dumbledore everything. Unfortunately, Crouch Jr. managed to kill his father before he could reveal anything. Fudge for his part believed that Crouch had simply gone mad and that Madame Maxime had murdered him (which Dumbledore believed his accusation of Madame Maxime had more to do with her status as a half-giant due to Fudge having a strong dislike towards half-breeds).
With Crouch 'missing' Fudge took his place as a judge for the third task. He had the prize money for the champion on him and was probably going to present it to the grand champion at the end of the tournament. Things took a nasty turn, however, after Harry emerged from the maze, clutching the Triwizard Cup and Cedric Diggory's dead body. The cup had been transformed into a portkey by Crouch Jr., which took both of the Hogwarts students to the Little Hangleton graveyard. There Voldemort had Wormtail callously murder Cedric, who was simply in the way, then fulfilled his plans and restored himself to life. Unfortunately for Voldemort, Harry managed to escape bringing news of the Dark Lord's return back to Dumbledore, Fudge and the wizarding world.
Fudge initially showed great concern for Harry, was horrified at the death of Cedric Diggory, whose father Amos worked at the Ministry and was forced to deal with an equally horrified crowd. Crouch Jr. was captured by Dumbledore shortly afterwards and interrogated. Dumbledore also had Harry explain everything that had happened to him after he touched the Triwizard cup. After hearing all of it, Dumbledore understood everything that had happened following Bertha Jorkin's disappearance and knew that another Wizarding War was just around the corner. Realizing what needed to be done, Dumbledore sent word to Fudge that the Death Eater responsible for these events had been caught, intending to bring the Minister up to speed.
This proved to be a disastrous decision, as Fudge fearing for his personal safety summoned a Dementor to the castle as his escort, despite Barty Crouch Jr. already being restrained. Upon entering the room, the Dementor swooped down on Crouch before McGonagall or Fudge could do anything and administered its fatal kiss, leaving the Death Eater worse than dead and unable to provide testimony. Making his way to the Hospital Wing, Fudge who was searching for Dumbledore was meet there shortly afterwards by the Hogwarts Headmaster.
It was here that Fudge's true colors were revealed. He refused to accept that Crouch Jr. had been acting under the services of Voldemort, dismissing his testimony as the ravings of a madman. He also didn't view Harry as a viable witness, having read several scathing articles by notorious Rita Skeeter, who in her writings claimed that the attack on Harry in 1981 had left him unhinged. Harry tried to persuade Fudge by listing the names of several Death Eaters present at the rebirth, but since all of these people had been cleared by the Wizengamot, Fudge took offence to this.
As such, Fudge, out of paranoia, refused to believe that Voldemort had returned because it would mean the end of peace to the wizarding world. Dumbledore, however, refused to back down and instead insisted that the situation was still salvageable if they took the necessary precautions; they needed to remove Azkaban from the control of the Dementors and send peace envoys to the giants. Fudge was horrified at the mere prospect of both of these stating it would mean the end of his career if he did either one. Dumbledore, in turn, countered that Fudge was blinded by the love of his office, and his own prejudices. He provided a warning that the decision Fudge made here and now, would affect how he was remembered in the future: If Fudge took the necessary measures, he would be hailed as a hero throughout the ages, whether he remained in office or not. If he did nothing, then he would be immortalized as a coward who allowed Voldemort the opportunity to try and destroy the world they tried so hard to rebuild.
Even when Severus Snape presented his Dark Mark to Fudge as a sign of Voldemort's return, the Minister wasn't convinced, only further enraged. As such he and Dumbledore acknowledged that they had reached a parting of the ways and that from this point onwards, both men would act as they saw fit. The two men then parted as adversaries. Before leaving, Fudge was courteous enough to give Harry his award money, but he refused to look at the boy however, and ultimately this was the last kind thing he ever did for Harry.
Order of the Phoenix (1995 - 1996)
In the weeks following the disastrous conclusion of the Triwizard tournament, Fudge's paranoia grew out of control. Completely disregarding Harry and Dumbledore's claims, Fudge convinced himself that Dumbledore was after his job and that Harry was a pathological liar, trying to stir up trouble because he enjoyed being famous. Therefore, Fudge used his influence over the Daily Prophet to launch a smear campaign against both them.
He also kept a strict watch over his employees, making it clear that anyone in league with Dumbledore wasn't welcome at the Ministry. This forced any Order of the Phoenix members inside the Ministry, such as Kingsley Shacklebolt, Arthur Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks to be discreet. Fudge also used his influence to manipulate several laws to his advantage so that he could achieve further control over both the wizarding community and Hogwarts. At one point, the Order of The Phoenix wondered if it was possible that Fudge was acting under the Imperius curse, but Dumbledore assured them this wasn't the case, which was by no means comforting.
Dumbledore however, wasn't concerned with Fudge's actions and continued to do his best to alert the Wizarding Community about the dangers posed by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. This cost him several high ranking positions within the wizarding court, with the Ministry threatening further action and the Daily Prophet labeling him a senile old fool. Dumbledore responded to these actions with his usual grace, telling Fudge flat out that he didn't care what the Ministry did to him, as long as they didn't take him off of the chocolate frog cards.
In the summer of 1995, Harry was forced to cast a patronus charm in order to protect himself and his cousin Dudley Dursley from Dementors (sent by Dolores Umbridge) trying to attack him. For this breach of the International Rules of Underage Wizardry, Fudge immediately ordered Harry's expulsion but the timely intervention of Albus Dumbledore prevented this.
Harry was instead forced to attend a disciplinary hearing before the Wizengamot, which Fudge had organised like a criminal trial. At the hearing, it became clear that any affection Fudge had once had for Harry had completely disappeared. During the proceedings Fudge tried to discredit Harry on numerous occasions, barely giving him any time to speak in his defence, introducing several biased facts and past offences (offences he himself had once cleared) and dismissing Harry's claims about the Dementors as a weak excuse. Harry initially tried to be friendly and co-operative, but when Fudge continued to ignore and disregard him, Harry lost his patience with the Minister.
Dumbledore's intervention and the fair unbiased actions of Wizengamot member Amelia Bones ultimately saved Harry from any criminal charges, though Fudge was one of the few people to demand Harry be punished further (alongside Umbridge, Percy Weasley (in the book only) and a few other people). Outvoted, Fudge reluctantly cleared Harry of all charges. After the trial, he completely ignored Harry and Arthur Weasley on his way out of the courtroom and was later seen talking to Lucius Malfoy, who Harry had identified as one of the Death Eaters who attended Voldemort's rebirth, which further irritated Harry. Although Harry managed to escape further repercussions and was allowed to return to Hogwarts, the events of this hearing set him firmly against Fudge and from that point onwards.
Harry learnt about the full effectiveness of Fudge's smear campaign upon his return to Hogwarts. Several of the students, including some that Harry had been on friendly terms with, like Seamus Finnigan and Lavender Brown believed the Ministry's propaganda. These people treated Harry as a dangerous object refusing to get close to him, flinching and bunching closer together at the mere sight of him. Despite this, some students, like Neville Longbottom and Ernie MacMillan, declared their support for Harry and Dumbledore, arguing they had been proven right on numerous occasions. A similar rift existed outside the Hogwarts community, with some people like Percy Weasley choosing to side with the Ministry, whilst the rest of his family supported Harry and Dumbledore.
When Dumbledore was unable to find anyone to fill the vacancy for Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Fudge used his newly altered laws to install his undersecretary, Dolores Umbridge to the position. Umbridge, like Fudge, believed that Dumbledore was using the school as a recruitment ground against the Ministry. As such, they forced the students to use a ministry approved program, one based around non-aggression than actual defense. Umbridge was also sent to spy on Harry and Dumbledore, punishing the former any time he spoke out of line, and gradually whittling away the latter's authority under her term as High Inquisitor.
Following a mass breakout from Azkaban, in the spring of 1996, Fudge claimed it to be the work of Sirius Black due to his family connection to Bellatrix Lestrange (despite the fact the two cousins completely despise each other due to Sirius being disowned from their family the House of Black). Many people, however, weren't satisfied with this explanation, which coupled with an interview that Harry had given to the Quibbler earlier that year, caused a number of people (both in and outside Hogwarts) to wonder if there was, in fact, some truth to Harry and Dumbledores claims. Fudge, of course, continued to deny any of this and shortly afterwards was called to Hogwarts upon Dolores Umbridge's discovery of an illegal defensive organisation, led by Harry Potter.
Fudge arrived at Hogwarts in a triumphant jubilant mood, thinking he was about to expel the trouble making Harry Potter at long last. Brought to the headmaster's study, Harry deliberately feigned ignorance and made several rude faces at Fudge, making the Minister even more infuriated. During this confrontation Dumbledore, once again intervened, making it seem as though he was the leader of this organization, whilst covert Order of the Phoenix member Kingsley Shacklebolt, discreetly modified Marietta Edgecomb's memory to fit these facts (in the movie, Umbridge illegally used Veritaserum on Cho Chang). With the proof he needed, Fudge disregarded Harry and moved to arrest Dumbledore. However, Fudge, Umbridge and his two Aurors were quickly incapacitated by Dumbledore, who none the less fled the castle, but only after telling Minerva McGonagall and Harry that Fudge would soon regret the day he tried to arrest him.
With Dumbledore gone, Fudge appointed Umbridge the new Headmistress of Hogwarts and brought the entirety of Hogwarts under the Ministry's control. Under Umbridge's rule, Hogwarts descended into nothing short of a dictatorship. In response to this many of the students, with the exception of a majority of Slytherins, turned against Umbridge and the Ministry completely, making sure that Umbridge paid dearly for ousting the former Headmaster.
Throughout all of this, Fudge unknowingly became an ally to Voldermort, giving him an entire year to rebuild his forces uninterrupted. Because Fudge ignored and neglected Dumbledore's previous warnings, Voldemort was also able to convince the Dementors, Giants and other factions mistreated by the Ministry to join him. The Dementors' defection also allowed Voldemort to free the majority of his loyal followers, including Bellatrix Lestrange. Within a year of his return, Voldemort had a sizeable, still growing army at his disposal and was ready to begin his conquest.
Fudge's triumph at ousting Dumbledore proved to be short-lived. At the conclusion of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Fudge and several other Ministry officials arrived at the atrium and saw Voldemort with their own eyes. At long last, a completely shocked and horrified Fudge realized that Harry and Dumbledore had been telling the truth the whole time. Fudge had the Death Eaters Dumbledore had captured arrested and thrown into Azkaban, amongst them Lucius Malfoy and MacNair, who Fudge had defended the previous year when Harry claimed that they were Death Eaters. When Fudge objected to Dumbledore's creation of an unauthorized portkey, Dumbledore silenced Fudge with a look and then gave him a series of instructions (including removing Umbridge from Hogwarts and abandoning the witch hunt for Hagrid) making it perfectly clear who was in real control of the situation.
Fudge released an interview a few days later, confirming the return of Voldemort. The article also revealed that Dumbledore had been reinstated to all of his previously revoked positions, and treated Harry as a hero. This declaration was met with an extreme public outrage since Fudge had been telling everybody that there was no truth to these rumors what so ever. Although Fudge assured everybody that both he and the Ministry were taking the necessary measures to combat this new threat, it was too little and too late.
Half-Blood Prince and later life (1996 - ?)
A few weeks after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Fudge met with the Muggle Prime Minister again in July 1996. Here the Prime Minister noted changes in Fudge's demeanor and appearance. Fudge brought his Muggle counterpart up to speed on the status of the wizarding community, informing him that the Ministry was now at war with Voldemort.
When the Prime Minister insisted that Fudge had to take action as the Minister for Magic, Fudge revealed that he no longer held that position. Upon Fudge admitting the truth, the wizarding community was outraged. Whilst the Ministry never acknowledged its mistreatment of both Harry and Dumbledore, it's implied that the people put two and two together. As such, every witch and wizard in Britain (no matter what their affiliation) unanimously turned against Fudge and demanded his resignation. He was eventually impeached and kicked out of office in disgrace on July 2, 1996. He was replaced as Minister for Magic by Rufus Scrimgeour, but stayed in an advisory capacity and communicated news of the Second Wizarding War to the Muggle Prime Minister if Scrimgeour was unable to. Towards the end of the meeting Fudge dropped a hint that this might not have happened if Dumbledore had let him speak to "the boy" (Harry), leaving the Prime Minister confused.
The exact nature of this statement was revealed later on in the novel. Before being kicked out, Fudge, in a desperate bid to stay in power, asked Dumbledore to set a meeting between himself and Harry, hoping he could persuade the boy to lie for him and say they were winning the war. Dumbledore refused to even consider it, however, since there was no longer any point in helping the man who had ignored/neglected his advice and knowing that Harry wouldn't only find it a bad idea, but that he hated Fudge for his actions throughout the year and now held him in contempt because of them. Fudge made his last appearance at Dumbledore's funeral, in the summer of 1997. He had a miserable expression on his face and was twirling his signature lime green bowler hat.
Fudge seems to have disappeared out of Harry's life after this, with Harry neither seeing nor hearing from him again. His inaction during 1995 - 1996, came back to haunt the wizarding world, as Voldemort took control of the Ministry for a brief period between 1997 to 1998 before Harry Potter finally defeated the Dark Lord during the climactic Battle of Hogwarts, thus liberating the wizarding community at long last. His later life is completely unknown, but whatever was the case, Fudge's most prized possession, his reputation and image, had been completely destroyed as he endangered the entire world, both Magic and Muggle. This made him one of, if not, Britain's most hated Ministers for Magic and as Dumbledore had warned him, he was immortalized as the man who had stepped aside and allowed Voldemort a second chance to destroy what the Wizarding community had tried so hard to rebuild.
- Fudge's behavior at the end of Goblet of Fire and throughout Order of the Phoenix mirrored former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, prior to World War II and during its first 8 months as both men ended up being pressured into resigning, then they temporarily acted as advisers to their successors. However, there are major differences:
- Chamberlain was a pacifist while Fudge was a coward.
- Chamberlain was a proper politician while Fudge was corrupt and abused his power in his final year in office.
- Chamberlain tried to negotiate with Hitler for Peace while Fudge denied the truth.
- Chamberlain used the time provided to secretly start re-arming, whilst Fudge tried to deny the citizens the skill sets needed to combat their enemies.
- Chamberlain took responsibility for his actions while Fudge only did so after realizing that Harry and Dumbledore were telling the truth upon witnessing Voldemort in the Ministry.
- Chamberlain resigned with integrity while Fudge attempted to stay in power by asking Dumbledore to arrange a meeting with Harry so he could lie to the Wizarding World and say that the Ministry was winning the war. Dumbledore refused as he knew that Harry would also refuse and Fudge was kicked out of office in disgrace.
- While the scenes of Fudge refusing to believe the truth was cut from the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the only hint that Fudge wished to cover up the truth was during Dumbledore's memorial speech for Cedric.
- In the novels, Fudge's resignation wasn't revealed until the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In the films, Fudges intentions were revealed in the final scenes of The Order of the Phoenix from a Daily Prophet headline.
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Fudge states that he was 'sacked' rather than resigned of his own accord. This could be an oversight on the author's part or an indication that Fudge was ordered to leave his office on a set date by a more powerful wizarding authority, such as the Wizengamot. Then again this could also be how Fudge viewed his dismissal in the eyes of the people.