Lesson 1) Intro to History of Magic

The students walk into a dimly lit room littered with stacks of books and trinkets. As the Professor enters, the curtains are drawn to reveal moving stained glass with light that dances around the room. She gracefully raises her wand toward the chalkboard where 'History of Magic 101' appears elegantly in cursive. 

After walking to the front of the room, the Professor takes a deep breath, turns towards the class and grins.

Hello and welcome to your very first course in History of Magic. I don’t imagine many students are thrilled about having to take this class, but I’d like to think that, in some way shape or form, I can make it as enjoyable as possible!

Before we begin, i think its important that we get to know each other. I was born on the east coast of Canada in a small magical community called Hidden Rivers or Riviere-des-Caches, nestled right between the English and French parts of New Brunswick. It's a beautiful place if you know where and when to look. 😉

My mother is Métis, meaning she is part Mi'kmaq and French while my father is descended from the Burke family in England, so I grew up with 3 different languages. This colourful upbringing exposed me to many different cultures and perspectives, something I continue to cherish to this day. 

As the eldest of three children, I spent much of my childhood reading with my father and siblings. I suppose this is where my love of history began....with stories! My father is an avid reader and a skilled genealogist. He would tell us incredible stories about our great-great-grandmother Serafina, and her rebellious dragon-racing nephew Colonius. He'd show us portraits of our glamorous great aunt Philipa at the Yule Ball  or journals from my great uncle Edmund from his time as a Seeker. Even my mother loved to tell us stories and legends while we prepared food or mended clothes together. My parents always made sure I felt a special closeness with my ancestors and a deep gratitude for our shared history.

By the time I was 11, I begged my parents to take me to England so I could attend Hogwarts like so many of my family members. Walking through those doors for the first time felt like walking into a place I'd known my whole life...a feeling I imagine many of you are familiar with as first years.

Looking back, there was something serendipitous about those years. In truth, I had very little interest in history while I was at school. I much preferred Potions and Herbology which is why I prepared for a career in Alchemy. I graduated and started working at St Mungos which is where I learned about all kinds of ailments and catastrophes. I soon became more interested in preventive medicine and protective enchantments that would stop disasters before they happen. 

This led to me to work for the Ministry of Magic, as many young witches and wizards do. I translated runes in the Department of Mysteries, and although I can't discuss much of what we did there, it became clear that the work I was doing would benefit some magical beings more than others. 

That's when I decided to pursue Sociology at the Maritime Institute of Higher Magical Education, an institution I am proud to say was founded by my great-great-grandmother in Canada. It was there that I reconnected with my love of history and more importantly, human stories.  

If there's anything I have learned after all this time, it is this. History is about people, their memories, their emotions, their stories. Memorizing names and dates give us important context, but it shouldn't be our primary focus.

Put yourself in their shoes. What motivates them? What scares them? Why? When you do this, you'll realize we have more in common than you might think. You might even start to see what we can learn from them, especially from their mistakes. 

After years of being away,  I am thrilled to be back at Hogwarts. This time as the History of Magic Professor. When I submitted my application, I wrote how inspired I was by the rising generation and the incredible future you are building. I may not be able to give you the answer to every question or quandary, but I can give you the tools to find your own story, and to me, thats much more important. 

Now, enough about me, let’s go over class procedures before moving on to the invigorating material! 

Classroom Procedure:

Since we are online, there aren’t any specific classroom procedures, but I would like you all to remain as active as possible in completing assignments. Treat each other with respect, and participate actively in the learning process. I encourage discussions about assignments, the class, etc., but these things will all be monitored - so keep it appropriate.

I welcome students to appeal their grades, if they disagree with a certain answer. If you do appeal a grade, however, be sure to remain kind and respectful. I'm a person, a professor, and knowledgeable about my subject material, as are my PAs. If you can respectfully defend your beliefs, I will be happy to review your assignment. However, if you are rude, use inappropriate or rude language, or are in any way indelicate, I will not only give you a ZERO on the assignment, but you will not be allowed to retake it. Also, do not plagiarise, or claim other people's work as your own. This includes copying and pasting information word for word from lessons as well. Be proud of and passionate about your own work! Again, plagiarism will earn you a ZERO on the assignment, and you will not be permitted to retake it.

Speaking of my PAs, allow me to introduce the professor's assistants (also referred to as Prefects) for the History of Magic course. You may owl them with questions at any time if you would prefer to chat with them instead of me. If they for some reason do not know the answer, they will get in touch with me and find out for you! The list of the PAs for this course, broken up by year, is located to the right of each lesson, in a tab above your list of assignments or the list of lessons.  Please ask someone on the HoM team first rather than leaving a note in the assignment that you didn't understand something. If you have a question, ask myself or the PAs first, then submit your work!

As a related note, if you have a learning disability or if English is not your first language, please do feel free to put "LD" or "NES" (respectively) at the top of any essay (though be sure to also do those assignments in English - you can use an online translator, if necessary). This ensures you do not lose points for spelling or grammar issues. 

Finally, I also encourage everyone to take (and keep) notes on each lesson. Otherwise, many of these names, dates, and places may start to blend together. You certainly wouldn’t want that to happen on your final exam, or even on the homework.

Looking Forward

I highly encourage each of you to take notes for this class, and others, as they will aid in your ability to grasp the material presented. While note taking is not a strict requirement, you will likely find that you learn more and will have an easier time when it comes to the final exam in this year and future years (not to mention your O.W.L. and N.E.W.T.)

This class is split into nine weeks; here’s what you can expect for each one. If you have any questions, feel free to owl me and I will try my best to answer them:




Lesson 1

Intro to History of Magic


Lesson 2

Magical Beginnings

Essay and Quiz

Lesson 3

The Americas

Two Quizzes

Lesson 4

Asia Part I - Early Civilizations


Lesson 5

Asia Part II - Steppes and China

Midterm Exam

Lesson 6



Lesson 7

Ancient Europe


Lesson 8



Lesson 9

Magic and Religion

Final Exam, Evaluation, and Research Paper

I’d like to start off by saying that there are many facets to magical history. It is deep, and there is a lot to cover. Over our nine weeks, we will skim the surface and what I want you all to really get out of this class isn’t the dates: it’s the people and their stories. I want you to understand how people have shaped history. I want you to be able to look at events in history, and as long as you know around when they are, I’ll usually not ask you questions on specific dates. It’s not as important as the ideas, the people, and the messages; that’s what’s important in history. 

And with that…

An Introduction to History

Some of you may have noticed that there is indeed a book in the library titled A History of Magic
 that was written by Bathilda Bagshot, but it is not entirely necessary for this course. You are welcome to read it, however! I never discourage outside reading, and it is certainly home to some valuable knowledge. But you should understand that magic has changed over the centuries and some of the information may not be current. Should you come across a disagreement, always defer to the answer provided to you in the lesson. If you would ever like to discuss something you read, feel free to owl me.

I cannot begin to explain the many reasons why history is important. In attaining my N.E.W.T.s in History of Magic, I had to take a class called “Importance of Magical History”. It was a twelve-week course that had three sections that were all mandatory. The first was “Importance in Everyday Life”, the second was “Importance in a Macro View”, and the last was “Micro Theory of Historical Importance”. Essentially, over those weeks, I studied concepts and theories as to why history is important. And now I am expected to explain to students in one lesson why they should care about this “old stuff”.

History is important to us because we are living it, because we are in it, and because we are going to make it. It is happening at every second, minute, and moment in time. Consider a timeline; there is not one moment in time where we stand still for two seconds. So, basically, we are creating history this very moment as you read this sentence. 

History is also important to us because without it we cannot possibly hope to survive. If we as a wizarding society didn’t study history, we wouldn’t know that there was a Statute set forth to separate us from Muggles. We wouldn’t know that those underage cannot use magic outside of school. There would be laws broken everyday and wars breaking out every second, because we just wouldn’t know.

I’ll leave you with a short introductory lesson and one assignment to complete. Next week we will begin with the big stuff: the beginnings of magic! Good luck! 

Original lesson written by Professor Jæcob Balog
Image credits here and here

History of Magic 101 is a basic introduction to the history of the wizarding world. Topics covered include the various theories on the origins of magic, the Olmec and Clovis people, ancient Egyptian priests, and more. Students will work to understand larger topics in history and connect major events to people, places, and their own lives.
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