How Did Grindelwald Get the Elder Wand?

How Did Grindelwald Get the Elder Wand?

Gellert Grindelwald was one of the most powerful dark wizards who ever lived. He dreamed of creating a new world order and spent his formative years planning a revolution. He was responsible for the Global Wizarding War, which began with several attacks across Europe in the 1920s and ended only when Grindelwald was defeated by Albus Dumbledore in 1945. 

The first time we heard of Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter series was when Harry opened his very first Chocolate Frog in the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 

Each Chocolate Frog contained a collectible card; Harry’s contained an Albus Dumbledore card with a caption that read, ‘Professor Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the Dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945’. 

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Grindelwald was able to launch such devastating attacks in Europe because by then he had managed to get hold of the extremely powerful, apparently unbeatable, Elder Wand.  

What Was the Elder Wand?

The Elder Wand was one of the Deathly Hallows, three powerful magical objects said to have been created by Death himself. One was an unbeatable, most powerful wand, made of elder wood with a thestral tail hair core. 

The second Hallow was a cloak of invisibility, and the third was a resurrection stone that could bring back the dead. 

Their origin story is told through the wizarding world at bedtime through a story called ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’ from a children's book called ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’. You can read more about the Deathly Hallows here. 

The tale of the brothers was thought, by most of the wizarding community, to be only a fairytale, but some believed that it was the story of three powerful wizards, the Peverell brothers. 

Of the three Hallows, the wand was the one that people knew most about, as it was the most powerful and deadly wand in existence. 

We learned a lot about the wand in the Harry Potter series, as Harry and his friends search for the Horcruxes they also find the Hallows, the wand coming inadvertently to Harry through Draco Malfoy. 

You can read more about that part of the story here.


How Did Grindelwald Know About The Deathly Hallows?

Grindelwald probably learned about the Hallows as a child. He became obsessed with finding the three Hallows after he learned of their legend, as it was said that whoever possessed them all would become the master of death. 

He made it his mission to find the stone, wand, and cloak, and he used the triangular sign of the Deathly Hallows as his symbol, even carving it on the walls of his school.

He was a student at Durmstrang Institute, a European wizarding school with a dubious reputation. 

Durmstrang did not allow muggle-born witches or wizards to attend, and it was notorious throughout the wizarding world for its leanings toward the dark arts. 

Although Durmstrang held this questionable reputation, Grindelwald’s behavior proved too extreme even for this shady institution, and he was expelled at the age of 16 for performing dangerous experiments. 


His Time in Godric’s Hollow

After Grindelwald was expelled from Durmstrang Institute, he went to stay with his great-aunt Bathilda Bagshot, who lived in Godric's Hollow. 

Bathilda was a historian, so most likely had a huge amount of historical books and documents in her possession, which would have given young Gellert Grindelwald more than enough information to begin his search for the Hallows. 

Certainly, he found the Elder Wand soon after his stay with her. Indeed, perhaps his quest had already begun, as it may have been no coincidence that he was in Godric's Hollow. The cemetery here was the burial place of Ignotus Peverell, who was thought to have been the brother who received Death’s cloak of invisibility.

Incendio cemetery

Befriending Albus Dumbledore 

Young Grindelwald stayed in Godric's Hollow for two months, during which time he became close to his great-aunt's neighbor, another young wizard named Albus Dumbledore. 

Both teenagers were skilled wizards and both were highly intelligent. They shared a sense of ambition and an interest in the history of the Deathly Hallows. 

The intense months that they spent together were filled with making plans for a new world order, one where wizards would rule, in their future, after they found the Deathly Hallows together. 

Albus was enamored with Gellert, who was said to be handsome and charming with a mischievous air about him. Still, both had very different reasons they wanted wizards to rule over humans, Gellert’s reasons being a little darker than Dumbledore’s. Gellert wanted power over other wizards and humans, while Albus Dumbledore simply wanted the power to protect his family. 

The young men made a blood pact between them, vowing never to move against one another. 

Only after Newt Scamander and his light-fingered Niffler pal stole a jeweled vial from Grindelwald which turned out to be their blood pact, could Dumbledore reverse it and defeat Grindelwald. 

Grindelwald fled Godric's Hollow in a hurry after Ariana Dumbledore, Albus’s sister, was killed by a rebounding killing curse during a heated row between Gellert Grindelwald and Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus and Ariana’s brother. 

That put an abrupt end to the friendship, and relationship, between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Sometime after this tragedy, Grindelwald found the Elder Wand, stealing it from its owner. He then became even more powerful, and much more dangerous. 


The Bloody History of the Elder Wand

We see in the tale of the three brothers that the Elder Wand was created by Death from the branch of an elder tree, but, likely, this was just a story and this powerful wand was in fact crafted by Antioch Peverell himself, the other hallows being created by the two other brothers. 

The Peverells were said to be extremely gifted and powerful wizards, and perhaps Antioch was a skilled wandmaker. Whatever the case, Antioch Peverell was the first owner of the Elder wand. 

Incendio branch of an elder Wand tree

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The story goes that immediately after he was given this unbeatable wand by Death, Antioch made his way to the village where an old enemy lived, and dueled him, knowing that he could not lose. 

The story of his new wand spread and Antioch was murdered that very same night as he slumbered. 

The Elder Wand was stolen by his killer, and so began its long and bloody history. The identity of Antioch’s killer is not known. 

The next thing that we know about the wand is that at some stage it entered the possession of an evil wizard known as Emeric the Evil. 

I know he sounds like a stand-up guy, but apparently, he had quite the temper. He lived during the early years of the Middle Ages and used the Elder Wand to terrorize the inhabitants of Southern England. His savage attacks were put to an end when Emeric was slain in a frightful duel.

Emeric’s opponent in this duel, and ultimately his murderer, was a dark wizard named Egbert the Egregious. Egbert came into possession of the Elder Wand upon his defeat of Emeric. 

Not much is known about Egbert, but if we judge him by his nickname (which is really all we have to go on here), he probably wasn’t a very nice guy. It is unknown what he used the wand for, but if it was anything truly awful it would certainly have been noted in history books. We hear nothing more of the Elder Wand until about a century later, when it is recorded that a wizard named Godelot gained possession of it.    

Magick Moste Evile

Godelot was more of a scholar than a barbarian, and fond of a bit of dark magic. He studied the Elder Wand’s power in depth, learning everything he could about its power and using that knowledge to create a book full of dark and dangerous spells and helpful information for evildoers. 

This book was mentioned in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Hermione Granger checked it out of the restricted section of Hogwarts library to try to find information on Horcruxes. 

Hermione slammed the book closed in frustration when she realized that the only mention of Horcruxes was at the beginning of the book, where it stated, "Of the Horcrux, wickedest of magical inventions, we shall not speak nor give direction —".  

Incendio Godelot studying Elder Wand’s power in depth

The next owner of the wand was Godelot’s son, Hereward. He obtained the wand by locking his father in the cellar and leaving him there to perish. 

Nothing more is known of Hereward, so we can assume that he did nothing too great and powerful with the Elder Wand. 

The Deathstick

Nothing more is known of the wand either, until the eighteenth century when a wizard named Barnabas Deverill came into possession of it. 

The wand helped Barnabas gain a reputation as a fearsome warlock, but he was eventually killed by a wizard named Loxias, and the wand changed ownership yet again. Loxias is the owner who bestowed the name ‘The Deathstick’ upon the Elder Wand, and he would use his death stick on anyone who went against him. 

Loxias, understandably, had many enemies, and a lot of people tried to claim that they had killed him, including his own mother! But it was likely either a wizard named Arcus or a wizard named Livius, as one of these became the next owner of the Elder Wand according to Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

Both Arcus and Livius were killed by an unknown wizard, and the wand changed hands again. 

The Wandmaker Gregorovitch

At some stage, probably in the early 1900s, a European wandmaker named Mykew Gregorovitch became the master of the Elder Wand. 

Gregorovitch was an expert in his field, and many European wizards and witches purchased their wands from him, including Viktor Krum. Gregorovitch was learned in wand lore and was a fantastic wandmaker, and he studied the Elder Wand extensively, using it to further his knowledge of the craft. 

It is unknown how Gregorovitch came into possession of the wand, or who he took it from, but he did not keep his ownership of the wand secret, probably using the rumors of it to drum up business for his wands.  

One night Gregorovitch heard someone breaking into his workshop, and he ran to see what the commotion was. When he threw open his workshop door he was greeted by a handsome blonde-haired stranger, stealing the Elder Wand. Before Gregorovitch had time to act, the young man cast a stunning spell at him, with his own wand, thus winning the loyalty of the Elder Wand, and then he leaped out of the window with the wand in his hand.

Incendio Gregorovitch  Workshop

Despite the many wizards murdered for the wand over the centuries, there was no need for all that bloodshed. The young man did not have to kill Gregorovitch to become the wand’s master. The Elder Wand was not loyal to its owners and sought out only the most powerful to be its master. The Elder Wand’s allegiance switched easily, and it could never be trusted in a duel, which is how the young man became the new master of the wand. He was simply a better wizard, and the wand chose to be loyal to him – until someone better came along… 

Grindelwald Has the Elder Wand

This laughing young stranger who jumped from the window was none other than Gellert Grindelwald himself, although Mykew Gregorovitch never found out the identity of the thief. Grindelwald would not have found it difficult to learn the whereabouts of this particular Deathly Hallow; as you can see the history of the wand was well documented. He never did find the other two Hallows though. 

The invisibility cloak was kept safe through generations of the Peverell family from Ignotus Peverell, finally ending up in the safe hands of his ancestors, the Potters. 

The resurrection stone was passed down through generations of the Peverell family from Cadmus Peverell, finally ending up set in a signet ring on the hand of his ancestor Marvolo Gaunt, who just happened to also be the maternal grandfather of Lord Voldemort, the dark lord himself. 

Grindelwald used the Elder Wand to propel his reign of terror across much of Europe and America. Over the next few decades, Grindelwald riled up a host of pure-blood wizards and assembled a powerful army. 

He built Nurmengard prison to house his enemies, and he made many attacks on wizards and muggles, resulting in a lot of deaths. Although he and his followers were running rampant in Europe, Grindelwald never made a move on Britain, probably because he knew how powerful an enemy his old friend Dumbledore could turn out to be. 

Or maybe he did not want to fight or kill Dumbledore, his once close friend. Grindelwald was stopped only when Albus Dumbledore finally dueled and defeated him, and took possession of the Elder Wand, in 1945.   

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