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13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Albus Dumbledore

May 6, 2021 4.1k votes 657 voters 107.3k views13 items

List RulesVote up the details about Dumbledore that show why he's Order of Merlin, First Class.

Albus Dumbledore is one of the most enigmatic, fascinating, and morally complex characters in the Wizarding World. Depicted as brilliant beyond measure, Dumbledore is a powerful and keen sorcerer whom many wizards flock to for leadership. During his 115 years of life, he led the resistance against Voldemort twice over, served as headmaster of Hogwarts, and earned the Order of Merlin, First Class for his defeat of his lifelong rival and love, the malicious Gellert Grindelwald.

But behind all his glory and renown is a dark past filled with secrets, regrets, and dark machinations that hinged on sacrificing his prized student Harry Potter for the "greater good." Many know the headmaster as the kind, grandfatherly figure he became in his later years, but before Hogwarts, Dumbledore lived a complicated life. The truth behind his shrouded history is the subject of much fascinating speculation among fans. How many of these obscure facts about Dumbledore's life have you already discovered, and which do you find most intriguing?

  • 5

    He Could Understand Parseltongue

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Throughout the book series, Dumbledore is shown to speak a wide variety of magical languages. He converses with goblins in Gobbledegook, as well as with the merpeople in the Great Lake at Hogwarts during the Triwizard Tournament. Less obvious is that he can also understand Parseltongue, an ability supposedly passed down exclusively through the Slytherin family line. During Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore shares a variety of memories with Harry to help him understand the truth about Voldemort's plan to become immortal. During a viewing of memory in the Pensieve, taken from Bob Ogden, Harry and Dumbledore observe a family called the Gaunts, the surviving heirs of Salazar Slytherin, speaking together in the arcane snake language.

    Not only does Dumbledore completely understand the entire conversation that takes place in the memory, but he also able repeats a phrase in Parseltongue to Harry afterward. Though it is unclear where he learned this ability (or why he could not have heard the Basilisk speaking in the walls during Chamber of Secrets), Dumbledore indeed understands Parseltongue.

    Interesting detail?
  • 6

    Dumbledore Saw His Family In The Mirror Of Erised - Not Socks

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In Sorcerer's Stone, Harry finds his way to the enchanted Mirror of Erised hidden away in the depths of Hogwarts. Night after night he returns to gaze at the image of the family he might have had if Voldemort hadn't destroyed it. Eventually, the headmaster gets wise to the young boy's obsession with the mirror and shares a gentle warning to stay away from it, lest his dreams lead him to become too far removed from reality. Harry takes the words to heart, but then asks Dumbledore what it is that he sees when he looks into the mirror. When he tells Harry he sees a comfortable pair of warm, woolen socks, even the 10-year-old boy senses this is a lie.

    In truth, Dumbledore's vision of true happiness is almost identical to Harry's: He sees the family he could've had, unbroken by death and strife. He sees Ariana, Aberforth, and his parents, all together, alive and free from the pain that split them apart. In The Crimes of Grindelwald, it is revealed that, at one point, Dumbledore saw the face of his ex-lover Grindelwald and the future they might have shared, but somewhere over the course of his life and Grindelwald's descent into violence and cruelty, Dumbledore's deepest desire changed.

    Interesting detail?
  • 7

    He Taught Both Transfiguration And Defense Against The Dark Arts

    Photo: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald / Warner Bros. Pictures

    When Dumbledore begins teaching at Hogwarts, he takes up the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. With Grindelwald's dark forces on the rise during this time, Dumbledore is drawn to a job where he can prepare young wizards and witches to protect themselves against malevolent forces. During this time, Dumbledore teaches many of Britain's magical youth, including both Newt Scamander and Leta Lestrange, and seems to be much beloved by the students.

    However, his work in Defense Against the Dark Arts is not destined to last. Torquil Travers, an auror and head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, uses his power and influence to ensure that Dumbledore loses the ability to ever teach Defense Against the Dark Arts again after the professor's refusal to duel with Grindelwald.

    This is far from the end of Dumbledore's teaching career. He simply switches departments and continues on at Hogwarts as the Transfiguration teacher.

    Interesting detail?
  • 8

    Dumbledore Was Also An Accomplished And Capable Wizard Lawyer

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Dumbledore's confidence and skill in defending Harry during his trial in Order of the Phoenix is owed to more than simply his natural bravado: Dumbledore is actually an accomplished member of the Wizengamot, the legal and parliamentary council that governs the magical community in Britain. Dumbledore becomes the British Youth Representative for the Wizengamot, acting as the voice for all the young witches and wizards of Britain during legal and legislative proceedings.

    As he grows older and his career advances, he's eventually elected as the leader of the organization, earning the title of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. He worked in the position for much of his life until he was removed in 1995 following the slanderous outcries launched against him after he refused to keep quiet about the return of Voldemort.

    Interesting detail?