The Deathly Hallows Part II movie makes a big deal of how outnumbered the heroes are, with shots that show Voldemort surrounded by vast numbers of Death Eaters and hordes of Snatchers, quotes about numbers not winning a battle when the Order members see what they’re up against, and a distinct lack of the reinforcements that showed up near the end in the book. But how many people really fought in the Battle of Hogwarts?
Let’s start off by establishing how many wizards there are in Great Britain, since that puts an upper limit on the numbers for the battle. All the witches and wizards in Britain attend the same school, buy their wands from the same wand-maker, and frequent the same few places: Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Godric’s Hollow, etc. They have one major newspaper, one favorite sport, twenty-eight “pure-blood” families, and one court that handles cases ranging from petty crimes to felonies. There can’t be all that many of them.
There are 40 students in Harry’s year at Hogwarts. 40 students per year x 7 years = about 280 students at Hogwarts. However, J.K. Rowling has said before that about 1,000 students attend Hogwarts. Presumably, either not all of Harry’s classmates are mentioned in the books or the Original Forty list, or his group is unusually small. I prefer the latter assumption, because it would be hard to imagine 25 more Gryffindors in Harry’s year.
According to the 2011 census, 6.2% of Britain’s population was age 0-4, 5.6% was age 5-9, 5.8% was age 10-14, and 6.3% was age 15-19. This is a bit after Harry’s time and includes the years before and after students graduate from Hogwarts, but it’s close enough to use for a general estimate. If about 12% of witches and wizards in the UK attend Hogwarts, and about the same amount are too young to attend, then …
If there are 280 students at Hogwarts, there are about 2,300 wizards in the UK, 560 kids and 1,740 adults.
If there are 1,000 students at Hogwarts, there are about 8,300 wizards in the UK, 2,000 kids and 6,300 adults.
So there are likely somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 adult wizards in the UK. Are you starting to see why images like this from the Deathly Hallows Part II movie bother me?
Just how many followers did Voldemort have? I counted a hundred people just in the first few rows and then gave up. The vast horde of Death Eaters extends far beyond the edge of the image. There must be a thousand of them!
Here’s another picture demonstrating just how vast their army was:
That’s not even counting the Snatchers.
There are probably what, a hundred people in this picture? It gets hard to tell near the back, and like with the previous picture, the army doesn’t stop where the picture ends. These guys aren’t official Death Eaters, just lower-level followers who do a lot of the dirty work. Their costuming is different, they fight in different parts of the battle, and really, there should be many more of them than the Death Eaters, who are just Voldemort’s elite inner circle.
Meanwhile, here are the defenders of Hogwarts:
All surviving members of the Order of the Phoneix, many of the Hogwarts teachers, and most of Dumbledore’s Army. The first two overlap a lot, so let’s just make a list. There are literally that few of them:
- Adults: 5 Weasleys (Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, Percy), Aberforth, Kingsley, Tonks, Lupin, McGonagall, Flitwick, Hagrid, Sprout, Trelawney
- Possibly a few more, since it’s not clear whether minor Hogwarts teachers like Sinistra, Vector, Babbling, Hooch, etc. remained to fight or evacuated.
- DA Alumni: Fred and George, Lee Jordan, Cho Chang, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinet, Katie Bell, Oliver Wood
- Hogwarts Students: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Ginny, Dean, Seamus, Lavender, Parvati, Padma, Terry Boot, Michael Corner, Anthony Goldstein, Ernie Macmillan, Susan Bones, Hannah Abbot, Colin Creevey
- Possibly more unnamed students, since “a number of older Ravenclaws … even more Hufflepuffs … and half of Gryffindor” chose to stay and fight. Those who were underage were told to leave, but it’s not clear exactly how many of the seventh-years stayed and how many of the younger students snuck back in to fight, as Colin did.
- Near the end of the battle, reinforcements arrive, led by Charlie Weasley and Professor Slughorn. They include the centaur herd, the families of students who stayed to fight, villagers from Hogsmeade, and – according to J.K. Rowling later on – a group of Slytherin students.
So, about 40 or 50 people initially stayed to fight for Hogwarts, and maybe another 100 people came to help later. The movie is very realistic in the way it portrays the heroes’ forces – if anything, it makes them too small by not including the reinforcements.
Naturally, it looks impressive to have fifty intrepid heroes taking on an army of a thousand villains, but is it realistic?
No exact numbers are given for the number of Death Eaters, but we can assume they outnumber the heroes, since heroes tend to be portrayed as underdogs fighting a more powerful enemy.
In Goblet of Fire, a small group of Death Eaters arrives to witness Voldemort’s return in the graveyard. This group consists of those who survived the first war and did not go to prison. Only seven named characters are there, but it’s mentioned that he did not speak to them all. In Order of the Phoenix, fifteen Death Eaters escape from Azkaban, including the Lestranges. However, for the most part, it’s not clear which group the Death Eaters introduced in the last two books were part of, and some may have joined later. The only definite conclusion is that the number of people in his inner circle was at least in the mid 20’s, putting it at a similar size to the Order of the Phoenix.
Here’s a list of Death Eaters who are (or might be) still alive when the Battle of Hogwarts begins, as well as prominent supporters who were not in the official inner circle but were definitely at the battle: Bellatrix, Rhodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange; Lucius, Narcissa, and Draco Malfoy; Severus Snape; Alecto and Amycus Carrow; Fenrir Greyback; Pius Thicknesse; Avery; Dolohov; Crabbe Sr; Goyle Sr; Yaxley; Jugson; MacNair; Mulciber; Nott Sr; Rookwood; Selwyn; Rowle; and Travers.
That’s 24 people, not a long list. Of course, the real numbers are likely higher. The list is just named characters. Mentions of things like a dozen Death Eaters guarding Hogsmeade indicate that Voldemort has grown his following again. Maybe there were as many as 40 or 50 Death Eaters, and they weren’t the only ones working for Voldemort. So let’s look at who else was:
Fenrir Greyback’s werewolves. Let’s assume that about 1% of wizards are werewolves, since it seems like a very rare condition. That would mean about 80 werewolves, and statistically ten of those should be Hogwarts students. As far as we know, Professor Lupin is the only werewolf at Hogwarts in Harry’s time, so even 1% is probably a high estimate. But let’s say there are 80 werewolves, and let’s say half of them are following Fenrir Greyback.
The Snatchers. The Snatchers were not at the Battle of Hogwarts in the books, but they were in the movies, so let’s include them. The Snatchers were bounty hunters who tracked down Voldemort’s enemies: muggle-born wizards, Order members, and so on. The two we know of are Greyback and Scabbior, and presumably some of the other werewolves were also involved. Ron describes them as being “everywhere”, so there have to be a lot of them. However, it’s unlikely they would all be at the Battle of Hogwarts. They were not part of Voldemort’s inner circle or even necessarily operating on his direct orders. They did not have the Dark Mark, so many might not even have known when Voldemort summoned his forces. But let’s say there were 100 Snatchers at the Battle of Hogwarts and Harry simply didn’t notice them in the book.
Ministry employees. Pius Thicknesse was at the battle, and I included him on my first list. I don’t think it’s likely that many others were, even those loyal to Voldemort. They had a government to run, after all, and it’s not as if Voldemort knew this was going to be the final battle.
Imperius victims. We’re told that Voldemort uses the Imperius curse to control people and force them to fight for him, but it’s unclear how many people are actually being controlled this way. The confirmed list of imperius cases is very short: Pius Thicknesse, Stan Shunpike, Viktor Krum in Goblet of Fire, Broderick Bode and Sturgis Podmore in Order of the Phoenix, and a muggle man in Half-Blood Prince. For the most part, it seems to have been a convenient excuse for people like the Malfoys after Voldemort’s first disappearance. However, let’s be generous and say Voldemort has twenty Imperius victims fighting for him at the Battle of Hogwarts.
Slytherin students. Now, this is where it gets tricky. In the movie, the Slytherins are locked in the dungeon, but in the book, they are evacuated to Hogsmeade along with all the underage students and those who chose not to fight. Voldemort tells Lucius Malfoy that Draco did not come to join them “like the rest of the Slytherins”, implying that all of them went straight to Voldemort and presumably fought for him. However, J.K. Rowling has since said that this is not the case, and that some Slytherins who were not loyal to Voldemort actually helped Professor Slughorn gather reinforcements to defend the school. Presumably others, especially the younger ones, simply went home. Voldemort was trying to scare Malfoy by questioning his son’s loyalty, so it’s not hard to believe he exaggerated.
Let’s say Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott went to Voldemort; Nott because his father is a Death Eater and Pansy because she made her position quite clear. Let’s also say Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis help Slughorn gather reinforcements; Daphne because, in Cursed Child, her sister and nephew are among the most unambiguously good Slytherin characters, and Tracey because she’s half-blood and has a normal-sounding name, which indicate she wasn’t raised with the kind of snobbery and prejudice that lead one to support Voldemort. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle went to the Room of Requirement, which leaves Blaise Zabini and Millicent Bulstrode, both unpleasant but not directly linked to the Death Eaters, and one unnamed girl if the 5 students per gender per house per year thing is accurate. However, if there are 1,000 students at Hogwarts, there could be as many as 35 Slytherin seventh-years.
Let’s go with 10. Let’s say that two helped Slughorn, five went to Voldemort, and of course, three went to the Room of Requirement. Now let’s say there are 20 sixth years. Four helped Slughorn, ten went to Voldemort, and six went home. Let’s say that most of the younger kids went home or didn’t fight, since there’s no mention of Voldemort sending 11-year-olds into battle. That would mean 15 Slytherins, about half of the older students, went directly to Voldemort and fought with the Death Eaters. These numbers are, like the ones for the Snatchers and werewolves, totally arbitrary but hopefully within a reasonable range.
50 Death Eaters + 40 werewolves + 100 Snatchers + 20 Imperius victims + 15 Slytherins = 225
Voldemort’s army should have had numbers in the low to mid 200’s, give or take a little. Maybe even round it up to 300 if you think there’s any category where I’ve estimated low, or down to 200 if you think my estimates are high. His forces would still outnumber the Order’s something like 4, 5, or even 6 to 1 until the reinforcements arrive, and as much as 2 to 1 after that, but it seems like a reasonable number. It’s not a number that makes me fear for the future of the Wizarding World. Because if this many people were Death Eaters …
… (and, as we’ve already established, the Death Eaters were just the inner circle, not the majority of Voldemort’s supporters) … if about 1/6 of adult British wizards were Death Eaters and maybe twice that many supported or worked for Voldemort in some capacity, then how are we supposed to believe this world was rebuilt and all was well?