The wizarding world of Harry Potter is one of the most inventive and richly realized fictional universes in the history of fiction. There are hundreds of little details in the wizarding world that are just waiting to be discovered by Harry Potter lovers and fans. It’s no big surprise that one of the most popular elements of the wizarding world is the magical community’s favorite sport, Quidditch.
Quidditch makes a lot of brief appearances in the Harry Potter film and book series, but this unique game actually has an extremely rich and detailed history. Quidditch is a game that has existed for almost a thousand years in one form or another, and over the course of its existence it has evolved into the extremely competitive sport that it is today. You may be familiar with the version of Quidditch that Harry and his friends love, but there are a lot of curious, fascinating and more-than-a-little shocking facts about the origins of the sport.
10 It’s Named For A Location
Quidditch is a wizarding sport that has gone through a lot of evolutions and iterations over the years. It takes its name from a particular location in the UK, a marsh by the name of Queerditch Marsh. It’s unclear where exactly this marsh is located, but the reason that Quidditch is named after it is because the earliest recorded match of Quidditch took place at Queerditch Marsh.
The first recording of the early version of Quidditch was written down in the diary of a witch named Gertie Kettle in the 11th century. Hilariously, Miss Kettle only wrote about the game in order to complain about the disturbance it caused her.
9 It Has Many Predecessors
Although Quidditch now seems to be the only serious sport in the wizarding world, there are quite a few regional wizarding games that preceded and inspired the now universally-beloved sport. A German sport called Stichstock involved a goalkeeper protecting a dragon bladder from being punctured, and the first player to pierce it was the winner.
In Ireland, a game called Aingingein involved flying with a ball through a fiery obstacle course with a goal at the end. An especially bizarre and dangerous game in Scotland, called Creaothceann, involved strapping a cauldron to one’s head and using it to catch enchanted rocks.
8 The Pitch Was Very Rudimentary
Quidditch might be the wizarding world’s version of soccer now (Harry Potter is a product of the UK, after all), but the beginnings of the sport were far more humble than the Quidditch World Cups that witches and wizards might participate in today.
As time has gone on, the regulations around the game have become stricter and more specific, but the original game of Quidditch (or at least the earliest version of Quidditch) was actually played on a marsh, as we’ve seen. As the game evolved, it was often played in any suitably large open space, but as time went on the Ministry of Magic actually outlined the specific kinds of locations that should and could be used for a proper game.
7 The Equipment Was Rudimentary Too
Like a lot of sports that are just invented on the fly by people who are looking for some form of entertainment, Quidditch equipment in the game’s early days was extremely rudimentary. Obviously, impromptu games of Quidditch are still equally as informal, but it’s interesting to see which everyday items were the predecessors of all the Quidditch equipment that is used in the game today.
Obviously, broomsticks were a must from the very start, but early players of the game also used a ball, some bewitched flying rocks, and “goals” that were just clusters of trees at the end of a clearing.
6 The Golden Snitch Was Added Later
In the early days of Quidditch, the game was somewhat similar to the game that we see today, with one notable exception. Early Quidditch typically had players on broomsticks, goals, some form of a Quaffle, and some form of Bludgers as well.
But the Golden Snitch was an element that was added to the game a couple of centuries later. The introduction of the first Golden Snitch was actually recorded in history. It was during a game in 1269 in Kent, and the current Chief of the Wizard’s Council, a man by the name of Barberus Bragge, introduced the idea to the game.
5 The Snitch Was Also A Bird
Did we mention that the original Golden Snitch was actually a literal bird? When Barberus Bragge introduced the idea of a Golden Snitch to the game of Quidditch, he actually brought a small bird called a Golden Snidget and tasked the Quidditch teams with catching the bird.
Snidget hunting was apparently a pretty popular pastime, and these tiny birds were extremely fast and capable of turning and changing their directions very abruptly, making them very difficult to get your hands on. The Quidditch players were extremely distracted by the difficulty of catching the Snidget, and thus this element of the game was born.
4 The Bird Almost Became Extinct
So, before the actual Golden Snitch was created, the tiny birds known as Golden Snidgets were traditionally used as the quarry that Quidditch players were tasked with catching in order to win the game. In one particularly unfortunate tradition, the Quidditch players that were meant to catch the Snidget (originally referred to as hunters, but now known as Seekers) would typically catch and kill the Snidget.
Because the sport was so wildly popular, the Snidget population took an absolute nose dive as a result of its introduction to the game. That’s why the enchanted Golden Snitch was created to replace the dwindling available Snidgets.
3 The 150 Points Was Initially A Bet Of Galleons
The effect that the introduction of the Golden Snidget had on the game of Quidditch was immediate, but there is one particular reason why this element of the game caught on so fast. Nowadays, catching the Golden Snitch wins the Seeker’s team 150 points, but when Barberus Bragge instructed the Quidditch players to catch the Snidget, he offered 150 galleons to the player who actually did it.
So, of course, as soon as the bet was made, every one of the players completely ignored the game and only went after the Snidget, thus creating the Quidditch game that we all know and love today.
2 Match Locations Had To Be Regulated
Quidditch is a sport with very humble beginnings, and its popularity probably grew because it was such an easy game for any wizard to play at any time. However, as Quidditch grew in popularity, the Ministry of Magic and the international law community realized that its popularity posed some very specific problems. Namely, a bunch of wizards and witches flying around on broomsticks while playing a game was extremely conspicuous.
In 1362, then, the Wizard’s Council actually made it illegal for wizards and witches to play a Quidditch game within 50 miles of a Muggle town, which was presumably much easier to do back then than it is today.
1 The 1473 Quidditch Cup Was The Foulest In History
Every sport has its rules and actions that are punishable by some kind of foul, but Quidditch takes the average set of sports regulations and multiplies it by about a hundred. The list of Quidditch fouls, as defined by the Department of Magical Games and Sports, isn’t actually known by the public, but there are a whopping 700 different fouls on the list.
Interestingly, in one Quidditch World Cup, all 700 fouls were committed throughout the game! The 1473 Quidditch World Cup was actually the first World Cup in history, and this competition between the teams for Flanders and Transylvania was one of the most eventful Quidditch matches of all time. We can only imagine what went on!
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