J.K. Rowling did an incredible job at manufacturing the Harry Potter universe, but there remain a couple of concepts which don’t fit just right. A reddit user has posed a brutal, ancient war as the answer to several plot holes. She concludes it is highly possible that a vast war took place between wizards and muggles sometimes during the dark ages.
The first question they pose regards the Ministry of Magic. Why is it named so? Americans don’t refer to Trump as “the president of America”, he’s just “the president” (or “not my president”. burn). It’s an odd distinction to make. The user points out that it almost sounds like the name of a government department rather than a government body itself, which raises the question; who controls the ministry?
Could it be the muggle government?
In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince we learn that the Minister for Magic had to inform the muggle Prime Minister that four dragons and a sphinx were being imported to Great Britain (this is a flash back to the timeline of the fourth novel). The typical wizard policy is to hide things like this from muggles. This suggests that the wizards didn’t create that rule; there must be some sort of muggle legislation that wizards, for some reason, are bound to follow.
Theory downfall: when Fudge reveals himself to the muggle Prime Minister of the day, the latter flips out just a little. It’s safe to assume he genuinely had no prior knowledge of magical existence. So it’s probably not the Prime Minister who has stakes in the Ministry of Magic, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another department which oversees wizardkind.
The Ministry of Magic regulations are extremely strict. All spells must be registered, as well as all animagi. Powerful objects such as timeturners and prophecies are hidden inside the Ministry, in the Department of Mysteries, which very few wizards have the clearance to access. At the time setting of the novels, major advancements in technology were occurring in the muggle world. Why weren’t wizards tapping into this? Imagine some of the spells and objects they could be creating!
Here’s what we know about the Establishment of the Ministry of Magic
In the year 1692 (which fits in with the dark ages timeline) the International Statute of Secrecy was established. Upon Britain signing this agreement, it was agreed that the wizarding community needed a more complex and structured facility to regulate the magical world. In 1707 the Ministry of Magic was born, replacing the previous government system, known as the Wizarding Council. If we look at legal movements passed by the council, we see a variety of weak, poorly thought-out decisions and regular amendments to various issues regarding magical secrecy. It is therefore unsurprising that muggles saw fit to restrain wizardkind.
“(There) is a general culture of complacency and lethargy that seems to permeate the wizarding world. They are ignorant to muggle affairs and technology that may be to their benefit, they see no reason to advance magic or their rather antiquated culture. By and large they seem almost pacified . . . ” (Reddit user celeritis365)
There wasn’t much inventing or innovation during the modernity of the novels. Feats as large at Nicholas Flamel’s philosopher’s stone or the Peverell brothers’ deathly hallows are unheard of. The founders of Hogwarts were exceedingly powerful witches and wizards, far beyond the realms of Dumbledore.
Why is there no more experimenting with magic? There’s a huge emphasis on learning to control magic at Hogwarts and little, if any, room for experimentation. Yes, this could be a safety consideration; hundreds of children learning magic in one building could be disastrous if they take experimentation too far, but there’s none at all, even in the later years.
Also, the population of wizards is said to be just ten percent of Britain. Shouldn’t it be higher? The lifespan of the average wizard is around 138 years and most wizard families tend to have many children. A valid explanation for the low magical population is that, centuries ago, a huge proportion of wizards were killed by muggles in a great war.
The muggles destroyed many powerful wizards and thus destroyed magical knowledge. The Ministry of Magic was then created to control the magical population, or what remained of it. It’s been described as a clever conspiracy to make wizards think they control themselves, when the muggle system rules them. It’s been centuries since this war occurred; it’s natural that this system has been embedded into magical culture and ceased to be questioned.
Grindelwald, Dumbledore & the Greater Good
Gellert Grindelwald, the most famous dark wizard prior to Lord Voldemort, is known for his desire to end the Statute of Secrecy and establish a wizard reign over muggles, for “the greater good”. Is it possible that Grindelwald and Dumbledore (who shared his views, at least until the death of his sister drove the two apart) saw through the Ministry’s disguise and wanted vengeance on the muggles who destroyed so much of wizard-kind? It makes sense to me; they were both extremely intelligent wizards and, if they discovered the truth, they were likely frustrated at all of the limitations pressed upon them and their kind.
Why was none of this brought up in the story? It’s not really relevant to Harry’s plight against Voldemort.