Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. Who were they, exactly?

From duels to DRAGONs, evil warlocks to goblin rebellions - the wizarding world is full of ancient stories. Let's delve into four of the oldest: the tales of the Hogwarts founders.

Godric Gryffindor

Godric Gryffindor, as his name suggests, lived in Godric's Hollow - the future home of Bathilda Bagshot, as well as the famous Dumbledore and Potter families. Gryffindor was known for his skills as an accomplished dueller.

He duelled with both a wand and a sword, as using wands against Muggles was considered unsporting, and he carried an enchanted sword that was made to his specifications. This is the legendary sword that would go on to help both Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom fight Lord Voldemort. Created for him by Ragnuk the First, the finest of the goblin silversmiths, the sword was ‘gleaming silver’ with ‘rubies the size of eggs’ and so beautiful that Ragnuk tried to take it back, accusing Godric of stealing it. Thankfully, Godric was not one to be trifled with, and eventually took back what was his from the goblin community. This didn’t stop the goblins creating a ‘fake myth’ of Gryffindor theft, however, but it was simply a bit of old BALDERDASH.

Gryffindor actively fought against Muggle discrimination, and it was his disagreement with Salazar Slytherin that lead to Slytherin leaving the school. Gryffindor's views were certainly ahead of his time, and his boldness and sense of justice became a key Gryffindor house trait for the centuries that followed.

Helga Hufflepuff

As the Sorting Hat's song says, Helga Hufflepuff was from 'valley broad', but little more is known about her birthplace.

Much more is known about her life at Hogwarts, where she showed an exceptional talent at Charms. Hufflepuff used her magical skills to create great feasts for the students, and her recipes were still being used in the school kitchens by the time Harry, Ron and Hermione arrived at the castle.

Hufflepuff's association with feasting extends to the only known relic of hers still in existence by the 20th century: her golden cup adorned with a BADGER. It's this cup that made its way down to distant descendant Hepzibah Smith, a witch whose vast collection of historical trinkets attracted the attention of young Tom Riddle.

Hufflepuff, who vowed to 'teach the lot' and not discriminate between students, would no doubt be appalled to know that her cup ended up in the hands of the most infamous Muggle-hating wizard.

Rowena Ravenclaw

Rowena Ravenclaw, ‘from glen’, was the most brilliant witch of her time. She favoured wit and learning above all else, so picked the cleverest and most gifted students for her Hogwarts house.

While Ravenclaw saw bright futures for her students, her own story is one of tragedy. Ravenclaw's famous DIADEM, which was said to grant wisdom to the wearer, was stolen by her daughter Helena in a fit of jealousy. The man sent to find Helena and the diadem and return them both to Ravenclaw stabbed Helena in a rage when she refused to leave with him.

Legend says that Rowena Ravenclaw died of a broken heart soon after. Her daughter's ghost went on to haunt Hogwarts: also known as The Grey Lady, she became the resident ghost of Ravenclaw house.

Salazar Slytherin

The shrewdest founder, SALAZAR Slytherin, was 'from fen', and was highly skilled in rare magical abilities such as Legilimency and speaking Parseltongue. These skills would be passed onto his descendants: most notably Tom Marvolo Riddle.

While the four founders worked in harmony together for many years, Slytherin's hostile nature towards some wizards eventually caused conflict. He believed that only witches and wizards from magical families deserved a place at Hogwarts, and a final row with Godric Gryffindor lead to him leaving the school for good.

Part of Slytherin's legacy is the infamous Chamber of Secrets, which legend says can only be opened by Slytherin's heir. The myth was proven true by the actions of Tom Riddle, who unleashed the monster from the Chamber and succeeded in killing a Muggle-born student centuries after Slytherin's time.

Luckily, Slytherin's pure-blood views are not shared by everyone in Slytherin house. From Severus Snape to Horace Slughorn, the house has had its fair share of good-hearted wizards over the years.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone