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Was The Order of Merlin a force like The Order of the Phoenix which was created by Dumbledore to fight with Voldemort?

If no, then what is the difference between both those 'Order's?

  • 7
    I always understood it to be the magic version of the British honors. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – amflare Jan 12 '17 at 17:40
  • @Gallifreian Why did you edit the tags? – captainsac Jan 13 '17 at 11:23
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    @captainsac - this question isn't asking about Dumbledore, so that one goes straight out of the window. As to the other one, I'm still not sure, because Order of the Phoenix can mean either the actual order or the title of the book. – Gallifreyan Jan 13 '17 at 11:28
  • I thought as the question has the mention of Dumbledore and the order of the phoenix, its better to have them in tag for better search purpose. – captainsac Jan 13 '17 at 11:43
  • Read the tag info: Use this tag for questions about the character, not those that merely mention him, and with the [harry-potter] tag. Also, if you want to keep that OotP tag, you better define whether it's about the book, or the actual order, for better search purpose. – Gallifreyan Jan 14 '17 at 18:50
33

The Order of Merlin was an organisation founded by Merlin in the Middle Ages, which was meant to further the belief that wizards and witches should not use magic against Muggles, but help them instead.

So yes, it was an organisation not unlike the Order of the Phoenix, although their goals differed, and the Order of Merlin might not have been a secret society like the Order of the Phoenix.

This information comes from the Chamber of Secrets video game by Electronic Arts, and/or actual physical cards that accompanied Chocolate Frog candy purchasable in real stores. Those two sources both feature Famous Witches and Wizards Trading Cards (also known as "Chocolate Frog Cards", which also make appearances in the novels and movies). Together, these amount to 101 trading cards that were written by J.K. Rowling herself according to The Harry Potter Lexicon (and the Harry Potter Wiki as a consequence considers this information as "tier-one canon"). The text of these cards can also be read at the Lexicon.

The Order of Merlin of recent times is an award that commemorates Merlin and which is bestowed upon wizards and witches that do great things for the wizarding world. It was created by the Wizengamot in the 15th century, and it's not known whether it's related to the actual organisation Merlin headed or just named after him.

  • Note that this information comes from one of the cards which wasn't confirmed to be written by Jo. – ibid Jan 19 '17 at 15:15
  • @ibid Source? It looks like it does based on the HPL article I linked to – tobiasvl Jan 19 '17 at 16:27
  • The version found in the CoS game (which has been confirmed to be written by Jo) didn't mention the Order. The version packaged with the Hasbro chocolate frog cards (not confirmed to be from Jo) did. This is correctly explained in the Lexicon's updated article. – ibid Jan 19 '17 at 19:28
  • @ibid Interesting reading, you've done a fine piece of research there. I wonder why I only found the other article and not yours when I looked for sources. – tobiasvl Jan 19 '17 at 20:08
  • It's pretty recently posted. The other one has been around for years. – ibid Jan 19 '17 at 20:28
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No. JKR is using two different varients of the word 'Order'.

The Order of Merlin is an award which basically functions as the wizarding equivalent of the Muggle honours system. From Pottermore:

The Order of Merlin, commemorating the most famous wizard of his time, has been given since the fifteenth century. Legend says that the green ribbon, on which the First Class Order hangs, is to reflect Merlin’s Hogwarts house...As often happens with such highly coveted awards, Ministry of Magic favourites seem to receive the Order of Merlin, especially the higher classes, more often than one might expect.
(Pottermore, "Order of Merlin")

So it's a prize or award, given to superlative witches and wizards like...Gilderoy Lockhart.

"Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League and five times winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award..."
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6, Gilderoy Lockhart)

Here JKR seems to be using the meaning of 'order' as in a medal or symbol of honour. From Wikipedia (credit to tobiasvl for finding this):

An order is a visible honour awarded by a sovereign state, monarch, dynastic royal house or organisation to a recipient, typically in recognition of individual merit.

As the Pottermore page on the Order of Merit makes clear, Orders were awarded in the form of a golden medal on a green, purple or white ribbon. This seems to fit the meaning above.


The Order of the Phoenix, on the other hand is an organisation.

"It's a secret society," said Hermione quickly. "Dumbledore's in charge, he founded it. It's the people who fought against You-Know-Who last time."
(Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 4, Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place)

This uses a different meaning of the word 'order', along the lines of the examples below (although quite different from them, of course). From Google:

Order meaning 2

This means order as in club or society. Another example of an order within the books is Dumbledore's Army. 'Order' here confers an implication of an underground organisation (at least for me), since the Order of the Phoenix is distinct from the Ministry and the Death Eaters. Members of the Order of the Phoenix often work secretly and discretely to achieve their aims. They are a band of brothers who are fighting for a worthy cause. 'Order' communicates all of these connotations by implication and is therefore a cooler/more creative choice of title than 'group' or 'organisation'.

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    I think it's more likely that JKR in the first instance is using this meaning of "order": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_(distinction) – and that the Order of Merlin can be compared with the Order of the British Empire (like other similarities and analogues between the British wizarding and Muggle worlds). – tobiasvl Jan 12 '17 at 13:57
  • @tobiasvl Good point. I'll edit that into my answer. – The Dark Lord Jan 12 '17 at 14:01
8

The order of Merlin isn't a group like that.

Judging from the context in which the order is mentioned, the OoM is an award giving group, sort of like the group that gives out the Nobel prizes.

Like, we see mentions of 'winning an order of Merlin, first class'. This could be a rank or an award, we don't know.

The OotP, however, is an anti-Voldemort resistance group. Not the same at all.

  • 1
    I think it's pretty clear that the order of Merlin is an honour: Pettigrew's parents were given his order of Merlin posthumously. – Gallifreyan Jan 12 '17 at 13:17
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    "Order of Merlin" is the name of the order and award, not the award giving group itself. It's given out by the Wizengamot, which belongs to the Minister of Magic in recent times (although it predates the MoM); the Minister of Magic promises to award it to Snape in PoA. Assumedly it is a sort of order of chivalry which can be compared to the Order of the British Empire (which also consists of "classes") or Order of Merit in the real world. Or, yes, like the Nobel prize. – tobiasvl Jan 12 '17 at 13:52
  • It seems like there is some inherent rank involved as there are different classes notably Lockheart being third class – discodane Jan 13 '17 at 17:56

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