Reading the question "Did the Death Eaters know Voldemort was a half-blood", I was thinking that It doesn't really matter because despite being a half-blood, he is the true heir of Slytherin... that must count.

But... do they know this little detail ? Apparently being the true heir equates to being able to open the CoS, which Hagrid was blamed of before CoS.

I would like a canon-based answer. The perfect one would describe whether they knew and, if yes, when and how they learned it.

  • 2
    Not all Death Eaters were Slytherins; the fact that Voldemort was the true Heir of Slytherin may not matter (and blood status may matter) to those Death Eaters who were not in Slytherin House. I don't think we can dismiss the blood status issue so easily. That said, I like this question a lot and will try and answer it :) Jul 10, 2013 at 14:02
  • Note that, while Tom Riddle was undoubtedly a descendant of Slytherin, he was not the first one to open the Chamber of Secrets; according to the Chamber of Secrets entry on Pottermore "There is clear evidence that the Chamber was opened more than once between the death of Slytherin and the entrance of Tom Riddle in the twentieth century.".
    – lfurini
    Jan 16, 2016 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


I think these two passages best address your question:

‘As [Tom Riddle] moved up the school, he gathered about him a group of dedicated friends; I call them that, for want of a better term, although as I have already indicated, Riddle undoubtedly felt no affection for any of them. This group had a kind of dark glamour within the castle. They were a motley collection; a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish, gravitating towards a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty. In other words, they were the forerunners of the Death Eaters, and indeed some of them became the first Death Eaters after leaving Hogwarts.

‘Rigidly controlled by Riddle, they were never detected in open wrong-doing, although their seven years at Hogwarts were marked by a number of nasty incidents to which they were never satisfactorily linked, the most serious of which was, of course, the opening of the Chamber of Secrets, which resulted in the death of a girl. As you know, Hagrid was wrongly accused of that crime.’

Half-Blood Prince - pages 338-339 - Bloomsbury - chapter 17, A Sluggish Memory

This suggests the possibility that the Death Eaters themselves were involved in the opening of the Chamber of Secrets in some manner, whether helping Tom Riddle with research or guarding the door to the girls' bathroom while he actually opened the chamber, for example. So I think it's fair to extrapolate this to suggest that, yes, at least some of his Death Eater associates did know he was the Heir of Slytherin; I would imagine that Tom Riddle would have selectively bragged about this fact to certain individuals.

‘I knew I was different,’ he whispered to his own quivering fingers. ‘I knew I was special. Always, I knew there was something.’ -- Tom Riddle

Half-Blood Prince - page 254 - Bloomsbury - chapter 13, The Secret Riddle

Canon suggests at least some of the Death Eaters were involved in the opening of the Chamber of Secrets, and the legend of the Chamber of Secrets made it clear the only person who would be able to open the Chamber would be the Heir of Slytherin. When Tom Riddle accomplished this, the Death Eaters would have had to have known that Tom was the true Heir of Slytherin.

  • Well, that was quick :) Do you think this knowledge would be shared amongst the late-joiners DE ? For example, did Snape know of this ?
    – Kalissar
    Jul 10, 2013 at 15:02
  • @Kalissar - I've been thinking it over and I really don't know. I think it's possible some of the Death Eaters that joined Voldemort after the initial group may have known that he was the Heir of Slytherin. Regarding Snape, Snape was very inquisitive in general and may have figured it out, or it may be that he found out from Dumbledore about Voldemort's heritage once Snape became a double agent. Snape was very young when he left the DEs (20 years old) and he wasn't part of Tom Riddle's school gang. I might err on the side of Dumbledore having told him at some point. :) Jul 10, 2013 at 16:58
  • @Kalissar - see my answer. Lucius Malfoy most likely did NOT know. Dec 9, 2014 at 3:02
  • Guard the door, like the little girl with the scales?
    – b_jonas
    Dec 9, 2014 at 7:57
  • Maybe half of the Death Eaters mixed up the Mandrake juice while Riddle tested the effectiveness of the Basilisk on the other half.
    – b_jonas
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:05

We don't know 100% sure, but there's evidence that most Death Eaters didn't know.

Specifically, Lucius Malfoy didn't know:

{{Malfoy speaking}} And father won't tell me anything about the last time the Chamber was opened, either. Of course, it was fifty years ago, so it was before his time, but he knows all about it, and he says that it was all kept quiet and it'll look suspicious if I know too much about it....

Ron was clenching Crabbe's gigantic fists. Feeling that it would be a bit of a give-away if Ron punched Malfoy, Harry shot him a warning look and said, 'D'you know if the person who opened the Chamber last time was caught?'

'Oh, yeah & whoever it was was expelled,' said Malfoy. 'They're probably still in Azkaban.' (Chamber of Secretes, Ch 12, "The Polyjuice Potion")

Since Lucius Malfoy's main concern was that Draco wouldn't appear to know too much about things, telling Draco a convincing lie (that it was someone expelled - as we now know, Hagrid) is as bad as telling him the truth, since both make Draco seem to know "too much" about it equally, to anyone who doesn't actually know the truth.

As such, it's extremely likely that Lucius didn't lie to Draco, and he himself thought it was someone expelled from Hogwarts who opened the Chamber (and thus NOT Tom Riddle).

And Lucius was one of the most trusted and close-to-Voldemort Death Eaters, a member of the Inner Circle.

  • I don't know what to think. You may read a little too deep into things. Look at it the other way : if Lucius knew, he would have also known that Voldemort wanted to blame Hagrid. So he also knew what telling Draco "the opener got caught" implied. Maybe it was all planned ? I mean, I also think Lucius didn't know, but I don't think the reasons you give are the best evidence
    – Kalissar
    Dec 9, 2014 at 12:08
  • @Kalissar - to put it simply - if the goal was to prevent Draco from showing too much knowledge, telling him "don't know" is better than telling him "Hagrid did it" from Lucius' point of view. Dec 9, 2014 at 14:20

Some of those who went to school with the Dark Lord likely knew.

Tom Riddle mentions that he’d been already using the name ‘Lord Voldemort’ with his closest friends (though he likely used the term ‘friends’ loosely, as Dumbledore said he never had or wanted friends). Some people, at least, knew that he was becoming Lord Voldemort.

“Then he waved the wand once, and the letters of his name re-arranged themselves:


‘You see?’ he whispered. ‘It was a name I was already using at Hogwarts, to my most intimate friends only, of course. You think I was going to use my filthy Muggle father’s name for ever? I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself, through my mother’s side?”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)

Most likely, he’d also have told his followers at the time about his opening the Chamber of Secrets and being the Heir of Slytherin, since, like the name he created for himself, he’d be proud of it and want to boast to those who would be impressed by it as he does to Harry.

Lucius also likely knew that the Dark Lord opened the Chamber.

Lucius Malfoy likely knew that the Dark Lord was the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets, since even his house-elf Dobby knew the Dark Lord was involved in opening it the second time, and presumably Dobby won’t know more about the Dark Lord’s opening the Chamber than Lucius.

“I’ve just got one question, Dobby,’ said Harry, as Dobby pulled on Harry’s sock with shaking hands. ‘You told me all this had nothing to do with He Who Must Not Be Named, remember? Well –’

‘It was a clue, sir,’ said Dobby, his eyes widening, as though this was obvious. ‘Dobby was giving you a clue. The Dark Lord, before he changed his name, could be freely named, you see?”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 18 (Dobby’s Reward)

Dobby also seemed to know about the last time the Chamber was opened, since he warns Harry that history will repeat itself, implying he knows something about what happened the last time.

“And now, at Hogwarts, terrible things are to happen, are perhaps happening already, and Dobby cannot let Harry Potter stay here now that history is to repeat itself, now that the Chamber of Secrets is open once more –”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)

He also says he can’t tell Harry who opened it the last time, which implies he’s bound to secrecy by the enchantment on house-elves rather than that he doesn’t know who opened it then.

“Who’s opened it? Who opened it last time?’

‘Dobby can’t, sir, Dobby can’t, Dobby mustn’t tell!’ squealed the elf.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)

The Dark Lord likely told Lucius about the first time he’d opened the Chamber no later than when he gave him the diary that would reopen it, though possibly even before then.

“When Voldemort discovered that the diary had been mutilated and robbed of all its powers, I am told that his anger was terrible to behold.’

‘But I thought he meant Lucius Malfoy to smuggle it into Hogwarts?’

‘Yes he did, years ago, when he was sure he would be able to create more Horcruxes, but still Lucius was supposed to wait for Voldemort’s say-so, and he never received it, for Voldemort vanished shortly after giving him the diary. No doubt he thought that Lucius would not dare do anything with the Horcrux other than guard it carefully, but he was counting too much upon Lucius’s fear of a master who had been gone for years and whom Lucius believed dead.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

Though he didn’t know the diary was a Horcrux, Lucius did know it would reopen the Chamber.

“Of course, Lucius did not know what the diary really was. I understand that Voldemort had told him the diary would cause the Chamber of Secrets to reopen, because it was cleverly enchanted.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

Because of this, and his house-elf Dobby’s evident knowledge of how the Chamber was opened last time, it seems almost certain that Lucius knew that the Dark Lord had opened it the first time.

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