It's been a while since I read the books, but I thought the Death Eaters were all pure-bloods and only associated with other pure-bloods. How was a half-blood allowed to be almost royalty in Voldemort's court? Was it just because his position at Hogwarts allowed him otherwise unavailable access? Maybe I just assumed the Death Eaters were all pure-bloods. Like I said, it's been a while since I read them, and the movies didn't seem to cover this in that canon.

I know this looks like a lot of questions, but it's all about Snape being so trusted even though he wasn't "pure."

POST EDITED : I did not mean to include Voldemort as a pure-blood. Sloppy editing is my only excuse...

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    Are you assuming that the DEs knew that Snape was half-blooded?
    – Möoz
    Apr 29, 2014 at 6:08

5 Answers 5


OP: "I thought the Deatheaters and Lord Voldemort were all Pure-bloods"

Well, to start off, Lord Voldemort was a half-blood. Tom Riddle, Sr. was a Muggle :)

More importantly, who is and isn't invited to DEs wasn't a democratic vote. Lord Voldemort decided. To quote from a related discussion, JKR patterned blood purity ideas on Nazis, and in Nazi Germany, the biggest rule about who was Jewish was "whatever boss says":

These events (half-Jew Erhard Milch being issued a German Blood Certificate) prompted Hermann Göring to say famously "Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich" ("I decide who is a Jew")

And Voldemort (aside from being half-blood) wasn't too picky at the expense of practicality - heck, he employed Fenrir Greyback, a werewolf. As far as Snape, he had a host of reasons to pick him:

  • Devoted to Dark Arts ("up to his eyeballs in dark arts" as Sirius said)

  • Master Potioner

  • Overall talented and powerful wizard

  • Snape was friends with proto-DEs (Mulciber, etc...) and enemies with proto-OOTP (Marauders).

  • Shared with Voldemort not only having a Muggle father, but a bitter resentment of that father (Severus and Tobias had poor relation)

  • I knew Voldemort was half-blood. Dang it! Human error. I re-edited the question so many times I screwed that up. I'm going to fix it now. Jan 18, 2014 at 7:26
  • I was going to wait a day or so before picking, but I think you satisfied my question. (Didn't mean that to sound so filthy, like a mudblood.) Jan 18, 2014 at 10:45
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    According to JKR, the Death Eaters were not all purebloods. Under rare circumstances even Muggleborns are allowed to be Death Eaters. There were also individuals who Voldemort allowed to serve him, even if he didn't grant them the full honor of being a Death Eater, or being called a Death Eater, such as Fenrir Greyback. Jan 18, 2014 at 22:59

Snape brought the Dark Lord information that was useful to him and remained apparently loyal to Voldemort when others didn't.

He wasn't one of the pure and natural leaders of the Wizarding world, but he was an able and (seemingly) trustworthy servant.

Voldemort worked with Giants, goblins, and other 'lesser' beings as well, his cause was not purely purebloods.

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    "remained apparently loyal" - while correct, I think the OP was asking why Snape was made DE in the first place, before the fall. Jan 18, 2014 at 14:06
  • @DVK: He was made a Death Eater when he brought Big V information that was very useful, IIRC: The knowledge of the prophecy.
    – Jeff
    Jan 18, 2014 at 15:33
  • are you sure? I think he was already a DE then Jan 18, 2014 at 17:08
  • @DVK: I think so, but I haven't re-read the canon books for a while, and I've been reading Methods of Rationality (a fanfic) recently. I'm no longer certain if that is canon or fanfic-derived.
    – Jeff
    Jan 18, 2014 at 21:22

Voldemort was interested in his own power, he didn't really have any ideology beyond that. He preyed on the feelings of superiority of the "pure bloods" to recruit them as Death Eaters but there is no evidence in the books to suggest that he really cared about any cause beyond his own survival and increasing power.

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    Sorry this is wrong. He displayed exactly the sentiments you claim he didn't when he said he wanted to preserve pure blood (both in general, and as pertaining to Neville) when he told Hogwarts' defendants that he "killed" Harry Jan 18, 2014 at 14:05
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    I think Tim B's point is that he CLAIMED those things, but his inner motives were only about personal power. It's a bit more subjective since the books are not written from Voldemort's POV. However, given what we know if his character, the idea that he routinely lies to his followers and tells them what they want to hear is quite plausible. Look at the way he treats the Malfoys like trash. Jan 18, 2014 at 22:08
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    @pleurocoelus exactly, thank you. From all we can see about his character his only real interest is himself and his own power. He will do and say whatever is needed to further that end, including manipulating his followers. There may well have been some self loathing/pureblood issues that helped feed into his character defects but at the end of the day he will do whatever is needed, work with whoever furthers his ends, etc.
    – Tim B
    Jan 18, 2014 at 22:21

Half-bloods could be Death Eaters, they weren’t only pure-bloods.

There’s nothing indicating that half-bloods aren’t allowed to join the Death Eaters - they only really hate Mudbloods. When they take over the Ministry, they lock up Mudbloods, but anyone who can prove they have a close wizarding relative is exonerated. Though she’d of course be somewhat biased since she’s Mudblood and strongly against their cause, so she’d be glad to think them all liars, Hermione also suspects that most of the Death Eaters are half-bloods, since there aren’t enough pure-bloods left for the Death Eaters to all be pure-bloods. As pure-bloods are indeed very rare, it seems likely that at least some of the Death Eaters would be half-bloods.

“The Death Eaters can’t all be pure-blood, there aren’t enough pure-blood wizards left,’ said Hermione stubbornly. ‘I expect most of them are half-bloods pretending to be pure. It’s only Muggle-borns they hate, they’d be quite happy to let you and Ron join up.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 12 (Silver and Opals)

Also, J.K. Rowling said in an interview that Snape having been a Death Eater clearly showed that he wasn’t Muggle-born, as they’re only in very rare circumstances allowed to join the Death Eaters. This statement implies that his blood status was one that wouldn’t be an obstacle to him joining.

Apart from Harry, Snape is my favourite character because he is so complex and I just love him. Can he see the Thestrals, and if so, why? Also, is he a pure blood wizard?

Snape’s ancestry is hinted at. He was a Death Eater, so clearly he is no Muggle born, because Muggle borns are not allowed to be Death Eaters, except in rare circumstances. You have some information about his ancestry there.
- Edinburgh Book Festival (August 15, 2004)

Therefore, it seems likely that half-bloods could be Death Eaters, and no special exceptions were made for Snape. That statement also implies that there are circumstances, though rare, that would cause a Muggle-born to be allowed to be a Death Eater. However, from Rowling’s statement about Snape’s blood status, it implies he was of a status considered acceptable by the Death Eaters.

  • This is a good answer but DVK already answered this to my satisfaction over four years ago. Oct 17, 2018 at 16:33
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    @MeatTrademark No problem! :) I’m not trying to ‘outdo’ the accepted answer, but I’d found information indicating half-bloods in general are likely allowed in the Death Eaters, so Snape’s not necessarily a special case, which seemed relevant.
    – Obsidia
    Oct 17, 2018 at 17:32
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    I appreciate the effort and info. Upvoted. Oct 17, 2018 at 23:58
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    @MeatTrademark Thanks a lot! :)
    – Obsidia
    Oct 18, 2018 at 0:19

Death Eaters all shared the same ideas about Muggle-borns as Salazar Slytherin and Lord Voldemort, no matter on their blood status. The only thing restricting a wizard from becoming a Death Eater would be if he or she was a Blood Traitor or a Muggle-born. Severus Snape proved "loyal" to Lord Voldemort when he overheard the prophecy and told it to the Dark Lord. At the same time, since he had overheard the prophecy, Dumbledore offered him a position at Hogwarts to help bring down Voldemort. Lord Voldemort himself thought that Snape was on the inside getting information for and empowering the Death Eaters, when really he was on Dumbledore's side and was able to hide that fact because he was extremely good at Legilimency. Long story short, Voldemort trusted all his Death Eaters, no matter their blood status. If they could prove their loyalty, which Snape did, they were trusted.

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