Astonishing though it may seem to many wizards, Muggles have not always been ignorant of the magical and monstrous creatures that we have worked so long and hard to hide. A glance through Muggle art and literature of the Middle Ages reveals that many of the creatures they now believe to be imaginary were then known to be real. The dragon, the griffin, the unicorn, the phoenix, the centaur – these and more are represented in Muggle works of that period, though usually with almost comical inexactitude.
However, a closed examination of Muggle bestiaries of that period demonstrates that most magical beasts either escaped Muggle notice completely or were mistaken for something else. Examine this surviving fragment of manuscript, written by one Brother Benedict, a Franciscan monk from Worcestershire:
|Todaye while travailing in the Herbe Garden, I did such aside the basil to discover a Ferret of monstrous size. It did not run nor hide as Ferrets are wont to do, but leapt upon me, throwing me backwards upon the ground and crying with most unnatural fury, ‘Get out of it, baldy!’ It did then bite my nose so viciously that I did bleed for several Hours. The Friar was unwillinge to believe that I had met a talking Ferret and did ask me whether I had been supping of Brother Boniface’s Turnip Wine. As my nose was still swollen and bloody I was excused Vespers.||今天，我在花园里干活的时候，拨开了些罗勒。然后发现了一只大得惊人的雪貂。但它不像别的雪貂那样仓皇逃跑躲藏，而是直接迎面把我撞倒，极度狰狞地大喊：”死秃子，给我滚开！“还恶狠狠地咬了我鼻子一口，害我流了好几小时血。可那个修道士不相信我见到了一只会说话的雪貂，还老问我是不是喝了博尼费斯修士家的萝卜酒。我想着反正我的鼻子还又肿又流血的，我就不做晚祷了。|
Evidently our Muggle friends had unearthed not a ferret, as he supposed, but a Jarvey, most likely in pursuit of its favorite prey, gnomes.
Imperfect understanding is often more dangerous than ignorance, and the Muggles’ fear of magic was undoubtedly increased by their dread of what might be lurking in their herb gardens. Muggle persecution of wizards at this time was reaching a pitch hitherto unknown and sighting of such beasts as dragons and Hippogriffs were contributing to Muggle hysteria.
It is not the aim of this work to discuss the dark days that preceded the wizards’ retreat into hiding4. All that concerns us here is the fate of those fabulous beasts that, like ourselves, would have to be concealed if Muggles were ever to be convinced there was no such thing as magic.
The International Confederation of Wizards argued the matter out at their famous summit meeting of 1962. No fewer than seven weeks of sometimes acrimonious discussion between wizards of all nationalities were devoted to the troublesome question of magical creatures. How many species would we be able to conceal from Muggle notice and which should they be? Where and how should we hide them? The debate raged on, some creatures oblivious to the fact that their destiny was being decided, others contributing to the debate5.
At last agreement was reached6. Twenty-seven species, ranging in size from dragons to Bundimuns, were to be hidden from Muggles so as to create the illusion that they had never existed outside the imagination. This number was increased over the following century, as wizards became more confident in their methods of concealment. In 1750, Clause 73 was inserted in the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, to which wizard ministries worldwide conform today:
|Each wizarding governing body will be responsible for the concealment, care and control of all magical beasts, beings and spirits dwelling within its territory’s borders. Should any such creature cause harm to, or draw the notice of, the Muggle community, that nation’s wizarding governing body will be subject to discipline by the International Confederation of Wizards.||所有巫师理事机构都对其辖内所有神奇动物、人和幽灵有藏匿、照料和控制的义务。若上述生物妨害麻瓜社会，或引起麻瓜社会的注意，其所归属的巫师理事机构会受到国际巫师联合会的惩罚。|
4 Anyone interested in a full account of this particularly bloody period of wizarding history should consult A History of Magic by Bathilda bagshot (Little Red Books, 1947)
5 Delegations of centaurs, merpeople and goblins were persuaded to attend the summit.
6 Except by the goblins.