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The Untold Truth Of Twilight's Volturi

Fans of the "Twilight" franchise will recognize the word "Volturi." The vampire government appears throughout the series, from refusing to give Edward what he wants in Italy to almost losing a battle in the "Breaking Dawn" film adaptation. While they may seem collected, there is quite a bit more going on within their ranks than any other vampire will ever know.

The Volturi are made up of several old vampires that came together to try and create a new world for the supernatural blood-drinkers to live in. It wasn't cut and dry though; it took effort and usurping and massacring two other covens to become the power players they are. While the previous leading coven, the Romanians, wants humans to know about vampires, and even used humans as more than meals, the Volturi wanted their species to fall into the background, staying invisible, becoming mere legends to the humans. This divisive ideological difference caused a massive fallout, with the Volturi landing on top.

There is so much more to the Volturi than what's revealed in the initial series. In supplemental material, author Stephenie Meyer dives deeper into what makes the ruling vampire coven tick and how they came to be, showing that even the smallest detail plays an important part in the coven's hierarchy. Step into the light — which should be fine if you aren't a vampire — and uncover the mystery of how the ruling coven maintains its status. Let's discuss everything you might not know about the Volturi.

The coven isn't the first of its kind

While the Volturi are the largest vampire coven in the present "Twilight" universe, that wasn't always the case. The coven is made up of nine permanent guard members, the five core members that lead the coven, and about a dozen "transitory" members, based on Stephenie Meyer's writing in "The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide." Before the Volturi, the Romanian coven was the largest in existence. The coven originally had 12 ruling members, much more than the usual two or three members a coven traditionally has. There are only two members of the Romanian coven left, Stefan (played by Guri Weinberg in the films) and Vladimir (Noel Fisher), but that isn't by choice.

The Romanian coven also gets credit for being the oldest coven. So though it seems like the Volturi, who have been around since the Late Bronze Age, were the first of their kind, the Romanians did it all first. They were the first to grow larger than the standard coven size, the first to have physically powerful vampires in a "guard," and the first to come together because they wanted power in the world. The coven ruled over the vampires for almost 1,000 years. Everything the Volturi did was what Stefan and his coven did first, though Aro (Michael Sheen) and his peers built on and possibly improved the system, depending on who you talk to.

They only became the largest because of what they did

When Aro, Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower), and Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl) formed the Volturi, it helped further Aro's rise to power, which he had wanted since he was a human. The coven formed in Greece during the Mycenaean Era, which was from 1700 to 1100 B.C., on the basis that they wanted to create "laws of mutual convenience" that they would use to be the leading power of the vampires. But they knew they needed numbers before they tried to take on the then-leading coven. They recruited humans with special talents, hoping they became vampires with special talents, building a force against the Romanians.

When the Volturi shared their laws with the vampire world, the Romanians were not fans. Based on information provided in "The Official Illustrated Guide," the original ruling coven did not hide their existence from humans, even choosing to enslave them. This went against what the Volturi believed and was the excuse they needed to go against the Romanians. After nearly a century of fighting to push the other coven into extinction, and not quite finishing the job because two members survived, the Volturi overthrew the Romanians sometime between 400 and 500 A.D.

Since then, the Volturi have resided in Volterra, Italy — which is actually a real city — watching the vampire world and ensuring their rules are followed. They even check in on Stefan and Vladimir every now and then to make sure they don't get any ideas.

They don't let people desert the coven

When Aro, Caius, and Marcus took mates, it brought the core members of the coven from three to six. Fans of the series may recall that there are five core members now. How did they go from six to five? It involves possible desertion — and Aro preventing it at all costs. 

"The Official Illustrated Guide" details what happened. Marcus and his mate Didyme, who happens to be Aro's sister from his human life, began to think differently than the other four members and had thoughts of leaving the coven. Aro, with his ability to read minds, knew this and gave them the impression he was okay with their decision.

Aro values those with gifts, and Marcus' was one he couldn't live without. His sister's mate has the ability to see the bonds between people, even determining which are weaker than the rest. Didyme's gift, an "aura of happiness" that drew people to her, was not as strong as Aro hoped it would be when he changed her. To prevent Marcus from leaving, Aro killed Didyme. He acted shocked and worked tirelessly to figure out who killed her, all of which was to no avail, of course. 

His actions kept Marcus with him, but not in the way he wanted. Marcus fell into deep despair and grief. Around this time, Aro found Chelsea, whose manipulative abilities were able to keep Marcus loyal to the group.

Their wives only appear for special occasions

After Didyme's tragic death, Aro and Caius wanted to protect their wives, worried someone was trying to eliminate their mates too. To prevent any harm from coming to Sulpicia (Rebecca Barras), Aro's wife, and Athenodora (Abbie Dunn), Caius's wife, they kept them inside, only letting them leave for important occasions or duties, like when the entire Volturi guard went to Forks in "Breaking Dawn."

The wives even have a dedicated member of the guard to protect them, though it isn't really physical protection that the individual provides. Corin is described in "The Official Illustrated Guide" as having the ability "to make anyone feel content in his or her circumstances." She ensures the wives remain happy with their less-than-ideal situation. Being unable to leave, being sentenced to stay in the same space though you've done nothing wrong, is a difficult weight to bear, but Corin's gift makes it easier for them. 

However, the feeling she gives people is addictive, and if someone is around it all the time and then leaves, they will go through a withdrawal of sorts. It's for that reason that Aro, despite her being with his wife, tries not to be around Corin more than necessary. Caius, on the other hand, will go to her to "alleviate his boredom between battles and punishing expeditions."

Their cloaks show a vampire's hierarchy within the coven

One of the most notable parts of the Volturi is the cloaks they wear. When they appear in the "Breaking Dawn" novel, Bella describes some as "grey-cloaked figures" and others as "waifish black-cloaked figures." The difference in cloak colors actually has significance in the coven. In "The Official Illustrated Guide," Stephenie Meyer writes, "the darker the cloak, the higher the vampire's rank." The individuals in grey cloaks Bella saw are part of the guard, whereas those in black are at the top of the hierarchy.

There are exceptions to this rule. Chelsea, a member of the guard, wears the black cloak of the core coven members. Aro recognizes that he is dependent on her abilities to keep many of the vampires in the coven but also vulnerable to her because of that power and how it could be used against him. He needs to keep her happy for her to stay with them, so she is given the privilege of wearing the darkest robes, giving her status among the rest.

Other than Chelsea, Jane (Dakota Fanning) and Alec (Cameron Bright) wear the darkest robes that aren't true-black as members of the guard, though they are depicted wearing black robes in the films. This shows their status in the guard, as they were hand-selected by Aro as children for the abilities they displayed as humans, and they are regularly utilized by the coven in battle.

The Volturi want to keep humans in the dark

The laws of mutual convenience the Volturi enforce aren't written down; they're passed by word-of-mouth from one vampire to another. All the rules ultimately work towards the goal of keeping vampires a secret from human society. They include being careful of how and where vampires hunt, "silencing" any humans who find out by the vampire responsible, and most importantly, that no immortal children should be created.

That last one proves most difficult to implement, as what constitutes a child is subjective, since each child's mind develops at a different pace. Based on the history provided in "The Official Illustrated Guide," creating child vampires was outlawed because of how often their existence broke the other rules. The Volturi deemed them incapable of keeping the existence of vampires a secret due to their recklessness, so they decided to prevent vampires from creating them. However, it was still an issue, and the Volturi had to eradicate entire covens over how protective they were of their immortal children — it's this rule that also brings them into conflict with the Cullens over Bella's (Kristen Stewart) daughter, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy).

That said, the Volturi don't spend all their time watching over every coven. They keep a close eye on current events, news, movies, and books for narratives that might expose them. If something seems like it could be an issue, members of the guard are sent to investigate and take care of the problem, if needed.

Collecting oddities is the key to the Volturi's power

When Aro and the others decided to take on the Romanian coven, they knew they needed a leg up. That leg up wasn't just physically gifted vampires, but mentally gifted ones as well. As shown with Jane and Alec, Aro will keep tabs on humans he believes could make gifted vampires, planning to turn them at the right moment. These powers have made the coven what it is, preventing people from leaving and keeping them devoted to the cause. 

When the Volturi's decision-maker meets a vampire he feels would make a helpful addition, like Alice (Ashley Greene) or Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), he will go out of his way to convince them to join the coven. When Bella meets Aro in "New Moon" and proves protected from his and Jane's abilities, he is fascinated. Though Caius wants her killed, because her knowing about vampires breaks their laws, Aro wants to see her become a vampire. He's right in his assumption that her ability becomes more powerful when she's turned, as shown in "Breaking Dawn."

The coven is always looking for new abilities and will even replace guard members if they come across someone with a similar ability who works more in the Volturi's favor. If someone with a more powerful version of Jane's ability came along, she'd be replaced. Loyalty means nothing to the coven if a younger, more powerful vampire is willing to join them.

They're responsible for some vampire stereotypes

As part of their mission to prevent humans from finding out about vampires, there are some fake stereotypes they've put out there to keep humans off their trail. "The Official Illustrated Guide" says the Volturi are responsible for mainstream vampire mythology, such as that vampires could be burned in the sun, have no reflection, turn into bats, need permission to enter a house, can be killed with a wooden stake in the heart, and can be harmed by holy water, garlic, and crosses. These stereotypes are seen in other vampire franchises, like "The Vampire Diaries," though the Volturi can't take credit for that.

The Volturi also worked to remove certain stereotypes and "misconceptions" from humans' folklore about them to better protect themselves. They were able to convince humans that they do not have red or black eyes, they sleep, they can't reflect light like prisms, and they aren't "nearly indestructible." While eliminating these stereotypes has helped them maintain their secrecy, there are some they just haven't been able to convince humans to forget. Humans still believe that vampires are pale, beautiful, flammable, immortal blood-drinking beings. It will probably be a bit longer before the Volturi can remove their dietary preferences from that list.

They recruit humans to become vampires

To help spread their ideals and laws throughout the world, gaining favor to help bring them to power, they turned to willing humans. Like Aro, there were others who craved having some type of power, which immortality could give them. The Volturi would turn humans, teach them their laws, and then send them out into the world. As these new vampires turned others or came across other covens, they spread the laws to all corners of the Earth, giving the coven the power it wanted. 

There was an emphasis on gifted humans, as Aro likes to improve his collection of abilities at his disposal, which continued when the program wound down. The initial need to recruit humans — to increase their numbers to go against the Romanian coven and to spread their doctrines — went away, meaning they didn't need as many humans. However, it didn't put an end to the program altogether. 

The Volturi continued to let hopefuls believe they would be turned, though many turned into meals. Gianna (Justine Wachsberger), their receptionist, is human. In "New Moon," Edward confirms to Bella that Gianna knows all about the Volturi and what they are, wanting them to give her immortal life. The series doesn't reveal what happened to Gianna, but "The Official Illustrated Guide" does. Like many hopefuls, the coven wasn't interested in granting her wish.

They almost hunted another supernatural species to extinction

The Volturi don't only want to control their own; they want to make sure they are the superior supernatural species (try saying that five times). The coven, particularly core member Caius, hunted the Children of the Moon, also known as werewolves, to "near extinction" levels, according to "The Official Illustrated Guide." The vampire felt helpless in a battle against a werewolf, and so his hatred for them began. After spending his time trying to hunt the Romanian coven into nonexistence, Caius needed a new target, and the werewolves became that for him. The two species share a food supply, so it was only a matter of time until one of them would come out on top.

His attitude against the species continued despite his success, accusing the Cullens of fraternizing with their "bitter enemies since the dawn of time" in "Breaking Dawn." While "The Official Illustrated Guide" doesn't describe a law of this nature, it is likely that because of the Volturi's eradication attempts, other vampires steer clear of werewolves. As Aro and Edward point out to Caius, the Quileutes are shape-shifters that take the form of wolves, as their transformations are not limited by the moon and they maintain their human awareness while transformed, unlike the true werewolves of the "Twilight" universe.

The film adaptations didn't include the most important guard member

She's been mentioned a few times already, but now is the time to discuss who the most important person in the guard is and why film fans may not be familiar with her. Chelsea, once known as Charmion, is the "linchpin" of the Volturi, but she isn't featured in the films at all. Her ability to break and form bonds between people not only prevents anyone from leaving the coven but can turn their enemies against one another, ending a battle before it's begun. Her influence is lasting, not wearing off just because she leaves the room. It may take decades, even centuries, based on Stephenie Meyer's writing in "The Official Illustrated Guide," for her work to disappear, even without contact.

Aro's discovery of Chelsea came at just the right time. She was able to tie Marcus to Aro so that he would listen to what his wife's brother said. This prevented the widower from leaving or hurting himself, and let Aro keep the person he wanted from the duo. She also keeps the bond between Jane and Alec and the coven strong, as the Volturi values their gifts and the effort Aro put into turning them.

Though the core members give Chelsea everything to make her happy, including letting her have a mate who isn't gifted, she's still exposed to Corin every so often, just to make sure she doesn't want to leave the Volturi anytime soon.