- "Toujours Pur."
- — The family motto, translating to "Always Pure"[src]
The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black was one of the largest, oldest, and wealthiest pure-blooded wizarding families in Great Britain, and one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. Many wizarding families in Britain were distantly related to the House of Black. Like the Malfoy and Lestrange families (both of whom are related to the Black family), the House of Black was synonymous with elevated status and wealth. The Blacks were traditionally sorted into Slytherin at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The Black family tree was displayed in the drawing room of the family home at 12 Grimmauld Place in London, England on an intricate tapestry, as an ornate mural. The tapestry started in the Middle Ages and showed the dominant line of the family up to the death of its last members.
By the late twentieth century, the House of Black had become extinct in the male line with the deaths of Sirius and Regulus Black, neither of whom had children. The female line continued through the Malfoy, Potter and Weasley families, Teddy Lupin, and through Delphini who was Bellatrix's illegitimate daughter with Lord Voldemort.
The Black family traces its origin back to the Middle Ages. They claim to have entirely magical ancestry, but as Sirius Black informed his godson Harry Potter, no true pure-blood families existed by the twentieth century. The pure-blood families like the Blacks simply removed Muggles and Squibs from their family trees.
The Blacks place a great importance on blood purity, considering themselves akin to royalty in the wizarding world and disdaining Muggles, Squibs, blood traitors, and Muggle-borns. The family motto, which can be found on the family crest, is Toujours Pur, which means "Always Pure" in French. Many members took this phrase very seriously.
Because of their views, a large number of the Black family members practised the Dark Arts and supported Lord Voldemort during the First and Second Wizarding Wars. A few Blacks even became Death Eaters, while many others never took the Dark Mark but believed in the "purification" of the wizarding world nevertheless. The family went to huge lengths to keep their bloodline alive and "pure", even going as far as marrying their own cousins (for example, Walburga and Orion Black were cousins).
A few members of the family, however, disagreed with the traditional views of their family; Sirius Black, for example, joined the Order of the Phoenix, as did Andromeda Tonks, who married a Muggle-born, and Nymphadora Tonks, a distant member of the Black family. Both were murdered by Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black), Sirius's cousin and Tonks's aunt, in battle.
Supportive of Voldemort at first, the family loyalists who did not become Death Eaters got cold feet when they saw the levels he would go to achieve his goals. Their hatred towards Muggles is such that some members who are not outright Death Eaters would go to lengths to persecute them, such as Araminta Meliflua trying to pass a Ministry Bill to make Muggle-hunting legal. However, even those who originally supported Voldemort's actions to purge the Muggles got cold feet when they saw what he was willing to do for power.
With Sirius's death, the male line of the Black family died out, but the female line continued through the descendants of his cousins Bellatrix Lestrange, Andromeda Tonks and Narcissa Malfoy, his second cousin, once removed, Arthur Weasley, the Burke family, the Crouches, the Longbottoms and the Potter family.
Relatives by marriage
|Distant Relative||Relation to the House of Black|
|Arthur Weasley||Son of Cedrella Weasley (née Black).|
|Wife of Arthur Weasley and niece of Lucretia Prewett (née Black).|
|Gideon Prewett||Nephew of Lucretia Prewett (née Black).|
|Victoire Weasley||Paternal great-grandmother is Cedrella Weasley (née Black). Great-grand-niece of Lucretia Prewett (née Black).|
|Molly Weasley II|
|Lily Potter II||Maternal great-grandmother is Cedrella Weasley (née Black). Great-grand-niece of Lucretia Prewett (née Black). Also, related in some way to Dorea Potter (née Black).|
|Louis Weasley||Paternal great-grandmother is Cedrella Weasley (née Black). Great-grand-nephew of Lucretia Prewett (née Black).|
|Fred Weasley II|
|James Potter II||Maternal great-grandmother is Cedrella Weasley (née Black). Great-grand-nephew of Lucretia Prewett (née Black). Also, related in some way to Dorea Potter (née Black).|
|Albus Potter||Maternal great-grandmother is Cedrella Weasley (née Black). Great-grand-nephew of Lucretia Prewett (née Black). Also, related in some way to Dorea Potter (née Black).|
|Nymphadora Tonks||Daughter of Andromeda Tonks (née Black).|
|Remus Lupin||Husband of Nymphadora Tonks, son-in-law of Andromeda Tonks (née Black).|
|Teddy Lupin||Maternal grandmother is Andromeda Tonks (née Black).|
|Draco Malfoy||Son of Narcissa Malfoy (née Black).|
|Scorpius Malfoy||Paternal grandmother is Narcissa Malfoy (née Black).|
|Charlus Potter's son||Son of Dorea Potter (née Black).|
|James Potter I||Distantly related through his son's marriage to Ginny Weasley. Also, related in some way to Dorea Potter (née Black).|
|Harry Potter||Related through wife Ginny Weasley. Also, he is related in some way to Dorea Potter (née Black).|
|Araminta Meliflua||Cousin of Walburga Black, probably niece of Pollux Black and Irma Crabbe.|
|Hermione Granger||Wife of Ron Weasley|
|Fleur Delacour||Wife of Bill Weasley|
|Audrey Weasley||Wife of Percy Weasley|
|Angelina Johnson||Wife of George Weasley|
|Frank Longbottom||Relation of Callidora Longbottom (née Black).|
|Alice Longbottom||Wife of Frank Longbottom.|
|Neville Longbottom||Relation of Callidora Longbottom (née Black).|
|Barty Crouch Snr||Mother is most likely Charis Crouch (née Black).|
|Barty Crouch Jnr||Paternal grandmother is most likely Charis Crouch (née Black).|
|Delphini||Mother is Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black).|
|Tom Marvolo Riddle||Father of Delphini with Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black).|
Blasted off of the tapestry
The original tree described from Grimmauld Place was subject to some magical interference. According to Sirius Black, his mother Walburga blasted names of "blood traitors" off the tapestry without hesitation. The Black family motto of Toujours Pur ("always pure") was followed assiduously by family members; any who disagreed with the notion of blood purity or married Muggles or people of different blood statuses were disowned and blasted off the family tree, as were any Squibs. Thus, family members that remain on the tapestry can be assumed to have married fellow ("respectable") pure-bloods. Some even married their own cousins; Orion and Walburga Black, for instance, were second cousins. Generations of this practice resulted in Inbreeding, which in turn has caused problems such as low fertility and emotional instability.
The known disowned members are Eduardus Limette Black (for an unknown reason); Iola Black, for marrying Muggle Bob Hitchens; Phineas Black, for supporting Muggle rights; Marius Black, for being a Squib; Cedrella Black, for marrying blood traitor Septimus Weasley; Alphard Black, for giving gold to his runaway nephew Sirius; Sirius Black III, for running away from home; and Andromeda Black, for marrying Muggle-born Ted Tonks.
|Eduardus Limette Black||Unknown|
|Iola Black||Marriage to Muggle Bob Hitchens|
|Phineas Black||Muggle rights supporter|
|Cedrella Black||Marriage to Blood traitor Septimus Weasley|
|Andromeda Black||Marriage to Muggle-born Ted Tonks|
|Sirius Black||Blood traitor|
|Alphard Black||Supported his disowned nephew|
Thus, the Blacks are related to the Max, Blishwick, Flint, Hitchens, Gamp, Bulstrode, Burke, Yaxley, Macmillan, Crabbe, Potter, Peverell, Gaunt, Longbottom, Fortescue, Weasley, Delacour, Johnson, Granger, Crouch, Prewett, Rosier, Lestrange, Meliflua, Tonks, Malfoy, and Lupin families (albeit most of them distantly) but are related to all wizarding families as all families were once pure-blood and all pure-blood families are related. Also, Muggle-born people are descendants of Squibs who are born into either a pure-blood family or a half-blood family (which is part pure-blood). Therefore, all wizarding families (and some Muggle ones) are related to the House of Black.
The Blacks were commonly described as having "great good looks" and a certain aristocratic elegance and haughtiness that reflected upon their personalities, for they considered themselves "practically royal".
The traditional look for the majority of the Black family is dark hair and dark eyes, though there were some exceptions: Sirius Black III was grey-eyed, Andromeda Tonks née Black had light brown hair, and Narcissa Malfoy née Black was blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Despite these differences, each and every one of these three cousins were still noted to be a beauty in their own right, being of tall and elegant stature, with attractive features. Besides this, even after their incarceration in Azkaban and subsequent escape, Bellatrix Lestrange and Sirius were both described to have retained vestiges of these "great good looks", despite losing much of it in the depression of the prison.
The Black family, as with many other pure-blood wizarding families like the Malfoys, the Lestranges and the Potter family, is considered to be very wealthy. This may be one of the reasons why the members of this family acted somewhat arrogantly.
In 1993, Sirius Black III used money from Vault 711 to pay for Harry Potter's Firebolt. This vault may have been property of the Blacks, since Sirius may have inherited this vault after his mother's death. However, he may have acquired it after being disowned, using the money given to him by his Uncle Alphard.
After Sirius died in 1996, his godson Harry Potter inherited all of Sirius Black's properties, including his house, his house-elf and his vault, which still contained "a reasonable amount of gold". Given its depth, it is likely a high-security vault.
Black can be considered a colour, and is the result of the absence of, or complete absorption of, light. In Western culture, the colour black has typically been associated with evil, darkness, and witchcraft, but also with prestige and sophistication — appropriate for the rich and House of Black. Black has also been associated with life and prosperity by other cultures. In ancient China, black was the symbol of the element of water, which also corresponds to Slytherin, the Hogwarts house of almost all members of the Black family. In English heraldry, black represents darkness and ignorance; a possible allusion to the prejudice common to members of the House of Black.
However, the English word black is derived from either the Old English blœc, meaning "black", or blac, meaning "pale". Pallor is associated with sickness and the colour white, which is usually held to symbolise purity in Western and Indian culture, and death in East Asian cultures. This mirrors the typical colouring of members of the House of Black — dark hair and pale skin.
Etymology of given names
Most Black family members are named after stars, moons or constellations. For example, the star Sirius is in the constellation Canis Major (the Dog). What's more, Sirius Black, an Animagus, could change into a massive black dog named Padfoot. Another example is Bellatrix, the third brightest star in the constellation Orion, which is also the name of Sirius's father and Bellatrix's uncle. Cygnus, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia are also constellations, and Regulus, Alphard and Arcturus are named after stars as well. Phoebe Black is named after a moon of Saturn Phoebe.
Some members of the extended family have also chosen to follow this naming pattern. For example, Narcissa Malfoy née Black named her son Draco, which is the name of a constellation. In turn, he named his son Scorpius, which is one of the constellations of the zodiac, known as Scorpio in Western astrology. Narcissa herself, however, was not named in keeping with this convention. She was instead named for a plant, the flower Narcissus. Lycoris Black is also named for a plant.
However if a member of the family is disowned and blasted off the Black family tree then the name is never used again in the following generations.
|Family Name||Astronomical Origin||Status of Name|
|Alphard Black||Alphard is the brightest star in the constellation Hydra.||Disused since Alphard was disowned for supporting his wayward nephew.|
|Andromeda Tonks née Black||Andromeda is a constellation in the Northern Hemisphere and the name of a galaxy.||Disused since Andromeda married a Muggle-born.|
|Arcturus Black I, II, III||Arcturus is the brightest star in the constellation Boötes the Herdsman.|
|Bellatrix Lestrange née Black||Bellatrix is a star in the constellation Orion.|
|Cassiopeia Black||Cassiopeia is a constellation in the Northern Hemisphere.|
|Cygnus Black I, II, III||Cygnus is a constellation in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as the Northern Cross.|
|Delphini||Delphinus is a constellation in the northern sky, close to the celestial equator. Alpha Delphini is a main sequence star of the constellation.|
|Draco Malfoy||Draco is a constellation in the Northern Hemisphere.|
|Orion Black||Orion is a well-known constellation in the Northern Hemisphere.|
|Phoebe Black||Phoebe is perhaps associated with another name of the sun god Apollo, Phoebus. It is also the name of a moon of Saturn.|
|Pollux Black||Pollux is a star in the constellation Gemini.|
|Regulus Black I, II||Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo.|
|Scorpius Malfoy||Scorpius is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere.|
|Sirius Black I, II, III||Sirius is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major.||Disused since Sirius III was a blood-traitor.|
Behind the scenes
- Most of the Blacks are named after constellations.
- A hand drawn copy of the most recent section of the family tree was donated to a charity auction for Book Aid by J. K. Rowling, in February 2006. The drawing was purchased on behalf of Daniel Radcliffe for £30,000.
- According to Sirius Black, if all of the pure-blood families stick with only pure-blood marriages, almost all of them will be relatives because there are only a few pure-blood families. Therefore Sirius relates to the Crabbe family, the Potter family, the Weasley family, the Malfoy family, the Crouch family, the Longbottom family, the Lestrange family, the Lupin family, the Gaunt family, the Macmillan family, the Prewett family, the Riddle family, the Peverell family, the Bulstrode family and the Slytherin family.
- Walburga and Orion Black were second cousins, though they married, a common occurrence historically for aristocratic, wealthy families.
- Another version of the family tree tapestry appeared in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film). When film makers told Rowling that they needed to "visualise Sirius Black's family tree", she faxed them the complete Black family tree, going back eight generations. On that tree the name Phineas is misspelt Phineus.
- According to a statement by Horace Slughorn, all the members of this family except Sirius were all sorted into Slytherin. But some members of this family were in Hogwarts before Slughorn was Head of Slytherin, however it could be that Slughorn was in class with some of them. This statement is backed up with the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black wearing Slytherin coloured robes in the headmasters office and his claim that "We Slytherins are brave yes, but not stupid".
- Many members of the House of Black have died at considerably younger ages than is normal for wizards and witches, and even Muggles for that matter. Of those whose dates of birth and death are shown on the family tree, none lived to be older than one hundred, and most died between the ages of fifty and eighty, with an average life expectancy of only 59.5 years (based on the family tree), though this is possibly the result of major inbreeding (see above) as well as emotional instability and war (as seen).
- Many members of the family are said to have great good looks, with a touch of aristocratic arrogance to it.
- After Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the only pure-blood members who weren't dead or imprisoned are: Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy, Draco Malfoy, Scorpius Malfoy, Astoria Greengrass, Andromeda Tonks, Arthur Weasley, Molly Weasley, Bill, Charlie, Percy, George, Ron and Ginny.
- The female lines continue through Bellatrix (through her descendant with Lord Voldemort, ironically), Narcissa (with Lucius Malfoy), Andromeda (with Ted Tonks), Callidora (with Harfang Longbottom), Cedrella (with Septimus Weasley), Dorea (with Charlus Potter) and possibly Iola (with Bob Hitchens).
- Out of 36 members, most are descendants of Phineas Nigellus and Ursula Flint (25), Seven were of known generations preceding him and three were his siblings. The remaining one was Phineas himself.
- There is at least one disowned Black in each generation (except the generation consisting of Cygnus Black I, Arcturus Black I and Misapinoa Black.)
- All of the males that have been blasted off the family tree were not disowned due to marriage (except for possibly Eduardus Limette Black, who was blasted off for an unknown reason). Phineas was disowned for supporting Muggle rights, Marius was disowned for being a Squib, Alphard for leaving gold to his disowned nephew, and Sirius for running away from his home and not believing in the importance of blood-purity. The three females to have been disowned after marriage are Andromeda, Cedrella and Iola Black (all for marriage to a Muggle-born, a blood traitor, and a Muggle, respectively) .
- It is possible that some of the disowned male members of the family have male-line descendants that are not recognised by the greater Black family due to their ancestors' actions. Their descendants, if any, had however to have gone extinct (fully or just in the male line) by late 1995, when Sirius stated that he was the last of the Blacks. However, as they are not recorded on the family tree, it is unknown if they are deceased or not. So there is a possibility that the Black Family in the male line is still extant.
- Though many members of the Black family were supporters of either Voldemort directly or his principles of blood purity, the family did not become related to him until the birth of Delphini, daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black) as well as the marriage of Ginny Weasley, a member of the Weasley family and the House of Black, and Harry Potter, who is related to Voldemort through the Peverell brothers, distant ancestors of both of them.
- It was once speculated that Dorea Black and her husband Charlus Potter were in fact James Potter's parents, since they had an only child; however, the actual names of James's parents, Fleamont and Euphemia Potter, were later revealed via Pottermore, proving this to be untrue. In addition, if a parent of James Potter was a Black, they would have almost certainly been blasted from the tapestry for supporting Sirius. However, it is more than likely that Dorea was an aunt or cousin by marriage of James. Also, the female line of the House of Black continues through Harry's children, James Sirius Potter, Albus Severus Potter and Lily Luna Potter, whose maternal great-grandmother is Cedrella Weasley née Black, also making Harry related to the House of Black via marriage.
- On the copy of the family tree hand-drawn by J.K. Rowling, Cygnus Black III was born in 1938, while his first child, Bellatrix, was born in 1951, and his last, Narcissa, was born in 1955, meaning that he was between 13 and 17 years old when all his children were born. Considering that Cygnus III was born late compared to his sister Walburga (born 1925), it is probably a mistake, though their brother Alphard was born between Walburga and Cygnus, and his date of birth is unknown, suggesting that Cygnus's date of birth could indeed be correct. Interestingly enough according to the Black Family Tree, his father Pollux Black had his first child and Cygnus Black IIIs older sister Walburga Black at the age of 13. Again this could be a mathematical mistake.
- If the birth years are indeed correct, then the Black Family would have all at some point been in school at the same time (albeit in different years).
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play) (Mentioned only)
- Wizarding World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Dimensions
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Harry Potter Prequel
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Motorbike Escape
- Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey
- Harry Potter Film Wizardry
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The Archive of Magic: The Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (In the Book with No Name)
Notes and references
- Black Family Tapestry
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Although it has never been confirmed that Septimus and Cedrella are Arthur's parents, this can be inferred based on Sirius Black's statement in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black) that Arthur was "something like [his] second cousin once removed." The Black family tree establishes Cedrella as a first cousin once removed of both Orion and Walburga Black, Sirius's parents. Thus, any children she had would be their second cousins, and second cousins once removed of their sons Sirius and Regulus. Also, almost all of Sirius's relatives can be seen on the Black family tree because both his parents were born into the House of Black, making it unlikely that he could be related to Arthur in a way not shown. See also this talk page and an HPL essay for more information.
- Sirius Black stated in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black) that Molly Weasley was his "cousin by marriage". This means that Ignatius Prewett, Lucretia's husband, could not have been Molly, Fabian, and Gideon's father, as this would have made them first cousins by blood of Sirius. Ignatius was Sirius's uncle by marriage, and if Molly was his niece, this could explain Sirius's comment. See this talk page for more information.
- Behind the Name: Black
- Sirius Black, Regulus Black, and Bellatrix Lestrange née Black are all noted to have black hair and pale skin, while Andromeda Tonks née Black has light brown hair and pale skin.
- Empire Magazine: Feature on OotP from The Leaky Cauldron