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"Medieval, dates unknown. Most famous wizard of all time. Sometimes known as the Prince of Enchanters. Part of the Court of King Arthur."
— Merlin's Chocolate Frog Card[src]

Merlin was a legendary medieval wizard and member of King Arthur's court.[5]


Early life[]

Merlin was born sometime during the medieval era.[5] During his formative years, he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and was sorted into Slytherin House;[4] possibly being taught by Salazar Slytherin himself. During his time at Hogwarts, he may have been responsible for the creation of various puzzles located beyond the Hogwarts grounds.[6] Popular myth had it that Merlin's wand was made from of English oak (though as his grave had never been found, this could not be proven).[4]

"This is what happens when you abandon the ways of ancient magic."
— Merlin's portrait regarding the portrait curse[src]

At some point in his life, Merlin studied the five secret rooms at Hogwarts that would one day come to be known as the fabled Cursed Vaults and obtained an understanding of not only the purpose for their existence, but also the ancient magic surrounding them. Later on in his life, a portrait was painted by him, which he educated to speak and act like himself, and taught about the vaults so that once hung at Hogwarts, it could advise future residents about them, although its warnings were too cryptic to be of much help to find the vaults and breaking the curses.[7]

Later life[]

At some point in his lifetime, Merlin became a part of the Court of King Arthur, assisting him during his reign.[5] It is also widely believed by the wizarding community that he was friends with Sir Cadogan, which helped him secure a position on the Knights of the Round Table.[8] Merlin was also an expert user of charms, to the point of earning the epithet "Prince of Enchanters",[5] and was vehemently opposed to Dark Arts, becoming an enemy of Arthur's half-sister, Morgan le Fay (otherwise known as Morgana), a Dark witch.[9]

Merlin further believed that wizardkind should help Muggles and live peacefully with them. To this end, he founded the Order of Merlin, an organisation which promoted Muggle rights, creating rules against using magic on them.[5]


Merlin Chocolate Frog Card - front

Merlin's Chocolate Frog Card.

In commemoration of arguably the most famous wizard of all time, a stain glass window featuring Merlin's name was eventually fitted into the wall of the school's History of Magic Classroom,[10] and the Wizengamot, the judicial body of the Wizards' Council, began awarding a handsome golden medal to witches and wizards that distinguished themselves through their service to the wizarding community,[11] and his name even became part of everyday wizarding vernacular: The popular exclamation, "Merlin's beard!", and the more unusual "Merlin's pants!" were examples of such.

Slytherin students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry took special pride in Merlin — "the most famous wizard in history" — having been Sorted into their House.[5] However, this fact is one that the other houses do not like to recognise. Some of the more prejudiced Slytherins in later history also tended to ignore the fact that the esteemed Merlin was in fact a champion of Muggle rights and disdained pure-blood supremacism.[4]

Merlin Portrait 2

A portrait of Merlin at Hogwarts

Merlin had at least two portraits at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. One was located on one of the walls by the Grand Staircase, next to the the portrait of the old friend of his real-life counterpart and fellow courtier of King Arthur, Sir Cadogan.[7] The other one was found in the Sphinx Clubhouse. In 1988, Merlin's portrait offered the residents of Hogwarts Castle advice on the Cursed Vaults while they were trying to free Beatrice Haywood from a painting, explaining that in order to understand the nature of curses placed upon each of them, they first needed to know what the vaults had been built to hold; warning that this curse was their punishment for abandoning ancient magic and to the vaults, the people in Hogwarts were the curse.[7]

Merlin was immortalised on a Chocolate Frog Card. Harry Potter found a copy of this card in one of the Chocolate Frogs he bought on the Hogwarts Express on 1 September, 1991.[12]

On 31 July 1998, the Daily Prophet published a letter by a reader suggesting a "Merlin Remembrance Day" be established.[13]

Merlin's portrait and the Cursed Vaults[]

During the 1988–1989 school year at Hogwarts, Merlin's portrait discussed the Cursed Vaults with his neighbouring portrait, Sir Cadogan, and the Gryffindor House ghost, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, whom he confided that the portrait curse were nothing more than a "trap guarding the mouth of an all-consuming beast", and that a faceless interloper had been tampering with the portraits.[14] He also expressed the opinion that if a member of Slytherin House had been running the school, their current predicament would never have happened.[15]

Later still, when questioned about whether he knew anything about a painting that was linked to any of the Cursed Vaults, Merlin's portrait recalled "a portrait of an underground chamber choked with shadow", and explained that in the case of the vaults, "one curse begets the next".[16] At a later point, when Jacob's sibling had to wreak havoc at the school as per the instruction of Peeves the poltergeist in exchange for the vault portrait by pretending that they were convinced that it was Merlin, and not Cadogan who defeated the Wyvern of Wye, Merlin's portrait did not correct them. Instead, when Sir Cadogan called upon his painted companion to defend his honour and to help him correct the student, Merlin's portrait amusingly pretended to be unable to defend anything other than ancient magic, and told Sir Cadogan to fight his own battles.[17]

Magical abilities and skills[]

  • Magical mastery: As the sworn enemy of an infamous Dark witch and perhaps one of the most famous wizards in the history of the wizarding world himself,[5] it can be assumed that Merlin was one of the greatest wizards of his time.
  • Ancient magic: While it is unknown whether Merlin possessed the rare ability to perceive traces of ancient magic and an innate gift for wielding it, like Percival Rackham and Isidora Morganach had,[10] if his portrait's rebuke towards the denizens of Hogwarts Castle in the 20th century for having "abandoned the ways of ancient magic" was any indication,[7] in life, Merlin himself would have possessed a great understanding of the ancient magic that had gone into the construction of the the school[10] and, by extension, the fabled Cursed Vaults, and was, as every member of the 15th century group of Hogwarts professors known as the Keepers was later shown to be able to do even absent said rare ability,[10] implied to have been able to wield said power himself.[17]
  • Charms: Merlin's exceptional ability in this field of magic was known, to the point he has been dubbed the "Prince of Enchanters".[5] He was regarded as a Charms specialist.[18]
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts: As the sworn enemy of an infamous Dark witch, Merlin would presumably have been well-versed in this branch of magic as means of protecting himself and his allies from any evildoing at the hands of Morgan le Fay.[9]
  • Herbology: Merlin was implied to have been well-versed in the magical properties of magical plants, with the 19th century magical historian Nora Treadwell, who had specialised in Merlin's life, noting that he often referred to Mallowsweet in his writings.[10]
  • Duelling: Merlin was also a famously accomplished duellist, as he at one point fought in a duel of historic proportions with Morgan le Fay, an event that was depicted in a stain glass window outside Classroom 3C at Hogwarts during the 1890–1891 school year.[19]
  • Wandless magic: Merlin was also capable of performing magic without his wand, something that only wizards of superior magical ability are able to accomplish.[20]
  • Spell creation (possibly): Merlin possibly had skill in making spells, since some posit the Disarming Charm was a creation of Merlin's; although some (as Miranda Goshawk wrote in the Book of Spells) maintain that that spell was created in the 14th century by Elizabeth Smudgling.[21]
  • Study of Ancient Runes (possibly): Merlin may have been skilled at writing and reading in runic, as a book that was hand-written in unfamiliar runes and believed to have belonged to him was said to have been kept at the Head's Office in Hogwarts Castle.[8]
  • Divination: Merlin appeared to have some skill in Divination, as he could view a green dragon inside a crystal ball.[18]



Merlin's book

  • Wand: Merlin owned a wand that was of an unknown length and core, which was believed to be made of English oak wood (although his grave has never been found, so this is unproven). It is unknown whether he made the wand or purchased it.[4]
  • Book: Merlin was believed to own this mysterious book, the contents of which were unknown and either potentially mundane, mysterious or even dangerous. It was written in an unknown runic alphabet.[8]
  • Crystal ball: Merlin owned a crystal ball, which he could view a green dragon within.[18]
  • Merlin's idiomatic possessions: Many Wizarding idioms referred to Merlin or particular objects he owned, though it is unlikely he owned some items such as a pocket-watch, as he predates their invention.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Merlin is a wizard featured in many British legends. Though he first appeared under the name Myrddin Wyllt (Merlin the wild) in Welsh literature as a half-crazed prophet of the forest, he is perhaps most famous as a central figure in the Arthurian legend. He is most commonly depicted as the adviser of King Arthur.[22]
  • Although seemingly having been purposefully omitted due to their lack of relevance to the overall story, it is very likely that at least some elements of the real-life myths would have been carried over by Rowling to her version of Merlin, even though wizarding and Muggle versions on the subject still differed from one another to some extent.[23] This is further underpinned by the fact that Merlin, who according to the Arthurian Legends was described as a druid that was closely in touch with nature and possessed abilities that almost all of which were achievable in Rowling's wizarding world. These includes a prophetic insight into future events, the ability to shape-shift, change or modify his own appearance,[24] appear and disappear without notice, control climate, alter other people's perception of reality, and read people's hearts and true desires. This also includes his power to seemingly age backwards, which could be explained in-universe if de-ageing amulets existed in medieval times.
  • Some myths claim Merlin to be a Druid and/or raised among them. While yet to be confirmed, this may very well be the case of his in-universe counterpart, as the Druids' respect and veneration of nature and all of its beings fits very well with the fact that Merlin not only reportedly was chosen by a wand made of English oak, a wood known to have "an affinity with the magic of the natural world" It would also explain his desire to promote Muggle rights, as the British Druids were historically speakingrelatively tolerant of beliefs of others provided and hence would have discouraged him from adopting a belief in the inherent superiority of pure-bloods found in Slytherin House, which would have been especially notable if he indeed was taught by Salazar Slytherin himself.
  • One of the possible questions in the Sorting quiz at Pottermore mentions that Merlin marked his possessions with a mysterious rune. Since this is just a possible answer to a hypothetical question, it is unclear if Merlin actually used this symbol as his mark in historical canon.
  • A Pottermore "Features" article about what the portraits at Hogwarts do when no one is looking, asks us to "imagine an ancient portrait of Merlin stopping a student for a chat because the boy she likes will be coming down the corridor any minute now"[25] While this is just a hypothetical scenario, there is at least one portrait of Merlin at Hogwarts as shown in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
  • Albus Dumbledore, an extraordinarily talented and powerful wizard, resembled Merlin in many ways, such as the iconic long beard and prodigious magical skill. Both were also "Muggle sympathisers".
  • It is unusual that Merlin, one of the most famous proponents of Muggle rights and tolerance, would be placed in Slytherin, a house strongly associated with anti-Muggle views, although since he was such an ambitious person with all his plans for the Order of Merlin, it is not entirely surprising. Slytherins are not necessarily evil or malicious individuals by default nor is there any reliable information on whether or not the House of Slytherin actually held the same views in Merlin's time. In addition, one of the lesser-known attributes Slytherin prizes is fraternity and cultivating beneficial alliances, which would correspond to Merlin's desire for unity between magical and non-magical peoples.
  • In fact, the entire placement of Merlin at Hogwarts is paradoxical. Hogwarts was founded in the 9th/10th century, and while the early 9th century was the time the first records of the Arthur-myth were written, the actual myth plays around the year 500 A.D., meaning that the 'historical' Merlin in fact predates Hogwarts by roughly five-hundred years.
  • Coincidentally, Colin Morgan, who plays Merlin in BBC One's Merlin, was sorted into Slytherin in Pottermore.[citation needed]
  • Merlin may have been an inspiration to the Sphinx Club, as a portrait of him appears in the clubhouse once a sufficient rank is achieved.


The Harry Potter Wiki has 21 images related to Merlin.

External links[]

Notes and references[]

  1. Given Hogwarts was founded in around 993 A.D. or earlier and that Merlin attended it, he must have been eleven by or after the school's founding.
  2. "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 All About Slytherin at Pottermore
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Famous Wizard Card (Merlin)
  6. Hogwarts Legacy - State of Play
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 2 (Grave Danger)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Pottermore - Hogwarts sorting quiz
  9. 9.0 9.1 Famous Wizard Card (Morgan le Fay)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Hogwarts Legacy
  11. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Order of Merlin" at Wizarding World
  12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)
  13. The Daily Prophet (31 July 1998) - Page 3
  14. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 3 (Detention Before Extension)
  15. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 5 (Penny, Portraits, Peace, and Pressure)
  16. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 12 (The Vault Portrait)
  17. 17.0 17.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 22 (Agent of Chaos)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 (see this image)
  19. Hogwarts Legacy
  20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (see this image)
  21. Wonderbook: Book of Spells
  22. WP favicon Merlin on Wikipedia
  23. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Sir Cadogan" at Wizarding World
  24. Which is made possible for wizards through either Human Transfiguration or by Metamorphmagi.
  25. Pottermore - Features: "Things we bet the Hogwarts portraits do when no one is watching"
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