At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery & Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore & Hogwarts Legacy.
Merlin was born sometime during the medieval era. During his formative years, he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and was sorted into Slytherin House. It is possible that he was taught by Salazar Slytherin himself, given the time period Merlin lived in. 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).
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.
At some point in his lifetime, Merlin became a part of the Court of King Arthur, assisting him during his reign. 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. Merlin was also an expert user of charms, to the point of earning the epithet "Prince of Enchanters", and was vehemently opposed to Dark Magic, becoming an enemy of Arthur's half-sister, Morgan le Fay (otherwise known as Morgana), a dark witch.
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.
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, 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, 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. 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.
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. 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.
Merlin's portrait and the Cursed Vaults
On a later occasion, Merlin's portrait discussed the Cursed Vaults with his neighbouring portrait, Sir Cadogan, and the House Ghost of Gryffindor House, 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. He also expressed the opinion that if a member of Slytherin House had been running the school, their current predicament would never have happened.
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." 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.
Magical abilities and skills
- Magical mastery: As he was considered the most famous wizard of all time, it can be assumed that Merlin was rich in learning and experience and had more than considerable skill in magic.
- Charms: Merlin's exceptional ability in this field of magic was known, to the point he has been dubbed the "Prince of Enchanters". He was regarded as a Charms specialist.
- Wandless magic: Merlin was also capable of performing magic without his wand, something that only wizards of superior magical ability are able to accomplish.
- Spell creation (possibly): Merlin probably had skill in spellcraft, since some posit the Disarming Charm was a creation of Merlin's; although some (like Miranda Goshawk wrote in the Book of Spells) maintain that that spell was created in the 14th century by Elizabeth Smudgling.
- 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 Headmaster's Office in Hogwarts Castle.
- Divination: Merlin appeared to have some skill in Divination, as he could view a green dragon inside a crystal ball.
- 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.
- 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.
- Crystal ball: Merlin owned a crystal ball, which he could view a green dragon within.
- Favourite fluffy bathrobe (possibly): Merlin apparently possessed a fluffy bathrobe that he favoured during his lifetime, as it was used as a wizarding idiom long after his death by Jacob's sibling.
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.
- As the legends and tales of Merlin is known both to Muggles and wizards alike, and Muggles have written about how Merlin is said to have been the child of a human woman who was impregnated by a demon, many fans have speculated that Merlin may have been a Half-blood wizard, and that his father may have been a fearsome Warlock who used dark magic against Muggles and were both so widely feared by Muggles that he was recorded in myth as an evil entity. However, as mentioned, this is just speculation.
- In some myths about Merlin, he proved capable of making prophecies, change his appearance at will and predict the future, and if this indeed is true for his wizarding counterpart, Merlin would have been both a Seer and either very skilled at human transfiguration or a Metamorphmagus.
- 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", in which he would be likely to have already revered already before to his Hogwarts years, but it would also explain his desire to promote Muggle rights, as learning about the philosophy of the Druids from a young age would have shielded him from being influenced by the common 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" 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 "Muggle sympathizers"
- 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.
- Merlin may have been in the Sphinx Club when he was at Hogwarts, as a portrait of him appears in the clubhouse once a sufficient rank is achieved.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play) (Mentioned only)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay (Mentioned only)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) (Mentioned only)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore - The Complete Screenplay (Mentioned only)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Mentioned only)
- Daily Prophet Newsletters (Mentioned only)
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)
- Wizarding World (Mentioned only)
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Appears in portrait(s))
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Mentioned only)
- Hogwarts Legacy (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- 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.
- "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- All About Slytherin at Pottermore
- Famous Wizard Card (Merlin)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 2 (Grave Danger)
- Pottermore - Hogwarts sorting quiz
- Famous Wizard Card (Morgan le Fay)
- Hogwarts Legacy
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Order of Merlin" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)
- The Daily Prophet (31 July 1998) - Page 3
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 3 (Detention Before Extension)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 5 (Penny, Portraits, Peace, and Pressure)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 12 (The Vault Portrait)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 22 (Agent of Chaos)
- (see this image)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (see this image)
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells
- Merlin on Wikipedia
- Pottermore - Features: "Things we bet the Hogwarts portraits do when no one is watching"