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"Nicolas Flamel is a historical character. Flamel lived in France in the fourteenth century and is supposed to have discovered how to make a Philosopher's Stone. There are mentions of sightings of him through the centuries because he was supposed to have gained immortality. There are still streets named after Flamel and his wife Perenelle in Paris."
J. K. Rowling on Nicolas Flamel

Nicolas Flamel (c. 1326[1]–c. 1992[2]) was a French wizard and famed alchemist who was the only known maker of the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with incredible powers. He was a close friend and partner with former Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. He owed his considerable age to the Elixir of Life, which was produced from the Stone, along with his wife Perenelle. He was well over six hundred years old as of 1992,[1] being one of the oldest wizards in history.

Flamel was briefly mentioned on Albus Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog Card.[8]

Biography

Early life (Early 14th century)

Nicolas was born in the early 14th century. In his youth, Nicolas attended Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in the Pyrenees Mountains of France, and it was there that he met Perenelle, his future wife. It is said that he later funded both the academy's chateau and grounds, and a fountain on the grounds was named after the couple.[3]

Gaining immortality (Late 14th century–1926)

Flamel became a noted alchemist of considerable talent.[5] At some point, he created the Philosopher's Stone, an item of immense magical power. With the Stone, he created the Elixir of Life, a potion that made the drinker functionally immortal as long as it was regularly ingested. He and Perenelle regularly used the potion after that time.

Although it is clear that he used the Elixir to greatly extend his life, it is not specified whether he used the Stone's powers to make himself wealthy, as the Stone is also capable of turning any metal into gold.[5]

Nicolas was implied to have been in personal combat, but had become inactive in this field by the 1720s.[9] In 1762 he was spotted at an opera house in Paris.

In the 1890s, Nicolas first came into contact with the brilliant teenager Albus Dumbledore.[7]

Gellert Grindelwald's revolution (1927–1945)

Jacob Kowalski: "Are you a ghost?"
Nicolas Flamel: "No, I'm an alchemist, so therefore I am immortal."
— Nicolas regarding what he is to a confused Jacob[src]

Flamel and Jacob Kowalski watching future events of the day in the alchemist's crystal ball

When Albus Dumbledore began to take action to stop Gellert Grindelwald, Nicolas Flamel, as his friend, decided to help him in this, and agreed to let him use his home as a safehouse for any potential allies should the situation require it.

In 1927, the Magizoologist Newton Scamander decided to take advantage of the invitation and arrived at the Flamel House alongside two Americans by the name Porpentina Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski, as well as Yusuf Kama. The three were attempting to track down Credence Barebone, a young wizard important to Grindelwald's plans, though for different reasons.

Kama, who was attempting to assassinate Barebone, had tried to take Newt and his friends captive, allowing him to track down his target unhindered. However, he had suddenly lost consciousness due to his exposure to Water dragon parasite venom.

Once they had arrived safely at the Flamel House, which was by then was well protected by various protective enchantments, Scamander was able to remove the Water dragon parasite from the Kama's eye. While Kama recovered from the procedure, and the parasite's venom, Newt and Tina went to the French Ministry of Magic, so when Nicolas returned home, he found only the still unconscious Yusuf and a sleeping Jacob.

Kowalski initially mistook Flamel for a ghost, to which he replied that he was an alchemist and therefore immortal. Kowalski quipped that he did not look more than 375 years old and attempted to shake his hand. Because of Nicolas’ frail state due to his extremely advanced age, Jacob's grip pained and possibly injured him.

After the greeting, they both came to Flamel's crystal ball, which showed, among other things, that Grindelwald was about to make rally for his followers at the Lestrange Mausoleum on Pere Lachaise Cemetery. They also saw Credence Barebone and Nagini heading there, along with Queenie Goldstein, Tina's sister and Jacob fiancee. When Jacob saw the woman, he asked the old man where the place in the ball was located, then quickly ran out of the apartment, first asking Nicolas to look after Kama. However, when Jacob looked at the place where Yusuf should have been laying, the place was already empty, making the request obsolete.[6]

Flamel talking with Eulalie Hicks

A moment after Jacob left, the vision in the crystal ball changed and presented the upcoming tragic events related to the gathering of Grindelwald's supporters. After seeing that, the alchemist wanted to warn Dumbledore with the help of his book, but he couldn't contact him, he eventually contacted Eulalie Hicks, who advised him to go to the rescue himself. Nicolas had doubts, because he had not been in active battle for two hundred years. However, the woman declared that everyone still believed in him, which eventually mobilised the old man to help.[6]

"TOGETHER! In a circle, your wand into the earth, or all Paris will be lost!"
— Nicolas Flamel[src]

Flamel fighting the flames conjured by Grindelwald

Flamel arrived as Grindelwald had escaped and unleashed Protego Diabolica in an attempt to destroy Paris, dark magic so powerful and unstable that none of the assembled wizards opposed to the Dark Wizard knew how to counter it. When Newt, Tina, Jacob, Yusuf, Nagini and Theseus Scamander ran out of the fire consuming everything, Nicolas ordered them to form a circle, plant their wands in the ground and use the General Counter-Spell. This created a cleansing orange fire which, directed nonverbally by Flamel and the other, eliminated the effect of Grindelwald's spell and saved the whole of city from destruction.[6]

Nicolas comforting Jacob

After saving Paris, Nicolas comforted a tearful Jacob Kowalski, whose fiancée, Queenie, had joined Grindelwald's ranks.[6]

Death (1990s)

"To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure."
— Albus Dumbledore about Nicolas Flamel's death.[src]

By the 1990s, Nicolas had moved to Great Britain with his wife and enjoyed a quiet life in Devon.[5] However, the danger of the Stone's existence was brought to light when Voldemort, with the help of Hogwarts Professor Quirinus Quirrell, was nearly successful in stealing it.

Voldemort, disembodied after his initial attempt to kill Harry Potter backfired, intended to use the Elixir to restore himself to physical form. Fortunately, his plan was barely thwarted by the efforts of three children: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley.

After consulting with Dumbledore, Flamel agreed that the stone should be destroyed. Though they had enough Elixir to set their affairs in order, it was expected that they would die shortly thereafter as their supply ran out. When Dumbledore informed Harry of this, the young wizard initially took the news to be terrible. However, Dumbledore assured him that, for them, it would be like "going to bed after a very, very long day", implying that when Nicolas and his wife passed on, their deaths would be dignified and peaceful.[4]

At the time of his death, Flamel was over 665 years old.[10]

Personality and traits

A kindly old man with a polite disposition, Nicolas Flamel warmly welcomed Newt Scamander, Jacob Kowalski, Tina Goldstein, and Yusuf Kama when they arrived at his home in Paris, treating Dumbledore's "friends" like his own.

In spite of his advanced age, Nicolas was happy to do what he could to help put an end to the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald's seemingly unstoppable rise to power, and agreed to let his home be used as a safehouse for those who opposed him. Although he appeared to have had some doubts about his own abilities, Nicolas nevertheless proved himself to be a very brave and selfless individual, as he arrived to help Newt Scamander and the latter's allies to fight Grindelwald at the Lestrange family Mausoleum when called upon to do so by Eulalie Hicks; though he had not been entirely certain that he was up to the task. Although he arrived too late to help fight Grindelwald himself, Nicolas nevertheless displayed great courage both by his timely arrival, and by his help in containing the incredibly powerful, rampant black fire their foe conjured, and was, as such, instrumental to the efforts to save Paris from it.[6] Despite making efforts to hide his Philosopher's Stone from the wrong hands (first in Gringotts Wizarding Bank, then in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), Nicolas by the age of 690, much like his friend Albus Dumbledore, ultimately viewed death as "but the next great adventure". Hence, after Lord Voldemort very nearly succeeded in capturing his Philosopher's Stone, Nicolas willingly had it destroyed, having collected enough Elixir of Life to set his and his wife's affairs in order.[4]

Flamel was also well known for his love of opera.[5]

Magical abilities and skills

"The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers."
— Flamel accomplished what no other alchemist had[src]

Nicolas Flamel studying Alchemy

Belying his frail exterior, Nicolas Flamel was a very powerful and accomplished wizard. Rich in learning and experience, testaments to Nicolas' considerable abilities were his proficiency in alchemy, held to be some of the most difficult magic known to wizardkind, and Nicolas helping to save the city of Paris from the rampant, destructive black fire unleashed by Gellert Grindelwald, the most powerful Dark Wizard of the early 20th century.[6]

  • Alchemy: Nicolas Flamel was perhaps the greatest alchemist the world had ever seen, being the only known person to successfully create a Philosopher's Stone, the ultimate goal of alchemy. With this, Flamel was able to render himself and his wife Perenelle immortal for centuries, until he chose to destroy the stone of his own volition in 1992.[5]
  • Potions: Flamel was also an exceptionally gifted potioneer, as by using his alchemical knowledge of the properties of the Philosopher's Stone, he created the Elixir of Life, an incredible potion to make the drinker immortal. The effects of this potion were so extraordinary that by drinking it, he managed to remain alive and well for hundreds of years.[5]
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts: Although the exact extent of his skills is uncertain, it is evident that Nicolas Flamel had extensive knowledge of the Dark Arts and was extremely adept at defending himself from them, as he instantly recognised and knew how to stop the incredibly dangerous and volatile fire conjured by Gellert Grindelwald, and, along with Newt and Theseus Scamander, Tina Goldstein, and Yusuf Kama, successfully contained it by means of a combined powerful General Counter-Spell, thus effectively preventing the destruction of Paris. Nicolas' home was also described by Dumbledore as being heavily warded by various powerful protective enchantments after he turned his home into a safehouse for Dumbledore's friends and allies, showing he was very proficient in the casting of them. Furthermore, Nicolas Flamel claimed that he had not "seen action" in about two hundred years, suggesting that prior to 1927, he used to be both an active and highly accomplished duellist. Despite his long absence from using martial magic, however, and initial doubt that he would be of any help in fighting Gellert Grindelwald, Ilvermorny professor Eulalie Hicks had great faith in his defensive abilities, and urged him to go to the Lestrange family Mausoleum to save Newt and his friends, which he did with great success, showing his impressive talents in this field.[6]
  • Divination: Nicolas Flamel apparently had some ability in Divination, as he could gaze into crystal balls and see events unfold elsewhere, such as when he saw Credence Barebone, Nagini, and the upcoming Gellert Grindelwald rally at the Lestrange family Mausoleum.[6]
  • Wandless and Non-verbal magic: Nicolas Flamel proved capable of using both wandless and nonverbal magic, both of which is advanced and highly difficult to perform even individually, yet Nicolas used both simultaneously when he unlocked the padlock on his phoenix-embossed book by simply touching it.[6]
  • Immortality: Having drunk the Elixir of Life on a continuous basis, Nicolas remained alive for over 600 years.[5] However, while this extended his lifespan, his body continued to age, leading to a frail and ancient appearance. His life became completely reliant on the Elixir and the Stone used to brew it. Once he agreed to destroy the Stone and depleted the potion, Nicolas died.[4]
  • Social networking: Due to having lived over 600 years thanks to the Philosopher's Stone's Elixir of Life, Nicolas Flamel has a vast network of international contacts in the whole Wizarding world, communicating with them via his phoenix-embossed book. Notable among his contacts were Albus Dumbledore of Hogwarts, and Eulalie Hicks of Ilvermorny.[6]
  • Bilingualism: Nicolas Flamel spoke his native French, as well as fluent English, with only a slight accent in the latter.[6]

Possessions

Flamel's wand

The Philosopher's Stone

Relationships

Perenelle Flamel

Perenelle Flamel was the wife of Nicolas Flamel. Nicolas Flamel shared the Elixir of Life with Perenelle, making them both functionally immortal until the Stone was destroyed in 1992. [4] They lived happily together for the over 600 years that they were together.

Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore, his good and long-time friend

"Well, Nicolas and I have had a little chat, and agreed it's all for the best."
— Albus Dumbledore and Flamel's agreement to destroy the stone[src]

Albus Dumbledore was a close friend to Nicolas. During the Global wizarding war, Flamel let him use his home as a safe house for allies that opposed the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald, and helped protect Paris from certain destruction at the hands of said revolutionary leader alongside Newt Scamander, Theseus Scamander, Tina Goldstein and Yusuf Kama.[6] The faith and trust he had in Dumbledore was evident, and highlighted by his allowing Albus to put the Stone in Gringotts Wizarding Bank in London in 1991 to prevent Lord Voldemort from stealing it. It was also Albus who moved the stone to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for further protection later the same year.[4]

Etymology

  • Nicolas is the French form of the Greek name Nikolaos meaning "victory of the people".
  • The name Flamel means in Old French "flame". Such meaning can be associated to Flamel's work as an alchemist.

Behind the scenes

  • Nicolas Flamel was a real French scribe believed in legend to have been an alchemist who created the Philosopher's Stone. He was born about 1330 and died in 1418. There is no proof that the historical Flamel and his wife Perenelle achieved immortality, though a few have claimed to have seen him throughout the centuries, or that he was even involved in alchemy at all. According to the legend, another of Flamel's goals was to turn ordinary lead into pure gold. However, while the Flamels had a reputation as generous benefactors, Nicolas's will did not indicate the fantastic wealth later ascribed to him. Historically that wealth was generally derived from Nicolas's businesses and Perenelle's inheritance from two previous husbands.
  • The legend of Flamel as an immortal alchemist probably dates to 17th century. The reference to Flamel marks one of the few occasions in which a real person has been referenced as a character in the Potter books.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Flamel's first name is spelled as Nicholas, adding an h in the subtitles and in the book Hermione Granger reads.
  • Also in the film, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger discover the link to Nicolas Flamel and the stone through a book, rather than Albus Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog Card. In a deleted scene you see them discovering the connection through a chocolate frog card, but this was switched when edited.
  • Nicolas Flamel is the title of chapter 13 in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
  • In a deleted first draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry says that Nicolas Flamel was spotted in a Parisian opera house in 1762. Whether this is canon is unknown.[12]
  • Nicolas was the first known Beauxbatons student introduced in the series, though the fact that he attended Beauxbatons was only revealed on Pottermore.
  • Nicolas Flamel appeared in the second film of the Fantastic Beasts series, portrayed by Brontis Jodorowsky.[13]
  • The pronunciation of Flamel's first name varies by canon source. While the s is articulated in the Harry Potter films, in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Nicolas himself uses the French pronunciation with a silent s.

Author's comments

J. K. Rowling related that several months into the writing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, she had a highly detailed and exceptionally vivid dream about Flamel, which was like "a renaissance painting come to life". Flamel was leading her around his cluttered laboratory, which was bathed in golden light, and showing exactly how to make the Stone.[14]

Appearances

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External links

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel) - "Mr Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight)." Note the book being quoted is described to be old in 1992, so she and her husband are in fact older. In an early draft of the book, Harry read in Alchemy: Ancient Art and Science that Nicolas was born in the 1300s
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rowling stated on her website shortly before the publication of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that Nicolas had died by the start of the book, which makes their date of deaths between 1992 when the stone was destroyed and 1996 which is when the sixth book starts.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Beauxbatons Academy of Magic" at Wizarding World
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel)
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 2 (In Memoriam)
  8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)
  9. In 1927, Nicolas claimed that he had not "seen action" in about 200 years. 200 years before the 1920s is the 1720s, to say it is a rough approximation.
  10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel) - "Mr Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight)."
  11. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, "Hosting the Beauxbatons" Achievement
  12. "Very early page of Philosopher's Stone", by J. K. Rowling - (see this image)
  13. Pottermore: Nicolas Flamel Cast
  14. Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Nicolas Flamel" at Wizarding World
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