Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Black Family

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character
Black Family
Gender Unapplicable
Hair color Unknown
Eye color Unknown
Related Family The Weasleys, The Lestranges, The Crabbes, The Potters, The Malfoys, The Burkes, The Longbottoms, The Hitchens, The Flints, The Crouches
Loyalty Almost entirely Death eaters / Voldemort

Overview[edit]

The Black family were considered to be one of the noblest family in the wizarding world. They are very strict when it comes to blood status.

Role in the Books[edit]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Note that many members of the Black Family appear in this series. This article will only briefly touch on all known Black family members. For more discussion of the Black family, see the articles on Sirius Black, Regulus Black, Narcissa (Black) Malfoy, Bellatrix (Black) Lestrange, Andromeda (Black) Tonks, Phineas Nigellus Black, Orion Black, and Walburga Black. Although Draco Malfoy, Narcissa's son, is related to the Black family through Narcissa, we will not include him directly in this article.

Philosopher's Stone[edit]

Hagrid, as he brings the infant Harry to Professor Dumbledore, says that he had borrowed young Sirius Black's flying motorcycle.

Prisoner of Azkaban[edit]

Harry finds out that Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban to find him, and it is widely believed Sirius' purpose is to kill Harry. He then finds out that Sirius was his father's best friend, and his godfather. Harry later finds out that actually it was Ron's rat, Scabbers, actually an Animagus wizard named Peter Pettigrew, that betrayed Harry's parents, and that he framed Sirius. Pettigrew, one of Sirius' purported victims, manages to escape before his continuing existence can be proved to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Magic, so Sirius remains a wanted fugitive.

Goblet of Fire[edit]

Needing advice about dreams he is having, and about the Triwizard Tournament, Harry contacts Sirius using Owl Post, and Sirius answers by means of Floo Powder. Sirius counsels him, both from the fireplace and later in person, having concealed himself via his Animagus dog shape, but despite providing reassurance is not particularly helpful.

Shortly after the appearance and disappearance of Bartemius Crouch, Harry is briefly left alone in Dumbledore's office. While there, he discovers Dumbledore's Pensieve. Experimenting with it, he finds himself witnessing the trials of several Death Eaters, including Bellatrix Lestrange, who he feels is quite insane.

As the book ends, Dumbledore has Sirius reveal himself to Professor Snape and Mrs. Weasley, and sends Sirius off to round up "the old gang".

Order of the Phoenix[edit]

Shortly after Harry's birthday, the "Advance Guard" arrives to bring him to "Headquarters". This building, at Number 12, Grimmauld Place, is now the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, and is the ancestral Black home. Harry is reunited here with Sirius, and meets the mad, screaming portrait of his mother, Walburga.

Sirius Black shows Harry the Black family tree on a tapestry in the front parlour at Grimmauld Place. The members of the family that he mentions are Phineas Nigellus, Aunt Elladora, Araminta Meliflua, his uncle Alphard Black, his parents Walburga and Orion, his brother Regulus, his cousins Bellatrix, Andromeda (who has had her spot on the tree burned off because she dated to marry "the Muggle Ted Tonks") and Narcissa, and Narcissa's son Draco Malfoy. This family tree is huge, and the motto is Toujours Pur - "Always Pure". Those like Andromeda and Sirius himself who have dared to consort with Muggles or the Muggle-born have been burned off the family tree, and the tapestry itself is apparently fastened to the wall with a Permanent Sticking Charm.

Harry and Sirius speak by means of Floo Powder a number of times in this book. Additionally, Phineas Nigellus at several points carries messages back and forth between Hogwarts and Grimmauld Place.

Some time after Christmas, several Death Eaters imprisoned in Azkaban break out. Bellatrix Lestrange is one of them.

At the end of the book, both Sirius and Bellatrix take part in the climactic Battle at the Ministry of Magic, though on opposite sides. Of the twelve Death Eaters who take part in that battle, Bellatrix is the only one to escape, after killing Sirius. Bellatrix is trapped by Dumbledore, but is finally rescued by Voldemort.

Half-Blood Prince[edit]

Bellatrix (Bella) and Narcissa (Cissy) together visit Severus Snape. Narcissa has a favour to ask him; Bellatrix tries to dissuade her because she does not trust Snape's return from Dumbledore's side. Snape manages, mostly, to reassure Bellatrix, though he does mention that her value to Voldemort and her position in his councils has not been improved by the fiasco at the Ministry. After warning Narcissa that Voldemort prohibits discussion of missions between Death Eaters, Snape notes that he was already aware of Draco's mission, which is never clearly stated, and agrees to help him. He further reinforces his statements to Bellatrix about his loyalty by agreeing to take an Unbreakable Vow to help Draco complete his mission.

Barely a fortnight into the summer, Professor Dumbledore visits the Dursley house to pick up Harry, and while there he tells Harry what he has inherited from Sirius. It appears Sirius left Harry everything he owns, including the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black at Grimmauld Place, and Kreacher, the house elf belonging to the house.

Draco's mission, it turns out, has been in part to arrange a secret entrance to Hogwarts. Having managed that, Draco waits until Dumbledore is away from the school, then leads a large number of Death Eaters into the school. Among their number is Bellatrix, who we see at one point taunting the weakened Dumbledore, and at another point dueling with Ginny Weasley.

The locket that Dumbledore retrieved from the lake in the cave bears a note signed by one "R. A. B." It was believed, following the publication of this book, that the mysterious R. A. B. was Regulus Black; this was confirmed in the next book.

Deathly Hallows[edit]

We see Bellatrix and Narcissa in council with Voldemort, where it has become apparent, by the location where they are seated, that both have fallen out of favour with the Dark Lord. Bellatrix is also part of the group of Death Eaters who attack the seven Harry Potters in the escape from Privet Drive; she targets Nymphadora Tonks, her own niece.

Having returned to Grimmauld Place, Harry recalls a locket that had been discarded two years earlier and guesses that it could be the locket Dumbledore had been trying to retrieve from the cave in the previous book. Summoning Kreacher, Harry discovers that Voldemort had borrowed Kreacher from Regulus in order to place the locket in the cave. On discovering what Voldemort had done, Regulus then returned to the cave with Kreacher, told Kreacher to take the locket and destroy it, and then drank the potion protecting the locket, afterwards being dragged to his death in the lake when he tried to quench the thirst caused by the potion. Kreacher remains distraught because he is unable to follow his master's final wishes, especially now as the locket has been stolen by Mundungus Fletcher. Harry reveals that he has the same mission, to retrieve and destroy the locket, and gives Kreacher the locket Dumbledore had retrieved from the potion; Kreacher, as a result, becomes fervently loyal to Harry.

Captured by Snatchers, disguised hastily by Hermione, and brought to Malfoy Manor, Harry is faced by Bellatrix and Narcissa, who try to identify him. Bellatrix recognizes the Sword of Gryffindor, and states that summoning Voldemort before they know where the Sword came from would be fatal. She questions Hermione, and the goblin Griphook, with the Cruciatus curse, finally accepting Hermione's story that the sword is a fake. Harry and Ron manage, with the help of Dobby, to rescue Harry, Griphook, and the other prisoners, but in the process Dobby is murdered by a dagger thrown by Bellatrix.

After their escape, Harry mentions that, as they had overheard earlier that the Sword had been moved to Gringotts Wizarding Bank, Bellatrix' recognizing the Sword indicates that it had gone into her vault at Gringotts, and her fear suggested strongly that there was something else in there that Voldemort treasured. Harry guesses, correctly, that this is one of Voldemort's horcruxes, and determines to break into Gringotts and destroy it. To do this, Hermione disguises herself as Bellatrix, and using her captured wand as identification, manages to get the Trio into the deep vaults.

Both Narcissa and Bellatrix take part in the final battle at Hogwarts. After Harry's and Voldemort's souls return from the Waystation, Bellatrix rushes to help Voldemort, who brushes her off while ordering Narcissa to see if Harry is truly dead. Harry is not, and Narcissa can't help noticing this; she asks Harry if Draco is still alive. Harry replies that he is, and Narcissa lies to Voldemort, saying Harry is dead so Voldemort will not re-open the battle on the school. Battle is rejoined, however, and eventually Bellatrix is killed by Molly Weasley, who is defending her daughter Ginny.

We see later that Narcissa has survived the battle, and we are told that Andromeda Tonks had stayed at home to care for the infant Teddy.

Strengths[edit]

The Black family seemed to have considerable magical strength. We see that Bellatrix (Lestrange) is an extremely powerful witch, and Sirius is quite able to hold his own with the other Marauders. It is also mentioned that Sirius' father had strengthened the protective spells on Number 12, Grimmauld Place, which we expect would take a rare strength, that building being so old and well-established.

Much of the perceived strength of character in the Black family was based on a belief in their own superiority due to being pure-blood wizards. While this may have made them appear stronger, it carries with it all the less savory aspects of nobility (looking down on others, treatment of those not blessed with pure blood as menials or subhuman) and so does not count particularly in their favour.

Weaknesses[edit]

There seems to have been a strain of mental instability that is expressed in the Black blood line. We see this to a great extent in the portrait of Sirius' mother, and in Bellatrix Lestrange, and to a lesser extent in Sirius himself. We can only speculate that this is at least in part due to the Black belief in pure-blood strength, and the resulting in-breeding; we will note in the Black family tree that both Sirius' parents are descended from Phineas Nigellus Black.

The Blacks seemed to have a surprisingly short life span for wizards. Most of the later generations were female and, with the death of Sirius near the end of Order of the Phoenix, the family name came to an end. The blood-line continues, however, through Nymphadora Tonks, child of Andromeda (Black) Tonks, and through Tonks' child, Teddy; and Draco Malfoy, son of Narcissa (Black) Malfoy.

Relationships with Other Characters[edit]

Family tree drawing (note: pending redrafting of the tree, we are using a Portuguese image, hence the odd spellings of the names):

Harry Potter Black Tree.jpg

Analysis[edit]

If nothing else, the Black family tree details just how inbred and intermarried the "pureblood" Wizards are – both of Sirius' parents are descended from Phineas Nigellus and his wife Ursula Flint. One point of interest is that Dorea Black married Charlus Potter, and they had one son – could that be James Potter, Harry's father? James was born, we think, about 1959, when Dorea would have been about 40, which is possible; though it is equally possible that Charlus is James' grandfather. Sirius did mention that he spent rather a lot of time over at James' parent's, presumably because he didn't get along with his parents; it's possible that James' mother was his aunt or great-aunt. The Family Tree would not show James Potter in any event, as he had committed the cardinal sin (in the Black family estimation) of marrying the Muggle-born Lily Evans.

It is curious that Harry did not see, or did not see fit to comment on, the presence of his own family name, when he saw the House of Black tapestry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Other interesting names appear in this tapestry as well. Callidora, who was born in 1915 and is still alive, married Harfang Longbottom; what relationship are they to Neville Longbottom? Lucretia (1925 - 1992) married Ignatius Prewett; Molly Weasley gave this name to her son Percy as his middle name as it was her uncle's name. Charis (1919 - 1973) married one Caspar Crouch: Bartemius Crouch Sr.'s brother, perhaps? And Septimus Weasley, who apparently married Cedrella Black (burn-mark 4), is almost certainly Ron's grandfather.

Burn-mark 7, Andromeda "who married Muggle Ted Tonks", is Nymphadora Tonks' mother; Ted Tonks is not a Muggle, though he was Muggle-born. Tonks did mention that she was related to the Black family.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

  1. Is Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy's son, related to Harry Potter? If so, what is the relation?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.