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The Dark, Twisted Timeline Of The Slytherin Family In 'Harry Potter'

The Harry Potter series has many wizarding families as part of its canon: Weasleys, Malfoys, Potters, Longbottoms, Scamanders, Lestranges, etc. The most significant families might arguably be those descended from Salazar Slytherin because they had such a significant impact on the Wizarding World. Slytherin's line stops with the end of male heirs, but evidence is available to track the family's descendants from the present day back over a thousand years. 

Tracing the family history reveals information about everything from the founding of Hogwarts and Ilvermorny, to the Chamber of Secrets, the Wizarding Wars, and the Horcruxes.

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  • 10th Century: Salazar Slytherin Is Born And Founds Hogwarts

    10th Century: Salazar Slytherin Is Born And Founds Hogwarts
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In the early to mid-10th century, Salazar Slytherin is born into the pure-blood Slytherin family and inherits the power to speak to snakes, termed Parseltongue. He receives a locket with the family's serpent insignia as an heirloom.

    Within the next two decades, Slytherin meets a young wizard, Godric Gryffindor, who becomes his best friend, and the pair begin practicing new forms of magic.

    Around this time, Slytherin creates a wand out of a snakewood tree that he fashions with the core of a Basilisk horn. It is the most powerful wand yet in existence because it answers only to his will and can think on its own. Slytherin's experience ignites an interest in Basilisks and he seeks to research Herpo the Foul's method of creating a Basilisk.

    In the late 10th century, Slytherin and Gryffindor meet witches Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff, who are equally gifted with magical skills. The conflicts between wizards and Muggles have escalated and the four come to the conclusion that wizarding children need a safe place to grow and hone their abilities.

    In 990 CE, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry opens with Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff as the founders. The four decide to name houses after themselves and pick students based on their skill sets. Slytherin chooses children who are pure-bloods because he believes they are the only ones who deserve to practice magic. 

  • 11th Century: Salazar Slytherin Creates The Chamber Of Secrets And Departs From Hogwarts

    11th Century: Salazar Slytherin Creates The Chamber Of Secrets And Departs From Hogwarts
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In the early 11th century, Slytherin continues to favor students from his house and becomes estranged from the other founders - Gryffindor in particular. He secretly creates a massive room underneath the school that he calls the Chamber of Secrets, where he intends to teach his students the dark arts.

    Sometime later, Slytherin successfully creates his own Basilisk that he keeps within the Chamber of Secrets to unleash in the event that he is deposed from Hogwarts. 

    Around this time, Slytherin has a big fallout with the other founders when they refuse to acquiesce to his demands to expel Muggle-born students. He decides to leave the school, but trains the Basilisk to wait for Slytherin's family members to reopen the Chamber and exterminate the Muggle-born students in his name.

    By the mid-11th century, Slytherin distances himself from Hogwarts, but starts a family and inculcates them with his pure-blood ideals. Slytherin eventually passes, leaving his wand and locket to be handed down to the next generations.

  • 13th Century: Cadmus Peverell Creates The Deathly Hallows With His Brothers, And The Family's Bloodline Intermarries With The Slytherins

    13th Century: Cadmus Peverell Creates The Deathly Hallows With His Brothers, And The Family's Bloodline Intermarries With The Slytherins
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In the mid-13th century, Cadmus Peverell is the second of three brothers who grow up to practice dark magic. Cadmus sires an heir with an unknown woman, but falls in love with someone else he plans to marry. The woman passes away, leaving Cadmus to find ways to cheat death.

    Sometime later, Cadmus and his brothers successfully create three powerful objects known as the Deathly Hallows. Cadmus designs the Resurrection Stone, which can bring deceased people's souls back. He then resurrects his deceased fiancee.

    Around this time, Cadmus starts to lose his sanity because his fiancee isn't truly alive and he can't have a real life with her. Cadmus takes his own life to be with her in death. 

    In the late 13th century, Cadmus's heir receives the Resurrection Stone - encased within a ring - passed down from his father. The family eventually marries into the Slytherin family, combining both of their ancestries because they are pure-bloods. 

  • 16th-17th Centuries: Gaunt Family Members Become The Final Descendants Of Slytherin

    16th-17th Centuries: Gaunt Family Members Become The Final Descendants Of Slytherin
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince / Warner Bros. Pictures

    By the 16th century, the Slytherin and Peverell names have faded away and the remaining descendants hail from the House of Gaunt. The Gaunt family members retain knowledge of their ancestry, and possess heirlooms including Salazar Slytherin's wand and locket, and Cadmus Peverell's ring.

    In the late 16th century, Gormlaith Gaunt becomes the owner of Slytherin's wand and learns how to unlock it to use to her will. Gormlaith becomes estranged from her sister, Rionach, because the latter befriends and aids Muggles alongside her husband, William Sayre. 

    In 1603, Rionach Gaunt gives birth to a daughter, Isolt Sayre, whom Gormlaith sees as the successor to the Slytherin bloodline. 

    In 1608, Gormlaith slays her sister and brother-in-law by casting an incredibly powerful fire, then "saves" her niece to raise her based on pure-blood ideals. 

     

  • 1620-1635: Isolt Sayre Flees Gormlaith Gaunt And Founds Ilvermorny School

    1620-1635: Isolt Sayre Flees Gormlaith Gaunt And Founds Ilvermorny School
    Photo: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In 1620, Gormlaith Gaunt openly torments Muggles and forces Isolt to watch to make her despise non-magical people. She doesn't let Isolt go to Hogwarts because she believes the school will make her sympathize with Muggles. 

    Around this time, Isolt decides to flee from her maniacal aunt. She takes Slytherin's wand and escapes the country on the Mayflower to venture to America. 

    In 1630, Isolt opens Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry alongside her American Muggle husband, James Steward. 

    In 1634, Gormlaith Gaunt hears about an American school of magic that is making waves because of its progressive environment and Muggle founder. She discovers the magical founder is a witch and realizes it's her niece, because "Ilvermorny" was the name of the cottage Isolt was born in and that Gormlaith burned down.

    In 1635, Gormlaith arrives in America after a long journey. She learns of the school's location through her connection to Salazar Slytherin's wand and lays siege to Ilvermorny. Gormlaith nearly slays Isolt's family until the latter's Pukwudgie ally eliminates her with a toxic dart. 

    The next day, Isolt takes Slytherin's wand a little distance into the grounds of Ilvermorny and buries it, hoping the dark powers of the wand will perish.

    In the mid-17th century, the wand sprouts a snakewood tree - the few remnants of good in Slytherin's powers manifest as a medicinal tree whose leaves can cure ailments. 

  • 18th Century: Corvinus Gaunt Seals The Chamber Of Secrets

    18th Century: Corvinus Gaunt Seals The Chamber Of Secrets
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In the 18th century, Corvinus Gaunt enters Hogwarts - he's part of the last remaining line of the House of Gaunt. The family retains knowledge of the location of the Chamber of Secrets, and Corvinus ventures down there to control the Basilisk.

    Sometime later, Corvinus's plans to command the Basilisk to eliminate Muggle-borns have to be abandoned because the Hogwarts headmaster incorporates Muggle-style plumbing. Corvinus stays one step ahead by concealing the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets with newfangled plumbing that completely hides its location. 

    By the late 18th century, members of the Gaunt family stop sending their children to Hogwarts to avoid mingling with those who aren't pure-bloods. Corvinus's concealment of the Chamber of Secrets ultimately becomes forgotten over the passage of time and the Gaunts lose knowledge of the Chamber's existence.