We discuss the central role played by X-ray studies to reconstruct the past history of formation and evolution of supermassive Black Holes (BHs), and the role they played in shaping the properties of their host galaxies. We shortly review the progress in this field contributed by the current X-ray and multiwavelength surveys. Then, we focus on the outstanding scientific questions that have been opened by observations carried out in the last years and that represent the legacy of Chandra and XMM, as for X-ray observations, and the legacy of the SDSS, as for wide area surveys: 1) When and how did the first supermassive black holes form? 2) How does cosmic environment regulate nuclear activity (and star formation) across cosmic time? 3) What is the history of nuclear activity in a galaxy lifetime? We show that the most efficient observational strategy to address these questions is to carry out a large-area X-ray survey, reaching a sensitivity comparable to that of deep Chandra and XMM pointings, but extending over several thousands of square degrees. Such a survey can only be carried out with a Wide-Field X-ray Telescope (WFXT) with a high survey speed, due to the combination of large field of view and large effective area, i.e., grasp, and sharp PSF. We emphasize the important synergies that WFXT will have with a number of future groundbased and space telescopes, covering from the radio to the X-ray bands and discuss the immense legacy value that such a mission will have for extragalactic astronomy at large.
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