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During Horus's attack on the Imperial Palace, the Imperial Fists' primarch, Rogal Dorn chose his First Captain, Sigismund, as the Emperor's Champion, and he was given the best armour and weapons. Sigismund went forward to challenge the traitorous leaders in single combat, and triumphed over all he met in battle.
After the Horus Heresy, Roboute Guilliman, the primarch of the Ultramarines, ordered the breakdown of the Space Marine Legions into chapters. Dorn thought Guilliman a coward for not being there during the defence of Terra. Guilliman, in turn, thought Dorn a rebel for refusing to accept the dictates of the new Codex Astartes. Neither would give in. Leman Russ of the Space Wolves and Vulkan of the Salamanders both sided with Dorn, as they did not want their Legions divided, while Corax of the Raven Guard and Jaghatai Khan of the White Scars sided with Guilliman. Again, civil war threatened to split the Imperium.
The Imperial Fists were persecuted for their so-called heresies and even fired upon by the Imperial Navy. When civil war seemed all but inevitable, Dorn finally relented and agreed to split his legion. The first Successor Chapters created from the Imperial Fists were the Crimson Fists and the Black Templars.
Sigismund led the more zealous of the Imperial Fists with him to the founding of the Black Templars, and became their first High Marshal. Sigismund swore an oath that upon leaving Terra, he and his new chapter would prove their loyalty by never resting in his duties against enemies of the Emperor. Every High Marshal after him has renewed this oath and as such, the Black Templars' Crusade has continued for over ten thousand years, and is the longest Space Marine Crusade ever begun. Because of this unending crusade, the Black Templars have no permanent homeworld and instead live on their Crusade Fleets, using the planets they conquer to establish Chapter Keeps which are used for recruitment and staging areas.
In 998.M41, the Black Templars would briefly come to blows with the Dark Angels, after the Templars refused to hand over a prisoner the Dark Angels suspected to be Cypher. The incident is reported to the Adeptus Terra, and Inquisitor Archibald was assigned to lead the inquiry.
The Black Templars are not organised like a typical Codex Chapter. Most of the time they are formed in an ad hoc manner into Fighting Companies. Individual Crusader Squads and specialists (such as Techmarines and Apothecaries) will fight side by side out of familiarity and comradeship rather than any imposed organisation.
- The Chapter is led by the High Marshal who is the equivalent to other chapter's Chapter Master.
- A Marshal leads an individual Black Templars Crusade.
- A Castellan is second in command to the Marshal of a crusade and in command of a Fighting Company of the respective Crusade.
- An Emperor's Champion is selected on the eve of a battle just as Sigismund, the first Emperor's Champion and first High Marshal of the Black Templars, was. The champion is an Initiate who will have experienced a vision of the Emperor. When reports this to the Chaplains, they will anoint him, and gift him with the finest weapons and armour available, known as the Black Sword and the Armour of Faith. These may vary from fighting company to fighting company.
- Sword Brethren: unlike other Chapters, the Black Templars do not have veteran sergeants in their squads. Marines who excel in combat are honoured by being promoted to the Marshal's Sword Brethren. They are also the only ones who are allowed to use Terminator Armour. They fulfill a role comparable to the First Company of other Chapters.
- Initiates are the rank-and-file Marines of a Fighting Company. After proving himself in battle, an Initiate may be asked to take a single Neophyte under his wing and train and teach him by example.
- Neophytes are the new recruits of the Black Templars. Unlike other Codex Chapters, new recruits are not organised into a single company. Instead, each Neophyte joins a Fighting Company as the apprentice of a senior Initiate. While the Black Templars do not have a dedicated Scout company, Neophytes often fulfill this role, beginning their service with lighter armour and weapons than the Initiates. A Neophyte will learn quickly from his tutor or die if he cannot. When the Initiate and Chaplains deem that the Neophyte has proven himself satisfactory in courage and skill, he is elevated to the rank of Initiate and will take his place in the Fighting Company. Should the Initiate in charge of a Neophyte die before the Neophyte's training is complete, his training and instruction will be taken over by another Initiate, if that Initiate finds the Neophyte worthy of his tutelage.
Doctrines and Codex Adherence
Black Templars place great emphasis on close combat prowess and honour. As such they can often be seen charging into suicidal situations to avenge fallen comrades. These tactics appear reckless, but their effectiveness is undeniable.
By their doctrine, the Black Templars abhor the traitor, the alien and the mutant. The last category includes psykers, with the result that the Black Templars are one of the few Space Marine Chapters that exclude Librarians, seeing them as a potential source of corruption in the midst of battle. However, Black Templars do use psykers in other non-combatant roles, such as Astropaths and Navigators.
Black Templar Marines also set themselves apart from standard Codex doctrine by including Neophytes into squads of fully initiated Marines to help teach them the ways of battle and the art of combat.
The Black Templars were the first chapter to find the design for the Land Raider Crusader and were the first chapter to make use of it. The Crusader design replaces the lascannons mounted on standard Land Raiders with Hurricane-pattern bolters, placing a greater emphasis on anti-infantry firepower and freeing up greater space within to carry larger squads.
The Black Templars are also notorious for defying Codex doctrine that states that a chapter may only number 1000 battle brothers. This is partly due to the divided nature of the chapter, being spread out everywhere on separate crusades and no one has thus been able to keep track of their exact numbers. However, it has been estimated that there may be several thousand Black Templars Companies spread out around the galaxy - an almost unstoppable force if gathered at one place and cause for the Inquisition to keep a close eye on the Black Templars.
Vows of the Black Templars
- Suffer Not the Unclean to Live[1b]
- Uphold the Honour of the Emperor[1b]
- Abhor the Witch. Destroy the Witch[1b]
- Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds[1b]
The Black Templars have continued in the style of their first High Marshal, preferring close combat over ranged warfare. This is further emphasised by the fanaticism of Black Templars Initiates, whose righteous anger makes them impulsive and headstrong.
When making war, the Crusade will focus on two main tactics. The first is orbital assault; where the Crusade will use drop pods and Thunderhawks to perform a mass-landing in the wake of a heavy orbital bombardment. If resistance is still strong after this, the Templars will land their heavy armour and launch an armoured spearhead against the weakest link in the enemy's defensive line, using Crusader-pattern Land Raiders.
As part of their dedication to the Emperor and their Crusade, the Black Templars swear fell oaths of faith and protection. Before a battle, it is considered customary to renew one of these oaths, the particular vow serving as a focus on the particular aspect of their duties considered to be necessary to ensure success.
Unlike most other chapters, the Black Templars do not have a homeworld. Eschewing the idea of one, they opt to live aboard their crusade fleets. These vary in size and are made up of dozens of Battle Barges, Strike Cruisers and other craft such as training vessels and huge forge ships. Given this fleet-based nature, the Black Templars are rarely assembled as a Chapter, but are instead divided into many Crusades, every Crusade being responsible for its own recruiting as well as training of new Neophytes.
The High Marshal himself has his own personal Battle Barge, the Eternal Crusader, a huge vessel that is the spiritual home of the entire Chapter and contains its most sacred relics, chapels, and reliquaries. It has been expanded and refitted many times and can currently hold twice as many Space Marines as a normal battle barge.
This flexible, mobile nature allows the Templars to continue the first mission of the Black Templars: to actively seek out the enemies of the Emperor and destroy them before moving onwards to find the next foe.
- Eternal Crusader - Battle Barge, Flagship of the Black Templars.
- Sigsimund's Light - Battle Barge
- Sigismund - Battle Barge
- Dorn's Wrath - Strike Cruiser
- Ophidium Gulf - Strike Cruiser
- Apocalypton - Strike Cruiser
- Dorn's Sword - Strike Cruiser
- Heracles - Forgeship
Notable battles and campaigns
- The Nimbosa Crusade
- The Jerulas Crusade
- The Wars of Apostasy
- The Aegisine Crusade
- The Second Purging of Lastrati
- The Vinculus Crusade
- The Ghoul Stars Crusade
- The Crusade of the Ophidium Gulf
- The Declates Crusade
- The Hive Thetus Crusade
- The Geonide Crusade
- The Purging of Centrati's Eye
- The Crusade of Sorrow
- The Tiberior Crusade
- The Dimaris Crusade
- The Angevin Crusade 
- The Donian Crusade
- The War for Schrodinger VII
- The Crusade of Wrath
- The Third War for Armageddon
- The 13th Black Crusade - The Black Templars contribute a Crusade Fleet to counter not only Chaos forces, but also the nearby Ork Green Kroosade.
- The Purging of Orbial Hive 72 in orbit around Porphyr III 
Notable Black Templars
- Sigismund - Emperor's Champion and first Black Templar High Marshal
- Sigenandus - High Marshal of the Terran Crusade (also known as the Wars of Apostasy)
- Ludoldus - previous High Marshal, instigator of the eternal Morator Crusade, commander of the Vinculus and Jerulas crusades
- Kordhel - High Marshal killed by a Champion of Chaos[1c]
- Helbrecht - Current Black Templars High Marshal[1c]
- Marshal Werhner - Austein's heir apparent, victor of the Donian Crusade after 17 years fighting. Became Marshal of the Thangdron Crusade
- Marshal Brant - Leader of the Black Templars sent to Armageddon.
- Marshal Austein - Instigator and commander of the Donian Crusade in the Segmentum Pacificus. Killed by Orks in 988 M.39 on Nickel V
- Marshal Ricard - Commander of the Dimaris Crusade[1c]
- Marshal Amalrich - Commander of the Tiberior Crusade[1c]
- Marshal Actoan
- Grimaldus - Reclusiarch of the Black Templars
- Kul Gilad - Reclusiarch of the Black Templars
- Folkert - Castellan of the Nimbosa Crusade
- Gerhart - Sword Brethen, later entombed as the Dreadnought Tankred.
- Gervhart - Instigator of the Second Purging of Lastrati
- Draco - Castellan, veteran of the Vinculus Crusade.
- Rammius - Dreadnought, close friend of Helbrecht
- Brother Bethuel - Emperor's Champion of the purging of Orbital Hive 72. 
- Brother Tomas - Emperor's Champion of the Donian Crusade
- Chaplain Augustin - Part of the Marshal's household in the Donian Crusade
- Chaplain Leuter - Part of the Marshal's household in the Donian Crusade
- Household Banner Bearer Eckehart - Part of the Marshal's household in the Donian Crusade
- Castellan Heinman - Commander of a fighting company in the Donian Crusade
- Castellan Lazarus - Commander of a fighting company in the Donian Crusade
- Castellan Gothchalcus - Commander of a fighting company in the Donian Crusade
- Emperor's Champion - Ansgar
- Emperor's Champion - Navarre
- 1: Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), [Needs Citation]
- 2: Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition), pg. 32
- 3: Codex: Necrons (5th Edition) pgs. 26-27
- 4: Cities of Death pgs. 56, 57
- 5: Index Astartes II, pgs. 44-55
- 6: White Dwarf 277 (UK), [Needs Citation]
- 7: White Dwarf 286 pgs. 64-65
- 8: Priests of Mars (Novel) by Graham McNeill,[Needs Citation] pg. 6
- 9: Damnation Crusade (Graphic Novel) by Dan Abnett, Chapter Four
- 10: Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition) pg.36-39
- 11: Dark Heresy Timeline
- How to Paint Space Marines
- White Dwarf 312 (UK)
- White Dwarf 313 (US)
- White Dwarf 314 (UK)
- Black Templars Armagaddon Website (accessed 2007.02.18)