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The Dark Angels were the I Legion of the twenty original Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Lion El'Jonson. After remaining loyal to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy, this legion was later re-organized and divided into several Chapters during the Second Founding. One of these chapters would keep the original legion's name and assets, though all of the Dark Angels descendants continue to work together to hunt The Fallen as the Unforgiven.[22]

Marine Basic Data Chapter Symbol
- Dark Angels -
Legion Number: I
Primarch: Lion El'Jonson
Chapter Master: Azrael
Homeworld: Caliban (destroyed)
Fortress-Monastery: The Rock
Known Descendants: Angels of Absolution, Angels of Redemption, Angels of Vengeance,
Angels of Vigilance, Angels of Wrath, Consecrators,
Disciples of Caliban, Guardians of the Covenant, Lions Sable,
Persecutors of Darkness
Colours: Pre-Heresy: Black Post-Heresy: Dark Green
Deathwing: Bone Ravenwing: Black
Specialty: Plasma Weaponry[4f]
Deathwing: Terminator veterans and hunting the Fallen.
Ravenwing: Fast attack
Battle Cry: "Repent! For tomorrow you die!"[1] or "For the Lion!"[24][25]
DA new marine.jpg



The Great Crusade

Pre-Heresy Dark Angels Space Marine with jump-pack

The Dark Angels have the honour of being the first Space Marine Legion created by The Emperor of Mankind. When the Primarchs were scattered throughout the galaxy by the Ruinous Powers while still in their infancy, the child who would be named Lion El'Jonson landed on the distant planet of Caliban, which bore some resemblance to early medieval Terra. Luther, who discovered El'Jonson and prevented his death at the hands of his fellow knights, was a member of the Order, an organization of knights, and the two become close friends. The Primarch eventually became the leader of the Order and the whole of Caliban.

Meanwhile, unknown to the people of Caliban, the Emperor was waging his Great Crusade across the galaxy, reuniting humanity and purging entire star systems of their alien oppressors. As the Imperium's wave of conquest advanced across the galaxy, Imperial scouts rediscovered the isolated world of Caliban. It was not long before the Emperor was at last reunited with El'Jonson and was filled with joy as a father would be on finding his lost son. The Emperor's first action was to give Lion El'Jonson control of his 1st Legion. This legion of Space Marines had been created by the Emperor from its Primarch's DNA samples and had fought alongside the other Imperial forces as the Great Crusade was waged across the galaxy.[1]

The 1st Legion was thereafter termed the Dark Angels, in reference to a Caliban legend that told of great, righteous heroes who held back monsters. Announced by the Primarch, the connotation was in fact first drawn by Luther, who quoted a section from the legend upon first seeing Astartes descending using jump packs: "And the angels of darkness descended upon pinions of fire and light...the great and terrible dark angels."[12]

Caliban was made the homeworld of the Dark Angels and the whole of the Order moved to join the ranks of the Astartes. Those knights who were still young enough had the Legion's gene seed implanted within them. Those too old for this process underwent surgery to transform them into elite warriors of the Imperium. Although they were not full Space Marines, their enhancements granted them special abilities and a lifespan beyond those of normal men. The first to be brought into the Legion in this way was Luther, who became Jonson's second-in-command, just as he always had been within the Order. However, the Dark Angel's contributions to the Great Crusade had barely begun when the Lion sent Luther and a small contingent of Dark Angels back to Caliban, purportedly to garrison the world and increase the speed and quality of the training given to the Legion's recruits. Whatever the reason, the force sent back felt disgraced and rejected.[12]

Dark Angels Space Marines on Caliban.[12]

The Great Crusade had to go on: there were countless human worlds that were still under the influence of Chaos or suppressed by the harsh rule of alien races. So it was that the Lion and many of the Dark Angels continued on the Emperor's Crusade for the reunification of humanity while Luther was left behind in charge of the remainder of the Legion on Caliban. Despite the importance of Luther's position, it was not one that suited his ambitious personality.

Lion El'Jonson and his Legion performed well during the Great Crusade, although during a particular battle, he and Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves Legion, came to blows over the latter's action during the siege of the Crimson Fortress. This event began a feud which still continues strong in the 41st millennium, usually taking the form of a ritualistic duel between two elected champions[2b], although it has been known to manifest itself in a very violent manner[14].

As Jonson's fame spread throughout the galaxy and reports of his great deeds and prowess in battle reached the Legion's home world, Luther felt robbed of his share of the glory. He wanted the fame and recognition that he felt he deserved as Jonson's equal. His role as planetary governor of some half-forgotten backwater world seemed more and more to him like an insult. The seed of jealousy and dissension that had been planted within Luther when Jonson was made the Grand Master of the Order now began to grow and rankle within his heart as the Primarch became more and more celebrated and famous.[1]

The Horus Heresy

Heresy-era Dark Angels

During the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels were far from Terra, campaigning on the shield worlds, and were unable to participate directly in the events taking place there. Warmaster Horus ordered the Night Lords to intercept them on the Eastern Fringe and stop them from aiding the Emperor, but after ambushing and destroying much of the Night Lords fleet in the Thramas Crusade the Dark Angels were eventually able to set course for Terra.[19] Their impending arrival, closely following that of the Ultramarines and Space Wolves legions, (who had overcome similar obstacles), forced Horus to gamble everything on a duel with the Emperor, his former master. Horus was defeated by the Emperor, although the Emperor himself was fatally wounded and had to be entombed within the life-preserving mechanism of the Golden Throne. El'Jonson was stricken with grief over the fact that he had not been able to protect the Emperor against Horus.

After the Heresy, the Dark Angels helped restore order to the Imperium. However, during this time, the Dark Angels who had been left behind on Caliban became agitated at being forced to essentially babysit a backwater planet. This led to the leader of the garrison, Luther, turning to the Gods of Chaos, who had just been defeated with the death of their champion Horus during the Heresy.

The Great Betrayal

Dark Angels Space Marine, original colours
Main article: The Fallen

The Dark Angels returned to Caliban after the war, but they were fired upon by the planetary defences. They were forced to assault their own homeworld, where they found that their brethren had betrayed them. In a duel which mirrored that of the Emperor and Horus, Luther and Lion El'Jonson fought, resulting in Luther mortally wounding his former friend. Luther went insane upon realizing he had struck down his close friend and was captured. In a fit of rage at being defeated once again, the Chaos Gods opened a warp rift in the planet which scattered the traitorous "Fallen Angels" throughout the galaxy.[1] One of the "Fallen Angels" who escaped is Cypher, who reportedly took with him the Lion Blade, the sword of El'Jonson, when he was sent through the warp[Needs Citation].

The Betrayal on Caliban.[13]

The Dark Angel space fleet also bombarded the planet mercilessly, and this caused the structure of the planet to collapse. The bombardment, combined with the newly formed warp rift, broke the planet up and it is now an asteroid field[Needs Citation].

This betrayal has tainted their honour in the eyes of the Dark Angels themselves. Given that the event was purely within the Legion itself, and was on a world far from Terra, nobody outside of the Legion knows it occurred. Within the Chapters itself, only the elite veterans are permitted this knowledge - in the modern Dark Angels Chapter, only the Deathwing and senior officers know this secret. The Chapter leadership will go to great lengths to ensure that this knowledge does not reach the Imperium at large, even at times going so far as to disobey direct orders from Inquisitors and cause overly curious individuals to "disappear"[Needs Citation].

Only the most senior members, known as the Inner Circle, know the greatest secret - that Luther, the great traitor, is still alive and insane, living in a cell deep within the Rock. Lion El'Jonson's body was supposedly never found; Luther claims, in his near-senseless mutterings, that the Lion is near and will return and forgive him. The Lion actually sleeps in the most secret chamber in the rock, his presence known only by the Watchers in the Dark and the Emperor himself, until the time he will awaken and lead his chapter on a new and even greater crusade. That day, so Luther said to current Supreme Grand Master Azrael, is almost at hand[Needs Citation].

Horus Heresy Aftermath

Caliban was destroyed during the Betrayal, shattered by the warp rift and orbital bombardment. The remains now form a sizeable asteroid field. The largest piece, which survived due to the massive void shields in operation around the largest fortress-monastery, called the Tower of Angels, was hollowed out and became a gigantic spaceship/monastery which is now the home of the Dark Angels. This ship is known simply as The Rock. Sometime after the Betrayal, the Dark Angels changed their primary heraldry colour from black to dark green[Needs Citation].

This story of treachery and betrayal is the Dark Angels' secret shame. None know of it other than some of the Dark Angels, their Successor Chapters and, maybe, the Emperor on his Golden Throne. Within the Chapter itself very few Brother-Marines know exactly what happened during those fateful days[Needs Citation].

Recent History

A Dark Angel



The Dark Angels and their successor chapters are collectively known as the "Unforgiven" and generally maintain close links with each other.[16]

The Chapter Masters of each chapter belong to the Inner Circle and also carry the honorific of "Grand Master of the Inner Circle". The Dark Angels Chapter Master is also the Inner Circle supreme leader and every member of the circle answer to him when it come to the hunt for the Fallen.[16]

Dark Angel's Successor Chapters, much like themselves, will abandon everything for the hunt of the Fallen. It's known that the Dark Angels Legion sired at least three Second Founding chapters, although several other are also thought to hail from this Founding.[16]


A Dark Angels Space Marine

The organisation of the Dark Angels Chapter has been shaped primarily by events in its history, as a result it is different from that of any other. The Chapter is monastic in nature with much time being given over to worship and prayer. There are also many different levels within the Chapter which individuals may gradually rise through. On attaining each level, they find out a little more about the truth behind the Dark Angels' origins. Most Dark Angels themselves know nothing about the beginnings of the Chapter. It is only those at the very top who have learned the whole truth[Needs Citation].


To outside observers, the Dark Angels seem to follow the standard Codex Astartes organization - comprising 10 companies of roughly 100 Marines plus Headquarters Staff, however they do have several organisational differences which are unique to them and their Successor Chapters -

  • Inner Circle: It is in the organization of the Dark Angels' higher levels that the chapter deviates from the dictates of the Codex Astartes. At the highest level of the Chapter is the Inner Circle, which consists of a number of officers who stand apart from the company organization, and include the Chapter's Librarians and Interrogator-Chaplains. Companies are each led by a Master, who is part of the Inner Circle.[Needs Citation]

The first two companies are also uniquely organized[Needs Citation]:

The remainder of the Chapter is organized along Codex lines.

Chapter Disposition


Chapter Command
Inner Circle
Supreme Grand Master Grand Master Chaplaincy Librarius
  • The 10 Company Masters
Other Departments
Armourium Fleet Command Others


The current Companies and their Captains as of 999.M41 are as follows[Needs Citation]:

Deathwing Ravenwing Battle Companies
1st Company 2nd Company 3rd Company 4th Company 5th Company


Master of the Ravenwing




Reserve Companies Scout Company
6th Company 7th Company 8th Company 9th Company 10th Company





Deathwing Terminator

As the Dark Angels are no longer based on an actual world, they draw their recruits from a variety of planets, mainly highly primitive worlds. One of these worlds is the feral world Kimmeria, from which Azrael himself was recruited. Representatives of the Dark Angels visit each recruiting world once within a normal human's lifetime, and take the strongest juveniles from the population. Each recruit is thoroughly screened, and from the moment he is accepted into the Chapter as a Space Marine his past becomes irrelevant.[1]

After the Heresy, the Dark Angels recruited from a single planet (known as the Plains World). Sometime before the 41st Millennium a group of returning Deathwing found that their planet had been overrun fifty years earlier by Genestealers, with only a few untainted humans remaining. The Terminators, whose duty and honour required the extermination of the genestealers, prepared themselves for battle. Because the odds of their success were nearly non-existent, the Terminators engaged in their native death ritual. Instead of anointing their skin with white ash, they anointed their armour. The Terminators cleansed the world and rescued the enslaved populace, and in honour of those few Terminators, their armour was ever after white. Meanwhile, the Dark Angels leadership, the Inner Circle, recognized the folly of relying upon one planet for manpower and so diversified their recruiting grounds.[9]


The ruins of Caliban are located in the Cadian sector, close to the Eye of Terror. Prior to the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, the planet of Caliban was covered with lush forests inhabited by creatures warped by Chaos. The humans of the planet were a proud, martial people forced to live in great fortress monasteries of stone.

The Dark Angels rebuilt their fortress-monastery on the asteroid that had borne the old one, drilling deep into the bedrock and rebuilding the ruins. The new fortress is known officially as The Tower of Angels, but is more commonly referred to as The Rock. The Rock has been equipped with warp engines, enabling faster-than-light transit through the Immaterium.[1]

The warrens beneath The Rock are where the Dark Angels bring their fallen brethren to be redeemed by their Interrogator-Chaplains. It is believed by the Inquisition to hold many other secrets.[Needs Citation]

However, even this pales in comparison to the greatest secret held by the Dark Angels. This secret is known only to the Watchers in the Dark, and to the Emperor himself. Deep within the bedrock of the asteroid which is their home there is a solitary chamber. In this chamber, attended to by the Watchers in the Dark, lies the sleeping form of Lion El'Jonson.[Needs Citation]

Noted Elements of the Dark Angels


Recruiting Worlds

Notable Members

Heresy Era
Post Heresy

Notable Fallen Angels

Canon Conflicts

In the novel Angels of Darkness by Gav Thorpe, a different version of the events on Caliban is presented: instead of Luther, the order to open fire on the Lion's fleet come from Astelan, a Terran "Chapter Master" of the Dark Angels. This terrible truth is uncovered by the Dark Angels Chaplain Boreas[Needs Citation].

This version is partially reconciled with the previous version in the novel Fallen Angels by Mike Lee, where Luther leads the Fallen's revolt against Lion El'Jonson and the rest of the Dark Angels, while Astelan is Luther's subordinate and placed in charge of Caliban's entire defence.


The following information is not to be regarded as officially sanctioned and/ or is not written from an in-universe point of view.
A detailed explanation of the term "Trivia" and "Varia" as used in the Lexicanum can be found here.

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