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2drones.gif This article is about the Space Marine Primarchs, for the Anthology see The Primarchs (Anthology)

The Primarchs were the twenty genetically-engineered "sons" of the Emperor of Mankind, and the genetic "fathers" of the Space Marine Legions. The Emperor used his own DNA in their creation, and they were designed to be far superior to the average human: immensely larger, stronger, hardier, faster, and more intelligent. They were also incredibly charismatic, as their main role was to be generals and leaders of the Imperial military. Each had their own purpose and specialty, allowing them to serve in specific functions that the Emperor's forces would need in reconquering the galaxy.

Creation of the Primarchs

They were created in a secret underground laboratory on Luna under the tightest security. According to Ingethel the Ascended, the Primarchs were created by the Emperor with the aid of forbidden sciences and arcane lore derived from the Warp.[14a] Eldrad Ulthran also states that the Emperor utilized dark powers to construct the Primarchs.[19] It is speculated the Primarch's were imbued with energies and knowledge that the Emperor gained in a Warp Portal on Molech.[20] Perturabo would later estimate his own birth to be 792.M30, perhaps giving a date for the Primarch's creation.[26]

However, the Gods of Chaos somehow managed to spirit them away just prior to their maturation with a great Warp vortex[9] and it is speculated that they also managed to tamper with the infant Primarchs. The scattering of the Primarch's may have been the result of a Causal Loop created when Argel Tal and his men were sent back in time inside the Eye of Terror to the Emperor's laboratory, as they were convinced by Ingethel the Ascended to destroy the Gellar Fields protecting the infants from the touch of the Chaos Gods. Almost immediately after the Gellar Field generators were disabled, the Primarch's were sucked into a Warp vortex.[14a] Several Primarchs including Konrad Curze, Roboute Guilliman, and even Sanguinius all came to believe that the scattering of the Primarch's and their upbringing on distant worlds had all been engineered by the Emperor.[23]

Scattered across the galaxy, beyond the Emperor's reach, and all landed on different worlds vastly separated from their Father. The Emperor could sense that the infant Primarchs were alive, but was unable to reach them. Therefore he used their previously collected DNA samples to create the Space Marines. The genetic material of each one of the Primarchs was used to found a single Space Marine Legion, twenty in total. The new homeworlds of the infant Primarchs and subsequent experiences on those worlds would influence and mold them to a large extent. There they quickly grew to adulthood and often rose to power, ruling, leading, and helping the inhabitants. As the Emperor found them, he was generally pleased by their actions, and quickly gave them the leadership of their respective legion.

While Arkhan Land aided the Emperor in investigating the nature of Angron and his Butcher's Nails, the Emperor explained that he had no emotional attachment to the Primarchs because they were tools and weapons. When asked why the Emperor allowed the Primarchs to call him father although he felt no attachment, the Emperor described the Pinnochio story and it is natural for a creation to refer to a creator as father.[25]


An assembly of the Primarchs during the great Triumph after the Ullanor Crusade. Left to right: Sanguinius, Mortarion, Magnus the Red, Angron, Jaghatai Khan, Lorgar Aurelian, Rogal Dorn, Horus Lupercal, and Fulgrim.

The first Primarch to be found was Horus, who became the Emperor's favourite. Most Primarchs somehow recognised the Emperor on sight, and immediately pledged their allegiance on the spot. A few, (Leman Russ, Ferrus Manus and Vulkan) only followed him after being bested in contests. Angron refused, and was abducted from his homeworld, something he never really accepted. The last to be found was Alpharius.

The overall order of the rediscovery of each Primarch by the Emperor is as follows[17]

  1. Horus
  2. Leman Russ
  4. Ferrus Manus
  5. Fulgrim
  6. Vulkan
  7. Rogal Dorn
  8. Roboute Guilliman
  9. Magnus the Red
  10. Sanguinius
  11. Lion El'Jonson
  12. Perturabo
  13. Mortarion
  14. Lorgar
  15. Jaghatai Khan
  16. Konrad Curze
  17. Angron
  18. Corax
  20. Alpharius Omegon

At the end of the Great Crusade Warmaster Horus fell to Chaos, and eight of his fellow Primarchs followed him against the Emperor, resulting in a full-scale civil war known as the Horus Heresy. Each Primarch chose his side, loyalists against traitors, leading their legions against their former comrades.

List of Primarchs

Legion Number Name Alternate Name Order of Rediscovery[17] Homeworld Name of the Legion Allegiance Current Status Image
I Lion El'Jonson The Lion 11 Caliban Dark Angels Loyal Alive, asleep within a secret chamber on the Rock.
II Deleted from Imperial records, authorization unknown.
III Fulgrim The Phoenician 5 Chemos Emperor's Children Traitor Daemon Prince on a hidden planet of unending pleasure[8a]
IV Perturabo The Lord of Iron 12 Olympia Iron Warriors Traitor Daemon Prince, ruler of Medrengard.
V Jaghatai Khan The Great Khan, The Warhawk 15 Mundus Planus White Scars Loyal Unknown, disappeared into the Webway.
VI Leman Russ The Wolf King, The Great Wolf 2 Fenris Space Wolves Loyal Unknown, disappeared into the Eye of Terror.
VII Rogal Dorn The Emperor's Champion, The Praetorian of Terra 7 Inwit Imperial Fists Loyal Died in a Black Crusade.
VIII Konrad Curze The Night Haunter, The Lord of the Night 16 Nostramo Night Lords Traitor Dead, assassinated by Callidus assassin M'Shen.
IX Sanguinius The Great Angel 10 Baal Blood Angels Loyal Dead, slain by Horus.
X Ferrus Manus The Gorgon 4 Medusa Iron Hands Loyal Dead, slain by Fulgrim and his head offered to Horus.
XI Deleted from Imperial records, authorisation unknown.
XII Angron The Red Angel, The Lord of the Red Sands 17 Nuceria World Eaters Traitor Daemon Prince.
XIII Roboute Guilliman The Battle King, The Avenging Son 8 Macragge Ultramarines Loyal Mortally wounded by Fulgrim and held in stasis for 10,000 years. Recently revived and leading the Imperium.
Guilliman Sketch.jpg
XIV Mortarion The Death Lord 13 Barbarus Death Guard Traitor Daemon Prince, ruler of the Plague Planet.
XV Magnus the Red The Crimson King, The Red Cyclops 9 Prospero Thousand Sons Traitor Daemon Prince, ruler of the Planet of Sorcerers.
Magnus Headshot.jpeg
XVI Horus Lupercal The Warmaster, The First Primarch 1 Cthonia Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus Traitor Dead, slain by the Emperor.
XVII Lorgar Aurelian The Urizen, The Golden One 14 Colchis Word Bearers Traitor Daemon Prince, ruler of Sicarus.
XVIII Vulkan The Lord of Drakes 6 Nocturne Salamanders Loyal Unknown, disappeared in battle against The Beast during the War of the Beast
XIX Corvus Corax The Raven-Lord 18 Deliverance Raven Guard Loyal Unknown, disappeared, last seen heading for the Eye of Terror.
XX Alpharius Omegon The Last Primarch, The Lord of Serpents 20 Unknown Alpha Legion Traitor Status unclear. Alpharius was apparently slain by Rogal Dorn in the Battle of Pluto during the Horus Heresy. Omegon assumed his mantle thereafter.[24] After the Heresy, Alpharius (or Omegon) was reported slain by Roboute Guilliman. (It is not known which of the twins were truly killed. The reliability of this information is disputed, therefore it is possible that both Alpharius and Omegon are still alive.)

Fate of the Primarchs



  • Ferrus Manus was killed at the Drop Site massacre at the start of the Horus Heresy by Fulgrim who presented his head to Horus.
  • Sanguinius was slain by Horus after refusing to join him during the Battle of Terra.
  • Lion El'Jonson returned to his homeworld of Caliban only to discover that his friend and second-in command Luther and the Dark Angel garrison had turned against him[2]. He led a strike force of his own loyal Dark Angels against the traitors. He disappeared in the resulting inferno as the world was blasted apart by a Warp Storm and a bombardment from his ships in orbit. He sleeps deep within the Rock, the biggest piece of Caliban and current home base of the Dark Angels[1,2]. Only the Emperor and the Watchers in the Dark know of this secret.[1-p14]
  • Jaghatai Khan disappeared while pursuing the Dark Eldar into a Webway portal after they had managed to raid Mundus Planus. There are rumours that he fights there still, lost in the twisting paths of the Webway. After nine thousand years it seems highly unlikely, but not impossible.
  • Leman Russ disappeared in the Eye of Terror. The Space Wolves hold a legend that says Russ went on a quest to find a means to cure the Emperor. His final words before his disappearance is that he would return for the 'Wolftime' (the final battle). It is also said that Leman Russ led the 13th Company into the Eye of Terror and ordered them to hunt down the Traitor Legions which had fled to the Eye of Terror, particularly the Thousand Sons.
  • Rogal Dorn boarded a Chaos cruiser during a Black Crusade alongside a company of his sons and died fighting. Today, his hand is housed in the holiest shrine of the Imperial Fists chapter, and his dead body encased in amber and put in Phalanx [11].
  • Roboute Guilliman was struck down with an envenomed blade by his former brother Fulgrim. His body was perfectly preserved in a stasis field at the heart of the Temple of Correction[3] for the next ten thousand years. Shortly after the Thirteenth Black Crusade in the closing days of M41, Guilliman was revived by an Imperial-Eldar expedition and has now declared himself Lord Commander of the Imperium.
  • Vulkan disappeared. The position of Chapter Master, filled by the Captain of the First Company, is considered to be a regency as the Salamanders believe that Vulkan will one day return and lead them on a great crusade against Chaos. Reappeared during the War of the Beast, only to disappear and be presumed dead by the Imperium at large.
  • Corax was racked by guilt and shame. In order to rebuild quickly the strength of his legion from the dropsite massacre on Isstvan V, Corax accelerated the growth of the gene-seed organs, producing more Space Marines, but this process also deteriorated the Gene-seed, causing many to become hulking monsters. Riddled with guilt over what he had done, Corax administered euthanasia to all of them and then locked himself away within his sanctum, the Raven's Tower. Exactly one year later he left his tower, haggard and gaunt, and took a small shuttle craft with the words Never more. It was last monitored setting a course for the Eye of Terror.

Two unknown Primarchs

Almost nothing is known about the two unknown primarchs.

References to the second and eleventh Primarchs are made in the short story, The Lighting Tower[12], in which Rogal Dorn describes the plinths on which their statues stand should be vacant and says that 'no one ever spoke of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?' Also in The First Heretic, Lorgar makes several references saying that the Emperor ordered them to be forgotten. During the time five Word Bearer captains spent being shown secrets of the galaxy by the daemon Ingethel they are shown the Emperor's gene-labs where he is creating the Primarchs and the moment that they were scattered by Chaos. During their time wandering the labs as insubstantial ghosts undetectable as long as they don't touch anything they speak of the two lost legions, mentioning how they were erased from Imperial records and how Roboute Guilliman's Ultramarines legion mysteriously swelled in numbers each time one of the two legions was "erased." The implication seems clear that at least part of the fighting force of the "lost" legions was entrusted to Roboute Guilliman and incorporated into the Ultramarines.[14]

Note: If this is true then perhaps entire chapters descended from the original Ultramarines legion are in fact part of the gene-seed of the two lost legions. At the time of the Heresy remarks made by the five Word Bearers captains Argel Tal, Xaphen, Torgal, Malnor and Dagotal suggest that the fate of the lost legions is relatively common knowledge though kept hushed up. In the intervening ten millennia between the Heresy and the current age of the 41st millennium it is likely this information was forgotten. It is an interesting side-note that the lost legions were numbers two and eleven. Two plus eleven equals thirteen-the number of the Ultramarines legion.[14]

The traitor Primarchs in this story are covered with a shroud, so the fate of the second and eleventh is undetermined. They may have been found and befell a tragedy as it implies they were spoken about previously.

In the novel Prospero Burns by Dan Abnett, it is suggested that Leman Russ and his Space Wolves legion had been used by the Emperor in the past to cull/pacify the two legions and that the Emperor had created the Wolves for just an event, utilizing their barbaric, untamed nature as a sort of insurance policy for use against other Space Marine Legions. This is further demonstrated by the unleashing of the Wolves on the Thousand Sons Legion in the same novel.[18]


There have been several instances of cloned Primarchs, the result being a mentally unstable, confused, and sometimes deformed creature. The first cloned primarch was Ferrus Manus, created by Fabius Bile at the demand of a mad Fulgrim. Fulgrim attempted to again convert Ferrus to his cause before killing him once more, a process that was repeated multiple times with new clones.[21]

Perhaps the most notable example of a cloned Primarch was after the Horus Heresy, where Fabius Bile again cloned a son of the Emperor, this time Horus from DNA provided by the Warmaster's corpse. Confused and senile, this clone of Horus didn't initially recognize many of his closest comrades such as Ezekyle Abaddon and proved a poor imitation of the real Lupercal. Abaddon killed the clone, and in its dying moments it recognized who the First Captain was. During the same period, Bile attempted to clone all twenty Primarch's from gathered samples, the result being a hall of pods with monstrosities and deformed adolescent creatures. All of these abominations were killed by Abaddon and his forces.[22]

Canon Conflicts

Gregor Eisenhorn refers to the "Primarch" of the White Consuls Space Marine Chapter, when stating that he made it a point to commend a heroic Sergeant who saved his life, at the cost of the Sergeant's own, on Thracian Primaris. Since the White Consuls are a Successor Chapter, and because there are no living or active primarchs within the Imperium, he seems to be using the term "Primarch" interchangeably with that of Chapter Master.[5]


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