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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 Defiance, Angels of Redemption, Angels of Vengeance,
Angels of Vigilance, Angels of Wrath, Blades of Vengeance, Consecrators, Disciples of Caliban, Fallen, Guardians of the Covenant, Knights of the Crimson Order, Lions Sable, Persecutors of Darkness,
Repentant Brotherhood
Star Phantoms (Suspected)
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

Experimental weaponry & tactics (pre-Horus Heresy)[33]
Battle Cry: "Repent! For tomorrow you die!"[1] or "For the Lion!"[25]
DA new marine.jpg


The Great Crusade

Dark Angels Space Marine, original colours

The Dark Angels have the honour of being the first Space Marine Legion created by The Emperor of Mankind. Their first known engagement - and indeed the first combat engagement of the Legiones Astartes - was combating the Palace Coup at the end of the Unification Wars.[58] In the early days of the Great Crusade, the Dark Angels became the test and standard by which all future Legions would be judged and based. As such, they were prone to experimental methods of combat, creating six "Hosts" known as the Hexagrammaton. These later became known as the Dreadwing, Stormwing, Ravenwing, Ironwing, Firewing, and Deathwing although these terms are Calibanite in origin and the original Legion would have used different terminology.[40b] They were also equipped with large number of advanced Archaeotech and plasma weapons.[33] In this period, the Dark Angels were not even known as the 1st Legion as no others existed yet, the Emperor simply referred to them as his "Angels of Death" or the Six Hosts. In these early days of the Great Crusade, the 1st Legion was undoubtedly the most powerful.[36]

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 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.[Needs Citation]

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, though older knights of the order plotted to assassinate both the Primarch and his father but were foiled by Zahariel[12]. 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. In an infamous episode of the Great Crusade, the Lion 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 the first of the Astartes Legions, the Dark Angels were quite large during the early to mid Great Crusade. However during the Third Rangdan Xenocide the I Legion lost 50,000 Battle-Brothers saving the northern Imperium, a steep cost they would never truly recover from. This contributed to the Dark Angels eventually losing their status as the most powerful Space Marine Legion, a title that would ultimately be claimed by the Ultramarines.[36]

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 seeds of heresy were further planted during the Dark Angels crusade against the Sarosh, who managed to sneak a nuclear warhead onto the Lion's flagship. Invincible Reason. Luther discovered the plot and for a moment, overcome by jealously, wondered if he should leave Jonson to his fate. However he quickly proved his loyalty by foiling the Sarosh assassination attempt, but somehow The Lion discovered his hesitation. Luther and a portion of the Dark Angels were sent to Caliban, but left to aid Horus during the Zaramund Campaign. The Lion was furious at this unapproved deployment, and angrily demanded Luther return to his banishment. Feeling abandoned on Caliban and dealing with a rebellion by the landless nobility and Chaos agents, Luther and his forces would slowly turn against their Primarch.[13]

The Horus Heresy

Heresy-era Dark Angels
During the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels were far from Terra, campaigning on the Gordian League shield worlds, and were unable to participate directly in the events taking place there. Nonetheless, The Lion was able to lead a small strike force to the Forge World of Diamat, denying traitor forces an important supply base.[13] Once the bulk of the Legion was free from the war against the Gordian League, 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. During the battle, Night Lords Primarch Konrad Curze became stranded aboard the Dark Angels flagship Invincible Reason, eluding capture and killing every search team sent against him. While the Lion hunted Curze himself, the Dark Angels fleet set course for Terra but became lost due to the Ruinstorm.[Needs Citation]
Lion El'Jonson leads the Dark Angels during the Horus Heresy[61]

During their battles against Daemons in the Warp, the Dark Angels violated the Council of Nikea on direct orders from The Lion by reestablishing Librarians.[32a] Due to the Warp Storms plaguing the Eastern Fringes the Dark Angels followed the Pharos and moved to Ultramar and joined with Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines, helping form the brief Imperium Secundus.[31] During the Lion's obsessive hunt for Curze, the Dark Angels were used to enforce martial law on Macragge and the Dreadwing hunted the Night Haunter across Ultramar.[40] Meanwhile, another detachment of Dark Angels under Captain Ormand reinforced the Space Wolves against the Alpha Legion at the Alaxxes Nebula[33] while another under Corswain was tasked by The Lion with hunting down Calas Typhon following the Battle of Perditus.[40c]

Ultimately after a number of disasters, clashes between Guilliman, Sanguinius, and Lion El'Jonson, and a vision by Sanguinius that the Emperor was alive, Imperium Secundus was abolished. The three Primarch's led their Legions in an attempt to breach the Ruinstorm and reach Terra. Through an arduous journey, they eventually reached Davin, the nexus of the Ruinstorm, and engaged a vast Daemonic host. After the battle and the destruction of Davin, a way to Terra through the Ruinstorm was clear. However in their way stood many enemy blockades as Horus had foreseen this route. Sanguinius and the Blood Angels raced directly for Terra, as was their destiny, while Guilliman and Lion El'Jonson led the Ultramarines and Dark Angels in diversionary attacks against Horus' blockade.[45] By the time of the Siege of Terra the Lion hoped to draw away traitor forces from the Throneworld by striking at their own homeworlds. As a result, the Dark Angels destroyed several traitor homeworlds such as Chemos, Nuceria[60], and Barbarus.[49] Meanwhile Corswain's fleet of Dark Angels was able to reach Terra and aid the loyalists.[60]

The Dark Angels main fleet was 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. Lion 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.[Needs Citation]

The Great Betrayal

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] Other sources state that the Warp Rift was caused by a causal loop in the 41st Millennium after Azrael, Cypher, Typhus, and others attempted to rewrite the history of Caliban with the Tuchulcha Engine.[35] Regardless of the truth, 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. Lion El'Jonson had previously decreed that Dark Angels could change their armor to green in memory of the war against the Great Beasts of Caliban.

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

The Deathwing battles the forces of Chaos


A Dark Angel

As the first Space Marine Legion, Dark Angels Gene-Seed is among the purest and least degraded. Remarkably, Dark Angels Apothecaries have observed that gene-seed carried by Primaris Space Marines is universally of the highest quality they have ever seen, and so the Chapter's stock is qualitatively and quantitatively in excellent health. There are no known abberations in the Dark Angels gene-seed, which makes the historic reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to use it in new Foundings perplexing. In the Era Indomitus however, this policy appears to have been relaxed. Some in the Inquisition argue that Roboute Guilliman was involved in this decision while others claim that there is a desire in Terran and Martian circles to counter-balance the amount of Ultramarines successors.[53]


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

The Dark Angels have accepted the new Primaris Space Marines out of necessity, but the Inner Circle remains skeptical of their presence but they have not gone through the strict rituals and tests of loyalty present to the rest of the Chapter. The Inner Circle now debates over what to do the day one is about to be initiated into the Deathwing.[46]

Combat Doctrine

In the same vein as their father Lion El'Jonson, Dark Angels officers are expert tacticians and specialists, and have been quick to capitalize on the skills of Primaris Space Marines and the particular varieties of their squad types. New specialized formations have been developed alongside ancient patterns such as the Hammer of Caliban and Scout Recon Stalker Strike. Caliban's Reach is but one example, which combines the firepower of Hellblasters and Devastators with Centurions to devastating effect. The advanced infiltration and reconnaissance skills all Primaris Space Marines learn as part of their Vanguard training is of great value to a chapter seeking hidden foes. The Omniscramblers of Infiltrator Squads can severely disrupt enemy communications, allowing Ravenwing squadrons to strike without their quarry being warned. The Divinator-class Auspexes of the Incursors collect data from battlefields that previously would have been almost impossible to extract. This yields new information to the Inner Circle to act upon without Vanguard Space Marine's knowledge.[53]

In addition, the Dark Angels are known to have access to a disproportionate amount of Plasma Weaponry.[4f]


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, though they are not deployed as such. Rather than being deployed on the Company level, the Dark Angels frequently deploy as Strike Forces based around the lore of Caliban such as the heavy assault Beastslayer Strike Force and Scourge of Caliban many-pronged assault force. The most frequently used type of strike force is the Lion's Blade, a demi-company formation supported by elements of Deathwing and Ravenwing. It is often strengthened by drawing squads from the 10th Company as well as Scouts.[30a]

During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy six specialized "Wings" existed, the Deathwing and Ravenwing included. The Dreadwing, Ironwing, Firewing, and Stormwing were also known.[31] These formations were a legacy of the Unification Wars.

Chapter Disposition


Chapter Command
Inner Circle
Supreme Grand Master Grand Master Chaplaincy Librarius Knights of the Rock
Other Departments
Armourium Fleet Command Apothecarion Others


The current Companies and their Captains are as follows.[46]

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.[1] The Dark Angels have sworn oaths to protect thousands of worlds which, in return, supply potential aspirants for the chapter.[52a]

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]

Known Recruitment Worlds

The Dark Angels recruit from thousands of worlds across the galaxy.[52a] Known recruitment worlds include:


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.[Needs Citation]

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

Dark Angels, including Primaris Space Marines, battle the forces of Chaos




Notable Members

Heresy Era
Post Heresy

Notable Fallen Angels

Unique Troops & Vehicles (Also used by Successor Chapters)

Alternative colour schemes

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.

Additional Information

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