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Space Marine Legion

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the First Founding of the Space Marines; for the Background book, see First Founding (Background Book).
Legiones Astartes
Parent Agency Imperium of Man
Leader Emperor of Mankind
Warmaster Horus
Armed Forces 20 Legions
Established Late Unification Wars[30]
Dissolved Post-Horus Heresy (Loyalist Legions)
Some Traitor Legions still active

The twenty Space Marine Legions, also known as the Legiones Astartes, were created by the Emperor to take part in the Great Crusade in what was later known as the First Founding. All the Space Marines of a Legion ("battle-brothers" amongst themselves) were modified with help of the DNA samples of a single Primarch. As a Primarch was found, he would receive the command of his respective Legion.


Great Crusade and Horus Heresy

The Legiones Astartes were originally created by the Emperor and his gene-wrights in the closing days of the Unification Wars and the extinction of their predecessors, the Thunder Warriors. The new Astartes had superior lifespans and discipline to the Thunder Warriors, and were intended by the Emperor to spearhead his coming Great Crusade.[7a] Each of the twenty Legions were created from gene-seed derived from a single Primarch, which were themselves maturing deep under the Himalayan Mountains before they were stolen away from the Forces of Chaos.[6a] However while the Gene-Seed was created by the Emperor, it was perfected and mass-produced by the Gene-Cults of Luna after they were pacified by the early Astartes.[18] The combat debut of the Legiones Astartes occurred towards the end of the Unification Wars when they fought rebellious Thunder Warriors in the Palace Coup.[30]

During the subsequent Great Crusade, the twenty Legiones Astartes were the tip of the Emperor's spear in his conquest of much of the galaxy. Gradually, the twenty lost Primarchs were reunified with their respective Legion and led them to further glories, where they would begin to establish unique identities for themselves. However some point during the Great Crusade, two of the legions were erased from all records for unknown reasons.[7b]

During the Horus Heresy, nine of the eighteen remaining Legions sided with Warmaster Horus against the Emperor. After the Battle of Terra, these fled into the Eye of Terror where many fragmented into disparate warbands that continue to plague the Imperium to this day.[19] The remaining loyalist Legions were broken up by Roboute Guilliman as per the new Codex Astartes. The Space Marine Legions effectively ceased to exist after this act, succeeded by hundreds of new Chapters.[5]


A significant portion of the early Legions' organization was deeply rooted in the time-honored Terran models of strategy, hierarchy, and function found within the revered texts of the Principia Belicosa. The Emperor's ingenuity further enhanced this framework, providing an adaptable strategic approach that complemented the extraordinary strengths and abilities of the Legionaries themselves. The chain of command operated with clarity, with Legion officers leading their troops into battle personally.[27a]

At the head of the Legion was its Primarch, seconded by Command structures who oversaw the Legion's organization. Below this were the Chapters of the Legion, each of which was commanded by a Lord Commander. Each Chapter in turn was divided into a number of Battalions, each of which was further divided into Companies. The Company, itself divided into a number of Squads, was the basic military division of the Legio Astartes. Due to the varying sizes of each Legion, there was no fixed number of how many Chapters, Companies, and Squads a Legion could contain.[7b]

Nominally , the structure of a Legion should have been as follows[7b] :

  • Each chapter should be 2 Battalions strong, each Battalion composed of 5 companies numbering 100 Legionaries, as well as various specialists and support staff.[7b]
  • The Ist company was composed of Veterans, the II, III and IV of line companies, and the Vth of specialists troops.[7b]

Strategic Disposition of a Space Marine Legion

Hierarchical Level Command Structure Available Assets
  • 1000 Legionaries
    (2 Battalions)[7b]
  • 500 Legionaries[7b]
    (5 Companies)

Divergence between Legions

Throughout the two centuries of the Great Crusade, the Terran Legions underwent myriad transformations. Influences from the worlds they recruited from and the development of customs and hierarchies within each Legion played pivotal roles. The discovery of the Primarchs further reshaped the Legions, imprinting their own personalities and will onto their respective forces. This process led to the rewriting of entire cultural, traditional, and ideological paradigms within the Legions. As a result, the regimens of training and indoctrination within each Legion diverged significantly, with many abandoning the strictures, doctrines, and terminology of the Principia Belicosa to tailor themselves to preferred styles of warfare. By the conclusion of the Great Crusade, each Legion had developed its own distinct character. These unique identities within the once-united body of the Legiones Astartes fostered rivalries and, eventually, feuds that would be exploited during the Horus Heresy.[27a]

Number of Legionaries

The Legions were massive armies, and the size of each could vary tremendously. A precise number was never truly achieved and maintained. Even during the Great Crusade, some Legions were very numerous, while others were not. The numbers would always vary with new recruits and inevitable battle-losses, and also important was the availability of potential recruits and the administrative skills of the Primarch and his officers.

The most numerous Legion of all was the Ultramarines. The Thousand Sons of Magnus were of a small number as many of them had developed mutations or uncontrollable levels of psychic powers. Fulgrim's samples had been largely lost, and this left the Legion of the Emperor's Children also with a very small number. Both of these Legions would increase their numbers to acceptable standards only after their Primarchs were found.

The approximate sizes of a few of the Legions at the start of the Heresy have been given in various sources:

The Legion size issue is contentious, with several types of numbers mentioned in separate sources meant to reflect a general or nominally-sized legion. As well as numbers directly given in sources themselves, several authors have commented on the issue. Pressed with questions about pre-Heresy organisation - although declaring there is not any real information about it — Andy Chambers answered that "Space Marines started out in Legions of approximately 10,000 strong (or more, depending on the specific legion), which were broken down into Chapter-sized Great Companies rather like the Space Wolves (who are renowned for not adopting the Codex Astartes alterations made by Guilliman post-heresy and who thus follow pre-heresy organisation more closely)"[5].

  • Note 1: In The Crimson Fist (Novella) it is mentioned that 20,000 Imperial Fists constituted one-fifth of the entire Legion, making 100,000 the likely number.[11]
  • Before the Word Bearers invasion of the Boros Gate it is mentioned that the Black Legion's strength is unparalleled and that their ranks outnumbered the Word Bearers by almost ten to one. If at that point the Word Bearers kept the ranks at the size of 100,000 space marines it means the Black Legion had vastly increased their numbers to around 1,000,000 space marines.[13]
  • Note 2: Further down the page of the cited source, Betrayal states that this number is leading up to Istvaan III. After the conflict, some 60,000 Sons of Horus Astartes were lost, some of which are the Loyalists. After the betrayal at Istvaan III, the current numbers of the Sons of Horus are estimated to be 70,000-110,000.

Original names and appearances

Originally, each Legion was known simply by its number (i.e., the Dark Angels were originally known as I Legion) and had plain grey armour. However upon rediscovering their Primarch the Legion would take his homeworld as their own, gain a name instead of just being known by their number, and change their Power Armour from grey to one consisting of a combination of battle honours and their Primarch's own tastes.[7a]

The Emperor saw no problems with this development; the loyalty of the Primarchs to him was believed to be unshakable. This reasoning would be proven to be mistaken as half of the known Legions revolted during the Horus Heresy.

The Twenty Space Marine Legions of the Great Crusade
Symbol Name Original name Primarch Homeworld Loyalty
DA Icon.png I Dark Angels Angels of Death
The Uncrowned Princes[27b]
Lion El'Jonson Caliban Loyal
II Unknown - All records expunged
EC Icon.png III Emperor's Children ---- Fulgrim Chemos Traitor
IW Icon.png IV Iron Warriors Corpse Grinders (Unofficial)[27b] Perturabo Olympia Traitor
WS Icon.png V White Scars Star Hunters[23]
Other informal titles included the Pioneers, Vanguard, Blood Debt, Grey Ghosts[27b]
Jaghatai Khan Chogoris Loyal
SW Icon.png VI Space Wolves The Rout[16c]
Other informal titles included The Emperor's Executioners[27b]
Leman Russ Fenris Loyal
IF Icon.png VII Imperial Fists None officially.
Informal titles included the Stone Men, Iceborn, Sentinels of the Void, Defenders of Terra, His Protectors[27b]
Rogal Dorn Inwit/Terra[A] Loyal
NL Icon.png VIII Night Lords None official.
Informal titles included the Night's Children, The Terror[27b]
Konrad Curze Nostramo Traitor
BA Icon.png IX Blood Angels None official.
Informal titles included the Revenant Legion, The Eaters of the Dead, The Charnel Feast[27b]
Sanguinius Baal Loyal
IH Icon.png X Iron Hands Storm Walkers
Iron Tenth (informal)[27b]
Ferrus Manus Medusa Loyal
XI Unknown - All records expunged
WE Icon.png XII World Eaters War Hounds Angron Bodt (unofficial/muster world)[27b] Traitor
UL Icon.png XIII Ultramarines War-Born[22] Roboute Guilliman Macragge Loyal
DG Icon.png XIV Death Guard Dusk Raiders Mortarion Barbarus Traitor
TS Icon.png XV Thousand Sons Thousand Sons[12a] Magnus the Red Prospero Traitor
SOH icon.png XVI Sons of Horus Luna Wolves Horus Lupercal Cthonia Traitor
WB Icon.png XVII Word Bearers Imperial Heralds
Iconoclasts (informal)[27b]
Lorgar Aurelian Colchis Traitor
SAL Icon.png XVIII Salamanders Dragon Warriors[17]
The Fearless (informal, used by Imperial Army)[27b]
Vulkan Nocturne Loyal
RG Icon.png XIX Raven Guard None formally. Informal titles included the Pale Nomads, Dust Clad[27b] Corvus Corax Deliverance Loyal
AL Icon.png XX Alpha Legion None formally.
Various informal titles included the Ghost Legion, Harrowing, Unbroken Chain, Strife Wrought, Hydra, Combine, Left Hand of Darkness, Azure Serpent, Amaranth Coil, and simply The Legion[27b]
Alpharius Omegon Unknown Traitor
  • [A] De jure the homeworld of the Imperial Fists is Terra, but de facto it is Phalanx.

Two Unknown Legions

While the nine "Excommunicate Traitoris" Legions are known to the Imperium as the Traitor Legions, of the 2nd and 11th Legions no records remain, including of which side they took during the Horus Heresy. The history of the Dark Angels during the Heresy is similarly known only to themselves, and possibly the Emperor. Therefore, excluding the role of the Dark Angels, there were at least nine, and as many as eleven Legions who took the side of Horus.[4]

Recent writings have shown that the two unknown legions were lost prior to the Heresy. They are referred to as the forgotten and purged. It is rumoured by some members of the Word Bearers Legion that the Astartes from one, if not both, of these unknown Legions were inducted into the Ultramarines after their Primarchs were 'forgotten'. An oath was sworn by the Primarchs to never speak the names of their two lost brothers. The loss of the 2nd and 11th sons grieved Lorgar deeply.[6]

Modern Setting

Second Founding

The loyalist Legions were later reorganised by the Codex Astartes and broken up into several 1,000 Marine-strong Chapters during the Second Founding.

A single Chapter kept the name, traditions, rituals, homeworld, and original identity of the origin Legion, while the remaining Chapters received a part of their Legion's gene-seed, new homeworlds, new names, and over time eventually developed their own traditions and identities. These Chapters are known as "Successor Chapters", a title which is not granted to Chapters created during later Foundings.

The nine "original Chapters", to a certain extent, are more highly thought of. These Chapters are called "First Founding Chapters"[1] or something similar.

Second Founding Chapters
Symbol Number Name Successor Chapters
Darkangelsymbol.png I Dark Angels Angels of Absolution, Angels of Redemption, Angels of Vengeance
WhiteScarssymbol.png V White Scars Marauders, Rampagers, Destroyers, Storm Lords
Spacewolvesymbol.png VI Space Wolves Wolf Brothers
IFsymbol.png VII Imperial Fists Black Templars, Crimson Fists, Fists Exemplar, Excoriators, Soul Drinkers[2]
Bloodangelsymbol.png IX Blood Angels Angels Encarmine, Angels Sanguine, Flesh Tearers, Angels Vermillion, Blood Drinkers
IronHandssymbol.png X Iron Hands Red Talons, Brazen Claws
Ultramarinessymbol.png XIII Ultramarines Novamarines, Patriarchs of Ulixis, White Consuls, Black Consuls, Obsidian Glaives, Praetors of Orpheus, Inceptors, Genesis Chapter, Mortifactors[3], Aurora Chapter, Doom Eagles, Eagle Warriors, Libators, Nemesis, Silver Eagles, Silver Skulls
Salamanderssymbol.png XVIII Salamanders
RavenGuardsymbol.png XIX Raven Guard Black Guard, Raptors, Revilers[29]

There are some works of Imperial literature dealing about the Legions and the Second Founding; the known ones are:

  • The Mythos Angelica Mortis, which deals mainly with the Astartes Praeses, but also provides information about the Dark Angels and its Successor Chapters. It reports that these Chapters refer to themselves as the "Unforgiven".
  • The Apocrypha of Skaros and the Apocrypha of Davio, the first one tells us that there were 23 Successor Chapters of the Ultramarines, but fails to name them, the second source is able to provide eight names of them.

In the current Age of The Imperium, nearly three-fifths of all Chapters are "descendants" of the Ultramarines, either directly or indirectly through one of the Ultramarines' Second Founding Chapters. Many records have been lost over time, consequently there are many Chapters which are unaware of which Legion they ultimately descend from.

The Grey Knights are an exception as this Chapter was created shortly before the Second Founding and its gene-seed is of secret origin.

Chaos Space Marine Legions

From a technical standpoint, the "Traitor Legions", are the only Space Marine Legions still in existence. In reality however, all of them have been broken up to some degree and now exist largely as separated individual warbands following rival Chaos Champions. On occasion, a highly successful Chaos Champion, such as Abaddon the Despoiler, is able to reunite these Traitor Legions once more and unleash them upon the galaxy.

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Legiones Astartes Forces of the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy
Command PrimarchLegion MasterPraetorCenturionSpace Marine Command SquadChief ApothecaryForgemasterChief LibrarianHeraldDecurion
Elite Troops Veteran SquadTerminator SquadDestroyer SquadMoritatChampion ConsulHonour GuardNullificator
Troops Tactical SquadAssault SquadBreacher Siege SquadSeeker SquadOutrider SquadSky Seeker SquadHussar SquadTactical Support SquadReconnaissance SquadHeavy Support SquadSky Hunter SquadDespoiler SquadNewbloods
Specialists Techmarine (MortificatorForge Lord)Apothecary (Primus Medicae) • ChaplainLibrarian (Esoterist)Master of SignalsConsul (PraevianDelegatusWarmongerArmistosOpsequiariNullificator)VigilatorSiege BreakerPathfinder
Dreadnoughts ContemptorDeredeoCastaferrumVenerableMortisLeviathan
Armored Vehicles Rhino (Advancer) • Predator (ExecutionerInfernus) • Land Raider (PhobosProteusAchilles) • SabreKratosTermite
Heavy Vehicles SpartanKratosSicaran (VenatorPunisherArcusOmega) • Malcador (AnnihilatorDefenderInfernus) • CerberusTyphon
Super-Heavy Vehicles Fellblade (Glaive) • FalchionShadowswordStormbladeMastodonCapitol ImperialisLeviathan
Fast Attack Vehicles JetbikeBike (Attack Bike) • Land SpeederJavelin
Artillery BasiliskMedusaWhirlwind (ScorpiusHyperios) • Vindicator (Laser Destroyer) • Arquitor (GravitonSpiculaMorbus) • RapierHeavy Quad LauncherTarantula
Aircraft Drop Pod (Deathstorm) • Kharybdis Assault ClawDreadclawStormbirdThunderhawk (Thunderhawk Transporter) • Storm Eagle (Fire Raptor) • StormstrikePrimaris Lightning Strike FighterXiphon InterceptorCaestus Assault RamOrgus FlyerApisLotusWrathLightning CrowStormhawkCorsairDeathbirdSwordstrikeCastellanPythosHarbingerHawkwing

I - Deathwing (Companions) • Dreadwing (InteremptorsNaufragia) • Firewing (Enigmatii) • Ironwing (Forge-wrightsExcindio Class Robot) • RavenwingStormwingPaladinKnights CenobiumIII - KakophoniPalatine BladesPhoenix GuardSun KillersIV - Iron CircleIron HavocStor-BezashkTyranthikosTyrant Siege TerminatorDodakathikThunderstrikeThunderburstWarsmithCastellan RhinoV - KeshigEbon KeshigGolden KeshigFalcon's ClawsKaraoghlanlarKyzaganSagyar MazanStormseerVI - Blood ClawsDeathswornFenrisian WolfGrey SlayerGrey StalkerBlood ClawBlack CullRune PriestWolf GuardWolf PriestHrimthursarEldthursarHunterVII - CastellanHuscarlsPhalanx WarderTemplar BrethrenVIII - AtramentarNight RaptorTerror SquadContekarReaverIX - Angel's TearsBurning EyesHigh HostContemptor-IncaendiusCrimson PaladinsDawnbreakerSanguinary GuardX - GorgonIron FatherMedusan ImmortalMorlocksXII - DevourerRampagerCaedereRed ButchersTriariiBloodiedRed HandXIII - EvocatiFulmentarusLocutarusInvictariiPraetorianNemesis DestroyersXIV - DeathshroudGrave WardensMortus PoisonersPlague MarinesXV - Ammitara OccultCastellax-AcheaHidden OnesKhenetai OccultOsironScarab OccultNumerologistsXVI - JustaerinLuperciReaverXVII - Anakatis KulAshen CircleDark ApostleDiabolistGal VorbakMhara GalVakrah JalProcuratorXVIII - Forge WardenFiredrakesPyre GuardPyroclastSanctifierXIX - Dark FuryDarkwingMor DeythanRaptorShadow WardensDeliverersWhispercutterXX - LernaeanHeadhunterOperativeSaboteur

Support Forces Imperial Army (Imperialis MilitiaSolar AuxiliaImperial Armada) • Mechanicum (Collegia TitanicaTaghmata OmnissiahSkitarii) • Sisters of SilenceCustodian Guard