Emperor of Mankind
|This article is about the Imperial sovereign and deity. For other uses of Emperor, see Emperor (disambiguation).|
The Emperor of Mankind also referred to by the Imperial Cult and the Imperial Ecclesiarchy as the God-Emperor of Mankind is the sovereign ruler of the Imperium of Man, and Father, Guardian, and God of the human race. He has sat immobile within the Golden Throne of Terra for ten thousand years. Although once a living man, His shattered body can no longer support life, and remains intact only by a combination of ancient technology and the sheer force of His will, itself sustained by the soul-sacrifice of countless millions of psykers.
His will is omnipotent, extending across the million worlds that comprise His Imperium. For ten thousand years the Master of Mankind has served humanity, simultaneously carrying out a multitude of tasks vital to its survival. All at once He guides his race through the Emperor's Tarot, soul-binds psykers, holds audiences with His most important servants and directs the Astronomican beacon that guides space vessels through the Warp. His immense psychic powers constantly keep the Chaos Gods in the Warp at bay, preventing their intrusion into the material universe and protecting his people throughout the galaxy.
The Emperor's role as guardian of mankind seems to have been predestined for Him. Without the Emperor there would be no Imperium, little space travel, and no protection from the multitude of threats facing mankind. The Emperor knows that to protect his race he must survive as long as necessary for the emerging race of psychic humans to evolve sufficiently.
In the millennia since his ascension to the Golden Throne, the Emperor has become a god to his people, the worship of Him uniting humanity throughout his Imperium, superstition and dogma replacing his doctrine of Imperial Truth.
- 1 History
- 2 Transcendence
- 3 Rebirth
- 4 Additional Information
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Related Videos
- 7 Related Articles
- 8 Sources
Little is known about the majority of the Emperor's life; of who he was and what he did before he emerged as the great Emperor of Mankind, only the Emperor himself remembers. A few pieces of information have come to light, from various different sources, and present some small parts of a coherent whole; however, their reliability is often disputed, especially as the Emperor's tale changes somewhat with each retelling. There is a source from 1st Edition Rogue Trader (that being the now-outdated Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned) which details the Emperor's backstory. It is said that the Emperor's birth, while a natural process, was actually the result of a scheme created by the wisest and most powerful of living humans at that time; the conclave of Shamans. These men, termed 'shamans' by their society, were powerful psykers with great experience of the Warp. Finding their souls - and those of humanity - endangered by the growing perils of the Warp-gods, these psykers decided to pool their power into one human, a being they called 'the New Man'. Already having gained the power to reincarnate themselves (upon death, the shamans' souls would transfer to the Warp, accumulating power enough to reincarnate as human) the shamans entered a suicide-pact. Thousands of them poisoned themselves and sped their souls to the warp at the same time. Presumably pooling their soul-energy and using their reincarnation ability, they brought about the birth of their New Man - the Emperor - one year later.[3c]
This same source states that the Emperor was born to mortal parents on Terra in the 8th Millennium BC[3b] in a primitive proto-Hittite village along the banks of the Sakarya River[14c] (in Anatolia), manifesting his powers as a youth. While a young adolescent, the Emperor's father was murdered by his uncle. While preparing his fathers body for a primitive funeral ritual, he received a vision of his murder. Later, the boy who would become the Emperor calmly approached his uncle and stopped his heart with his psychic abilities, displaying neither sorrow nor malice. According to the Emperor himself, this was the moment he realized that humanity needed law, order, and the guidance of a ruler. Shortly after, he left his village for the first city of humanity (likely ancient Sumeria).[14c] Sometime later the Perpetual Erda met the Emperor, already a warlord attempting to accelerate Human evolution and guide the race into a superior species. Erda became one of the Emperor's followers as He attempted to seek out and recruit every Perpetual on Earth to His cause. During this ancient time, the Emperor was known as Neoth.
At some point before recorded history, the Emperor became a king and organized his own armies with the Perpetual that will become known as Ollanius Persson as his Warmaster. Seeking to protect and guide Humanity, the two friends besieged a tower in East Phoenicia built by the Cult that will become known as the Cognitae. After their forces succeeded in capturing the tower, they discovered it covered in Enuncia and bleeding in the corruption power of the Warp. Ollanius demanded the tower destroyed, while the Emperor wished to preserve the knowledge it held within in order to better protect against Chaos in the future. Disillusioned with the Emperor, Ollanius stabbed his king with a dagger and then uttered a line of Enuncia to destroy the tower and escape.
The immortal being who would become known as the Emperor proceeded to haunt the history of humanity as a ghost; watching, waiting and occasionally influencing.[3c] Living secretly amongst mankind, he developed his abilities until his psychic might allowed him to gain knowledge of not only his own world, but of the dangers beyond it. Aware then of the vast predations awaiting humanity, the being that would become known as the Emperor resolved to guide and protect humanity. The Emperor took many forms during this time, both male and female. Some were brutal conquerors, some became meek to inherit the Earth.[38g] One identity of the Emperor during this time was Alexander the Great, and in an account given by Horus it is said that He wept before the River Hyphasis when He thought there were no more worlds to conquer. Not long after, He discovered what would be named the Golden Throne.[38f]
During the Dark Age of Technology Alivia Sureka traveled with the man who would become the Emperor to the planet Molech, where there was a gateway into the realm of Chaos. The Emperor entered the Gateway, and there made a bargain with the Dark Gods and emerged wielding a measure of their power, including the ability to create the Primarchs. However for some reason, the Emperor did not keep his end of the bargain to spread Chaos to humanity, and he became the anathema of Ruinous Powers. The Emperor was able to clone the energies he was imbued with, giving them to his Primarchs after combining his own genetic material with that of Erda's. At some point in Earth's history the Emperor discovered an ancient device beneath the ruins of Asia's deserts and became determined to completely cut off humanity from the malignant influence of the Warp. The first step of this grand project was to substitute warp travel with the Webway, and the final phase would see the Emperor shepherd humanity's evolution into a truly psychic race independent of Chaos, ascending to a level not even the Eldar were able to. This grand ambition was to guide all of the Emperor's undertakings and would be the culmination of his planning.[14b]
Rise of the Emperor
The man who would later become known as the Emperor first appeared openly as one of the many warlords struggling for control of Terra during the latter part of the Age of Strife. He was at this point just another Terran warlord, but he met Malcador who convinced him to take the title of Emperor. He was once known as the Master of the Lines in a mountainous region of Terra. There he would seek out individuals whose genetics he could use in his Thunder Warrior project, as well as offer services of gene-editing the offspring children in the region to correct genetic mutations. It was during this time he met Amar Astarte, who he and Erda worked closely with on the Primarch Project.[29a] He also met Ezekiel Sedayne, who would later develop the Black Carapace for the successors of the Thunder Warriors: The Legio Astartes. The Emperor undertook a series of campaigns against all the other warlords on the planet that would later become termed as the Unification Wars. During these wars the Emperor employed several military formations - such as the Thunder Warriors and Geno Five-Two Chiliad — that consisted of genetically altered/engineered warriors, who played a significant role in his eventual victory. With this victory, the planet and population of Terra were at last unified under one rule; that of the Emperor. With this achievement behind him, the Emperor then set in motion his plans to take his purpose of uniting and guarding mankind out into the stars, to unify with the bastions of humanity scattered across the galaxy. This undertaking would become known as the Great Crusade. The prospect of the Great Crusade and the bitter fate of the Primarchs horrified Erda, who viewed the creations as her sons.
The Emperor prepared extensively for the Great Crusade; he created the special astrotelepath corps to link his eventual dominion together, and caused the creation of the Astronomican, a supremely powerful signal device powered by the Emperor's own psychic might that would allow simplified and safer travel through the Warp. Chief amongst his designs, however, were the creation of superhuman warriors, the logical extension of the gene-troopers already under his command. He had first undertaken the Primarch Project, the creation of twenty infants from his own genetic code, designed to mature into powerful generals for his armies. However, this plan went awry with the intervention of the Chaos Powers. Other sources state that the Emperor's longtime collegue and fellow Perpetual Erda cast the Primarchs into the Warp to deny the Emperor His plans for them. While accounts vary as to exactly what happened, the end of the tale is always the same; the Primarchs were cast into the Warp and thought lost. During the tumultuous event, the Emperor's gene-lab was devastated by the forces that scattered the Primarchs. He held up the collapsing underground roof with his psychic power until the vaults workers and data could be safely evacuated.[29b] Afterwards Malcador and Constantin Valdor believed the Primarchs dead or corrupted. However, the Emperor sensed their echoes in the Warp and knew they were still alive. Malcador was surprised that the Emperor began to refer to the lost Primarchs as his "sons", something Valdor saw as an "ebb" in his attempts to suppress his human emotions.[29a]
In the aftermath of these events, the Emperor evolved a new plan. Using genetic material which had been derived from the Primarchs, he created a caste of warriors which would possess some of the qualities of the Primarchs. These successors to the genetically-altered warriors of the Unification Era were the Legiones Astartes, the Space Marines of the First Founding.[3c] After purging the Thunder Warriors and replacing them with these more efficient warriors, The Emperor led the Space Marines into the reconquest of the Sol System. He drove Xenos enslavers from the moons of Saturn and Jupiter and most importantly, achieved peace and eventual integration with the Mechanicum of Mars. This alliance provided the Emperor with much of the means and materiel to extend his crusade into the stars.[Needs Citation]
With the final abatement of the Warp storms began the Great Crusade. The Emperor's forces rediscovered human worlds, cast out alien oppressors, and claimed new territory aplenty. Perhaps most importantly, the Emperor, leading his crusade, rediscovered his lost sons, the Primarchs. Scattered throughout space, the infants were found one-by-one over a period of many decades, and reunited with their father and their kin. All were placed in command of the Astartes Legions created from their respective gene-seed and played their part in forging their father's Imperium.[3c]
First amongst the Primarchs was Horus, said to be first discovered and first honoured. However, a contradictory and dubious account given by Alpharius states that he was the first recovered by the Emperor, being found directly on Terra itself. Whatever the truth of Horus' order of discovery, the two fought together at the forefront of the early Great Crusade. The Emperor protected Horus during the Siege of Reillis while Horus repaid the favor during the Battle of Gorro. During the Battle of Gyros-Thravian, the Emperor slew the mighty Ork Warboss Gharkul Blackfang after it had held off three of his Primarchs. Some 200 years into the Great Crusade, the Emperor decided to return to Terra and placed Horus in charge of the military advancement of his Imperium in his stead. Granting him the title of Warmaster after the Ullanor Crusade, the Emperor declared that the time had come for his sons to show him what great leaders they were. Turning his back on direct military interventions, the Emperor then created the Council of Terra, the Imperial Tithe and expanded the civil governing bodies of the Imperium, before retiring in seclusion beneath the Imperial Palace to begin work upon his greatest ambition, the Webway Project. At some point, the Emperor left the Palace to decree the Edict of Nikea, forbidding the use of Librarians within the Astartes Legions.
The Horus Heresy
This turn of events did not please all of the Emperor's subjects, several of his sons in particular. In the final stages of the Great Crusade, the Emperor's most trusted son Horus succumbed to Chaos temptation. Horus was told that the reason the Emperor had left the Great Crusade was so he could attempt to reach godhood, abandon all his sons and betray one of the central tenants of the Great Crusade (to enlighten humanity and free it from the bonds of false gods). Horus saw it as his duty to save the Imperium and turned on his father. Having corrupted fully half of the Space Marine Legions, Horus led them against the Emperor and plunged the fledgling galactic empire into a colossal civil war. This became the most terrible conflict in human history, and billions perished as the Traitor Legions tore apart the empire they had helped to forge. The Emperor's son Magnus attempted to warn his father of the coming slaughter, but his telepathic message breached the Emperor's psychic wardings at the Imperial Palace and caused a grievous malfunction in the Golden Throne. Distraught, the Emperor ignored Magnus' warning and banished his son from his sight. The Emperor then dispatched the Space Wolves under Leman Russ to bring back Magnus before him in chains. However the now-corrupted Horus intercepted the Emperor's order and changed it, instead ordering the Thousand Sons destroyed.
For the rest of the Heresy, the Emperor was forced to deal with the Golden Throne's malfunction, which created a Warp Breach in the depths of the Imperial Palace. As Daemons flooded through the breach, the Custodian Guard and Sisters of Silence held them at bay while the Emperor punishingly exerted himself on the Golden Throne to prevent all of Terra itself from being swallowed. With his attentions turned to this crisis, the Emperor left management of Horus' rebellion to Malcador and Rogal Dorn. During this sad state of affairs, the Emperor engaged in telepathic communications with the lowly Astropath Kai Zulane, who had been given a vision of the Heresy's conclusion. During their psychic communiques, the Emperor revealed he not only already knew his ultimate fate, but had accepted it.
Later Corax, distraught over the disaster on Isstvan V, arrived at the Emperor's palace and demanded audience with the Emperor. Diverting some of his attention to the strenuous task of maintaining the Golden Throne, the Emperor psychically imbued part of the secrets of creating Astartes into his son's mind. Thus, Corax was able to begin rebuilding the Raven Guard.
After five years of maintaining the stability of Magnus' webway breach on the Golden Throne, the Emperor began to exhibit physical fatigue. He finally began to show signs of exhaustion and his nose would bleed, even in the telepathic visions he sent to his Custodian Tribune Ra Endymion. After sensing the birth of the powerful Daemon Drach'nyen in the Warp the Emperor knew the war in the Webway was reaching its climax and the fate of mankind would soon be decided. He ordered the Sisters of Silence to gather a thousand psykers across the galaxy and sacrifice them to the Golden Throne. This allowed the Throne to be powered for a single day without the Emperor's presence, and he used that time to plunge into the Webway and rescue the retreating Imperial forces. After sweeping aside the Daemonic hordes he confronted Drach'nyen and sealed it into the body of Ra Endymion, telling him to run as far as he could into the depths of the Webway in order to keep humanity safe from its influence. Afterwards the Emperor was forced to seal the Webway portal on Terra by again becoming a prisoner to the Golden Throne. The Emperor lamented that his great work was ruined and maintained that now that the Webway Project had failed, humanity was ultimately doomed. Horus would be defeated by his hands, but someone else would take his place. To the shock of his Custodian Diocletian, the Emperor declared the Imperium ultimately doomed, be it in a year or ten thousand, and for the first time admitted he did not know what to do.[14a]
Shortly before the Siege of Terra, the Emperor appeared before the nine chosen champions of Malcador's Knights-Errant. The Master of Mankind stated that while his original Space Marines were built to wage war in the Material, these new chosen must build a new order to wage war against the immaterial. Their fight against Horus was over, but their mission to come would nonetheless be necessary for the survival of humanity. The Emperor revealed he was initially hesitant to fight against these forces directly, seeking instead to contain it. However Malcador was eventually able to convince him that direct action was needed. After telling them of their role, the Emperor bid them farewell as Malcador's confidant Ael Wyntor created a portal to Titan.
Siege of Terra
As Horus besieged the Sol System in the Materium, so did the Ruinous Powers assail the Imperium in the Immaterium. The Emperor alone held back the tides of the Warp from the Sol System. During these struggles, he often took the form of a prehistoric, weary, old man in a fur coat huddled over a dying fire. As Horus finally arrived in the Sol System he appeared to the Emperor as a feral wolf, goading the Emperor and declaring him a tyrant and liar. The Emperor refused to even respond to Horus in these exchanges, looking past him to instead announce his rejection of the Ruinous Powers and declaring their puppet as nothing. As the embers of his fire died, the shadows around him drew closer and closer. As Horus arrived directly over Terra, the fire finally died and Horus gloated that the only option left for his father was to run. In the early stages of the Siege of Terra the Emperor was confined to the Throne, maintaining a psychic barrier that kept Daemons from manifesting on Terra. The barrier was so strong that even the Daemon Primarchs were unable to penetrate it.[23b] The traitors were eventually able to overcome the barrier through a warp ritual involving the mass sacrifice of lives on Terra, though even then its remaining power kept the likes of Angron from being able to fly past the walls of the Imperial Palace.[23a]
During the Siege the Emperor deliberately allowed Magnus the Red to infiltrate the Imperial Palace. Deep inside the Imperial Dungeon a projection of the Emperor dubbed Revelation confronted Magnus and his men in the Hall of Victories. Revelation led them to the Throne Room, where Magnus came before the Emperor on the Golden Throne. Determined to go through with his vow to slay his father, Magnus obliterated the projection of Revelation and powered up his staff to deliver a killing blow to the Emperor upon the Golden Throne. However before he could carry through with the act he was blocked by Vulkan as his Thousand Sons engaged in battle with Vulkan's Draakward and Bjarki’s pack. The Emperor's eyes suddenly opened, and Magnus found himself floating through the ether with his father and witnessing the rise and fall of the galaxy's many empires. The Emperor showed Magnus a future where the Primarchs never turned against the Imperium and the last world in the galaxy was conquered in the name of mankind. In this future Magnus sat upon the Golden Throne to power the Imperial Webway, but his soul was in perpetual bliss as it drifted in the immaterium along the Emperor to discover the limits of cosmic knowledge. The Emperor stated that this future may yet happen, and Magnus could return to the loyalists side at the head of a new legion being prepared for him. Together, the Emperor and Magnus would expel the traitors from Terra and undertake the Great Scouring. However the price was steep, for the Emperor declared the Thousand Sons damned due to rampant flesh change. They could not follow Magnus back into the Emperor's embrace, and would need to be purged. This price was too much for Magnus to bear, and he again struck at the Emperor but found himself in battle with Vulkan, who eventually managed to chase the Crimson King from the Throne Room.
The End and the Death
Mere hours after Sanguinius made his heroic stand at the Eternity Gate and Rogal Dorn's own command center fell to traitor forces, Horus' mysteriously lowered the Void Shields to his own flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. Malcador soon told the Emperor of this development, finally rousing the Master of Mankind.[38a] The Emperor gathered His remaining loyal generals to Him: Sanguinius, Dorn, Vulkan, and Constantin Valdor and against all of their objections announced his plans to teleport to the Vengeful Spirit and end His treacherous son once and for all.[38b] However, Vulkan was to stay behind and oversee the failsafe on the Golden Throne, while Sanguinius would stay behind to lead the loyalist armies on Terra. However the Blood Angels Primarch refused to obey this order, confront his father as he donned His golden armour. Sanguinius finally told the Emperor of his prophetic death at Horus' hands and his intention to defy fate by defeating his traitorous brother instead. This was enough to move the Emperor to change His mind, as He had sought to change His own fate many times in the past.[38c] Unknown to the loyalists but already discovered by Horus, Guilliman's reinforcements were just 9 hours away.[38d]
Dubbing the assault Operation Anabasis, Horus used his abilities to scatter the attackers throughout the Vengeful Spirit. The Emperor and His Custodes appeared in a seemingly ordinary hangar until Horus used his dark powers to take control of many of the Companions. Blood flowing from their eyes and screaming at the effort to maintain control, dozens of the Emperor's own bodyguards attacked their liege-lord. The Emperor reluctant slew dozens of Custodes before the madness passed and He was able to cleanse the lingering taint from His companions. The Emperor and his Custodes then found themselves in the midst of Hell, with many of the warriors falling into daemonic traps until the Emperor unleashed the same psychic fire He had stolen from the Gods of Chaos to cleanse them. Horus revealed that he had held back the full measure of his strength in order to draw the Emperor in, but the Master of Mankind was undeterred by the madness unleashed on the Vengeful Spirit and announced that He was to bring death to Horus.[38e]
After the Emperor felt the true extent of Horus' power as He rushed to face him aboard the Vengeful Spirit, He realized that victory would be unlikely unless He empowered Himself greatly. Out of desperation, the Emperor drank from the Warp but on a scale previously unseen. Taking the form of a lightning-sheathed sphere of obsidian, the Emperor's power was such that He even unintentionally slew all of the Custodians around Him, turning them into little more than heavily burnt walking corpses. The Emperor proceeded to sweep across the madness of the Inevitable City, causing Daemons, the Lost and the Damned and even Traitor Space Marines to flee in panic before Him.[42a] Only his Custodian Proconsul Caecaltus Dusk survived the Emperor's presence, apparently due to an earlier blessing by Malcador.[42b]
By now, the Emperor was ascending into a full Chaos God, though He believed the action was necessary in order to kill Horus and save humanity. Malcador was distressed at sensing what his friend had become, believing He had gone too far.[42b] However it was then that the Emperor was confronted by Ollanius Persson, John Grammaticus, Leetu, and Garviel Loken. Persson confronted his own friend, talking him down from the abyss of corruption by reminding Him of His humanity. Shocked that He had encountered Persson for the first time in millennia at this specific place at this specific time, Persson convinced the Emperor to have faith and give up the power He had built up even if it meant gambling humanity's future in a battle He was likely not to win. This ultimately convinced the Emperor to shed the mantle of the evolving Dark King, causing a blast of power to sweep across both Terra and the Vengeful Spirit that banished much of the Warp-madness spread by the traitors.[42c][42d]
The Emperor then let out an announcement across the Vengeful Spirit for all remaining companions to come join Him in the final battle to kill Horus, a battle He was no longer certain to win. However according to Malcador, casting aside the power of the Dark King separated the Emperor from the last portion of his soul that contained compassion. Malcador hopes that one day, the Emperor may recover the fragment.[42e]
After a tragic battle, and though heartbroken at the loss of His favoured son and death of Sanguinius at his hands, the Emperor finally slew Horus. However, the struggle had left Him close to death. In this state He was found by Rogal Dorn. The dying Emperor dictated plans for the arcane life-support machine that would sustain His remaining cells for over ten thousand years, and he was subsequently interred in this altered version of the Golden Throne.
Enthroned within the life-sustaining Golden Throne, the Emperor's will has transcended his maimed body. The Emperor is now divorced from the day-to-day running of the Imperium; this is left to the Adeptus Terra who govern in his name.[Needs Citation]
Now, his will is interpreted and executed by the High Lords of Terra, his worship is regulated by the Ecclesiarchy, his law enforced by the Adeptus Arbites, his form guarded by the Adeptus Custodes, and his people protected from the horrors of the galaxy and from even themselves by the Inquisition. The Emperor is confined within the Golden Throne, vast biomechanical machinery forming the great Sanctum Imperialis, located deep within the continent-spanning complex on Terra known as the Imperial Palace. There the Emperor's physical form is sustained by carefully maintained machinery. Physically, the enthroned Emperor of Mankind is a ravaged corpse. The last surviving cells in his shattered body are sustained by the Golden Throne, providing an anchor for the Emperor's spirit, which extends across the entire Imperium. The Emperor and the Golden Throne continue to function through the daily sacrifice of thousands of Psykers. While his body is sustained, his will endures. His existence is said to be an unending torment, with his every thought enslaved to the task of ruling, guiding and protecting his race. Ultimately it is only his will to endure that allows him to survive, as he knows his death would lead to the destruction of the Imperium and leave mankind without the guidance it needs to survive.
Only through his power can the Astronomican beam its guiding light, allowing Imperial ships to navigate the Warp in relative safety. The Emperor is not just a beacon for space travel, however, but is said to continue to guide humanity through his Tarot, and through dreams and visions given to selected individuals. It is also popularly believed that he created the warp storm known as the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath during the Age of Apostasy, and that the Emperor's will holds Chaos at bay. Were it not for his unceasing struggle, the Chaos of the Warp would flood the material realm with madness and horror, causing untold destruction. In addition, the Emperor's presence on the Golden Throne keeps the ruptured Webway portal beneath the Imperial Palace in check. Should it again open, Terra would become flooded by Daemons. In addition to these already profound powers, the Emperor is capable of stopping time for undetermined lengths and guiding his servants through manipulation of his Tarot and sheer influence.
Shortly before his own death Konrad Curze spoke to a corpse-puppet of the Emperor he had created. Shockingly, the grotesque work of art began speaking back and shone with blinding light. The voice stated that Curze had acted as intended and like all the Primarchs had been built for a specific purpose, but Chaos had interfered with his plans in the end. At the same time, the voice scolded Curze for believing that fate was absolute and instead blamed the Primarch's own choices for what would soon befall him. The conversation sent Curze into a frenzy and he tore the corpse-puppet to pieces, and it is unknown if this was a mere hallucination or indeed the actual voice of the Emperor.
One of the few conversations between an Imperial subject and the immobilized Emperor occurred at the end of the 41st Millennium. Following the Terran Crusade, the reborn Roboute Guilliman stood before the Golden Throne and communed with the Emperor. The Primarch was disturbed by what had become of his father's mental state. He felt that the Emperor had lost all pretenses of humanity and gave off an overwhelming sense of coldness. The Emperor greeted Guilliman with interest, but as a creator would a long-lost tool, not as a father would with his son. Guilliman feared that the centuries of suffering had stripped away whatever warmth and humanity he once had. What exactly transpirted in the Throne room is unclear, with both Guilliman and Captain-General Trajann Valoris having no memory of what exactly transpired. Apparently, during their conversation the Emperor called Guilliman both a tool and his son and the last hope to save Mankind. He assaulted Guilliman's mind with an overload of information and dark truths of the Galaxy before going silent once more.[37a]
During the Plague Wars the Emperor would seemingly intervene through Militant-Apostolic Mathieu in order to both destroy a portion of the Cauldron of Nurgle on Iax as well as resurrect Guilliman, who had been slain by Mortarion via the disease known as the Godblight. Channeling his power through Guilliman, the Emperor unleashed a mighty blow through the Immaterium which damaged the Garden of Nurgle and the Plague God directly.[37b] Before dying Mathieu came to believe that the Great Rift was now empowering the Emperor, who was close to reawakening. Guilliman seemed to believe the Priest and began to dabble with Belisarius Cawl on ideas on how to bring back his father.[37c]
Two theories have been put forward concerning the possible rebirth of the Emperor. Note that at worst these theories could be considered complete fabrication brought about by Tzeentchian Cultists and the lies of Chaos, as the Inquisition has decreed.
The Star Child
A controversial belief amongst Imperial scholars, the Star Child Theory has two aspects: the first is that the Emperor's soul is currently forming as a new entity (the Star Child) in the Warp and that he will be reborn - a theory not dissimilar to the belief surrounding the potential Eldar god Ynnead- and the second is that the Emperor had children.[3d]
After the defeat of Horus, most of the Emperor's soul is said to have dispersed from his body, merging into the warp in much the same way as that of the shamans, so many millennia before. It is believed that the Emperor - while apparently designed and empowered by the shamans to live forever - also possesses their ability to reincarnate, and that this would be his eventual goal. Avoiding discovery by the Chaos powers, it is believed that the Emperor was able to plant the seed of his reincarnation, a potential new soul awaiting birth: The Star Child. However, it is also believed that this new soul cannot be born while the Emperor is still tied to the Golden Throne, no matter how tenuously.[3d]
Along with this, the Emperor is said to have had children. Although a man of unparalleled, god-like powers, the Emperor was still a man, and throughout the many millennia of his life on Terra had fathered many children. A few of their descendants had inherited some of the Emperor's power, including agelessness, and survive into the Age of the Imperium. They are known as Sensei. Sensei have a unique nature and relationship with the Warp which makes them invisible to psychic senses - even to those of the Emperor. The ultimate goal of the Sensei is to attain Apotheosis with the Star Child.[3d]
There is another possibility given for the Emperor's resurrection/rebirth. A hidden group that call themselves the Illuminati have learned from the Eldar's Black Library many truths of Chaos, as well as about the Sensei and the Fall of the Eldar. They realise the Emperor cannot survive in his current state forever, and eventually he will fail, and without the Emperor, Mankind will fall to Chaos like the Eldar. Such an event would create a fifth God of Chaos and create another Eye of Terror, one which would span the entire Imperium. They seek to prevent this by bringing about the rebirth of the Emperor.[3e]
This involves gathering together the Sensei, protecting them from the Inquisition, preparing them for what they claim is "the final war with Chaos." In truth they ultimately plan to sacrifice the Sensei to the Emperor, in the same way so many psykers have been consumed by the Emperor. The Emperor will be renewed, reborn as the Sensei-Emperor to again lead his race in person.[3e]
Before he was trapped atop the Golden Throne, the Emperor could appear to any individual however he wanted. Each person perceiving him differently. The Emperor has appeared as male or female, or neither. As an elderly man or a child. As a peasant, king, magician, and a fool. None has ever seen His true face.[38g]
- To most, and in most depictions of him, the Emperor appears as a giant of a man clad in golden armor with long brown hair, a square jaw, and a stern demeanor. He often has an angelic halo surrounding his head. This form was a Golden giant that was meant to appeal to the warrior instincts of the Primarchs and inspire the teeming masses of the Imperium to fight for Him. According to Malcador, the Emperor disliked this form and sought to abandon it upon leaving the Great Crusade.[38g]
- When he appeared to Ezekiel Sedayne, prior to the Unification Wars, he appears as a man in rich clothes. His hair was brown, long, and clean. The Emperor's face was both youthful and old. His eyes were placid brown and deeper than time. When speaking to Ezekiel, Ezekiel states that he looks different than when he appeared to the people. The Emperor states that he does change his appearance sometimes, but claimed that his appearance to Ezekiel was "truthful".
- When he speaks to Belisarius Cawl, through Ezekiel's memory, he appeared unremarkable. He had his hair tied back. The Emperor wore a scientist's lab coat, and that he was not tall, yet not short. He was handsome, but not outrageously so. He was slight, but not thin.
- During the Unification Wars on Terra, the Emperor appeared to Uriah Olathaire, the priest of the Church of the Lightning Stone. As first appearing as a tall man with a remarkably unremarkable face that was stern, but not unkind, and seemed at odds with his "martial bearing". His skin was leathery and tanned, his hair dark and pulled back into a short scalp-lock. Then presented himself as towering, with an ebony face, long dark hair, clad in his golden power armor, and radiating light bright enough to illuminate the darkened interior of the church.
- When Arkhan Land met the Emperor at one of His labs on Terra, during the Great Crusade, Arkhan saw the Emperor as a scientist, clad as any scientist might be clad, in a protective hazard suit suitable for work in sterile and hostile conditions, and a surgical mask. The Emperor's surgical gloves had minute circuitry on the fingertips which generated an aura of ultrasound. The gloves would transmit crude internal scans of the body of who he was touching to nearby cogitator screens.[14g]
- When Corvus Corax first met the Emperor, the Emperor appeared to be "unremarkable." His height and build were both average. He has dark hair, moderately tanned skin. His eyes were indistinct, a mixture of blue, green, grey, and brown; with a wisdom, kindness, and antiquity that reached into Corvus's soul. He was dressed in an unadorned white linen robe, and wearing a golden necklace, with a pendant depicting an eagle with outspread wings and a lightning bolt held in its talons.
- When Lion El'Jonson sees the Emperor, he appears as a hooded figure, armoured in emerald plate, inscrutable with gilt and filigree and shrouded in robes of gold, wreathed in obscuring light. The Lion feels that this appearance is the "truth".
- When he first appeared before Leman Russ, the Emperor apperead as a great warrior clad in cloaks and runes. He was fond of games and challenges and bested Russ in combat but failed in drinking and eating contests.
- When he first appeared before Vulkan, the Emperor took the form of a humble pale man in outlandish clothing, known as The Outlander.
- During the War in the Webway, when the Emperor appeared on the field of battle, he appeared as "one born in the wild lands of Ancient Eurasia". His skin was "a Terran blend of bronze and burnt umber". His eyes were described as darker than his skin. His hair darker than his other features. His hair was pulled back with a simple golden circlet. Clad in his golden armor, more ancient and advanced than even the Custodes' battle plate, a flowing red cloak, armed with his ornate bolter and his sword.[14e]
- Due to their Blank nature, the Sisters of Silence see none of the splendor of the Emperor. During the War Within the Webway the Sister of Silence Kaeria Casryn saw the Emperor for what he truly was: a simple man, no more or less, in perpetual agony upon the Golden Throne. His mouth open in a silent scream, the pain of his efforts seeming to age his ageless face. While he wore his golden armor, he had no psychic corona and no golden halo.[14d]
- The One True Armour
- The Emperor's Sword
- The Emperor's Lightning Claw
- The Emperor's Bolter[14f]
- The Emperor's Shield
- The Apollonian Spear (gifted to Constantin Valdor)
- The Dionysian Spear (gifted to Leman Russ)
Identities and Titles
- Neoth - Name the Emperor had given himself in ancient Terra's past. This is the name Erda knew him by.
- One who was Meek to inherit the Earth[38g]
- Master of the Lines - A title that he was known as before Unification Wars.[24a]
- Revelation - The name he took in his discussion with Uriah Olathaire.
- The Outlander - Title he took appearing before Vulkan
- The Emperor of Mankind - The title he created upon beginning to reunify humanity on the Great Crusade, taking the form of a Golden Giant.
- The God-Emperor of Mankind - After the Horus Heresy, the citizens of the Imperium came to worship him as a god.
- The Omnissiah - The Mechanicus believe him to be the physical avatar of the Machine God.
- The Allfather - The title the Space Wolves and their successor chapters know him as.
- The Anathema - The term by which the daemons of Chaos know him.
- The Dark King - The Emperor as a theoretical fifth god of Chaos.[42b]
A cryptic account of the Emperor's origins was written by Cripias, the final "Keeper of the Library Sanctus of Terra". This account was later deemed "heretical" and kept from being published. The account was passed down to each Keeper, starting from the First Keeper, Solomon.
In the beginning, the "First Age of Man", the Emperor was hidden. It was the Golden Age and the Emperor prepares Earth for mankind. The people that existed with the Emperor before Mankind were called the "Golden Race". The second group were called the "Stone Race". The Stone Race then built ships that took both races across the galaxy. The Golden Age ends in the 21st Millennium.
Until the 26th Millennium, also called the Dark Age of Technology, the Stone Men were busy creating many things, such as the "Iron Men", or robots. Soon after, the Stone Men and Iron Men fought amongst themselves. The Stone Men eventually defeated all of the Iron Men.
After this "victory" against the Iron Men, the Age of Strife comes and the Stone Men fight amongst themselves. After five thousand years of conflict, the Emperor finally emerges. He conquers and combines the race of men together, leading them. After creating the Space Marines, the Emperor crusades across the galaxy and reclaims Man's former glory. Soon after, the Horus Heresy occurs and the Emperor ascends.
Behind the scenes
The first mention of the Emperor is in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987), which was the very first WH40K book. In that book, he is described as the very first human psyker. His corpse-like condition and consequential confinement to life-support is described as the result of "the strain of his constant vigilance." Although physically paralyzed, the Emperor is still capable of communicating and issuing orders. The Master of the Inquistion reports directly to the Emperor and relays the Emperor's orders to the rest of the Inquisition.[2a]
More images of the Emperor of Mankind:
- 1: Warhammer 40,000 5th Edition Rulebook, [Needs Citation]
- 1a: p.I
- 2: Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, pgs. 135–138
- 2a: pg. 133-138
- 3: Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned, Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness:
- 4: Legion (Novel) by Dan Abnett, [Needs Citation]
- 5: Horus Heresy (Artbook Series): [Needs Citation]
- 6: Warhammer 40,000 Compendium, [Needs Citation]
- 7: Warhammer 40,000 3rd Edition Rulebook, [Needs Citation]
- 8: The Inquisition War by Ian Watson, [Needs Citation], pp. 224–228
- 9: The First Heretic (Novel), [Needs Citation], pp. 292
- 10: Thorian Faction Sourcebook (Saved archive page, dated July 2013, last accessed 9 September 2015), p. 4
- 11: Vengeful Spirit (Novel) Chapter 16
- 12: Deliverance Lost (Novel), [Needs Citation]
- 13: The Outcast Dead (Novel), [Needs Citation]
- 14: Master of Mankind (Novel)
- 15: War Zone Fenris: Wrath of Magnus — Echoes in Time
- 16: Collected Visions pp. 350–351
- 17: The Wolf of Ash and Fire (Short Story)
- 18: Dark Imperium (Novel) Chapter 22
- 19: Malcador: First Lord of the Imperium (Audio Drama)
- 20: The Buried Dagger (Novel) - Chapter 7
- 21: Eye of Terra (Anthology) cover
- 22: The Solar War (Novel) - Prologue & Epilogue
- 23: The Lost and the Damned (Novel)
- 24: Belisarius Cawl: The Great Work (Novel)
- 25: Deliverance Lost (Novel),[Needs Citation]
- 26: The Last Church (Short Story)
- 27: The Board is Set (Short Story)
- 28: Konrad Curze: The Night Haunter (Novel) Chapter 13
- 29: Valdor: Birth of the Imperium (Novel) Chapter 10
- 30: Saturnine (Novel) Part 2 Chapter 3
- 31: Horus Rising (Novel), Part Three, Chapter One
- 32: Nemesis (Novel) Chapter 2
- 33: Lion El'Jonson: Lord of the First (Novel), IMPERATOR SOMNIUM
- 34: The Fury of Magnus (Novella), Chapters 13-15
- 35: Alpharius: Head of the Hydra (Novel) - The Discovery
- 36: Mortis (Novel) - Chapter 16
- 37: Godblight (Novel)
- 38: The End and the Death: Volume I (Novel) cover
- 39: White Dwarf 117 (UK), pgs. 13-14
- 40: Index Astartes IV, pgs. 114-116 — Promethean Warriors: The Salamanders Space Marine Chapter
- 41: Warhammer Community: The End and the Death Volume III – The Final Cover Reveal (posted 9/8/2023) (last accessed 9/8/2023)
- 42: The End and the Death: Volume II (Novel)
|Deities of the Milky Way Galaxy|
|Chaos||Khorne • Malice • Nurgle • Slaanesh • Tzeentch|
|C'tan||Aza'gorod • Crimson God • Emberresh • Hsiagn'la • Iash'uddra • Kalugura • Llandu'gor • Mag'ladroth • Mephet'ran • N'phoran • Nyadra'zatha • Og'driada • Stardeath • The Sufferer • Thyssak'lha • Tsara'noga • Yggra'nya • Zarhulash • Zul'channec|
|Eldar||Core Pantheon||Asuryan • Cegorach • Gea • Hoec • Isha • Kaela Mensha Khaine • Kurnous • Lileath • Morai-Heg • Vaul • Ynnead|
|Dark Muses||Hekatii • Lhilitu • Qa'leh • Shaimesh • Vileth • Ynesth|
|Human||Aureus Nahor • Emperor of Mankind • Erlking • Feth • Morkai • Omnissiah • Mythrus • Star Child|
|Other||Dromlach • Dragon of Mars • Hive Mind • Goddess T'au'va • Gork • Gmork • Mork • Qah • Urgothon • Vawk|