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Jaghatai Khan

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Jaghatai Khan

"We remained true. They can never have this, not if they burn all we ever built and scorn us through the dancing flames. You hear me? We remained true"[6a]

Jaghatai Khan, known as The Great Khan or The Warhawk, was the primarch of the White Scars Space Marine Legion. Known for his secluded and fierce nature, the Khan was commonly overlooked and seen as a barbarian but in truth was a highly cultured individual.[4] Most of the records about him are from the White Scars, and as such can be subject to variety and unreliability.[1] The Chaos emissary to Lorgar called him the Warrior.[5]


Young Jaghatai Khan[14c]


It is said that Khan landed on a planet in the Segmentum Pacificus named (by the Imperium), Mundus Planus, or as the native population called it, Chogoris. It is a fertile world with wide, open, green plains and tall white mountains and blue seas. At the time of the Great Crusade, the people had developed to a black powder stage. A census shows that the dominant empire was a well organised aristocracy which had conquered most of the planet with well equipped and highly disciplined armies, maintaining armoured horsemen and tight blocks of infantry. Their leader was the Palatine, and he won all of his battles with his great army.[1]

To the west of the Palatine's empire was the Empty Quarter, a barren grassland with little resources. As such, it was never invaded. It was home to wandering tribes of vicious horsemen who fought each other for their ancestral lands. The Palatine would sometimes lead forces in to capture slaves or merely to hunt the tribesmen for fun. Khan's legacy began here. He was found by Ong Khan, leader of a small tribe, who saw the Primarch as a gift from the gods. It is said he had a fire in his eyes, the sign of a great warrior. He was hated by the other tribes because of his ability to see beyond the constant warfare on the steppes.[1]

It is said the most influential moment in his life was the slaying of his father by the rival Kurayed tribe. Khan, even as a young child, was the greatest warrior of the tribe and gathered troops to avenge the death of his father. They moved on the Kurayed tribe and razed it to the ground, killing every man, woman and child in a killing frenzy. Khan took the head of the enemy tribe leader and mounted it on his tent. This is what shaped him into a man of fierce honour, loyalty and ruthlessness. From then on he swore to end the fighting, unite all the people of the steppes and bring an end to brother fighting brother. He fought hundreds of battles against other tribes and defeated hunting packs sent by Palatine. Each tribe they conquered was absorbed into the Talaskars and he made military service mandatory while splitting tribes up and merging them with others to remove tribal differences. His warriors were fiercely loyal to him and he promoted from the ranks based on merit and ability.

Ten summers later as the tribe moved to their winter settlements, the Primarch was travelling on a mountainside with a group of his followers. A vast avalanche pushed him and his group back down the mountain, killing the normal men. Jaghatai survived, but could not get back up the mountain in time before the tribe moved on. Khan was caught by one of the Palatine's hunting band. All that returned of that band was one mutilated rider with the head of the son of Palatine (who had accompanied the hunting band) and a note saying that the people of the steppes were not his toys any more.[1]

Jaghatai Khan battles Orks

When the snows cleared, an enraged Palatine gathered a massive army and determined to march west to wipe the tribes from the face of the planet. He had however underestimated the power and ability of Khan and brought his usual highly disciplined army of heavily armoured warriors. This proved to be his downfall as they could not catch the lightly armoured tribesmen. The constant rain of arrows from the tribesmen took their toll on the tight ranks of warriors. Eventually the tribesmen defeated the army of Palatine, who escaped back to his capital with a select few bodyguards. The rest of the army was slaughtered, almost to the last man. After the battle, the tribal elders gathered and announced that Jaghatai Khan was now Great Khan of the whole land.[1] It was during this time that Jaghatai met comrades who would serve with him for centuries to come such as Qin Xa, Hasik, and Targutai Yesugei.[4b]

Khan now began the long process of conquering the rest of the planet. He gave cities two choices: surrender or be wiped out. Most surrendered, but many were destroyed, utterly wiped from the face of the planet. Eventually they came to the palace of Palatine, where he demanded the head of Palatine on a spike. His request was obliged and he adorned his tent with his greatest conquest. In twenty years he had conquered the largest empire in the world's history. He now had the problems of ruling the empire, not something he had originally wanted. His people had no wish to rule these new lands, only to carry on living in the old ways. The people dispersed back to a tribal existence and Khan ruled over them all with his generals by his side.[1]

Six months later, the Emperor arrived and Khan knew at once that this man could fulfill his dream to unite all of the stars above them in one mighty empire. In front of all of his generals, he dropped to one knee and pledged his service to the Emperor. He was given command of the fifth legion of Space Marines. Upon taking command of his new Legion, known by this point as the Star Hunters, Jaghatai sought to assimilate the new mostly Terran troops into Chogorian culture and tactics while his new recruits from his homeworld were being planned. The Legion's tactics were completely overhauled to emphasize little but pure speed and maneuver. After the battle against the Nephilim on Hoadh, the Star Hunters became the White Scars.[9]

Jaghatai Khan gained a fierce reputation during the Great Crusade and particularly the Ullanor Crusade, but mostly kept to himself save friendships with Horus and Magnus the Red.[4a] Conversely, he became detested by Primarchs such as Fulgrim.[6b]

Horus Heresy

Choosing a Side

Jaghatai Khan

Despite the fact that Horus felt that Khan was the most likely to join him over all remaining loyalist Primarchs, Jaghatai in fact never intended to switch allegiances and stayed true to his father. However he did receive conflicting Astropathic messages as to what had transpired in the Isstvan System, and decided to initially hold back his forces under he could determine the true nature of things. When Rogal Dorn sent a plea for all remaining loyal Astartes forces to make their way to Terra, Khan followed, reluctantly leaving the nearby Space Wolves to fend for themselves against the Alpha Legion while also ignoring calls by Horus to attack his brother Leman Russ. The Khan most of all sought answers for what could have led to this bloodshed before he would take any side in the conflict.[4] However for a time the White Scars became bogged down against Orks and Warp Storms in the Chondax System as part of an elaborate trap by the Alpha Legion. Jaghatai eventually managed to break the Alpha Legion blockade and made his way to the source of all of these troubles to investigate it for himself: Prospero.[4]

At Prospero, the Khan and his men found no clear answers or Space Wolves as had been reported, only ruins and the ghosts of slain Thousand Sons. Eventually however the Khan confronted a projection of Magnus the Red. Magnus implored his brother and former friend to finally choose a side in the rebellion and discussed what both hoped to gain from the Great Crusade, but in the end the Khan shattered the shade with his sword. Shortly after, Mortarion, Primarch of the Death Guard, also appeared on Prospero and tried to convince his brother to join with them. Jaghatai refused yet another offer, stating that while the Emperor is a tyrant Horus had become a slave to the Warp and had attempted to manipulate him to his own ends. This time, the Khan's choice came to a duel. The two Primarchs battled fairly evenly, though Jaghatai was faster and Mortarion had greater endurance. Eventually when the White Scars and Death Guard fleets began to clash in space, Mortarion withdrew. Meanwhile in space the failure in Mortarion's plan became apparent. During his time on Prospero the Khan was faced with an attempted pro-Horus coup by two of his own commanders, Hasik Noyan-Khan and Torghun Khan. It was through the efforts on Shiban Khan that it failed.[4]

Jaghatai Khan battles a Keeper of Secrets during the Horus Heresy


For the next four years, Jaghatai had his Scars wage a brutal attrition hit-and-run campaign against the traitor lines. But with the road to Terra blocked by enemy fleets and Warp Storms, he could not reach the Emperor. Following the loss of his close friend and subordinate Qin Xa in the Battle of the Kalium Gate, Jaghatai became determined to forge a path home where he believed his destiny lay. Upon finding the Dark Glass artifact, the White Scars were cornered by their pursuers, and as Jaghatai prepared to settle his score with Mortarion in the face of certain doom, Targutai Yesugei sacrificed himself to the device to open a portal into the Webway. Refusing to allow Yesugei's sacrifice be for nothing, the Khan chose escape over honor and fled from Mortarion. Once inside the Webway, Jagahati's ship Lance of Heaven was boarded by Daemons and the Khan slew the Keeper of Secrets Manushya-Rakshasi. Thanks to the efforts of Revuel Arvida, the White Scars fleet was able to navigate the Webway and reappear over Terra.[6] On Terra, Jaghatai Khan met with Rogal Dorn, Leman Russ, Sanguinius, and Malcador the Sigillite to discuss their war strategy. The Khan disapproved of Dorn's defensive approach to the war, and urged a swift attack on Horus' forces. He agreed to a degree with Leman Russ, who was preparing to leave Terra and face Horus aboard the Vengeful Spirit directly.[8]

Jaghatai Khan along with Sanguinius later appeared at the Battle of Beta-Garmon, though over a month late due to difficult Warp travel. The Khan immediately took to organizing hit-and-run strikes throughout the Beta-Garmon warzone. However the loyalists were ultimately outmaneuvered by Horus, and Sanguinius and the Khan agreed that Dorn's gambit at Beta-Garmon had reached its limit and it was time to return to Terra.[10] During the final phase of the Solar War Jaghatai dispatched his Scars to above and below the orbital disc of the Sol System in an attempt to counter flanking assaults by the traitors. During the early portion of the battle for Sol, he expressed his belief that Horus had failed and that they had already bought enough time to allow for Roboute Guilliman to arrive with reinforcements.[11]

Siege of Terra

During the Siege of Terra, Jaghatai Khan was initially forbidden from venturing outside the walls by Rogal Dorn, something The Khan refused to abide by. Jaghatai in particular resented abandoning the large amounts of Imperial Army conscripts outside the Palace to their fate, as well as the lack of a proactive defensive strategy.[12a] Later during the first Traitor Astartes assaults upon the outermost trenches around the Palace Jaghatai led a White Scars Jetbike charge from the Eternity Wall. They swept through the traitor ranks, with Jaghatai slaying over 40 Death Guard personally. However he was eventually forced from his bike and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of traitor Astartes, being wounded by a Warp-tainted blade and becoming ill for the first time in his life. Surrounded, the Khan may have died had he not been rescued by Sanguinius, who pulled his brother back to a waiting aircraft and withdrew back into the Palace. The Khan's raid had other purposes however, uncovering intelligence that the Dark Mechanicum were constructing siege engines around the Palace.[12b] Following the fall of Lion's Gate, the situation for the loyalists worsened drastically. During a panicked command meeting, Jaghatai Khan flew into a rage when he heard General Saul Niborran and Militant Colonel Clement Brohn bemoaning the hopelessness of the situation. The Khan ejected the two from the Bhab Bastion, something Dorn later regretted and saw as unnecessary.[13]

Not wanting to be bound to Dorn's purely defensive strategy, the Khan lobbied for a rapid assault to retake Lion's Gate. Dorn allowed Jaghatai a degree of autonomy in an attempt to control him during the battle. During the battle for the Colossi Gate the Khan led a 300-strong Jetbike assault against Death Guard besiegers before quickly turning around and withdrawing back to their defenses.[13a] Alongside Blood Angels Captain Raldoron, Custodes Captain-General Constantin Valdor, and Marshal Aldana Agathe, Jaghatai succeeded in holding the Colossi gate against a Death Guard, Thousand Sons, and Daemonic assault.[13b]

Jaghatai Khan engages Mortarion and the Death Guard[14d]

After traitor forces penetrated the Mercury and Exultant Walls, the loyalist war effort seemed doomed. However it was then that Jaghatai Khan announced his intent to retake the Lion's Gate Spaceport to not only slow the flow of traitor reinforcements on the planet but also allow for Roboute Guilliman to easily land his own forces once he arrived. An exhausted Rogal Dorn did not protest, and the Khan led a massive assault of the White Scars and Terran First Armoured alongside the Sky Fortress.[14a] During the height of the fighting, Jaghatai Khan again came to blows with his brother Mortarion. Faced with Mortarion's new Daemonic endurance and strength, the Khan was brutally beaten down and nearly defenseless. However he was able to find a weakness in the Death Lord with his pride. Jaghatai Khan scolded Mortarion for being weak and giving into the powers of the Warp, while he himself had resisted the temptations of Chaos and remained true to the Emperor. Mortarion flew into a rage, which the Khan took advantage of to launch a second wave of dizzying attacks that overwhelmed the Primarch. In the end the badly wounded Jaghatai Khan was impaled on the blade of Mortarion's scythe, but simply pulled his body along its length to get face-to-face with the Death Guard Primarch. The loyalist Primarch decapitated Mortarion, who was banished into the Warp in a massive explosion similar to that of a Vortex Weapon. Later, the Khan's nearly dead body was discovered by Ilya Ravallion and Jangsai Khan who sought to take him to Malcador.[14b]

Artwork depicting the disappearance of Jagahtai Khan[17]

By all mortal standards, the Khan was dead. Nonetheless, Malcador used his psychic powers to try and heal the Primarch. He thought he had succeeded, before noticing that it was the Emperor Himself who had done it. Khan would live, though it would take a long time for him to awake.[16]

Post Heresy

After the Heresy, Khan went on to lead the White Scars in the Great Scouring. During the campaign to conqueror the Yasan Sector, Khan came into conflict with both traitors and Dark Eldar raiders. During the Battle of Corusil V against a mighty Dark Eldar Lord, it was reported that Khan was lost within the Webway during the pursuit of the Xenos.[7]


  • "Even his brother Primarchs understand little of him. His prowess with the blade earns him their respect even as his waywardness causes them concern. Guilliman has never trusted him. Russ is exasperated by him. Lorgar despises him for an untutored savage. Only Horus sees him for what he truly is. They are kindred souls, those two: warrior archetypes, bound by shared codes of martial honour and impatient with the heavy fetters of empire."Chris Wraight on Jaghatai Khan[2]


During the Heresy, Jaghatai Khan is seen wielding a Talwar-shaped Power Sword and wearing a helm that resembled a snarling beast.[4] His more famous wargear consisted of the White Tiger Dao, Wildfire Panoply, Archaeotech Pistol known as Storm's Voice, and Sojutsu Pattern Voidbike


Jaghatai Khan miniature[15]


Jaghatai Khan's background and history is strongly reminiscent of Genghis Khan and how he united the warring Mongolian tribes and led them to conquer an empire which stretched from the eastern coast of Asia to Europe. Like Jaghatai Khan, the Mongolians made use of fast, hit and run strikes from horseback to outmanoeuvre heavier armoured soldiers.

Chagatai was also the name of one of Genghis Khan's sons.