|This article is about the Space Marine Primarchs. For other uses of Primarchs, see Primarchs (disambiguation).|
The Primarchs were the twenty genetically-engineered "sons" of the Emperor of Mankind, and the genetic "fathers" of the Space Marine Legions. The Emperor used his own DNA in their creation, and they were designed to be far superior to the average human: immensely larger, stronger, hardier, faster, and more intelligent. They were also incredibly charismatic, as their main role was to be generals and leaders of the Imperial military. Each had their own purpose and specialty, allowing them to serve in specific functions that the Emperor's forces would need in reconquering the galaxy.
Originally, Primarch was simply a martial rank of the Thunder Warriors. Each of the twenty legions of Thunder Warriors was led by a "Primarch". However these warriors were no different than those they led. Instead, they were officers of superlative skill promoted to the position by the Emperor. One of the known Thunder Warriors Primarch's was Ushotan.
Creation of the Primarchs
The Primarchs were created in a secret underground laboratory on Terra under the tightest security. According to Ingethel the Ascended, the Primarchs were created by the Emperor with the aid of forbidden sciences and arcane lore derived from the Warp. Eldrad Ulthran also states that the Emperor utilized dark powers to construct the Primarchs. It is speculated the Primarchs were imbued with energies and knowledge that the Emperor gained in a Warp Portal on Molech. The genetic material of the powerful Perpetual Erda were used in the creation of the Primarch's and she viewed them as her "sons".[38a] Perturabo would later estimate his own birth to be 792.M30, perhaps giving a date for the Primarch's creation.
However, the Gods of Chaos somehow managed to spirit them away just prior to their maturation with a great Warp vortex and it is speculated that they also managed to tamper with the infant Primarchs. The scattering of the Primarchs may have been the result of a Causal Loop created when Argel Tal and his men were sent back in time inside the Eye of Terror to the Emperor's laboratory, as they were convinced by Ingethel the Ascended to destroy the Gellar Fields protecting the infants from the touch of the Chaos Gods. Almost immediately after the Gellar Field generators were disabled, the Primarch's were sucked into a Warp vortex. Other sources state that the Perpetual Erda was involved in the theft of the Primarch's and created the Warp Vortex that scattered them due to her anger over the fate the Emperor planned for her "children".[38a]. Several Primarchs including Konrad Curze, Roboute Guilliman, and even Sanguinius all came to believe that the scattering of the Primarchs and their upbringing on distant worlds had all been engineered by the Emperor.
Scattered across the galaxy, beyond the Emperor's reach, and all landed on different worlds vastly separated from their Father. The Emperor could sense that the infant Primarchs were alive, but was unable to reach them. Therefore he used their previously collected DNA samples to create the Space Marines. The genetic material of each one of the Primarchs was used to found a single Space Marine Legion, twenty in total. The new homeworlds of the infant Primarchs and subsequent experiences on those worlds would influence and mold them to a large extent. There they quickly grew to adulthood and often rose to power, ruling, leading, and helping the inhabitants. As the Emperor found them, he was generally pleased by their actions, and quickly gave them the leadership of their respective legion.
While Arkhan Land aided the Emperor in investigating the nature of Angron and his Butcher's Nails, the Emperor explained that he had no emotional attachment to the Primarchs because they were tools and weapons. When asked why the Emperor allowed the Primarchs to call him father although he felt no attachment, the Emperor described the Pinnochio story and it is natural for a creation to refer to a creator as father.
Traditional accounts state that the first Primarch to be found was Horus, who became the Emperor's favourite. However a dubious account given by Alpharius states he was the first, and landed on Terra itself following the scattering.[40a] Most Primarchs somehow recognized the Emperor on sight, and immediately pledged their allegiance on the spot. A few, (Leman Russ, Ferrus Manus and Vulkan) only followed him after being bested in contests. Angron refused, and was abducted from his homeworld, something he never really accepted. The last to be found was Alpharius.
According to Malcador the Sigilite, both the Emperor and himself deliberately agitated the Primarchs and sought to turn them against one another, with the resulting war purging certain unmanageable Primarchs and their respective Space Marine Legions just as they had the earlier Thunder Warriors. This would leave humanity, not bio-engineered superhumans, as the rulers of the galaxy. However, the Ruinious Powers intervened before their plan could be fully formulated, leading to disaster in the Horus Heresy. This account may be either a partial or total lie, as Malcador himself seems to keep its validity ambiguous.
At the end of the Great Crusade Warmaster Horus fell to Chaos, and eight of his fellow Primarchs followed him against the Emperor, resulting in a full-scale civil war known as the Horus Heresy. Each Primarch chose his side, loyalists against traitors, leading their legions against their former comrades.
List of Primarchs
|Legion Number||Name||Sobriquet||Order of Discovery ||Homeworld||Legion||Allegiance||Fate||Portrait|
|I||Lion El'Jonson||The Lion||11||Caliban||Dark Angels||Loyal||Alive.
Disappeared in the destruction of Caliban as the world was blasted apart by a Warp Storm and a bombardment from his ships in orbit. He sleeps deep within the Rock, the biggest piece of Caliban remaining and current home base of the Dark Angels[1,2]. Only the Emperor and the Watchers in the Dark know of this secret.[1-p14]
|II||Deleted from Imperial records, authorisation unknown.||3 [Note]||Deleted from Imperial records, authorisation unknown.|
|III||Fulgrim||The Phoenician||5||Chemos||Emperor's Children||Traitor||Daemon Prince.|
|IV||Perturabo||The Lord of Iron||12||Olympia||Iron Warriors||Traitor||Daemon Prince.|
|V||Jaghatai Khan||The Great Khan, The Warhawk||15||Mundus Planus||White Scars||Loyal||Unknown.
Disappeared while pursuing the Dark Eldar into a Webway portal after they had managed to raid Mundus Planus. There are rumours that he fights there still, lost in the twisting paths of the Webway. After nine thousand years it seems highly unlikely, but not impossible.
|VI||Leman Russ||The Wolf King, The Great Wolf||2||Fenris||Space Wolves||Loyal||Unknown.
Disappeared in the Eye of Terror. The Space Wolves hold a legend that says Russ went on a quest to find a means to cure the Emperor. His final words before his disappearance is that he would return for the 'Wolftime' (the final battle). It is also said that Leman Russ led the 13th Company into the Eye of Terror and ordered them to hunt down the Traitor Legions which had fled to the Eye of Terror, particularly the Thousand Sons.
|VII||Rogal Dorn||The Emperor's Champion, The Praetorian of Terra||7||Inwit||Imperial Fists||Loyal||Unknown.
Missing and presumed dead after attacking a Chaos fleet with a vastly outnumbered force . Dorn went missing on board the Despoiler Class Battleship Sword of Sacrilege after leading a desperate attack on its bridge. Only his hand was recovered which is kept in stasis by his chapter .
|VIII||Konrad Curze||The Night Haunter, The Lord of the Night||16||Nostramo||Night Lords||Traitor||Dead.|
|IX||Sanguinius||The Great Angel||10||Baal||Blood Angels||Loyal||Dead.
Slain by Horus after refusing to join him during the Battle of Terra.
|X||Ferrus Manus||The Gorgon||4||Medusa||Iron Hands||Loyal||Dead.|
|XI||Deleted from Imperial records, authorisation unknown.||19 [Note]||Deleted from Imperial records, authorisation unknown.|
|XII||Angron||The Red Angel, The Lord of the Red Sands||17||Nuceria||World Eaters||Traitor||Daemon Prince.
Rose to the rank of Daemon prince of Khorne.
|XIII||Roboute Guilliman||The Battle King, The Avenging Son||8||Macragge||Ultramarines||Loyal||Alive.
Struck down with an envenomed blade by Fulgrim, His body was perfectly preserved in a stasis field at the heart of the Temple of Correction for the next ten thousand years. Shortly after the Thirteenth Black Crusade in the closing days of M41, Guilliman was revived by an Imperial-Eldar expedition and has now declared himself Lord Commander of the Imperium.
|XIV||Mortarion||The Death Lord, The Pale King, Reaper of Men[34a]||13||Barbarus||Death Guard||Traitor||Daemon Prince.|
|XV||Magnus the Red||The Crimson King, The Red Cyclops||9||Prospero||Thousand Sons||Traitor||Daemon Prince.|
|XVI||Horus Lupercal||The Warmaster, The First Primarch, The Lupercal[38b]||1 (or 2, with Alpharius supposedly being the first in this dubious account[40a])||Cthonia||Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus||Traitor||Dead.
Killed by the Emperor of Mankind, and his soul was obliterated. His corpse was completely destroyed by Abaddon the Despoiler, who also took over his place as overall leader of the Chaos Space Marines.
|XVII||Lorgar Aurelian||The Urizen, The Golden One||14||Colchis||Word Bearers||Traitor||Daemon Prince.|
|XVIII||Vulkan||The Lord of Drakes||6||Nocturne||Salamanders||Loyal||Unknown.
Reappeared during the War of the Beast, only to disappear and be presumed dead by the Imperium at large. The position of Chapter Master, filled by the Captain of the First Company, is considered to be a regency as the Salamanders believe that Vulkan will one day return and lead them on a great crusade against Chaos.
|XIX||Corvus Corax||The Raven-Lord||18||Deliverance||Raven Guard||Loyal||Alive.
Riddled with guilt over his work that accelerated the growth of the gene-seed organs, but deteriorated the Gene-seed causing many to become hulking monsters, Corax administered euthanasia to all of them and then locked himself away within his sanctum, the Raven's Tower. Exactly one year later he left his tower, haggard and gaunt, and took a small shuttle craft with the words Never more. He was last monitored setting a course for the Eye of Terror. He has since become mutated by the Warp into a creature of darkness and shadow, engaged in a quest of vengeance against the Daemon Primarchs.
|XX||Alpharius Omegon||The Last Primarch, The Lord of Serpents||20 (or 1 with Alpharius and 20 with Omegon in this dubious account)[40a]||Unknown||Alpha Legion||Traitor||Alpharius: Dead; Omegon: Unknown
Alpharius was apparently slain by Rogal Dorn in the Battle of Pluto during the Horus Heresy. Omegon assumed his mantle thereafter. Omegon (under Alpharius's name) was reported slain by Roboute Guilliman on Eskrador. The source which reported his death may have been manipulated, however. Due to the report's unreliability, Omegon may not have been killed..
- Note: While the official Primarch rediscovery order given by Laurie Goulding does not distinguish between the Second and Eleventh Primarchs, the novel Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix confirms that the Second was one of the first eight Primarchs rediscovered.
Two unknown Primarchs
Almost nothing is known about the two unknown primarchs.
References to the second and eleventh Primarchs are made in the short story, The Lighting Tower, in which Rogal Dorn describes the plinths on which their statues stand should be vacant and says that 'no one ever spoke of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?' Also in The First Heretic, Lorgar makes several references saying that the Emperor ordered them to be forgotten. During the time five Word Bearer captains spent being shown secrets of the galaxy by the daemon Ingethel they are shown the Emperor's gene-labs where he is creating the Primarchs and the moment that they were scattered by Chaos. During their time wandering the labs as insubstantial ghosts undetectable as long as they don't touch anything they speak of the two lost legions, mentioning how they were erased from Imperial records and how Roboute Guilliman's Ultramarines legion mysteriously swelled in numbers each time one of the two legions was "erased." The implication seems clear that at least part of the fighting force of the "lost" legions was entrusted to Roboute Guilliman and incorporated into the Ultramarines.
Note: If this is true then perhaps entire chapters descended from the original Ultramarines legion are in fact part of the gene-seed of the two lost legions. At the time of the Heresy remarks made by the five Word Bearers captains Argel Tal, Xaphen, Torgal, Malnor and Dagotal suggest that the fate of the lost legions is relatively common knowledge though kept hushed up. In the intervening ten millennia between the Heresy and the current age of the 41st millennium it is likely this information was forgotten. It is an interesting side-note that the lost legions were numbers two and eleven. Two plus eleven equals thirteen-the number of the Ultramarines legion.
The traitor Primarchs in this story are covered with a shroud, so the fate of the second and eleventh is undetermined. They may have been found and befell a tragedy as it implies they were spoken about previously.
In the novel Prospero Burns by Dan Abnett, it is suggested that Leman Russ and his Space Wolves legion had been used by the Emperor in the past to cull/pacify the two legions and that the Emperor had created the Wolves for just an event, utilizing their barbaric, untamed nature as a sort of insurance policy for use against other Space Marine Legions. This is further demonstrated by the unleashing of the Wolves on the Thousand Sons Legion in the same novel.
There have been several instances of cloned Primarchs, the result being a mentally unstable, confused, and sometimes deformed creature. The first cloned primarch was Ferrus Manus, created by Fabius Bile at the demand of a mad Fulgrim. Fulgrim attempted to again convert Ferrus to his cause before killing him once more, a process that was repeated multiple times with new clones.
Perhaps the most notable example of a cloned Primarch was after the Horus Heresy, where Fabius Bile again cloned a son of the Emperor, this time Horus from DNA provided by the Warmaster's corpse. Confused and senile, this clone of Horus didn't initially recognize many of his closest comrades such as Ezekyle Abaddon and proved a poor imitation of the real Lupercal. Abaddon killed the clone, and in its dying moments it recognized who the First Captain was. During the same period, Bile attempted to clone all twenty Primarch's from gathered samples, the result being a hall of pods with monstrosities and deformed adolescent creatures. All of these abominations were killed by Abaddon and his forces.
Sometime after The Shattering, Bile discovered one of his clones of Fulgrim managed to survive underneath the rubble of Harmony. Under Bile's care the clone rapidly matured and was "pure", retaining none of Fulgrim's corruption. However when Bile saw that the clone still retained all of Fulgrim's arrogance and was doomed to go down the same path as the original, he traded him to Trazyn the Infinite in exchange for a lost Emperor's Children Gene-Seed stock.
Gregor Eisenhorn refers to the "Primarch" of the White Consuls Space Marine Chapter, when stating that he made it a point to commend a heroic Sergeant who saved his life, at the cost of the Sergeant's own, on Thracian Primaris. Since the White Consuls are a Successor Chapter, and because there are no living or active primarchs within the Imperium, he seems to be using the term "Primarch" interchangeably with that of Chapter Master.
- 1: Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition)[Needs Citation]
- 2: Angels Of Darkness (Novel) [Needs Citation]
- 3: Nightbringer (Novel)[Needs Citation]
- 4: Hell in a Bottle (Short Story)
- 5: Malleus (Novel), Chapter Seven, page 89
- 6: Codex Imperialis (Background Book), section previewed in White Dwarf 166 (UK)
- 7: Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition)[Needs Citation]
- 8: Index Astartes I[Needs Citation]
- 9: False Gods (Novel), Chapters 15-16
- 10: Renegades by Andy Chambers, Jervis Johnson & Rick Priestley[Needs Citation]
- 11: Space Marine (Novel) [Needs Citation]
- 12: The Lightning Tower (Short Story)
- 13: Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 8
- 14: The First Heretic (Novel), Chapter 17
- 15: The Primarchs (Anthology): Cover Illustration
- 16: Horus Rising (Novel), Part Two, Chapter Seven, pg. 333
- 17: The First Expedition Forums, provided by Black Library Publishing editor Laurie Goulding (saved archive page, dated December 2016, last accessed via Wayback Machine 16 May 2021)
- 18: Prospero Burns (Novel) [Needs Citation]
- 19: Fulgrim (Novel), Chapter 14
- 20: Vengeful Spirit (Novel) [Needs Citation]
- 21: Imperfect (Short Story) in Death and Defiance (Anthology)
- 22: Talon of Horus (Novel), Chapter 19
- 23: Pharos (Novel), Chapter 24
- 24: Praetorian of Dorn (Novel), Epilogue
- 25: Master of Mankind (Novel), Chapter 7
- 26: Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia (Novel), Chapter 7
- 27: Malcador: First Lord of the Imperium (Audio Drama)
- 28: Index Astartes II
- 29: Index Astartes III
- 30: Index Astartes IV
- 31: The Horus Heresy Book Three - Extermination, The Imperial Fists
- 32: The Horus Heresy Book Seven - Inferno
- 33: Sons of the Emperor (Anthology) - Shadows of the Past
- 34: The Buried Dagger (Novel), Chapter 1
- 35: Valdor: Birth of the Imperium (Novel), Chapter 5
- 36: Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition),[Needs Citation]
- 37: Codex: Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 36 - Imperial Fists
- 38: Saturnine (Novel) Chapter 5
- 39: Fabius Bile: Clonelord (Novel), Chapters 24-25
- 40: Alpharius: Head of the Hydra (Novel)
- 41: Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix (Novel), Chapter 1
|I - Lion El'Jonson · II - Unknown · III - Fulgrim · IV - Perturabo · V - Jaghatai Khan · VI - Leman Russ · VII - Rogal Dorn · VIII - Konrad Curze · IX - Sanguinius · X - Ferrus Manus · XI - Unknown · XII - Angron · XIII - Roboute Guilliman · XIV - Mortarion · XV - Magnus · XVI - Horus · XVII - Lorgar · XVIII - Vulkan · XIX - Corvus Corax · XX - Alpharius Omegon|