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Space Marine Legion

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the unit of Space Marines. For other uses of Legion, see Legion (disambiguation).

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.



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]

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]

Organization of a Space Marine Legion[7b]

In 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]


The Legio Astartes, being far larger than current Space Marine Chapters, were organized along drastically different lines. At the head of the Legion was its Primarch Commander who oversaw the Legion's headquarters. Below this were the Chapters of the Legion, each of which was commanded by a Chapter 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, Battalions, Companies, and Squads a Legion would contain.[7b]

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 sadly mistaken as half of the known Legions revolted during the Horus Heresy.

The Twenty Space Marine Legions of the Great Crusade
Number Name Original name Primarch Homeworld Loyalty Unification / Early Crusade Heraldry Heresy Era Heraldry Post-Heresy Heraldry
I Dark Angels Angels of Death Lion El'Jonson Caliban Loyal
II Unknown - All records lost following the Horus Heresy.
III Emperor's Children ---- Fulgrim Chemos Traitor
IV Iron Warriors ---- Perturabo Olympia Traitor
IV Legion.jpg
V White Scars Star Hunters[23] Jaghatai Khan Mundus Planus Loyal
Alekh Daumas.jpg
VI Space Wolves The Rout[16c] Leman Russ Fenris Loyal
VI Legion.jpg
VII Imperial Fists ---- Rogal Dorn Terra[A] Loyal
IF VII Legion Vet.jpg
IF Tact Spt Legionary.jpg
VIII Night Lords ---- Konrad Curze Nostramo Traitor
VIII Legion.jpg
IX Blood Angels ---- Sanguinius Baal Loyal
X Iron Hands Storm Walkers Ferrus Manus Medusa Loyal
XI Unknown - All records lost following the Horus Heresy.
XII World Eaters War Hounds Angron Bodt Traitor
XIII Ultramarines War-Born[22] Roboute Guilliman Macragge Loyal
XIV Death Guard Dusk Raiders Mortarion Barbarus Traitor
XIV Legion.jpg
XV Thousand Sons ---- Magnus Prospero Traitor
XVI Sons of Horus Luna Wolves Horus Lupercal Cthonia Traitor
XVII Word Bearers Imperial Heralds Lorgar Aurelian Colchis Traitor
XVIII Salamanders Dragon Warriors[17] Vulkan Nocturne Loyal
XVIII Legion.jpg
XIX Raven Guard ---- Corvus Corax Deliverance Loyal
XIX Legion.jpg
XX Alpha Legion Ghost Legion[25] Alpharius Unknown Traitor
Alpha LegionPH.jpg
  • [A] De jure the homeworld of the Imperial Fists is Terra; but de facto it is Phalanx.

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 to Boros Gate it is mentioned 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 have 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.

Two Unknown Legions

Main article: 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]

Second Founding

Main article: 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.

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

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 pure technical standpoint, the Chaos Space Marine Legions, also known as 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.

Related Articles



Legiones Astartes Forces of the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy
Command PrimarchLegion MasterPraetorCenturionSpace Marine Command SquadChief ApothecaryForgemasterChief LibrarianHerald
Elite Troops Veteran SquadTerminator SquadDestroyer SquadMoritatCompany ChampionHonour GuardNullificator
Troops Tactical SquadAssault SquadBreacher Siege SquadSeeker SquadOutrider SquadSky Seeker SquadHussar SquadTactical Support SquadReconnaissance SquadHeavy Support SquadSky Hunter SquadDespoiler SquadNewbloods
Specialists Techmarine (Mortificator)ApothecaryChaplainLibrarian (Esoterist)Master of SignalsConsul (PraevianDelegatusWarmongerArmistosOpsequiariNullificator)Vigilator
Dreadnoughts ContemptorDeredeoCastaferrumVenerableMortisLeviathan
Armored Vehicles RhinoPredator (ExecutionerInfernus) • Land Raider (PhobosProteusAchilles) • SabreKratosTermite
Heavy Vehicles SpartanSicaran (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) • Primaris Lightning Strike FighterXiphon InterceptorCaestus Assault RamOrgus FlyerApisLotusWrathLightning CrowStormhawkCorsairDeathbirdSwordstrikeCastellanPythosHarbingerHawkwing

I - Deathwing (Companions) • Dreadwing (InteremptorsNaufragia) • Firewing (Enigmatii) • Ironwing (Forge-wrightsExcindio Class Robot) • RavenwingStormwingPaladinKnights CenobiumIII - KakophoniPalatine BladesPhoenix GuardIV - Iron CircleIron HavocStor-BezashkTyranthikosTyrant Siege TerminatorDodakathikThunderstrikeThunderburstWarsmithV - KeshigEbon KeshigGolden KeshigFalcon's ClawsKaraoghlanlarKyzaganSagyar MazanStormseerVI - Blood ClawsConsul-OpsequiariDeathswornFenrisian WolfGrey SlayerBlack CullRune PriestWolf GuardWolf PriestHrimthursarEldthursarVII - HuscarlsPhalanx WarderTemplar BrethrenVIII - AtramentarNight RaptorTerror SquadContekarReaverIX - Angel's TearsBurning EyesContemptor-IncaendiusCrimson PaladinsDawnbreakerSanguinary GuardX - GorgonIron FatherMedusan ImmortalMorlocksXII - DevourerRampagerRed ButchersTriariiBloodiedXIII - EvocatiFulmentarusLocutarusInvictarusXIV - DeathshroudGrave WardensPlague MarinesXV - Ammitara OccultCastellax-AcheaHidden OnesKhenetai OccultOsironScarab OccultXVI - JustaerinLuperciReaverXVII - Anakatis KulAshen CircleDark ApostleDiabolistGal VorbakMhara GalVakrah JalXVIII - FiredrakesPyre GuardPyroclastXIX - Dark FuryDarkwingMor DeythanRaptorShadow WardensWhispercutterXX - LernaeanHeadhunterOperativeSaboteur

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