Tomes of the Librarius – The Primarchs: Sanguinius part 1

Hello again 40k fans! Chris Morgan, Chief Librarian of the Forge the Narrative Podcast, is here again with the next weekly segment of Tomes of the Librarius. Also, check the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

Just as a reminder, in this series we will explore facets of the history and legends of the Grimdark. This is meant to be an easy summary and introduction geared towards new players or people unfamiliar with the setting, but should still be an interesting read or fun refresher for those already familiar. There’s so much detail in this lore that a bare summary seems so inadequate, but for new people this should be the right portion to get a feel for the history of the universe we enjoy our games in.

The diorama that started it all

Lucky for me (and maybe for you) I’m on a Horus Heresy binge, as the release of the new Sanguinius model has had me flying high with the angels since my eyes first were graced by his noble visage. That got me to thinking on how I had not done more of the history of the Primarchs since Guilliman. So, with that in mind, I will be taking a dive down the annals of ancient 40k history and telling the stories of the Primarchs who would come to shape the history of the galaxy. Sanguinius has a tragic story, and also a deeply noble one. It is tied to some of the earliest lore in the 40k universe, and for that reason has a special place in the hearts of many of the fans. For some it’s a place of hope, sacrifice, and honor. For others, its just a place to troll about his death (you know who you are). I covered the origins of the Primarchs in my Astartes 101 articles, so we’ll get started with Sanguinius’ origins after his separation from the emperor as an infant.

In the Beginning


Sanguinius’ pod was thrown from the warp and landed on the second moon of the planet Baal, called Baalfora by its residents. The irradiated wasteland of this death world was home to ravenous, flesh-eating mutants who preyed on the disparate, migratory tribes of what was left of a once flourishing human society. The largest of these on the moon was called “The People of Pure Blood” or  the”Blood” for short, and it was they who came across the infant angel. Opening his pod and beholding him, they were astounded to see a perfect infant unmarked by radiation, but were conflicted by the presence of two vestigial white wings. Some deemed him a mutant, and a debate was raised over whether the infant should be killed. In the end, mercy won out over murder and Sanguinius was taken in to be raised by the Blood tribespeople.
As with all primarchs, Sanguinius matured quickly. He grew at an astonishing rate in both body and mind. When he was scant more than a child, he slew a fire scorpion of the wastes – a mutated apex predator that spewed fire – with his bare hands. He quickly surpassed his teachers in combat and wisdom, and became a prized member of their caravan. It was not until the tribe came under assault from a horde of mutants that the Blood saw him in his wrathful aspect. He caused terrible destruction and showed no mercy to those who would threaten his people. After only a short span of years, he became the leader of the Blood, and led them on a mission to destroy the mutants plaguing the planet. He conquered and tamed Baalfora, and set to the task of bringing the world back to its former glory. It is not known yet how long it was between then and his reunion with his father, the Emperor, but when the  Master of Mankind landed on the world, he found Sanguinius and the strongest warriors of the Blood waiting to receive him with great honor. Sanguinius had a gift of foresight, and in his visions he had predicted where and when the Emperor would arrive. He pledged his loyalty immediately, and was made the head of the IXth Legiones Astartes who were created from his genetic code. Many of his people underwent the transformation into Adeptus Astartes, and he re-named his legion the Blood Angels.

The Crusade (Contains Some Information From the Horus Heresy Weekender 2019)

What little is known of the Blood Angels and the great crusade up to this point speaks only to their ferocity as warriors and loyalty to the emperor. Recently unveiled lore indicates that the IXth legion was known as the Eaters of the Dead before his coming, and that they were often sent alone into inhospitable systems to conquer in the name of the Emperor. Their gene-seed was specially tailored to raise mutated, irradiated, or otherwise unhealthy warriors to the ranks of the legion, and Sanguinius’ beatific genetic heritage would transform these broken and disheveled peoples into nigh-perfect physical specimens. In this way, the legion could replenish its ranks from an otherwise unclean or imperfect population, and continue semi-autonomously away from much support. This transformation came at a cost, as the transformation process was extremely arduous and had a high mortality rate. The trauma that they experienced during this process often left warriors with mental quirks and violent tendencies. A large portion developed psychic potential, making them extra dangerous. When reunited with Sanguinius, his gene-seed helped to temper their more wild tendencies and brought down the attrition rate, though it remained one of the most difficult transformations throughout all the legions. Sanguinius taught his warriors to temper their wrath through discipline in the arts, and soon their armor, weapons, ships, and fortresses were home to masterpieces of artwork. These, like Sanguinius himself, were not there to brag or boast, but to pursue a transcendent enlightenment and gain mastery over themselves through devotion to creation, even as they devoted their martial skills to destruction.

It was not long before the IXth legion gained a different reputation. They were used as close-quarters shock troops, and their tempered ferocity saw them win over and conquer many systems in the name of the Imperium. Sanguinius would brook no opposition, and he would not waste time debating rebellious or errant worlds. Upon arriving on a world, Sanguinius and his warriors would deploy in their majesty and splendor – red-golden gods of war bedecked in the highest forms of art known to man – and give the world one chance to join the Imperium peacefully. Many wars were averted as the disparate tribes of mankind were awed into submission by Sanguinius, and the rest were forced to capitulate. It was not long before the Blood Angels were recognized for their successes and became an honor guard for the Emperor himself during several campaigns. Sanguinius himself performed many feats of strength, including single-handedly destroying an Eldar Revenant titan.

Sanguinius’ presence inspired hope among his human army allies, and often jealousy among his own brothers. He and Horus were as close as brothers could be, instantly gravitating towards each other’s charisma and tactical acumen, and they fought together on many battlefields. Sanguinius was part of the coalition of three primarchs, also including Magnus and Jaghatai Khan, which was responsible for forming the Librarius among the legions. This lasted until the Edict of Nikea, which banned the use of psykers within the legions shortly after the Ullanor campaign. He was loved and respected by most of his brothers, and envied or feared by the rest. Dorn acknowledged him as a superlative warrior, Vulkan held him in awe for his angelic visage, Lorgar never doubted his loyalty, and even Kurze said he was the only one of his brothers he would never be able to kill. No other primarch carried the Emperor’s vision for humanity closer to heart than Sanguinius – a fact that Horus admitted after his wounding on Davin.  Even so, Sanguinius often had his own doubts. He was a walking symbol of faith in a secular empire, and that ferocity that brought fear to his enemies was a darkness in his heart that he was keenly aware of. He strove to overcome it as much as his sons did, and it is perhaps this constant war against the shadow within that gave him the strength of will and character to resist the trials that were coming…

Stay Tuned!

There’s a lot to say about Sanguinius, and I don’t have the space to say it all at once. Keep your eyes peeled for part two coming in two weeks as I take a week off to help Reece with the Las Vegas Open.


Captain Morgan

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About Chris Morgan

40K philosopher, LVO Judge, Chief Librarian of Forge the Narrative, Blood Angel enthusiast extraordinaire, and slayer of traitors, xenos, and heretics; I'd rather be playing 30k right now or neck-deep in a good book. Follow me on my FB page - Captain Morgan's Librarius

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