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he Horus Heresy was the first and most devastating civil war in Imperial history.

in M31 and lasting less than a decade, it divided and nearly destroyed the fledgling Imperium. It
marked the end of the Great Crusade and the encasing of the Emperor of Makind into
the Golden Throne.2


• 1 Horus's corruption

• 2 Swaying the Legions

• 3 Scouring of Isstvan III

• 4 Flight of the Eisenstein

• 5 Drop Site Massacre

• 6 The Siege of Terra and the aftermath of the Heresy

• 7 Post-Heresy

• 8 See also

• 9 Sources

Horus's corruption
The Horus Heresy truly began after Horus was wounded by the stolen Anathame on the moon
of Davin, a place that was cursed by the foulChaos God Nurgle. The wound caused by the
blade refused to heal, despite Horus' super-enhanced immune system or the efforts of the Sons
of Horus' best apothecaries. While ill, Horus was taken for healing by the Davinites.

During the rituals, Horus' spirit was transferred into the Warp where the
corrupted chaplain Erebus, disguised as the Warmaster's closest friend Hastur Sejanus,
showed him a terrible vision of the very future which his actions would bring about -
the Imperium as a repressive, violent and superstitious regime where the Emperor and some of
the Primarchs (but not Horus) were worshipped as divine beings by the fanatical and ignorant
masses of humanity. The Chaos Gods portrayed themselves as the victims of the Emperor's
psychic might who had no interest themselves in controlling the material world. Horus, already
having grown jealous and deeply resentful of his perceived poor treatment at the hands of his
father, the Emperor, and was one of many to be afraid of the concept of peace where all that they
had fought for was given to weak willed men whilst his legions were cast aside and left as
peacekeepers. Horus therefore proved all too willing to accept the Ruinous Powers' false visions
of an Emperor determined to make himself a god at Horus' expense.
But there was one thing no one had counted on: Horus's brother Magnus the Red, Primarch of
the Thousand Sons, had continued to study the forbidden arts of sorcery, and was not about to
let his brother fall to the powers of the Warp. The Cyclopean giant appeared within Horus's vision,
revealing the chaplain's identity and begging Horus not to give in to the temptations of Chaos.
Unfortunately, the Cyclopean Primarch's voice of reason was left unheard. Horus had decided
that if anyone deserved to be worshipped as a god it was he, and not the Emperor. He accepted
the offer of the Chaos Gods to join their cause and in return they healed his wound and granted
him the powers of the Warp. The Chaos Gods' pact with Horus was simple: "Give us the Emperor
and we will give you the galaxy".

Swaying the Legions

Renouncing his oath to the Emperor, Horus led his Legion into worship of the myriad Chaos
Gods. Horus's genius was revealed as he converted half of the Legions, along with many
regiments of the Imperial Army and several Titan Legions to his cause, revealing the Emperor to
be as Horus saw him - a man undeserving of the praise and recognition of the Human race.

Angron of the World Eaters, Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children and Mortarion of the Death
Guard were to be the first of the primarchs to side with the Warmaster. Horus found it easy
exploit the Primarchs' flaws - Angron's frenzied love of violence was a match for Khorne; Fulgrim
was corrupted by a daemon weapon of Slaanesh and its promise of unending perfection;
Mortarion, already a close friend of his brother's, was too easily persuaded, having been turned
long before the Heresy through the efforts of his first captain Calas Typhon. Erebus had already
vouched for the support of Lorgar and the Word Bearers, and with these legions at his side
Horus's plans began to come together.

Magnus, however, had yet to be dealt with. The Primarch was aware of his brother's fall, and
attempted to forewarn the Emperor of the impending betrayal. However, knowing that he would
have to find a means of quickly warning the Emperor, Magnus decided to use his sorcery to
deliver the message as an act of both desperation and vindication. The message penetrated the
psychic defences of the Imperial Palace onTerra, shattering all the psychic wards the Emperor
had placed on the Palace and destroying his secret project: a physic gate by which the Emperor
intended to invade the Webway and take battle to the Eldar. Having already outlawed the
Primarch's use of sorcery and refusing to believe that Horus, his most beloved and trusted son,
would betray him, the Emperor instead perceived the traitor to be Magnus and his Legion.

The Emperor ordered the Primarch Leman Russ to mobilize his Space Wolves Legion and take
Magnus into custody; Horus, however, persuaded his brother Russ that Magnus was a threat and
should not return to Terra alive. The Wolves of Fenris descended upon Prospero, destroying all
in their path. Magnus, betrayed, defeated and forsaken by his beloved father, retreated into the
Warp and pledged himself toTzeentch. The Thousand Sons had never planned to join Horus, but
the trap that the Changer of Ways had laid for the Red Sorcerer's legion led them to the
Warmaster's side regardless.

Of the other eventual traitors, Night Haunter was due to face disciplinary action from the
Emperor for his excessive bloodshed on Nostramo;Alpharius chose to join Horus after the
prophecy of an ancient cabal of aliens was revealed to him that Horus' victory would cause the
downfall of the Chaos powers; and Perturabo's cold nature and bitterness towards Rogal
Dorn made him an easy target for corruption.

Even with so many legions on his side, Horus was still aware that some of his brothers would
never join him. Three of the most loyal Primarchs,Lion El'Jonson of the Dark
Angels, Sanguinius of the Blood Angels, and Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines, were
sent on missions far from Terra. The Blood Angels were sent to the daemon-infested Signis
Cluster and the Ultramarines to Calth, where Kor Phaeron had amassed a large force of Word
Bearers and millions of Chaos cultists. Unbeknownst to the Lion, a rebellion was soon to occur
on his homeworld of Caliban.

The Imperial Fists and White Scars were too close to Terra to be contacted without raising
suspicion, though Horus believed (mistakenly) thatJaghatai Khan would ultimately take his side.
Shortly before the Dropsite Massacre, Horus also ordered Fulgrim to turn Ferrus Manus to their
cause, but the Phoenix underestimated the Gorgon's loyalty and barely escaped alive. Fulgrim
promised he would deliver Manus's head to Horus in recompense.

The remaining Legions - the Raven Guard, Salamanders, Iron Hands and Space Wolves -
remained staunchly loyal to the Emperor, though all but the Wolves would pay dearly for it in the
battles to come. Beyond the Legions, Horus had already swayed Adept Regulus with promises
of the STCs recovered during the war with the Auretian Technocracy, delivering Adeptus
Mechanicus support to the Warmaster's forces, and had corrupted a large portion of the Imperial
Guard and Navy.

Scouring of Isstvan III

Main article: Battle of Isstvan III

The first sign that Horus and his Legion had turned to Chaos was made evident when Horus virus
bombed the rebel world of Isstvan III. The Planetary Governor of Isstvan III had declared his
independence from the Imperium, and the Council of Terra charged Horus with the retaking of
that world. This order merely furthered Horus' plans. Although the four Legions under his direct
command had turned Traitor, there were still some Loyalist elements within the Sons of Horus,
World Eaters, and Death Guard; many of these were Terran Space Marines who had been
recruited before being reunited with their Primarchs. Horus, under the guise of his orders,
amassed his troops in the Isstvan System.

Horus had a plan by which he would destroy all Loyalist elements of the Legions at his command.
After a lengthy bombardment, Horus dispatched all Loyalist Marines down to the planet,
ostensibly to bringing it back into the Imperium. At the moment of victory, however, the Loyalist
Marines were betrayed: with a cold snarl of "Let the galaxy burn!, Horus ordered his ships to open
fire on Istvann III, and virus bombs began to rain down on the planet. However, some Marines
loyal to the Emperor had remained on board their ships, and as Isstvan III died, these soldiers
fought desperately to warn their brethren on the surface. Their sacrifice saved many Space
Marines, as they were able to take shelter before the virus bombs struck. The population of
Isstvan III received no such protection. Twelve billion people died almost immediately. The
psychic shock of so many simultaneous deaths shrieked through the Warp, alerting the Emperor
that something was terribly wrong, and informing the Chaos Gods that Horus was now theirs. A
contingent of Loyalists led by Captain Garro of the Death Guard escaped the fleet orbiting
Isstvan III aboard the damaged vessel called Eisenstein, and fled to Terra to warn the Emperor.

Angron, realizing that the virus bombs had not been fully effective against the Loyalist Marines,
flew into a rage and hurled himself at the planet with 50 Companies of Marines. Horus was
furious at Angron for delaying his plans, yet reluctantly reinforced him with troops from the Sons
of Horus, the Death Guard, and the Emperor's Children. On Isstvan III, the remaining Loyalists,
under the command of Saul Tarvitz, fought bravely against their own traitorous battle-brothers.
But their cause was doomed. Soon only a few hundred of them remained until, finally, Horus grew
unable to tolerate the delay and forced Angron to withdraw his forces, and ordered a systematic
orbital bombardment that killed Isstvan III's last brave survivors.

Flight of the Eisenstein

Main article: Eisenstein

The seventy Loyalists led by Captain Garro commandeered the Imperial frigate Eisenstein and
evading the forces of Horus, were able to escape from the Isstvan system into the Immaterium.
The Eisenstein was badly damaged during its escape from Isstvan III; all its astropaths were
dead, and its lone Navigator was mortally wounded. However, Garro managed to attract the
attention of passing Loyalist ships by setting the vessel's warp engines to self-destruct and
ejecting them from the ship. Rogal Dorn's Imperial Fists Legion had been becalmed in the Warp
with its fleet for some time, and his Navigators sensed the detonation of the Eisenstein's Warp
drives. Making an immediate course for the location of the ship's beacon, Dorn met with Garro,
who explained to him all that had happened with the Traitor Legions.

The remaining crew of the Eisenstein, now aboard Primarch Dorn's Fortress-Monastery,
the Phalanx, was able to reach Terra (after the destruction of the Eisenstein by Dorn's fleet to
ensure that no Chaos taint was left), allowing the loyal Marines to report the extent of the
atrocities that had occurred in the Isstvan system. It was said in later millennia that without this
warning, the Imperium would have faced even greater difficulties in responding to Horus' next
moves although his warning may have enabled Horus to enact the drop site massacre.

The fate of these seventy Marines is ultimately unknown. Some believe they continued to fight for
the Emperor until death claimed them, while others maintain that they were treated as if they
were their traitorous brethren, either imprisoned and left to rot, or executed. Others believe that
Captain Garro, shocked by the terrible betrayal, became an Apothecary, vowing never to kill
again. Others believe some of these men formed the nucleus of the elite Space Marines Chapter
later known as the Grey Knights, for Malcador the Sigillite had presented eight of the survivors
to the Emperor before his departure. These men were gifted psykers, came from the ranks of the
Legions that had turned Traitor, and yet maintained both an unbreakable faith in the Emperor and
talent for resisting the temptations of Chaos.

Drop Site Massacre

After ridding himself of all suspected Loyalist members within the three Legions under his direct
command, Horus chose Isstvan V as his command post and prepared a trap for his former
brothers and their Legions.

The Emperor ordered the deployment of seven full Space Marine Legions against him, agonizing
over the betrayal of his most beloved son: their orders were to take Horus and the Primarchs with
him into custody, then bring them back to Terra to explain their actions. Unknown to the Emperor
of Mankind, four of the deployed Primarchs and their Legions had already turned against him,
forming a "fifth column" which would strike against the Loyalists at the most decisive moment.

The initial naval operations seemed to go well for the Loyalist side. The Imperial Navy managed
gain orbit over Isstvan V and the Legions proceeded with their planetary deployment.

Three whole Legions took part in the first wave of landings, under the overall command of Ferrus
Manus and besides his own Legion, the Iron Hands, included the Salamanders lead by Vulkan,
and the Raven Guard under Corax. Horus had foreknowledge of the location of the drop site,
and his forces mauled the loyalist Legions during their landings, keeping them pinned down at the
drop site and unable to advance on the foe.
Ferrus Manus engaged Fulgrim, only to die at his hands, while the Emperor's Children butchered
the veterans of the Iron Hands. The Loyalists retreated towards the apparent safety of their
brothers of the second wave, hoping to gain reinforcements: what happened next took them
completely by surprise and went down in infamy.

The four Legions of the second wave - The Night Lords of Konrad Curze, the Iron
Warriors of Perturabo, the Word Bearers of Lorgar, and the Alpha Legion of Alpharius -
already seduced to the cause of Horus, instead of attacking the rebels, opened fire, slaughtering
their unsuspecting brothers in a orgy of carnage widely known as the Istvaan V Drop Site

A phrase from the Warmaster himself can easily resume the whole battle: "When the traitor's
hand strikes, it strikes with the strength of a Legion."

After the battle, the head of Ferrus Manus was delivered by Fulgrim to Horus as a trophy. It is
widely believed that Horus planned the battle with aid from the tactical genius, Alpharius.

Only five Loyalist Space Marines, bearing the gene-seed of their fallen brothers and carrying the
critically wounded Corax, managed to escape. They fled back to the Raven Guard's homeworld,
Deliverance to tend to their wounds and alert the Emperor what had happened.

In a single stroke, Horus had destroyed three entire loyalist Legions. A loyal Primarch had fallen
in battle, another was severely wounded, and a third was missing in action. Vulkan was missing,
and how he ultimately managed to survive and to escape is quite unclear. It was disastrous news
for the Emperor and the Imperium.

During the developments at Prospero the rebellion would be further be strengthened by Magnus
the Red and his Legion, the Thousand Sons, servants of Tzeentch. With nine Legions and
much of the Adeptus Mechanicus behind him, Horus quickly struck towards Terra.2

The Siege of Terra and the aftermath of the Heresy

The Traitor Marines laid waste to their former allies' holdings along the way to Terra. Throughout
the Imperium, rebel and loyal forces battled viciously. Horus and his forces destroyed Luna's
naval bases, and within 30 days had destroyed the Terran system's defences. Terra was
bombarded and devastated, and eventually, the corrupted Marines landed on Terra, experiencing
heavy resistance from the forces defending Terra (among these loyalists were Blood Angels,
Imperial Fists and White Scars). The loyalists were outnumbered, and the battle for Terra turned
into a siege of the Imperial Palace. By the 55th day the rebels had reached the walls of the Inner
Palace. Horus, who had remained in orbit aboard his battle barge, was at that point warned that
the rest of the loyalist Legions were returning to Terra and would arrive in hours. The
Ultramarines were pushing their way to Terra, along with the Space Wolves and the Dark Angels.
If this were to happen, Horus' advantage in numbers would be diminished. He let down the force
field protecting his battle barge, to lure the Emperor in a final battle that would decide the war.

The Emperor saw this opportunity and teleported to the Warmaster's battle barge with two of
his Primarchs, Terminator armoured Marines of their Legion as well as members of the

Upon teleporting, the Emperor's forces were scattered through the ship, and were forced to battle
their way to find each other. Sanguinius found Horus first. Horus was at the height of his powers;
augmented by the blessings of all four Chaos Gods, and Sanguinius was slain. Horus stood over
the Primarch's body as the Emperor found the Warmaster. After a long and grueling battle, the
Emperor was successful in defeating Horus, but he himself was mortally wounded. The Emperor
survived long enough to be transferred to the Golden Throne - a strange mechanism that would
allow him to survive forever in a state of undeath.

After the death of Horus the heresy broke apart, and the remaining Chaos Space Marines
retreated into the Eye of Terror, from which they periodically launch Black Crusades into the
Imperium led by Abaddon the Despoiler, who is rumoured to be the clone-son of Horus.

The Horus Heresy was followed by the Great Scouring.