40k Lore – The Rise of The Emperor of Mankind

By Rob Baer | March 26th, 2016 | Categories: Lore, Warhammer 40k

emperor Golden_Throne-Imperial_Webway

How did it all begin? Come see how the Emperor of Mankind rose to power from the far, far reaches of history.

Source: Our friends at Lexicanum


Little is known about the majority of the Emperor’s life; of who he was and what he did before he emerged as the great Emperor of Mankind, only the Emperor himself remembers. A few pieces of information have come to light, from various different sources, and present some small parts of a coherent whole; however, their reliability is often disputed, especially as the Emperor’s tale changes somewhat with each retelling.

The oldest information given on the Emperor’s origin relates that he was born to mortal parents in the 8th Millennium BC manifesting his powers as a youth. One account of the Emperor’s origin goes so far as to say that he had mortal brothers and sisters and details the time and location of his birthplace – eight thousand years before the first millennium, in the region of Terra then known as Central Anatolia. This account also claims that the Emperor’s birth, while a natural process, was actually the result of a scheme created by the wisest and most powerful of living humans at that time; the conclave of Shamans. These men, termed ‘shamans’ by their society, were powerful psykers with great experience of the Warp. Finding their souls – and those of humanity – endangered by the growing perils of the Warp-gods, these psykers decided to pool their power into one human, a being they called ‘the New Man’. Already having gained the power to reincarnate themselves (upon death, the shamans’ souls would transfer to the Warp, accumulating power enough to reincarnate as human) the shamans entered a suicide-pact. Thousands of them poisoned themselves and sped their souls to the warp at the same time. Presumably pooling their soul-energy and using their reincarnation ability, they brought about the birth of their New Man – the Emperor – one year later.

This New Man, once he had learned of his special nature, proceeded to haunt the history of humanity as a ghost; watching, waiting and occasionally influencing.Living secretly amongst mankind, he developed his abilities until his psychic might allowed him to gain knowledge of not only his own world, but of the dangers beyond it. Aware then of the vast predations awaiting humanity, the being that would become known as the Emperor resolved to guide and protect humanity. Eventually, over ten thousand years before his current circumstances, he took his struggle out into the open, primarily because of the ever-increasing number of psykers, whose very existence endangered their species.


During the Dark Age of Technology Alivia Sureka traveled with the man who would become the Emperor to the planet Molech, where there was a gateway into the realm of Chaos. The Emperor entered the Gateway, and there made a bargain with the Dark Gods and emerged wielding a measure of their power, including the ability to create the Primarchs. However for some reason, the Emperor did not keep his end of the bargain to spread Chaos to humanity, and he became the anathema of Ruinous Powers. The Emperor was able to clone the energies he was imbued with, giving them to his Primarchs.

Emperor of Mankind

Rise of the Emperor

Whatever the truth, the man who would later become known as the Emperor first appears in Imperial records as one of the many warlords struggling for control of Terra during the latter part of the Age of Strife. The Emperor undertook a series of campaigns against all the other warlords on the planet that would later become termed as the Unification Wars. During these wars the Emperor employed several military formations – such as the Thunder Warriors and Geno Five-Two Chiliad – that consisted of genetically altered/engineered warriors, who played a significant role in his eventual victory. With this victory, the planet and population of Terra were at last unified under one rule; that of the Emperor. With this achievement behind him, the Emperor then set in motion his plans to take his purpose of uniting and guarding mankind out into the stars, to unify with the bastions of humanity scattered across the galaxy. This undertaking would become known as the Great Crusade.


The Emperor during the Great Crusade.

The Emperor prepared extensively for the Great Crusade; he created the special astrotelepath corps to link his eventual dominion together, and caused the creation of the Astronomican, a supremely powerful signal device powered by the Emperor’s own psychic might that would allow simplified and safer travel through the Warp. Chief amongst his designs, however, were the creation of superhuman warriors, the logical extension of the gene-troopers already under his command.

He had first undertaken the Primarch Project, the creation of twenty infants from his own genetic code, designed to mature into powerful generals for his armies. However, this plan went awry with the intervention of the Chaos Powers. While accounts vary as to exactly what happened, the end of the tale is always the same; the Primarchs were cast into the Warp and thought lost.

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In the aftermath of these events, the Emperor evolved a new plan. Using genetic material which had been derived from the Primarchs, he created a caste of warriors which would possess some of the qualities of the Primarchs. These successors to the genetically-altered warriors of the Unification Era were the Legiones Astartes, the Space Marines of the First Founding.

The Emperor led the Space Marines into the reconquest of the Sol System, driving Xenos enslavers from the moons of Saturn and Jupiter and most importantly, achieving peace and eventual integration with the Mechanicum of Mars. This alliance provided the Emperor with much of the means and materiel to extend his crusade into the stars.

With the final abatement of the Warp storms began the Great Crusade. The Emperor’s forces rediscovered human worlds, cast out alien oppressors, and claimed new territory aplenty. Perhaps most importantly, the Emperor, leading his crusade, rediscovered his lost sons, the Primarchs. Scattered throughout space, the infants were found one-by-one, over a period of many decades, and reunited with their father and their kin. All were placed in command of the Astartes Legions created from their respective gene-seed and played their part in forging their father’s Imperium


The Emperor and Horus fight together during the Battle of Gorro

First amongst the Primarchs was Horus, first discovered and first honoured. Some great length of time into the Great Crusade, the Emperor decided to return to Terra and placed Horus in charge of the military advancement of his Imperium in his stead. Granting him the title of Warmaster, the Emperor declared that the time had come for his sons to show him what great leaders they were. Turning his back on direct military interventions, the Emperor then created the Council of Terra, the Imperial Tithe and expanded the civil governing bodies of the Imperium, before retiring in seclusion beneath the Imperial Palace to begin work upon the Golden Throne.

Find our more about the Emperor of Mankind

About the Author: Rob Baer

Virginia Restless, Miniature Painter & Single Father to 3 Cats. I blame LEGOs. There was something about those little-colored blocks that started it all... Twitter @catdaddymbg
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