File:Black templar codex.gif

In the game Warhammer 40,000, the Black Templars are a Second Founding chapter derived from the Imperial Fists and their Primarch, Rogal Dorn. Their origin can be traced back to the Imperial Fists’ defence of Holy Terra. Since this time, the Black Templars have been on the longest crusade the Imperium has ever known to prove their loyalty to the Emperor.


The Defence of Terra

At the Siege of Terra, many Champions of Chaos arose from the Traitor Space Marine ranks. During this time, the Primarch of the Imperial Fists, Rogal Dorn, chose Sigismund to fulfil the role of Emperor's Champion. Brother Sigismund was given the best armour and weapons, swearing a holy duty to seek out and destroy the foul champions of Chaos. He did so by challenging over two dozen of the enemy leaders to single combat and banishing them back into the Immaterium.

At the end of the Horus Heresy, each of the Space Marine Legions were broken down into organisations known as Chapters, each composed of one thousand men, as part of a plan to spread the power of the Imperial armed forces so that one man could not bring to bear the influence that Warmaster Horus had.

Rogal Dorn, as Primarch of the Legion responsible for the defence of the Emperor's homeworld, Terra, initially refused to have his Legion broken down. Dorn fought with Guilliman over the issue, calling the Ultramarines' Primarch a coward, and Guilliman accused Dorn of heresy. Leman Russ (Space Wolves) and Vulkan (Salamanders) joined with Dorn while Jaghatai Khan (White Scars) and Corax (Raven Guard) joined Guilliman on the issue. It was only after the attack on the Imperial Fist cruiser "Terrible Angel" by the Imperial Navy and the threat of renewed civil war between his Legion and the newly-formed Chapters that persuaded him to relent [1].

The Second Founding

The Imperial Fists were split into three Chapters during the Second Founding.[2] The younger warriors became the Crimson Fists, while Dorn's chosen warriors remained the Imperial Fists.

The third Chapter was the Black Templars. Sigismund took with him the most zealous of the Imperial Fist brethren and those that shared his fervour took on the black and white panoply of Sigismund’s armour, then embarked on a crusade to prove their loyalty to the Emperor. Promoted to the rank of High Marshal, Sigismund swore an oath “to prove his loyalty, never resting in the prosecution of his duties against the enemies of the Emperor.” It is an oath that every succeeding High Marshal has renewed, resulting in the longest Space Marine crusade in the history of the Imperium. It has smashed through the stars for over 10,000 years and came to the fore during the Wars for Armageddon.[1]


Template:Infobox Warhammer 40,000 Chapters The Black Templars have no home world, instead opting to live in their Crusade fleets. They are ever vigilant, and are always ready for battle. They do establish Chapter Keeps on every world they conquer or reclaim, to both provide a training base for new recruits and to act as staging posts for Crusade fleets.

Each Crusade Fleet is overseen by a Marshal, while the High Marshal (currently High Marshal Helbrecht) travels between Crusades on his personal starship, the battle barge Eternal Crusader. There are usually at least three Crusades operating at any one time, although at one stage there were 14 known to the Imperium (during the "Treachery of Dalmark"), each Crusade ranging in size from a hundred Marines and their support to several standard Codex companies[1].

It is said that only the High Marshal has any idea of the Black Templars' full numbers, but it is rumoured by few that they number close to six thousand Marines[1]. That would make them larger than some of the original Legions, and means the Black Templars are one of only three Chapters (the others being the Space Wolves and the Grey Knights) thought to have more than the one thousand Marines standard in the Codex Astartes.

Such a force united together would be unstoppable. The potential size of the Black Templars has resulted in close scrutiny by some in the Inquisition. Each chapter was only supposed to be about 1,000 marines strong, so no one man held enough power to start another rebellion. However, the Chapter's history of zealous loyalty to the Emperor and the inability for anyone to find evidence supporting claims of standing troop numbers has spared the Black Templars from further revelation of their true numbers[3]. However, this has not prevented the Inquisition from trying to reveal the hidden numbers of the Black Templars.

The larger Crusades are broken down into Fighting Companies, each led by a Sword Brethren member possessing the honorific ‘Castellan’. Over the larger crusades, the High Marshal will personally lead it (such as High Marshal Helbrecht during the Armageddon Crusade). Since the individual squads tend to form and disband on an ad-hoc basis, most fight together out of familiarity and comradeship more than any imposed organization. Rough squads form with five to ten Initiates (fully-fledged Black Templars) with no more than an equal number of Neophytes (Black Templars in training). These squads have no sergeants, because the experienced members are quickly elevated to the rank of Sword Brethren[1] .


Since the Black Templars have no homeworld, all of their recruiting is done via the Chapter Keeps. Recruits are selected following the normal processes of trial and testing, but after a certain stage of their genetic modification they are sent to a Crusade fleet. Then they are 'apprenticed' to a full Battle Brother (known as an Initiate), under whom they complete their training. It is because of this one-on-one training that the Black Templars have no standing scout force.

It is the responsibility of the Initiate to train his Neophyte recruit in the ways of war and the Chapter, often through example. During this time, the Neophyte will act as a servant to his mentor, and undergo the remainder of the processes required to make him a full Space Marine. This practice reflects the medieval tradition of achieving knighthood through a squireship under a knight. Should the Initiate be killed before the Neophyte has completed his training, he will be assigned to another battle brother for the remainder of his training. If the Neophyte perishes, the Initiate will receive another Neophyte if one is available. In some instances, were the Neophyte is young still, or the bond between the Initiate and pupil is strong, and the Neophyte meets his end, the battle brother will swear a death oath to avenge the student, or die trying.

Sword Brethren

File:Sword brethren.gif

Equivalent to a standard Chapter’s First Company, the greatest warriors of a crusade are inducted into the Marshal’s household[1] . Known as the Sword Brethren, they are no longer required to train Neophytes and they will receive additional training, particularly in the use of Tactical Dreadnought armour, or Terminator Armour. After completion of this training, Sword Brethren will use Terminator armour whenever available, usually selecting close combat weapons, where all Black Templars excel.

Like most Black Templars, Sword Brethren will fight with others out of familiarity rather than organised squads, and they will always be found in the thickest of the fighting.

If the Marshal is either killed or promoted to the position of High Marshal, one of the Sword Brethren will take his place. The one who receives this honour is decided by ritual combat. The winner earns the right to become a Marshal upon the approval of the High Marshal; there has only been one case of the High Marshal withholding his approval (the Gervahr Repeal of M36).

Sword Brethren often wear a cream colored cloak and have red trim on their black pauldrons to signify their status.

File:Emperors champion.gif

The Emperor’s Champion

Continuing in the tradition of Sigismund, an Emperor’s Champion is selected on the eve of a battle. Before a battle, one Initiate will experience a vision of the Emperor, and report to the Chaplains. They will anoint him, and gift him with the finest weapons and armour available, known as the Black Sword and the Armour of Faith. These may vary from fighting company to fighting company.

In battle, it is his duty to seek out enemy champions and leaders, and challenge them to single combat. It is considered a bad omen if the Emperor’s Champion falls in battle, and every effort must be made to secure his body, weapon and armour.

Because of their high status and being a great moral symbol, every single enemy of the Black Templars seek the bodies of the fallen champions to act as a terror weapon, in addition to gaining some powerful wargear.

Before battle, the Emperor's Champion leads the Templars in renewing one of the four Vows, each one adding a different game effect as it instills the Black Templars with righteous fury. Those vows are: "Suffer Not The Unclean To Live," "Uphold The Honour Of The Emperor," "Abhor The Witch, Destroy The Witch," and "Accept Any Challenge, No Matter The Odds" [3].

Crusader-pattern Land Raider

Main article: Land Raider Crusader

The Crusader variant of the Land Raider was developed by the Black Templars during the Jerulas Crusade, to aid them in the numerous sieges required to reclaim the hive world.

The Crusader is a line-breaking tank, built and armed to plough into the enemy formation and disgorge its larger-than-normal troop cargo directly into close combat. The Crusader is armed with side sponson "hurricane bolters" as well as a hull mounted assault cannon and a multi-melta. By replacing the side sponson lascannons of the original Land Raider design with the bolters, the Crusader has given up some of its anti-armour capability in exchange for a significant increase in its troop carrying capacity.

As word of the designs successes spread, many Chapters pressured the Techpriests of Mars into releasing construction schematics of the Crusader. Eventually the design was officially recognized, but this was seen as a mere formality; over three quarters of the Chapters had already put Crusader-pattern Land Raiders into effective use.

Combat Doctrine

The Black Templars have continued in the style of their first High Marshal, preferring close combat to ranged warfare. This is further emphasised by the fanaticism of Black Templars Initiates, whose righteous anger makes them impulsive and headstrong.

When making war, the Crusade will focus on two main tactics. The first is orbital assault; where the Crusade will use drop pods and Thunderhawks to perform a mass-landing in the wake of a heavy orbital bombardment. If resistance is still strong after this, the Templars will land their heavy armour and launch an armoured spearhead against the weakest link in the enemy's defensive line.

As part of their dedication to the Emperor and their Crusade, the Black Templars swear fell oaths of faith and protection. Before a battle, it is considered customary to renew one of these oaths, the particular vow serving as a focus on the particular aspect of their duties considered to be necessary to ensure success.

Due to the fact that the Black Templars have such a hate and distrust for the Warp and anything within it, Black Templars will not allow Librarians or any beings with psychic powers fight amongst their ranks or in an alliance with them, excluding the Grey Knights.


"No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear!" Also, Black Templars - as with other chapters - are known to shout varied demoralizing litanies and phrases at their enemies.


The armour of a Black Templar is predominantly black (a sign that like Sigismund and the black-armoured Chaplains of other chapters, they serve the emperor directly and with faith).

The shoulder pads depicting the chapter symbol of the Black Templars, the Maltese Cross, with colour dependent on their rank and armor. The Cross depicted on the shoulder pads of the Black Templars comes from the Knights Hospitallers of the Crusades. The actual application of the colourscheme varies from Marine to Marine, and individual Marines usually decorate their armour with devotional imagery, litanies, and purity (and crusader) seals. The Black Templars are noted to wrap chains or bindings around their arms to represent the fact that they will not give up their weapons until the battle is done.

Techmarines and tank crews have a predominantly red armour (the colour of the Machine God); however, they still display their chapter colours so as to not anger the machine spirits of their tanks and armour.

Notable Characters


High Marshal Helbrecht

Current High Marshal. Helbrecht wields the Sword of the High Marshals, which was forged from the remnants of the sword of Rogal Dorn. According to legend, Dorn broke the sword across his knee after the Horus Heresy for failing to defend the Emperor[3]. In addition to being High Marshal, Helbrecht is the greatest naval commander in the Adeptus Astartes, and assumed command of all Space Marine warships during the Third War for Armageddon. Together with Admiral Parol of the Imperial Navy, Helbrecht held and eventually repulsed the numerically superior Ork fleet. Helbrecht was last seen departing Armageddon with Commissar Yarrick, hunting down the hulk thought to be commanded by the Beast of Armageddon, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka[4].

Helbretch is equipped with Artificer armour, the Sword of the High Marshals (which is a special master-crafted power sword), a combi-meltagun (bolter with underslung meltagun), and an Iron Halo. He uses these weapons to aid his command and further his Crusades against the Orks.

Castellan Draco

Draco first rose to prominence as part of Marshal Ludolddus' Sword Brethren during the bitter Vinculus Crusade in which he fought a renegade Inquisitor Lord Vinculus. He was badly wounded after the battle and his body was reconstructed with bionics. He was awarded the rank of Castellan and was given a relic suit of the Chapter's finest armour for his valour. Draco was further recognised when he was presented with the former Inquisitor's blade as a mark of gratitude from the Ordo Hereticus. Draco is a special edition miniature available for the Black Templars. Rules for Castellan Draco can be found in White Dwarf (US) 313.


Chaplain Grimaldus, Hero of Helsreach

Veteran of the Third Armageddon War. During the Battle for Hive Helsreach, Grimaldus led the defense of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant, which had stood since Armageddon's colonization. The battle became so heated that the building itself collapsed around them. It was believed that all had perished in the building until Grimaldus, bloody but unbroken, climbed out of the rubble bearing three of the temple's artifacts - a column from its Major Altar, the Banner of the Emperor Victorious, and holy water from the Stoup of Elucidation. Apothecaries who examined him later were amazed that Grimaldus had survived, much less found the strength to climb from the ruins. When the war ended, the citizens of Hive Helsreach honored him with the title of "Hero of Helsreach"[3].

In Game Terms

The 'character' of the Black Templars is drawn from the medieval Crusades of the 11th to 13th centuries, and the history concerning the Order of the Knights Templar. One of their special weapons, the Holy Orb of Antioch, is a reference to Monty Python's Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, which itself is a reference to items discovered by real crusaders at Antioch (such as the "Holy Spear of Antioch").

Codex: Black Templars was also a unique codex in its own right. Unlike its predecessors (Codex: Blood Angels, Codex: Dark Angels [3rd edition] and Codex: Space Wolves), Codex: Black Templars is not a supplement book for Codex: Space Marines but a stand alone codex. This meant that one could play the game without the need to actually purchase the original Codex: Space Marines. The same has been done for the new Codex: Dark Angels which was released on 3rd March 2007.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete and Kelly, Phil and McNeill,Graham and Reynolds,Anthony (2003). Index Astartes II (1st Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-345-4. 
  2. It is claimed the Ship-to-ship Assault Specialists became a 4th Chapter, the Soul Drinkers, though the canonicity of the Soul Drinkers is in question.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 McNeil, Graham; Thorpe, Gav, and Haines, Pete (2005). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Black Templars (1st Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-685-2. 
  4. Chambers, Andy; Johnson, Jervis, and Thorpe, Gav (2000). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Armageddon (1st Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-045-5. 
  • "Index Astartes – Black Templars". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (250). October 2000. Template:ISSN. 
  • "Index Astartes – Black Templars". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (311). October 2000. Template:ISSN. 

{{ Navbox | name = Warhammer 40,000 | title = Warhammer 40,000

| group1 = Forces of the Imperium | list1 = Imperial Guard · Space Marines · Sisters of Battle · Daemonhunters

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