Black Templars: A Comprehensive History

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Introduction

The Black Templars are a truly unique force amongst the Adeptus Astartes, one of the few Chapters that completely disregards the Codex Astartes and all its tenets, fighting in the tradition of their ancestors, exemplifying the ways of war favored by the first High Marshal Sigismund. True crusading warrior knights the Black Templars have a character and feel like no other and here I've tried to compile all the background of this awesome Chapter for your enjoyment!

Origins

The Black Templars origins date back to the 1st Siege of the Imperial Palace, when the traitorous Warmaster Horus laid siege to the final bastions of the Emperor. When Rogal Dorn, Sanguinius, and the Emperor teleported aboard Horus' Flagship it was 1st Captain Sigismund of the Imperial Fists who was charged with leading the defense of the Imperial Palace in the God Emperor's absence. In honor of his dedication Sigismund was named the 1st Emperor's Champion, swearing oaths to never let the palace fall and to seek out and slay the enemies' greatest champions. Garbed in the Armor of Faith and wielding the Black Sword Sigismund upheld his oath and by the time the Emperor struck down Horus and the traitors fled the Palace still stood and two dozen warped monstrosities had fallen to Sigismund's blade.

During the end of the Great Crusade and through the Horus Heresy Captain Sigismund became a legend. Crass, gruff, stubborn, fiery, tenacious, hot-headed, loyal, courageous, all of these and more describe Sigismund the finest Captain of the Imperial Fists. What Sigismund lacked in tact and diplomacy he made up for with sheer metal, passion, and zeal.

So it was that when Guilliman decreed the dissolution of the Legions Sigismund and the most zealous of the Imperial Fists formed the 2nd Founding Chapter known as the Black Templars, taking the personal heraldry of Sigismund for their new uniform and badge. Eschewing a home world Sigismund declared a Crusade to prove the faith and loyalty of the Templars and the sons of Dorn, setting off aboard the Battle Barge the Eternal Crusader to bring death and vengeance to the foes of the Emperor. For 10,000 years this Crusade has continued without end and the Templars not only continue to fight in the manner laid down by Sigismund but also carry on the mission of the Great Crusade, actively seeking out the foe and cleansing the Galaxy for the dominance of mankind.

Organization

It is no exaggeration to say that the Black Templars have no fixed organization what so ever, every rank and every unit a fluid, ever changing formation. The Black Templars have no companies, no sergeants, no fixed battle doctrine. At every level the Black Templars eschew the use of a standard organization and instead favor a fluid organization based more on familiarity than anything else.

The primary designation for a fighting force of the Black Templars is a "Crusade." However saying that is a little misleading, as a Crusade can be anywhere from a few dozen marines, to upwards of a thousand. Additionally a Crusade is a temporary thing each one formed a new with each campaign. When a campaign is declared by the High Marshal it is known as a Crusade and those Black Templars forces in the vicinity that take part all form into that single Crusade under the command of a Marshal. When the campaign is ended that Crusade ceases to exist and another Crusade is declared. This makes it very difficult to tell how many Black Templars there actually are as the name of each fighting force changes with each campaign.

Now within a Crusade the Black Templars forces can be broken down into what are known as Fighting Companies. In larger Crusades to facilitate the effective command of the battle brothers, Fighting Companies are formed and placed under the command of a Castellan. Some smaller Crusades are led by a Castellan and not a Marshall but these tend to be campaigns too small for the inclusion of multiple fighting companies and thus not justifying the presence of a Marshal.

The exact number of Crusades also varies greatly, sometimes there are as little as two or three, sometimes like during the Treachery of Dalmark there have been as many as fourteen Crusades. The status and location of each Crusade is transmitted to the Eternal Crusader via the Chapter Keeps and only the High Marshal truly knows how many Crusades or even how many Black Templars there are at any given time, a fact that is of more than a little concern to certain factions within the Imperium and the Inquisition. While the exact number of Templars is not known certain estimates place their numbers at anywhere from 5,000 to over 7,000 individuals at any given time.

The final unique facet of the Black Templars organization is that the Chapter is fleet based. Meaning the Black Templars have no dedicated homeworld, empire, or protected region, and move from warzone to warzone living entirely on their battle ships. The Templars do not ever assemble as a consolidated Chapter and instead remain on the move in smaller groups linking up and separating as the needs of the current Crusades dictate.

Ranks

The only solid organizational aspect of the Black Templars are the ranks, each battle-brother progresses through a strict hierarchy of authority from lowly Neophyte to High Marshal. Though unlike in other Chapters there are no sergeants within the Black Templars, squads are not led by any individual and experienced warriors are formed into their own units instead. This may at first appear to be a weakness, as it leaves the Crusader Squads lacking in dedicated leadership, but the warrior brotherhood nature of the Black Templars means that such things are mostly irrelevant, their training and battle zeal compensating for any lack in strict battlefield tactics and communication.

Aspirant
-Aspirants to the Chapter aren't actually part of the Chapter yet. Each Aspirant must go through rigorous training and purity tests before accepted into the Chapter. When two dozen acceptable Aspirants are gathered at a Chapter Keep they are dispatched to a Crusade to become Neophytes.

Neophyte
-The Neophyte is the lowest rank within the Black Templars. Neophytes are for all intents and purposes Squires akin to the ancient Terran Knightly Orders. A Neophyte is assigned to a senior Initiate and will serve his masters every need, caring for his battle gear and fighting alongside him in battle. In this way the Neophyte learns through example and the Initiate passes on his wisdom and experience to the next generation. Should the Initiate die before the Neophyte's training is complete he will likely be taken on by another Initiate for his training to continue.

Neophytes are not formed into their own squads but accompany the Crusader squads into battle, supporting their mentors and learning from them in the fires of holy battle. When a Neophyte is deemed worthy he will be accepted into the Chapter as a full battle brother, a Crusader Knight in every sense of the word.

Initiate
-Initiates are the lowest rank of full battle-brothers in the Black Templars. Upon their elevation from Neophyte an Initiate is given his Bolter and Chainsword and his suit of Power Armor that he will wear unto his death. Fighting alongside his brother marines in the Crusader squads the Initiates form the backbone of the Chapter, whether riding into battle on space marine bikes, flying across roof tops with jump packs, or roaring into battle on foot bolters blazing the Initiates and their Neophyte squires make up the bulk of any Crusade's fighting force.

Sword Brethren
-The Sword Brethren are the Veterans of the Black Templars, warriors tested on hundreds of battlefields who will have faced and bested the most horrible of foes the Sword Brethren are the elite of the Chapter. They form the personal bodyguard of a Marshal and are the only battle-brothers allowed the sacred honor of donning the ancient and revered Tactical Dreadnaught Armor. The Sword Brethren are armed with the finest weaponry available and their faith and zeal are unmatched, it is every Initiates dream to be accepted into the Sword Brethren elite.

It is also from the ranks of the Sword Brethren that Castellans and Marshals are chosen. When the previous Marshal dies his successor is chosen during a ritual combat between the Sword Brethren. The winner of this contest takes the place of the fallen Marshal though his promotion must be recognized by the High Marshal before becoming official. This is usually just a formality, only once has a High Marshal withheld his approval of a new Marshal and rescinded the promotion, this event is known as the Gervahrt Repeal of M36.

Castellan
-The Castellan is the lowest rank of official officer within the Black Templars Chapter. The leaders of the individual Fighting-Companies the Castellan's support the Marshal of their Crusade and are each warriors of near peerless skill in combat and great tactical acumen. Smaller Crusades can even from time to time be led by a Castellan instead of a Marshal.

Marshal
-The primary commander rank of the Black Templars it is the Marshals who lead the Crusades, commanding anywhere from a hundred to a thousand marines at a time a Marshal has to be an experienced and immensely skilled commander able to orchestrate the actions of whole fleets and battle zones with casual ease. A Marshal is second only in experience and ability to the High Marshal himself.

High Marshal
-The High Marshal is the Chapter Master of the Black Templars. Each has had his faith and metal tested countless times, but tempered with experience and wisdom. The High Marshal commands the entirety of the Black Templars and it is he who declares each Crusade and approves the appointment of each Marshal. It is the High Marshal alone who truly knows how many Black Templars and Crusades are active in the galaxy and where they all are at any given time and the effort of orchestrating the actions of such a large and scattered force must be truly herculean and is a testament to the skill of the High Marshals.

The Emperor's Champion

On the eve of battle, a warrior of the Black Templars who receives visions of the Emperor presents himself to the Chapter Chaplains. He will then undergo blessings of faith and don the consecrated Armor of Faith and take up the Black Sword as the Champion of the Emperor. Fueled by his faith in the Emperor the Champion will fight with inhuman skill on the field of battle, seeking out and slaying the champions and heroes of the enemy in single combat.

The tradition of the Emperor's Champions was established when 1st Captain Sigismund of the Imperial Fists became the first Emperor's Champion during the 1st Siege of the Imperial Palace. While the Emperor's Champion is generally supposed to be a singular individual in the Chapter, in practice there is one for each Crusade and the Armor of Faith and Black Sword will be among the most prized possessions of each Crusade. Should a Champion fall in battle the Templars will fight with holy fervor to recover the sacred relics of the Chapter so that they can be mended and taken up by the next Champion of the Emperor.

Chapter Keeps

The Black Templars establish Chapter Keeps on many of the worlds they fight on and cleanse of xenos, heretics and mutants. These Chapter Keeps serve as communications centers for the Chapter, staging areas for Crusades, fortresses and bulwarks against invasion and of course recruitment centers.

The Chapter Keeps are not as large or impressive as the Fortress Monasteries typical of other Chapters headquarters but the Black Templars maintain a significant number of these keeps. Hundreds of them have been established over the millennia and while some have fallen into disrepair many are still maintained and operational.

Chapter Keeps are equipped with maintenance servitors that keep the fortresses running and operational in the absence of the Black Templars. Few keeps are actually garrisoned by the Templars themselves, the majority left abandoned for centuries at a time. However no keep is ever forgotten and eventually the Black Templars return to any given keep. In their absence many keeps are taken over by opportunistic groups, sometimes by other Imperial organizations, sometimes by criminal groups, pirates, xenos or even heretics. But woe betides anyone foolish enough to remain when the Black Templars return.

Occasionally the Inquisition even takes up residence in an abandoned Black Templar keep, only time will tell what the consequences will be when the Templars eventually return. One such location is on the world of Eustis Majoris where the Ordo Hereticus has taken up residence in an abandoned keep.

Other known keeps exist on Fergax, Cephian IV, Barbarossa, Khreak, Holscht and Eustis Majoris.

Recruitment

The first trial an aspirant faces is actually locating and reaching one of the Black Templars Chapter Keeps. Once the aspirant reaches a keep he begins his training and testing. Each aspirant is put through a punishing regime of physical conditioning, training both mental and physical and purity testing. The minds, bodies and souls of the aspirants are examined for their purity and compatibility with the genetic material of Rogal Dorn. Those aspirants who successfully pass all their trails and tests begin the implantation process to become Space Marines.

When two dozen successful recruits are gathered at a keep they are shipped off to one of the various Crusade fleets to continue their training as Nephytes. Given over to the service of an Initiate each Neophyte learns through example, personally coached and trained by his Initiate master until he is deemed fit to receive the final implantation, the Black Carapace, and become a full battle-brother of the chapter.
 
Despite the myriad backgrounds and cultures of the aspirants the Chapter maintains a very specific cultural identity and naming scheme. There is some indication that many of the recruiting worlds of the Black Templars are in fact feudal worlds which would support the crusader knight culture and background of the Chapter, but it is doubtable that all worlds from which the Black Templars recruit are feudal in nature. This leads to theories that the Black Templars probably give Neophytes a new name reflecting the culture of the Black Templars upon their acceptance as Neophytes or upon their assignment to an Initiate.

Combat Doctrine

Some observers may wonder why Black Templars bother with bolters or heavy weaponry at all, the Chapter's combat doctrine favors close, bloody assault to the exception of almost all else. The Black Templars don't make any attempt to conceal this fact or dissuade it. While this does mean that the Black Templars have a tendency to blaze away at the closest target rather than a more distant foe, the Black Templars make up for this lack of skill at range with their sheer fearlessness in close combat. Truly a Black Templar is more at home in the madness of close quarters combat than anywhere else.

In fact the Black Templars combat doctrine is remarkably straightforward even for the Adeptus Astartes. Instead of taking cover like any sensible Imperial Guardsman would when taking fire and suffering casualties, the Black Templars just sprint harder to get to grips with the foe, every loss only spurring them on to greater depths of faith driven zeal and fervor. The psychological impact on the foe on the receiving end of a Black Templars charge must be incredible. The sight of the black clad warriors of the Templars charging headlong through walls of gunfire unfazed is not something any sane being would want to see, nor something most foes see and live to tell the tale.

This preference for close combat dates back to the personal fighting style of Captain Sigismund who became the first High Marshal of the Black Templars. At the siege of the Imperial Palace Sigismund became the first Emperor's Champion, seeking out and slaying every enemy champion he could find in personal combat. The Black Templars continue that tradition of preference for close combat to this day, seeing little honor in slaying foes at range and when in the heat of battle it is common for units of Black Templars to abandon firing positions and fortifications in their desire to slay the foes of the Emperor in the holy trial of close combat.

As if to emphasis the desire of the Black Templars to get to grips with their foe, it is they who first discovered the means to construct the terrifying Land Raider Crusader, the most devastating assault tank in the Imperium. Constructed with the express purpose of carrying large squads of Templars through the storm of enemy firepower and deliver them into the breach and the heart of their foes lines, straight into brutal close quarters combat. Without a doubt the Land Raider Crusader is ideal for doing just that.

Beliefs

The faith and dedication of the Space Marines is legendary, but the lengths to which the Black Templars take their worship of the Emperor is often described as fanatical in the extreme. Matching the holy hate and fury of the Sisters of Battle in the depth of their passion few Space Marine Chapters can match the purity of the Black Templars faith.

The Templars have absolutely no tolerance for witches or psykers, or anything else they perceive as an abomination to the Emperor and the mere presence of a psyker on the battlefield sends the Black Templars into a practical fit of righteous fury and vengeful rage.

Gene-Seed

The gene-seed of the Black Templars is that of Rogal Dorn and the Primogenitor Chapter the Imperial Fists. Like all Sons of Dorn the Templars lack the sus-an membrane that allows for entrance into a suspended animation and the betchers gland that lets marines spit a toxic bio venom at their foes. But true to form the Templars do not despair about such things, as neither loss hinders their ability to crush the foes of the Emperor. With the exception of the two defunct implants the gene-seed of Rogal Dorn is remarkably pure and free of mutation or instability. Only the Ultramarines genetic material is more stable and complete and even then not by much.

The Age of Apostasy
-378.M36

In M36 an era that later became known as the Age of Apostasy engulfed the Imperium in civil war. The insane High Lord Goge Vandire the High Lord of the Administratum declared himself the Ecclesiarch and with the power garnered by being the dual head of the two most powerful factions in the Imperium Vandire began the Reign of Blood. The Reign of Blood was a terrible conflict that swept the Imperium as Vandire's paranoia ordered the deaths of billions, if not trillions of Imperial citizens and the destruction of whole worlds. Many resisted and the armies of Vandire clashed with their enemies in open warfare across the Imperium. However factions on both sides of the conflict were unwilling to risk their relations with the Imperial Fists and not only did they leave the Fists unmolested while the Chapter campaigned against the Ebon League, the Imperial Fists were often able to bring both factions together to face a common threat that would otherwise have found the defenders divided and weak. Because of this the Imperial Fists and those they encountered weathered the storm of internecine war and political upheaval better than most. However eventually the neutrality of the Astartes could not continue and when the Black Templars returned to the Sol system to find their Chapter Keeps destroyed they declared a Crusade against the High Lord Vandire. The Imperial Fists along with the Fire Hawks and Soul Drinkers joined the Crusading Templars and laid siege to the Imperial Palace and Terra, though ironically this time around it was the loyalists who were the attackers, in a cruel twist of fate and an echoing repetition of the horrible events of the Horus Heresy.

2nd Siege of the Imperial Palace
-For months the armies of the Saint Sebastian Thor, the Space Marines and their allies laid siege to the Ecclesiarchal Palace without managing to breach its formidable defences. Eventually the Emperor's Champion Navarre of the Black Templars led a daring last ditch assault. At the height of the fighting the Chapter Banner Bearer fell, all eyes watched as the Chapter Standard began to fall but Navarre swept the banner up and carried it through the breach in the Palace's walls, inspiring his brothers to fight all the harder. After the battle Chapter Master Lazerian honoured Navarre with the title of Captain of the Banner as a reward for his exceptional courage.

With the outer walls breached the loyal warriors of the Emperor carried the fighting into the inner precincts of the Palace, something that had not happened since the dark days of the Horus Heresy when the Imperial Fists and the Blood Angels had stoicly held the traitors at bay. The situation was now reversed but despite the prowess of the Imperial Fists and their successors and allies the battle was brutal and ugly. The fighting only came to an end when the Custodes intervened. Bringing the leader of the militant sisterhood known as the Brides of the Emperor Alicia Dominica before the Golden Throne itself. The Brides of the Emperor was a militant sect of nuns that Goge Vandire had inlisted as his strong arm, equipped with Holy Bolters and cleansing flamers, and armored in sanctified power armor the Brides were a force to be reckoned with but it was their faith from which they drew their true power. No one knows what happened in the Emperor's throne room but when Dominica emerged she and a cadre of her most trusted companions marched straight to Vandire's Audience chamber, denouncing him as a heretic and traitor Dominica cleaved his head from his shoulders, ending the 2nd Siege of the Imperial Palace and the Reign of Blood. Sebastian Thor became the Ecclesiarch, the renamed Daughters of the Emperor became the Sisters of Battle, the militant arm of the Ecclesiarchy and the Ordo Hereticus and the victorious Space Marines departed, their mission complete. It is unknown however whether the Black Templars rebuilt their Chapter Keeps within the Sol system, or whether they moved on immediately.

The Jerulas Crusade
-645.M39

The Jerulas Crusade is one of the most notable campaigns of the Black Templars for one main reason, it was where the designs for the Land Raider Crusader were first recovered and put into use. The Black Templars were tasked with returning the Emperor's Light to the previously isolated worlds of the Jerulas system. Previously cut off from the Imperium for an extended period the worlds of the system had managed to thrive and were not keen on once again being under the yoke of Imperial rule. The first missionaries from the Missionarus Galaxia were slaughtered, but when a second group came to the system they brought the Black Templars with them. Under the direct command of High Marshal Ludoldus the Templars fought the forces of the rebel worlds with great success until they came to the well defended hives of Jerulas itself.

Each attempt to capture the Hives was fought back with great losses and it seemed like the Templars would be unable to force their way into the Hives. But the answer was found by the Artificer Simagus of the Templars who discovered the means to develop the now legendary Land Raider Crusader.

Armed to smash through enemy defenses and disgorge large squads of Marines right into the thick of the fighting the Crusader was the perfect tank for breaching the defenses of the Jerulas hives. The tank was so successful that other Chapters began to request information on the tank and by 763.M39 it was officially recognized by the Adeptus Mechanicus though that was more of a formality than anything as the tank variant had already spread to hundreds of Chapters by that time.

Each of the traitorous hive spires fell in the first assault by the Land Raider Crusader and even those that surrendered suffered the Templars merciless wrath.

The Donian Crusade
-985.M39

The Donian Crusade was called to combat the growing Ork population of the Donian Sector in the Segmentum Pacificus. The first Marshal, brother Austein was killed during the fighting on Nickel V. He was succeeded by Marshal Wemher. The Crusade went on for fully seventeen years before the High Marshal declared it successful and Wemher moved on to lead the Thangdron Crusade. The Crusade also included Fighting Companies led by Castelan Heinman, Castellan Lazarus, and Castellan Gotchalcus. 

The Vinculus Crusade
-833.M41

One of the earliest campaigns in which the now famed High Marshal Helbrecht participated. Still a lowly Neophyte at the time Helbrecht was merely a witness to the dramatic events of the campaign. The Crusade was undertaken against the assassin-cult warriors of the Peleregon cluster. Under the command of the legendary High Marshal Ludoldus, the Templars fought alongside Inquisitor Vinculus and the Adepta Sororitas of the Order of the Bloody Rose. The assassins were traced back to the world of Peleregon IV, a hellish lava world all shifting tectonic plates and rivers of magma.

The initial landings met little opposition and the sororitas and astartes easily fought their foes back to the massive temple that was the seat of the cult's power. The combined forces fought their way deep into the temple, Ludoldus and his Sword Brethren breaching and holding the walls of the temple for their allies to fight their way inside. As the Imperials breached the pillared inner sanctum Inquisitor Vinculus faced the cult's leader in single combat. Vinculus succeeded in slaying the cult's leader but suffered a terrible wound himself, the wound that proved to be the Inquisitors doom, for the slight weakening in the Inquisitors mental shield was enough for the freed daemon that had possessed the cult leader to leap into the Inquisitor and manifest itself.

A Bloodthirster of Khorn tore itself into the material realm and began slaughtering the Imperial soldiers by the dozen. High Marshal Ludoldus, The Emperor's Champion Ulricus and Canoness Jasmine took on the Daemon in brutal close combat, but though the champions of the Emperor were courageous and their sword arms fueled by holy faith they were no match for the daemon. In desperation Ludoldus threw a Holy Orb of Antioch into the boiling lava in the chamber's central chasm. The explosion initiated a massive earthquake that began to tear the temple apart and the possessed Inquisitor fell to his destruction in the roiling magma.

Thunderhawk Gunships braved the billowing ash and storms to pick up the survivors. While a number of gunships were lost in the attempt the majority of the survivors escaped the world and made it back to their ships in orbit. To make sure the job was finished the fleet bombarded the site of the Temple until the entire site was drowned in a sea of lava.

The Crusade of the Ophidium Gulf
-998.M41

The Crusade of the Ophidium Gulf is a mystery with many dark secrets. The Strike Cruiser the Ophidium Gulf bearing the survivors of the Garon Crusade under the command of Castelan Raimer, traveled deep into the unexplored wilderness of the Veiled Region. The Crusade encountered strange alien beings living in great cities of gold that worshipped a being known as the "Voice of the Emperor," curious the Crusade moved on in search of this being destroying all the temples they encountered.

Strangely though the Raimer's Fighting Company found that many of the cities they encountered had already been visited by destruction far greater than they alone were capable of and as they pressed ever deeper into the Veiled Region they finally encountered a fleet of Space Marine vessels owned by none other than the Dark Angels who were themselves on the hunt for the Voice of the Emperor.

The Black Templars offered to fight alongside the illustrious First Chapter. The Dark Angels were hesitant to accept the Black Templars help but eventually consented and the two forces launched a ground invasion of the final stronghold of the Voice of the Emperor. During the fighting it was the Black Templars that breached the inner sanctum first and to their surprise they discovered that the mysterious "Voice" was a Space Marine wearing ancient black power armor devoid of insignia. Suspecting their prisoner was the reason for the Dark Angels reluctance to accept their help the, Raimer ordered his forces back to the Ophidium Gulf, but no sooner had they returned to their ship then the Dark Angels ordered the prisoner handed over. When Raimer refused the Dark Angels fleet powered up their weapons and locked on to the Ophidium Gulf, with no choice remaining Raimer handed over the prisoner and watched as the Dark Angels broke orbit and departed.

Raimer sent a single communication as the Ophidium Gulf made its way to the system jump point but the Ultimate fate of Raimer's Crusade is unknown as the Ophidium Gulf has yet to check in with any Chapter Keep. 

The Ghoul Stars Crusade
-991.M41

This was the first Crusade declared by High Marshal Helbrecht upon being sworn in as High Marshal before the shattered sword of Dorn. The Crusade was launched with the intention of exterminating the Cythor Fiends that inhabited the Ghoul Stars and within eight years the Crusade had utterly eradicated all trace of the xenos in the outlying systems and the Black Templars pushed deeper into the core systems. Strangely when the Crusade reached the home worlds of the Cythor Fiends they found them totally abandoned and could find no trace of the xenos or where they may have gone. The investigation was cut short however as the Templars caught the distress call from Armageddon telling of a second invasion by Ghazghkull and Helbrecht ordered the Crusade redirected. 

The 3rd War for Armageddon
-999.M41

The 2nd War for Armageddon was really more of a furious prelude to the 3rd War, and though the Templars participated in the second war it was during Ghazghkull's second invasion that the Templars really shined. Three Crusades under the command of High Marshal Helbrecht himself mustered at the Chapter Keep on Fergax before departing to assist the defenses of Armageddon. Taking command of the space forces directly and leaving the other two Crusades to make planetfall Helbrecht fought a space campaign against the Orks with a stunning degree of success.

On the ground Marshals Ricard's Dimaris Crusade and Amalrich's Tiberior Crusade fought a series of brutal campaigns throughout the wastes of Armageddon, including the notorious battle for the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant in Helsreach Hive where Chaplain Grimaldus was the only survivor. Grimaldus led the defense of the Temple with fire and zeal, famed for the declaration:

"I have dug my grave in this place and I will either triumph or I will die!"

The fighting was eventually carried into the temple itself, the orks looting and destroying priceless relics with every moment but Grimaldus and his warriors would not relent and as the fighting reached its zenith the temple collapsed ontop of both ork and crusader in a firestorm of destruction. All were feared lost, but a day after the collapse Grimaldus dragged himself from the shattered temple with the last three surviving relics. The apothecaries who treated Grimaldus' wounds later reported that he should not have survived, only the sheer steel of his will kept him alive. Now Grimaldus goes to war with the three surviving relics of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant carried by Cenobyte Servitors, and famed as the Hero of Helsreach.

Meanwhile in space together with the other fleets of the Astartes and the Imperial Navy fleet under the command of Admiral Parol began to whittle down the massive fleet of Ork ships and hulks, the reduction of ground reinforcements eventually began to tell and by the commencement of the Season of Fire where the surface of Armageddon becomes hostile to all life, the fighting had boiled down to an uneasy stalemate.

The Fall of a Champion

The Black Templars success was shattered when Helbrecht's Crusade returned to the hulk the Malevolent Dread. Earlier in the space engagements the Hulk had been heavily bombarded by the Black Templars Battle Barge the Light of Purity, and damaged by charges planted by boarding parties. Finally Helbrecth decided to put an end to the Hulk once and for all and gathering his Crusade and all of his Sword Brethren Terminators launched a massive boarding assault. Such an assault had never before been attempted on such a scale, but Helbrecht was determined to put an end to the gargantuan space born monstrosity.

The first stage of the assault was a teleport attack led by the Black Templars Terminators. The Terminators established a perimeter to allow the rest of the Templars forces to board the Hulk. The Ork response was immediate however and the Terminators came under heavy assault immediately. Casualties mounted but Helbrecht was determined to make room for the reinforcements. Thunderhawks and boarding torpedoes made it to the Hulk and joined the fighting at the perimeter. The Terminators were still holding the Orks at bay but it was a tenuous achievement at best.

The second phase of the mission began as the Crusade organized into strike teams to lay the heavy thermic charges that would tear the Malevolent Dread in two. Helbrecht himself would lead the most important team, despite having been wounded several times already Helbrecht was determined to plant the charges that would initiate the chain reaction and destroy the Hulk once and for all. Along with his command squads and the Emperor's Champion Vosper, Helbrecht pushed deeper into the hulk.

The Terminators had held the Orks at bay during the first phase, and during the second phase they led the advance, forming the spearhead of the Templars forces as they fought their way through the twisting corridors of the Hulk. Once they abandoned their relatively secure firing lanes however casualties began to increase yet again, with the support of the entire Crusade the Terminators managed to press through the Ork defenses but as more and more strike teams broke off to complete their individual objectives the Templars forces became ever more vulnerable to sudden ambush and attack.

It was as the Templars broke into a cavernous gap between two ill fitting ships that made up the Hulk that the Orks launched their largest assault yet. Over a thousand of the green skinned monstrosities threw themselves into the bolter fire laid down by the Templars, heedless of their own losses.

An audible crack sounded as the Orks smashed into the Templar line, their advantage lost the Templars nevertheless managed to hold the line. Vosper and Helbrecht led the counter-attack, scything into the Orks with skill unmatched, building a pile of Ork dead at their feet. Slowly the tide of battle turned as the Templars reformed behind their champions to cut through the ork horde. As the two mighty warriors slashed their way through the Ork horde they came upon the largest of the foul creatures, the warboss, who tore through the swirling melee cutting down warrior brothers wherever he went. Filled with righteous fury the Emepror's Champion Vosper called the Ork to account and faced the creature in one on one combat. Each Templar whispered a prayer to the Emperor as Vosper and the Ork Warboss crossed blades, praying for their Champion who was the best of them all and who was the very embodiment of the Chapter. 

Vosper attacked the Ork warlord with huge two handed sweeps of the Black Sword, driving the creature back step by step and slowly gaining the upper hand. But as the Warboss reeled back from a powerful overhand blow it became enraged and recovered with inhuman speed, driving Vosper back and though the Emperor's Champion met every blow of the Ork's sword he could not stop the creature from barreling into him, knocked off balance Vosper could not sway aside as the Warboss split his skull in two.

The Champion's fall was the turning point of the battle, despite Helbrecht's best efforts the Templars faltered and the Orks redoubled their efforts. The High Marshal was forced to the ground, swamped by dozens of greenskins, his personal Command Squad pulled him clear but an Ork Choppa was buried in his chest armor. As the Templars fell back many were brutally cut down and the casualties went from bad to horrendous. Many groups of Templars found themselves cut off, the teleporter arrays of the Light of Purity overloaded with the strain of teleporting units back onboard and without an effective perimeter there was nothing the Crusade could do to rescue the stranded squads, leaving them to do nothing but try to sell their lives as dearly as possible.

By the time the Light of Purity pulled away from the Hulk almost half of Helbrecht's Crusade had been lost and Helbrecht himself had been critically injured, only his enhanced body keeping him from joining the Emperor.

Finally with the Season of Fire upon them and the fighting stalled the Hulk believed to be the flagship of Thraka departed along with the bulk of the Ork forces. Swearing a mighty oath to hunt down and slay Ghazghkull, but the Black Templar fleet did not leave alone. The Hero of Armageddon, Commissar Yarrick petitioned High Marshal Helbrecht to accompany the Templars and as a sign of the esteem Helbrecht held Yarrick the High Marshall granted his request.

Barbarossa Crusade
- Huh

The Barbarossa Crusade was launched to cleanse the Chapter Keep on the world of Barbarossa IV that had become the residence of Greenskins fleeing the fighting at Armageddon. But that was only the beginning, unknown to the Templars the relic at the core of the Keep had become tainted and the Crusade under the command of Castellan Hermann fought to cleanse the keep of both the Greenskin and Chaos taint.

The 13th Black Crusade
-999.M41

The Black Templars participation in the 13th Black Crusade was short and really formed more of an extended tangent from the pursuit of Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. The Templars first action was to relieve the beleaguered world of Thracian Primaris. Scattering the chaos fleet easily enough the Templars made an uncontested planetfall outside the Departmento Munitorum logistical support complex in Hive Demeter. The brethren did not stay long however though they were welcomed as liberators, choosing instead to continue to drive the forces of disorder back to the Eye of Terror.

As the brethren moved on from Thracian Primaris they caught word of the "Green Kroosade" building in the Scarus sector and headed off to nip the threat in the bud. Severely under strength from the fighting on Thracian Primaris the Templars moved on anyway knowing that to let the Ork numbers build without opposition would doom the Scarus sector. 

The Declates Crusade
- Huh

The Declates Crusade was declared to combat Waaagh! Gitzmott. The greenskins overwhelmed world after world overnight and while the Crimson Fists achieved early success in driving the Orks back eventually the sheer weight of numbers began to tell and the Orks pushed in towards the forge world of Declates IV and the hives of Declates V. Help was needed and the Black Templars answered the call for aid.

Normally the Black Templars do not have sergeants, but fighting alongside the Crimson Fists the two Chapters formed mixed units and appointed ad-hoc sergeants. As a symbol of unity the Templars painted a gauntlet crimson in the fashion of the Crimson Fists. Together the two Chapters managed to find and slay Warboss Gitzmott and while the two Chapters suffered hideous losses against the overwhelming numbers of the Orks they earned great renown and will forever be heroes in the Declates system.

The Thetus Crusade
- Huh

On the planet of Nevaria II the Templars were called on to deal with a small but highly dangerous heretical cult. As dangerous as the cult was the real influence behind it was only discovered after a costly covert strike by the Deathwatch, revealing that a Genestealer Broodlord was behind the cult and the influence of the Genestealer hybrids had spread much farther than anticipated. The Black Templars took up the challenge and cleansed the genestealer taint from the bottom up, fighting brutal and costly battles in cramped corridors and forgotten cities in the dark depths of the Hive, eventually cleansing the hive and Nevaria II of the xenos contamination.

The Geonide Crusade
- Huh

The planet of Geonide was a world where invaluable research was performed by the Adeptus Mechanicus in mile high facilities that covered the planet. When rebellion suddenly broke out on the planet it came utterly without warning and within a year 75% of the populace had fallen to the influence of the warp. A group of scientists with latent psychic abilities had been used as pawns to open giant warp drive portals and by the time the Black Templars arrived on the scene the planet was crawling with monstrous, debased humans forming a massive chaos horde to drown the planet in blood. Daemons from the warp tore their way into the material realm to cavort through the masses of worshippers.

In the end the planet was deemed irrecoverable and exterminatus was authorized by the ever present agents of the Ordo Hereticus. But before the planet's death knell came the Black Templars carried out daring strikes across the planet to recover valuable artifacts, research notes, and surviving personnel too important to leave behind or allow to be captured by the ruinous powers. The Black Templars achieved a great deal of success during the campaign and managed to save a significant amount of invaluable research before the planet was cleansed with holy fire.

The Centrati Crusade
- Huh

Above the recently colonized planet of Centrati orbited the defense station known as "Centrati's Eye." The station came under lightning assault by the Dark Eldar, the personnel chained and dragged off into the depths of the webway to an unknown fate, never to be seen or heard from again. 

What the Dark Eldar did not know was that a Black Templars Battle Barge was in orbit over the planet, for the Chapter had been asked to aid the colonization process by removing an unwanted and troublesome xenos species from the planet. When the defense station fired on the planet the threat was realized and the Templars rushed back to their Thunderhawks to wreak vengeance on the devious Eldar raiders.

To the Templars surprise they found not one but two enemy forces on the station. For the Eldar had arrived to fight their dark kin for some unknown reason. The Black Templars cared not and instead immediately set about butchering both forces and in the following months the sons of Dorn crushed both alien enemies utterly and cleansed Centrati and the surrounding space of the xenos taint.

The Crusade of Punishment
- Huh

Castellan Draco's latest enterprise has been a series of punishment raids on the human populations of worlds fallen under the influence of the expansionist Tau Empire. Notorious for subverting the loyalties of Imperial subjects in their quest to expand the borders of their Empire the Tau are an ever growing threat and thorn in the side of the Imperium in the Eastern Fringe. But those who stray from the Emperor's Light cannot go without punishment and Castellan Draco has been tasked with ensuring that they feel the wrath of divine retribution.

The Nimbosa Crusade
- Huh

Nimbosa is a world on the outskirts of the fledgling Tau Empire that has seen a great deal of fighting. After the Tau initially conquered the planet a retribution force involving the Raven Guard, Ultramarines, Imperial Fists and Black Templars fought to retake the planet, though the Black Templars achieved the most and were the ones who eventually forced the Tau off the planet. Before the campaign was even concluded the Templars had built a Chapter Keep on Nimbosa and used it as their headquarters during the purging efforts following the initial victories of the Crusade for Helbrecht declared that none of the xenos would escape the Emperor's vengeance.

The Empyrion Crusade
- Huh

The Empyrion Crusade was fought against a force of Khornate Cultists on the world of Empyrion IX. Led by Castellan Athellenas, a force of thirty Black Templars fought the Khorn worshippers, grinding them down till the Khornates ended up slaying each other in their desire to spill blood and even their frenzied leader the Manskinner could not keep them going. With the ground forces spent slaughtering each other two Black Templars Strike Cruisers arrived to destroy the heretic vessel and make sure that the warband of Khorn did not sow destruction and bloodshed across the Imperium.

Notable Relics of the Black Templars

Sword of the High Marshals
-This weapon was commissioned by High Marshal Sigismund at the inception of the Black Templars, forged from part of the shattered Sword of Dorn, the blade is a reminder to the Templars of their duty to the Emperor and the Imperium and of the legacy of Rogal Dorn.

Sword of Dorn
-The shattered blade wielded by Rogal Dorn during the Horus Heresy is still kept by the Black Templars. Following the Emperor's placement in the Golden Throne Dorn broke his sword over his knee for his failure to protect the Emperor and swore never to wield it again. Part of the broken blade was forged into the Sword of the High Marshals.

The Armor of Dorn
-Pieces of Dorn's sundered armor are kept as sacred relics by the Black Templars, recovered from the Sword of Sacrilige Battleship on which Dorn fell during one of the earlier Black Crusades of Abaddon.

Column from the Altar of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant
-One of the three surviving relics from Hive Helsreach carried into battle by Chaplain Grimaldus.

Banner of the Emperor Victorious
-The second of the holy relics recovered from Hive Helsreach by Grimaldus.

Blessed Water from the Stoup of Elucidation
-The third and final of the relics carried from Hive Helsreach by Grimaldus.

Famous Characters

High Marshal Sigismund
-The First High Marshal of the Black Templars, the first Emperor's Champion and the former 1st Captain of the Imperial Fists.

High Marshal Ludoldus
-A legendary High Marshal of the Black Templars, Ludoldus' career was second to none and his accomplishments the stuff of legend within the Chapter.

High Marshal Kordhel
-The predecessor of High Marshal Helbrecht.

High Marshal Helbrecht
-Current Chapter Master of the Black Templars.

Marshal Wernher
-Led the Donian Crusade.

Marshal Ricard
-Leader of the Dimaris Crusade.

Marshal Amalrich
-Leader of the Tiberior Crusade.

Dreadnaught Gerlach
-Dreadnaught participating in the Donorian Crusade.

Castellan Hermann
-Castellan leading the Barbarossa Crusade.

Castellan Draco
-Hero of the Vinculus Crusade, Draco was nearly killed during the fighting, his body broken and mangled almost beyond recognition but he was rebuilt with augmetics and awarded a suit of artificer armor as a symbol of honor for his bravery and achievements as well as promoted to the rank of Castellan.

Castellan Lazarus Gotchalcus
-Participated in the Donian Crusade.

Castellan Lazarus
-Participated in the Donian Crusade.

Castellan Heinman
-Participated in the Donian Crusade.

Castellan Athellenas
-Led the Crusade for Empyrion IX.

Captain of the Banner Navarre
-Received the honorary title from the Imperial Fists during the 2nd Siege of the Imperial Palace.

Chaplain Emmerich

Chaplain Theodorich
-Chaplain participating in the Barbarossa Crusade.

Chaplain Fergas Nils

Chaplain Grimaldus
-Known as the Hero of Helsreach Grimaldus is currently the most famous keeper of faith in the Black Templars Chapter, having won great fame during the battle for the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant in Helsreach Hive on Armageddon during the 2nd Invasion of Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka.

Deathwatch Chaplain Broec
-A member of Imperial Fist's Captain Octavius' Deathwatch Team during the mission on Herodian IV against the vile Tyranid menace. Broec died heroically alongside Librarian Shaidan of the Mantis Warriors facing a Hive Tyrant, giving his comrades time to escape.

Chaplain Augustin
-Participated in the Donian Crusade.

Chaplain Leuter
-Participated in the Donian Crusade.

Emperor's Champion Vosper
-Fought with Helbrecht's Crusade during the 3rd War for Armageddon, but fell in battle against an Ork Warboss.

Emperor's Champaion Tomas
-Participated in the Donian Crusade.

Known Ships

Battle Barge Eternal Crusader
-The Flagship of the Black Templars Chapter, heavily expanded over the years the ship is capable of carrying a great many more marines and thunderhawks than a standard pattern Battle Barge.

Battle Barge Light of Purity
-Flagship of High Marshal Sigismund during the 3rd War for Armageddon.

Battle Barge Sigismund's Light
-Served in the Donian Crusade.

Battle Barge Sigismund's Oath

Strike Cruiser Dorn's Sword
-Served in the Donian Crusade.

Strike Cruiser Apocalypton
-Joined the Donian Crusade after it began.

Strike Cruiser Ophidium Gulf
-Lost following the campaign against the "Voice of the Emperor"

Forgeship Heracles
-Served with the Donian Crusade fleet.

Chapter Motto

"No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear!"

References

Codex: Black Templars
Codex: Witch Hunters
Games Workshop Website Articles
Armageddon Campaign Website
Index Astartes: Black Templars
Index Astartes: Imperial Fists
Codicium Imperialis: Siege of the Imperial Palace
Index Astartes: Eye of Terror Campaign
Index Astartes: Armageddon Campaign
Ravenor Rogue
Warrior Brood
Words of Blood




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