The Horus Heresy has thrown the galaxy into turmoil for millennia, but was it justified?
Let’s take a look at the state of affairs in the galaxy leading up to Horus’ rebellion. After all, he was joined by many legions who felt that his cause was just–and these weren’t all just slavering chaos cultists eager to throw their lot in with the random mutation tables in the hopes that they’d get lucky enough to get one of the cool mutations–even risking the hilarious ‘tiny head’ result on the chart for their trouble.
Pictured: 9/10ths of the forces of Chaos under their helmets.
No, it all begins back during the Great Crusade, when the Emperor decides that his Primarchs have got this whole “reconquering the galaxy” thing down, and that now he can get down to business.
Though the Heresy was ignited by the product of a conspiracy by the forces of Chaos, there were precipitating factors that helped push many of the Legio Astartes towards rebellion. The first was the Emperor’s return to and seclusion on Terra, working on a secret project that he refused to share with any of his Primarchs, including his most favored son Horus, whom he had named Warmaster. This apparent abandonment of the Great Crusade, for something he would not even share with his sons bred mistrust, resentment, and disappointment towards the Emperor amongst many of the Primarchs.
This is where a lot of the mistrust and resentment that would come to characterize the Heresy was bred. Right here. Maybe if the Emperor had been more open, or, had he dismissed outright the adoration of his “sons.” Remember the Emperor only allowed the Primarchs to think of him as their “father” because it was convenient, he never really felt any kind of paternal instincts towards most of them.
That is not a glove you wear if you want to play catch with your sweet boys.
Which meant that what favor he did show went a long way. Horus made waves, especially when he was declared Warmaster and this started seeding cracks in the loyalty of his fellows. But even then, things might have been different if not for the fact that there was the massive bureaucracy that was restricting them, imposing a kind of byzantine order of rules on the Imperium that they’d just been fighting to carve out of the cold dead hands of Xenos and rebels.
Another contributing factor was the formation of an administrative body known as the Council of Terra. Many of the Primarchs viewed these human bureaucrats as usurping their rightful place as rulers of the Imperium they had fought so hard to create. Worse still, the Primarchs were denied a place on the Council and the notion of an Imperium dominated by human bureaucrats, not the sons of the Emperor and their Astartes Legions, became a cause of concern for many of the Primarchs.
Essentially, the whole Heresy might never have happened if someone had just dug up a copy of Cats in the Cradle and played it. Like at any point during this sequence of events. And then of course there was Chaos itself. When the Emperor saw what Lorgar was getting up to, he made a big show of humiliating him and his legion in front of everyone:
But…all I want to do is fall to Chaos and have magic powers, what’s so wrong with that?
Lastly, the Emperor’s disciplining of Lorgar and the Word Bearers was a contributing factor to the Heresy and the event which set it directly into motion. After Lorgar and the entire Legion were publicly humiliated, scolded, and forced to kneel in front of the Emperor for spreading their belief that the ruler of mankind was a divine being, the pious Word Bearers felt betrayed and desperately sought any power in the universe to worship. This eventually led Lorgar and his Legionaries to the Eye of Terror, where they pledged themselves to the forces of Chaos and began to conspire against the Emperor. Thus the Word Bearers had secretly become the first Chaos Space Marines. Secretly planning to make war on the Emperor, the Word Bearers quietly established Warrior Lodges with their Chaplains throughout the rest of the Astartes Legions. Though harmless at first glance, many of these lodges would become hotbeds of support for Horus’ rebellion in the war to come.
So later on, when Horus gets wounded during the last few battles of the Great Crusade, Lorgar’s dudes heal him up in one of their secret lodges and basically invade his mind and plant visions that confirm Horus’ worst suspicions. That the Emperor is just using them until he goes on to get more power and once he no longer has a need for them he’ll cast them aside.
The best part here is that this probably isn’t all that far off the mark. It might even be entirely true. As soon as the Emperor had no need for the Thunder Warriors, he purged them from the ranks. And now the Space Marines were causing all kinds of problems, even as they were carving out the Imperium. Who knows when or where the Emperor would feel he’d finally gotten it right. For Horus this was partially just a drive to secure what he felt was his rightful place.
So with all that in mind, what do you think? Was the Heresy justified? Did they really have a chance to make things right?
Nope. Totally uncalled for and it made everything objectively worse in the Imperium.