BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

Warhammer 40K: Sanguinius, The Emperor’s Noblest Son

12 Minute Read
Sep 4 2020

Look upon the most noble of the Primarchs, who sacrificed himself for all of humanity – the Angel Sanguinius, master of the IXth.

Sanguinius or The Angel was the Primarch of the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter. One of the most beloved figures in the Imperium, Sanguinius was among both the most noble and mightiest Primarchs. His charisma, humility, and loyalty to the Emperor to the point of self-sacrifice has earned him a great deal of reverence, even in the 41st Millennium.

Youth on Baal Secundus

When the Emperor began his Great Crusade to reunite the galaxy he created the Primarchs, superhuman warriors to lead his Space Marines across the galaxy. The powers of Chaos stole the Primarchs, but unable to destroy them, set them astray in the Warp. The infant Sanguinius came to rest upon the radiation-soaked moon of Baal Secundus and was adopted by a tribe of humans known as the ‘People of the Pure Blood’ or simply ‘The Blood’, Sanguinius, like all Primarchs, grew quickly and soon surpassed all his teachers and was capable of mighty feats of strength and endurance. At three weeks, he was a large child capable of walking. Within a year, he was taller than any man. Before even being found by The Blood, Sanguinius slew an infamous predator known as the Baalite Fire Scorpion.

Uniquely amongst the Primarchs he sported a pair of angel-like wings from his back, though whether this was by the design of the Emperor or a mutation caused by the high levels of radiation on Baal is unknown. He was also said to have psychic powers, especially the ability to divine the future. Using these skills, Sanguinius led The Blood against the numerically superior Mutant hordes of Baal. While he was known for his loyalty and amicability, in battle Sanguinius was known for his total and unstoppable wrath to those who threatened his people. Thanks to the effort of Sanguinius, The Blood was victorious over the Mutant hordes of Baal and he became worshiped by his people as a god.

Arrival of the Emperor

Ultimately, the Emperor arrived on Baal and, disguising himself, infiltrated a address by Sanguinius to his followers. There, the Master of Mankind witnessed his lost son give an impassioned speech that displayed both humility and courage. However like Konrad Curze, Sanguinius had already foreseen the arrival of the Emperor and immediately recognized him. When Sanguinius confronted the Emperor he fell to his knees and pledged allegiance to his father. The Emperor inducted the best warriors of Sanguinius’ tribe into his preexisting Space Marine Legion, which soon became known as the Blood Angels.

The Great Crusade

Sanguinius’ first battle after being found by the Emperor was the Pacification of Teghar Pentarus, with his first kill a ferocious carnodon. The pelt of the beast was fashioned into a ceremonial war cloak for the Primarch. During the Emperor’s Great Crusade, Sanguinius and Horus became close brothers and it was said that they were closer than any of the other Primarchs. It was Sanguinius who convinced Horus to accept the name change of the Luna Wolves to the Sons of Horus. Supposedly Horus pointed to Sanguinius to be the new Warmaster when he thought he was dying on Davin. He provided counsel that Horus listened to during the incident with the Interex, shortly after Horus became Warmaster and was generally the one with the most sway on Horus, after the Emperor.

Sanguinius was a beloved figure who was revered by all of the Imperium. The noble angel was highly respected by all the legions, and by all his brother Primarchs. Even Horus highly valued his brother’s advice. It was Sanguinius who convinced Horus to follow the Emperor’s suggestion and rename his legion. As Horus lay dying above the planet Davin, he revealed that he believed Sanguinius should have been proclaimed Warmaster in his stead. Roboute Guilliman, the primarch of the Ultramarines, privately referred to Sanguinius as one of “The Dauntless Few,” the four of his brothers that Guilliman trusted most. Despite his seemingly peaceful nature Sanguinius was known for his martial prowess, to the extent he was considered a match for Horus and Lion El’Jonson in combat ability.

Ironically, this belief was reflected later, during the Horus Heresy, while Horus was plotting the Blood Angels’ downfall at Signus Prime. Horus deviated from the battle plan laid out by Erebus by insisting that Sanguinius must die. Horus claimed this was because he knew his brother would never turn to Chaos, but the daemon Kyriss asked whether Horus was afraid of having a rival: that Sanguinius was the only one of the primarchs, who, if turned, would have a chance of finding greater favour with the Gods of Chaos than Horus himself.

Despite the apparent rivalry between Sanguinius and Horus, the two were quick to become close friends. When Horus discovered the genetic flaw of the Blood Angels while on joint campaign, he kept the secret from the Emperor.


Horus Heresy

Ambush at Signus

Before Horus’ treachery was revealed, he sent Sanguinius to a world named Signus Prime to supposedly fight the Xenos known as the Nephilim. However once in the Signus System the Blood Angels were ambushed by hordes of daemons, and they soon became stranded on the damned world. At the peak of the fighting Sanguinius confronted the Greater Daemon of Khorne Ka’Bandha who managed to wound Primarch by breaking his legs. Sanguinius was then rendered comatose by a psychic backlash created by the Ragefire and amplified by the deaths of his sons at the hands of Ka’Bandha. The Red Thirst subsequently erupted across the Blood Angels, and they slaughtered both friend and foe alike in their rampages. Fortunately the Legion Librarians managed to eventually restore the Primarch, and he was able to defeat Ka’Bandha in a second duel, banishing him back to the Warp. Sanguinius then led his forces into the Chaos Fortress on Signus, the Cathedral of the Mark, where he was confronted by the Keeper of Secrets Kyriss the Perverse. Kyriss gave Sanguinius a choice: sacrifice himself to the Ragefire and have the Red Thirst forever lifted from his sons, or allow his Legion to face eventual destruction due to their genetic flaw. Deciding to sacrifice himself, Sanguinius was about to step into the Ragefire when he was beaten to it by Apothecary Meros, who was transformed into the Red Angel. Mourning Meros, Sanguinius slew Kyriss and swore vengeance on Horus.

Imperium Secundus

Reeling from the catastrophe that had befallen him on Signus but determined to defeat Horus, Sanguinius had the Blood Angels set course for Terra. However as a result of the Ruinstorm created by the treacherous Erebus, navigation and communication across the Imperium was made almost impossible. Following the Pharos’ psychic beacon, Sanguinius eventually found his way to Macragge, where Roboute Guilliman, fearing Terra lost, declared a reluctant Sanguinius the new “Emperor Regent” (or Imperator Regis) of his contingency empire Imperium Secundus. Sanguinius was soon plagued by visions of his death at the hands of Horus, and realized this was no omen but a window in the future.

Later during the Battle of Sotha while Guilliman and Lion El’Jonson were both away, Sanguinius was confronted by Konrad Curze, who had infiltrated his throne room on Macragge and badly wounded Azkaellon. Curze confided that he had foreseen Sanguinius’ death on the Vengeful Spirit and wanted to know why the Angel still followed the Emperor when their mutual visions had proven his teachings to have been lies. He also asked why Sanguinius had rejected Kyriss’ officer at Signus Prime and if the Angel felt he was more deserving of the title of Warmaster than Horus, to which Sanguinius responded he was not. Trying to teach Sanguinius that fate could not be changed and that his own death would not be here, Curze let Sanguinius come at him with his sword and goaded him to cut him down. Sanguinius ultimately halted his sword, urging Curze that it was not to late to change and join with his loyalist brothers. Proclaming there was only Chaos in the end, Curze set off an explosive trap and escaped.

As the Lion and Guilliman continued to clash over policy in Imperium Secundus, Sanguinius attempted to mediate the two. He later presided over the trial of the now-captured Konrad Curze. After Lion El’Jonson attempted to kill Curze during the trial while in a rage at the Night Haunter’s accusations, Sanguinius dismissed him from Imperium Secundus. Later, Sanguinius became determined to pass the sentence of death down onto Curze himself, but just as he was about to strike down the Primarch Lion El’Jonson reappeared. Demanding to be Curze’s jailer and stating that Curze was able to see the future, and he repeated that Curze’s claim that his death would be at the hands of an assassin was sent by the Emperor. This, to the Lion, was proof that the Emperor was still alive. Sanguinius recognized that his own visions of death would also be true and he shared his visions of death at the hands of Horus with both of his brothers.


Pilgrimage to Davin

Following the Trial of Curze, Sanguinius, Lion El’Jonson, and Guilliman all agreed to try and breach the Ruinstorm to reach Terra and aid the Emperor who they now knew still lived. Sanguinius was now beginning to suffer from the beginning stages of the Black Rage, which infected Sanguinius’ mind due to the prophetic visions of his own death. In a fit of hysteria Sanguinius nearly struck down one of his own sons aboard the Red Tear. He was desperate to prevent all of his sons from falling as he was, and was seeking any answer.

While in the Ruinstorm, the loyalist fleet came across a variety of horrors and word of an entity spreading destruction known as the “Pilgrim”. During the Battle of Pyrrhan, Sanguinius received a vision and he realized that he needed to go where this struggle had begun, Davin, the world where Horus had fallen. Reluctantly, Guilliman and The Lion agreed to trust in Sanguinius but both had thought they would simply destroy the world upon arriving. At Davin, the loyalist fleet found the entire world surrounded by a shell made of the bones of trillions dubbed the Necrosphere. A bombardment managed to penetrate the sphere and the fleet was soon in orbit above Davin. While over Davin, Sanguinius shocked The Lion by boarding the Invincible Reason and taking the captive Konrad Curze with him. Sanguinius hoped to use Curze’s prophetic abilities to determine what he was meant to do upon Davin.

On Davin, a mass Drop Pod assault was conducted but nothing was found and the population was absent. The four Primarchs eventually traveled to the temple where Horus had been subjected to the ritual by Erebus and the Serpent Lodge that had corrupted him. Inside the temple, Sanguinius stood at the altar where Horus had been laid and proclaimed that he would change his destiny. This activated Davin itself, Warp storms roared above and a portal opened up that swallowed up Sanguinius. Inside the portal on Davin, Sanguinius was back on Terra in a beautiful garden at the Imperial Palace. He for the first time was experiencing a vision that was not his death aboard the Vengeful Spirit. He saw Lorgar dead by his hands and the remaining traitor Primarch’s brought before him in chains. The Emperor congratulated Sanguinius on his victory and named him the Imperator Regis of the Imperium. With Sanguinius as the Emperor’s Regent, he went on to lead a great campaign that purged the Imperium of all corruption and evil and the galaxy was his to rule. Seeing this future and observing the Emperor’s mannerisms, he became suspicious as to what was going on. At last, he cut down the image of the Emperor who was revealed to be the Daemon Madail in disguise.

Sanguinius and Madail engaged in a vicious duel. Madail had unleashed a Daemonic horde through the portal to prevent Guilliman and The Lion breaking through. On the other side of the portal, The Angel was eventually pinned by Madail’s host of Daemonic troops, and the Preacher of Chaos Undivided announced that Sanguinius would serve or die. Sanguinius and Madail again engaged in a duel, but this time the Daemon was impaled by both the Blade Encarmine and Spear of Telesto. The two wounded warriors wrestled with one another until they were both in the portal, torn between the Materium and Immaterium. The stalemate endured, until Sanguinius’ Herald stepped forth and declared that he would take The Angel’s place in the portal. The Sanguinor charged into Madail, and as he tackled the Daemon back through the portal was transformed into a golden angelic form. The Primarch’s and their escorts managed to escape the Temple just as it collapsed.

In the place of where Davin once was, a breach in the Ruinstorm was visible. The path led to Terra, but upon further study it became apparent that somehow Horus had foreseen this route and a large blockade was erected to block them. Guilliman and The Lion agreed to distract the blockade while Sanguinius and the Blood Angels made directly for Terra, for that was their destiny.

Siege of Terra and Death

The delaying action of Guilliman and The Lion allowed Sanguinius and the Blood Angels to reach Terra. He met with Rogal Dorn, Leman Russ, Jaghatai Khan, and Malcador the Sigilliteto discuss their upcoming strategy. Sanguinius urged Russ to remain on Terra for the battle instead of leaving to face Horus directly, though not as much as Dorn. Sanguinius’ arrival was publicized greatly by loyalist media, his angelic figure being used as propaganda to boost the morale of the failing Imperial war effort.


Sanguinius along with Jaghatai Khan later appeared at the Battle of Beta-Garmon, though over a month late due to difficult Warp travel. Sanguinius immediately took over the confused loyalist war effort and launched a major offensive towards Beta-Garmon II. During the battle, which saw over a thousand Titans battle one another, Sanguinius and his Sanguinary Guardboarded the traitor Imperator Titan Axis Mundi, destroying it from the inside. However the entire battle on Beta-Garmon II was an elaborate ploy from Horus, whose real target was Beta-Garmon III. The loyalist forces on Beta-Garmon II were largely destroyed in a shower of orbital debris caused by the detonation of the Starfort The Anvil, and in the aftermath of the disaster Sanguinius and the Khan agreed that Dorn’s gambit at Beta-Garmon had reached its limit and it was time to return to Terra. During the final phase of the Solar War Sanguinius appeared in Dorn’s Bhab Bastion alongside Jaghatai Khan and Malcador. He expressed belief that Dorn’s defensive efforts in the Sol System were ultimately futile, as the war would be decided at Terra and he was destined to face Horus.

In the subsequent Battle of Terra, Sanguinius was a key symbol of morale for the besieged loyalist forces. He was forbidden from flying in the open or leaving the Palace Walls by Rogal Dorn, something that he would sometimes violate. During the early stages of the siege he led a sortie out of the Walls to rescue Jaghatai Khan from swarms of Death Guard as well as inspire the beleaguered Conscripts manning the outer defenses around the Palace. Later during the first Traitor Astartes assault upon the Walls of the Palace Sanguinius led a Blood Angels, Imperial Fists, and Legio Solaria counterattack out of the Helios Gate to buy time for the Imperial Army troops outside to retreat within. During this battle he was confronted by Angron, who roared a challenge at The Angel. Sanguinius refused, instead saluting his brother and proclaiming that while they would one day battle today was not that day.

In the later stages of the Siege Sanguinius fought valiantly, organising the final defence of the Imperial Palace and held the Eternity Gate alone when no others could withstand the horror of the assault, even breaking the back of the same Greater Daemon Ka’Bandha who wounded him on Signum. When the Emperor teleported aboard Horus‘s Battle Barge, the Vengeful Spirit, Sanguinius was with him but they became separated and the Primarch was forced to face Horus first. Despite being in the pit of Horus’s tainted and mutated Chaos fuelled Battle Barge, Sanguinius tried to revert his brother to the side of the Emperor, using their old friendship as a lever. Horus would not listen to or agree with any of Sanguinius’ words and the two argued and tried to sway the other to the side of the heresy they stood upon. Sanguinius was eventually struck down by Horus, the only damage Sanguinius did was create a small dent in Horus’ armour. Some say, however, that it was through this chink in Horus’s armour that the Emperor was able to deliver the fatal blow. Thus the belief is that Sanguinius did not die in vain; but by dying, allowed Horus to be slain and the Heresy destroyed.


Sanguinius’s body was taken by the Imperial forces as they retreated from the buckling Chaos Barge and his body was borne away to his home planet Baal, where he was laid to rest in the Golden Sarcophagus, deep within a vast tomb whose doors were topped with massive Angel effigies in honour of the fallen Primarch.

Of all the Primarchs, Sanguinius is commonly held in the highest honour. Because he is generally believed to have sacrificed himself to allow Horus, the “Great Betrayer”, to be defeated, the Primarch’s name is cherished by the common citizens of the Imperium. Temples devoted to Sanguinius rise aside those of the Emperor. Sanguinius is commemorated on a sacred day of celebration called the Sanguinala, when adepts across the galaxy wear on their breast the red badge of Sanguinius.

~Let us all pray and contemplate on the honor and self sacrifice of the Primarch.


  • Warhammer 40K: Blackstone Fortress Miniatures That Should Be Armies