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Warhammer 40K: What Was The Unification War Trying To Unite

6 Minute Read
Nov 8 2020

Come Loremasters and learn of the war that turned just another Terran warlord into The Emperor – the Wars of Unification.

The Unification Wars, also known as the Wars of Unification, is the name of an ancient number of conflicts fought at the end of the Age of Strife. They were spearheaded by the warlord known only as The Emperor in his attempt at reunifying the shattered tribes and nations of Terra, now ruled largely by Techno-Barbarian lords. His intentions were to reforge the shattered remnants of Man and create an Imperium that would bring about a Great Crusade to bring order to the galaxy.

Prelude to War

By M29, Terra had been engulfed in the chaos and anarchy of the Age of Strife for several thousand years. Terra was a violent cauldron divided between city-states, Techno-Barbarian warlords, and various other polities. However as Slaanesh was close to its birth at the epicenter of the Eldar Empire, the Warp Storms plaguing humanity’s homeworld becalmed themselves. Sensing the time was right, a being known as The Emperor finally began his campaign to reclaim Earth.

Raptor Imperialis – symbol of the Emperor during the Unification War

Appearing openly for the first time, The Emperor led his Thunder Warriors, genetically engineered super soldiers created in secret laboratories, in a series of campaigns against all other warlords and Techno-barbarians of Old Earth. His forces included not only the Thunder Warriors but also the Custodian Guard, formations that would become the early Imperial Army including Geno Five-Two Chiliad and the Inferallti Hussars, and eventually the proto-Astartes. His forces utilized the advanced weapons of the Terrawatt Clan after he secured an alliance with them. Thus did the Emperor make his move on the major powers of Terra.

The Conquest of Terra

  • Albia – Albians refused to kneel before the Emperor and met his Thunder Warriors with their own proto-dreadnoughts and armored ironside soldiers. In battle after battle, the Albians managed to hold back the Emperor’s forces but only at staggering cost for the defenders. Admitting the martial temper and indomitable spirit of his foe, the Emperor called a ceasefire and sought a diplomatic solution. The Emperor appeared before the Albian Clan Lords unarmed and clothed in white and crimson, speaking of his vision of a unified mankind. He offered them glory among the stars and redemption. To the shock of many, the warlords of Albia, seeing the Emperor as different from past tyrants, accepted terms and soon became one of the most zealous supporters of unification.
  • Achaemenid Empire – Swearing allegiance to the Emperor early on in his war, the Achaemenid Empire suffered little during the Wars of Unification, avoiding both atomic strike and invasion by Thunder Warriors.
  • Boeotia – Mentioned in Imperial records as holding out against full Unification for some considerable time; while tacitly recognizing the Emperor’s dominance, the ruling monarchy of Boeotia used all manner of diplomacy in order to avoid losing power. In a show of great patience and benevolence, the Emperor allowed the ruling family of Boeotia – the Yeselti – to carry on like this for over 150 years, with the intention that they would integrate themselves into unified Imperial Terra at their own speed and with as much dignity as possible. Instead, the Yeselti clung onto their independence to the point where, firstly, the Imperial Army was forced to invade the province and finally, Legiones Astartes of the Thousand Sons were assigned to quash the trucculent little state. Boeotia was notable both for the presence of industry and at least one buried shrine to gods worshiped by humans in an earlier age.
  • Franc – Absorbed by the forces of the Emperor.

Malcador the Sigillite

  • Hy Brasil – Its last independent ruler, Dalmoth Kyn, was one of the last Terran warlords to be defeated by the Emperor. After their defeat Hy Brasil existed as semi-autonomous province within the Imperium, and was governed by Kyn’s descendants. However the actions of Malcador the Sigillite ensured that Dalmoth’s descendants, including Pherom Sichar, never sat on the Council of Terra when it was created.
  • Merica – This major kingdom was known for its high fashion and ballrooms, fell to the Emperor’s forces.
  • Panpacific Empire – The powerful Panpacific under its tyrant Narthan Dume was defeated by the forces of the Emperor. In a rare move, the Emperor had Dume executed instead of imprisoned.

Techno-barbarian – Unification War

  • Ursh – Ruled over by the tyrant Kalagann, Ursh employed powerful psykers in its armies and used their might to unleash dark warp powers on its enemies. This did not, however, avail him when he faced the forces of the Emperor, who defeated and killed Kalagann.
  • Ethnarchy – The Ethnarchy is known to have commanded formidable forces consisting of genetically modified warriors known as the Ur-Khasis, dangerous weapons from the Dark Age of Technology, and enslaved Psykers. The first attempt by Imperial forces to capture the Ethnarchy’s strongholds earlier in the war had cost the lives of 20,000 Thunder Warriors and a million other casualties. Towards the end of the Unification Wars, the Emperor began his second attempt to topple the Ethnarchy. This time the XVIII Legion of the Legiones Astartes was tasked with destroying the subterranean power generators feeding the Ethnarchy’s power fields. In the ensuing Assault on the Tempest Galleries, the XVIIIth Legion was victorious and with their force fields down, the Ethnarchy was quickly crushed by the forces of the Emperor.
  • Saragorn Enclave – the Enclave surrendered to the forces of the Emperor but still carried on the experiments in secret. When the Emperor discovered this defiance, he dispatched the VIIIth Astartes Legion to bring his retribution. The Enclave was viciously destroyed.

The Final Battle

The final battle of the war was the Massacre at Gaduare in Franc, where 5,000 Thunder Warriors slaughtered 50,000 rebel militia. The last act of the Unification era saw the Emperor purge the Thunder Warriors at Mount Ararat, making way for his next generation of superhuman warriors, the Space Marines. After his military victories the Emperor sought to spread his Imperial Truth across the planet, enforcing atheism and destroying the planet’s churches. The final church of Terra, the Church of the Lightning Stone, was destroyed shortly before the Great Crusade.


After securing victory on Terra, the Emperor then set his sights on Luna, occupying it in a quick campaign. After capturing Luna and winning the allegiance of the Mechanicum of Mars, the Emperor launched his Great Crusade. Over the next 200 years, the Emperor spearheaded the Astartes Legions in reconquering much of the Galaxy and finding the lost Primarchs.


Learn More of the Emperor


~A deeper question is why did the Emperor choose that exact time to begin the Wars of Unity?

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