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Warhammer 40K: The Forgotten & The Purged – the Lost II & XI Primarchs

6 Minute Read
Apr 6 2021

Today we take a look at what we know about The Forgotten and The Purged – the Emperor’s lost sons. The II and the XI Primarchs.

All throughout the history of Warhammer 40,000 there has been one mystery that has remained since the beginning. The Emperor of Man created twenty Primarchs and created a legion for each. But something happened that caused the Emperor to order that the II and the XI Legions be completely expunged from Imperial Record. Not even the traitor legions have received the same treatment so whatever they did, it had to be pretty upsetting.

That said, today we’re going to take a brief look at what we do know about these two expunged legions and their Primarchs – The Forgotten and The Purged.

Two Unknown Legions

Precious little is known about two of the twenty Space Marine Legions, numbered II and XI, and their respective Primarchs, as their records are simply noted as having been “expunged” or “destroyed” in Imperial listings of the 20 Legions.

However, nothing is known for sure about the names of the Legions, their Primarchs, homeworlds and their ultimate fate. There are conflicting reports as to whether the two unknown Legions met their fate prior to or after the Horus Heresy and which side they joined in the Heresy, if they participated in it.


  • The Emperor created 20 Primarchs, who were snatched from Terra by a Chaos vortex and scattered around the galaxy.
  • The 20 incubation capsules drifted through the warp for decades or even centuries, until finally coming to rest on human-inhabited worlds throughout the galaxy, “where they were variously adopted by human parents.”
    • The only exception to this is the Primarch Konrad Curze, who survived utterly alone (and whose background, in any case, was only described in later material).
  • In the listings of the 20 Legions in Imperial records, Legions II and XI are stated as having “all records expunged from the library”. Earlier background (Codex Imperialis and second edition’s Ultramarines Codex) less ambivalently states that the records for these two Legions were deleted following the Heresy. Considering that the Traitor Legions are simply listed as excommunicate traitoris but still included in these same lists would mean that the records were deleted deliberately and for a reason only known by those who perpetrated the action.
  • The Emperor met each Primarch in turn, and each Primarch had risen to a position of authority within the cultures in which they had found themselves.
  • 20 Legions took part in the Great Crusade, each led by their own Primarch.
  • Alpharius was known to be the last Primarch to be found, a fact which even earned him the nickname “The Last”. This suggests that all the other Primarchs had been found already.
  • 20 statues of the Primarchs were erected in the Imperial Palace on Terra. By the time of the Horus Heresy, plinths II and XI “…had been vacant for a long time. No-one ever spoke of those two absent brothers [and] their separate tragedies.”
    • This suggests that the two unknown Primarchs had been found previously and that something tragic had happened. The two Primarchs were “absent” but not referred as “dead”.
    • Prior to sending Sigismund and his Imperial Fists to Mars during the Heresy, Dorn mused to Malcador on the loyalist support of two Legions, possibly the two unknown Legions, during the Heresy. Malcador quelled the Primarch’s thoughts, stating that “They are lost to us forever.”
  • Horus convinced “no less than 9” Space Marine Legions to side with him at the onset of the Heresy, a number also referred to as “fully half” of the Legions. When he assaulted Terra, this number was given as 9.
    • This also implies, but does not categorically state, that the 9 known Traitor Legions are all of the Legions that followed him into rebellion and that 18 Legions were the total number of Legions active at the time. A passage detailing Horus’ plans for the various Legions at the outset of the Heresy mentions by name all 18 known Legions.
  • Fulgrim mentioned that one of the lost Primarchs ventured to the Necron Ymga Monolith on the Eastern Fringe. “Fulgrim made mention of it, once. Apparently one of the two Forgotten Ones was said to have led an expedition to its black heart, in the early centuries of the Great Crusade. Though why he was out this far, and what he might’ve found, was never recorded.” Probably for the best. The galaxy has devils enough without letting out whatever resides there.”
  • “Of the original 20 Primarchs, only 9 survived the Horus Heresy. The remainder were either killed in the fighting (like Horus) or fled with their [Legions] into the Eye of Terror. The survivors helped [to rebuild] the Imperium.”
    • It is currently accepted that 3 Primarchs died during the Heresy (Ferrus ManusSanguinius, and Horus) and 6 are known to have fled into the Eye of Terror (FulgrimPerturaboAngronMortarionMagnus, and Lorgar). The fates of the other 11 are open to multiple interpretations. However, it is commonly believed that Roboute Guilliman is in stasis as his throat was cut and Lion El Jonson’s body has been hidden away in the belief that he shall return one day.
    • Two traitors, Konrad Curze and Alpharius, did not flee into the Eye of Terror and were killed later on. 7 loyal Primarchs seem to have survived. It is possible that Curze and Alpharius were counted as part of the 9 survivors. However, in the novel Betrayer it mentions the “18 Legions”, a clear statement that the unknown Legions disappeared before the Heresy, and played no part in them.


The Tip of the Iceberg

Loremasters, this rabbit trail runs deep. The Lexicanum lists 40 sources from different Novels, Codexes, audiobooks, and other apocryphal materials that make reference to these two lost Primarchs. For instance, the novel The First Heretic refers to them as “The Forgotten and The Purged.” In The Unremembered Empire it describes a table with “21 chairs, built by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman himself for his brothers and the Emperor of Mankind.” Each chair had a banner representing a different legion with their colors, but two banners were “made of bleached, un-dyed cloth.”

This secret goes so deep that not even the Traitor Primarchs speak the names of their lost brothers, and that’s (not) saying something… except for Horus that one time:

A Possible Name

In the short story The Last Council, Horus, Alpharius, and Jaghatai Khan attempt to stop Malcador the Sigillite from destroying one of the Lost Primarchs’ statues outside the Imperial Palace. This Lost Primarch’s actions had led to his “fall” and disgrace during the Great Crusade, and because of this, Malcador claimed he was no longer worthy of having a statue that bore his face. Horus and his brothers disagreed and stated that the Lost Primarch deserved to be remembered for the glory he had earned the Imperium. Horus then claimed that Malcador had overstepped his authority and was trying to amend the Imperium’s early history, so that future generations would never know of the Lost Primarch. Despite their arguments, Malcador refused to listen, and angrily used his psychic powers to attack Horus, who began to utter the name of the Lost Primarch. While being psychically strangled by Malcador, Horus attempted to speak, but only managed to say “M..Mal…al”. While, it is unknown if this is the name of the Lost Primarch, or if Horus was just trying to say Malcador’s name, the former is more likely as Malchador felt an “He felt the old, familiar rage” start to surface within him upon hearing Horus speak that name, and Horus never stopped his attempt to defy Malcador.

You can all imagine the implications of a Lost Primarch named… Malal, and what could have meant…

If you’d like to learn more visit the Lexicanum and read about the Two Unknown Legions


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