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The Dark Angels Warhammer 40k Lore Review

Dark Angels (1)
Image rights go to Games Workshop

The Dark Angels stand as one of the most enigmatic and storied Space Marine Chapters. Known for their unwavering loyalty to the Imperium and a shadowed past riddled with secrets, the Dark Angels’ history is a tapestry of honour, betrayal, and redemption.

Origins & Founding

The Dark Angels are one of the twenty original Space Marine Legions created during the Great Crusade by the Emperor of Mankind himself. They were the First Legion, and their gene-seed was directly descended from the Emperor’s own genetic material. Lion El’Jonson, a Primarch discovered on the planet Caliban, was chosen to lead this legion.

The Caliban Heresy

Caliban, the homeworld of the Dark Angels, would prove to be a place of both glory and despair. After Lion El’Jonson’s discovery and ascension as the Primarch, Caliban served as the Chapter’s fortress-monastery. However, it harboured a dark secret. Unknown to the rest of the Imperium, Caliban was infested with warp-tainted creatures known as the “Chaos-tainted.” These creatures later led to the Caliban Heresy, a cataclysmic civil war within the First Legion.

The Fallen Angels

The Caliban Heresy ultimately resulted in the destruction of Caliban itself, as the planet was laid to waste during the conflict. The Lion, who had been absent during the rebellion, returned to find his homeworld in ruins. This tragic turn of events cast a long shadow over the Dark Angels, and it led to the pursuit of the Fallen Angels - those Dark Angels who had turned to Chaos during the Caliban Heresy.

The pursuit of the Fallen Angels has become a central aspect of the Dark Angels’ identity. Haunted by their past, they are driven by the need to eliminate every Fallen Angel and expunge the shame of their betrayal from history.

Chapter Organisation

The Dark Angels adhere to the standard Codex Astartes organisation, with a few unique twists. They maintain three distinct companies known as the “Deathwing,” the “Ravenwing,” and the “Battle Companies.” Each has its own specialised role:

Deathwing: The First Company, the Deathwing, consists entirely of veterans who wear bone-white Terminator armour. They are often the first to make planetfall in the most dire situations.

Ravenwing: The Second Company, the Ravenwing, is the Chapter’s bike and speeder company. They specialise in lightning-fast strikes and reconnaissance missions.

Battle Companies: The remaining companies are the Battle Companies, which follow the Codex Astartes closely in terms of organisation and combat roles.

The Hunt For The Fallen

The Dark Angels’ obsession with the Fallen Angels is both a source of their strength and a constant burden. They believe that capturing every Fallen Angel and extracting confessions of their heresy will finally absolve their Chapter of the Caliban Heresy’s stain. This pursuit has taken them to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and embroiled them in numerous conflicts.

The Inner Circle

To maintain their secrecy and conduct their hunt for the Fallen, the Dark Angels have established an exclusive inner circle within their Chapter. This select group of high-ranking officers, known as the “Inner Circle,” is privy to the darkest secrets of the Chapter. They include the Supreme Grand Master and the interrogator-chaplains, who extract confessions from the Fallen.

Successes & Failures

Throughout their long history, the Dark Angels have had many successes. They played pivotal roles in significant campaigns, such as the Horus Heresy, the Badab War, and the defence of the Cadian Gate. Their Primarch, Lion El’Jonson, also left a lasting legacy as a brilliant strategist and leader.

However, their relentless pursuit of the Fallen has sometimes clouded their judgment and led them into conflicts that could have been avoided. Their secrecy and mistrust of outsiders have isolated them from other Imperial forces and created a sense of unease among their allies.

Notable Dark Angels

Lion El’Jonson: The Primarch of the Dark Angels and their first Chapter Master, Lion El’Jonson remains a figure of mystery, as his whereabouts have been unknown for millennia.

Azrael: The current Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels, Azrael, is a formidable leader who has guided the Chapter through turbulent times.

Belial: As the Master of the Deathwing, Belial is a renowned warrior and a stalwart defender of the Chapter’s traditions.

Sammael: The Master of the Ravenwing, Sammael, leads the Chapter’s lightning-fast strike force with unmatched skill.


The Dark Angels, are heroic and tragic, loyal and secretive, relentless and burdened by their past. Their story is one of sacrifice, redemption, and an unwavering commitment to the Imperium. As they continue their eternal hunt for the Fallen Angels, the Dark Angels remain a symbol of the complex, morally grey universe in which they exist, where even the greatest heroes can be weighed down by their own burdens.