In Warhammer 40k Fulgrim, a.k.a. The Phoenician, is one of the Space Marine primarchs who fell to Chaos during the Horus Heresy, pledging his force – the 3rd Legion Emperor’s Children – first to Horus Lupercal’s rebellion, and then to the Chaos god Slaanesh. If you’re to command these purple-clad heretic astartes on the Warhammer 40k tabletop, you’d better read on, and find out how Fulgrim came to be the serpentine villain he is today.
Among the Warhammer 40k primarchs, Fulgrim has fallen further than most. Once, his Space Marine legionaries were renowned for perfection and exactitude in all things; now, as Chaos Space Marines, the Emperor’s Children are twisted, insane creatures of obsession, sporting grafted limbs and bizarre, self-inflicted surgeries, among the most terrifying Warhammer 40k factions around.
Fulgrim himself was once a shining example of everything noble about the Imperium of Man. Unfortunately, in Warhammer 40k Chaos has a siren song strong enough to seduce even the Primarch of the Emperor’s Children legion. Now a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, Fulgrim has become the antithesis of everything he once strove to be – here’s how it all happened, and where he is in the 41st millennium.
Who is Warhammer 40k’s Fulgrim?
Like the other Primarchs, Fulgrim was spirited away from the Emperor of Mankind’s laboratory on Terra and condemned to a remote existence on a far-off world. The world of Chemos became Fulgrim’s home, a once-rich mining planet whose population was slowly starving while they toiled in giant fortress-factories.
Fulgrim was discovered, named, and swiftly brought to work inside fortress-factory Callax. As he grew unnaturally quickly, both in physique and intellect, he began to perfect technology around him, rapidly rising from his worker’s life to join the ruling class of executives.
When he learned that Chemos was dying, he set out to save his home, sending engineers to repair mining outposts and instituting vital technological innovations. Through martial prowess and alliances won via many political marriages, Fulgrim managed to become ruler of the planet – leading to a brief golden age for Chemos’s citizens.
Then the Emperor arrived with a fleet of golden ships. Upon meeting his father, Fulgrim fell to his knees to pledge his allegiance without prompting, and was given command of the third legion of Space Marines. Though doughty warriors, they had lost their gene-seed and were unable to replenish their numbers without their Primarch.
Travelling to Terra, Fulgrim gave a speech to his diminished legion, and the primarch’s words so moved the Emperor of Man that Fulgrim was given leave to rename his legion the Emperor’s Children. What’s more, the third legion were honoured above all others with permission to emblazon their armour with the Emperor’s own sigil: the double-headed eagle, or Aquila.
Now armed with his forces, The Great Crusade called Fulgrim to war, and for many years he fought to expand the borders of the nascent Imperium alongside his reunited Primarch brethren. However, it was one small world – Laeran – that was to prove his downfall.
Fulgrim’s fall to Chaos
After slaughtering the xenos inhabitants of Laeran, Fulgrim acquired an item that would change everything for him and the Emperor’s Children. A simple sword he found in a temple became one of his many trophies, soon being worn at his side at all times. None knew at the time that this silver blade contained a bound daemon – a Keeper of Secrets in the service of the Chaos God Slaanesh.
Fulgrim and his legion aimed for perfection in all things, not only on the battlefield but in the fields of art too. He aimed to emulate the Emperor and this arrogance and ambition was an easy vector for the Slaanesh daemon to begin to corrupt the Primarch.
Slowly, Fulgrim became more violent and erratic: he attacked Eldar he had formerly allied with; he began encouraging his legion into foul acts of pure hedonism; and, of course, he allied with his brother Horus Lupercal when he turned against the Emperor in rebellion.
During the Drop Site Massacre on Isstvan V, where traitor legions first attacked loyalists, he met his brother Ferrus Manus – primarch of the 10th legion Iron Hands – in battle. A superb swordsman, the duel went in Fulgrim’s favour, but he found that he could not strike down his brother. The daemon sword had other plans, however – taking over Fulgrim completely, it forced him to strike down Ferrus Manus, cleaving his head from his body.
This terrible moment caused Fulgrim to become aware of his acts for the first time and, in his grief, he made a dark bargain with the Keeper of Secrets bound in his blade. The Slaaneshi daemon took over his body entirely, banishing Fulgrim to a torturous existence within a twisted painting.
Fulgrim, Daemon Prince
Even a Keeper of Secrets is no true match for a primarch. In the months that followed, it became clear that Fulgrim had reclaimed control over his own body and was free of the daemon’s influence – but also that he had committed himself fully to the worship of Slaanesh.
Along with his fellow traitor Primarch, Perturabo of the Iron Warriors, Fulgrim journeyed to find the Angel Exterminatus – a deadly weapon that would help tip the tide of war in Horus’ favour. Upon reaching their destination, however, Fulgrim revealed to his brother that there was no Angel Exterminatus – and made good his true reason behind their quest. Using a magical stone to drain Perturabo of his power, Fulgrim announced that aimed to achieve apotheosis and become a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh.
Despite attempts by Space Marines from the Salamanders, Iron Hands, and Raven Guard legions – not to mention Perturabo himself – Fulgrim got his wish, sloughing off his mortal form to become a creature of the warp, and a tool of Slaanesh.
Back in Horus’ fleet, Fulgrim became ensnared in a plot by primarch Lorgar of the Word Bearers to remove the Warmaster from command, but betrayal led to this coup’s failure and the Siege of Terra began as planned.
On Terra, Fulgrim fought alongside the Emperor’s Children, culminating in a battle against his brother, Imperial Fists primarch Rogal Dorn, at the Saturnine Gate. While duelling Dorn, Fulgrim learned that the traitor legions’ current attack had failed – and, bored with the fighting and annoyed by his allies, the daemon primarch finally abandoned both the battle and the war.
In the millennia that followed the Horus Heresy, Fulgrim has been sighted many times fighting against the Imperium. It was his poisoned blade that struck down Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines, leading to ten thousand years of suspended animation for the Primarch. Later, Fulgrim was seen among the Chaos forces of the Thirteenth Black Crusade at the Fall of Cadia, as the Cicatrix Maledictum rent the galaxy in two.
Though bound to Slaanesh through his dark apotheosis, there is hope for Fulgrim – of a sort. Renegade Emperor’s Children scientist and apothecary Fabius Bile managed to create a Fulgrim clone, complete with his memories and abilities, but free of the taint of Chaos.
Though the clone was full of remorse at his actions, the Necron Overlord Trazyn the Infinite feared that this clone would fall as the original did – so he stole him and locked him away in his secret museum, where the Fulgrim clone remains hidden away… for now.
As part of Games Workshop’s Horus Heresy range, Emperor’s Children fans can get their hands on a resin Fulgrim model that works as both miniature for the game and as a diorama. This model shows Fulgrim in the midst of combat on Isstvan V, wielding the Laer blade that would corrupt him so utterly.
For those looking to re-enact the fateful duel on that planet the Fulgrim model’s diorama base fits with that of Ferrus Manus, allowing you to display the last moments of the Iron Hands Primarch.