Since the times of the Great Crusade, the Ultramarines have fought at the forefront of the Emperor's armies. Highly disciplined and courageous warriors, the Ultramarines have remained true to the teachings of the holy Codex Astartes, the greatest work of their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman. Tales of their victories are told from their home world, Macragge, to the sacred halls of Terra. Whenever the enemies of Mankind threaten the Imperium, the Ultramarines stand ready to fight them.
Uniquely amongst the First Founding Legions, the history of the Ultramarines is relatively well documented and there exists a wealth of information regarding the formation of this most illustrious Chapter. One of the greatest mysteries concerning the Primarchs of the Space Marine Legions are the circumstances of their sundering from the Emperor and this has vexed scholars down through the millennia. There are many wild and fanciful theories, but none can fully explain how such a calamitous event could be allowed to transpire. While it is a mystery that will probably never be adequately solved, it is when Roboute Guilliman's discovery on Macragge is examined that Imperial scholars find perhaps the greatest clue to the true facts of the matter.
Macragge is a rocky, inhospitable world on the eastern fringe of the galaxy. Three-quarters of its surface is covered by bleak, mountainous uplands, the rest with glittering blue seas. Macragge had survived the worst catastrophes of the Age of Strife; its industries had remained intact, contact was maintained with nearby star systems, and spacecraft regularly travelled between them. The people of Macragge were ruled by two Kings, or Consuls, and their word was law. To break their laws was to invite severe retribution, but honest toil was rewarded and positions of power granted to those most capable. Life on Macragge was harsh and only the strongest survived to adulthood. The state determined whether children, both male and female, were strong when they were born and weakling infants were left on the mountains to perish.
To be a citizen of Macragge was to live a life of discipline, self-denial and simplicity. The people viewed themselves as the true inheritors of Humanity's best traditions, shunning luxuries and occasion for leisure. Reliance on technological advancement was seen as bringing discord, weakness and a decline in moral values. This exercised a profound pull on the surrounding systems which admired the discipline and order of Macragge. To maintain this way of life, children of both sexes were sent to military and athletic academies at the age of six where they were taught to fight, build their stamina, maintain discipline, endure extremes of pain and survive in the wild. Life for the students was brutal and only the very best survived. At fourteen, after eight years of the toughest training imaginable, those students became soldiers.
This punishing regime ensured that the military might of Macragge was second to none and many of the surrounding systems adopted the same method of training. While the rest of the galaxy threatened to plunge back into the anarchy of the Age of Strife, Macragge and her neighbours prospered, disciplined armies of highly trained warriors hurling back alien invaders, pirates and human renegades time and time again. A soldier served until he or she reached the age of thirty, when they were allowed to leave the military and start a family of their own. However, despite the overwhelming military successes off-planet, areas of Macragge remained untamed and wild, with bandits and brigands raiding from the barbarous lands of Illyrium in the north. Konor, the mightiest Battle King of Macragge, had led armies against the northern barbarians, but even he had never managed to pacify the region for any length of time.
The coming of Roboute Guilliman was a time of great omen for the people of Macragge. Scribes recorded many strange sights and a passage in Konor's journals offers a significant clue to the mystery surrounding the Space Marine Primarchs. These writings have been preserved by the Librarians of the Ultramarines and its words have enlightened and divided Imperial historians in equal measure.
"Such dreams as might make a man believe he had lost his mind, or worse, fallen prey to a daemon, beset me nightly. It has been three months since I spent a night not woken from sleep by a scream so terrible I scarce believe it to be my own. Every night, dark terrors of fang and claw seek to rend my flesh and feast on my soul. The physicians prepare me infusions of Lassiam root, but they do not help. Until tonight I felt like I should go mad. But as I dreamed of dark monsters that longed to suck the marrow from my bones, I beheld an armoured figure in a moulded breastplate of iron, embossed with an eagle and polished so that it shone like silver. A close fitting helm of bronze obscured the warrior's face and he stood with a wide-bladed sword that crackled with powerful energies. The dark beasts swarmed around him, but he smote them with his mighty weapon and, as each creature fell, it howled and vanished from sight. As the last beast was slain, the warrior turned to me and I suddenly found myself beside Hera's Falls in the Valley of Laponis. Spray from the mighty waterfall drenched me and I saw a golden haired child on the ground. The warrior bade me protect the child and as I reached to gather the babe in my arms, I woke, feeling more refreshed than I have in months. Dream or vision? I do not know, but I awoke with a fine mist of fresh mountain water on my face."
According to legend, the Valley of Laponis was the site of the crowning of the first Battle King of Macragge and, the following day, Konor rode east at the head of his bodyguard to Hera's Falls. Weeks later, the king's expedition eventually crested the impenetrable, snow-capped peaks and reached the vast falls, glacial water thundering to the rocks tens of thousands of feet below. Here, wrapped in swaddling clothes, they discovered the child that Konor had seen in his vision. How the child came to be in this isolated valley farcical for Roboute to remain at the training barracks as he was already the mightiest warrior on Macragge. He could best every one of his instructors in hand to hand combat and none could out-think his battlefield stratagems.
As Roboute took his place within the military, Macragge itself was in a state of change. Konor was a well-liked ruler, yet his fellow Consul, a vain and jealous man named Gallan, plotted against him. In these times of prosperity, Gallan and a powerful group of the wealthy elite of Macragge had grown fat off the labour of slaves and vigorously opposed Konor's proposed reforms that would oblige them to provide their slaves with reasonable food and accommodation. Konor also pushed through legislation that forced the wealthy to contribute to his ambitious programme to enlarge and improve the capital city. His reforms were of great benefit to the people of Macragge, but Gallan and his supporters were fearful of losing their wealth and power. Such was Roboute's fearsome reputation, Gallan knew that he could not strike while Konor's son was still in the capital, and secretly arranged to have him removed from the city. Spreading gold amongst the Illyrium tribes, Gallan had the tribesmen launch a series of bloody raids against the northern communities of Macragge. He then counselled Konor that the pacification of these tribes would be the perfect task for Roboute. Konor readily agreed; he had been seeking a task worthy of his son and he believed that this was the perfect opportunity for him to prove his readiness for command.
Roboute marched north into the untamed lands of Illyrium and launched a brilliant campaign against the tribesmen. His genius for military strategy and organisation was nothing short of legendary, and within two months his expeditionary force had not only pacified the entire region but had earned the respect of the fierce tribesmen. Roboute became blood brother to Bardylis, head man of the strongest tribe, after sparing his life in battle and accepted oaths of loyalty from the leaders of every other tribe at the Gathering of Paonia. Bardylis then told Roboute of the gold that had come north from Gallan and begun the bloodshed. Roboute immediately gathered his men to march south to the capital but, as they came within sight of the city, they saw thick pillars of black smoke and the flickering glow of many fires.
Roboute led his army towards the gates, advancing through hordes of citizens fleeing from the terror within. The city was in anarchy, drunken soldiers looting and killing at random, and fires raging unchecked. Roboute marched to the Senate house, executing any looters he came across, and formed work details to fight the fires that threatened to engulf the city. A hundred soldiers in the pay of Gallan blocked the gates of the Senate house, but Roboute butchered them and forced his way inside. Leaving his troops to deal with the drunken mob, he fought his way through the Senate building to find Konor lying near death, an assassin's blade lodged in his heart. With his dying breath, Konor told his son of Gallan's betrayal and implored him to continue his works. The physicians did what they could for the Battle King, but the wound was poisoned and they could do nothing to save him. Roboute's thoughts filled with vengeance as he began the task of restoring order within the city. Those soldiers who had remained faithful to Konor were besieged within their barracks, but when word reached them of Roboute's return, they broke out and linked with other forces loyal to the Battle King.
With Roboute at their head, the rebels were soon crushed and not a single man was spared the Primarch's wrath. Gallan had fled the planet, but Roboute hunted him down and dragged him back to Macragge in chains, personally beheading him with Konor's sword. By popular demand, Roboute assumed the mantle of Battle King of Macragge and he worked swiftly to destroy those who had betrayed his father, executing them and seizing their lands and titles. He distributed these amongst his loyal supporters and set about continuing his father's works. A year later, the rebellion was forgotten and Macragge flourished like never before. Soon Macragge had been almost completely rebuilt with wondrous structures of smooth marble, steel and glass. The people prospered and wanted for nothing. Disciplined, well-equipped armies from Macragge kept the King's peace, and starships travelled regularly between neighbouring systems. It was, in all respects, a perfect model of human society, and when the Emperor learned of this Utopian civilisation he took ship for Macragge to meet its legendary King.
The Speculum Historiale records the meeting of the Emperor and Roboute Guilliman in great (and often unnecessary) detail and many historians cite this as proof that the Emperor had set Roboute Guilliman on Macragge deliberately. The Emperor met Roboute wearing a polished silver breastplate with an eagle at its centre and an all-enclosing bronze helm. He carried a glowing power sword and welcomed Roboute as an equal. Roboute instantly recognised the Emperor from the description in his father's journal and knew that he had at last met his true father. The Emperor was astounded by the prosperity and strength of this world and immediately assigned the forward base of the Ultramarines Legion to Macragge. The Ultramarines had been created from Roboute's genetic template and they established their base high in the Laponis Valley, beginning construction of a mighty fortress on the exact spot of Roboute's discovery.
The Primarch soon assimilated the wonders of the Imperium and readily took command of the Ultramarines Legion. As ever, his greatest talents lay in the art of war and he led the Ultramarines to victory after victory, further expanding the Emperor's realm. He liberated countless worlds from the domination of aliens and foul Chaos renegades, but where some of his brother Primarchs left a trail of death and destruction in their wake, Roboute brought peace and fresh prosperity. Every world the Ultramarines liberated rapidly took its place amongst those loyal to the Imperium, and Guilliman's genius for planning campaigns ensured that the planet's population and industry suffered the minimum amount of collateral damage. On Macragge, the Fortress of Hera took shape, a building of such magnificent proportions that it defied the human mind with its grandeur. Upon its completion, those Ultramarines who had remained behind to oversee its construction began recruiting from Macragge and the surrounding systems. The training academies provided many fine candidates for the Legion and soon the Ultramarines received the first influx of warriors born and bred on Macragge. The surrounding systems also provided warriors for the Legion and, before long, the Ultramarines were the largest Legion in existence.
When Horus turned against the Emperor and led the galaxy into the most destructive civil war it had ever seen, the Ultramarines were engaged deep in the galactic south. Their very successes had carried them far from Horus' armies in the north-east and Guilliman did not receive word of the betrayal until the battle for Terra was under way. Gathering his Legion, Guilliman led his forces towards Terra, en route destroying a rebel fleet on its way to reinforce Horus. The war had been won by the time Guilliman's warriors reached Terra, but the Imperium was in turmoil. Half the Space Marine Legions had sided with Horus and the remaining loyalist Legions had been badly mauled in the fighting. There were desperately few Space Marines, and never were they more needed. The enemies of Mankind, sensing the weakness of the Imperium, prepared to attack, but Roboute Guilliman vowed that the Emperor's realm would not fall and took it upon himself to hold it together. He despatched his Legion throughout the galaxy to stem the tide of invasion and unrest, holding the fragile Imperium together through a time of great danger. Macragge provided recruits as fast as it could, and soon the Ultramarines accounted for more than half of the Space Marines in the field. After almost a decade of total war, stability was restored to the galaxy and the philosophies of the Ultramarines' way of war had permeated almost every Legion. Under Guilliman's guidance, the holy Codex Astartes was taking shape and its doctrines would shape every future Space Marine force and lay the foundations for the Imperium's conventional military might.
The home worlds of the Ultramarines are situated deep in the galactic south-east in the Ultima Segmentum. Whereas most Chapters have their fortress monastery on a single world, the Ultramarines control no fewer than eight nearby systems.
Collectively these are known as Ultramar and, while each has its own government, armed forces and individual cultures, all look to the Ultramarines and Macragge for leadership.
The worlds surrounding Macragge are largely industrial in nature, and under Roboute Guilliman's guidance these worlds were revolutionised into prosperous, productive planets where honest toil and virtue are rewarded. The inhabitants of these worlds are industrious, disciplined and intensely loyal to the Ultramarines.
When looking to their defence, each world maintains its own dedicated armies, but can also call upon the protection of the Ultramarines. They are not required to levy troops for the Imperial Guard, but such is the prosperity and disciplined nature of Ultramar that hundreds of regiments stand ready to fight throughout the galaxy. As well as their own defence, the worlds of Ultramar provide recruits for the Ultramarines and it is a source of fierce pride when a family can point to an ancestor who became a Space Marine.
In the glory days of the Great Crusade, the worlds surrounding Macragge provided the Ultramarines with hundreds of new recruits, raw materials and supplies. This tradition has continued to the present day and strong ties have been maintained between Macragge and its surrounding planets. Given the close-knit structure of Ultramar, it is not surprising that many of its worlds share a commonality of language, culture, architecture and governmental styles.
Macragge is a rocky world, protected by numerous orbital batteries and two vast polar defence grids. It is here, in the harsh and unforgiving mountains, that the Ultramarines built the Fortress of Hera, housing the shrine of the Primarch himself within the Temple of Correction. Here the Primarch's body is held within a stasis field and the Temple is a place of great pilgrimage for many loyal citizens of the Imperium.
Talassar is a turbulent planet of tempests and violent seas, with but a single continent named Glaudor. In contrast, the three worlds of Quintarn, Tarentus and Masali orbit a common centre of gravity and, outside the huge, enclosed agri-cities, the land is desolate and arid. Wind traps collect water for domed cities that protect verdant greenery and hundreds of square miles of agricultural land. Calth's populace lives underground, far from the deadly rays of its blue sun, long ago seeded with poisons by the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. Vast underground caverns honeycomb the planet's crust and, though the planet is self-sufficient, like all others in Ultramar, a great deal of food is shipped in from nearby lax. The planet's shipyards are justly famous and construct a sizeable proportion of the ships in the Ultramarines fleet as well as those used by other arms of the Imperium. Both lax and Espandor are sparsely populated worlds towards the edge of Ultramar, lax is an agri-world and one of the most productive worlds in the Imperium, while Espandor is primarily composed of forests and rumoured to have been settled when traders were blown off course by a warp storm during the Age of Strife. The crowning glory of Ultramar is Prandium and its natural beauty is famed throughout the Imperium.
The harsh life on Macragge breeds hardy people with strong martial values and hard-working natures. Discipline, self-reliance and honour are seen as cardinal virtues and the children of Ultramar are taught these values from the earliest age. These are reinforced in the training academies and, by the time students graduate, they are amongst the most disciplined humans in the galaxy. The people of Ultramar are taught to respect the might of the Imperium and that to strive in its name is the highest form of service a person can render to the Emperor. As such, the workers and warriors of Ultramar are respected throughout the galaxy and are a byword for strength, courage and honour.
In battle, the Ultramarines follow the teachings of Roboute Guilliman, fighting with all the strength and ferocity of their legendary Primarch. An ancient saying of the Battle Kings of Macragge was that a warrior should return from battle either carrying his shield or carried lifeless upon it and this is as true today as it was then. No warrior of the Ultramarines would bring shame on the Chapter and many are the deeds recorded by the Librarians of heroic feats of bravery undertaken to uphold its honour.
The Horus Heresy highlighted weakness inherent in the gene-seed of several Space Marine Legions and this was exacerbated by the accelerated zygote harvesting techniques used to keep the Legions up to full strength.
The Ultramarines gene-seed is by far the purest stock and there are no known aberrations in its genetic structure. Every one of the esoteric organs utilised in the arduous creation of a Space Marine by the Ultramarines are fully functional.
"Courage and honour!"