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Adeptus Terra Icon

The icon of the Adeptus Terra

The Adeptus Terra, also known as the "Priesthood of Earth," is the central bureaucratic governmental organisation of the Imperium of Man and not really an agency in and of itself.

It is made up of many autonomous departments that receive the orders of the High Lords of Terra, passing them down to the different branches that will enact their commands.

There are only a few organisations in the whole of the Imperium that do not fall under this central command, most notable of which are the Inquisition, the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Adeptus Ministorum, also called the Ecclesiarchy. The Adeptus Astartes -- the Space Marines -- are officially a part of the Adeptus Terra, but retain a high level of autonomy.

Imperium Structure & Organisation

Chart depicting the structure and organisation of the various organisations of the Imperium of Man, the Adeptus Terra comprises almost all of the other organs of the Imperial government.

The priesthood which serves the Master of Mankind is often referred to as "the right hand of the Emperor." It falls to the Adeptus Terra to interpret the Emperor's will and minister to the Imperium. Many millions of souls labour across the galaxy to serve this vast organisation.

There are numerous ancient institutions that make up the priesthood, each with various names on various planets. These varying "adepta," as they are traditionally known, each have a specific function to carry out in the Emperor's name. Only the Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Inquisition are not formally a part of the Adeptus Terra.

The Adeptus Terra is an umbrella organisation, and not really an agency in itself, as each of its divisions functions largely autonomously and separately from the others.

The most powerful individual in the Adeptus Terra (and if not in theory, then in practice, the entire Imperium) is the Master of the Administratum, who controls the central, secular bureaucracy of the Imperium.

Imperial Adepta

The following adepta of the Imperial government are all formally part of the Adeptus Terra. The Inquisition, the Adeptus Ministorum (including the Adepta Sororitas) and the Adeptus Mechanicus are all independent of the Adeptus Terra and maintain their own parallel but independent hierarchies.

While the Adeptus Astartes is considered a formal part of the Adeptus Terra, by tradition and out of respect for the Space Marines' genetic connection to the Emperor, its Chapters are granted a wide latitude of political and military command autonomy, though disagreements between some Chapters and the Inquisition and the Adeptus Ministorum have sometimes become so heated they have erupted into armed conflict.



  • Black Crusade Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 22
  • Codex: Imperialis (2nd Edition)
  • Codex: Militarum Tempestus (6th Edition), pp. 5-13
  • Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley, Ch. 9 "Imperator Gloriana," pp. 94-97
  • Vaults of Terra: The Carrion Throne (Novel) by Chris Wraight, Ch. 3
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (8th Edition), pp. 24-25
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (Digital Edition) (7th Edition), pp. 275, 278
  • Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 139
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Warhammer 40,000 Overview Grim Dark Lore Teaser TrailerPart 1: ExodusPart 2: The Golden AgePart 3: Old NightPart 4: Rise of the EmperorPart 5: UnityPart 6: Lords of MarsPart 7: The Machine GodPart 8: ImperiumPart 9: The Fall of the AeldariPart 10: Gods and DaemonsPart 11: Great Crusade BeginsPart 12: The Son of StrifePart 13: Lost and FoundPart 14: A Thousand SonsPart 15: Bearer of the WordPart 16: The Perfect CityPart 17: Triumph at UllanorPart 18: Return to TerraPart 19: Council of NikaeaPart 20: Serpent in the GardenPart 21: Horus FallingPart 22: TraitorsPart 23: Folly of MagnusPart 24: Dark GambitsPart 25: HeresyPart 26: Flight of the EisensteinPart 27: MassacrePart 28: Requiem for a DreamPart 29: The SiegePart 30: Imperium InvictusPart 31: The Age of RebirthPart 32: The Rise of AbaddonPart 33: Saints and BeastsPart 34: InterregnumPart 35: Age of ApostasyPart 36: The Great DevourerPart 37: The Time of EndingPart 38: The 13th Black CrusadePart 39: ResurrectionPart 40: Indomitus