A Black Crusade is when the forces of Chaos manage to unite under the leadership of Abaddon the Despoiler, Warmaster of the Black Legion, and launch a massive attack from within the Eye of Terror against the Imperium.
The first Black Crusade occurred in the middle of the 31st millennium. Utilizing the region of calm known as the Cadian Gate, Abaddon led the combined forces of the Traitor Legions against scores of worlds, and was responsible for millions of deaths in the first week alone. Multiple worlds were lost before the Imperium could fight back effectively, and although the Black Crusade was defeated, the Imperium was forced to heavily fortify the surrounding Cadian sector.
Over the course of the intervening ten thousand years, Abaddon has launched a further twelve Black Crusades. Millions of other attacks have been made on the worlds of the Cadian Gate by Daemon Princes and lesser Chaos warlords, but the title of Black Crusade is reserved for the times when Abaddon seems to be able to unite all of Chaos in one goal.
The 41st Millennium saw two Black Crusades. The Twelfth Black Crusade, also known as the Gothic War, was Abaddon's attempt to capture the ancient Eldar artifacts known as the Talismans of Vaul, but known to the Imperium as the six Blackstone Fortresses. The Eldar allied themselves with the Imperium to defeat the Chaos forces, and were successful, although Abaddon escaped with at least two of the Blackstone Fortresses.
The Thirteenth Black Crusade began during the 999th year of the 41st millennium, and resulted in the largest mobilisation of both Imperial and Chaotic forces seen since the Horus Heresy. In this campaign at least one of the Blackstone Fortresses was destroyed by Necron raiders; the fortresses, also known as the Talismans of Vaul by the Eldar, were designed to defeat the "star gods" - the C'tan.
The Thirteenth Black Crusade was the background to the world-wide Eye of Terror campaign, which resulted in a minor victory for the forces of Chaos and gave Abaddon a foothold on the Cadian Gate, though he suffered devastating losses to his fleet. Admiral Quarren led a counterattack that drove off Abaddon's Chaos corrupted Blackstone Fortress, but Abaddon's foothold on the Gate remains with fighting still ongoing on Cadia and the surrounding worlds. In response, the Imperium has stripped garrisons along the its far Eastern Fringe to reinforce the Cadian Gate which resulted in a full retreat of the chaos on cadia gate.
List of crusades
- c 781.M31 The First Battle of Cadia. (Codex: Chaos Space Marines 3)
- 597.M32 Failed attack on defences of Cadia. (Liber Chaotica: Khorne)
- 909.M32 The Host of Tallomine. Daemon Prince Tallomin leads attack that is crushed by the Space Wolves. (Liber Chaotica: Khorne)
- c001.M34 Destruction of the Citadel of Kromarch on El'Phanor before crushed. (Liber Chaotica: Khorne)
- 723.M36 Doombreed, a prince of Khorne declares war on the Adeptus Astartes. The Warhawks and the Venerators are lost. (Liber Chaotica: Khorne)
- 901.M36 Unknown.
- 811.M37 The Ghost War (Liber Chaotica: Khorne). The Slaughter of the Blood Angels at Mackan (Codex: Chaos Space Marines 3).
- 999.M37 Unknown.
- 537.M38 Unknown.
- 001.M39 The Conflict of Helica. Iron Warriors fight Iron Hands at Medusa. (Liber Chaotica: Khorne)
- 301.M39 Unknown.
- 139.M41 The Gothic War. (Liber Chaotica: Khorne)
- 999.M41 Attack on Cadia. (Codex: Eye of Terror)
The years are from Codex: Chaos Space Marines 3