An Edict of Obliteration, also known as a Damnatio Memoriae, a High Gothic phrase meaning "condemnation of memory," is the policy of the deliberate destruction of icons and other symbols or monuments pertaining to an individual, usually of the Imperial elite, who has been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Emperor of Mankind (before he was interred within the Golden Throne), the High Lords of Terra or the Inquisition. An Edict of Obliteration is a frequent component of major political or religious changes within the Imperium. The term encompasses the more specific destruction of images of a member of the Imperial elite after his death or overthrow. The result of an Edict of Obliteration is to have the offending individual effectively erased from Imperial history.
The purpose of an Edict of Obliteration is to preserve the honour of the Emperor by removing every trace of the person from the life of the Imperium, as if he or she had never existed. In a galaxy-spanning empire that stresses fealty and loyalty to the Emperor in return for advancement, acclaim and spiritual salvation for its elites, this is perhaps one of the most severe punishments. This is especially true for those Imperial Adepta that directly serve the Emperor, such as the Ecclesiarchy, the Inquisition, and the members of the Imperial military forces like the Space Marines and the Imperial Guard.
In the Imperium, an Edict of Obliteration is most often used in the condemnation of Imperial elites like members of the nobility, high-ranking Imperial government officials, military officers and Imperial Planetary Governors after their deaths. If the High Lords of Terra or the Emperor did not like the acts of an individual, they could have their property seized, their name erased and their statues or other images reworked. Imperial historians and archaeologists have had difficulty determining when official Edicts of Obliteration have actually taken place. Imperial savants sometimes use the phrase, "de facto damnatio memoriae" when the condemnation is not official but the result is the same.
A truly effective Edict of Obliteration would not be known to later historians, since by definition it would entail the complete and total erasure of the individual in question from the historical record. However, since all political figures have allies as well as enemies, it is difficult to implement a complete erasure of a powerful individual from the Imperial record. For instance, when the High Lords of Terra condemned the memory of the traitorous actions of Chapter Master Lufgt Huron, the Tyrant of Badab, of the Renegade Astral Claws Chapter, there were those who still harboured forbidden items that escaped the Edict of Obliteration. The Tyrant’s cult of personality within the Badab Sector remained so strong that the noble House of Pyzentos who supported the Tyrant managed to hide one of the finest extant portraits of Lufgt Huron during the war within their family manse on the world of Eshunna.
The Lost Primarchs
The most successful Edict of Obliteration carried out in Imperial history was the deletion of all records from the Imperial archives in reference to the two Lost Primarchs of the II and XI Space Marine Legions. They are referred to as "the forgotten and the purged" and the only thing known by modern Imperial savants concerning them is that the missing Primarchs and their Legions are listed as having been "deleted from Imperial records." The records of these two Primarchs and the II and XI Legions were so effectively purged that ten millennia later their transgressions against the Imperium of Man are still known only to the God-Emperor Himself.
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