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"The greatest resource our Holy Imperium possesses is the fathomless multitudes of Humanity itself. No power is mightier and no force more dreadful when turned to a single purpose. By Human hands alone we have remade stars in our image. By this token the wise know that true power lies in the mastery of blood and bone, in the very meat of Mankind."

—Quastor General, Brantus Hurst, Departmento Munitorium Penitential Command

The Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, a Human male of the Imperium of Man.

Humans (Homo sapiens), also known as Humanity, Humankind, Mankind, or Man, are the most dominant intelligent species in the Milky Way Galaxy in the 41st Millennium A.D.

Humans are bipedal mammals originally evolved from primate antecedents on the world of Terra who have proven to prefer highly stratified, hierarchical societies. Humanity is an aggressively violent, territorial and expansionist species that under the rule of the Emperor of Mankind has proven to possess little tolerance for other forms of intelligent life.

Humanity is divided into a multitude of factions, either working for or against the overall interests of Mankind in its attempts to retain control over the galaxy and survive unscathed in an incredibly hostile universe. However, the vast majority of Humans live under the authoritarian rule of the theocratic, interstellar empire known as the Imperium of Man.


Ages of Humanity

According to Imperial historitors, Human history has progressed through several different distinct periods, which chronicle the species' rise to ultimate dominance over the Milky Way Galaxy and the current situation in which Humanity faces a number of extinction-level threats from Chaos and multiple, deadly xenos species. These periods include:

Restoration of Humanity

Cadian Cmdr female

A Human female serving as an officer of the Cadian Shock Troops, armed with Power Sword and Laspistol. In general, Humans of different genders possess social equality on most advanced Imperial worlds.

By the time of the Unification Wars that established the Emperor of Mankind's rule over Terra, the Human homeworld's population had suffered through the horrors of the Age of Strife, a period punctuated by constant warfare and the use of weapons of mass destruction that had badly damaged the environment of Old Earth and destroyed an earlier Human interstellar civilisation that had once stretched across the galaxy.

Under the Emperor's rule, Humanity would be restored, intellectually, spiritually and physically to the heights it had once known during the Age of Technology, and the shackles of darkness cast aside. The wars continued without relent until finally all of Old Earth's techno-barbarian factions, nations and fractured city-states pledged the Emperor fealty and at last Terra was unified for the first time in many millennia.

It was not enough merely to secure military victory, however -- the betterment and restoration of Humanity required more. So it was that even before victory on Terra had been achieved the Emperor and those learned souls He had gathered to Him started to experiment with genetics. This was done first and foremost to stabilise the population and to recreate the species of Mankind as it was before the radiation storms and generations of atomic, biological and alchemical weapons had wracked the planet.

Secondly, the creation of genetically-augmented transhuman fighters that had begun with the Thunder Warriors who had fought in the Emperor's armies during the Unification Wars continued apace into newer, more powerful creations, ultimately leading to the genesis of what would later become known as the Space Marine Legions. But in truth, the Emperor's greatest work was nothing less than the purging of Mankind's own genome, and its restoration to a baseline of what could be considered truly "Human" as that term had been defined before the Age of Strife.

When the Emperor's Great Crusade moved out into the broader galaxy to restore the unity of Humanity across the galaxy in the late 30th Millennium, many lost Human colony worlds would be discovered where the Human genome had drifted, resulting in unusual physical manifestations. In most cases, these were nothing more than microevolutionary adaptations to the local planetary environments, and resulted in unusual skin tones, eye and hair colours and otherwise meaningless cosmetic changes.

However, certain populations were discovered whose genomes had shifted in radical directions from the Human baseline, either through environmentally-derived mutation, xenos alterations or self-imposed genetic engineering. In these cases, the Emperor was forced to make a choice as to whether these mutants still retained the essential quality of Humanity, or had moved beyond the pale, having been transformed into what was actually a new species of xenos.

In certain cases, such as those of the so-called "Abhuman" strains such as the Squats, Ogryns and Ratlings, the Emperor judged them to be recognisably Human enough to be incorporated as valuable members of Imperial society. But in other cases during the Great Crusade, many populations failed to make the cut, and were judged to have become so alien that they needed to be treated as true xenos, with the Space Marine Legions deployed to carry out the resulting purge.

The galaxy would belong to Humanity, but it would be the same Humanity that the Emperor had loved and served for most of His long life.

Physiology, Anatomy and Society


The Vitruvian Man of Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 500.M2

Humans are a bipedal, mammalian humanoid species that originated on the planet Terra (Old Earth). There is evidence that Human evolution was strongly influenced by the efforts of the ancient alien civilisation known only as the "Old Ones," who were the first known species to attain sentience in the Milky Way Galaxy. It was the Old Ones' common practice to spread life, particularly the seeds of intelligent life, on worlds wherever it might take root. As part of this purpose, the Old Ones were the creators of the early, tree-dwelling primate ancestors of Mankind on primordial Earth tens of millions of Terran years ago who eventually rose to full self-awareness and the development of their own culture.

Later, Humanity rose to create an industrial and then space-faring civilisation at the very end of the 2nd Millennium. Humanity first colonised the galaxy during the Age of Technology. Almost nothing is known about Human civilisation in this time, as this information was lost in the utter chaos of the following Age of Strife.

In the 41st Millennium the majority of Humans in the galaxy are now part of the Imperium of Man, although other Human civilisations are known to exist.

Unfortunately, Humanity is a species that is relatively easy to corrupt to the service of Chaos. In fact, it is Mankind's dominance in the galaxy that has shaped the Warp and the form the Chaos Gods currently take, as they are ultimately no more than psychic manifestations in the Immaterium of the collective psyches of the intelligent species of the galaxy.

Unlike the ancient Aeldari, Humanity has only just begun the evolutionary transition into a fully psychic species. As yet, very few Humans out of the entire population of trillions present in the galaxy develop the genetic mutation that allows them to become psykers, though this number is slowly increasing as the centuries pass. However, most Human psykers lack the mental discipline or inner strength to prevent themselves from becoming Daemonhosts or otherwise being manipulated by the dark entities of the Warp.

Humans, known taxonomically as Homo sapiens (from the ancient language of the Roma which meant "wise man" or "knowing man"), are the only living species in the Homo genus of bipedal primates in Hominidae, the great ape family. Anatomically modern-appearing Humans originated on the world of Terra about 250,000 standard years ago, reaching full behavioural modernity only around 100,000 standard years before the 41st Millennium.

Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, and problem-solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect, bipedal body carriage that frees the hands for manipulating objects, allowed Humans to make far greater use of tools than any other living species on Old Earth.

Other higher-level thought processes of Humans, such as self-awareness, rationality, and sapience, are considered to be defining features of what constitutes a "person," though such features are shared with the other major intelligent xenos species of the galaxy like the Aeldari, the T'au, the Necrons, and the Orks (though some might question the latter).

Like most higher primates originally native to Terra, Humans are social animals. However, Humans are uniquely adept at utilising systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organisation. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families to nation-states to interstellar empires. Social interactions between Humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of Human society.

With Humans present across the galaxy and having adapted to every possible environment, they are currently the galaxy's dominant intelligent species. The current population of Humans in the Milky Way Galaxy in the 41st Millennium A.D. is unknown, but numbers in the many trillions, if not quadrillions.

Humans are noted for their desire to understand and influence their environment, seeking to explain and manipulate phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology, and religion. This natural curiosity has led to the development of advanced tools and skills, which are passed down culturally, though cultural stagnation or even retrogression is possible, as the grim history of the Imperium over the last 10 millennia so readily demonstrates.

Human Civilisations

Imperium of Man

The majority of Humans exist within the Imperium of Man. The Imperial Cult preaches that Humanity has a manifest destiny to conquer the entire galaxy, to the point where other intelligent alien species are seen as inferior, spiritually unclean and worthy of nothing but extinction.

The Lost and the Damned

The next greatest concentration of Humans in the galaxy after the peoples of the Imperium exist as the Lost and the Damned of Chaos, and reside primarily, though not exclusively, within the Warp rift called the Eye of Terror.

Not a coherent civilisation as such, they exist as part of a diverse and infinite collection of warbands and hosts under the leadership of Chaos Champions.

Due to the nature of time within the Warp, some of these Humans are the original Imperial subjects who sided with the Warmaster Horus during the Horus Heresy over ten thousand Terran years ago, though their number has been greatly supplemented by more recent Humans who have turned to the worship of Chaos, or slaves captured as part of the many Chaos raids out of the Eye into Imperial space.

T'au Empire

Less xenophobic than the Imperium, though no less convinced that it should dominate the galaxy, the xenos T'au Empire has no qualms about letting other intelligent species join it.

Whilst few in number, some Humans have done so and exist within this xenos empire where they are known as Gue'vesa.

These Humans, for the most part, are the descendants of Astra Militarum troops who were abandoned in T'au space during the Damocles Gulf Crusade and in other conflicts between the Imperium and the T'au Empire; however, it is not unheard of for Imperial planets like the desert Mining World of Taros to want to secede from the Imperium to join the T'au Empire.

Independent Civilisations

Other Human civilisations in the Milky Way Galaxy are extremely rare. This is mostly due to the fact that the Imperium of Man considers itself to have an automatic right to rule all of Humanity wherever Humans live in the galaxy, and it ruthlessly suppresses any attempt to secede from it.

Similarly, any lost Human colonies that are rediscovered from the Age of Technology are also incorporated into the Imperium whether they want to be or not. Despite this, a few independent Human civilisations have been known to exist in the furthest reaches of the galaxy.

Lost Colonies

When the Age of Strife descended on the galaxy and Warp travel and astropathic communication became impossible, the majority of Human colonies were cut off from Terra and forced to survive on their own. In some cases this meant that they devolved into considerably more primitive societies as the knowledge to create and maintain much advanced technology was lost.

The Great Crusade reunited many thousands of lost Human colonies with the Imperium, yet every now and then changes in the flow of the Warp mean that new Human colonies are unexpectedly discovered.

Whilst nobody can know for sure how many, there are almost certainly more colonies still cut off from the rest of Humanity, waiting to be discovered.

Rebellious Planets

The Imperium keeps a tight grip over its planets, yet every now and then a world does attempt to secede from the Imperium. This may be the result of the planetary governor believing they can get away with independence, or it may be the result of a revolution that deposes those in power.

Many of these secessions are orchestrated by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, and the Humans that are part of these rebellions should be counted as the Lost and the Damned, though there are also occasions when a planet decides it wants to be independent of the Imperium through its own volition.

Regardless of the cause, these independent realms rarely last for long as they are swiftly and brutally subjugated by the Imperium, even if it takes solar decades for the ponderous Administratum of the Imperium to get around to assigning the necessary military forces to suppress the rebellion.


The only independent Human civilisation with any real sustainability outside the Imperium, some Humans evade the Imperium's clutches and live outside of its reach in bands of voidships subsiting through raids and piracy.

Often allying themselves with Aeldari or other xenos, these Humans are swiftly executed as Heretics or Traitors if they are caught by the Imperial authorities.

Other Human Species

Throughout the long history of the Imperium and before, the Human species has mutated into a variety of different stable sub-species as a result of different populations' adaptation to various environments across the galaxy over the millennia.

These variant Human species are known as Abhumans. Abhumans are tolerated to a varying degree within the Imperium due to the fact that they are seen as being close enough to the baseline Human genome to still be accepted as children of the Emperor.


The two primary factions representing the Human race in the Warhammer 40,000 universe are the Imperium of Man and the traitorous forces of Chaos.

Imperium of Man

  • Astra Militarum - The backbone of Imperial military might in the 41st Millennium, the Astra Militarum, or "Imperial Guard," are not a single, cohesive fighting force but are rather a vast military comprised of a wide spectrum of different equipment, tactics and doctrines depending on the particular star system from where an Astra Militarum regiment originates. Because they are formed in this way, recruited and equipped by the resources available in their particular home star system and home sector, the Imperial Guard are the largest single fighting force in the galaxy and they number in the billions of soldiers, all willing to die in the name of the Emperor of Mankind.
  • Collegia Titanica - The Collegia Titanica is the division of the Adeptus Mechanicus that includes the Legions composed of Titans, the colossal Imperial robotic war machines that are the most powerful engines of war in the Imperium of Man. The Collegia is also more rarely known as the Adeptus Titanicus (a contraction of "Adeptus Mechanicus Collegia Titanica").
  • Space Marines - The Space Marines are genetically-modified transhuman warriors designed specifically to lead the Human reconquest of the galaxy during the Great Crusade that created the Imperium of Man over ten thousand Terran years ago during the late 30th and early 31st Millenniums. Since the Horus Heresy, the Space Marines have adopted more of a defensive role, fighting alongside the regiments of the Imperial Guard and aiding them when they need help in the most difficult situations. Space Marines also fight as individual 1,000-warrior-strong Chapters, seeking their own conflicts and resolving them in turn.
  • Navis Imperialis - The Imperial Navy holds nearly all of the Imperium's fighting starships; local governments, Warmasters and others are forbidden to maintain their own fleets of warships. Their spacecraft include some of the most potent engines of destruction in the whole galaxy, including mighty Battleships thousands of years old. The Navy's starships range from small Escorts with a crew of a few dozen to the immense Emperor-class Battleships which might have 20,000 souls or more on board. The Navy also includes fighter and bomber crews and aircraft of the division known as the Aeronautica Imperialis that support the forces of the Astra Militarum on the ground. The Navy's officer class is highly traditional and aristocratic in character. The Imperium's noble families frequently boast naval officers among their number and naval dynasties dominate many battlefleets. Elitism is a virtue on most ships, where the officers' lives are in stark contrast to those of the ratings and engine crews. With thousands of crew living and dying on ships that can spend solar decades without seeing port, a ship of the Imperial Navy becomes a city in space. Mutinies are not unknown and the Naval security battalions of Armsmen are a familiar sight on the decks of all naval ships, their black visors and Shotguns constantly reminding the men that obedience is their duty to the Emperor. The Navy relies on many other organisations to function. Perhaps most importantly, these ancient and complex vessels could not function without a complement of Tech-priests who know how to appease the starships' Machine Spirits and maintain technology that is too old and mysterious to be replicated. The Navy is also reliant on the Tech-priests of Mars for refits, upgrades, repairs and new starships. It is usual for a warship to have Astropaths on board, for proper communication is essential if the Imperium is to be defended. Many captains are glad to have Ministorum clergy among their crew, ministering to the spiritual needs of the men and steeling their spirits with sermons. Commissars are appointed to the larger ships, watching over the moral fibre of the crew and providing a watch against mutiny and impiety. Then, of course, there is the Navigator of each vessel, whose family can occupy entire spires jutting out into space atop the ship.

Forces of Chaos

  • The Lost and the Damned - The Lost and the Damned of Chaos reside primarily, though not exclusively, within the great Warp rift in the Segmentum Obscurus called the Eye of Terror. The Lost and the Damned exist as part of a diverse and infinite collection of Chaos warbands and military hosts under the leadership of Chaos Champions who are usually, but not always Chaos Space Marines belonging to one of the Traitor Legions. Due to the anomalous nature of time in the Warp, some of these Humans are the original Imperial citizens who sided with the Warmaster Horus during the Horus Heresy over ten thousand standard years ago, though their number has been greatly supplemented by more recent Humans who have turned to the worship of Chaos, or slaves captured as part of the many raids conducted by the forces of Chaos into Imperial space.
  • Dark Mechanicum - The Dark Mechanicum, also sometimes referred to incorrectly as the "Dark Mechanicus," and who refer to themselves as the "New Mechanicum," is a sect of traitorous Tech-priests, members of the Collegia Titanica and Chaos Knights of the ancient Mechanicum who have become Hereteks in service to Chaos. They willingly swore their loyalty to the Warmaster Horus and the Chaos Gods as the Great Crusade came to a close and the terrible galactic conflict known as the Horus Heresy erupted in the early 31st Millennium. After the Horus Heresy ended in a pyrrhic victory for the Imperium, the traitorous forces of Chaos that had served the Warmaster were driven towards the Eye of Terror during the brutal military campaigns remembered as the Great Scouring. The Renegade Tech-priests of the so-called Dark Mechanicum were also driven from Mars by the resurgent Loyalists amongst the newborn Adeptus Mechanicus. These Renegades fled the Imperium into the far corners of the galaxy and some also took refuge in the Eye of Terror. Over the centuries, their ranks have been swelled by those Hereteks of the later Mechanicus who choose to follow their foul path into forbidden tech-heresy. In exile, the Dark Mechanicum became even more enthralled to the power of the Warp and heretical technologies.
  • Traitor Titan Legions - The Traitor Titan Legions are those Legios of the Collegia Titanica that repudiated their oaths of loyalty to the Emperor of Mankind and willingly embraced the fickle blessing of the Chaos Gods. Driven by hatred towards the False Emperor and the Adeptus Mechanicus, these towering, warped monstrosities are now an horror to behold, possessing immense firepower that can only be matched by their Loyalist counterparts, and an insanity that allows them to happily partake in indiscriminate slaughter. They are counted a part of the Dark Mechanicum, and those Hereteks maintain these terror-inspiring war machines and offer their aid to various Chaos Lords, Chaos Sorcerers and Daemon Princes in exchange for slaves, souls, raw materiel and other services.


  • Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pg. 9
  • The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 15
  • Warhammer 40,000: Chapter Approved - The Book of the Astronomican
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition)
  • For The Emperor (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell