With the launch of Dawn of War III this year, the spotlight once again shines on the Blood Ravens, the chapter of the Space Marines that we are accustomed to having played with throughout the Dawn of War franchise.
This article will attempt to approach in broad strokes one of the most heaty topics of contentions that have been raging in Dawn of War communities throughout the internet - who exactly founded the Blood Ravens?
Where It Began
To start off it is common knowledge that the Blood Ravens do not appear in any official Imperium records prior to the 37th Millenia. Even when they do start appearing in records, it is nothing organised and merely spots of appearances in campaigns fighting in the name of the Emperor.
Now though this would be something plausible had it been another Chapter, the Blood Ravens pride themselves by their motto of "Knowledge is power, guard it well
" and thus it seems ironic that one of the few chapters which has an incredibly high count of librarians and possess a fascination in discovering the unknown and gaining knowledge not seem to be able to know which Primarch or Founder Legion their gene-seed can be traced back to.
It is more surprising considering the fact that, according to the Lexicanum and sourced from the Blood Ravens Omnibus that:
"Unusually, every Blood Ravens vessel is equipped with its own Librarium and a full complement of curatorial staff who record every event that happens on the ship, as well as storing the mission testimonies of the Chapter Librarians who travel aboard. These records are eventually copied to the Librarium Sanctorum, in an attempt to ensure the Blood Ravens have an uninterrupted record of their own history"
Thus the natural conclusion is that there is a higher power or organisation that purposely removed all or most traces of the Blood Raven's existence prior to the 37th Millennia. The list of suspects being as long and unknown as the history of the Chapter itself.
Azariah Vidya as substitute
In the absence of a Primarch or Founder Legion to draw traditions and inspiration from, the Blood Ravens were forced to make their own and many of their forms and norms would be shaped by that of Azariah Vidya, who was a Master of the Librarium during a campaign in the Gothic Sector in 37M.
His actions during the campaign and his subsequent elevation to the appointment of both Chapter Master and Chief Librarian of the Blood Ravens began the tradition of Librarians holding dual leadership appointments and the reverence of the role played by the latter in the Chapter, a role that is far larger than that afforded to other librarian counterparts in other Chapter. Azaraiah was given the moniker the "Great Father" and this is the closest the Blood Ravens have to that of a founder for them to look up to in their historical records.
Possible Progenitor Legions?
The second and eleventh legion are always suspects when it comes to the matter of being the hidden providers of the Blood Raven's gene-seed. Records of both Primarchs and their Legions were struck completely even during the Horus Heresy, and their histories are not to ever be spoken of, on the Emperor's orders, which is a fate even worse than that of the Traitor Legions who were at least given the designation of "Excommunicate Traitoris" and which prior records were allowed to survive.
With that said however, assuming that if the Blood Ravens were descended from either the 2nd or 11th legions it will make the task to find the records of gene-seed provision much harder than expected considering how most if not all of it has been sealed away already and possibly destroyed. Such a quest would be much harder than had the Blood Ravens been descended from a Traitor Legion or made during the 21st "Cursed Founding" during the 36th Millennium, which is just about a thousand years before the Blood Ravens make their official appearance in Imperium records.
The supposed link between the Blood Angels and Raven Guard legion with that of Blood Ravens stem from nothing more than the similarities in the elements of their names as well as their heraldry. Hence, not much thought should be given to this particular notion.
The Thousand Sons Legion possess one of the more stronger and credible links in being the provider of the gene-seed to the Blood Ravens Chapter.
The Thousand Sons, owing to the strong psychic potential of their Primarch Magnus the Red, makes the legion specialise in the deployment and usage of psykers. Similarly, the Blood Raven and their reverence of Librarians in their Chapter due to the deeds of Azariah Vidya, lead them to have a higher than average librarian count and also specialise in the usage of psychic powers. Thus from this we can see a similarity in the battle doctrine of the Blood Ravens and the Thousand Sons in that both of them have a large amount of psykers and use it significantly in combat.
Secondly, the Thousand Sons had divided themselves into five cults based on the specialisation of their psychic abilities. They were the Athanaean, Corvidae, Pavoni, Pyrae and Raptora cults. In addition to the Blood Ravens wearing the red coloured power armour of the Thousand Sons, the former also share the heraldry of the Thousand Sons Corvidae cult. The Corvidae cult had specialised in precognition. Thus with this we have another plausible connection for how the Blood Ravens are descended from the Thousand Sons.
Lastly in the A Thousand Sons novel, the psyker Kallista Eris had received a vision regarding what possibly happened to the Thousand Sons prior to the Burning of Prospero. Here she quotes her famous line “The Ravens. I see them too. The lost sons and a Raven of blood. They cry out for salvation and knowledge, but it is denied!” Thus there is an implicit connection regarding the Blood Ravens being the "lost sons" who have descended from the Thousand Sons.
In conclusion, the founding of the Blood Ravens is one of the more interesting questions that have been left vague and unanswered in the 40K universe.
The conscious decision on the part of Games Workshop to set the Blood Ravens earliest historical records mean that not only do the above reasons form the possible basis of their founding, their founding could also easily be attributed to an event such as that of the 21st Cursed Founding which took place in the 36th Millennia, a thousand years before the Blood Ravens official turn up in Imperial records.
Until an official canon explanation is given, this profound mystery will remain as one of the biggest points of speculation within the 40k universe.