Historical References of the Iron Warriors

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Karak Norn Clansman
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Historical References of the Iron Warriors

#1 Post by Karak Norn Clansman »

Historical References of the Iron Warriors

The themes of the Iron Warriors in Warhammer 40'000 revolve around the drudgery, hardship and murderous grind of trench warfare and siegecraft.

The primary historical reference of the Iron Warriors becoming disappointed and embittered after endless siege warfare draws upon the souring of armies and European cultures during the drawn-out attrition and hunger of the Great War (1914-1918), which ended in state collapse, attempted mutinies, roving bandits, revolution and civil war in many countries as the great powers raced toward the bottom in total war. This is the main idea: See the French army mutinies of 1917; the Russian revolution and coup and civil war; the disintegration of Austria-Hungary toward the end of the war complete with masses of bandits; the German revolutions and civil strife; the short-lived revolutionary rule of Bela Kun in Hungary, among other things. To say nothing of Italy immediately after the war, where the imminent threat of revolution in northern Italy and widespread bitterness over catastrophic losses and perceived poor treatment by its Entente allies at the peace treaties led to the march on Rome.

Even in neutral Sweden with its lack of food production and arable land, the British blockade caused widespread hunger, made much worse by the country selling grain to Germany for profit and by black market profiteering (mistakes not repeated during the Second World War). Tales of hunger and desperation abound at the end of the First World War. For instance, trains loaded with confiscated Romanian grain destined for Germany were seized in Vienna to feed empty stomachs, in a fascinating spat between allies. The German Michael offensive of 1918 partially failed when hungry stormtroopers came across well-stocked Entente supply depots, and the famous Prussian discipline broke down as shocked officers could not possibly convince their soldiers to resume the offensive and press the attack. Instead, the hungry German soldiers gorged themselves on the bountiful food stocks of their enemies, thereby slowing down the attack. British army jokes after the failed German offensives quip about masses of Germans offering themselves up willingly as prisoners of war, so that all the Tommies needed to do was walk out with a sandwich.

All this souring of countries and armies, and all this strife from the end of the Great War are the primary historical source of inspiration for the Iron Warriors' background. Have you ever thought that the embitterment of Astartes in endless siege warfare sounded contrived? Now you know why: The inspiration is the tumbling end of the Great War.

The Iron Warriors also draw upon historical themes of ancient siegecraft and military engineering, and particularly Greek and Roman ones, as enshrined in their homeworld. The decimation comes from here, to say nothing of Syracuse with its brilliant siege engineers and inventors. The Stor-Bezashk siege engine corps is by the way the name of the veterinarians of the Sassanid Persians from late antiquity, responsible for caring for their armies' crucial horses.

Lastly, the background for this Legion, named the Corpse Grinders before the rediscovery of Perturabo, would seem to point to the Corpse Grinders being recruited from some futuristic Mad Max variant of vaquero and cowboy culture in a desiccated and bombed-out dry version of Central Amerika, although probably not with cattle herds as their main sustenance.

Have you spotted any other historical references in the background of the Iron Warriors Legion? If so, please share!

Being aware of the historical inspiration behind 40k better enables us to craft background and stories fit for the themes in play.



Artwork by snip105
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