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The question is simple enough: outside of his own Legion, what was a primarch's rank or position? In Legion, Alpharius calls Lord Commander Namatjira a "lord" which could have been just politeness and formality but then he also swears loyalty to him. Why?
There's dozens of examples throughout the fluff (especially HH fluff, of course) on primarchs treating mere humans as peers or even superiors. This puzzles me as I'd think that as a son of the galaxy's master (they think) they'd be pretty high above lord commanders and such nobodies.

Opinions? Facts?
 

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Bane of Empires
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As members of the War Council during the Great Crusade their authority was essentially supreme, only trumped by the Emperor/Malcador and matched by the other members of the War Council. However, towards the end of the Great Crusade and the inception of the Council of Terra, their authority was then trumped by that (which many of them resented). And then of course post-Ullanor Horus took his place as Warmaster.

I don't believe there was anything concrete though. It seems that during the Crusade every Legion was pretty much given free-reign to enact wars of compliance as they saw fit (within reason of course).

As for the Nurth campaign. Alpharius seemed content to let Namatjira take command (and all the responsibility and bureaucracy that went with it) so that he could act separately in the shadows according to a different agenda. Calling him such things as "lord" may have just helped serve this purpose. Or perhaps to lull him into a false sense of security, or to stoke his arrogance...
 

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The Emperor Protects
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Indeed, Alpharius placing himself under (the supposed)command of Namatjira allowed him and his Legion to focus on the war against the Nurth whilst not being bogged down by the beurocracy and admin needed to run a campaign. It suited them just fine to let Namatjira think he was in overall command, but as we saw throughout the book, the Alpha Legion had no intention of conforming to any of Namatjira wishes.
 

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Plus when you address someone as a Lord that doesn't necessarily mean you're beholden to them. Nam probably came from noble linage or earned a title for his efforts. A Primarch addressing a mortal as a lord may simply acknowledging the mortal's title and not as a sign of deference.
 

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Regardless of my rank, I would never presume to order one of them about. Most of them could kill you with a thought or pound you into mush in the blink of an eye, and they have IQ's in the thousands with hundreds years of battle experience. I expect that's what a lot of the council of Terra thought as well as high ranking admirals.
 

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ahhh they were princes. The emperor was king of all mankind and the primarchs are his sons and ares to his throne... that makes them kinda like a prince.
 
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