Below is Garth Patterson's version of the history of the Sardaukar. You can also download a .doc version.

A Comprehensive History of the Sardaukar:

Table of Contents
I. Origins
II. Rise to Power
III. Downfall
IV. Armament
V. Ranking
VI. Uniforms
VII. Interpretations of the Sardaukar
VIII. Conclusion

Origins

Before the time of the great Butlerian Jihad humans were exploring the universe with a hodge podge of spacing vehicles (pre-Spacing Guild) when a large group of colonists stumbled upon and were stranded on a harsh planet that came to be known as Salusa Secundus. The planet's climate was one of extremes, often having severe drought and then torrential rains over a short period. Likewise, the intense heat and intense cold would change rapidly. On top of this, the settlers had to adapt to survive among the planet's native life: the infamous Salusan Bull and Laza Tiger among the most terrifying.

It became necessary for them to breed rapidly to overcome the environment, and so over the generations the people of the planet began to found their own form of clan organization, as was the model of government at that time throughout the universe, and mysterious warrior religion producing a rugged and fearless population who knew how to survive in the most extreme conditions, and eventually they became powerful enough to have their own army of these soldiers, calling themselves Sardaukar. With a blossoming population a form of government that would respect the ideals of the warrior became necessary, a rigid structure of power held by heriditary families, or clans. The clans of the Sardaukar were later united under one leader, a leader who would lead them to supremacy over the affairs of the universe. After the Butlerian Jihad (201 - 108 B.G.), these people feel it is time to assert themselves in the universe, and gather their forces in a war against the other planets of humanity which have been fractured virtually beyond repair.

Rise to Power

After the Battle of Corrin in 88 B.G. the Sardaukar leader founded House Corrino in the battle's honor, settling the ascendancy of the ruling house for 10,000 years. Because of the environmental ferocity of the planet, it was no place for a Royal House to govern from and the Imperial Court was removed to planet Kaitain. Shortly thereafter, Salusa Secundus was designated Imperial Prison Planet where the rabble of the universe were sent for punishment.

The Imperial Prison Planet of the Corrino's was shrouded in mystery for many years, inquiries into the Emperor's forms of opression on this planet were greatly "discouraged". The Sardaukar, in a sense, became the ultimate enforcer of the Padishah Emperor's will across the universe, whipping the unruly leaders of a Great House into line. The work of the Imperial Legions grew drastically over the years, and it soon became apparent to the Corrinos they would have to recruit larger numbers of these warriors in order to maintain stability within the Imperium. To accomplish this, the Corrinos required levies of all the Great Houses of the Landsraad, a levy of convicts.

These convicts were sent to Salusa Secundus to be hardened by the ferocious conditions of the planet, and so the Corrino's instituted their training program to create the dreaded Sardaukar legions that would strike fear into the heart's of any opposition. Small forces of the convicts turned Sardaukar would then be taken out of their harsh environment and given all of the benefits and freedom of a ruler of a Great House, so long as they maintained their fighting prowess.

Downfall

During the reign of Shaddam Corrino IV the power of these legions had been sapped greatly through overconfidence and cynicism about their warrior religion. The Great Revolt on Arrakis lead by Paul Muad'Dib (10,191-10,193) in which 5 legions of Sardaukar (150,000 men) participated against the Fremen overturned the Corrino Dynasty which had ruled the known universe for 10,000 years. The former Imperial House became imbittered over the failure of their legions and vowed revenge on the Atreides who toppled them. The Sardaukar forces of Wensicia, daughter of Shaddam IV, and Prince Farad'n Corrino, grandson of Shaddam IV, were retrained to within a hair as good as their former glory in the days of the Old Empire, a near equal to the forces of the Fremen on Arrakis. After the failure of a desperate gambit to seize the throne from the Atreides the Sardaukar legions were disbanded and merged with the Fremen forces of the God Emperor Leto II. House Corrino continued to exist well into the God Emperor's reign although never achieving the power and prestige it once had.

Armament

The weapons of the Sardaukar terror troops were as deadly as their martial abilities. Often, these soldiers would conceal threads of shigawire in their hair to garrote an unsuspecting enemy. Lasguns were employed greatly during the time of the Arrakis Revolt as well as suspensor borne infantry, but it was their mastery of the art of single hand to hand combat that the Sardaukar were feared. The Sardaukar were said to match the martial abilites of a 10th level Ginaz warrior, a match for any ten ordinary Landsraad conscripts. Their abilities at in-fighting matched those of a Bene Gesserit adept. In the day of shielded combat the Sardaukar often employed longswords and kindjal blades for person to person fighting. The combination of all their abilities struck the deepest fear into the heart of opposition. It was not until the Great Revolt on Arrakis that a superior fighting force of Fremen were able to overcome the Emperor's legions.

Ranking

The ranking system of the Sardaukar from greatest to least is as follows:

Burseg
Caid
Bashar
Colonel
Bator
Levenbrech
Captain
Private

After the destruction of the Imperial Corrino Dynasty the old ranking system was replaced with this:

Bashar
Colonel
Bator
Levenbrech
Captain
Private

The rank of Burseg was that of a commanding general, oftentimes involving the governorship of a whole planetary force. A Caid would be in charge of a planetary district of this force, above the rank of Bashar but not equal to a Burseg. After the toppling of the Corrino Dynasty these two ranks became useless and were abolished. During and after the reign of God Emperor Leto II the rank of Bashar was in frequent use, although not among Sardaukar. The rigid chain of command of the Sardaukar ensured only the most expert of these soldiers could achieve high rank, although this principal became lax during the reign of Shaddam IV.

Uniforms

The uniforms of the Sardaukar vary from the ornate Imperial garb to the rather simplistic combat uniform of a private. The Emperor Shaddam IV often wore his gray sardaukar uniform adorned with gold epaulets with an ebon helmet, a symbol of the rank of Burseg. A Bashar's aide (levenbrech) wore the traditional bronze and gold, while a Captain or private would wear the plain field gray and black. For formal occasions, under the command of Farad'n Corrino, a Sardaukar Bashar would often wear a tan uniform with an ornate lasgun and holster on the front belt. With the invention of the defensive shield, body armor became useless and so most soldiers preferred the freedom of mobility to protection from slow moving blade attacks.

Interpretations of the Sardaukar

The Sardaukar as interpreted by John Harrison, director of the Dune Miniseries. - LINK
The Sardaukar as seen from Westwood's Emperor: Battle for Dune. - LINK

Conclusion

The Sardaukar soldier-fanatics of the Corrino emperors commanded the respect of the Universe with their fighting prowess, and with good reason. These soldiers with a near suicidal disregard for their own personal safety forged an empire that lasted 10,000 years. Their rise to power parallel that of their successors, the Fremen. Both of these superb fighting men were forged from revolution with a religious zeal unequaled at that time. It is this warrior religion that has been apparent in many civilizations, but only a few have risen to command such a sway over the affairs of the Universe.

The vast majority of the information used in the creation of this paper was taken from the books Dune and Children of Dune by Frank Herbert.

Site created January 15, 1998.
© Jesse Reid, All Rights Reserved, 2017.