Crusaders AKA Teutonic Knights in SPESS, Space Bretonnian, Grey Knights lite, Inquisition's pet zealots are fanatical warriors that graduate from the same school as the Bolter Bitches. Most Crusaders inducted into the ranks of the Ecclesiarchy from a Schola Progenium, selected for their unflagging devotion to the Emperor. To be selected is a great honor, though it leads not only to a grueling life of asceticism and martial perfection, but also inevitably to an unmourned death in battle against the forces of heresy and apostasy. Most Crusaders are identifiable with their iconic shields and swords.
As you may know, the Inquisition has a soft spot for these fellows due to a combination of absolute loyalty, zealotry and not taking no as an answer. Unsurprisingly, Ministorum Priest from the Ecclesiarchy often gather a band of bodyguards to assist them in the execution of their duties and heretics. Known as a Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave, these groups are necessarily small; anything larger would breach the prohibition of "men under arms" as laid down in the Decree Passive that prohibited the Ecclesiarchy from raising its own male military forces in the wake of the abuses carried out during the Age of Apostasy. While this may seem contradictory, take note that Crusaders on a whole, work as a small militia rather than an actual army and are often seconded by other organizations such as the Inquisition and even Rogue Traders, thus they do not betray the whole "men under arms" schtick, it also means that they're the only one with a dick within the Adepta Sororitas; old wrinkly ballsacks do not count (please note that later codexes have explicitly stated that the Crusader houses are unisex, presumably in an effort to garner more leeway for their existence.)
As mentioned, Crusaders are identified with their iconic Master Crafted Power Sword and a shield that comes in either the Crusader Suppression Shield or Storm Shield. Crusaders also come equipped with standard issue Master Crafted Carapace Armour and a Badge of Office as well as a Micro-Bead.
It is more than a little stupid, though, that the guys who specialize in melee wear carapace armor while the girls who specialize in ranged combat wear powered armor.
Like the Imperial Knights, each Crusader come from a noble family dubbed as Crusader Houses. Because of their close links with the Inquisition, Crusaders are thus almost utterly loyal and are sworn to serve the agents of the Inquisition with no regard for their own desires whatsoever. These puissant warriors are inducted into one of the Crusader Houses, each of which is a closed and secretive community with as few as a dozen or as many as several thousand members. Many of these Houses are located near to Inquisitorial facilities, and some are housed inside the larger Inquisitorial fortresses.
An example is the Tricorn in Hive Sibellus on Scintilla which hosts a number of Crusader Houses, the warriors of each always close at hand to accompany Throne Agents wherever their duties may take them. The duty of a Crusader is to protect a specific Inquisitor, to whom he is bonded by a solemn, unbreakable oath. However, they are more than mere bodyguards. A Crusader is the Inquisitor’s right hand which delivers the coup de grâce or parries the attacks of his foe. Thus they are often the most trusted companion an Inquisitor can have, which is often needed due to the Inquisitor's often paranoid views on outsiders and especially other Inquisitors. Like their suped-up brothers, the Grey Knights; to have been inducted into a Crusader House, the warrior must have been judged nigh-incorruptible, at least in so far as any mortal can be judged so. Induction into a Crusader House occurs only at the invitation of one of its senior members, and only after the subject has been scrutinized from a distance, sometimes for many years. Therefore to become a Crusader, one must prove themselves pure and noble in the highly meritocratic system of the Inquisition, of course it is by choice as the Inquisition in a rare case of being reasonable, aren't a fan towards dogmatism and are pragmatic so long as it suits their needs. Having joined the cloistered ranks of the Crusaders, the inductee puts aside all thoughts of personal ambition and dedicates himself body and soul to the House and the greater cause pursued by the Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition. From that moment on, the Crusader casts off wealth and all possessions beside his weapons, armour, and the articles of his faith. He takes residence in a bare stone cell within the Crusader House until such time as he is called upon to serve an Inquisitor. This is often a test of humbleness and selflessness in order to weed out any potential personal sins that may hamper a Crusader's quest of enlightenment. This type of actions can actually be seen by real life Buddhist monks of Asia and Priests (At least the non-corrupt cultist ones) in Europe.
Crusaders study every aspect of the arts of close combat, excelling in the use of melee weapons. For some reason, they eschew ranged weapons, believing that the pure essence of duty is only to be found in the clash of steel on steel, where blood is shed and bone shatters asunder. As you can expect it is often seen as a bit too traditional and are often seen as a flashing target practice for the occasional Tau and Eldar. Crusader Houses teach many and varied martial techniques, many houses favoring a specific, signature weapon by which its members are known. They also bear the intricately inscribed names and deeds of former owners, reminding the current bearer of his duties and that the eyes of the past are ever upon him.
Of course a Crusader still has strong familiar ties with the Ecclesiarchy and will come to assist them (Albeit in small numbers) if the need arises such as protecting important priests to going on Wars of Faith to even participating in an actual Crusade along with the Black Templars to further hone in the neo-medieval theme of WH40K to an absurd extreme.
These guys were originally the 3rd edition Daemonhunters codex as part the henchmen retinue. Falling under the "warrior" class they simply added +1WS to the inquisitor. While they were armed with a stormshield, they sucked back then (stormshields only working in melee) and were mostly supplanted by stormtroopers and acolytes. Then finally after ages of being in that book they got put into the 5th edition grey knights codex, though why would one use them in a codex full of melee specialists with more attacks, higher strength, ranged attacks and more attacks is anyone's guess. They also popped up in the Sisters of battle codex, where they filled a unique niche of super tanky melee specialist (something they didn't need, but could use). Then the inquisition codex for 6th edition came out. Here they were useful and effective (especially with hammerhand from an inquisitor) and were commonly used in mixed units with death cult assassins for a tanky, choppy, uber awesome- mini death star (commonly with a Xeno inquisitor with rad and psyco-stroke grenades on top). Imperial agents separated them into only adeptus ministorum single units. With the release of 8th edition they are part of the adeptus ministorum as 2-10 man squads and now get AoF, zealot (the 8th edition kind) and are considerably powerful being able to attack/move twice through on a 2+ AoF. All while not costing a single point more. As of November 2019 they are in both the Imperial Guard and Adepta Sororitas codicies; it seems everyone likes a zealot. (Not the inquisitors apparently, considering that they aren't present in the white dwarf inquisitor army index)
|Forces of the Sisters of Battle|
|Command:||Triumph of Saint Katherine - Canoness |
Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave - Imagifier
Ministorum Priest - Palatine - Dogmata
Sororitas Command Squad
|Troops:||Avenging Angel - Arco-flagellant - Battle Sister Squad |
Celestians - Crusaders - Death Cult Assassin
Dominion Squad - Novitiate Squad - Retributor Squad
Seraphim Squad - Sisters Repentia - Zephyrim Squad
|Vehicles:||Castigator Tank - Exorcist - Immolator |
Paragon Warsuit - Penitent Engine
Repressor - Rhino - Mortifier
|Special Vehicles:||Pulpit of Saint Holline's Basilica|
|Flyers:||Avenger Strike Fighter|
|Spacecraft:||Aquila Lander - Drop Pod|
|Saints:||Living Saint - Geminae Superia|
|Non Militant:||Orders Dialogous - Orders Famulous - Orders Hospitaler |
Orders Pronatus - Hagiolater
|Forces of the Inquisition|
|Command:||Inquisitor (Ordo Malleus Inquisitor - Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor |
Ordo Xenos Inquisitor)
|Retinue:||Acolyte - Arco-flagellant - Astropath - Banisher - Cherubim |
Chiurgeon - Crusaders - Daemonhost - Death Cult Assassin
Jokaero - Hierophant - Mystic - Sanctioned Psyker
Sage (Autosavant - Lexmechanic - Sister Dialogous)
Servo-skull - Servitor - Sister Hospitaler - Pariah - Penitent
Ministorum Priest - Militarum Veteran Squad - Warp-Seer
|Auxiliaries:||Inquisitorial Stormtroopers - Deathwatch - Grey Knights |
Sisters of Battle - Callidus Assassin - Culexus Assassin
Eversor Assassin - Vindicare Assassin
|Vehicles:||Chimera - Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader |
Land Raider Redeemer) - Razorback - Rhino
|Special Vehicles:||Throne of Judgement|
|Spacecraft:||Aquila Lander - Gun-Cutter - Inquisitorial Black Ship|