The Butlerian Jihad

The Butlerian Jihad is a war fought between humans and the Thinking Machines.

The Definitive Glossary for Dune

Also referred to as the Holy Jihad or the Serena Butler’s Jihad, the Butlerian Jihad is a war that lasts for about a hundred years and sees the fall of the god of machine logic.

Butlerian Jihad in Dune

A Brief Explanation of Dune’s Butlerian Jihad

Also known as the Great Revolt, the Butlerian Jihad was an era that marked the point when humanity rose and fought against the Thinking Machines that they created.

The Jihad leads to the destruction of many planets, including Earth, and the death of more than 10% of humanity. The Jihad started before the Padishah empire got founded, during the time of the Titans.

Complete History of the Butlerian Jihad

The Butlerian Jihad is a war that occurs from 201BG to 108BG. The Jihad begins because Omnius, leader of the Thinking Machines, escalates centuries of tension between the League of Nobles and the Thinking Machines by attacking the League of Nobles. Barbarossa, the technical architect of the Titans, makes a bet with Omnius and wins; this leads to Omnius starting a war.

Realizing Salusa Secundus was a strategic point for attack by the Cymeks, Xavier Harkonnen places his troops to defend the planet. However, Giedi Prime gets successfully invaded and defeated by the machines. During the battle at Giedi Prime, Serena Butler, daughter of the League of Nobles leader, gets captured by Omnius. Enslaving her on Earth, Serena becomes enslaved to Erasmus, Omnius second in command.

In another bet between Erasmus and Omnius, Erasmus begins a rumor about war to prove that humans are unpredictable. Iblis Ginjo, a man who gets word of the revolt, consults Cogitor Eklo asking him if a rebellion on Earth was possible. Eklo tells Iblis that the only way to unite people to fight was by starting a revolt in the name of a holy war.

Accepting Eklo’s idea, Iblis Ginjo begins spreading seeds of rebellion across the Earth. Serena Butler’s child gets killed by Erasmus, and this causes the humans to start a planet-wide rebellion against the Thinking Machines. During the revolt, Serena escapes Earth along with Vorian Atreides and Ginjo. Omnius also gets captured by Vorian, though he was only a copy of the real Omnius.

In 201BG, the war started after Serena’s return sparked outrage among the League of Nobles. Certain that humans are not predictable, Omnius launches a genocide, killing all humans on Earth.

With the copy version of Omnius held captive in Zimia, the Jihadi intelligence began gathering information about internal secrets of the Thinking Machines. Omnius sends a fleet to Salusa Secundus after an unsuccessful battle with the Jihadi Army on Bela Tegeuse. The invasion gets repelled but, another attack on Honru leads to the death of more than 500,000 humans.

Vorian Atreides, using his programming skill, guesses Omnius movement pattern and advises a strategic defense of Unallied planets. Hecate, a Titan, meets Ginjo and gives him a secret weapon against the Thinking Machines.

With a tenth of humanity’s population killed because of the war, the Spacefolding technology gets inculcated into the Jihadi military. In a final attempt to subdue the humans, Omnius gathers all his troops on the synchronized planet of Corrino to attack Salusa Secundus.

Detecting Omnius’s plan, Quentin Butler, Vorian Atreides, and the League of Nobles formulated a plan against the machine god. Converging above Corrino, the human forces use a satellite scrambling technology to trap Omnius; this led to the end of the war. After the war, Faykan Butler, leader of the Jihad, crowned himself the first Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe. Though the Thinking Machines were all destroyed, their dent on humanity left a scar that never left till the final defeat of Omnius tens of thousands of years later.

Glossary Terms Associated With the Butlerian Jihad

Here is a list of words and phrases associated with the Butlerian Jihad:

  1. Thinking Machines: Thinking Machines are intelligent devices created by humans to complete everyday tasks. They soon gained sentience, and using a technology that separated the human brain from the body and put it into a mechanical body, gained more intelligence and power.
  2. Cymek: A Cymek is a Titan whose brain gets removed from its body and gets put into an electrafluid and a brain canister; the canister gets connected to powerful mechanical bodies useful for war.


Why is it called Butlerian Jihad?

The name Butlerian could be associated with Samuel Butler, an author whose novel ‘Erenwhon’ shows a story where people destroy machines due to the fear that they would be out-evolved by them. Another possible explanation for the Butlerian Jihad’s name is that it got named after Serena Butler, daughter of Manion Butler, leader of the League of Nobles, who got captured by Omnius.

Who started Butlerian Jihad?

The Butlerian Jihad started when Serena Butler, daughter of the League of Nobles leader, Manion Butler, returned to Salusa Secundus and narrated her plight at the hands of Omnius; this led to retaliation against the Synchronized worlds of the Thinking machines marking the beginning of the war.

How did humans win the Butlerian Jihad?

After successfully destroying the Earth Omnius using atomic weapons, the Jihad army successfully predicts Omnius’s move against the League of Nobles. The plan was for Omnius to finish off the League but mobilizing all his army left him in a vulnerable position on planet Corrin; this led to the humans using scrambler satellites to cage him on the planet, leading to the end of the war.

How long before Dune was the Butlerian Jihad?

The Butlerian Jihad happened 10,000 years before the events of ‘Dune.’ After humans won the war, laws outlawing Thinking Machines got formed, and the discovery of Melange led to deep space travel.

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