‘Dune’: Here’s Why Harkonnens Hate the Atreides


Led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, House Harkonnen is one of the major noble families in the universe of ‘Dune,’ but they are also one of the biggest villains. The Harkonnens are known for their ruthlessness and cruelty, particularly in their rivalry with House Atreides. But how did that feud even start in the first place? We know that it’s ancient starting more than 10 thousand years ago, and we also know that it eventually ended with the complete destruction of the house Harkonnen. But how did it start?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • The hate between House Harkonnen and House Atreides started during the Battle of Corrin.
  • Prior to the battle, the two houses were in friendly relations, but during the battle itself Bashar Abulurd Harkonnen refused orders from his commanding officer Vorian Atreides, to cross the Bridge of Hrethgir and activate explosives that would result in the deaths of millions.
  • For this, he was “dishonorably discharged” from his duties and imprisoned but he eventually managed to find a way to escape and disable the explosives, the League of Nobles which Vorian was a part of still achieved victory in the war despite Bashar’s efforts, but Bashar himself was shamed and exiled.
  • Vorian swore that his descendants would hate the House Harkonnen forever, and Abulurd who eventually started the great house anew also taught his descendants to hate Atreides.

The feud between the two houses goes back 10,000 years

The original works never really acknowledged in detail why the two noble houses hated each other, it was only fleetingly referenced that it started during the Battle of Corrin, 10 thousand years ago. Luckily it was explained in more detail in the prequels. So what happened? Originally the houses were in friendly relations with some of its members being the closest friends. Well, everything started with Bashar Abulurd Harkonnen and Vorian Atreides.

The Battle of Corrin was a massive space battle near Sigma Draconis. It led to the defeat of Omnius, an artificial intelligence, and the rise of House Corrino from Salusa Secundus. This battle marked the establishment of the Corrino Empire.

After the Butlerian Jihad, the League of Nobles kept watch over Corrin, where Omnius remained. For about 20 years, neither side could gain an advantage: the machines couldn’t escape, and the nobles hesitated to deal the killing blow. By 88 BG, the League of Nobles almost defeated the thinking machines led by Omnius on Corrin. Vorian Atreides was the top military leader, and Abulurd Harkonnen, grandson of Xavier Harkonnen, served under him. The League, driven by the Cult of Serena Butler, attacked Corrin to finish off Omnius.

They found a space ring rigged with explosives, the Bridge of Hrethgir, surrounding the planet. Bashar Abulurd Harkonnen was ordered to pass through the ring that was rigged with explosives by Vorian Atreides, but passing through the ring would result in the death of millions, Abulurd refused the order. Vorian relieved him of duty, but Harkonnen deactivated the fleet’s weapons, causing more bloodshed. He was branded a coward and a traitor and banished from the League, forced to keep the dishonorable name of Harkonnen. Exiled to Lankiveil, he started a family, including Dirdos, founder of House Harkonnen. Vorian taught his descendants to hate Harkonnens and Abulurd did the same.


‘Dune’: “Fear Is the Mind-Killer” Quote Explained

How did the feud end?

The feud between the two houses eventually ended in ‘Dune’ with the utter demolation of House Harkonnen on Arrakis under the leadership of Paul Atreides who sought vengenace against them after his father Duke Leto I was brutally murdered and betrayed. In 10191 AG, the Atreides and Harkonnens fought in the Desert War on Arrakis, which was started by a Harkonnen alliance with the ruling Corrino family. The feud ended when Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and his nephew, Feyd-Rautha, were killed by Alia Atreides and Paul Atreides, respectively, marking the end of the Harkonnens.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments