July 21, 2024


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Why did House Atreides move to Dune

Why Did House Atreides move to Dune?

I just finished my third YouTube video entitled ‘Why Did House Atreides move to Dune?’. I think I am getting the knack for this. This time I kept the script short and simple and I think that helps with guaranteeing quality. You can watch the video by following the link or you can watch it below. I have posted the script below that. Don’t forget to like and subscribe on YouTube to help my channel grow. If you want more Dune content then check out my dedicated page.


In the novel Dune by author Frank Herbert the story starts with House Atreides moving from planet Caladan to Arrakis. Or Dune as we know it. This move is a catalyst to the story but the reason for the move is only briefly alluded to by characters such as Baron Harkonnen and Duke Leto. Let’s do a deep dive into their motivation.

Dune is a multi-layered story; basic facts, as mentioned, often hide lies and character motivations are not always what they seem. As such there are a number of reasons for why House Atreides moved to Arrakis. These reasons are so interwoven into the story that some do not become known until the end of the novel.

Known facts

So why did House Atreides move to Dune? The simplest answer is because Emperor Shaddam IV ordered it. Up until that moment House Harkonnen held the siridar fief or planetary fief of Arrakis. Thus, the Harkonnens were responsible for bringing imperial rule to Dune with an obligation to mine the spice. A siridar fief could last for thousands of years. As had been the case with Caladan for House Atreides and Giede Prime for House Harkonnen. Typically for Arrakis the fief would last for no more than 100 years to prevent the family ruling the planet from becoming too powerful.

However, House Harkonnen ruled Arrakis from 10.130 AG to 10.191 AG, just over seventy years. The official reason given by the emperor for removing Arrakis as a Harkonnen fief is because spice production had become inconsistent. We are never given an exact reason for why this is. Throughout the Dune saga Harkonnen’s are described as spice hoarders and take every opportunity to cheat CHOAM and the emperor out of paying taxes.

The trap

But that appears to have been little more than an excuse with every party concerned knowing this. While the expanded universe novel Dune: The Duke of Caladan establishes a plot to cheat more taxes it is unlikely that House Harkonnen would have been caught doing that. If found out the bribes made by the Harkonnen’s would have made it seem it was an honest accounting mistake. The Duke Atreides would not be fooled either. He knows he has made an enemy out of the emperor with his popularity in the Landsraad.

So, if it is a trap why would House Atreides agree to the move? The first answer is because Duke Leto cannot say no. The emperor has presented this move as a measure to clean house and Duke Leto is seen as an honest man. Despite knowing it is a trap it is also an opportunity. The potential for evading the trap set by the combined forces of Harkonnen and Corrino means they will get the most valuable fief in the galaxy for a hundred years.

Why did House Atreides move to Dune

Thufir’s mistake

One of plot points in Dune is the question why Duke Leto underestimated the resolve of the emperor to destroy House Atreides. The emperor supports Baron Harkonnen by sending a multitude of forces more than the Duke Leto’s advisor Thufir Hawat estimated. Thufir considers this bold move while wandering the desert after the destruction of House Atreides and before his capture by the Harkonnens. While nobody can point the finger at the emperor for betraying Duke Leto, as the Sardaukar were wearing Harkonnen uniforms, all of the Great Houses know he has supported the Harkonnens. That is for many the only explanation for the swift destruction of House Atreides. While a number would secretly cheer the death of the popular Duke Leto many will also start to wonder which of the Great Houses will be next. This is actually an important plot point of the Caladan Trilogy.

Thufir considers this more and later tells the Baron in his captivity that the emperor made an irrational decision out of fear. A situation the Baron wants to turn in his favor by making himself a target for the emperor with the hope of deposing him with the help of the other Great Houses.

Thufir only considered the reaction of rational opponents. He and the Duke Leto were convinced the Harkonnen’s with the help of the Sardaukar would the play the long game in attempting to undermine the Atreides hold on Arrakis. Thufir and Duke Leto believed they had a chance to win such a campaign, by destroying the Baron’s spice supply and allying with the desert Fremen. That is why Duke Leto decided to take up the offer made by the emperor of the siridar fief of Arrakis.


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That was it for my video entitled ‘Why Did House Atreides move to Dune’. I hope you enjoyed it. Please do go to my YouTube page and like my video and subscribe to my channel. That will help me immensely. My next video will be on the weird release schedule for the Dune 2021. And what the consequences are for a sequel.