The Bene Gesserit were planning to have Leto's daughter marry Feyd Rautha Harkonnen, resulting in the birth of the Kwisatz Haderach, and the end of the feud.

How were they going to convince Duke Leto, and the Baron to accept the marriage?

  • 2
    I wonder if there was ever an intent of marriage; Just because Gaius Helen Mohiam said "An Atreides daughter could’ve been wed to a Harkonnen heir and sealed the breach." doesn't mean she was telling the truth about their intent... Jessica later realizes: "But it set her mind to working and she could not deny his words. So many blank ends of meaning in her past reached out now and linked. The daughter the Bene Gesserit wanted—it wasn’t to end the old Atreides-Harkonnen feud, but to fix some genetic factor in their lines."
    – K-H-W
    Dec 26, 2014 at 2:53
  • 1
    good point. forgot about that.
    – user35971
    Dec 26, 2014 at 2:58
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    @K-H-W: Nontheless, the ending of the Atreides–Harkonnen feud is playing along with the Bene Gesserit plans as it would keep the intended Kwisatz Haderach from being impeded by this feud and also grant him a powerful heritage. Keep in mind that the Bene Gesserit were not only preparing for the Kwisatz Haderach by breeding but also by making the world ready for him (e.g., with the Missionara Protectiva).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 26, 2014 at 10:40
  • @Wrzlprmft The ending of the Atreides–Harkonnen feud isn't be any means" playing along" with Bene Gesserit plans, nor would it in any way impede the Kwisatz Haderach. Oct 26, 2021 at 22:52

3 Answers 3


I don’t recall this being covered in canon explicitly, but they had several levers. Among them:

  • Jessica, Duke Leto’s concubine, was a Bene Gesserit. She would have presumably been responsible for convincing him.

  • Leto may agree to the marriage to end the conflict.

  • Bene Gesserit already managed to get Harkonnen to do something they wanted and that he didn’t want to do:

    He was “tricked” into impregnating some Bene Gesserit, which results in him being Jessica’s biological father.

    Also, given that marrying his heir to Leto’s daughter basically meant that Harkonnens would eventually absorb Leto holdings, this would probably be something the Baron would love to see happen even without arm twisting.


It was not mentioned overtly in canon, but

But the most likely plan was to ascend to use the combined Harkonnen/Atreides house to ascend to the Imperial throne. After the marriage of the putative female Atreides to Feyd, Leto would have been the formal head of house until he was assassinated.

That is about the only way it would have worked. Both Vladimir and Leto would get a prize, and once the house was united the inexorable assassination of Leto would not have had a kanly provision. It is possible that if Leto was not assassinated, Feyd could have been placated to ascend to the Imperial throne himself when Leto died of old age, given the live-extending properties of Melange.

The basis for this plan was denying Shaddam a male heir, thus giving him no way to extend his bloodline legitimately.


I think this whole setup was only included into the story to later demonstrate how little truethful the bene gesserit were to her at all and how brainwashed she was from them in the retrospect:

You accurately describe one of the problems that just had to rule her life since she was told she will be the element that will end the war between the Harkonnons and the Atreides because she will join these two genetic lines.

Later in the submerged tent paul will tell her instead that

she already is partially Harkonnen

and therefore if the Bene Gesserit actually wanted to end the war they already would have done that. The question is: If they weren't truthful in this half of the task they assigned her. Did they really want her to have a half-Harkonnen child? And, since she wasn't even married to an Atreides: How was having a child from someone from the enemy instead from her future husband actually supposed to end the war?

In other words I think they weren't going to convince Leto. They just wanted her to be busy believing one day she would.

  • a little to personnal. the word "I think" is not to good, of course your opinion is needed but a good answer need proof or quotes or article or people of interest saying or thinking the same as you when you have 1 rep.. you should take the Tour here scifi.stackexchange.com/tour and go through the help center here scifi.stackexchange.com/help
    – Rocket
    Dec 26, 2014 at 9:38
  • There are some problems here: Nobody can actually proof that Jessica is partially Harkonnen; so this does not help. Also you seem to be confusing Jessica with the daughter that she was supposed to bear and confusing who is considered a rightful heir in this universe with historic concepts: Paul was considered Leto’s heir by everybody despite being only the son of Leto’s concubine and not Leto’s wife.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 26, 2014 at 10:32

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