- "A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Luke Skywalker
The Jedi Purge was the period in which the Jedi Order was destroyed by the Sith and the Jedi were hunted by the Galactic Empire to near-extinction. The destruction of the Jedi traced its origins to the ancient wars against the Sith, at the end of which the Sith were nearly eliminated by the Jedi. The Sith operated in secret, plotting their eventual destruction of the Jedi Order. A millennium after the near-defeat of the Sith, Darth Sidious, using his public persona of Senator and then Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, manipulated the galaxy into the Clone Wars as a pretext for gaining emergency executive power over the Galactic Republic. He amassed more central power during the war, all while the Republic utilized a clone army—one that had secretly been implanted with bio-chips by the Sith that, upon activation, would trigger total compliance and force the clones into killing their Jedi leaders.
The Jedi Purge began at the end of the Clone Wars. Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight believed to be the Chosen One destined to destroy the Sith, discovered that Palpatine was Darth Sidious and informed Jedi Master Mace Windu. In what Sidious would publicly label as the "Jedi Rebellion," Windu and three other Masters confronted the Chancellor, who killed the three Masters and engaged Windu in a lightsaber duel. Skywalker, who sought power from Sidious in order to save his wife, Padmé Amidala, from death, intervened and attacked Windu before the Jedi Master could kill the Dark Lord. Sidious killed Windu, and Skywalker became the Sith Lord Darth Vader and led an attack on the Jedi Temple which saw the deaths of those inside of it. Sidious executed the clone command with Order 66, and clone troopers across the galaxy killed their Jedi commanders. With the Jedi branded as traitors, and the Clone Wars at an end, Sidious declared himself Emperor and transformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire.
The Age of the Empire saw the continued hunting of the Jedi by the Empire. Vader commanded a number of Inquisitors whose job was to hunt any Jedi survivors. The Grand Inquisitor, a former Jedi Temple Guard from Utapau, hunted a group of rebels on the planet Lothal who were led by a former Padawan, Kanan Jarrus. These rebels ultimately helped create the Alliance to Restore the Republic, which fought against the Empire during the Galactic Civil War. One of the Rebels was Vader's son, Luke Skywalker, who became the last of the Jedi and helped guide his father towards redemption. Vader died shortly after he killed Sidious to save his son, bringing an end to the Sith rule over the galaxy.
- "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge."
- ―Darth Maul
Over the centuries, the Jedi Order fought numerous wars against their ancient enemies, the Sith Order. One thousand years before the Invasion of Naboo, the Jedi believed that the Sith had been destroyed. At least one Sith Lord, Darth Bane, remained alive, and he enacted the Rule of Two. Rather than operating in the open with large numbers, the Sith instead began to operate in the shadows. They would number two at any given time—a master and an apprentice—and used cunning and conspiracy to enact their plans to destroy the Jedi Order and take over the galaxy.
The Sith operated in secret for centuries. In the years before the Invasion of Naboo, Sheev Palpatine of Naboo became the apprentice of Darth Plagueis and took on the name Darth Sidious. As a Sith, Sidious killed his master and became a Dark Lord of the Sith. In his public persona of Senator Palpatine of Naboo, Sidious carried out his plans to gain power over the Galactic Republic. His plan was to destroy the Jedi Order and usher in Sith dominion over the galaxy, with himself as sovereign ruler over an empire that would allow him to cast the galaxy into darkness and unlock the ancient secrets of the Sith and the dark side of the Force. In doing so, Sidious believed he would be able to remake the universe in his own designs.
Sidious orchestrated the Invasion of Naboo, in which the Sith—through his apprentice, Darth Maul, before Maul was defeated—revealed themselves to the Jedi, as a means of gaining power. As Senator Palpatine, he urged Naboo's ruler, Queen Padmé Amidala, to call for a Vote of No Confidence in the leadership of Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum. Palpatine was nominated to succeed Valorum and ultimately won the election, placing him in charge of the Republic. Around the same time, Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, a member of the Jedi Council who believed that a galactic war was imminent, secretly ordered the creation of a clone army on Kamino. Sifo-Dyas, who was killed at the behest of Count Dooku, who became Sidious' apprentice, intended the army to be used for the Republic. Dooku, as Darth Tyranus, secretly took over the project, and the Sith saw to it that bio-chips were added into each clone trooper. These chips contained Protocol 66, a command that, when executed, would force the clone troopers to kill all Jedi who they encountered.
The years that followed the Naboo Crisis saw the advent of the Separatist Crisis, in which thousands of star systems seceded from the Republic and joined the Confederacy of Independent Systems. This period of political tension and the calls for war were orchestrated by the Sith, as a means for Sidious to gain further control over the galaxy. In order to allow for Chancellor Palpatine to adopt the clone army to respond to what the Republic saw as the threat of the Separatist Alliance, Junior Representative Jar Jar Binks of Naboo called on the Galactic Senate to give the Chancellor emergency executive power. The Senate granted the Chancellor the power, the clone army was commissioned as the Grand Army of the Republic, and the Clone Wars began shortly thereafter during the Battle of Geonosis.
The Jedi Order was placed in charge of the war effort, with Jedi serving as Generals and Commanders in the military. After several years of war, many of the galaxy's citizens turned against the conflict and blamed the Jedi leaders for the prolonged and devastating war. Public opinion therefore began to turn against the Jedi, with many in the public viewing the Jedi Order as synonymous with the Clone Wars. Padawan Barriss Offee, a member of the Order, also viewed the Jedi as having become complicit in a mistaken war, leading her to bomb the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Other Jedi also shared her views; Jedi Master Depa Billaba believed it was a mistake for the Jedi to lead the Clone Wars. Grand Master Yoda, after setting out on a spiritual path to learn the secrets of eternal consciousness within the Force, saw a vision on Dagobah of Jedi fighting clone troopers and being killed by Darth Sidious. Through his journey, he came to believe that the Jedi Order may have lost the Clone Wars simply by fighting in it. He suspected that the Jedi would lose the war, but ultimately be victorious in the fight against the Sith.
Towards the end of the war, the clone conspiracy was nearly uncovered when clone trooper Tup suffered from a premature activation of Protocol 66. He murdered Jedi Master Tiplar during the Battle of Ringo Vinda. After Tup's death, his friend and fellow trooper, Fives, investigated what happened and learned about the bio-chip and the Protocol 66 conspiracy. He confronted the Chancellor, who feigned an assassination attempt against him and implicated Fives. Fives told Anakin Skywalker and Clone Captain Rex about the conspiracy, but they did not believe him. Fives was killed by a fellow clone after being viewed as a threat, and the official story of what happened to Tup was that he was exposed to a parasite that made him violent. The Jedi later learned that the Sith were involved in the creation of the clone army, but they did not learn of the conspiracy and continued to use the clones as their only means of combating the Separatist Alliance.
The Jedi PurgeEdit
The "Jedi Rebellion"Edit
- "In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you're under arrest, Chancellor."
"Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?"
- ―Mace Windu and Palpatine
The final days of the Clone Wars saw Chancellor Palpatine amassing more central authority, and the Jedi Council becoming increasingly distrustful of the Chancellor and his growing power. They felt that the dark side of the Force surrounded the Chancellor, though they did not yet know that he was the Dark Lord they had been searching for the entire war. After the death of Count Dooku during the Battle of Coruscant, the Chancellor promised a swift end to the war once General Grievous, the leader of the Separatist Droid Army, was killed. The Jedi Council, wary of the Chancellor's claims that he would give up his executive power, privately discussed removing the Chancellor from office if he did not give up his power upon Grievous' death.
It was in the war's last days when Anakin Skywalker began having visions of his wife, now-Senator Amidala, dying in childbirth. Determined to save his wife and their unborn child—the couple was unaware that they were expecting twins—Skywalker began searching for the power to save his family. Palpatine regaled him with the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis, which he described as an old Sith legend, and explained that Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith who had unlocked the secrets of immortality. Shortly thereafter, the Chancellor revealed to the errant Jedi Knight that he was indeed Darth Sidious, and that he could help Skywalker save Amidala's life. Skywalker initially rejected the opportunity and informed Jedi Master Mace Windu, a member of the Jedi Council, about the Chancellor's identity.
Knowing the Chancellor's true identity, and with Palpatine having not yet given up his executive power despite the death of General Grievous during the Battle of Utapau, Windu assembled a team of three other Jedi Masters—Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin—to arrest the Chancellor. The Jedi Masters confronted the Chancellor in his office, and Sidious lashed out at them, killing the three other Jedi Masters and engaging Windu in a lightsaber duel. The duel moved throughout the Chancellor's office until Windu disarmed the Dark Lord, at which point Skywalker arrived to witness what Sidious claimed was the Jedi trying to take over the Republic. Because he needed Sidious to survive in order to save Amidala's life, Skywalker intervened when Windu was about to kill the Chancellor and cut off Windu's hand. Sidious used the opportunity to unleash a torrent of Force lightning on the Jedi Master, sending Windu out the window and to his death. Having turned against the Jedi Order, Skywalker pledged himself to Darth Sidious and became the Sith Lord known as Darth Vader.
Fall of the JediEdit
- "This is Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. I regret to report that both our Jedi Order and the Republic have fallen, with the dark shadow of the Empire rising to take their place. This message is a warning and a reminder for any surviving Jedi: trust in the Force. Do not return to the Temple. That time has passed, and our future is uncertain. Avoid Coruscant. Avoid detection. Be secret... but be strong. We will each be challenged: our trust, our faith, our friendships. But we must persevere and, in time, I believe a new hope will emerge. May the Force be with you always."
- ―Obi-Wan's message to the Jedi who survived Order 66
Windu's attempt on Sidious' life gave the Dark Lord the justification he needed to brand the Jedi as traitors and destroy the Jedi Order. He ordered Vader to go to the Jedi Temple and kill every Jedi who was inside. Vader brought with him a battalion of clone troopers, ones loyal to the Sith as a result of Sidious' activation of Protocol 66. While Vader and the 501st Clone Battalion assaulted the Jedi Temple, Sidious ordered clone commanders across the galaxy to begin executing Order 66. On worlds such as Mygeeto, Felucia, Cato Neimoidia, Saleucami, and Kaller, clone forces killed their Jedi commanders. Some Jedi, including Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on Utapau, Yoda on Kashyyyk, and Caleb Dume on Kaller, were able to escape the clone onslaught, but most Jedi fell. This included in the Jedi Temple, where almost everyone, including younglings, were killed by Vader and his clone forces. Hoping to lure more Jedi to their deaths, Vader activated a beacon inside the Jedi Temple that broadcasted an emergency message requesting all Jedi to return to the Temple.
With the Jedi Order effectively destroyed, Sidious called a special session of the Senate in order to mark the end of the Galactic Republic. The Sith Lord presented himself as a brutally wounded victim of an attempted Jedi coup and pledged that the remaining Jedi traitors would be eliminated. He further used the instability wrought by the Clone Wars to transform the Republic into the Galactic Empire, a proclamation that was met with enthusiastic congressional support.
Age of the EmpireEdit
- "At last, the Jedi are no more."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Yoda
While Sidious proclaimed himself Emperor of the galaxy, Kenobi and Yoda infiltrated the Jedi Temple and found the destruction left in Vader's wake. Kenobi altered the Jedi beacon to warn the Jedi to avoid Coruscant, and soon saw a holographic recording that showed him the truth: Darth Vader, the man responsible for the deaths in the Jedi Temple, was Anakin Skywalker, his former apprentice. The two Jedi resolved to destroy the Sith, with Yoda planning to confront the Emperor while Kenobi would track down and kill his former friend.
Kenobi tracked Vader to the volcanic world of Mustafar by stowing away aboard Amidala's ship, after the senator chose to travel to Mustafar in search of her husband. Vader, who slaughtered the Separatist Council on Mustafar and brought an end of the Clone Wars, became enraged when he saw his former master, believing that he and Amidala were conspiring against him. Vader attacked Amidala and left her unconscious, while he and Kenobi engaged in a lightsaber duel throughout the Separatist complex and above the lava rivers. Yoda, meanwhile, confronted the Emperor and also engaged him in a lightsaber duel. Yoda was unable to defeat the Emperor and was rescued by Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan, an ally of the Jedi Order. On Mustafar, Kenobi cut off three of Vader's limbs and left the Sith Lord to burn to death on the banks of a lava river, while Kenobi rescued Amidala and left Mustafar. The Emperor soon arrived on Mustafar and found his battered apprentice. They returned to Coruscant, where Vader was given a suit of life-supporting armor that he would be forced to wear for the rest of his life.
Kenobi rendezvous with Yoda and Organa on the asteroid colony of Polis Massa, where Amidala gave birth to her twins, Luke and Leia, before dying. The Jedi Masters knew that if they had any hope of ever defeating the Sith, they would need to keep Anakin's children hidden and safe. Leia was taken to Alderaan, where she was raised by Organa and his wife, Queen Breha Organa, as Princess Leia Organa. Luke was taken to live with Anakin's stepbrother, Owen Lars, and Owen's wife Beru on Tatooine. Kenobi went into exile on Tatooine to watch over the boy, while Yoda returned to Dagobah in seclusion.
- "The Emperor has foreseen a new threat rising against him: the children of the Force. They must not become Jedi."
"Yes, Lord Vader."
"Hunt down this new enemy, and if they will not serve the Empire, eliminate them along with any surviving Jedi who would train them. This is my master's command."
- ―Darth Vader and the Grand Inquisitor
The Age of the Empire saw the continued hunting of Jedi survivors across the galaxy. In order to hunt them down and eliminate them, Darth Vader trained and equipped multiple Inquisitors to use the dark side of the Force and engage in lightsaber combat. One of these individuals, a Pau'an Jedi Knight and former Temple Guard, became the Grand Inquisitor. Following her capture, he killed Jedi Master Luminara Unduli in the Spire, a heavily-fortified former Separatist prison on Stygeon Prime, and kept her bones, which still contained traces of her Force signature even after her death, to lure other Jedi survivors to their deaths by making them believe that she was still alive. This strategy proved effective, with survivors making for Stygeon Prime only to be killed.
As the Empire expanded throughout the galaxy, and the Sith increased their hold over the cosmos, the Emperor sensed a new threat that could potentially rise against him. This threat, which Darth Vader referred to as the "children of the Force," came in the form of young Force-sensitives who the Emperor feared would rise up against the Empire. The Inquisitors were ordered to either turn these individuals to the dark side or eliminate them, along with any Jedi who could potentially train them. To that end, the Inquisitors carried out an operation known as Project Harvester to capture these young Force-sensitive beings. These individuals were recruited from such facilities as the Imperial Academy on the Outer Rim world of Lothal or were taken from their parents as infants.
The Age of the Empire also led to a number of rebel cells operating throughout the galaxy in opposition of Empire. One such cell was based on Lothal, and was was led by Captain Hera Syndulla of the starship Ghost, as well as Caleb Dume, who took on the name Kanan Jarrus in order to evade Imperial execution. The cell came to the attention of the Empire after Jarrus revealed himself as a Jedi while freeing Wookiee slaves from the spice mines of the planet Kessel. The Empire tracked down Kanan and his Padawan, Ezra Bridger, and they too were lured into the Spire, but they managed to escape before they were killed. They also had a number of other confrontations with the Grand Inquisitor until he was defeated in a duel by Jarrus. Rather than face the penalty for his failure, the Grand Inquisitor committed suicide.
Shortly afterwards, the Emperor sent Darth Vader to deal with the rebel threat, as the rebels began working with the larger rebel movement led by Senator Organa and Ahsoka Tano, the former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker. After Darth Vader critically damaged the rebel movement, the Emperor ordered him to send another Inquisitor to deal with the situation.
- "That boy is our last hope."
"No, there is another."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, about Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa
By the time of the Galactic Civil War, a conflict between the Empire and the consolidated Rebel forces that had come to be known as the Rebel Alliance, only two Jedi—Kenobi and Yoda—were known to still be in existence. Luke Skywalker began his Jedi training under Kenobi, before the Jedi Master was killed by Darth Vader. Luke received guidance from Kenobi's spirit, and after a number of years the departed Jedi Master sent Luke to Dagobah, where he received more extensive Jedi training from Yoda. The Jedi hopeful cut his training short in order to rescue his friends, Han Solo and Princess Leia, the latter of whom he did not yet know was his sister, from Vader on Bespin. Luke soon learned this was a trap, as Vader wanted to capture Luke and train him as his new apprentice, and the two engaged in a lightsaber duel. During the duel, Luke learned that Vader was his father, and he fled the fight and was rescued by his friends.
One year later, Luke proclaimed himself a Jedi Knight and returned to Dagobah, where he found a weary and dying Yoda. Before death, Yoda imparted final wisdom onto his apprentice and confirmed that Vader was his father. He also urged Luke to pass on his Jedi training to others. Upon Yoda's death, Luke became the last of the Jedi. Having sensed the goodness in his father, the last vestiges of Anakin Skywalker, Luke surrendered himself to Vader during the Battle of Endor and was brought before the Emperor. Luke and Vader engaged in a final lightsaber duel, and Luke nearly turned to the dark side after lashing out at Vader in anger, but he composed himself and tossed his lightsaber aside, refusing to fight any further. The Emperor attempted to kill Luke, but the sight of his son in agony led to Vader's redemption. Once again Anakin Skywalker, the redeemed Jedi sacrificed himself to kill the Emperor. Between their deaths and the Empire's defeat during the battle, the era of Sith rule over the galaxy came to an end.
- "He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice turned against him, destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible… He walked away from everything."
- ―Han Solo
The death of the Emperor, made possible by the return of the Jedi, left the Galactic Empire leaderless. The Empire fractured into competing sects, while the Rebel Alliance reformed itself into the New Republic. Heeding Yoda's advice, Luke set out to rebuild the Jedi Order. However, thirty years later, Anakin's grandson, Ben, now known as Kylo Ren, massacred Luke's new order, forcing him to go into exile.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Jedi Purge was first mentioned in the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, forming part of the film's backstory for the rise of the Empire and the destruction of the Jedi Knights. The event was first canonically depicted in the 2005 prequel film Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
- Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide (Indirect mention only)
- Backstories: Star Wars – Darth Vader: Sith Lord