- "What is it with you Mandalorians, never knowing how to solve anything except through the end of a blaster?"
- ―Kanan Jarrus
Mandalorian was a demonym that referred to the people of the planet Mandalore. Mandalorians also lived on the moon of Mandalore, Concordia, Kalevala and the planet Concord Dawn. Mandalore had a warrior past but, by the time of the Clone Wars, adopted the pacifist ideals of the New Mandalorian government, led by Duchess Satine Kryze. This led to conflict with Death Watch, a group of Mandalorians who wanted to turn to their culture’s warrior ways.
The ancient history of the planet Mandalore was that of a warrior people known for being feared mercenaries and bounty hunters. Thousands of years before the Clone Wars, the Mandalorians were in conflict with the Jedi Order, which ended in a cataclysm that laid the surface of Mandalore to waste. During the fall of the Old Republic, Clan Vizsla stole a weapon known as the darksaber from the Jedi Temple. The planet Concord Dawn, a Mandalorian colony, was ravaged by almost one hundred wars amongst the Mandalorian people. Ancient Mandalorian crusaders would come to be depicted on murals in Sundari, the capital of the planet Mandalore, as well as on Mandalore's moon, Concordia.
In the years prior to the Invasion of Naboo, a new conflict broke out between the Mandalorian people: the Mandalorian Civil War. The war was fought between competing ideals within Mandalorian society, including those who wished to see Mandalore return to their warrior past and the New Mandalorians, led by Satine Kryze. Also involved were the Protectors of Concord Dawn, an elite group of warriors sworn to defend the Concord Dawn system. At the end of the civil war, Satine Kryze ruled as the Duchess of Mandalore, and the warrior clans were exiled to Concordia. Mandalore itself was reduced to an inhospitable desert after centuries of war, so bio-cubes and bio-domes were constructed to protect the civilization population.
Unknown to the New Mandalorians, during the Clone Wars, the Concordian governor Pre Vizsla revived the Mandalorian culture as Death Watch, and began committing terrorist acts on Mandalore, a Republic cruiser, and Kalevala. Conspiring with Count Dooku of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, Vizsla hoped the Republic would believe an intervention was necessary, so Death Watch could fight their invasion and be hailed by the Mandalorians as heroes. However, the plot failed and the Galactic Senate rejected the Mandalore Defense Resolution.
Death Watch fled to become mercenaries, allying first with Separatist senator Lux Bonteri to plot Dooku's downfall, and then with the Sith Lord Darth Maul's Shadow Collective to win back the support of Mandalore's people. However, after Vizsla betrayed Maul, Maul killed him and became Death Watch's leader, prompting Bo-Katan Kryze to rebel against him.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi investigated the coup, but was captured, and Maul killed Satine to spite him. Kenobi escaped and returned to inform the Galactic Republic; in the meantime, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, secretly the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious, captured Maul and imprisoned him in the Spire on Stygeon Prime. Maul's Mandalorian super commandos proved to be loyal and freed him, but nevertheless Maul's hold on Mandalore collapsed and the planet was ultimately occupied by the Galactic Empire.
Meanwhile, the Protectors, who regarded Death Watch as traitors, assisted the Grand Army of the Republic in training clone trooper pilots. Skull Squadron, commanded by Fenn Rau, assisted the Republic during the Third Battle of Mygeeto. After the Imperial occupation of Mandalore, Rau's Protectors established a base on the third moon of Concord Dawn, getting paid by the Empire to protect their system on their behalf, while other Mandalorians went on to serve in the Imperial Military.
Mandalorian clan structure was like a pyramid, with the ruler or Mand'alor at the top and the Protectors enforcing their rule. Below them were the political factions known as Houses, made up of family Clans. For example, House Vizsla was comprised of Clan Vizsla and its allies like Clan Wren.
The Mandalorians had a strong code of honor that could be invoked to settle disputes with one-on-one combat that would conclude with the death of one opponent. However, some in House Vizsla refused to accept non-Mandalorians like Darth Maul ever becoming ruler of Mandalore via such traditions. Maul himself had Prime Minister Almec lie to the Mandalorian people that Satine had killed Vizsla.
Mandalorian armor's signature motifs included helmets with 'T'-shaped visors, jetpacks, flamethrowers and whipcord throwers. They generally favored WESTAR-35 blaster pistols and Z-6 jetpacks, which could project missiles. The archetypal Mandalorian starfighter design was called the Kom'rk-class fighter.
Cubism was a popular Mandalorian art movement during the Clone Wars, though after the conflict paintings that had depicted the awfulness of war were being used to promote and glorify it instead. Mandalorians typically trended towards strong angled and hexagonal lines, such as diamond and honeycomb shapes, in their architecture, vehicles, clothing and even haircuts. Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian member of the Lothal rebels, was a talented graffiti artist who personalized and painted her armor.
By the Clone Wars, the Mandalorians had mostly rejected their martial ancestral ways, but maintained the Mandalorian royal guard in addition to a police force and secret service, who wielded electropoles and shields.
Mandalorians in the galaxy
Mandalorian armor struck fear in the hearts of many across the galaxy. The Trandoshan hunter Garnac kept a Mandalorian Neo-Crusader helmet as a trophy. The bounty hunters Jango Fett and Boba Fett wore Mandalorian armor, keeping the memory of the Mandalorians alive well into the Galactic Civil War. Jango's armor inspired those of the soldiers cloned from him, starting a design lineage that continued down to the stormtroopers of the First Order.
Behind the scenes
When The Empire Strikes Back was in pre-production, there was an idea for squad of "supercommandos" from the Mandalore system armed with weapons built into their white suits. The costume prototype was repainted for Boba Fett, and the idea of the Mandalorians was paid lip service to in The Empire Strikes Back novelization by Donald F. Glut. As mentioned in the novelization, the Mandalorians were now imagined as "a group of evil warriors defeated by the Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars."
Fett's popularity inspired a wealth of Expanded Universe literature about him, which assumed he and his father were Mandalorian like their armor. When it came time to introduce the Mandalorians in season two of The Clone Wars, George Lucas and Dave Filoni looked at Mandalore in the EU and decided they would keep the broad strokes of their history. Much of the Mandalorian history referenced were subsequently rebranded "Legends", and not considered canon.
Filoni wanted to give the Mandalorian people's appearance a "Nordic flavor". The Clone Wars art department looked at Fett's armor and translated its angles, particularly the diamond shape on the breastplate, into every aspect of the Mandalorian aesthetic. Filoni and Lucas felt it should be made clear that the ancient Mandalorians were an army, not a ragtag band of warriors wearing customized armor, so Death Watch would look uniform. (The decision would also keep Boba Fett's armor unique.) Filoni hoped to eventually show how the Mandalorians became mercenaries who supplied Fett with his unusual armor. When Death Watch reappeared in season four's "A Friend in Need", the characters were given a greater variety of gear, lending them what Lucas described as a "biker gang feel".
Before its cancellation, The Clone Wars was to depict the Siege of Mandalore. Writer Henry Gilroy said Mandalore was likely occupied by the Republic before it turned into the Empire. He speculated due to Mandalore's importance, it was likely a "soft occupation", with a new Mandalorian puppet leader ruling the planet.
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- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Complete Season Two – "Creating Mandalore"
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- Ultimate Star Wars
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Notes and references
- Mandalorian on Wikipedia