Empire, the

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From the Movies

From the bloated carcass of the Old Republic, an ambitious politician carved the Galactic Empire, a New Order of government meant to sweep away the injustices and inefficiencies of its predecessor.

Rather than offer the people of the galaxy newfound hope, the Empire instead became a tyrannical regime, presided over by a shadowy and detached despot steeped in the dark side of the Force. Personal liberties were crushed, and the governance of everyday affairs was pulled away from the senate, and instead given to unscrupulous regional governors.

Accompanying the growth of the Empire was an unprecedented military buildup. The many shipyards in the Emperor's domain churned out immense fleets of Star Destroyers and TIE fighters. The Imperial starfleet maintained order in the galaxy, a role previously undertaken by the Jedi Knights, an august order of protectors wiped out during the Emperor's ascent.

It was through fear that the Empire ruled. Its power hungry lieutenants and technocrats developed greater and greater instruments of destruction to cow a rebellious populace. This philosophy culminated in the creation of the Death Star, a mobile space station with a prime weapon of unspeakable power. When fully charged, the Death Star's superlaser had the ability to destroy a planet.

Despite such shows of strength -- indeed, because of them -- the flames of rebellion fanned higher. Small pockets of resistance banded together to form the Alliance to Restore the Republic. At first, the pitiable number of freedom fighters seemed no match for the oppressive Empire. Nonetheless, they managed to score an impressive victory with the destruction of the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin.

Having proved itself a viable threat, the Rebel Alliance found itself under Imperial counterattack. The core group of Rebels spent three years relocating their hidden headquarters, before being routed in a crushing attack at the Battle of Hoth. A few short months later, the Rebels discovered that the Death Star was but the first of many Imperial superweapons in development. A second Death Star was nearing completion over the distant moon of Endor. Intelligence gathered by Bothan spies informed the Rebel planners that Emperor Palpatine himself would be present to oversee the final stages of construction.

Thus an irresistible target was in place over that peaceful green moon: the Empire's next great weapon, incomplete and vulnerable, and the head of the Empire himself, both in one place. The Alliance took the bait -- the Battle of Endor was entirely designed by the prescient Emperor Palpatine to be the final confrontation in the Galactic Civil War. Palpatine failed to foresee the resourcefulness of the Rebels or the treachery of one of his most trusted aides, however.

Palpatine died at Endor, and the second Death Star was destroyed. With this crippling blow, the Imperial reign of terror over the galaxy ended. The Rebellion began forming a New Republic, and worlds across the galaxy celebrated their newfound freedom.

From the Expanded Universe

The galaxy has known empires in the past: systems and fiefdoms of space controlled by ambitious autocrats. All pale in comparison to the New Order that Palpatine built from the Republic's rotted foundations. During his ascent, some spoke of the remembered glories of empires past, of the Kitel Phard Dynasty that united the Atrisian system ages ago, or of Empress Teta's unification of the Koros system. These wistful recollections never foretold the despotic turn the Empire took

Palpatine disbanded the senate during the Galactic Civil War, citing the Rebellion as an emergency situation that required direct intervention. He formally handed over power to regional governors and sector moffs -- roles these power-hungry officials had already been enjoying for years under his rule.

To ensure control over the populace, the Empire dismantled the galaxy-spanning HoloNet. With this public forum of information exchange now in the hands of the military, the Emperor was able to funnel the immense taxation revenue required to keep the HoloNet active into building his war machine. Furthermore, Imperial control of free information ensured that only the New Order agenda propagated throughout the galaxy, and dissenting voices were all but silenced.

Immense corporations aided and abetted the Empire's rise, in exchange for unprecedented freedom of operation. Many of these companies were nationalized -- Imperialized -- in the process, resulting in a huge influx of capital resources for the Empire.

The results of the military buildup soon became apparent, as the first Imperial-class Star Destroyers lumbered out of the Kuat Drive Yards. This was just the start, as new and more potent weapons of war and subjugation were developed by the Emperor's cronies. Upon suggestion of Grand Moff Tarkin, a ruthless governor, the Empire adopted its "doctrine of fear." Rather than expend the resources required to subjugate every planet in the galaxy, the Empire would instead make visible its power in one potent display that could be targeted towards any treasonous world. Fear would keep the systems in line, posited Tarkin. The outcome of his vision was a terrifying era of superweapon development, the first of which was the Death Star project. Legacies of this mindset included such weapons of war as the Tarkin, the second Death Star, the World Devastators, the Sun Crusher and the Galaxy Gun.

The Empire's structure was a bewildering array of crossed authorities, all ultimately answerable to Palpatine himself. This ensured that only Palpatine could speak with absolute authority, while his underlings carefully watched their words and actions. The Imperial advisors and COMPNOR (the Coalition for the Preservation of the New Order) effectively controlled the massive Imperial bureaucracy. The Imperial moffs and grand moffs wielded authority over their sectors and regions, including control of the military in their various areas of influence. The local systems governors reported directly to their moffs, and had control of all Imperial forces garrisoned within their system. Imperial Intelligence reported directly to the Emperor, as well as to specific sector moffs.

The Emperor had devised his perfect vision of government with himself as Supreme Ruler of the galaxy. However, he also designed a system that could not function effectively without him. Through the Force, his dark will drove the Imperial starfleet, unifying it in combat, and through his political machinations, he created a system that left no obvious heir to the Empire. As a result, the Empire splintered after Endor, breaking apart into smaller groups that warred amongst themselves in bids for power.

Time and again self-proclaimed Imperial leaders attempted to reign in the chaos. First, remnants of the Empire under the command of Dark Lady Lumiya allied themselves with the invading alien forces. This group was eventually dispersed, or absorbed into other groups. The head of Imperial Intelligence, Ysanne Isard, attempted to consolidate rule over the disparate factions of the Empire, but was ultimately defeated. Then came such warlords as Trioculus, Admiral Zsinj, Admiral Teradoc, and the last remaining Grand Admiral, the Chiss alien named Thrawn.

Thrawn was perhaps the most successful, being able to reclaim much of the territory lost to the New Republic in his campaign to retake the Core. Thrawn ultimately failed, but his victory spurred on other Imperial factions that staged a violent and clumsy attack on Coruscant.

The New Republic was pushed off the capital world, but much of the beautiful city-planet was devastated in the strike. The Imperials again splintered, and Coruscant became the battleground of the Imperial Civil War. After having reclaimed so much, internecine struggle again hobbled the Empire's bid for dominance.

Into this messy fray emerged an unexpected foe -- the resurrected Emperor Palpatine. Having kept his twisted dark side spirit alive through the Force, Palpatine entered a waiting clone body, and retook control of his dark Empire from a staging ground hidden deep within the Galactic Core. Palpatine, inflicted with the ravages of the dark side and succumbing to clone madness, nonetheless wreaked terrible havoc on the galaxy, becoming the New Republic's greatest threat. His ailing health and sanity, coupled with betrayal, ended his scourge.

The Empire continued after him, a pale shadow of its former self. Having expended great resources in the cloned Emperor's campaign, the Empire continued to dwindle while the New Republic welcomed ever more member worlds into their government.

Populist movements sprang forth, adopting the name and agenda of the Empire, but none truly compared to the New Order at its height. A former Imperial Procurator of Justice, Lord Hethrir, led what he called the Empire Reborn. These radical movements were all quashed by the efforts of the New Republic.

Fifteen years after the defeat of Endor, the Imperial Remnant controlled a scant few worlds that preferred to efficiencies of New Order policy. To maintain this way of life, the Remnant's commander, Admiral Pellaeon, signed an historic peace treaty with the New Republic, thus formally ending decades of civil war.

Nineteen years into the New Republic's rule, the Empire enjoyed a noteworthy resurgence. New Imperial leaders crafted an ersatz Emperor Palpatine to ensure the cooperation of Imperial loyalists. The so-called Second Imperium paled in comparison to the Empire of old, but its greatest strength lay in a Shadow Academy of new Dark Jedi initiates. This Academy went head to head with the Jedi Academy of Master Luke Skywalker. The Second Imperium failed its first major assault against the New Republic and the Jedi, and today remains a historic footnote and an unpleasant reminder of past tyrannies.

Behind the Scenes

The Empire appeared as the villain of the Star Wars saga from the very first 13-page story treatment written by George Lucas in 1973. In this Star Wars galaxy, which was actually our own set in the 33rd century, the Empire is ruled by the Sovereign, and the heroes must cross the galaxy, avoiding Imperial agents, to get to a friendly planet.

The rough draft of Star Wars stated that the Jedi were the architects of the invincible Imperial Space Force, which expanded the Empire across the galaxy, from the celestial equator to the farthest reaches of the Great Rift. However, the benign Empire has been supplanted by a New Empire, ruled from the capital world of Alderaan by a thin, evil-looking man named Cos Dashit. The first draft, which was largely a cosmetic reworking of the rough draft temporarily did away with the Empire, and instead referred to the New Galactic Kingdom.

In the second draft of Star Wars, the Republic Galactica has been replaced by the oppressive First Galactic Empire. In the Galactic Civil War that has spread across the galaxy, 70 systems have united against the tyranny, causing many of the worlds of the Empire to crumble into lawless terrorism.

Keywords: Databank - Episode IV, Databank - Episode V, Databank - Episode III, Databank - Episode VI, Databank - Expanded Universe

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