From the MoviesPalpatine was the supreme ruler of the most powerful tyrannical regime the galaxy had ever witnessed, yet his roots seem extremely humble, traced back to the peaceful world of Naboo.
Before his rise to power, Palpatine was an unassuming yet ambitious Senator in the Galactic Republic. Palpatine saw the Republic crumbling about him, torn apart by partisan bickering and corruption. All too common were those unscrupulous Senators taking advantage of the system, growing fat and wealthy on a bureaucracy too slow to catch them.
Palpatine's moment of opportunity came as a result of a trade embargo. The Trade Federation, in protest of government measures that would tax their outlying trade routes, blockaded and invaded Naboo. Naboo's planetary leader, Queen Amidala, rushed to Coruscant for Palpatine's aid. Together, the two pleaded to the Senate for intervention, only to see their request stalemated by Trade Federation filibustering. Frustrated by the government's inability to do anything, Queen Amidala acted upon Palpatine's suggestion, and called for a Vote of No Confidence in the Republic's leadership.
Chancellor Valorum was voted out of office, and Palpatine was soon nominated to succeed him. The crisis on Naboo prompted a strong sympathy vote, and Palpatine became Chancellor. He promised to reunite the disaffected, and bring order and justice to the government.
Little did anyone suspect how Palpatine had engineered his own rise to power. Hidden beneath a façade of wan smiles and smooth political speeches was a Sith Lord. In truth, Palpatine was well versed in the ways of the Force, having been apprentice to Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Sith Lord who was a master of arcane and unnatural knowledge. In true Sith tradition, Palpatine murdered his Master upon achieving the skill and ability to do so. He then took an apprentice himself, continuing the Sith order in absolute secrecy, right under the noses of the Republic and the Jedi.
With his cloaked Sith identity of Darth Sidious, Palpatine made contact with the scheming Neimoidians and plotted the invasion of his own homeworld. The resulting political fallout allowed Palpatine to step into the power vacuum left by Chancellor Valorum.
Despite Palpatine's vocal promises of reform, the Republic continued to be mired in strife and chaos. A decade after his nomination, Palpatine's Chancellery was faced with the challenge of a popular Separatist movement led by the charismatic leader, Count Dooku. Many in the galaxy feared that the conflict would escalate to full-scale warfare, but Palpatine was adamant that the crisis could be resolved by negotiation.
The Separatists didn't agree. Upon the discovery of a secret army of droids, it became apparent that the Separatists were on the verge of declaring war against the Republic. To counter this, the Republic needed a military, and Palpatine required the authority to activate the Republic's newly forged army of clones. To that end, Senators loyal to Palpatine motioned that the Chancellor be given emergency powers to deal with the Separatist threat.
With spoken regrets, Palpatine accepted the new mantle of power. He promised to return his absolute authority to the Senate after the emergency subsided. What no one realized was that the galaxy would undergo further upheaval, and that a state of crisis would ensure Palpatine's authority for decades.
The Clone Wars were just part of an intricate Sith plan concocted by Palpatine. After the demise of Darth Maul, he needed a new apprentice to carry forward his agenda. He did not have time to train an adept from the cradle, but instead plotted to turn an already proven Jedi warrior onto the path of the dark side. His target, the disillusioned Jedi Master Count Dooku. By appealing to Dooku's civility and disgust with Republic corruption, Palpatine was able to lure him to the dark side. When he became fully enmeshed in the Sith order and pledged his absolute loyalty to Palpatine, Dooku was granted the mantle of Darth Tyranus.
As Tyranus, Dooku put into motion the next phase of Sidious' fiendish plot. He was responsible for the creation of a clone army on the Republic's behalf, selecting a prime candidate as the clone template: Jango Fett. With his public persona of Dooku, he grew to become a political firebrand, leading a militant band of dissidents to wage open war against the Republic: a war the Republic was pleasantly surprised to find they were equipped to fight. The Clone Wars were a sham -- as Palpatine secretly held authority over both sides of the conflict.
The indications of his future regime were subtle at first. Palpatine's term as Chancellor ended during the rise of the Separatists, but that crisis allowed him to extend his stay in office. Once the Clone Wars erupted, the Senate's inability to efficiently wage war on scattered fronts forced him to enact executive decree after executive decree. He added amendments to the constitution funneling more power to him, effectively circumventing the bureaucracy of the Senate.
The public and the Senate willingly gave up their rights and freedoms in the name of security. Under Palpatine's guidance, the war would be won, and the Republic would be safe. The monstrous specter of General Grievous leading an assault ensured that few questioned Palpatine's growing authority.
The Jedi Council was among the wary. As an instrument of the Senate and the people, the Jedi order resisted Palpatine's directcontrol. This tension grew as the war escalated. Some in the Senate also quietly whispered their misgiving. Palpatine knew of a delegation of concerned Senators, and he would deal with them in time.
During the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker grew to be a legendary hero among the Jedi. His power was remarkable. Palpatine, who had been fostering a friendship with the unique lad since his childhood, felt the time was right. Darth Tyranus had served his purpose. Skywalker would be the next Sith apprentice.
As a bold endgame to his lengthy plot, Palpatine was architect of his own abduction by the fearsome General Grievous, military commander of the Separatist forces. The Confederacy fleet hammered Coruscant's defenses, and absconded with the captive Chancellor. Predictably, the Jedi order's finest heroes -- Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi -- were dispatched to rescue Palpatine. Aboard their tiny starfighters they infiltrated Grievous' flagship, and worked their way to the shackled Chancellor.
Count Dooku stood in their path. Once again, lightsaber blades crossed as Kenobi and Skywalker teamed up against Dooku. The aged Sith Lord was able to outmaneuver Kenobi, and knocked the seasoned Jedi unconscious. Without his mentor's guidance, Anakin attacked Dooku alone. The Sith Lord goaded Anakin's rage, and the young Jedi took revenge against the warrior who had severed his arm years before. Skywalker cut off both of Dooku's hands, and had the Separatist leader kneeling before his lightsaber blade.
Palpatine recognized the dark side in Anakin and nurtured it. He encouraged Anakin to kill Dooku. Skywalker's blade seared through flesh and bone, and Dooku's severed head soon littered the deck. Though Anakin instantly regretted the act for not being of the Jedi way, Palpatine was quick to console him, and absolve him of any guilt. After all, Dooku was too dangerous to be taken alive, rationalized Palpatine.
It was not the first time Palpatine had encouraged Anakin's unfettered abilities. A young man of Anakin's abilities was constantly chafing under the strict confines of the Jedi Code, and was often being reprimanded for doing what he felt was right. Palpatine never had any admonitions. He was always in Anakin's corner.
Skywalker would remember this as the political fallout from Dooku's death and the continued Clone Wars tugged him in different directions. The Jedi Council had grown wary of Palpatine, and was critical the Chancellor's decrees that redirected power away from the Senate and the constitution and into his office. Palpatine grew to naturally distrust the Council. He appointed Anakin Skywalker to act as his personal representative on the Jedi Council. Surprisingly, the Jedi Council agreed to this appointment -- but only in the hopes of turning Anakin into their spy on the Chancellor.
Palpatine exploited this distrust and confusion plaguing Anakin. Skywalker grew to feel that the Chancellor was the only one not asking something of him, the only one not speaking through veiled agendas. It was in this position of trust that Palpatine recounted a Sith legend -- the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise. In the relative privacy of his viewing box in the Galaxies Opera House, Palpatine wistfully recalled the little heard legend of the powerful Sith Lord so knowledgeable in the arcane and unnatural arts that he could even stop those he loved from dying. At the time, Anakin Skywalker was plagued with visions of the death of his wife. He feared them to be prophetic, like so many of his visions. Skywalker wanted to know more about this ability -- it was unknown to the Jedi, supposedly only discovered by the Sith. Knowing that he had the boy sufficiently intrigued, Palpatine later dropped his guise. He revealed to Anakin that he was in fact a Sith Lord, but also that he was the path to the power that could save Padmé Amidala from dying.
Anakin was deeply conflicted. Respecting his loyalty to the Jedi Order, he informed senior Jedi Council member Mace Windu of the stunning revelation. Windu arranged a group of Jedi Masters to arrest the Chancellor. Palpatine did not go quietly.
In the inner recesses of the Chancellor's private office, the Jedi confronted the Chancellor. Palpatine produced a lightsaber hidden in his sleeve and let the dark side of the Force flow through him. It granted him inhuman dexterity and speed, agility enough to quickly kill three Jedi Masters and force the mighty Mace Windu back. The two dueled, transforming the office of politics into an arena of lightsaber combat. Windu overpowered Palpatine the instant Anakin Skywalker came running into the offices.
Skywalker witnessed a stunning sight: the Chancellor, cornered, with Windu looming over him with his lightsaber blade extended. Palpatine unleashed a torrent of Sith lightning at the Jedi Master, but Windu was able to deflect it back at the Chancellor. The evil energies twisted Palpatine's face as they flowed through him, scarring and disfiguring his once handsome features. His eyes burned yellow, his voice grew ragged and deep, and he became a well of dark side energies.
Palpatine slumped in the corner, seemingly too weak to continue the lightning assault. Fearing the Chancellor to be too powerful and too well connected, Windu decided he could not be taken alive. Before Windu could take justice into his own hands, though, Anakin sprung into action. He cut off Windu's weapon hand with his lightsaber. Defenseless, Windu was then bombarded by Palpatine's dark side lightning. With the Jedi Master dead and Anakin Skywalker haven taken his first irreversible step to the darkside, Sidious grinned.
Skywalker knelt before Darth Sidious, and the Sith Lord bestowed upon him the title of Darth Vader. He next tasked his new apprentice to raze the Jedi Temple before the treacherous Jedi could strike back at them. Entrenched in the dark side, Vader marched to the temple with a column of loyal clone troopers, gutting the sacred edifice from within. Meanwhile, Sidious took care of the Jedi scattered across the galaxy waging the Clone Wars.
Palpatine enacted Order 66, a coded command that identified the Jedi Knights as traitors to the Republic. He broadcast this order to the clone commanders on the various distant battlefronts, and the loyal soldiers killed their Jedi generals in cold blood.
The next day Palpatine called for a special session of the Galactic Senate. Despite his disfigurement, he appeared before the assembled politicians of the Republic, and gave a stirring speech of how he narrowly escaped a treacherous Jedi rebellion. He assured the people of the Republic that his resolve had not faltered. He had routed out the treachery that had entangled the Republic in the Clone Wars. He would flense the corruption from the bloated bureaucracy that strangled the august government and reform it, as a new, more powerful, more secure institution.
That day, before thunderous applause, Palpatine declared himself Emperor.
Palpatine instituted a military build-up unprecedented in galactic history. He created the New Order, a Galactic Empire that ruled by tyranny.
During the Galactic Civil War, Palpatine ruled with an iron fist. He disbanded the Imperial Senate, and passed control down to the regional governors and the military. During the Hoth campaign, Palpatine expressed to Vader his concerns over Luke Skywalker, a young Rebel powerful in the Force. Vader suggested that the two convert the youth to the dark side of the Force, an idea the Emperor seconded.
The Emperor was a scheming ruler, planning events far in the future, using the Force to foresee the results. Palpatine allowed Rebel spies to learn of the location of the second Death Star, and foresaw their strike team and fleet assault. Palpatine crafted an elaborate trap that was to be the end of the Rebellion. He also concentrated on converting Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the Force, even at the expense of sacrificing Vader. In the Death Star, high above the Battle of Endor, Luke refused the Emperor's newfound dark side power, and so Palpatine used his deadly Force lightning to attack the young Jedi. Luke almost died in the assault, but his father, Darth Vader, returned to the light side of the Force, and hurled the Emperor into the Death Star's reactor core, killing him.
Palpatine was a gnarled, old man. An ancient-looking human, he had pale skin, and searing, sickly yellow eyes. He wore a heavy dark cloak, and carried a glossy black cane.
From the Expanded UniverseNo one is quite sure how Palpatine was first introduced to the power of the dark side, or how he came to be Darth Plagueis' apprentice. He is the most powerful practitioner of the Sith ways in modern times. He studied the ancient ruins on the Sith mausoleum world of Korriban. He unlocked secrets of the Force from a captured Jedi Holocron. The dark side energies flowing through Palpatine's body were so intense, that they ravaged his mortal frame. The very source of Palpatine's strength was killing him.
To counter the dark side's consumption, Palpatine turned to a bizarre combination of technology and Sith magic. Palpatine used Spaarti cloning cylinders to create a store of younger bodies, and employed an ancient Sith technique to transfer his consciousness into a waiting clone. Thus, Palpatine could avoid death indefinitely -- as long as his supply of clones remained intact. He would change his form again and again, prolonging his life. Palpatine constructed a secret throne-world deep within the galaxy's core, on a shadowy world called Byss. Here, he kept his clones safe, protected by a loyal cadre of Dark Side Adepts.
Although Palpatine called for the extermination of the Jedi and any Force-sensitives who could conceivably challenge him, he did keep a few loyal agents who were trained in the Force. Darth Vader was chief among them, as his primary lieutenant and Sith apprentice. Palpatine also had a string of loyal, deadly agents referred to as his "Hands." Mara Jade was foremost among these dedicated enforcers.
At the Battle of Endor, Palpatine found himself facing death yet again. Betrayed by Vader, Palpatine's body was destroyed aboard the second Death Star. Separated from his clones, Palpatine was forced to survive in the maddening, bodiless existence of the void. Through sheer will he retained his identity, crossing the gulf of space to again take residence in his clone body. He barely survived Darth Vader's treachery. Palpatine remained sequestered at Byss while he rebuilt his strength, and his Empire.
Palpatine's rule was so absolute that his apparent death at Endor fragmented the Empire. With no obvious heir, opportunistic moffs and warlords set out to carve their own private fiefdoms where they could. Years of infighting worked to the advantage of the fledgling New Republic, who proceeded to reclaim three-fourths of the galaxy. One warlord who succeeded where imitators failed was Grand Admiral Thrawn, the only non-human to hold that rank. His cunning tactics and unerring strategies brought the Empire to the brink of victory five years after the Battle of Endor. Only a last minute betrayal spelled his defeat.
Spurred on by Thrawn's victories, the remaining Inner Circle of Imperial warlords staged a devastating attack on Coruscant. Whereas Thrawn sought to take the capital world intact, these Imperials attacked without compunction. Much of Imperial City was laid waste by the fighting, and the New Republic was forced to evacuate. Once on the surface, the Imperials splintered yet again, and skirmishes dragged on in amongst the ruined skyscrapers.
It was then that the resurrected Palpatine struck. Using his dark powers to invoke a Force storm of great magnitude, Palpatine swept Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to Byss. There, he revealed himself to Skywalker, and unveiled the true strength of the dark side. Faced with an immortal enemy, Skywalker did the unthinkable -- in order to defeat the dark side from within, Skywalker knelt before Palpatine, and declared himself his new apprentice. In these dark times, it seemed the Emperor had finally won.
Skywalker was too enmeshed in darkness to successfully rebel against his master. Although he sabotaged some of Palpatine's military ventures -- namely those involving immense war factories called World Devastators -- he still could do not draw himself from the pall of the dark side. It was only his sister, Leia Organa Solo, that gave him the extra strength he needed. With her presence, the two Skywalker twins were able to temporarily repulse Palpatine.
Unabated, the Emperor continued his scourge. Armed with an incredible new superweapon, the Galaxy Gun, Palpatine forced numerous New Republic worlds to capitulate to Imperial rule. Despite his growing Empire, Palpatine was again growing frail. His clones were failing him. He needed new blood. Palpatine targeted Leia's newborn son, Anakin Solo, as the next receptacle for his dark spirit. During an attempt to possess the child, Han Solo shot the ailing Palpatine in the back. Before his soul could enter Anakin's body, Palpatine was intercepted by a newfound Jedi, Empatojayos Brand. Cut off from a host body, Palpatine's essence dissipated, to be consumed by the madness that is the dark side. After so many years of bloodshed, the Emperor was truly dead.
Behind the ScenesEarly draft scripts of Star Wars identified the Emperor as Cos Dashit, who ruled from the Imperial throneworld of Alderaan. The Emperor first appeared on film in The Empire Strikes Back. He was played by an old woman wearing prosthetic makeup, with chimpanzee eyes superimposed in post-production into darkened eye sockets in order to create a truly unsettling image. Palpatine's voice was provided by Clive Revill for Empire. For Jedi and all subsequent films, Palpatine was played by actor Ian McDiarmid.
Keywords: Databank - Episode V, Databank - Episode I, Databank - The Clone Wars, Databank - Episode III, Databank - Episode II, Databank - Episode VI, Databank - Expanded Universe
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