- “In order to ensure the security and continuing stability. The Republic will be reorganized into the FIRST GALACTIC EMPIRE!! For a safe and secure society!”
- ―Darth Sidious, on the birth of the New Order.
The Galactic Empire, often simply referred as the Empire, is the central antagonistic faction of the Star Wars franchise, serving as the main antagonistic faction of the original trilogy, Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order; the secondary antagonistic faction of Solo; the final antagonistic faction of the prequel trilogy and Star Wars: The Clone Wars; and a posthumous antagonistic faction of the sequel trilogy and Star Wars Resistance.
It is a powerful and authoritarian intergalactic regime that rules the galaxy. It was established by the series' lead villain, Emperor Palpatine who was the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic (and secretly a Sith Lord) when he rose to power and replaced the Republic with an autocratic dictatorship to restore the Sith Empire. It ruled most of the galaxy until they were defeated and overthrown by the Rebel Alliance, which was reorganized into the New Republic after the Battle of Endor, one of the Empire's greatest defeats and, subsequently, the beginning of its collapse.
Government and politics
The Empire was ruled with absolute power by Emperor Palpatine, with Mas Amedda as Grand Vizier, and Darth Vader as the Supreme Commander of all Imperial Forces. Imperial rule was authoritarian. There was little to no freedom of speech and dissidents were punished harshly. Any form of insubordination, whether from citizens or Imperials, was punishable by death. According to the introduction to the official field manual for the Empire's military forces, this was because the Empire aimed and celebrated one ruler, code of law, common tongue, and education in social progress, and wanted to ensure unity.
The Galactic Empire was more decentralized than the Galactic Republic. Systems were grouped in sectors and sectors in turn into over sectors. These were controlled by the Moffs and Grand Moffs, who exercised power in the disparate regions of the galaxy. This was in contrast to the structure of the Galactic Republic, which placed senators in control of their respective sectors. The planets of the Empire were no longer given a say in the government but were now kept in line through fear of force.
Amongst high-ranking military personnel, the Emperor's name was spoken with fear along with his former Sith apprentice, Darth Vader. Though frequently styled as a "Lord", and treated with similar fearful deference as Palpatine, it is unclear whether Vader performed an official function of government. While it was public knowledge that Vader was a Sith, the only people who knew Palpatine was a Sith Lord were the Rebels, the few surviving Jedi, and certain high-ranking officials such as Tarkin and Thrawn. Serving the Empire and its interests were numerous dark side adepts, Force-sensitive individuals of the Inquisitorius trained to track down and eliminate any surviving Jedi. Due to the nature of their mission, Inquisitors could commandeer local Imperial forces and possessed authority over other officers in the Imperial military. The highest-ranking officers in the Navy were the Grand Admirals, who outranked even Grand Moffs. They controlled entire fleets and were second only to the Emperor on the military's chain of command. One such Grand Admiral was Thrawn, who was tasked with defeating the Rebel Alliance.
The Imperial Senate was the de jure legislative council of the First Galactic Empire. It was the successor to the Galactic Senate of the Republic, which was reformed into an autocratic regime when Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine declared himself Emperor.
After the end of the Clone Wars, which was carefully masterminded by the Dark Lord of the Sith known as Darth Sidious. Sidious abandoned his public persona of Palpatine, the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and chairman of its senate. He ordered a special session of Congress and proclaimed himself Galactic Emperor, turning the old Republic into a New Order in his image. The representatives overwhelmingly supported the announcement, except for a few delegates, including Padmé Amidala, Bail Organa, and Mon Mothma. In the wake of the regime change, the Galactic Senate became the Imperial Senate.
Most members of the Imperial Senate secretly supported the Rebel Alliance, as they correctly saw Palpatine as nothing more than a tyrant, Palpatine, unknown to the public, intended to disband the Senate permanently, but he felt the need to wait until the Death Star was completed, to lull the Senate into a false sense of security. As of A New Hope, Palpatine dissolved the Imperial Senate permanently.
Unlike the military forces of the Republic, it served as Palpatine's enforces to enforce his tyrannical rule which was led by his former apprentice and his Supreme Commander, the Sith Lord Darth Vader. Palpatine and Vader's tyrannical rule brought the creation of the Rebel Alliance. This resulted in the Galactic Civil War that would last for nine long years (out of arrogance) Palpatine did not take the Rebel Alliance very seriously, since they only a few Force-users in their group; such as Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger and Luke Skywalker respectively, this would eventually lead to the Galactic Empire's downfall.
The Imperial Navy originated from the Galactic Republic's naval branch and came to have its ships patrol the vast majority of Imperial space throughout the reign of Emperor Palpatine's New Order. Consisting mainly of Star Destroyers and TIE Fighters, the Imperial Navy was tasked with maintaining order in the galaxy.
The reign of the Galactic Empire brought about what would be known to the galaxy as the Human High Culture. Unlike the Old Republic, which encouraged interspecies cooperation and unity, the Empire was openly prejudiced and oppressive towards its nonhuman population. This was due to most high ranking Imperials being firm believers in humocentrism, the belief that humans were the superior race of the universe and that all nonhumans were inferior. Anti-alien sentiment was often shown in Imperial propaganda, which emphasized aliens as strange and untrustworthy while humans as superior and righteous. High ranking Imperials who strongly supported the Empire’s humocentrist policies included Grand Moff Tarkin, Director Orson Krennic, and Moff Raythe.
In the Empire’s Human High Culture, humans dominated every aspect of society. In the government, humans occupied all major positions of power and authority, while only a small handful of alien officials generally served as puppet rulers to ensure Imperial rule on their worlds. In addition, the Empire generally prohibited nonhumans from joining its military forces. Recruitment offices on worlds occupied by the Empire were reserved for only human recruits and most training facilities encouraged xenophobia towards aliens in the psychological conditioning of their troops.
Under Imperial rule, policies were enacted that favored wealthy humans, but reduced most nonhuman citizens to being peasants, serfs, and even slaves. Slavery of nonhumans was extremely common throughout the Empire, noticeably among races such as the Talz, Twi'leks, Mon Calamari, Ugnaughts, and especially the Wookiees. During the Age of the Empire, the Wookies were no longer recognized as a sentient species, instead being labeled by Imperial law as livestock, leading to them being brutally oppressed and forced into slavery, while their homeworld of Kashyyyk was plundered for its natural resources. The Empire also regularly carried out genocide on a number planets home to nonhuman populations, including Lasan and Geonosis, both of which led to the near extinction of their respective native species.
Despite this brutal oppression, some aliens did in fact occupy positions of power and authority within the Imperial hierarchy. Examples of this included the Chagrian Mas Amedda who served as Grand Vizier of the Empire, the Chiss known as Thrawn who held the rank of Grand Admiral (the highest rank in the Imperial Navy), the Aqualish minister Gleb who managed the Imperial Military Leaders School on Vardos, as well as the majority of the Force-sensitive Inquisitorius who belonged to a number of different races.
The Galactic Empire's origins are explained in Revenge of the Sith, in which it replaces the Galactic Republic in a galactic civil war orchestrated by Palpatine, then the Republic's Supreme Chancellor. Palpatine is also secretly the Sith Master/Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious who intends to purge the Jedi Order and restore the Sith Order to power in the galaxy. Palpatine's Sith identity is only known by a small few throughout his life. Palpatine claims that the Jedi attempted to assassinate him and overthrow the Galactic Senate and declares the Jedi to have committed treason. Palpatine declares that the civil war with the Separatists in combination with the Jedi coup d'état requires the reorganization of the Republic into a state that can provide stability, and a safe and secure society, a Galactic Empire with himself as Emperor. The Senate that he has manipulated overwhelmingly applauds Palpatine's decision.
Emperor Palpatine proceeds to purge the Jedi, who had been the upholders of peace and justice in the Old Republic and replaces them by redeeming the Sith. Though Palpatine's Sith identity remains a secret to most, his apprentice Darth Vader is the Sith Lord who is publicly known to the galaxy as the ally of Palpatine who is serving the Empire to purge the galaxy of the Jedi. Certain higher-ups, such as Thrawn and Tarkin, are mentioned to have their suspicions about Vader’s identity and Palpatine’s Sith allegiance despite never being told themselves. Vader is the ruthless second-in-command of Palpatine who is feared by many in the galaxy. By the time of the events of A New Hope, the Empire has transformed into a fully totalitarian dictatorship, with opposition in the form of the Rebel Alliance.
The Galactic Empire is described in various Star Wars media as a brutal dictatorship, one based on "tyranny, hatred of non-humans, brutal and lethal force, and, above all else, constant fear".
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