Galactic Empire (Star Wars)

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Galactic Empire
Emblem of the Galactic Empire
Form of Government Empire
Official language Galactic Basic
Capital Coruscant (Imperial Center)
Head of State Emperor Palpatine
Supreme Military Executor Darth Vader
Head of Government Grand Vizier Sate Pestage
Executive Governing BodyImperial Inner Circle
Legislative Branch Imperial Senate, Council of Moffs
Establishment 19 BBY
Fragmentation 4 ABY
Final Dissolution 10 ABY
Reorganized into Imperial Remnant 19 ABY
Currency Galactic Standard Credit (Imperial Dataries)

In the fictional Star Wars universe, the First Galactic Empire was the regime established by Palpatine to replace the Galactic Republic. It consisted of over one million member worlds and fifty million colonies, protectorates and governorships.

Promoted as a "New Order" to replace the inefficiencies and injustices of the Old Republic, the Empire rapidly became a totalitarian regime, and was overthrown after a 20-year struggle by the Rebel Alliance.


Origins of the Empire

The Galactic Empire was born out of the old Galactic Republic. However, the seeds of change were planted during the Clone Wars, the epic war between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems.

When the extent of the Separatist threat became clear, the Senate was forced to grant Palpatine emergency supreme powers, which he used to form the Grand Army of the Republic. This conflict allowed Chancellor Palpatine to remain in office well past the limits set forth by the Galactic Constitution. Palpatine promised to step down once peace was restored to the galaxy.

Palpatine was an effective and efficient leader who quickly brought an end to corruption in the Senate by greatly increasing the power of the Chancellor. Eventually, the Senate lost most of its power and became little more than an advisory council to the Chancellor. The Jedi began to distrust the Chancellor's motives, fearing he had come under the influence of the dreaded Sith. Palpatine was, in fact, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, and had been playing the Republic and the Separatists against each other.

As the war dragged on, the Chancellor's power continued to grow until he became a virtual dictator. When it became clear that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, the Jedi tried and failed to remove him from office. In an emergency special Senate session, Palpatine declared the Jedi traitors. Secure in his power and position, Palpatine issued the Declaration of a New Order and declared himself Emperor (this happened almost nineteen years before the Battle of Yavin).

"...The Republic shall be reorganized into the first GALACTIC EMPIRE, for a safe and secure society..." - Palpatine, telling the Senate of the Jedi plot to take over the Republic

Palpatine's Empire promised to trade frailty for strength, chaos for order, and uncertainty for decisiveness. The citizens of the newly formed government enthusiastically supported the vision outlined in the Declaration. Most of the Senate supported him as well, though several more cautious senators chose to watch to see how he would handle the affairs of state while only a few conscientious ones like Padm Amidala and Bail Organa realized the disaster that had just occurred. The transition from Republic to Empire was relatively smooth; in retrospect, the foundation of the Empire had already been set down during Palpatine’s chancellorship.

Led by Darth Vader, the Emperor's army of clone stormtroopers and other organizations of Sith/Dark Jedi agents all but exterminated the Jedi Order, seemingly eliminating the last threat to his power. During the first years of the Empire, Coruscant was renamed Imperial Center and the galaxy saw the single largest military buildup in history. Popular support for the policies of Palpatine’s administration was high.

Organization of Power

Missing image
Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, along with several Royal Guards standing at attention aboard the second Death Star

Emperor Palpatine ruled the Empire with absolute power, with Sate Pestage as Grand Vizier (the Head of Government, who was running the Empire day to day by the Battle of Endor). Darth Vader, a Dark Lord of the Sith, was Military Executor and Supreme Commander of the Imperial Navy. Two of Palpatine's top advisors were Janus Greejatus and Sim Aloo, who accompanied Palpatine on the second Death Star.

The Galactic Senate existed for 19 years after the Empire's establishment as the Imperial Senate, but had little actual power and was eventually dissolved by Palpatine shortly before the Battle of Yavin. Below the Emperor, real power was in the hands of Grand Moffs such as Tarkin, and the regional governors. A Council of Moffs was established to more efficiently govern individual sectors and regions of the Empire.

The Empire was actually less centralized than its predecessor, the Old Republic. Much power was sent into the hands of the regional moffs and governors, in contrast to the Republic's structure, which had no intermediary between low-level planetary affairs and those of the Senate. This power was backed up by the use of state terrorism which threatened any defiance to the government with horrific retaliation. The instrument of that terror was the military, which included the Imperial Stormtroopers; a large fleet of intimidating war vehicles such as the Imperial Navy's Star Destroyers and the Imperial Army's All Terrain Armoured Transports (AT-ATs or "walkers") which were intended in part to spread fear as well as destroy the enemy. This policy reached its zenith with the construction of the planet-destroying Death Star.

Following Emperor Palpatine's death, the Imperial Interim Ruling Council was formed to organize and maintain the Galactic Empire. It was met by hatred, and therefore did not last long.

Resistance to Imperial Rule

Soon after Palpatine became Emperor, the Galactic Civil War began. Disturbed by Palpatine's new dictatorship, three most influential senators - Bail Organa of Alderaan, Garm Bel Iblis of Corellia, and Mon Mothma of Chandrila - met in secret to sign the Corellian Treaty, forming the Alliance to Restore the Republic, more commonly referred to as the Rebel Alliance. The threat of Rebellion allowed Palpatine to endorse the Tarkin Doctrine of rule by fear of force rather than force itself.

The Battle of Yavin was the Rebel Alliance's first major success against the Empire. The Death Star, a moon-sized space station with sufficient firepower to destroy a planet, was destroyed by a young farmboy, Luke Skywalker. While most planets could afford planetary deflector shields capable of warding off virtually any conventional attack, there was no defense against the Death Star.

Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader died during the Battle of Endor, shortly before the destruction of the second Death Star. But the Empire was too large to be destroyed with one blow; for the next decade and more the Rebels, renamed the New Republic, fought to free the galaxy from remnant Imperials styling themselves as independent warlords, as well as Imperial loyalists such as Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ysanne Isard. These battles are chronicled in the many novels licensed by Lucasfilm. See Expanded Universe.

The Empire and xenophobic racism

In the first three released Star Wars movies, almost all members of the Empire are portrayed as white British males speaking with a Received Pronunciation accent. This was done for both logistical reasons (much of the filming was done in Britain), and for dramatic reasons (as attested to by director Irvin Kershner, who even overdubbed a rebel who was played by a British actor to fit with this scheme). The exceptions are the stormtroopers who all have much the same intonation (non-British), and some Imperial officers in A New Hope that were played by Americans. In contrast most, though not all, of the main protagonists of the Rebel Alliance have American accents. The Rebel Alliance as shown in the movies seems to be comprised of a variety of human races and alien species. The reason for this is never revealed in the movies, but it led many fans and authors writing derivative works to theorize that the Empire was xenophobic. To American audiences, this polarity of accents and ideals between a mighty empire and a determined group of rebels reflects past American history, specifically the Revolutionary War.

In the Expanded Universe, the Empire emphasized human and, to a lesser extent, humanoid supremacy, with other alien species like Wookiees subject to slavery. Antislavery laws were repealed and legislation legalizing the persecution of nonhumans was passed. Peaceful demonstrations were dispersed using brute force, often killing and maiming thousands, as during the Ghorman Massacre. The planets of the Empire were no longer given a say in the government, but were now kept in line by the thousands of sector groups of the Imperial Starfleet, each containing at least twenty-four Imperator-class Star Destroyers and several thousand lesser ships. Disillusioned senators who had tried unsuccessfully to use legal means, and the time-honored system of checks and balances, now sought to end Palpatine’s rule through rebellion.

This explains why almost everyone on the side of the Empire in Episodes IV, V, and VI is human. It is believed by some that Palpatine's association with non-humans like Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace contradicts the idea that there is any humanoid bias on the part of Palpatine. However, since Palpatine was a Sith Lord, it is logical to assume that he would take advantage of talent wherever he could find it, as was the case with Darth Maul and Grand Admiral Thrawn. It so follows that while the Empire was unquestionably specist, there is little to suggest that the Emperor himself was. In fact, some facts of the Expanded Universe imply that the privy councilors and advisors that filled Palpatine's court and ran the Empire on a day-to-day basis were the specists, and applied "High Human Culture" on their own accord.

The Post-Endor Empire

After a peace treaty was signed with the New Republic, what remained of the Empire was the Imperial Remnant, a shadow of its former glory. It consisted of 18 backwater sectors in the Outer Rim and its capital world was Bastion. Its head of state was Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon. During the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, the Imperial Remnant allied with the New Republic and its successor-state the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances (or for short, Galactic Alliance, or GFFA). It appears that the Remnant will play an increasingly important role in galactic affairs all out of proportion to its small economy and military.

See also

External links

ja:銀河帝国 (スター・ウォーズ)


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