Great Jedi Purge

From Academic Kids

Battle before: Battle of Utapau and Battle of Kashyyyk (Clone Wars)
Battle after: Battle of Yavin
Great Jedi Purge
ConflictGalactic Civil War
Date19 - c. 1 BBY
PlaceBoz Pity, Cato Neimoidia, Coruscant, Felucia, Kashyyyk, Mygeeto, Saleucami, Utapau, and other places throughout the galaxy
ResultImperial victory; near destruction of the Jedi Order

The Great Jedi Purge was the extermination of the Jedi by the Sith-led Galactic Empire and the start of the Galactic Civil War. This conflict, also known as the Jedi Holocaust, was first documented in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.


The Fall of the Jedi

The Purge began shortly after the end of the Clone Wars, which had really been from their conception only part of a grand scheme by Darth Sidious to eliminate the Jedi.

Palpatine ordered the Army of the Republic to execute Order 66 - the total extermination of all living Jedi throughout the galaxy as a sign that the age of the Jedi had ended and the New Order was now in place. Just prior to the command, Jedi Master Mace Windu led a small posse of masters to apprehend Sidious, comprised of himself, Agen Kolar, Kit Fisto, and Saesee Tiin. Sidious killed Agen Kolar immediately, followed by Saesee Tiin and with some greater effort Kit Fisto. In the ensuing fight Mace Windu disarmed Sidious, who then attempted to ward off Windu with Force lightning. Windu deflected the lightning back, causing Palpatine to drop the mask of the kindly old man he had worn for years and reveal his true face, yellowed and ravaged by the dark side. Anakin Skywalker appeared, and after some apparent inward hesitation, was driven to incapacitate Windu in order to save Palpatine, whom Anakin believed was the only one with sufficient knowledge of the force (the Dark Side) to save his wife Padme from death. As Sidious had foreseen, Anakin then drew his lightsaber to parry Windu's swipe at the Chancellor and through his action, cut off the Jedi Master's saber hand. Then Sidious, who had pleaded with Anakin and Windu not to kill him for his weakness, immediately regained enough strength to blast Master Windu with force lightning and send him out the window to his death.

Immediately following Windu's murder, Anakin, having embraced his new identity as Darth Vader, led the 501st Legion of Clone Shocktroopers to attack the Jedi Temple. Vader and the clones slew every Jedi there, including the Jedi children, the younglings, and their instructors.

Shortly afterward, and nearly all at once, the Jedi masters leading clone troops were exterminated throughout the galaxy. Clone regiments turned against their Jedi generals and slew them, almost universally to the surprise of the Jedi, e.g. shot from behind either on the ground or in starfighters. Even in the cases when the Jedi realized the situation and tried to defend themselves, they succumbed to the sheer firepower unleashed upon them. Although a Jedi's lightsaber will deflect blaster bolts, the Jedi can not sustain this defense forever, especially against two armies (the droids of the Separatists and the clones of the Republic). Jedi generals leading starfighter and vehicle squadrons were also suddenly targeted and shot down by their clone wingmen or pilots. Among the most notable Jedi killed at the very beginning of the purge were Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura, Barriss Offee, Luminara Unduli, Plo Koon, Stass Allie, and Quinlan Vos. Returning to Coruscant, two of the surviving Jedi, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi entered the Jedi Temple long enough to prepare a secret signal with the in-house communications warning all surviving Jedi about the treachery and to take precautions. During this slaughter, Palpatine declared himself emperor.

Following this catastrophic turn of events for the Jedi, Darth Vader was struck down on the fiery lava Confederate homeworld of Mustafar by his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Vader was saved by Palpatine and was put into a mechanical suit to keep him alive from the wounds sustained from Kenobi. With this new physical identity, Vader was was given a new task: to hunt down and kill the remaining Jedi scattered throughout the galaxy. Vader traveled from system to system, hunting down and destroying the Jedi until they were all but extinct.


Almost none of the Jedi Knights survived this conflict. Among the handful of survivors were Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and the former head of the Jedi Council, Yoda. When Order 66 was issued, Kenobi was ascending a cliff face on his mount, Boga. A clone artillery shot struck the rock just above him, causing a minor avalanche. Kenobi fell a great distance into the water and remained underwater for some time by using his Jedi rebreather until the Clone patrols had passed, and later stole the late General Grievous's starfighter. Yoda, a powerful Jedi Master with a strong connection to the Force, felt the deaths of his fellow Jedi through the force as a tangible as well as emotional pain. This helped him to anticipate the imminent attack from the commander of the clone regiment he was leading on Kashyyyk. Commander Gree attempted to assasinate Yoda in the command post overlooking the battlefield along with one of his troopers, but Yoda swiftly drew his lightsaber and killed the two clones in one quick move, to the approval of Tarfful and Chewbacca, the Wookiee leaders with him in the command post.

Both Kenobi and Yoda again had close calls when they attempted to destroy the two Sith Lords, Darth Vader and Darth Sidious, respectively. Yoda personally confronted Darth Sidious and unsuccessfully battled him in the Galactic Senate until he was forced to withdraw. Meanwhile, Kenobi stowed away on Padmé Amidala's ship to confront Anakin. In the ensuing battle, Kenobi severely wounded the young renegade and left him as he was seemingly dying of immolation by lava. However, the Emperor soon rescued his apprentice and arranged extensive medical care that gave the massive prosthetic structure that would create Vader's distinctive appearance. Both Yoda and Kenobi survived and were picked up by Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan (who had remained loyal to the Jedi) aboard his diplomatic cruiser, the Tantive IV (this is believed to be the blockade runner in the original trilogy). The few Jedi who escaped assassination during the Great Jedi Purge are listed below.

Realizing they were in no position to oppose the Empire for now, Kenobi and Yoda decided to go into hiding. Additionally, they decided that the children of Anakin and the late Padmé, Luke and Leia, would need to be raised in hiding with the hope that they could help oppose their father in the future. Bail Organa volunteered to adopt Leia with his wife on Alderaan. Kenobi committed to watching over Luke on Tatooine (Luke would be raised by his real family there). Yoda chose to hide on the planet Dagobah.

Although both Kenobi and Yoda logically had no choice but to go into hiding, both considered their remaining lives to be more in the tone of self-imposed exile. Both of them sorrowfully stated their failures at the end of the Clone War: Yoda said he had failed to defeat Darth Sidious, while Kenobi said he had failed Anakin in general. However, when the story returns to them in later Episodes IV and V, it is seen that these immensely difficult times have affected neither their clarity of mind nor their faith in the future of the galaxy and the Force.

One might say that The Great Purge was successful, in the sense that the influence of the Jedi was, at least until the Battle of Yavin, completely purged from the galaxy.

Expanded Universe

The Expanded Universe series of books indicates that other Jedi also survived the purge, though few of these Jedi lived to see the fall of the Empire.

According to the New Jedi Order series, Palpatine began killing Jedi before the Great Jedi Purge occurred. Shortly after the Battle of Naboo, the Jedi Council approved the "Outbound Flight Project". A group of Jedi masters would travel to the edge of the galaxy and attempt to use the Force to punch through the hyperspace turbulence surrounding the galaxy, thereby allowing them to attempt contact with life in other galaxies.

The ship was intercepted on Palpatine's command and all hope of contacting life outside the galaxy shattered. It is known that the Chiss who would become Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn was involved in the interception of this ship. It is possible that, had the mission been a success, the Republic would have had early warning to the approaching Yuuzhan Vong. Timothy Zahn has two new novels, the first of which is due out in October, to further elaborate the Outbound Flight Project.

One of those Jedi Masters killed by Thrawn was Jorus C'Baoth. His clone, which served the Dark Side, was Joruus C'Baoth, but unlike the original, the clone was subject to fits of insanity and eventually betrayed Admiral Thrawn in the Heir to the Empire series.

X-Wing Rogue Squadron pilot Corran Horn discovered a museum chronicling members of the Jedi Order whom Palpatine had killed, filled with mutilated statues of former Jedi on Coruscant. It is generally assumed to have been a personal "playroom" for Palpatine to celebrate the success of the purge.

In the strategy game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, after crashlanding on the planet of Krant, Princess Leia Organa and C-3PO, along with a small group of rebels, discover a Jedi who survived the purge, Echuu Shen-Jon. He helped them make many victories on Krant, then travelled with them to the asteroid of Geddes to reclaim a Jedi artifact. When they landed there, they were helped by a small army of Wookiees. In this mission, he was killed by Darth Vader, sacrificing himself so Leia and the other rebels could escape. In the expansion, it is learned that he stayed on Krant because after the battle on Geonosis, he lost his padawan, Stam Reath and tried to avenge him by following the killer, Sev'Rance Tann to Krant. His padawan for this mission was Naat Reath, Stam's sister. She was captured and Echuu attacked Sev'Rance and her droid army, overtaken by the dark side. Helping him in this was a small group of wookiees, who were left on Krant when their leaders evacuated. He succeeded in killing the dark jedi, but at the cost of many clones and wookiees. After realizing that he let the dark side overtake him, he stayed on Krant in self-exile, narrowly avoiding the Great Jedi Purge, though he refers to it as "The Jedi Massacre," a perhaps more appropriate name; "Great Jedi Purge" implies a grand and noble quest, but history is written by the victors, and it was indeed grand from the perspective of the Empire.

The Great Jedi Purge can ultimately be viewed as a failure, given the creation of the New Jedi Order by Luke Skywalker in the years following Palpatine's death. The knowledge of the Jedi, their temple, and their formalized learning structure, however, were nearly all lost to future generations, which probably would have given the late Palpatine a small measure of satisfaction.

Recorded Purge Victims

Survivors of the Purge


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