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The Sith are a fictional and ancient kratocratic organization and the main antagonists in the fictional Star Wars universe. The Sith Order established several Sith Empires and have undergone numerous incarnations throughout their existence. The Banite Sith Order, as depicted in the Original trilogy and Prequel trilogy, was founded by Darth Bane; it lasted 1000 years BBY and promptly ended with the death of Palpatine. During this dynasty there existed only two at a time: a master and an apprentice.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Background and origins
- 2.1 Before the Battle of Yavin
- 2.2 After the Battle of Yavin
- 3 Organization
- 4 Personnel
- 5 Sith appearances
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Sith are dedicated to sith philosophy and to mastering the dark side of the Force. The Sith members, known as Sith Lords or Dark Lords of the Sith, traditionally use the title Darth-prefix before their Sith name. The Sith are the archenemies of the quasi-religious Jedi and, like them, their main weapon is the lightsaber. While Jedi are subservient to the Force and aid the Galactic Republic by utilizing the Force for peace, knowledge and defense, the Sith prefer to exploit the Force for power, aggression or personal gain; desires that inevitably led to both imperial conquest and their own self-destruction.
Sources and analogues
The word "sith" was first used in the novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, as a title for Darth Vader, the "Dark Lord of the Sith". The Sith were not formally introduced or mentioned on-screen until the release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, in 1999, though they had been named in some Expanded Universe works before that time.
- Film and television
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Sidious and Maul)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Sidious and Dooku)
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Sidious, Dooku, and Vader)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Sidious and Vader)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Sidious and Vader)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Sidious and Vader)
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars
- Star Wars Rebels (Vader and Inquisitor)
- Expanded universe
|This section requires expansion. (March 2015)|
Background and origins
The Star Wars saga began with the film Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which was released in 1977. Since then, films, books, computer games and comics have been released, all set in the fictional universe of Star Wars, which has expanded the history of the Sith within their stories. Throughout their existence, the Sith Order established several Sith Empires.
The Galactic Standard Calendar was the standard measurement of time in the Star Wars galaxy. It centered around the Coruscant tropical year. The Coruscant solar cycle was 368 days long with a day consisting of 24 standard hours. Numerous epochs were used to determine calendar eras. The most recent of these calendar eras used the Battle of Yavin as its epoch, or "year zero": BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), and ABY (After the Battle of Yavin).
Before the Battle of Yavin
The Tales of the Jedi comics series takes place in this era, chronicling the immense wars fought by the Jedi of old, and the ancient Sith. The Knights of the Old Republic series and the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place during this time, as well as the Darth Bane series. The Sith Era also takes place during this time.
Third Great Schism
After the Third Great Schism came to an end, and the last twelve ‘Dark Jedi’ surrendered, the public demanded their execution. Ever the merciful diplomats, the Jedi chose to spare the lives of their fallen brethren and their followers. They then proceeded to strip their former allies of their weapons and armor, boarded them onto unarmed transport ships, and sent them into deep space. When the helpless prisoners found the race of red-skinned Sith on the planet Korriban, they did what Jedi do: shared their beliefs and technology and laid the foundations of a new empire.
Great Hyperspace War
Old feuds die hard, so once the Sith had emerged as a suitable army for their Dark Jedi leaders – now Sith Lords – the Great Hyperspace War began. The Sith ultimately succumbed to infighting, and the Republic and Jedi were victorious. Their actions 1,900 years earlier hadn’t worked: the Dark Jedi had survived, and now ruled over a previously-unknown race of Force-sensitive humanoids.
The Sith Holocaust
Supreme Chancellor Pultimo realized that this new enemy posed a credible threat to the Republic. He ordered the Jedi and Republic armed forces to invade Sith Space and destroy any remains of the empire and its citizens. This purge – known as the Sith Holocaust – ultimately failed, leaving the survivors to take refuge on Dromund Kaas. From here they would rebuild their empire, and not rest until they had their revenge on those who had tried to exterminate them.
The Sith Empire
The Sith Empire was established by Darth Revan and his apprentice, Darth Malak, during the Jedi Civil War. It was founded as a dark side organization in direct opposition to the Galactic Republic and its Jedi defenders. Built upon a hardened core of veterans from the Mandalorian Wars and a host of Jedi converts, this new galactic power very nearly succeeded in conquering the Republic. After the redemption of Revan and the death of Malak, the Empire splintered into factions before finally dissolving entirely circa 3950 BBY (Before Battle of Yavin). The Sith Triumvirate emerged as a loose alliance of what remained of Darth Revan's Sith Empire that almost destroyed the Jedi Order during the era of strife that took place after the Jedi Civil War. It was solidified sometime after the Battle of Rakata Prime. It was responsible for the near complete destruction of the Jedi Order during the First Jedi Purge and the attack on Katarr.
The Brotherhood of the Sith
The Brotherhood of the Sith was established by Exar Kun during the Great Sith War. This history of the Sith was officially described by George Lucas himself in the novelization of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, written by Terry Brooks. There, it is explained that the Sith Brotherhood of Darkness was established two thousand years before the events of The Phantom Menace by a rogue Jedi who believed that the true power of the Force lay in its dark side, and that that denial of power was a waste. The Jedi Council of the time disapproved of such beliefs and the dissident Jedi left the order, swearing vengeance against them.
Exar Kun soon gained many followers, some of whom were Jedi who agreed with his views and beliefs. However, the greed and hunger for power from the Brotherhood's members was so great that it was destroyed from the inside. With a fragile alliance based on mutual hatred, and weakened by centuries of infighting, the divided Sith factions were easily wiped out by the unified Jedi Order. Still, in the midst of destruction, one member was able to survive: Darth Bane.
The Banite Sith
Learning from the order's past mistakes, Darth Bane established The Rule of Two and restructured the Sith so that there could only exist two members at a time: a master and an apprentice. This would concentrate the Dark Side of the force into the two powerful beings rather than spread it amongst legions of ineffective warriors. Bane also adopted cunning, subterfuge, and stealth as fundamental tenets of the Sith. Darth Bane predicted that this kratocratic cycle would continue for a period of 1,000 years, until the Sith were ready to enact their vengeance against the Jedi.
Centuries later, the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious, carefully schemed to exact revenge against the Jedi and restore Sith theocratic control over the galaxy, which led to the Clone Wars, the destruction of the Jedi Order, the enslavement or genocide of non-human species, and the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire. During his final duel with Sidious, Jedi Master Yoda realized that Sidious represented a small but powerful Sith Order that had changed and evolved over the years, whereas the Jedi had not: "He [Yoda] had lost before he started." George Lucas has stated that Palpatine considers himself the "savior" of the galaxy.
After the Battle of Yavin
However, while Sidious and his powerful apprentice Darth Vader were successful in killing most of the known Jedi, the Sith would not be completely victorious. An alliance of dissident worlds began a great rebellion against the Galactic Empire, which culminated in a rebel fleet destroying the Empire's second Death Star, and Darth Vader's son, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, redeemed his father by turning him back to the light side of the Force. Vader killed his master Darth Sidious to save his son, and Vader's subsequent death meant the destruction of the Banite Sith Order.
Galactic Federation of Free Alliances
Established under Darth Caedus, a Sith Lord who turned against his family and friends, betraying his former principles and leading the Galactic Alliance he once championed into a reign of terror as he attempted to bring order and stability to a fractured galaxy. Caedus desired to protect the galaxy, and was increasingly willing to accept any cost in exploiting the Dark Side.
The One Sith
Following the end of the Sith–Imperial War, before 30 ABY (After Battle of Yavin), a Sith known as Darth Krayt founded The One Sith or the New Sith Order on Korriban, the ancient Sith burial world. In this new Sith cult, most of the followers were trained from birth, sported a red-and-black tattooed appearance and carried lightsabers with a yorik coral-styled hilt design. This Sith Order was considered heretical by the holocrons of Darth Andeddu and Darth Bane. By the year 130 ABY, the One Sith had risen to take the place of Lumiya's Sith faction, itself the remnant of Darth Bane's Order.
The Rule of Two
The "One Master and One Apprentice" rule is the principle upon which the Order of the Sith Lords was founded. The Rule of Two was created by Darth Bane, a Dark Lord and former member of the Brotherhood of Darkness, who saw that the Sith Brotherhood of Darkness dynasty had weakened themselves and were ultimately eradicated by the Jedi Order.
There is one additional tier exclusive to Sith Masters who serve on the Sith High Council:
- Dark Lord of the Sith: The Dark Lord is usually the greatest, most powerful and best trained of all Sith. A Dark Lord is chosen by the Sith High Council to give acknowledgment to the entire Sith Order, but by the end of the New Sith Wars, many Sith were chosen simultaneously.
Members of the Order progress through eight educational stages, at times referred to as levels:
- Sith Minion: A Minion is the first part of Sith training; some are not even Force-sensitive, and often worshiped the Sith Lords as gods. However, the Sith also use soldiers, mercenaries and conscripts to work for them.
- Sith Assassin: A specialized Minion includes an Assassin, who prefer to ambush targets from the shadows than engaging them in standard in combat. Almost always working solo or in small groups, they utilize stealth field generators and the rare art of Force camouflage to launch surprise attacks on their Jedi victims.
- Sith Adept: An Adept is similar to an Acolyte and was trained by the Brotherhood of Darkness in the Sith Academies on Dathomir and Iridonia. In the post-Bane era, they weren't exactly Sith; they were chosen and trained by a Shadow Hand. Eventually, an Adept replaces the Shadow Hand when he or she is killed or becomes the Master.
- Sith Acolyte: An Acolyte is a Minion who has just started down the Dark Side of the Force under the tutoring of a more experienced Sith Lord.
- Sith Warrior: A Warrior is a mid-ranking Minion during the pre-Bane era who focuses his or her energies and skills toward battle, spending little time on Dark Side philosophies or other concerns of the Sith.
- Sith Marauder: A Marauder is a variant of a Warrior, often responsible for the most chaotic acts the Sith carry out. His/her training focuses more on the aggressive use of a lightsaber than the Force, giving him a technique fueled by hatred and cruelty. Thus, most Marauders can duel an average Jedi toe-to-toe and win easily.
- Sith Shadow Hand: A Minion who successfully completes training is given a second-class education and then undergoes Shadow Hand training under the tutelage of Mentor (usually a Sith Lord or Sith Master). They are also called "Apprentices" and "Shadow Hand learners". As a rite of passage and final test before the trials to lordship, Shadow Hands must build their own lightsaber.
- Sith Lord: Well-trained and experienced, Sith Lords become so when they have completed "the trials" (final tests) and may continue to pursue a third-class education. As the most common rank, it is interchangeably referred to as "Sith", "Sith Lord" and "My Lord". While they didn't enter combat as lesser Sith, they are the most fearsome Sith in the galaxy since they keep their greatest secrets and wield its most potent sorceries.
- Sith Master: Regarded as the most feared masterminds in the known galaxy.
Notable Sith Lords
Exar Kun was a male human Jedi Knight who fell and turned to the dark side, establishing a dark side presence on Yavin IV. Becoming a Dark Lord of the Sith, he led the Brotherhood of the Sith against the Jedi and the Galactic Republic during the Great Sith War.
Darth Revan (Revan) was a famous Jedi hero who led the Republic to victory in the Mandalorian Wars. After the conflict, however, he and his Padawan, Malak, unwittingly discovered the Sith Empire in the Unknown Reaches of Space. The Sith turned Revan and Malak to the dark side, but the two broke free from his control and formed their own Sith Empire to wage war on the Republic, with Revan as the Dark Lord of the Sith and Malak as his Shadow Hand. As a Sith, Revan prepared to battle with the Jedi who boarded his flagship, and Darth Malak, in the hopes of destroying both Revan and Bastila Shan, betrayed his master, ordering the ships under his command to fire on Revan's flagship's bridge. Revan was critically injured and taken by Bastila Shan to the Jedi Council Enclave. The Council chose to wipe Revan's memory, and imprint him with a false identity. Knights of the Old Republic begins with Revan awaking on a starship under attack. Revan eventually encounters Malak, who tells Revan that he is the former Sith Lord. Later, Revan defeats Darth Malak, claiming victory for the Republic.
Darth Bane (Dessel) was a Dark Lord of the Sith who renewed the order by establishing the Rule of Two. This rule stated that there must be only two Sith Lords at a time: a master to embody power, and an apprentice to crave it and eventually overthrow his master and adopt an apprentice of his own.
Darth Sidious (Sheev Palpatine) was a male human Dark Lord of the Sith who rose to power from being a Senator of Naboo, to Supreme Chancellor, and then to self-proclaimed Emperor of the Galactic Empire. This was achieved through double agents and a cleverly orchestrated sequence of events done under his alternate identity, Sheev Palpatine, who gained respect in the Republic while secretly participating in Sith practices and planning an end to the Jedi Order. He had three known Shadow Hands: Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus and Darth Vader. He was eventually killed by his last, Vader, at the end of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. Only Palpatine has been able to spread his darkness completely and totally over an entire galaxy. What has proven to be the lasting genius of Palpatine as Emperor is his devotion to collecting all the knowledge of the Dark Side that he can, as well as what Light Side information he can corrupt and preserve.
Darth Maul was a male Zabrak Sith Lord and the first Shadow Hand of Darth Sidious. In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, he was sent by his master to find and capture the escaped Queen Amidala. Later on, he dueled Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi sent to protect Amidala, in the plasma refinery complex beneath Theed Palace. Although Maul was able to defeat Jinn, he fell in the same duel when Kenobi used his master's lightsaber to slice him in half. Decades later, during the Clone Wars, his fellow nightbrother Savage Opress found him dumped on the junk planet Lotho Minor, where it was revealed that Maul survived the injuries from his last duel, due to his strength with the dark side of the Force as it fueled his anger against Kenobi.
Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku) was a male human Jedi Master-turned-Sith Lord and the second Shadow Hand of Darth Sidious. In Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, it was revealed that Tyranus had a prominent role in engineering the Clone Wars, recruiting bounty hunter Jango Fett to become the template for an army of clones to be used by the Galactic Republic. Tyranus led the Separatist Alliance during the Clone Wars until he met his demise while dueling Anakin Skywalker aboard the Invisible Hand in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) was a male human cyborg Sith Lord, the third Shadow Hand of Darth Sidious and the main antagonist of the Star Wars original trilogy. As a Jedi Knight, he fought alongside his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the Clone Wars, but slowly turned to the dark side with the help of Darth Sidious. After helping Sidious kill Jedi Master Mace Windu, he swore allegiance to the Sith and became Sidious' third Shadow Hand. As the Galactic Empire was established and continued to grow, Vader became the Emperor's greatly feared second-in-command and was given the task of finding the Rebel Alliance's base. After the destruction of the Death Star, Vader was charged with tracking down the Rebel Alliance and destroying their headquarters. However, the actions of his son Luke Skywalker eventually turned Vader against his master, resulting in both Sidious' and Vader's deaths.
Expanded Universe novels
The first Expanded Universe novel was Splinter of the Mind's Eye, written by Alan Dean Foster and published in 1978. The setting for this novel takes place between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. It provides a new adventure that includes Princess Leia, R2-D2, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. In the story, Darth Vader tries to get the Kaiburr Crystal to use it for his evil schemes.
Other novels that depicted Sith characters were Darth Maul: Saboteur and Cloak of Deception by James Luceno. Cloak of Deception describes the political background surrounding the Republic in the time period before The Phantom Menace, as well as Darth Sidious' plans to rule the galaxy, starting with the blockade of Naboo. In Darth Maul: Saboteur, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious sends Darth Maul to destroy InterGalactic Ore and Lommite Limited.
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, by Michael Reaves, also showed insight into the Sith. This story is about how Darth Sidious brings his plan into action; however, he soon finds out about a traitor who knows of his plan. He sends his apprentice, Darth Maul, to scope out the traitor who leaked the secret of his plan to take down the Republic.
Star Wars comics
Dark Horse Comics purchased the copyrights to several Star Wars stories. With their publication of Star Wars: Dark Empire #1 in 1991, they initiated what has become a large line of Star Wars manga and comics. The Sith appear as major antagonists throughout this story's plot. Many of the comics that were published helped expand the backstory of the characters and followed the rise and fall of the Dark Lords of the Sith.
Star Wars TV series
Star Wars: The Clone Wars first aired on Cartoon Network in 2008. This series took place between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. During this time, Anakin Skywalker is a full-fledged Jedi Knight and the series shows how he progresses into his fall to the dark side of the Force. Count Dooku is the active Sith Lord and leader of the Separatist Alliance. The series also explores Dooku's attempts at training secret apprentices like Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress in order to eventually defeat Darth Sidious and become the ruling Sith Lord.
Star Wars video games
Star Wars video games have also been adapted from the plots of the films, novels, and TV shows. The games follow the basic plot of the story, but they can also include alternative, non-canonical, endings depending on which character is being played.
Some of the video games that have a heavy focus on Sith characters and lore are Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, released in 2003, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, released in 2004 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, released in 2008.
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- "Darth Bane". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Darth Sidious". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Darth Maul". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
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- "Darth Vader". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Splinter of the Mind's Eye". tvtropes.org. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Luceno, James (2002). Star Wars: Cloak of Deception. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-79570-0.
- Luceno, James (2001). Darth Maul:Saboteur. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-44735-7.
- Reaves, Michael (2001). Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter. Ballantine Publishing Group. ISBN 0-345-43541-9.
- "Timeline". www.darkhorse.com. Dark Horse. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Lavin, Michael R. (1998). "A Librarian's Guide to Dark Horse Comics". Serials Review 24 (3/4).
- "Star Wars: The Clone Wars". Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords". Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed". Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Further reading
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side (Chronicle Books, © 2013) ISBN 1452118159
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sith.|
- Sith in the Official StarWars.com Encyclopedia
- Order of the Sith Lords on Wookieepedia: a Star Wars wiki
- The Sith Explained (Howstuffworks.com)
- Who's Who of the Sith on SithOrder.com