The Galactic Empire was a tyrannical, dictatorial government formed by Galactic Republic Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine that brought him to power as the self-declared Galactic Emperor, replacing the Republic in 19 BBY. Like the Republic before it, the Empire ruled the overwhelming majority of the galaxy. Unlike the Republic, however, it was very cruel and oppressive towards its citizens.
The formation of the Empire was part of Palpatine's plan to instill full power of the Sith over the galaxy, which included the rise of Darth Vader, the extermination of the Jedi Order, and the reorganization of the Republic into the first and long-standing Empire.
Rise of the Empire
For at least a thousand years, the dominant governing body of the galaxy was the unicameral and democratic Galactic Republic, led by an elected Supreme Chancellor. In the last decades of its existence, the Republic Senate became mired in bureaucracy, rendering it woefully ineffectual as a governing body, and a peacekeeping organization powered by the Force known as the Jedi swore to defend it from its enemies, such as a warbringing organization powered by the dark side of the Force known as the Sith.
In 32 BBY, Senator Sheev Palpatine, secretly the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, privately lamented the declining state of the Senate, noting that the Republic was "not what it once was". For his rise to power, he orchestrated an invasion on his own homeworld Naboo made by the Trade Federation in order to create a leadership crisis in the Senate. Sidious used the crisis to manipulate the then–Queen of the Naboo, Padmé Amidala, into calling a Vote of No Confidence against sitting Chancellor Finis Valorum. The vote passed despite the Jedi getting in the invasion's way and defeating his apprentice Darth Maul, and in the subsequent election, Sidious, in his public persona of Palpatine, secured the position of Supreme Chancellor of the Republic for himself. In the decade that followed, Sidious secretly manipulated galactic events to the extent that war became inevitable. Besides persuading a dead Jedi Knight to create a secret clone army for the Republic, he also tasked his new apprentice, Darth Tyrannus with exacerbating political tensions in the Republic and engineering a Secessionist Movement. These actions would culminate in the outbreak of the Clone Wars, the last conflict of the Republic, while Palpatine himself "reluctantly" accepted emergency powers.
The war raged on for three years with the Clone Army's help for the Jedi to eliminate the Separatists, and Palpatine remained remained in office at the will of the Senate far longer than his term technically allowed. He continued to centralize his own power to pave the way for his eventual ascension to Emperor. As the war drew toward its end, Tyrannus was killed and the Jedi learned of Palpatine's true identity as a Sith Lord. Following an attempt to arrest him, a brief but vicious fight ensued in which several Jedi were killed and Palpatine himself visibly injured. Fortunately for him, Jedi Master Mace Windu left Sidious' execution to the one Jedi destined to destroy the Sith and bring balance back to the Force, Anakin Skywalker, whose close friendship with Palpatine instead drove him into helping the Sith kill Windu and turning to the dark side as Sidious' third apprentice, Darth Vader. The Sith immediately seized this oppertunity to give the clone army Order 66, a command which branded all Jedi as traitors to the Republic and ordered for their execution, causing them into betraying and murdering their Jedi generals. However, a few Jedi were able to survive the this purge. Among them were Jedi Grand Master Yoda, Skywalker's Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and old apprentice Ahsoka Tano (who actually left the Jedi before the purge occurred), and Caleb Dume, a fourteen-year-old apprentice of Master Depa Billaba who adopted the name "Kanan Jarrus" as he went into hiding. Shortly afterward, Sidious dispatched Vader to wipe out the Separatists on Mustafar, following which Imperial financier Arsin Crassus plundered the Trade Federation's accounts to fund the new Imperial government.
Now able to demonstrate threats to the Republic from both within and without, a visibly injured and scarred Sidious addressed the Galactic Senate to announce the reforms which had been his endgame since the beginning. To the thunderous applause of many senators except Bail Organa and Amidala, Sidious—now known publicly as Emperor Sheev Palpatine—announced that in order to ensure safety and security, the Republic would be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire. Meanwhile, Vader was found by his former Jedi master on Mustafar and, after a ferocious duel, had his legs and left arm sliced off by Kenobi, who left suffering severe burns when flames from the lava river engulfed his body. The Emperor, having sensed this during a battle with Yoda on Coruscant, left to help his apprentice and returned to reconstruct him into a frightening figure wearing a black life-support suit for the rest of his life, then have Vader to continue the rest of his life serving as Palpatine's right hand and chief enforcer in the Empire.
Grip On The Galaxy
With the creation of the Empire, Palpatine became one step closer to his ultimate plan of ruling the entire galaxy and unlocking the secrets of the Sith who came before him: to posses the powers of the dark side to reshape reality itself into something of his own creation, and an omnipotent Empire would allow all the galaxy's inhabitants to be held in his dark embrace. Existing government bodies were renamed to reflect the change in authority. The Grand Army of the Republic became the Imperial Army, the Republic Navy became the Imperial Navy and the Galactic Senate was rechristened as the Imperial Senate. For the next decade and a half, Imperial rule, bolstered by the military created to fight in the Clone Wars, dominated the galaxy largely unchallenged, and the Empire soon began to upgrade their military hardware. They replaced V-wing and ARC-170 Starfighters with TIE Fighters and Phase 2 clone trooper armor with superior armor belonging to the established Stormtrooper Corps, which occupants became limited to joining through a network of Imperial Academies across the galaxy for recruiting civilians into the Imperial Army after the Emperor retired the clones. Some of these greatest recruits went on to form the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB), an intelligence law enforcement dedicated to ensuring the galaxy's loyalty to the Empire rooting out rebellion against it. But in order to hunt down any Jedi who survived Order 66 and lure any Force-sensitive children the Jedi in question might take as their apprentices to the dark side, Palpatine had Vader establish and lead an agency of Dark Jedi known as the Inquisitors to find and destroy those remaining Jedi and prevent any Force-sensitive youth from being used by the Jedi against the Empire.
Meanwhile, the Empire itself began construction on a massive battle station with enough firepower to destroy an entire planet, later known simply as the Death Star, that had formerly been a Separatist project with supplies coming from various planets and locations such as Sentinel Base and Geonosis. Conceived by one of the Empire's highest-ranking officers and Outer Rim governor, Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, as part of his doctrine of Rule by Fear, the Death Star would strike terror throughout the galaxy that no world would dare defy or disobey an Imperial command. The Death Star was moved from its original construction site over the Separatist world of Geonosis, whose population was subsequently exterminated to prevent the existence of the battle station from leaking out.
Operation on Kashyyyk
Since the rise of the Empire, many planets that participated in the Clone Wars were doomed under its tyranny in a more direct persecution than civilian planets. Since the Mid Rim jungle planet and Wookie homeworld Kashyyyk remained loyal to the Republic, all the Wookies were taken away from their home by Imperials and their homeworld itself blockaded. Making a use to its order as slave labor, the Empire utilized the furry creatures to cut down the planet's native wroshyr trees for lumber and farm food to feed the Imperial Army, as well as sending them off to labor camps (including the Spice Mines of Kessel) for construction jobs such as helping build the Death Star and being used for science and bio-weapon experiments. At some point during this hardship, the Wookiees attempted to revolt but Imperial 212th Attack Battalion, led by General Kahdah, managed to quell this insurrection with a massacre.
Operation on Ryloth
The Empire found interest in the Outer Rim jungle planet and Twi'lek homeworld Ryloth due to its participation in the Clone Wars and work with the Republic to liberate its people from the Separatists, and became a protectorate under Imperial rule. But though the planet was classed free and independent, the Empire refused to leave it alone and enslaved its people instead, leading to a struggle between it and the Twi'lek organization keeping the world's liberty, known as the Free Ryloth Movement, led by Twi'lek Clone Wars veteran Cham Syndulla, who established hidden bases across Ryloth and executed raids the Empire's lucrative spice and slve trade in the sector. In order to quell this incessant revolt, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader were transferred on the Star Destroyer Perilous to settle it, only for the ship to inflict heavy damage from an attacking strike team led by former Twi'lek slave Isval, who managed to infiltrate it and detonate the hyperdrive chamber to destroy the ship in the process. This, however, failed to kill the two Sith, who escaped in a damaged Imperial shuttle which nevertheless crashed into the equatorial jungle and were rescued by Royal Guards. As the Free Ryloth Movement destroyed the Equatorial Communications Hub and located their quarry in an isolated Twi'lek village, Palpatine and Vader eventually survived and won the ambush, rounding up the surviving Twi'leks. Fortunately, Syndulla was able to avoid getting captured, vowing to continue fighting until his world was free.
Operation on Lasan
Despite the galaxy's support for the Empire, many native species who believed in the Force recognized its tyrannical reign to be centered by the dark side and rose against it in its early days. In 6 BBY, the mysterious Lasat species became the first of these peoples ever to have done so, using the Outer Rim rainforest planet Lasan as a sanctuary while their original homeworld, Lirasan, was reduced to myth. As a means of halting this uprising, ISB Agent Kallus was tasked with massacring the planet to make an example of what would happen if a planet rebelled against Imperial rule. Despite being outgunned by the Imperial Army's new T-7 ion disruptors, the Lasan Honor Guard fought to the end while protecting their world but were unable to stop the Empire from marching into the Lasat Royal Palace. By then, they were nearly finished when bomb was set off, destroying the palace grounds and every single Lasat there. Having witnessed what harm the T-7s were capable of, the Imperial Senate banned their use, but the Empire secretly planned to acquire the last remaining stock to restart production of the disruptors. This led to a strong hatred of such weapons from the Lasat, and many of those who survived the massacre on their planet were enslaved. Luckily for them, only a few avoided capture, such as Honor Guard captain Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios and his grandmother, who thought themselves as the only Lasats left and lost hope waiting for a future for their people.
Operation on Mandalore
Though Emperor Palpatine held a personal grudge against the Mandalorians for their actions of assisting a resurrected Maul in his rise to rival his master's power during the Clone Wars, he simply forgave them after Empire's establishment and turned his sight on adding their homeworld Mandalore to his rule. Thus, since 16 BBY, the Empire began offering mercenary work, a large sum of credits and a place in the Imperial Academy for many heirs to each Mandalorian clan in order to lease land for the creation of an Imperial base with a garrison on the planet. However, some Mandalorians came to the belief that any deal with the Empire to be a bad idea, especially Kal Skirata, who gained certain understanding of the Emperor's manipulative capabilities and cited his carefully planned destruction of the Jedi as proof that "he never did anything temporary in his life". Because of this, some of the Mandalorian clan leaders decided against allowing the Imperial garrison and turned the Empire's offers down, they would lose much-needed credits and the Empire might well have come to Mandalore anyway, under much less friendly circumstances. For example, House Vizsla's Clan Wren were negatively effected by Imperials for making this decision to stop the garrison's development, forcing the the clan leaders' thirteen-year-old daughter Sabine to defect from her place at the Academy with fellow cadet Ketsu Onyo, to start a bounty hunting career together.
Operation on Lothal
At around 7 to 12 BBY, the Empire agreed on an alliance of protection and economic opportunities formed between it and the Outer Rim plateau planet Lothal, which was entering economic depression and sought this partnership to revive it. Ostensibly this was to grow the local economy, but was in fact secretly part of a much larger plan. Unbeknownst to the planet's settlers, this alliance would result in great oppression, and few people were arrested for protesting against it. For example, the couple Ephraim and Mira Bridger were arrested by Imperials for setting up broadcasting transmissions authorized by Lothal governor Ryder Azadi on the HoloNet to speak out against the Empire's harsh rule, leaving their seven-year-old son Ezra to live out on the streets for the next eight years as a beggar and thief. Lothal's industrial importance soon came to the fore for the Empire as the Emperor began to make the plans it had for the planet expand Imperial dominion over the Outer Rim Territories in the coarse of five years, with Grand Moff Tarkin leading their subsequent pacification. In order to maximize the worth of newly occupied systems, worlds such as Lothal soon bore witness to Imperial authorities relocating farmers away from their farm lands to mine for Imperial purposes, leading to the development of settlements such as Tangletown and Lothal Resettlement Camp 43, known by its residents as "Tarkintown".
The newly formed Galactic Empire spent about four years after the official end of the Clone Wars grinding down various Separatist holdouts. For roughly the next decade after that, the Empire's tightening grip on the galaxy was largely uncontested. Many people even welcomed the formation of the Empire at first with cautious optimism, hoping it would follow through on its promise to restore order and safety throughout the galaxy after the destruction of the Clone Wars. As the years passed, however, the Empire increasingly become openly tyrannical, and people saw it for what it really was: a fascist regime determined to maintain order throughout the galaxy with an iron fist.
Local insurgent cells began popping up across the galaxy on their own initiative. There had always been some rebel cells or militias since the formation of the Empire, but after about 15 years of brutal Imperial rule their numbers started drastically increasing.
By 15 years after the formation of the Empire, a loose rebellion movement had become widespread, but was not yet turned into a formally established organization capable of coordinating a military insurgency across the entire galaxy.
Among the cells on Lothal was the Rebel crew of a VCX-100 light freigter called the Ghost, consisting of the now twenty-eight-year-old Kanan Jarrus, Cham Syndulla's daughter Hera, the now back-in-action Zeb Orrelios, the now sixteen-year-old Sabine Wren and the now fifteen-year-old Ezra Bridger.
- "The Machine in the Ghost" (First appearance)
- "Art Attack"
- "Property of Ezra Bridger"
- Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion
- "Droids in Distress"
- "Fighter Flight"
- "Rise of the Old Masters"
- "Breaking Ranks"
- "Out of Darkness"
- "Empire Day"
- "Gathering Forces"
- "Path of the Jedi"
- "Idiot's Array"
- "Vision of Hope"
- "Call to Action"
- "Rebel Resolve"
- "Fire Across the Galaxy"
- Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal
- "The Lost Commanders"
- "Relics of the Old Republic"
- "Always Two There Are"
- "Brothers of the Broken Horn"
- "Wings of the Master"
- "Blood Sisters"
- "Stealth Strike"
- "The Future of the Force"
- "A Princess on Lothal"
- "The Protector of Concord Dawn"
- "Legends of the Lasat"
- "The Call" (Mentioned only)
- "The Honorable Ones"
- "Shroud of Darkness"
- "The Forgotten Droid"
- "The Mystery of Chopper Base" (Mentioned only)
- "Twilight of the Apprentice"
- Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow
- "The Antilles Extraction"
- "Hera's Heroes"
- "The Last Battle"
- "Imperial Super Commandos" (Mentioned only)
- "Iron Squadron"
- "An Inside Man"
- "Visions and Voices" (Mentioned only)
- "Ghosts of Geonosis"
- "Legacy of Mandalore" (Mentioned only)
- "Through Imperial Eyes"
- "Secret Cargo"
- "Double Agent Droid"
- "Zero Hour"
- Similar to the Expanded Universe, the Empire imprisoned Wookiees as slaves and workers.