The Galactic Empire is one of the most well-known empires in the history of the Star Wars canon because that was when the first trilogy movies happened. However, despite having a huge role to play in the history of the Star Wars galaxy, it only lasted for a short while until it eventually fell during the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. So, how long did the Galactic Empire last, how did it arise, and how did it fall?
Palpatine’s Galactic Empire lasted for only 23 years, from 19 BBY to 4 ABY. It rose in 19 BBY when, after the defeat of the Separatists, Palpatine reformed the Republic into the Empire using his emergency powers. Meanwhile, in 4 ABY, the Empire fell when Darth Vader slew Palpatine.
It might be true that remnants of the Empire still existed as factions after the death of the Emperor. However, you could no longer call that a Galactic Empire, as the New Republic had taken over governance over the entire galaxy. As such, Palpatine’s first death marked the end of the Empire. But it should be interesting to retell the entire story in such a way that it is easy to understand.
How Did The Galactic Empire Rise?
The Separation Of The Trade Federation
The rise of the Galactic Empire began during the time of the Galactic Republic, which was around since 1000 BBY and was assisted by the Jedi as the keepers of the peace. That means that the fall of the Jedi was necessary for making sure that the Republic fell as well.
Meanwhile, Palpatine, who was still the Senator of Naboo back then, was actually working on the fall of the Jedi during the events of 32 BBY, which happened during Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. As the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, Palpatine conspired with the Trade Federation to form a blockade on Naboo in protest of the Senate’s decision to tax their much-used Free Trade Zones, escalating the trade disputes.
As such, then-Chancellor Valorum dispatched Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi to serve as ambassadors to the trade federation so that they could talk about peace negotiations. The negotiations never happened, and this forced Queen Amidala of the Naboo to take matters into her own hands by going to the Senate on Coruscant.
Due to how the Senate could not quickly resolve the matter as they needed to deliberate, Amidala and the Jedi went back to Naboo to free the planet from the Trade Federation. This came after she proposed a vote of no confidence to the leadership of Valorum, who was forced to step down from his post as the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic.
After Amidala and the Jedi, with the help of a young Anakin Skywalker, freed Naboo at the cost of many lives, including that of Qui-Gon’s, Senator Palpatine was elected to the position of Supreme Chancellor, and that meant that he presided over the entire Senate.
The Beginning Of The Clone Wars
Meanwhile, ten years later, in the events of Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the Trade Federation had successfully formed alliances with other systems that separated from the Republic. As such, the Separatists began the early stages of their war against the Republic when they built a clone army in preparation.
Behind the shadows, Palpatine, through his new apprentice Darth Tyranus or Count Dooku, was playing both sides. The first side involved the Separatists, who Dooku led. Meanwhile, he was also manipulating the Senate into giving him emergency powers so that he could create a grand army for the Republic without the need for deliberations from the other Senators.
Sifo-Dyas, a Jedi Master, secretly commissioned the creation of a clone army years before the events of Episode II because he believed that the Republic needed an army to fight the growing threat of the Separatists. Dooku betrayed Dyas and took over his project, as the Republic already had their own army to fight the Separatists by the time the First Battle of Geonosis began. But Palpatine secretly ordered inhibitor chips to be installed into the clones so that they would comply with his grand command called Order 66.
Fall Of The Jedi And Reformation Of The Republic
The battle between the Republic and the Separatists continued on during the Clone Wars until the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Dooku’s death at the hands of Anakin Skywalker weakened the Separatists, as the Republic only needed to defeat the droid general, Grievous, to end the war.
When Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated Grievous, and after Anakin had hunches that Palpatine was the Sith Lord they had been looking for, Jedi Master Mace Windu and several other Jedi Masters went over to Palpatine to personally see to his arrest and to make sure that he gave up his emergency powers.
This led to a battle that killed all of the other Jedi Masters. Windu gained the upper hand against the Sith Lord and was about to deal the final blow until Anakin intervened and betrayed the Jedi because he needed Palpatine alive so that he could also keep Padme Amidala alive. This allowed Palpatine to use his Force lightning against the Jedi Master, who was presumed to have died then and there when he fell off the window.
Palpatine initiated Order 66, as the clones complied with the order without question. They started slaughtering the Jedi, who Palpatine ordered to be killed because of their apparent betrayal. Meanwhile, Anakin personally slaughtered every Jedi in the Jedi Temple over at Coruscant and went over to rendezvous with Palpatine, his new master, in the Mustafar system. Palpatine, over at Coruscant, used his emergency powers to reform the Republic into the first Galactic Empire as a precautionary measure against anyone who would dare to defy peace in the galaxy.
After Palpatine survived an assassination attempt by Jedi Grandmaster Yoda, he went to Mustafar where he saw a burnt and beaten Anakin Skywalker, who lost his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had cybernetics installed on him as Darth Vader rose up to become the Empire’s sole enforcer while Palpatine ruled as Emperor over the entire galaxy. This happened on 19 BBY.
Unknown to Darth Vader, his lover Padme gave birth to twins Luke and Leia Skywalker before she passed away due to her sorrow. Luke was sent over to Anakin’s mother’s family at his homeworld of Tatooine. At the same time, Leia was adopted by Senator Organa of Alderaan.
How Long Did The Empire Last?
The Galactic Empire was formed on 19 BBY with former Chancellor Palpatine installed as its Emperor. He continued to rule for 19 years until the Battle of Yavin, which took place during the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
The Battle of Yavin marked the beginning of the true Rebellion, even though there were already several rebel factions fighting the Empire years before the destruction of the Death Star in Episode IV.
Because the Battle of Yavin was a turning point in the Star Wars galaxy, the calendar was reset to 0, as all of the years after the Battle of Yavin would be called ABY instead of BBY. The full-on Rebellion by the rebel forces led by Leia Organa began on 0 ABY, which was the 19th year since the fall of the Republic.
The Rebellion continued for four years until the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. It was during Return of the Jedi when Luke Skywalker was already powerful enough to confront his father. Since Return of the Jedi happened four years after the Battle of Yavin, the Empire lasted for only 23 years.
How Did The Empire Fall?
The Empire fell during the events of Return of the Jedi when a new Death Star was being constructed, and the rebel forces found themselves on Endor to find a way to destroy it. Emperor Palpatine was in the new Death Star to oversee its completion.
Meanwhile, Luke intentionally walked into the Death Star at the invitation of his father, who wanted to lure him over to the dark side. He allowed him to personally meet the Emperor as well. However, the Emperor ordered Darth Vader to kill Luke as the battle between father and son began. Luke came out of the battle as the victor but ended up rejecting the Emperor’s offer to kill Vader so that he would become his new apprentice.
When Luke decided to put away his lightsaber as a way of rejecting the Sith Lord’s offer because he was a Jedi, the Emperor used his Force lightning to execute the Skywalker. Vader, after seeing his own son suffering in front of him, betrayed Palpatine and threw him into the Death Star’s reactor to kill him.
Meanwhile, the other rebel forces were successful in destroying the new Death Star, as the destruction of the superstation and the death of the Emperor marked the end of the Galactic Empire 23 years after it began.
When Did The Empire Fall?
The Empire fell during the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The events of the film happened on 4 ABY, which was four years after the battle of Yavin, and 23 years from 19 BBY, which marked the rise of the Empire.
How Did The Empire Fall So Quickly?
If you look at the fact that the Republic was able to stay in power for a thousand years and the fact that the Galactic Empire only lasted for 23 years, it is easy to understand that the latter didn’t last too long. So, why did the Empire fall so quickly?
When discussing this matter, we will try to move away from the discussion of Luke and Anakin as the chosen ones and would instead focus more on why there were plenty of rebels that were willing to rebel against the Empire during Palpatine’s rule.
Palpatine’s Galactic Empire’s powers were focused entirely on one man that ruled the entire galaxy while having an entire army at his disposal to enforce his rule over the different planets and systems in the galaxy. This means that he had an entire army committing acts of brutality all over the galaxy as a measure of peace because the Empire was the sole governing force.
The Empire was unlike the Republic, which was composed of several self-governing systems that were able to rule themselves. However, they only needed to abide by the Republic’s rules in relation to how they would engage with other planets and systems. This meant that the Republic was easier to govern because the power of governance was spread all throughout the different leaders found in the different planets all over the galaxy.
On the other hand, the Empire’s governing powers were focused entirely on Palpatine. As such, because planets were not allowed to self-govern and were forced to abide by the Empire’s harsh and brutal rule, plenty of systems started to rebel against such an authoritarian rule. While it was going to be easier for galactic peace to be kept under an authoritarian rule, it was also just as easy for rebels to arise.
Of course, considering that all of the Empire’s powers were vested on Palpatine, that meant that his death would mark the fall of the Empire. This was unlike the Republic, which would still survive even if the Chancellor and all of the Senators were to be killed, as the people could simply elect new ones.
In Palpatine’s case, he didn’t have any successors at that time. We are not even taking into consideration his son and granddaughter (Rey) here because, at the time of the release of Episode VI, the concept of Palpatine having a family of his own was still nonexistent.
Considering that Palpatine died at the hands of Darth Vader and that there was no true heir to his rule, the Galactic Empire fell upon his death. It might be true that there were still remnants of the Empire that remained after the fall of the Empire. However, they were ruled by Moffs and Admirals, whose powers were quite limited and were not on par with the newly established Republic.