- "It was perhaps one of the darkest moments of the war."
- ―Grand Master Satele Shan
The Blockade of the Hydian Way was an offensive action against the Galactic Republic by the Mandalorian warrior clans in the final decade of the Great Galactic War. The blockade was orchestrated by the Sith Empire's Ministry of Intelligence, which had spent years investing in the resurrection of the then-disbanded Mandalorian clans. The Empire's efforts culminated with the rise of Mandalore the Lesser, who was little more than a puppet for the Sith government. Disaffected Mandalorians from across the galaxy rallied to the man regardless and acquiesced to Imperial demands for support in their decades-long war against the Republic. After a series of skirmishes between Mandalorians and Jedi, the warriors launched their primary operation in 3661 BBY. That year, Mandalorian cruisers seized control of the Hydian Way, a vital trade and supply route used by the Republic to move goods and resources from the Outer Rim Territories to civilian population centers in the Core Worlds, as well as military materiel bound for battlefronts across the galaxy.
The blockade was incredibly successful and choked commerce in the Republic's private sector and prevented military wares from reaching battlefields along the Hydian Way. The Core Worlds were thrown into an economic crisis, and the Republic's Galactic Senate was deadlocked on a proper course of action. After much deliberation, the High Council of the Jedi Order consented to give aid by dispatching squadrons of Jedi pilots to confront the Mandalorian warships. Despite their strategies and Force talents, the Jedi fighter squadrons were handily defeated in an operation that was widely seen as a resounding failure. News of the Jedi defeat caused widespread panic and rioting on the Republic's capital world of Coruscant, where impoverished peoples in the lower levels of the planet-spanning Galactic City were beginning to suffer from starvation as a result of the supply crisis.
The blockade continued for a year until 3660 BBY, when the Mirialan smuggler Hylo Visz recognized it as an opportunity for profit. Together with a band of her fellow smugglers and financial backing from the Hutt Cartel, Visz arranged for a fleet of freighters to be loaded with much-needed goods from the Outer Rim Territories. The smugglers piloted the cargo haulers towards the blockade, and while the Mandalorians were distracted by the apparently defenseless shipping vessels, Visz and her allies attacked with a fleet of smuggling vessels. Their ambush was soon joined by Republic reinforcements that helped to overwhelm the Mandalorian cruisers. The blockade was ultimately broken in the engagement, and Hylo Visz was able to bring her goods to Coruscant, where she was greeted as a hero. Despite the victory, the Republic was irreparably inundated following the blockade and continued to suffer heavy losses throughout the war as a result.
The Sith in reflection
- "When the Emperor planned the Republic's destruction, he did not foresee the need for alliances. The Sith would sweep through the galaxy, systematically exterminating their age-old Jedi enemies and dismantling the proud Republic. But the Emperor's vision was cynical. He did not count on the brave sacrifices the Republic's heroes were willing to make."
After conducting an overwhelmingly successful campaign for dominance over the Outer Rim Territories early in the Great Galactic War, the Sith Empire failed spectacularly in their attempt to take the Mid Rim world of Bothawui in 3671 BBY. The massacre of nearly 50,000 Imperial Army units at Bothawui and the embarrassing defeat of the Sith in the Battle of Alderaan in 3667 BBY forced the Imperials to re-evaluate their warpath and re-examine the strategies that had served them well up until that point. The Sith Emperor himself was humbled by the tenacity of the Galactic Republic's defenders, as he had hoped that after the Empire's return to the galaxy, his victory in the Great War would be achieved in short order. Much to his chagrin, the war was well into its third decade with no immediate resolution in sight, even in light of consecutive Imperial victories prior to Alderaan and Bothawui.
Until this point in the war, the Emperor had widely ignored the need for allies, and instead blazed a path of conquest across the galaxy with Sith and Imperial forces alone. This independence was the primary point of reform that Imperial tacticians focused on when they began to rework their strategies in 3667 BBY. In that year, representatives of the Imperial Diplomatic Service began to actively solicit crime lords, criminal syndicates, assassins, and bounty hunters for assistance in their war. Along with the Hutt Cartel, these groups had been debating whether to support the Republic or the Empire since the start of the war, and active courting by Imperial diplomats did little to alter their indecisive demeanor.
The Mandalorians enter the war
- "The whispers of Imperial Agents became cheers in the arena. The ancient title of ultimate warrior-king was thrust upon the young gladiator. His infamy grew, and when he called, the Mandalorians rallied to their new master."
- ―Gnost-Dural, on the rise of the new Mandalore
During this time, the Imperial Diplomatic Service also tried to convince individual mercenaries of the disbanded Mandalorian warrior tradition to serve the Sith. Although the Mandalorians of the era were disparate and divided, many of their peoples still maintained a long-standing resentment of the Galactic Republic and Jedi Order in light of their brutal treatment at the end of the Mandalorian Wars three centuries prior—a characteristic that made them ideal tools of the Sith. Several Mandalorians, including the bounty hunter Shae Vizla, signed on to serve alongside regular Imperial forces, but the vast majority of the warriors rejected the Sith offer, opting instead to remain independent nomads. Although Vizla and her compatriots served faithfully, the Imperials still sought to stack the deck in their favor by gaining the allegiance of all Mandalore's warriors.
The duty of bringing the resistant Mandalorians into the Sith fold eventually fell to the Empire's Ministry of Intelligence—a highly effective and well-trained espionage agency staffed entirely by non-Force-sensitive Imperials. Imperial Agents focused their efforts on one individual: a young Mandalorian who had taken a career as a gladiator in the arenas of the Outer Rim world of Geonosis. The operatives used their power and influence to rig the gladiator's bouts, either by buying off his opponents, drugging them, or even by entering themselves in the bouts. As the young man's reputation spread, they began to leak rumors around kennels and cantinas that the new champion was poised to become the next Mandalore—the legendary title of the warrior-king that led the Mandalorian people. Despite there not having been a Mandalore for many decades, the agent's whispers spread quickly, becoming chants in the arena crowds. In doing so, the Imperials ensured that the young man owed his rise to them, and that he would therefore be little more than a puppet for Sith interests.
In 3665 BBY, shortly before he would have been forced to retire from arena combat, the gladiator resigned on his own accord. It was then that he formally accepted the title of Mandalore and summoned his people to Geonosis to reconstitute the Mandalorian armies. Heeding their ancient traditions, Mandalorians from across the galaxy flocked to the Outer Rim and jumped at the opportunity to fight as one against their worthy long-time adversaries: the Jedi and the Republic. One year later, shortly before he would have been forced to retire from arena combat, the gladiator resigned on his own accord. It was then that the new Mandalorian army left Geonosis and initiated a series of engagements and skirmishes with the Jedi and Republic Military over the course of the following three years.
A crippled Republic
- "The blockade choked the primary trade route for providing Republic military support to the Outer Rim and the main hyperlane for bringing raw goods from the Colonies to the Core Worlds. Long-standing hold-outs in the Outer Rim began folding to the Empire and critical supplies vanished from the Core Worlds almost overnight."
After three years of minor battles between Jedi and Mandalorians, the warrior nomads initiated their primary operation. At the behest of the Imperials to whom he was beholden, the Mandalore gathered his people to form a small armada of war cruisers and support ships in 3661 BBY. The warrior-king took his new fleet to the Hydian Way—a super-hyperroute that connected the far northern reaches of the galaxy in the Tingel Arm to the southern Outer Rim via the Core Worlds. The Republic relied heavily upon the hyperlane as a passage for goods and resources produced in the Outer Rim Territories to support its bastion worlds in the Core, particularly its capital of Coruscant; furthermore, the Republic Military utilized the lane to move war materiel from the Core to battlefronts of the Great War in the deep Outer Rim. With his new fleet of war cruisers and shock troops, Mandalore initiated a blockade of the Hydian Way in the southern section of the route between Devaron in the Colonies and the long-embattled worlds of the Minos Cluster in the southern Outer Rim.
The blockade came as a shock to Republic officials, who had been uncertain of the exact size and strength of the Mandalorian forces. Although the Republic Navy would normally have been able to quickly deal with the relatively small blockade, the fleet was still reeling after a devastating engagement with the Imperial Navy above the planet Hoth four years prior. With its commercial and military lifeline in a Mandalorian stranglehold, the Galactic Republic began to falter after years of success in the war. Assets in the Outer Rim which had successfully stood up against Imperial subjugation for years began to fold under the dual pressures of Sith attacks and supply deficits. Republic fighters in the Minos Cluster lost considerable ground, and the Empire's Rim Campaign was able to make considerable headway on Ord Radama, as significant reinforcements were prevented from reaching the local forces battling Sith invaders. Additionally, critical supplies produced in the Outer Rim and Colonies were prevented from reaching the Core, drying up shipping ports and creating a severe food shortage crisis on worlds such as Coruscant.
The few supplies that were available within the Core disappeared rapidly, worsening the considerable economic depression that the Republic had been suffering through since the start of the war. As starvation began to sweep the planet's lower levels, the Galactic Senate appealed to the High Council of the Jedi Order to take action against the Mandalorians. The Jedi were hesitant to agree, as they were wary of pulling their Knights away from conflicts with the Sith. Furthermore, their history of conflict with the Mandalorians led them to believe that the warrior nomads were only blockading the Hydian Way in order to goad the Jedi into a fight; the Councilors had moral reservations about rewarding the Mandalorians with a battle they were so eager to wage, but felt they had a duty to try to alleviate the crippling famine that was striking Coruscant's poor. Deciding that they could ignore neither the economic crisis, the suffering of civilians, nor the boon that the blockade was giving the Imperial war effort, the Jedi agreed to launch an attack.
Under the leadership of Jedi Masters, including the Kel Dor Jedi historian Gnost-Dural, a group of Jedi pilots moved against the blockade in Aurek-class tactical strikefighters. The battle was short but fierce, and ultimately proved to be an embarrassing defeat for the Jedi Order. While the few survivors limped back to regroup at Devaron, the blockade continued unimpeded. When news of the Jedi defeat reached Coruscant, starving residents of the lower city began to stage mass riots in demand of food and economic support. The situation continued for weeks on end, with famine growing more severe and the rioters becoming increasingly violent and desperate. Seeing their Republic starved and torn apart from within, many senators—even the most ardent war hawks—began to suggest that surrendering to the Sith may be the only viable recourse. At some time during the blockade, a Mandalorian ship known as the Beskad vanished and was thought to have been lost in a black hole; however, it was discovered decades later that the ship had actually crashed elsewhere.
Smugglers take the lead
- "Distracted by suspicious freighters, the Mandalorians never knew what hit them. A motley fleet of small starships dropped out of hyperspace and opened fire. A massive space battle ensued. The smugglers' light freighters ran rings around the Mandalorian cruisers—even so, Hylo Visz and her band were outmatched. Fortunately, Republic Strategic Information Systems was tipped off and starfighters were scrambled from nearby systems. With their assistance, the Mandalorians were quickly overcome."
Into this climate stepped Hylo Visz, a Mirialan smuggler captain and rising underworld star who was looking to profit from the galactic crisis. Recognizing that the Republic would pay any price for much-needed goods, Visz gathered together a band of criminals and miscreants—including the adventurous young Human Zale Barrows, Visz's Devaronian partner Tyresius Lokai, and his friend Quan—on Nar Shaddaa, where they agreed to form a small fleet and launch an operation to run and ultimately break the Mandalorian blockade of the Hydian Way. Hylo's band of smugglers recruited pirates and mercenaries to aid them and, with financial backing from the criminal Hutt Cartel, began to assemble a fleet of massive freighters loaded with cargo from across the Outer Rim Territories. This convoy, destined for Coruscant to relieve the starving residents, was piloted directly toward the Mandalorian blockade. The unarmed freighters halted within a single parsec of the picketed cruisers—a position and action that puzzled the Mandalorians. The warrior's cruisers hailed the vessels to demand that they turn back, but after receiving no response they moved to intercept the freighters.
It was at this moment that Visz and her allies sprang their trap; as the Mandalorians were distracted by the curious freighters, hundreds of small vessels and transports dropped out of hyperspace and launched a surprise assault on the blockade. Visz's band was initially highly successful in their attack, as their small starships easily outmaneuvered the large Mandalorian cruisers. However, despite the element of surprise and the advantage of speed, the smugglers were still outgunned by the Mandalorians. This changed when the Republic's Strategic Information Service learned of the battle and dispatched elements of both the Republic Navy and the Jedi Order's starfighter fleet to ensure the attack's success. Among the ships dispatched was a Valor-class cruiser named the Fortitude, a ship that gained popular fame for its role in the fighting. The combined forces of the smugglers, the Republic, and the Jedi eventually overcame those of the Mandalorians, forcing the surviving warrior nomads to flee the battle. With the cruiser fleet routed, the Hydian Way was released from the grip of the blockade.
- "A closer look, however, suggests the Sacking of Coruscant was not the crowning moment of the Empire's campaign, but rather a risky maneuver undertaken after all other efforts had failed. The Sith only considered turning to such measures after their efforts were undermined by an unlikely Republic ally—the criminal smuggling contingent that broke the Mandalorian blockade."
Shortly after the battle, Hylo Visz and her band of miscreants landed on Coruscant with the freighters and were greeted as heroes. The group sold their goods to the Republic at highly inflated prices, but few in the government cared; the blockade had been broken thanks to Visz, so their payment would double as a reward. The Mirialan earned incredible wealth in the days that followed and a was even honored by the Galactic Senate with a medal ceremony. She chose not to attend the event, however, and fled Coruscant with her riches before anyone learned of her destination. With the blockade broken, the Republic was able to resume the war effort against the Sith Empire, albeit in a diminished capacity. Naval forces finally succeeded in traversing the Hydian Way and reaching Ord Radama, where they reinforced the local defenders in their desperate stand against the Sith. The battle there quickly turned into a route, and the Republic was able to follow the fleeing Sith back to the cradles of their civilization: Korriban, Ziost, and Ashas Ree.
As had happened after Bothawui and Alderaan, the Republic rallied in response to the surprising upset of a victory on the Hydian Way. One veteran of the attack, smuggler captain Zale Barrows, decided that instead of fleeing Coruscant as Visz had, he would take up employment as a freelance naval commander for the Republic. Acting as admiral of the privateer Free Spacers Fleet, Barrows helped to defeat the Sith Empire's Third Fleet at the Battle of Dantooine and later removed the Seventh Fleet from Imperial service as well. However, unlike previous feats of spirit and dedication, the success of the attack on the Hydian was measured against both the damage that the blockade caused, as well as the Republic's other staggering defeats in the war. It was widely conceded that the breaking of the blockade served only to prolong the Republic's survival—not to move it any closer to victory.
In the immediate aftermath of the blockade's end, the defeated Mandalorians scattered once more, with some pursuing solo careers while others remained alongside their new Mandalore. Despite their failure on the Hydian Way, the Mandalorians and Sith maintained their alliance for decades after the war. The Sith, however, had reached a breaking point with regards to their willingness to continue waging the Great Galactic War. In response to the blockade's failure, the Emperor and his Dark Council sought to bring a quick end to the conflict, ultimately leading to more desperate and risky Imperial tactics, such as a peace ruse on Alderaan and the violent and devastating Sacking of Coruscant.
Mandalore the Lesser
As a young gladiator on the Outer Rim world of Geonosis, this man was targeted by Imperial Intelligence agents to be the pawn that would pull the Mandalorian people into the Sith fold. After claiming the ancient title of Mandalore, this man rallied the Mandalorian forces together after decades of division by employing two tactics: firstly, by playing on his people's dedication to tradition; secondly, by emphasizing the challenge of warring with the Jedi Order. After three years of sporadic battles and minor skirmishes, the Mandalore took his army to overwhelm the Hydian Way and strangle the Republic into submission. For a year the endeavor was successful, and the blockading of major hyperlanes was remembered as one of the most effective tactics of the war. However, despite being a talented unifying element for his people, the Mandalore was little more than a puppet yielding to the will of his Imperial masters. After the breaking of the blockade, Mandalore continued to lead the Mandalorians, and in an effort to re-energize his people, he called for the Great Hunt to commence. The ceremonial competition ended with the victory of a man named Artus, who immediately challenged the Mandalore to a duel. The warrior-king was honor-bound to accept but was ultimately killed in the death match and replaced by his opponent as leader of his people. The puppet Mandalore was remembered by his people as Mandalore the Lesser, and his successor, renowned as Mandalore the Vindicated, upheld the alliance that had been forged between the Mandalorians and the Sith Empire during the blockade.
After serving with distinction in the defense of the Minos Cluster and the fleet battle over Bothawui, the Kel Dor Jedi Historian Gnost-Dural was promoted to the rank of Jedi Master and tasked with investigating the intricate mysteries of the Sith and their return to galactic prominence. Around 3665 BBY, he and members of the Jedi High Council began hearing rumors of a new Mandalore rising on Geonosis. The Council tasked Gnost-Dural with a fact-finding mission to the planet, and the Kel Dor approached the assignment with his characteristic enthusiasm for new knowledge and discovery. On Geonosis, his first goal was to prove to the Republic the existence of the new Mandalorian army. After a year of investigation, this objective became obsolete, as the Mandalorians made their presence known by engaging Jedi on multiple fronts. Gnost-Dural continued his investigation, however, and was the first to suspect the involvement of the Imperial Ministry of Intelligence in the rise of Mandalore the Lesser. While trying to prove his assertions, the Mandalorians made their move for the Hydian Way, and the Jedi Council recalled Gnost-Dural from Geonosis so that he might participate in the Jedi attack on the blockade. The Kel Dor survived the devastating encounter, and after the war he once again began looking into Mandalore's rise. Following the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant, the Jedi Historian made a series of holorecords that documented the Blockade of the Hydian Way, as well as the individuals and events surrounding it. In these records he again asserted his position that Imperial Intelligence orchestrated the event, but remained unable to prove the accusation. Around this time, the Jedi Grand Master Satele Shan also submitted to the Jedi Archives on Tython Gnost-Dural's wartime journal, which contained reflections on the dark days of the Mandalorian's return.
An opportunistic female Mirialan smuggler, Hylo Visz was looking for a quick profit and a good adventure. Her actions ultimately saved the Republic from utter defeat, but the Mirialan was no patriot. As a former refugee from the occupied world of Balmorra, she had developed a particular distaste for the Empire and was also aware that the Sith thought very little of freelance pilots—two factors that contributed to her decision to aid the Republic. In the bowels of Nar Shaddaa, she brought together a motley crew of fellow criminals and organized a plot to break the Mandalorian blockade. Although she and her compatriots were agreeing to fight on behalf of the Republic, their ultimate goal had nothing to do with nationalism—they simply sought the financial compensation that would come with saving the hungry and impoverished. As such, Visz chose not to involve the Jedi Order or Republic military or government in her plan; despite her confidence that she could succeed on her own, Visz and her fleet were nearly destroyed until the intervention of the Republic Navy. Having succeeded where the Jedi had failed, Visz was revered as a hero by the people of Coruscant, but she abandoned them and all of their thanks after being paid. Visz lived as a very wealthy woman for the following year, but she was rumored to have been killed by the Hutt Cartel in 3659 BBY. She was remembered for her actions which saved the Republic, but which also ultimately provoked the Empire to seek a swift and bloody conclusion to the war.
Behind the scenes
The Blockade of the Hydian Way was created as part of the Great Galactic War, which makes up the background story for LucasArts' and BioWare's massively multiplayer online video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Blockade of the Hydian Way was first mentioned in the second installment of the Galactic Timeline, an in-universe account of the history of the galaxy prior to the Treaty of Coruscant. This intallment, titled The Mandalorian Blockade is Broken introduces the character of Hylo Visz and is the first source to bring the Mandalorian warriors into The Old Republic media. The third and fourth installments, respectively titled The Return of the Mandalorians and The Empire Changes Strategy, further elaborate upon the event, introducing Mandalore the Lesser and the manipulations of Imperial Intelligence. The timelines are narrated by actor Lance Henriksen as Jedi Master Gnost-Dural, and are available on the Holonet feature on the Star Wars: The Old Republic official website.
The blockade is also mentioned in other sources, including The Essential Atlas, a 2009 source book written by Daniel Wallace and Jason Fry. Wallace includes a mention of the blockade in his book Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side, which was published in 2012. Other sources that make extensive note of the blockade are The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural and The Old Republic itself, which were released together on December 20, 2011.
It was originally established that the Hydian Way was charted around 3000 BBY; however, this was later retconned to have taken place around 3700 BBY so that the route could be used in The Old Republic.
- The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance (Mentioned only)
- The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance audiobook (Mentioned only)
- (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Mentioned only) (Codex entry)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan (Codex entry)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire (Mentioned only)
- The Essential Atlas
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
Notes and references
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural indicates that "a few years" after the Battle of Alderaan, the Mandalorian Shae Vizla led an attack on a Republic envoy. Assuming that "a few" means approximately two or three, the attack would occur in either 3665 or 3664 BBY, around the same time as the Battle of Hoth and three to four years before the Blockade of the Hydian Way.
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural indicate that the Blockade of the Hydian Way begins eight years before the Treaty of Coruscant. As seen in The Old Republic: Deceived and The Essential Atlas, the Treaty of Coruscant is proposed and ratified in 3653 BBY. and
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural indicate that the Blockade of the Hydian Way is broken seven years before the Treaty of Coruscant. As seen in The Old Republic: Deceived and The Essential Atlas, the Treaty of Coruscant is proposed and ratified in 3653 BBY. and
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel—Salvage Crew Skill mission: "Shards of the Blockade"
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Jedi Consular Mission: "An Alliance of Opposites" on the Fortitude
- According to Timeline 5: The Battle of Bothawui, this conflict occurs eighteen years before the Treaty of Coruscant. The Treaty was proposed and ratified in 3653 BBY, as seen in The Essential Atlas and the novel The Old Republic: Deceived.
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural indicates that the Battle of Alderaan occurs four years after the Battle of Bothawui. According to Timeline 5: The Battle of Bothawui the Battle of Bothawui occurs eighteen years before the Treaty of Coruscant, which, as seen in The Essential Atlas and The Old Republic: Deceived, is proposed and ratified in 3653 BBY. Thusly, the Battle of Bothawui takes place in 3671 BBY, and the Battle of Alderaan occurs four years later, in 3667 BBY.
- Treaty of Coruscant, which is signed and implemented in 3653 BBY, as seen in The Essential Atlas and The Old Republic: Deceived is placed fourteen years prior to the ratification of the
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural indicates that the Mandalore takes the title and forms his army twelve years prior to the Treaty of Coruscant. As seen in The Essential Atlas and The Old Republic: Deceived, the Treaty is ratified in 3653 BBY, meaning that these events would occur in 3665 BBY.
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural indicates that the Mandalorian army departs Geonosis eleven years prior to the Treaty of Coruscant. As seen in The Essential Atlas and The Old Republic: Deceived, the Treaty is ratified in 3653 BBY, meaning that these events would occur in 3664 BBY.
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Captain Zale Barrows"
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Bounty Hunter Mission: "Conversation with Gault Rennow" on ship
- Treaty of Coruscant according to the Timeline, meaning that he supposed death occurs six years prior. The Treaty of Coruscant is signed in 3653 BBY according to The Essential Atlas, placing Hylo Visz's alleged death in 3659 BBY. indicates that Hylo Visz's rumored death occurs one year after the breaking of the blockade. The blockade is broken seven years before the