- "Many Bothans died to bring us this information."
- ―Mon Mothma, before the Battle of Endor
Bothans (pronounced /'bɑθən/) were furry mammalian anthropoids, about 1.5 meters tall. Hailing from Bothawui and several colonies, Bothans differed in facial appearance and body structure with canine, feline, and equine features. They were known for being master politicians and spies, craving intrigue and subterfuge.
The Bothans were members of the Galactic Republic from at least 4000 BBY, but likely from a significantly earlier point. Through numerous conflicts, most notably the Galactic Civil War, the Bothans remained officially neutral, although their famed Spynet always played each side and commercial interests sought profits.
The Bothans were famously credited with acquiring intelligence about the location of and Emperor Palpatine's presence aboard the second Death Star during the Battle of Endor, enabling the Rebel Alliance to destroy the battlestation. However, many of them died to bring the Alliance this information. They played a large role in the founding of the New Republic and in the development of its government.
Biology and appearance
Bothans were a short race of furry humanoids who on average stood between 1.5 meters to 1.6 meters in height. Bothans were covered in fur which shifted in response to their emotional state by way of gentle ripplings. It was this trait, named Wrendui, that betrayed them when members of their kind intended to be duplicitous in their dealings with others. They possessed tapered pointed ears, and both males and females were known to sport beards.
The Bothans were able to interbreed with the other species, as exemplified by the Jedi Lord Valenthyne Farfalla. Such hybrids somewhat resembled baseline humans with haunches, hooves, fur, pointed ears and a long tail.
Society and culture
- "You have to understand that Bothans think in terms of political and persuasive influence, not military power. The typical Bothan's goal is to go through life getting more and more people to listen to what he has to say."
- ―Sena Leikvold Midanyl
Bothan culture was guided by the philosophy and principles set forth in the ancient text known as The Way, written by Golm Fervse'dra. In this "Bothan Way", the pursuit of power and influence was paramount. Thus, individual Bothans put their own political and economic success above all other concerns, and as a species, Bothans put their own advancement ahead of other intergalactic interests, though many did side with the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil war. The volume of backstabbing, subtle character assassination and political maneuvering in Bothan society was dizzying, and resulted in many species stereotyping Bothans as untrustworthy. In fact, most Bothans are habitually paranoid, believing that anyone who's not working with them, is working against them.
In times of crisis, the focus of Bothan society shifted to a survivalist state known as "ar'krai". When engaged in ar'krai, all fit Bothans volunteered to defend their species from impending annihilation. The last calling of ar'krai was during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion after the death of Borsk Fey'lya and the practical defeat of the New Republic.
- "We don't all shmell alike! How do these rumorsh get started?"
- ―Kolir Hu'lya, a Bothan Jedi with a bleeding mouth during the Second Galactic Civil War
Immediate Bothan families were organized into large clans, which were the most important social unit in Bothan society; family and clan loyalty were equally important as power accumulation. Clan association was denoted as the last component in a Bothan name. For example, the name Girov Dza'tey would mean that Girov was his given name, Dza his family name, and that he was of the Atey clan.
- "I pity them, Councilor. I really do. For all the strength and mental agility they claim their political techniques provide to their species, I see them as an essentially unhappy people. Their whole outlook on life breeds mistrust, and without trust, there can be no genuine peace."
- ―Elegos A'Kla
The Bothan Council, a representative body of selective Bothan clans, was the primary governmental body of the Bothan people. Renamed the "Combined Clans" during the New Republic era, the body was still commonly referred to as the Council. At the height of the Galactic Civil War, the council comprised representatives from 608 registered clans. A constant flow of new clans petitioned for membership with the numbers soaring during crises like the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. At the head of the Council was the First Secretary, who led the council from their headquarters in Merchant's Square in the capital of Drev'starn.
Beginning with the Clone Wars and continuing after the fall of the Galactic Republic, the Council absorbed many of the Bothan political bodies, such as the Bothan Independent Treasury, seeing them as wasteful, corrupt and inefficient. Highly centralized, the Bothan Council governed all social, political, economic and security issues of Bothan life.
The Bothan Diplomatic Corps was one of the few government organizations to survive the culling, and was in fact expanded. The Diplomatic Corp operated as a branch of the Bothan government, and held the responsibility of furthering Bothan ideals through diplomacy. Its agents met with the leaders of other worlds, forged treaties, and represented Bothawui in the New Republic, to ensure that Bothan ends were served in any alliance.
Although Bothan Space have been prominent members of the New Republic and the Galactic Alliance that replaced it, Bothawui joined the Confederation in 40 ABY after the assassination of several Bothan citizens on Coruscant by the order of Jacen Solo, and the revelation of a Galactic Alliance plot to invade Bothan Space.
Their race evolved on the world of Bothawui which was located in the Mid Rim and were known to have developed the technology to travel through the stars millennia ago whereupon they became long standing members of the galactic community. The Bothans were noted for being long time members of the Galactic Republic. In the millennia prior to the Great Sith War, the rapid expansion of hyperspace lanes led to a period of exploration. This saw the Bothans found their first colony of Kothlis along with a growing influence in the Galactic Senate. This era also saw the rapid growth of the Bothan Spynet where their agents were sent to newly discovered worlds that saw Bothawui becoming a hub for information. They were noted for being ever loyal allies to the Galactic Republic. However, Republic support was withdrawn from the long-standing allies as a result of the Treaty of Coruscant. The Bothans were said to have mastered the art of intelligence gathering as far back as 300 BBY, and began exploiting it for personal gain. A hundred years later, they made contact with the Dressellians; they recognized that species' potential and departed in order to allow them to evolve without interference.
Whilst a longtime member and supporter of the Republic, the Bothans remained neutral during the period known as the Clone Wars. In this time, the Bothan Senator Polo Se'lab abstained from politically charged votes leading up to the conflict. Though not playing one side against the other, the Bothans served each one in a professional but not exclusive manner. Their reasoning for helping both the Separatists and Republic was the belief that furnishing each side with intelligence would hasten the end of the war. This stance on neutrality did not stop both the Confederacy and Republic from courting Bothan aid to their respective side, though this only increased their stance of supporting neither faction in the Clone Wars.
Although Bothawui remained neutral during the Galactic Civil War, the Bothans maintained a small defense force to protect the planet, along with Bothan colonies and economic interests. Aside from a figurehead governor and a small garrison of stormtroopers, there was little Imperial presence. Both Imperial and Rebel Alliance intelligence, by a mutual, unspoken agreement, decided to let the planet serve as neutral ground, where they could engage in their clandestine activities without risking open conflict. Bothan soldiers and officers were trained at the oft-mocked Bothan Martial Academy.
During the search for the new Death Star, two dozen Bothans sacrificed their lives in order to attain the technical specifications for the space station. Furthermore, they learnt that the Emperor himself intended to inspect the Death Star II, which paved the way for a Rebel attack at the unfinished weapon around Endor.
Despite official neutrality, the Bothan Spynet played a significant role in military operations throughout the war. Bothan spies acquired top secret codes for the first Death Star and delivered them to rogue Imperial Moff Kalast, who in turn handed them over to the Rebellion. Hundreds of Bothans would be personally slaughtered by Emperor Palpatine for their treachery, most notably during the 501st Legion's retaliatory attack on the Rebel base on the surface of Yavin 4, killing 3 Bothan Rebel leaders. Later, under the leadership of Koth Melan, spies provided information to the Rebel Alliance, and were crucial in securing the plans to the second Death Star.
After the Empire subjugated the Bothan worlds, Alliance General Bob Hudsol organized many Bothans into a resistance movement that eventually overthrew the Imperial garrison. As Bothan involvement in the New Republic increased, so did Bothan military advancement. From 4.5 ABY to 8 ABY, the New Republic Defense Fleet maintained a Bothan-only Bothan Combat Response Element as a quick response force, giving early experience to many future Bothan officers of the New Republic. By 25 ABY, Bothans such as Traest Kre'fey held high ranking posts in the New Republic military, and Bothan engineers had developed several warships, such as the Bothan Assault Cruiser.
When the Second Galactic Civil War began in 40 ABY, the Bothan government joined the Corellians. The Bothans began to build small, fast but durable frigates to aid the war effort and transport. Mon Calamari Admiral and Chief of Staff Cha Niathal stated that the Bothans had theorized a new fleet tactic: smaller, faster ships instead of heavily armed but inherently slow Star Destroyers.
Behind the scenes
Though the famous mention of Bothans in the film Return of the Jedi by Mon Mothma did not expound on the nature of Bothans, their role and sacrifice in securing intel regarding Death Star II is well-known as a consequence.
Bothan physical appearances differ noticeably in various Expanded Universe sources. Timothy Zahn first describes the species in his Heir to the Empire novel, and illustrations for the Heir to the Empire Sourcebook from West End Games show them as fairly Human-like creatures with fur. The Heir to the Empire comic depicts the Bothans differently, as largely fur-faced with long snouts. The Shadows of the Empire comics follow the lead of the West End Games sourcebooks, as do the Shadows of the Empire Planets Guide, Star Wars: Rebellion, the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, and the Databank (this last source uses the image from the card and was the main image for some time). Meanwhile, long-snouted Bothans appear in later EU games and publications. The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons shows Bothans as an average between the two extremes.
Though the Bothans first officially appeared in Heir to the Empire, in 1991 there was a background character who incidentally looks like a Bothan in the 1985 Escape Into Terror episode of the Star Wars: Droids animated television series.
Notes and references
- Ultimate Alien Anthology
- The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: Jedi vs. Sith
- Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
- Star Wars: The Old Republic
- The Clone Wars Campaign Guide