- "The future of the Sith no longer hinges on physical prowess but on political cunning. The new Sith will rule less by brute force than by means of instilling fear."
- ―Darth Plagueis
The Grand Plan, also known as the Sith imperative, was a plot by the Order of the Sith Lords that was centuries in the making. The Plan was a precise formula for eradicating the Jedi Order, tearing down the Galactic Republic, and replacing both with a Sith-ruled galaxy. During previous millennia, the Sith had unsuccessfully attempted to use an external enemy to destroy the Jedi and their associated republican regime; with the Grand Plan, they recognised the difficulties of such a strategy and instead opted to infiltrate the Republic and hijack it from within: instead of using force to overthrow the Republic with a Sith empire, they planned to use stealth to turn the Republic into a Sith empire. The plan was devised and initiated by the founder of the Order of the Sith Lords, Darth Bane, and carried out by all the subsequent Sith of his order's lineage.
Where Lord Kaan's Brotherhood of Darkness and previous Sith had failed, Bane reasoned, was in relying on numerical superiority to attack the Jedi and the Republic. The nature of the dark side demanded power through strength, a tactic Bane believed impossible in circumstances where many lesser Sith could ally to topple stronger Sith.
To win, Bane sabotaged the last surviving members of the Brotherhood in the Seventh Battle of Ruusan; establishing himself as the sole reigning Dark Lord of the Sith. As the founder of the new Order of the Sith Lords, governed by the Rule of Two, he enacted a new strategy aimed at the eventual toppling of the Republic and extermination of the Jedi Order–the Grand Plan.
The first years after the foundation of the Order of the Sith Lords were not spent in singleminded pursuit of the destruction of the Jedi and the Republic; Bane recognized that the goals of the Plan could not be achieved in a single lifetime. The early years, rather, were mostly concerned with laying the foundations upon which future Sith Lords would build toward the culmination of the Plan.
With the destruction of the Brotherhood of Darkness, Bane had 'inherited' the personal accounts of the notoriously lavish dark lord Qordis. With the financial leverage at his disposal, Bane was able to forge a vast intelligence-gathering network and, eventually, a fortified hideout on Ciutric IV.
By many accounts, the early centuries of the new Sith Order and its Plan were challenging. Bane, his apprentice, and the early heirs of their Order, while accumulating resources in secret, were forced to sit by quietly as the Jedi and Republic recovered and restored themselves after the New Sith Wars.
But the time was certainly not spent idly. The Sith waited and watched in secret, having the luxury of observing the Jedi and the Republic, without their enemies even knowing that they still existed.
Darth Gravid's betrayal
About five centuries after the foundation of the Order of the Sith Lords, a dangerous flaw in the Rule of Two threatened to put an end to the Grand Plan. The insistence upon there only being two simultaneous Sith Lords meant that the fate of the plan was entirely contingent upon two individuals at any given time.
The danger to the Plan in this emerged during the reign of Darth Gravid in approximately 533 BBY. Gravid, for reasons unknown, was drawn to the light side of the Force, and also believed that emotions such as compassion and selflessness could be integrated into the Sith philosophy. His apprentice did not share these beliefs, and slew her master. With him died the secret of essence transfer.
Sometime during 200 BBY, the Plan was threatened by the actions of a particular Sith Lord. He was known to his successors for having opened a hole in the Force. This had the effect of allowing the Jedi to feel the dark side for the first time in approximately eight centuries. The Jedi were now aware of the Sith's existence.
Blix Annon incident
During the reign of Darth Tenebrous, ardently pro-Jedi Senator Blix Annon unwittingly drew the attention of the Sith. Due to his staunch support of the Jedi Order, he unwittingly made himself a target of the Sith plan.
Tenebrous intended to advance the plan by seeing Annon abducted and removed as an obstacle to fomenting Anti-Jedi sentiment. The scheme quickly went awry, however, when Annon died of a heart attack whilst still in captivity and Tenebrous's chosen replacement was arrested in the aftermath.
Last days of the Republic
- "You must begin by gaining power over yourself; then another; then a group, an order, a world, a species, a group of species… finally, the galaxy itself."
- ―Darth Plagueis
The economic zenith of the Sith plan came largely during the tenure of Darth Plagueis, a Muun Sith Lord who was more publicly known as the plutocrat Hego Damask. Throughout his reign as Dark Lord, Plagueis amassed significant financial leverage and allies, which he used to undermine and exacerbate the already-strained relationships between the Core worlds and the Rim.
Together, the pair would accomplish more toward their goals than their Sith predecessors had accomplished in centuries.
Stark Hyperspace War and the Battle of Galidraan
- "We see now the folly of not having a strong central Republic army and navy! The Jedi, good as they are, are not directly answerable to this chamber! How can we hope to negotiate successfully without military might? When will this chamber wake up and make the Republic Army and Navy official?!"
- ―Ranulph Tarkin demands the militarization of the Republic
In 44 BBY, a seemingly small conflict between pirates and the Trade Federation in the Outer Rim proved to be a beneficial crisis to the Sith plan. Darth Sidious would ultimately play puppetmaster to much of the conflict.
Iaco Stark, pirate entrepreneur, began stealing bacta from the Trade Federation and then re-selling it to Federation markets for cheaper than it would have been sold in the first place. While turning a tidy profit for himself, this inflamed the anger of the Trade Federation–a powerful voting bloc in the Galactic Senate.
For several decades prior, a Militarist movement had been developing in the Galactic Senate, which advocated repealing a number of the Ruusan Reformations and militarizing the Republic once more. When the conflict erupted after the betrayal at Troiken, Republic Militarist Senator Ranulph Tarkin intervened on the Republic's behalf, styling his personal forces the Republic Army and Navy.
Tarkin's fleet was destroyed and he himself killed, but the conflict fizzled out when Stark defected to the Republic in exchange for amnesty. The damage, however, was already done: the Trade Federation was radicalized and began demanding greater freedom in building droid armies, while the Militarist movement had gained both ground and a martyr.
In the aftermath of the war, Tarkin was declared the Hero of Troiken by newly-elected Supreme Chancellor Valorum, earning the Militarists further legitimacy and adherents. They began pushing for the commissioning of a fleet of dreadnaughts, and even non-Militarists began to advocate taking greater control of outlying systems.
The ramifications of the Stark Hyperspace War on the Republic were significant, and a significant victory toward the Sith's Grand Plan. In a conflict that lasted less than a year, the near-millennium of serene peace that the Republic enjoyed was eroded away and the process of re-militarization begun. Meanwhile, the Trade Federation–soon to find themselves puppets of the Sith–began a military buildup which would prove to be of immense import to the Sith plan in the decades that followed.
44 BBY proved to be a turbulent year for the Republic and the Jedi, and ultimately beneficial to the machinations of the Sith. This year also saw the Jedi dispatched to the world Galidraan in order to combat the threat presented by the True Mandalorians. Led by Jedi Master Dooku, the Jedi's mission quickly turned into a bloodbath which would haunt Dooku for years to come.
- "Patience. For now, distasteful as it may be, we must let intermediaries like Vilmarh Grahrk be our hands. Our time will come, but it is not yet."
- ―Darth Sidious conversing with Darth Maul
Around a decade later, Plagueis and Sidious provoked another conflict in order to advance their goals. They urged the Yinchorri, themselves new admissions to the Republic, into an aggressive war which concluded with multiple victories for the Sith plan.
The Yinchorri, a race immune to mind tricks, were thought by Plagueis to be good potential hosts and trainers of a secret cloned army, which he planned to use to destroy the Jedi. Though this would not ultimately be the case, the resolution of the Yinchorri Uprising still proved to be of great benefit.
In terms of simple bloodshed, the conflict saw the deaths of seven Jedi; one of whom was a member of the Jedi Council. But of greater long-term value, the telepathic manipulative-immune Yinchorri were eliminated as a threat to the rise of the Sith by seeing them defeated and isolated to their own world.
But perhaps most significantly, the Yinchorri incident critically undermined the Chancellorship of Finis Valorum. This created the circumstances necessary for Palpatine–Darth Sidious–to ascend to political supremacy in the Republic.
Bando Gora and Cog Hive Seven
When the Bando Gora brought violence to the planet Baltizaar, the Republic intervened via the Jedi, who took a number of casualties before successfully repelling the invaders. In the meantime, however, Jedi student Komari Vosa—a student of Jedi Master Dooku—was captured and brutally tortured, resulting in her turning to the dark side of the Force and assuming leadership of the cult. The presumed death of his student, paired with the death the following year of another of Dooku's former students resulted in the Jedi Master's exit from the Order.
The Sith plans would also become entangled with the Bando Gora via the direct manipulations of Darth Sidious. In an effort to manipulate the illegal arms market, as well as move against Darth Plagueis, Sidious dispatched his apprentice Darth Maul to the prison Cog Hive Seven. There, Maul was to seek out arms manufacturer Iram Radique, and use the Bando Gora to acquire a weapon with which to kill Darth Plagueis.
- "If this body is not capable of action, I suggest new leadership is needed."
- ―Naboo's Queen Amidala inadvertently triggers the election of Darth Sidious
Darth Sidious began to push for further and larger-scale fighting in 32 BBY, using both his good public name and his secret Sith identity to incite conflict between opposing factions.
As Palpatine, he urged Chancellor Valorum to levy taxes on Outer Rim trade routes controlled by the Trade Federation, thereby inflaming the now-militarized economic giant. Simultaneously, as Darth Sidious, he ordered the Federation to blockade and invade Naboo in protest.
The invasion, paired with Valorum's inability to act on the crisis, precipitated a sequence of events which would prove paramount to the success of the Plan. Valorum's Chancellorship was ended in a vote of no-confidence, while Palpatine's rising popularity propelled him into the position as leader of the Republic.
One of the most important victories of the Grand Plan was seeing a Sith Lord ascend to the highest political office of the Republic. While many of the achievements of the Plan to date had contributed in some way, the election of Palpatine allowed the Sith to operate on a level of political authority unprecedented in their order.
A secret army
- "Lord Tyranus, what news of the Mandalorian?"
"Jango Fett will soon become our prime clone. Our plans are proceeding as expected."
- ―Darth Sidious and Darth Tyranus
Shortly before Sidious' election as Chancellor, Plagueis advanced the Plan a leap forward in what would be his final contribution. As Hego Damask, he attended a high-society gathering, and while there spoke with Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas.
Years earlier, the two had conversed on the rising unrest throughout the galaxy and the Senate's evident incapability of bringing the situation under control. Plagueis suggested the cloners of Kamino as a good candidate for raising an army capable of maintaining galactic order and offered to finance the operation with his own funds, the product of centuries of Sith acquisitions. Sifo-Dyas eventually agreed and placed the order.
Former Jedi Master Dooku, now secretly apprenticed to Darth Sidious as Darth Tyranus, employed a pair of bounty hunters on a mission to hunt down his old apprentice, Komari Vosa, with the true goal of finding a worthy genetic template for the clone army. Ultimately Jango Fett succeeded in the hunt, though opted not to kill Vosa at the completion of his mission. With no further use for her, and his soldier template selected, Dooku—Darth Tyranus—executed his former apprentice himself.
Combined with the militarization of the economic cartels and the Rim in general, the stage was set for a galaxy-wide war of the Sith's making.
The Clone Wars
- "I have good news for you, my Lord, the war has begun."
"Excellent. Everything is going as planned."
- ―Dooku and Darth Sidious
A decade passed before war would erupt, but the Sith had not been idle. In the meantime, the Sith had continued to escalate galactic tensions, manufacturing a secessionist movement and placing Tyranus as its charismatic leader.
In 22 BBY the clone army was discovered by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the discovery came too late to halt the imminent outbreak of war. At Geonosis, the Republic and the newly-declared Confederacy of Independent Systems went to war. The Clone Wars, masterminded on both sides by the Sith Order, had begun.
The war dragged on in near-stalemate for three years. The benefits of the war to the Sith Plan were multiple. Sidious' position as a capable wartime leader was solidified, and he was able to 'accept' increasingly centralized authority. The horrors of war also significantly broadened support for unifying the various disparate pre-war security, judicial, and military forces into a single authority structure, which ultimately facilitated the Sith's plot for galactic dominion.
One of the most noteworthy acts of political and military centralization was the enacting of the Reflex Amendment. The Reflex Amendment allowed Palpatine to bypass the bureaucracy and the Senate in order to establish a military hierarchy in parallel to the civilian government, under which Palpatine was legally authorized to appoint regional Governors-General–who answered only to him.
The Reflex Amendment also acted as a stepping stone, later in the war paving the way for the Sector Governance Decree. This act entrenched the regional governorship positions appointed by Palpatine as permanent entities, and with the very real power of having military authority to back their positions. Through these two acts, Palpatine was able to further erode the Republic's facade of democracy, and eventually allowed him to dissolve the Senate entirely.
Meanwhile, the Jedi Order was diminished both physically and morally. Each Jedi slain in battle was a victory for the Sith Plan, but the real victory over the Jedi was philosophical. Not only were the Jedi forced to abandon their traditional role as keepers of the peace, but they were also forced to assume command of what many regarded as a slave army.
Victory of the Sith
Extermination of the Jedi Order
- "It's so flawed that it looks as if all they're trying to do is to maroon as many generals in as many stupid places with inadequate support as they can."
- ―Republic Commando Corr, commenting on the overall strategy of the Clone Wars
As the increasingly violent war approached its conclusion, very few had any idea how sudden and vicious its resolution would prove to be.
Shortly before the outbreak of the war, Tyranus revealed to a captive Obi-Wan Kenobi that his Sith master had control of the Galactic Senate. Dismissed as a lie to sow discord as hostilities commenced, Tyranus was indeed being truthful.
Tyranus' master Sidious, as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, held control over much of the war. One of his greatest victories would prove to be an obscure emergency contingency order drilled into the clone army. Lost amongst 149 other emergency orders, Order 66 stipulated the immediate termination of all Jedi officers should they be found to be acting against the Republic, and the immediate transferal of military authority to the office of the Chancellor–and the order had to be issued directly from the Supreme Chancellor.
Sidious' opportunity came after revealing his identity to the Jedi Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker. Upon learning the truth, a contingent of Jedi Masters led by Mace Windu attempted to place Sidious under arrest. A furious lightsaber battle in the Chancellor's office ensued, and following a fateful intervention by Skywalker, the last Jedi of the Jedi contingent–Mace Windu–was killed. The intervention of Skywalker, long schemed-for and hoped-for by Sidious, resulted in his turn to the dark side as Sidious' newest apprentice–Darth Vader.
With a Jedi attack on his person now a matter of fact, the time for the revenge of the Sith had come. Sidious commanded his new apprentice to lead an assault on the Jedi Temple and kill all within, while he personally commanded Order 66's execution galaxy-wide.
Nearly simultaneously across the galaxy, the Sith Plan against the Jedi came to fruition. Thousands of Jedi, spread thin on many war fronts, were mercilessly cut down by the troops they had commanded only moments earlier. With the Jedi Order torn asunder, half of the Grand Plan was complete.
Fall of the Republic
By this point, the galactic circumstances of economy, politics, military, and philosophy had so fundamentally changed the face of the galaxy that the Republic, as it had been, could no longer exist.
With the execution of Order 66, centralized military authority came to reside solely in the hands of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. With political and economical authority already firmly under his control, absolute control of the military was the final piece necessary in the Sith Plan.
Sidious ordered his new apprentice to kill the surviving leaders of the Separatists, bringing an end to the war which he had so masterfully orchestrated. But the memory of decades of ineffective governance and the horrors of war which they had wrought were not easily forgotten by the Senators of the galaxy.
Having demonstrated threats from both within and without, and having consolidated most authority through the office of the Chancellor, the time for the final Sith victory had come.
Three years after the outbreak of the Clone Wars, on a day which would become known to posterity as Empire Day, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine issued the Declaration of a New Order. The Republic was reorganized into the first Galactic Empire and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine–Darth Sidious–was declared Emperor Palpatine, to the thunderous applause of the Galactic Senators.
Darth Sidious had successfully completed the goals of the Grand Plan. The Jedi Order had been disgraced in the public opinion before being utterly exterminated, and the Republic had torn itself down to proclaim a Sith Lord as uncontested ruler of the galaxy.
The successful completion of the Grand Plan had dramatic repercussions at virtually every level of galactic life. Far from simply ushering in an era of Sith dictatorship, the Plan impacted politics, economics, social attitudes, and the very nature, organization, and philosophy for Force-users of all alignments.
Darth Sidious' Galactic Empire swept away the democratic institutions of the Republic, centralizing authority more and more in the new Emperor's hands. During the Clone Wars, Palpatine had re-introduced the regional governor title of Moff, ostensibly in order to streamline the war effort. Eventually, when the Senate was disbanded 19 years after the foundation of the Empire, direct authority over vast tracts of space was transferred to the Moffs. The consequences of centralizing all political and military authority would continue to be felt for well over a century after the Emperor's first death in 4 ABY, as the galaxy remained divided between the New Republic, and the Imperial Remnant.
The fulfillment of the Grand Plan also resulted in a re-alignment of both dark and light sides of the Force. Under Palpatine, the Rule of Two was brought to an end. With Sidious' authority supreme and virtually unassailable, he began the training of many new Dark Side Adepts, eventually leading to the creation of Lumiya's Sith until its discontinuation with the death of Darth Caedus and his apprentice's subsequent defection to the light side of the Force. On the light side, the Jedi Order of 25 millennia was swept away and eventually replaced by the New Jedi Order, who arranged their organization in order to avoid the mistakes that led to the downfall of the Order. Eventually, a third faction also emerged.
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction (First appearance)
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction audiobook
- Darth Bane: Rule of Two (Indirect appearance)
- Darth Bane: Rule of Two audiobook (Indirect appearance)
- Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil (Indirect appearance)
- Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil audiobook (Indirect appearance)
- Legacy of the Jedi (Indirect appearance)
- Darth Plagueis (First identified as Grand Plan)
- Darth Plagueis audiobook (First identified as Grand Plan)
- The Wrath of Darth Maul
- Star Wars: Republic: The Stark Hyperspace War (Indirect appearance)
- Jedi Council: Acts of War (Indirect appearance)
- Maul: Lockdown
- Maul: Lockdown audiobook
- Cloak of Deception
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- "End Game"—Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace novelization (2012 edition)
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 7" (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Heroes on Both Sides" (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shadow Warrior" (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Escape from Kadavo" (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Revenge" (Indirect mention only)
- Order 66: A Republic Commando Novel
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (Indirect mention only)
- The Essential Atlas
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
- Star Wars: Beware the Sith
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Updated and Expanded
- Star Wars: Sith Wars
Notes and references
- Darth Plagueis
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
- Darth Bane: Rule of Two
- Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
- Darth Plagueis, Pp 83
- Padmé Amidala was born 46 years before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, which corresponds to 46 BBY per The New Essential Chronology. Darth Plagueis (25: The Discreet Charm of the Meritocracy) states that Padmé Amidala "has only just turned thirteen" and that Gravid's reign "elapsed some five centuries earlier" which would place the quote regarding Gravid's death in 33 BBY. Thus, this article assumes that Gravid died around 533 BBY. establishes that
- Legacy of the Jedi
- Star Wars: Republic: The Stark Hyperspace War
- The Essential Atlas, Pp 140
- Jango Fett: Open Seasons
- Jedi Council: Acts of War
- Maul: Lockdown
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Darth Plagueis, Pp 216-217
- Darth Plagueis, Pp 333-334
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
- The Essential Guide to Warfare, Pp 104
- The Essential Guide to Warfare, Pp 108
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Order 66: A Republic Commando Novel
- Republic Commando: True Colors
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith novelization