- "The Council will act as they deem necessary."
- ―Mace Windu
The Jedi High Council, simply known as the Jedi Council, was a body of twelve Jedi Masters that governed the Jedi Order. Headquartered in the Jedi Grand Temple on Coruscant, the High Council worked with the Galactic Senate to maintain peace and justice in the Galactic Republic. In addition, the High Council tracked the progress of the Jedi training of Padawans, deciding when the time was right for an apprentice to undergo the Jedi Trials in order to attain the rank of Jedi Knight, and from there, the rank of Master. The High Council also enforced the Jedi Code and traditionally selected its own members, including the Master of the Order who functioned as the body's presiding officer. During the late Republic Era, legendary Jedi Masters such as Mace Windu, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Grand Master Yoda comprised the High Council.
The High Council adopted a leadership role in the Grand Army of the Republic as a result of the Clone Wars, working with Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine and the Republic Military to defeat the Confederacy of Independent Systems in a pan-galactic conflict. However, relations between the High Council and Palpatine became strained during the war, especially after Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker was appointed to the Council's ranks to represent the Office of the Chancellor. The revelation that Palpatine was actually Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith, caused several members of the High Council to move against him in a failed attempt to prevent the Sith from returning to power. Most of the Jedi were subsequently purged from the galaxy, allowing Sidious to declare himself Emperor of the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY.
- "How can you be on the Council and not be a Master?"
"Take a seat, young Skywalker."
- ―Anakin Skywalker and Mace Windu
The Jedi High Council was the governing body of the Jedi Order. Its composition consisted of twelve Jedi Masters who were tasked with the responsibility of guiding the Order, largely by convening as a council to discuss matters of importance to the Jedi. Headquartered in the Jedi Grand Temple on Coruscant, the capital world of the Galactic Republic, the Council's chamber was located at the top of the Temple's High Council Tower—one of four Council Towers that surrounded the central Temple Spire, which also contained its own High Council chamber at the Spire's peak. Members could leave the Council at their discretion.
As head of the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, the Council's tasks included the deliberation of galactic events while also pondering the will of the Force. In the waning years of the Republic, the Council's ranks included two notable positions: the Grand Master and Master of the Order. The Grand Master was an honorific bestowed on the oldest and wisest living Jedi; the holder of this title served as leader of the Jedi Order, whereas the Master of the Order was elected by the High Council to serve as their presiding officer. During the crisis on Naboo in 32 BBY, Yoda held the title of Grand Master while Mace Windu served as Master of the Order. Both of these titles were held by Yoda during the time of the Clone Wars.
The Council held the Jedi Code in the highest regard and required all Jedi to adhere to its principles. Members of the Council such as Yoda and Windu staunchly adhered to the Order's ancient traditions. While the Council tolerated unconventional Jedi to an extent, there were tenets in the Code that they enforced without exception. When Qui-Gon Jinn offered to train Anakin Skywalker, the Council sternly reminded him that he already had a Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and that to train more than one apprentice at a time was forbidden by the Code. It was also the Council's prerogative to decide when a Padawan was fit to undergo the Jedi Trials, a fact which Yoda reminded Jinn when the latter attempted to circumvent the Code by promoting Kenobi in order to take Skywalker as his next apprentice.
Although it was known that some wayward Jedi used blasters, their use was never condoned by the Council. Kenobi, one of the last members of the Council, held a lifelong view that blasters were unreliable and uncivilized compared to the Jedi lightsaber.
Thousands of years before the time of Darth Sidious, a rogue Jedi came to believe that the true power of the Force did not lay through contemplation and passivity. Instead, this Jedi believed that the only way to gain the true potential of the Force was to tap into the dark side. The Jedi Council, however, balked at the idea, and cast out the rogue Jedi. Eventually, the Jedi gained followers, leading to the creation of the Sith Order during the Hundred-Year Darkness.
Age of the Jedi
- "I just didn't realize the Jedi ever had an official presence so far from the Core."
"It's probably High Republic Era. It was a time of greatly expanded Jedi activity throughout the galaxy."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Lor San Tekka
The High Republic Era was marked by the expansion of the Jedi Order's reach across the galaxy, in particular the Outer Rim Territories where they commissioned Starlight Beacon at the request of Supreme Chancellor Lina Soh. During that time, the title of Grand Master was shared between Yoda, Pra-Tre Veter, and Lahru. All three Grand Masters served on the High Council, which included Jedi Masters Jora Malli and Stellan Gios. Around 232 BBY, Grand Masters Veter and Yoda traveled to Starlight Beacon to confirm Jedi Master Avar Kriss' appointment as the space station's Marshal.
During the Emergences, the Council realized that the Jedi may be needed in the Outer Rim more than they normally were. The Republic's exploration into the Outer Rim brought them as well as the Jedi into conflict with a group of marauders known as the Nihil. Grand Master Lahru convened the High Council to discuss the threat that the Nihil posed to the Republic.
Twilight of the Republic
- "Agree with you, the Council does. Your apprentice, Skywalker will be."
- ―Yoda, to Obi-Wan Kenobi
During the final years of the Galactic Republic, the upper tier of the Jedi High Council consisted of legendary Jedi Masters such as Ki-Adi-Mundi, a Cerean alien with a binary brain; Mace Windu, the staunch traditionalist and champion of the Jedi Order; and Yoda, the oldest and wisest of the Jedi. By around 40 BBY, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn was offered a seat on the High Council, an offer that was agreed upon by all of the Council members at the time but Yoda. Jinn's views had long been considered controversial and Jinn took the offer as a sign that perhaps the Council was becoming more open to new ideas. Following Jinn's rogue actions in regards to the coronation of Queen Fanry, the Council considered withdrawing its offer, but decided that the offer would stand. Jinn, however, felt that the Force was leading him along a different path and chose to reject the offer, something which he suspected had not happened for hundreds of years.
In 32 BBY, thirteen years before the Age of the Empire, Jinn reported two revelations to the Council: the return of the Sith, who the Jedi had not encountered for over a millennium; and the discovery of Anakin Skywalker, a prodigy of the Force whom Jinn deemed the Chosen One of Jedi prophecy. The Council was skeptical of the maverick Jedi's claims, however. Nevertheless, they decided to commit their resources to discovering the identity of the dark warrior who attacked Jinn on Tatooine. Moreover, they agreed to meet with Skywalker in order to gauge his abilities in the Force. Though the former slave proved exceptionally powerful with the Force, Yoda sensed a considerable degree of fear within him, noting that fear was a path to the dark side of the Force. Windu also felt that Skywalker was too old to commit himself to the ways of the Jedi and the Force without being distracted by his emotional attachments. As a result, the Council turned down Jinn's request to train Skywalker.
The Council ultimately reversed their decision after Jinn perished in a duel against Darth Maul, the Sith Lord who attacked him on Tatooine. In addition, Skywalker's heroic actions at the Battle of Naboo convinced the Council to accept him into their ranks as the Padawan of the newly-promoted Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jinn's former apprentice. Despite this, Windu remained wary of Skywalker, as did Yoda who feared that Skywalker's training posed great danger to the future of the Jedi Order.
Road to war
- "You must realize there aren't enough Jedi to protect the Republic. We're keepers of the peace, not soldiers."
- ―Mace Windu, to Sheev Palpatine
In the aftermath of the Battle of Naboo, the galaxy was cast into an era of political turmoil and instability as thousands of star systems joined a growing secessionist movement in opposition to the rule of the Galactic Republic. As both sides drew inexorably towards war, the Jedi Council consulted with Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine. Owing allegiance to the Galactic Senate, the Jedi were duty-bound to protect the citizens of the Republic. However, Windu noted that the Jedi did not possess the adequate manpower to defend the entire Republic in a pan-galactic war. Around the same time, the life of Naboo Senator Padmé Amidala was threatened by an assassination plot, leading the Council to assign Kenobi and Skywalker to her protection detail at the chancellor's request.
This action ultimately set off a chain of events that led Kenobi to discover the clone army, which had been developed in secret on Kamino at the request of the late Sifo-Dyas, a former leading member of the Jedi Council. After reporting his findings to Yoda and Windu, Kenobi pursued the clone template Jango Fett to the Separatist world of Geonosis where he then discovered the creation of the Confederacy of Independent Systems—led by the former Jedi and now-Separatist Head of State Count Dooku—and its droid army. As a result, the Senate granted emergency powers to the chancellor, who used his new authority to approve the Republic's adoption of the Kamino clone troopers. The newly-formed Grand Army of the Republic launched a pre-emptive strike on the Separatist forces of Geonosis, where the clones achieved air and ground supremacy against formidable odds under the skillful leadership of the Jedi Council. Although the Republic succeeded in driving the Separatists into a full retreat, the First Battle of Geonosis only marked the beginning of the Clone Wars in 22 BBY.
Throughout the conflict, the Council led the war effort in their capacity as Jedi Generals of the Republic's new military. Members of the Council, such as Windu, spent much of their time on Coruscant, directing the Jedi in their new role as military leaders while simultaneously coordinating strategy with the Office of the Chancellor. At times they also participated more directly by leading clone troopers into battle on various planets across the galaxy, including Christophsis, Ryloth, and again on Geonosis. Despite committing to their wartime responsibilities, the Council continued to serve as emissaries of the Republic; from bringing neutral worlds such as Toydaria into the Republic's fold, to healing the ancient rift between Bardotta and the Jedi Order, the Council served as both diplomats and generals in their efforts to protect and preserve the Republic.
Trial of Ahsoka Tano
- "You have our most humble apologies, little 'Soka. The Council was wrong to accuse you."
"You have shown such great strength and resilience in your struggle to prove your innocence."
"This is the true sign of a Jedi Knight."
"This was actually your great trial. Now we see that. We understand that the Force works in mysterious ways, and because of this trial you have become a greater Jedi than you would have otherwise."
"Back into the Order, you may come."
- ―Plo Koon, Saesee Tiin, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Mace Windu, and Yoda, commending Ahsoka Tano
At the height of the Clone Wars, the Jedi Temple on Coruscant became the target of a terrorist attack that resulted in the bombing of the Temple hangar—an act which killed several Jedi, as well as civilians and clones. Alarmed by the assault on a sacred site of the Jedi Order, the Council assigned Skywalker and his apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, to investigate the incident. However, Tano was soon framed for the death of Letta Turmond, a terrorist whom she captured during the initial investigation. After Tano was apprehended and brought back to the Temple, the Council was requested by the Senate to expel her from the Order, believing that an internal Jedi trial would lack impartiality. In addition to revoking her Jedi status, the Senate insisted on having Tano transferred to military custody so that she could be made to stand trial for acts of treason against the Republic.
Following a debate, the Council concluded that there was sufficient evidence to convict Tano as a traitor to the Republic. Additionally, Windu asserted that protecting Tano could be regarded as an act of opposition to the Senate. Though it was not a unanimous decision, the Council chose to comply with the Senate and expelled Tano from the Order, turning her over to a Republic military tribunal. During the trial, Tano was defended by Senator Padmé Amidala and prosecuted by Admiral Wilhuff Tarkin, who advocated the death penalty for Tano. Ultimately, Tano was cleared of all charges after Skywalker discovered the real traitor: Tano's friend and fellow Padawan Barriss Offee, a fallen Jedi who believed that the Order was too violent and that the Republic on the verge of becoming a failed state. In light of Tano's innocence, the Council apologized, with Plo Koon admitting that they were wrong to accuse her of disloyalty. Mundi, Tiin, and Windu observed that she had passed a great trial in her training, making her a greater Jedi in the process. The Council offered to welcome her back into the Jedi Order, but to their surprise and Skywalker's dismay, Tano rejected the offer and instead chose to search for a new path in life, damaged by the Council's collective lack of faith in her.
- "Cover up this discovery we must. No one, not even the Chancellor, may know."
- ―Yoda, to the Jedi High Council and Anakin Skywalker
Later, the Council was disturbed by the revelation that the Sith participated in the creation of Sifo-Dyas' clone army. While the Council did not understand why their enemy provided the Jedi with the means to defend the Republic, Windu noted with caution that such a revelation would undermine public confidence in the Jedi, the Republic, and the war effort. Citing the valiant service and loyalty of their clone soldiers, as well as the need to bring a swift and decisive end to the war, Yoda declared that the Council would not inform anyone, even the chancellor, of the Sith's involvement in the origin of the clone army.
Voices from beyond
- "Master Yoda, you are older and wiser than any living Jedi, but this does not mean you are beyond the corruption of the dark side."
- ―Mace Windu, to Yoda
As the Council investigated the Sith's role in the clone army's creation, Yoda revealed to his colleagues that the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn communicated with him from beyond death. However, everything the Jedi knew about the Force suggested that the ability to retain one's own identity after death was impossible. As such, their reactions ranged from concern to skepticism and suspicion. Kenobi believed that Yoda was simply under duress due to the war, but Mundi opined that the ancient Jedi Master was possibly falling to the influence of the dark side. With the Council unable to reach a consensus on Yoda's mental well-being, Windu ordered the Jedi Temple Guard to monitor his activities as a precaution. With Skywalker's assistance, Yoda escaped from the Jedi Temple, embarking on a quest that ultimately led to his discovery of the ability to preserve his identity after becoming one with the Force.
- "Isn't protecting the innocent the very definition of what it means to be a Jedi? We are failing the Republic and its citizens. We must stop this—now."
- ―Mace Windu, to the Jedi High Council
By 19 BBY, almost three standard years after the first battle of the Clone Wars, the Republic loyalist world of Mahranee was conquered by a Separatist invasion force. After claiming the planet and its resources for the Confederacy, Count Dooku ordered the deaths of all Mahran refugees before they could be evacuated from their fallen homeworld. Dismayed by the recent Mahran genocide, the Jedi Council resolved to the end the conflict once and for all by assassinating Dooku. Though Kenobi initially objected to the method of assassination, Windu stressed that it was the Council's obligation to utilize every option at their disposal for the sake of the Republic and its citizens. Windu's argument, combined with the Jedi's duty to the Republic, convinced the Council to sanction the mission. On Kenobi's recommendation, they assigned the task to the maverick Jedi Master Quinlan Vos due to his experience with covert assignments.
In addition to Vos, the Council determined that Dooku's former apprentice, Asajj Ventress, was also critical to the success of the mission. To that end, Kenobi tasked Vos with gaining Ventress' trust in order to ultimately secure her support against Dooku. However, despite earning her respect, Vos' relationship with Ventress became increasingly personal, leading the former to break his Jedi vows and move closer to the dark side of the Force.
After losing contact with Vos for a time, the Council learned from Ventress that not only had the mission failed, but Vos was also taken as a prisoner of Dooku. Though she was regarded with suspicion by the Jedi, particularly Windu and Skywalker, who blamed her for the failure of the mission, the Council offered to grant her amnesty in return for her cooperation in the rescue of Vos. Together with Dooku's former acolyte, the Jedi successfully retrieved Vos, although Ventress was convinced that he had fallen to the dark side by becoming the count's new disciple. The Council initially did not share Ventress' suspicions, but nonetheless pardoned her in accordance with their arrangement.
Vos's deception did not last long, however. Yoda, who began to suspect that Vos had indeed become a traitor, came to sense the dark side within him. At Windu's suggestion, the Council considered having him executed, but after pleas from Kenobi, they dispatched Vos to make a second attempt on Dooku's life as a test of loyalty. They also reluctantly agreed to allow Ventress to participate in the mission after she revealed that the count was scheduled to travel to the planet Christophsis. At the same time, Kenobi was instructed to execute Vos if he revealed himself as a traitor to the Jedi and the Republic.
While Dooku ultimately survived the Jedi's second assassination attempt, the Council learned that Vos had embraced the dark side and committed several acts of treason, including the murder of two Jedi—Akar-Deshu and Kav Bayons. However, Vos renounced the dark side and took responsibility for his actions after Ventress saved his life by sacrificing her own. With some persuasion from Kenobi, who argued that the decision to assassinate Dooku was morally wrong and the cause of Vos' fall, the Council forgave Vos by welcoming him back into the fold of the Jedi Order.
Fall of the Republic
- "If he does not give up his emergency powers after the destruction of Grievous, then he should be removed from office."
"The Jedi Council would have to take control of the Senate in order to secure a peaceful transition."
"To a dark place, this line of thought will carry us. Great care we must take."
- ―Ki-Adi-Mundi, Mace Windu, and Yoda, on the possibility of removing Sheev Palpatine from power
During the Battle of Coruscant, Count Dooku was killed by Anakin Skywalker. With the death of the Confederate head of state, the remaining Separatist leaders fled into hiding while command of the battle droid army passed to General Grievous, making him the next high-profile target of both the Republic and the Jedi Order. Palpatine assured Windu that the Senate would vote to continue the war as long as the general remained alive and free, to which the Jedi Council responded by prioritizing the hunt for Grievous. By now, the relationship between the Council and the chancellor had grown increasingly strained; Palpatine's gradual accumulation of wartime powers only raised their suspicions. Though they initially accepted the chancellor's empowerment in order to quickly mobilize the clone army for war, the gradual expansion of his control over the Republic caused the Council to become wary of Palpatine's motives.
In addition to the supplementary powers given to the chancellor by the Senate, the Council was even more disturbed by Palpatine's decision to appoint Skywalker as his liaison to the ruling body of the Jedi Order. Skywalker's appointment to the Council's ranks at his age was unprecedented; he would be the youngest Jedi to serve on the Council, and although he was counted among the finest warriors of the Order, he had not yet achieved the rank of Jedi Master. Despite their disdain at this move by Palpatine, the Council grudgingly accepted his decision, but on a condition—Skywalker would have a seat on the Council, but not the rank of Master, making him the only Jedi to hold this distinction throughout the history of the Order. In truth, the Council only cooperated with the chancellor so that Skywalker would be in the ideal position to monitor Palpatine's activities. Skywalker, however, felt insulted at not being granted the rank of Master, and was unenthusiastic about his unofficial assignment, regarding espionage against the chancellor as an act of treason. Kenobi disagreed and asserted that the Council's loyalty was to the Senate rather than its leader, who managed to stay in office far beyond what his constitutional term limit would allow.
After Clone Intelligence traced Grievous' position to Utapau, Skywalker informed the Council that the chancellor wished to place him in command of the mission to kill Grievous. Windu sternly informed him that the Council would decide who among their ranks would confront Grievous, regardless of Palpatine's opinion. Believing that a more experienced Jedi was required to bring the war to a decisive conclusion, the Council dispatched Kenobi and the 212th Attack Battalion. Yet even as the end of the war drew near, the Council remained skeptical about Palpatine's post-war intentions. Windu could also feel the dark side surrounding the chancellor, which caused him to suspect that a plot to destroy the Jedi Order was close to fruition. Frustrated by the chancellor's accumulation of power and the consequent erosion of the democracy that the Republic stood far, the Council began to regard him as a threat to the Republic. It was at this time that the Council started contemplating the possible necessity of forcibly removing Palpatine from office, an act which would necessitate a Jedi takeover of the Senate in order to maintain political stability during the transition to a new government.
In the end, the Council's distrust of Palpatine was vindicated when Skywalker learned of his true identity—the chancellor of the Republic was the Dark Lord of the Sith; Darth Sidious, master of the Sith apprentices Maul and Dooku, in turn, had orchestrated the entire war in an effort to gain absolute power over the galaxy. Faced with the truth, Windu moved with haste to confront Sidious in a final effort to save the Jedi Order. With the support of fellow Council members Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar and Saesee Tiin, he marched into the chancellor's office and declared his intention to arrest Sidious in the name of the Senate, leading to a fierce lightsaber duel between the Dark Lord and the four members of the Jedi Council. Despite their own skills in lightsaber combat, the Jedi Masters Tiin, Kolar, and Fisto were slain by Sidious in quick succession. However, Windu was able to hold his own before ultimately emerging as the victor in the duel. By then, he believed that a trial would be useless as Sidious had gained control of the government, and therefore decided to put an end to his life in order to prevent the return of Sith oppression over the galaxy. Before he could deliver the killing strike, Skywalker, who had just arrived at the Senate Office Building, disarmed Windu, leaving him defenseless against the torrent of Force lightning that Sidious unleashed on him.
With the death of the Jedi Order's champion and the subsequent fall of Anakin Skywalker, who became Darth Vader, Sidious issued Order 66—a secret protocol that compelled the clone troopers to betray and murder their Jedi leaders. Aside from Yoda, Coleman Kcaj, Oppo Rancisis, and Kenobi, the remaining members of the Council perished along with the majority of the Order during the initial phase of the purge. Having eliminated the Jedi Order and its leadership, Sidious was free to declare an end to the Republic, allowing for the Galactic Empire to rise in its place.
- "No. I'll have a Jedi with me. Kneel. By the right of the Council, by the will of the Force. Cal Kestis. Rise. Jedi Knight. You are ready."
- ―Cere Junda
The influence of the High Council's legacy echoed through the knighting ceremony; Cere Junda recited a ceremonial quote while knighting Padawan Cal Kestis, recalling the High Council's right to bestow the rank of Jedi Knight to apprentices who passed their trials. An apparition of the Grand Inquisitor, who was once a Jedi Temple Guard, conferred the status of Jedi Knight on former Padawan Kanan Jarrus in the name of the High Council.
The rise of the Empire forced Yoda and Kenobi into hiding on Dagobah and Tatooine, respectively. By 0 BBY, roughly two decades after the fall of the Jedi Order, Kenobi began instructing a new apprentice—Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, endeavored to become a Jedi Knight like his father before him. Following the death of Kenobi in a final duel with his one-time Padawan, Darth Vader, Luke was guided by the spirit of his master to seek out Yoda on Dagobah. Though critical of his temperament and impatience, the former Grand Master took to guiding Luke in honing his nascent powers in the Force. On his deathbed, Yoda deemed his final student's training complete, but stipulated that he would have to confront Vader before becoming a full-fledged Jedi. With his passing, and Anakin Skywalker's subsequent redemption and death, the last two members of the Jedi High Council became one with the Force. In the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, the spirits of Yoda, Kenobi and Anakin watched over Luke and his allies as they celebrated the Rebel victory on Endor.
Behind the scenes
- "I've always felt that one of Anakin's downfalls, like it's never that Anakin was innately going to be evil, but the people around him, the Jedi, in their lack of compassion, in being so selfless that they almost forgot to care."
- ―Dave Filoni
According to Dave Filoni, supervising director of both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated television series, one of the reasons for Anakin Skywalker's turn to the dark side was the lack of compassion and care of the Jedi. Ezra Bridger, the central character of Star Wars Rebels, however, had a very strong family support system by the people around him even though he could be tempted by the dark side.
- Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge – "Episode 1" (Mentioned only)
- William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First
- William Shakespeare's The Clone Army Attacketh: Star Wars Part the Second
- William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Exit from Endor" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Crisis on Coruscant" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Notes and references