- "I was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Luke Skywalker
A Jedi Knight referred to a member of the Jedi Order, who had completed their Jedi training as a student in the Jedi academy, in addition to one-on-one training as a Padawan and the completion of the Jedi Trials.
As a Knight and a full member of the Order, these individuals received assignments from the Jedi Councils and strove to find peace, and maintain order within the Galactic Republic. Making up the majority of the Order's members, the public was familiar with this title more than any other, and, thus, many addressed any Jedi as "Knight".
Overview and history
- "For a hundred generations the Jedi have fought to protect the Republic!"
- ―Unidentified humanoid Jedi, 5000 BBY.
Seven hundred and thirty years after the Order's founding on Tython in the earliest days of galactic civilization, the Jedi Knights were brought into the Galactic Republic, working as peacekeepers for the fledgling government. A loose band of both philosophers and warriors, these early Knights had no central leadership, nor any formalized training at an academy; instead, they completed a series of tasks set by their master, who would then bestow upon them the rank of a Jedi Knight.
As the Order grew more centralized with the foundation of the Jedi High Council, following the Great Sith War, and the Republic's donation of the Sacred spire on Coruscant for use by the Knights, residing at the capital, the role of Knights in the Republic became more defined. Working as peacekeepers, diplomats, and investigators during peace time, the Knights helped to establish peace following the war. However, due to the High Council's seemingly complacent attitude during the Mandalorian Wars, many Knights turned away from the Order and joined the Revanchist's movement, which would eventually lead to the Jedi Civil War.
When the Order recovered, the training of Padawans to Knighthood resumed more formally until the New Sith Wars and the creation of the Army of Light forced the Order to, once again, take on a militaristic way of life. When the Brotherhood of Darkness was defeated, and the Ruusan Reformation put into effect, formal training began again and the Order flourished.
As the Sith returned, and the Clone Wars swept across the Republic, all active Jedi Knights became Jedi Generals, and were required to lead the Grand Army of the Republic on the front lines against the Confederacy of Independent Systems. However, the Order was betrayed by the Supreme Chancellor, whom they served, who was in reality the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious. Sidious used his position as Supreme Commander Palpatine to issue Executive Order 66, which demanded the slaughter of all Jedi and began the second major Jedi Purge. Loyal to the Republic, the troopers of the Grand Army cut down their generals without hesitation, while the 501st Legion, under the command of a fallen Jedi Knight, Darth Vader, stormed the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and slaughtered the instructors and Initiates stationed there. While there were several Knights that survived the initial wave of what became known as the Great Jedi Purge, Vader, the newly-anoited Sith Lord, took personal charge of hunting down those Jedi who had escaped to the Outer Rim. Eventually, during the Battle of Endor, Anakin Skywalker left the dark side, conquered Darth Vader from within and then saved his son, Luke, by destroying Palpatine to bring balance to the Force in fulfilling an ancient Jedi prophecy.
After several decades of hiding at near extinction, the Order was reformed under Luke Skywalker, who, after the Galactic Civil War ended, established a new Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4 and began using the basic skills taught to him by the former Grand Master, Yoda, to train the next generation of Knights. For a time, Knighting was much less formal as it had been in the past during times of rebuilding, but eventually, Skywalker led the Order to flourish, and adapted many of the Old Order's customs on knighthood.
Service to the Order
- "Confer on you the level of Jedi Knight, the Council does."
- ―Grand Master Yoda, to Obi-Wan Kenobi
Following the successful completion of a decade or more of one-on-one instruction from a master, Jedi Padawans were expected to pass the Jedi Trials and be raised to the rank of Knight. Only the High Council could promote a Padawan to the rank of Knight, though this rule was not always observed, especially in times when the Order was spread extremely thin or the Council could not be contacted for a great period of time. For those Jedi who did join this elite group of individuals, they were no longer attached to their master and were in charge of their own destiny. Knights were expected to continue their study in the Force, choosing between one of three fields of specialization so as to hone their personal strengths into the swords and shields of the Order. Either becoming a Guardian, Consular, or Sentinel, the Knights would accept solo missions from one of the four Jedi Councils that made best use of their skill sets.
On their own, Knights were responsible for maintaining the Order's public appearance as they traveled throughout the galaxy, floating along the currents of the Force as they sought to provide justice to suffering worlds. Taking on their own path of studying, Knights learned the third and final discipline of the Force known as Alter: which allowed the user to manipulate objects and others' minds with the application of the Force. Following the mastery of the Alter discipline and the completion of the study on specialized skills, a Knight might find themselves desiring to teach the next generation of Jedi. While not a mandatory practice, Knights could attend tournaments at the Temple to see potential Padawans' exhibit their skills with the Force and a lightsaber. The Jedi of old warned against taking on an apprentice strictly out of duty, for this might ultimately lead to an irreconcilable incompatibility of Jedi and apprentice, leaving a Padawan without the proper guidance to gain a sufficient knowledge of the Force and Jedi Order skillsets in order to be successful during the Trials. Deeply focused meditation was performed before a selection was made, and while many Knights did choose to take on this sacred responsibility, there were a few that were unable to find a trainee who they felt would be the right fit or had no desire to take on such an all encompassing commitment.
Following successfully training a Padawan to knighthood, the High Council would consider raising the Knight to the rank of Jedi Master; though this was not always the case. Many Knights just simply were not promoted to Master if the Council did not feel that they had attained a knowledge of the Force that warranted the bestowment of such a title, or if the Force willed some other destiny for them. While some were promoted in old age, some Knights never ascended in rank. Because of the nature of the title and the importance of the Council, only Masters were elected to the Councils. On occasion a Knight would sit on the Council in the transition period between ascension in rank, though this was a simple technicality. The most unusual case was that of Knight Anakin Skywalker's appointment to the High Council by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine during the Clone Wars. While the Council reluctantly accepted the appointment, they refused to raise Skywalker in ranks, maintaining their stance that he had not mastered his emotions entirely.
When the Order was disbanded during the reign of the Galactic Empire, no Knights were promoted as the majority of the Order had been slaughtered. It wasn't until Luke Skywalker rebuilt the Order that the term Knight was reused. Due to the informality of the Order in its early years, many of the old traditions were not observed simply out of ignorance to their existence. Rudimentary Trials were established at the Yavin 4 Jedi Praxeum without knowledge of the Order's traditional tasks; these included demonstration of mastery of a set of skills and the ability to construct a lightsaber. Skywalker's inaugural class graduated in 12 ABY and were dispatched out into the galaxy to assist the New Republic in its endeavors to drive the Empire from civilized space. As more apprentices were taken, their masters would consult with Master Skywalker and could be granted permission to bestow the rank of knighthood following a successful mission that proved one's mettle; such was the case of Jaden Korr whose master, Kyle Katarn, thought that his success on Vjun proved he had taught all Korr needed to know.
The first recorded public knighting ceremony was in 24 ABY when Master Skywalker knighted Anakin Solo, Jacen Solo, Jaina Solo, Zekk, Tenel Ka, Lusa, Raynar Thul, and Lowbacca for their year of service in aiding in the defeat of the Diversity Alliance and Black Sun. Held at the Great Temple in front of the entirety of the Order and representatives of the Republic, the ceremony consisted of a lightsaber salute and a ballad by Master Tionne Solusar.
Several years later, following the Yuuzhan Vong War and the procurement of several important holocrons and documents, formal knighting ceremonies likened to that of the Old Order were reincorporated into the way of the Jedi. With the Coruscant Temple rebuilt, ceremonies were once more held here in the Hall of Knighthood.
Behind the scenes
The Jedi Knights were first mentioned in the novelization of A New Hope, ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster and published in 1976. The Jedi Knight is also a class in the Star Wars MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. This class is further customizable by selecting either the Sentinel or Guardian advanced classes. The Jedi Knights commonly appear in fan films' plots, including in the famous Star Wars: Renaissance, which introduces several fanon Knights.
Lucas himself has compared the Jedi Knights to various real world religious and spiritual orders, citing Christian or Buddhist monks and priests and the Knights Templar. The Making of Star Wars reveals that the Jedi were at one point named the Jedi Templar, indicating that specific order may have been an influence.
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Notes and references
- The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Timeline 15: The Jedi Join the Republic
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- I, Jedi
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
- Young Jedi Knights: Crisis at Crystal Reef
- Legacy of the Force: Revelation