- "These gave as good as they got, and 'cold' and 'hot' wars alternated for a thousand years—while the Republic flagellated itself with inquisitions—until Pius Dea rule met its end in that famous encounter which hardly needs retelling here."
- ―Gabrel Treon, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji: A Cartel of Genes
The Pius Dea Crusades were a series of conflicts that lasted from 11,965 BBY to 10,966 BBY, and served as the defining events of the Pius Dea Era. The Pius Dea were a prominent religious sect with humanocentric and militaristic tendencies that emerged in the centuries prior to 12,000 BBY. They installed one of their own—Contispex I—as Supreme Chancellor, gaining effective control of the Republic government and military. Having neutralized the unpopular Hutts, the sect unleashed a series of military crusades and inquisitions against rival alien sects over the following centuries. This brought about a protracted series of alternating hot and cold wars which contributed to interspecies tensions between the human-dominated Core Worlds and the alien Outer Rim Territories. In 10,967 BBY, the Pius Dea was split by the Renunciation, which began the Seventh Alsakan Conflict. The war ended in 10,966 BBY at the Battle of Uquine, removing the Pius Dea from power and bringing an end to the crusades. The repercussions of the crusades, however, would have far reaching consequences in subsequent millennia.
Pius Dea arose among Humans on Coruscant in the centuries before 12,000 BBY. Following a deity simply known as the Goddess, it began with a call for communities to remain incorruptible by policing themselves. Contispex, a Coruscanti who rose to prominence in the Coruscant Merchants' Guild, was a fanatical devotee of the Pius Dea faith, and held that fallen communities should be restored to purity by purging their irredeemable elements.
Contispex became legendary for his opposition to corruption and vice, and his intolerance for any who did not share his high standards. He was elected Supreme Chancellor in 11,987 BBY on a platform of cleaning up the Galactic Senate, after the impeachment and assassination of Chancellor Pers'lya of Bothawui.
Elsewhere in the galaxy, Republic colonization was beginning to approach Hutt Space. The Mid Rim of the Slice was subjected to raids by slavers throughout the Kymoodon Era, which were sponsored by the Hutts with the aim of enslaving the colonists. Lexrul, Drogheda, Hathrox, Imram and Parcovey Minor were among those colonies targeted. The successful defense of Parcovey Minor was one of the few bright spots for the colonists amid the raids. This generated a deep loathing of the Hutts among colonists on the Rim.
- "Here we stand, at the extremity of our exertion, having cast behind us the idols of our fathers, to once again carry to our foe the penalties due their sacrileges. Come perdition or hard vacuum, the Republic expects that every citizen will do his duty."
- ―Supreme Chancellor Contispex, Fourth Inaugural Oration
In 11,965 BBY, Supreme Chancellor Contispex sanctioned the first of several "crusades" against rival alien sects. Tapping into the unpopularity of the Hutts among many citizens of the Republic, Contispex sanctioned an invasion of Hutt Space, conquering a large swath of territory along the Ootmian Pabol hyperlane. For nearly a millennium up to 10,966 BBY, the Republic would be embroiled in crusades against different alien factions, who fought back, leaving the galaxy in a permanent state of "hot" and "cold" wars. These crusades, embarked upon in the name of the Goddess, were very violent, and marked a devastating period in galactic history. The Pius Dea's religious rationale for the crusades was that chaos lurked beyond the Rim and that they were merely following The Goddess's edict to subdue it. The Pius Dea were also lured by the promise of wealth and secrets which led them to plunder conquered worlds. The loot would then be ferried back to Coruscant in naval galleons. Therefore, the sect justified and promoted military imperialism and privateering as a means of religious merit.
Contispex also overhauled the government of the Republic, giving fellow Pius Dea adherents prominent military and political posts and purging all those who refused to convert. Within a generation, important government posts were reserved for members of the Pius Dea hierarchy, and after two or three generations, many of those posts had become hereditary, with government duties becoming ritualised expressions of Pius Dea power. Contispex stepped down after a forty-year rule in 11,947 BBY and was succeeded as Chancellor by Contispex II, beginning a dynastic succession. By the last centuries of the Pius Dea Era, every new Chancellor took the name Contispex upon assuming office, whether he was a member of the bloodline or not.
Thus with the entire resources of the Republic Navy and Army available to them, by 11,920 BBY the Pius Dea Republic had launched Four Crusades against Hutt Space, expanding the Republic's borders as far as Delacrix, Nimban, Kwenn and Toydaria. To Pius Dea adherents, chaos lurked beyond the Rim, and it was the will of the Goddess that it be beaten back, with great treasures and rewards for those who advanced Her cause. Thousands of Pius Dea scouts and privateers pushed beyond the frontier. However, unhappy with the Pius Dea's fanaticism, the Jedi Order recused itself from the Republic in 11,933 BBY after the Third Pius Dea Crusade, retreating to the academy world of Ossus. For centuries, the Jedi disapproved of the Pius Dea's actions but had nothing to do with the Republic's affairs. However, this Recusal sparked deep divisions within the Order. Some knights errant Jedi were involved in vigilante wars against the Pius Dea while other Jedi aligned themselves with the sect, becoming the Order of the Terrible Glare.
Once Pius Dea was secure at the top of the Republic, Contispex and his successors sought to purify the galaxy. Non-Human senators were arrested in witch-hunts, and commissars were attached to military units to expose heretics and apostates in the ranks. The Proscribed were exiled or imprisoned, their property confiscated for pontifical auction, and their families blacklisted from political or military life for three generations, breaking the power of many ancient Republic dynasties.
Pius Dea soon turned their attention to other alien species and sects within the Outer Rim which had been members of the Republic for millennia: the Seventh, or the Great Northern Crusade of 11,884 BBY was fought against the Zabraks and the Ithorians and saw the conquest of Ord Mantell, while the Crusade of the Wilds of 11,791 BBY launched from Ord Cestus and Ord Marsax saw the conquest of a swath of territory north of the Perlemian Trade Route. Finally, the sect even targeted Humans accused of being alien sympathizers: Republic citizens from Fedje fled to the constellation they called Prefid's Belt to escape Pius Dea rule, and there founded the secret colony of Prefsbelt IV.
For millennia, Alsakan and Coruscant had been rivals for dominance of the Republic. Due to the Pius Dea's origins on Coruscant, the planet became a stronghold of the sect. Religious tensions coalesced with political and economy rivalry to culminate in the Sixth Alsakan Conflict in 11,820 BBY. During that conflict the Core World of Alsakan and their territories in the Perlemian Trade Route seceded from the Pius Dea Republic. Many alien worlds and species, including the Duros, Herglics and Hutts subsequently aligned themselves with Alsakan in return for protection from the Republic. In the aftermath of the Sixth Alsakan Conflict, Herglic Space would be the target of the Eleventh Pius Dea Crusade in 11,707 BBY.
- "The Goddess Wills It!"
- ―Rallying cry of the Crusaders
By the 11,500s BBY, millions of worlds were subject to Pius Dea rule. The Republic Navy became a Pius Dea stronghold, and its cathedral ships became essential to sustaining these expansionary campaigns; doubling as warships and religious temples. Due to a hereditary system of patronage, these massive warships were crewed by the descendants of naval crews who had converted to the sect. Other Republic warships at this time including armored men-of-war optimised for broadside combat, and primitive bi-wing snubfighters.
During this period, several military outposts known as Ordnance/Regional Depots (O/RDs) were established to ostensibly protect Human settlers from hostile alien threats. This further deepened interspecies tensions, with the anti-alien nature of the crusades forcing an exodus into Hutt Space and turning the Rimward Slice into a militarized zone dominated by war profiteers. These O/RDs operated as home bases for Republic Navy units and Pius Dea missionaries to launch military and religious expeditions into the frontier.
During the crusades, the main Pius Dea modus operandi was to deploy Republic naval warships carrying millions of troops to enemy worlds or "founts of chaos." Military veterans who emerged from trench warfare during planetary invasions received substantial rewards for themselves and their families. Entire species deemed irredeemable, like the Zarracines and Teirasans in the Twelfth Pius Dea Crusade of 11,660 BBY, were subjected to genocide. Despite its Humanocentric origins, the sect's numbers swelled as thousands of Rimward worlds and species were forcibly converted or coerced into joining the Pius Dea. Conversion was seen as a means for alien individuals and worlds to gain favor with the Pius Dea Republic since it afforded greater autonomy and lessened interstellar travel restrictions for those joining the military. However, these alien converts were often contemptuously referred to as "Rimkin" by their human brethren.
The religious zeal of the Pius Dea Republic antagonized many species and powers within the galaxy. Following the Sixth Alsakan Conflict, Coruscant's rival Alsakan opened secret lines of communication with several alien species alienated by the Crusades including the Duros, Herglics, and the Hutts. By the 11,100s BBY, the Republic's military expansionism had stalled and the Pius Dea leadership began internal Inquisitions to root out apostates, heretics, and unbelievers within their ranks. These inquisitions created much hardship and deaths. Caamasi emissaries came to the Jedi stronghold of Ossus and succeeded in convincing the Order to end its recusal in 11,100 BBY.
The Jedi subsequently collaborated with the Caamasi and Alsakani to engineer a schism within the Pius Dea adherents, spreading a secret heresy whose followers became known as the Renunciates. One such Renunciate, the Republic Navy Admiral Pers Pradeux, discovered the location of Prefsbelt IV in the 10,970s BBY and made it into a retreat for fellow Renunciate naval officers, where they plotted the overthrow of the Pius Dea Republic.
In 10,967 BBY, these religious heretics announced themselves during the Renunciation; creating a vicious civil war which wrecked the Republic. This allowed a broad anti-Pius Dea coalition led by the Jedi to assail the Pius Dea Republic. While much of the Republic Navy defected to join the Renunciates, the Pius Dea still maintained a large fleet of thousands of cathedral ships which they used to wage war on their enemies. In 10,966 BBY, the sect was militarily defeated when the Bureau of Ships and Services seeded the Pius Dea fleet with rogue navicomputer codes which caused much of the fleet to leap into hyperspace. Many of these cathedral ships would remain trapped forever in the depths of unexplored space, unable to restart their engines. Those trapped aboard subsequently perished from starvation and lack of supplies.
The crusades finally ended after the Battle of Uquine which saw the annihilation of what remained of the Pius Dea fleet and the capture of Supreme Chancellor Contispex XIX. The Jedi subsequent took over the machinery of the Republic with Grand Master Biel Ductavis assuming the chancellorship. Meanwhile, all members of the sect were removed from positions of power including the Galactic Senate and the Pius Dea gradually died out within a few generations.
The subsequent period, the Ductavis Era, became remembered as a time of rebuilding in the aftermath of the Crusades. Interspecies relations improved to the point that during the subsequent Rianitus Period, a Hutt even served as Supreme Chancellor. Blotus the Hutt served for a 275-year term and became remembered as one of the finest Supreme Chancellors in Republic history.
Despite this, tensions between the Human-dominated Core Worlds and the predominantly alien Rimward territories lingered for millennia. The existence of the Ordnance/Regional Depots, explicitly created by the Pius Dea to protect human colonists, was a particular source of aggravation, especially the continued use of the prefix "Ord" in many planets' names. The tensions from the fallout of the crusades would deepen the rifts between the Core Worlds and those of the Outer Rim, which Palpatine would come to exploit during his reign as Supreme Chancellor and Galactic Emperor thousands of years later.
The Republic Navy's assistance in overthrowing Pius Dea helped restore some of the service's honor following its millennium of theocratic control. Pers Pradeux and his fellow officers reorganized and rebuilt the navy in a series of meetings on Prefsbelt IV in the aftermath of the Battle of Uquine, and as the Republic rebuilt, the navy became a pillar of its strength and one of the galaxy's most respected institutions.
Timeline of the Pius Dea Crusades
- 11,987 BBY
- 11,965 BBY
- 11,947 BBY
- 11,939 BBY
- 11,933 BBY
- 11,884 BBY
- c. 11,820 BBY
- 11,660 BBY
- c. 11,100 BBY
- 10,967 BBY
- The Renunciation: The Renunciate movement reveals itself and allies with the Alsakani, Caamasi, and the Jedi Order. This splits the Pius Dea faith from within, pitting the Faithful against those who have abandoned the faith.
- Renunciate forces clash with Faithfuls at Fondor, Ixtlar, and Cyrillia, supported by the Jedi, Alsakani, Duros, Herglics, and Hutts.
- 10,966 BBY
- The Bureau of Ships and Services seed the Republic Navy with rogue navicomputer codes, which forces the Pius Dea's ships to jump randomly to hyperspace and become lost forever.
- At the Battle of Uquine, the Renunciate forces annihilate the remaining Pius Dea ships. The Jedi capture Contispex XIX aboard the Flame of Sinthara, taking him to Caamas where he stands trial and is imprisoned.
- Grand Master Biel Ductavis assumes the position of Supreme Chancellor.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Codex entry)
- The New Essential Chronology (First mentioned)
- The New Essential Guide to Droids
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas (First identified as Pius Dea Crusades)
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Strongholds of Resistance