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|Galactic Civil War|
|Part of Star Wars|
|Commanders and leaders|
Chancellor Mon Mothma
|Casualties and losses|
|Heavy; Alderaan destroyed; Jedha City destroyed; Hidden bases of Dantooine, Yavin IV, and Hoth destroyed.||Heavy; billions dead; both Death Stars destroyed; base destroyed during Battle of Scarif; Imperial Navy destroyed during Battle of Jakku|
The Galactic Civil War is a fictional interstellar war from the Star Wars galaxy. It serves as the setting for the original trilogy of films entitled A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, the 2016 anthology film Rogue One, as well as many novels, comics, and video games in the Star Wars expanded universe.
Within the Star Wars narrative, the war was fought between the Galactic Empire and the Alliance to Restore the Republic. The foundations of the conflict are depicted during the events of the Clone Wars, a conflict depicted in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and Star Wars Rebels.
Revenge of the Sith
In Revenge of the Sith, the Galactic Republic was at war with the Separatists when the Republic's clones received Order 66, causing them to destroy the Jedi Order and overthrow the Republic, transforming it into the Galactic Empire while Palpatine turned Anakin Skywalker, by now rechristened Darth Vader, to the dark side. Lord Vader infiltrated a Separatist base and disabled all their battle droid armies, allowing the Empire to conquer the galaxy. The Empire then began construction on a new superweapon known as the Death Star.
With the formation of the Empire and the Great Jedi Purge now complete, a New Imperial Order was immediately enacted throughout the galaxy by the new Emperor. Those who were in hiding, tried to flee from, or directly opposed this martial law were subject to persecution or death. This signaled the start of a war that would last over two decades.
As seen in Rogue One, the first significant battle of the war was on the planet Scarif when a group of rebel soldiers led by Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, both from the Rebel Alliance captured the plans for the Death Star. The rebel team successfully transmitted the plans to the Alliance, but all of them died as a result of the pyrrhic victory.
A New Hope
In A New Hope, Darth Vader boards the ship that had the Death Star plans and captures Princess Leia. C-3PO and R2-D2 escape with the plans and a message to Obi-Wan Kenobi, appealing to him in the name of his service in the Clone Wars. They land on Tatooine, where Luke Skywalker purchases them and discovers the message. R2 goes to search for Kenobi, and Luke follows him, only to be attacked by Tusken Raiders. Kenobi rescues him and he and Luke decide to oppose the Empire after Luke's family was killed. They team up with 3PO, R2, Chewbacca, and Han Solo to rescue Leia, and infiltrate the Death Star. They rescue Leia, but Kenobi sacrifices his life while fighting Vader in a lightsaber duel. They escape to the rebels, where they assault the Death Star, which destroyed Alderaan. With help from Solo and Kenobi's spirit, Luke destroys the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin.
The Empire Strikes Back
In The Empire Strikes Back, the rebels are driven from their base on Yavin IV, and they take refuge on Hoth. Darth Vader dispatches probe droids across the galaxy. A probe droid lands on Hoth, and captures footage of the base, before Han Solo and Chewbacca destroy it. The Imperial Fleet attacks the base using walkers, and drive the rebels out of the base. The event is known as the Battle of Hoth. Vader vows to the Emperor to capture Luke Skywalker, who is doing Jedi training on Dagobah with Yoda. Vader pursues Han Solo across the galaxy, captures him and his friends, and then freezes him in carbonite. But, Lando Calrissian helps Solo's friends escape, as Luke comes to confront Vader. During the lightsaber duel, Vader tells Luke that he is his father, but Luke escapes to Lando and Leia aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Return of the Jedi
In Return of the Jedi, the Imperial and Alliance fleets clash as the second Death Star finishes construction. Solo, who had been rescued from Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett, and Leia fight Imperials on the forest moon of Endor below the Death Star, with the help of native Ewoks. Meanwhile, Luke surrenders himself to Vader and the Emperor, Darth Sidious. The rebels on Endor blow up a shield generator, allowing the Alliance fleet to assault the Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke re-arms himself with his lightsaber and faces Vader in a duel, severing Vader’s prosthetic arm and wins. Then, he declares himself a Jedi, discarding his lightsaber. Enraged, the Emperor then attempts to kill him using Force Lightning, but Vader, who couldn't watch his son die, turns back to the light side, and throws Sidious to his death, once again becoming Anakin Skywalker. As he dies, Luke escapes, just as Lando and Wedge Antilles blow up the Death Star, winning a critical victory for the Alliance.
The Force Awakens
In The Force Awakens, the planet of Jakku is seen littered with remains of the decisive battle that ended the destructive conflict. The Battle of Jakku was the Galactic Empire's last stand against the recently formed New Republic after they continued to fight their forces for some time of a year after the death of the Emperor. The battle saw the humiliating defeat of a large portion of the Imperial Navy, including the Ravager, a Super Star Destroyer. Following the Imperial loss, the New Republic sought a peace treaty with the Empire, one that would demilitarize their forces and relegate their remnants to a section of the Unknown Regions in Wild Space, along with Disarmament. This proved to be a grave error, as the Imperial remnants took the opportunity to rebuild themselves as the military junta known as the First Order. The First Order under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke would later come into conflict with the New Republic, as well as the resistance movement spearheaded by Leia Organa.
Material associated with the film The Force Awakens reveals additional details of the war and its aftermath taking place between the sixth and seventh episodes. The Empire continued to fight the New Republic forces for some time before suffering a final crippling defeat at the Battle of Jakku. A peace treaty was then worked out between the two powers that called for Disarmament of the Empire's remnants and its confinement within a designated region of space. However, some parts of the Imperial Remnant under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke, were reformed as the First Order and soon departed beyond charted space in order to continue its buildup.
Star Wars Battlefront II adds a canonical tale spanning the destruction of the second Death Star through the events of The Force Awakens. The story takes an Imperial perspective, following an elite squadron known as Inferno Squad, led by protagonist Iden Versio, as they help to execute Operation Cinder following the Emperor’s death. Operation: Cinder was carried out by the Galactic Empire as a means of devastating several Imperial planets in 4 ABY, only a few weeks following the Battle of Endor. The operation was part of the "Contingency", a plan devised by Emperor Palpatine to ensure that the Empire and its enemies did not outlive him should he perish. The plan was put into action following the Emperor's death during the Battle of Endor.
The Galactic Civil War continued after the Battle of Endor for many years in the Expanded Universe. With the destruction of the Galactic Empire's central leadership, the institution fell into warlordism, becoming disorganized and weak. Even so, the Empire remained a formidable threat to the New Republic, as it controlled much of the galaxy and still had access to a powerful military. In an effort to fully restore the galaxy to a peaceful state, the New Republic began a campaign of recapturing vital Imperial worlds, including Coruscant, the former capital of the Old Republic and the Galactic Empire alike. The Empire rose again several times under powerful leaders, such as Grand Admiral Thrawn and a series of clones of Palpatine, but it was always thwarted when those leaders were killed.
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, 2016. Lucasfilm, ISBN 9781405279987
- Rogue One (2016 film)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, 2015. Pablo Hidalgo ISBN 9781465438164
- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Novelisation, 1st edition hardcover, 2005. Matthew Woodring Stover, George Lucas, ISBN 0-7126-8427-1
- Heir to the Empire, 1st paperback edition, 1992. Timothy Zahn, ISBN 0-553-40471-7
- Dark Force Rising, 1st edition, 1992. Timothy Zahn, ISBN 0-553-08574-3
- Dark Empire, trade paperback, 1993. Tom Veitch, ISBN 1-56971-073-2
- Dark Empire II, trade paperback, 1st edition, 1995. Tom Veitch, ISBN 1-56971-119-4
- Empire's End, trade paperback, 1997. Tom Vietch, ISBN 1-56971-306-5
- The Last Command, 1st paperback edition, 1994. Timothy Zahn, ISBN 0-553-56492-7
- The Truce at Bakura, 1st paperback printing, 1994. Kathy Tyers, ISBN 0-553-56872-8