The Seeds of Revolution
Geopolitics of the Galaxy
The year is 15 BBY*. The journey to the current status quo began in 32 BBY when then-Senator Palpatine used the Trade Federation blockade of Naboo to maneuver himself deftly into the office of the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. Because of the punishment inflicted on the trade guilds in the wake of that crisis, tensions built in the following years until a former Jedi Master, Count Dooku, led a coalition of systems funded by various trade organizations (including the Trade Federation, the Techno Guild, and others) in a secession from the Republic.
The Separatists (formally the Confederacy of Independent Systems) began construction of a massive droid army. Debate raged in the Senate as to whether the Republic should start building its own standing army or rely, as it had since the Ruusan Reformations almost a thousand years earlier, on local planetary defense forces. The point was made moot when It was revealed that a mysterious benefactor had funded the creation of a gigantic clone army for the Republic, which was immediately fielded to rescue the captured Senator Padme Amidala and Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker from the Separatist leadership at Geonosis.
This marked the beginning of the Clone Wars, a period of military advancement and armament on both sides. The Republic fielded its first Star Destroyers, the 900-meter Victory I-class and the 1,137-meter Venator-class. The middle period of the conflict saw the introduction of the Imperator-class ship, later to become well-known and feared across the galaxy as the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. Starfighter design also advanced significantly in this time period, becoming more compact and incorporating built-in hyperdrives.
In 19 BBY, a force led by Separatist commander General Grievous struck at Coruscant via hidden hyperspace routes through the Deep Core, and Chancellor Palpatine was captured and held by Grievous on his flagship. Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker infiltrated the ship, rescuing the Chancellor and killing Dooku.
After this the Separatist forces were in disarray. The ruling council proved ineffective at leadership without the charismatic Count and only Grievous’s strategic skill held the CIS together. However, as part of a major offensive, Master Kenobi killed Grievous and most of the Confederate strongholds were defeated. The ruling council was executed by an unknown Jedi acting without official orders, leaving the former Separatist worlds to fend for themselves.
The Jedi, who had secretly been planning to take over the Republic and rule as an elite class of warrior mages, chose this time to strike. A small team led by Jedi Master Mace Windu attempted to assassinate Chancellor Palpatine, but, despite causing him grievous harm, were defeated by a rogue Jedi named Darth Vader, the only one to remain loyal to the Chancellor. At the same time, the Jedi who turned on their loyal clone battalions found themselves hopelessly outmatched and were gunned down.
The only remaining conspirators were those within the Jedi Temple itself. Vader led the 501st Clone Trooper battalion into the Temple and struck down those who remained. Jedi Skywalker, it is said, was one of the last defenders to be defeated as he attempted to kill younglings who had not yet been fully indoctrinated by the Order.
Following the Jedi Rebellion, the maimed Chancellor Palpatine, who because of the Separatist Crisis now had virtually limitless power, announced the reorganization of the Republic into the first Galactic Empire with himself at its head. A centralized power structure, he proclaimed, was necessary to prevent the divisiveness and corruption that had plagued the Republic in its dying days. The Jedi were declared outlaws and a general kill-on-sight order was issued. The only exception was the loyal Darth Vader.
The Empire was not content to rest on its laurels. The Outer Rim territories, nominally part of the Republic, had basically been self-governing for centuries, with a predictable amount of corruption and vice. The Imperial Navy immediately began a reconquest of the Outer Rim, reabsorbing it into the Empire by 17 BBY. There is still much lingering resentment in those parts toward the Empire, largely from the smugglers and crime lords who once held sway there.
Palpatine’s New Order was welcomed by many as a reprieve from the conflict and lawlessness that had been raging through the galaxy. Some, however, their number growing as the new Empire committed atrocity after atrocity, did not believe the official story. It was rumored that Vader was in fact a fallen Dark Jedi, and that he and Palpatine had engineered the destruction of the Jedi by the clone army, concocting the Jedi Rebellion as a mere excuse. Anakin Skywalker became a hero figure among these people, seen as a hero of the Old Republic’s values who had died defending the Jedi younglings from Vader and the 501st.
There are several Rebellious factions currently extant, although the only major one operating publicly is that of former Senator Garm bel Iblis.
*Before the Battle of Yavin. This is obviously not a dating system in use currently in-universe, but it makes cross-referencing with Wookieepedia easier. The currently-used dating system is either based on the Great Resynchronization, in which it is year 20, or Imperial Years, in which it is year 4. The latter is generally only used in official documents.