One of the things that the prequel trilogy allowed us to see was the fact that the Jedi Order was still active decades before the Empire’s reign and that many Jedi could be found in different systems throughout the galaxy. Of course, the Jedi slowly decreased in number due to the Clone Wars. Still, the event that definitely led to the destruction of the Jedi Order was Order 66, which eliminated almost all of the Jedi throughout the galaxy. But how many Jedi were there before Order 66?
Kanan Jarrus told Ezra Bridger during the events of ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ that there were once around 10,000 Jedi all over the galaxy. As such, it was clear that there were many of them before Order 66 happened. And after Order 66, only at most a hundred Jedi survived and went into hiding.
The fact that there were around 10,000 Jedi scattered throughout the galaxy before Order 66 happened can be quite mind-boggling, as we didn’t know that there were many of them then. In that regard, this shows that the Order 66 was incredibly effective as the clone troopers quickly reduced that number to around 100 during the reign of the Empire.
Thousands of Jedi were scattered throughout the galaxy
During the events of the original trilogy, one of the things that we learned was that the Empire had destroyed the Jedi Order. Only a few Jedi were left in the galaxy, and most were in hiding because they feared what the Empire would do to them. And that was why, at the end of ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi,’ it was believed that Luke Skywalker was the only remaining Jedi in the galaxy.
But one of the things that we learned in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ was that the Jedi Order was still active and thriving more than 30 years before the Empire came into power.
In fact, there were a lot of Jedi active during that time because the Jedi Order on Coruscant had different Jedi that were scattered in various systems throughout the galaxy. We even saw the entire Jedi Council listening to Qui-Gon Jinn’s plea for Anakin Skywalker to be trained in the ways of the Force because he was seemingly the Chosen One.
Then, as the prequel trilogy progressed, we started seeing more and more Jedi. Many of them took part in the First Battle of Geonosis during the events of ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,’ which was the movie that started the Clone Wars. And during the Clone Wars, the Jedi were tasked with serving the Galactic Republic as the generals and commanders of the clone army.
We saw more Jedi during the events of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars,’ as most of these Jedi were stationed in different systems throughout the galaxy so that they could lead the clones in skirmishes against the Separatists and their droid armies. As such, we know that there were a lot of Jedi active during that time, and most of them fought during the war.
But we all know that Order 66 destroyed the Jedi Order and nearly wiped out the entire Jedi population. Still, we saw that there were survivors that could hide for years during the reign of the Empire. In fact, it was one of the survivors that confirmed how many Jedi were around before the destruction of the Jedi Order.
Kanan Jarrus, born Caleb Dume, told his new Padawan, Ezra Bridger, that there used to be around 10,000 Jedi scattered across the vast galaxy of the Star Wars universe. As such, there were a lot of Jedi back then, as these Jedi fought during the Clone Wars while they were leading clone armies of their own. And it was the fact that they were leading the clones that made them vulnerable to the betrayal of the clones during Order 66.
The Jedi constantly replenished their numbers
Another thing that needs to be considered during that time was the fact that the Jedi Council also made sure that the Jedi would be able to replenish their numbers quickly due to the war. In the past, Padawans took time to learn everything they needed to learn before becoming Jedi Knights. That explains why Obi-Wan Kenobi was already in his mid-20s when he became a Jedi Knight.
But because the Jedi lost a lot during the First Battle of Geonosis and needed more Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars, they sped up the training process of the younglings and Padawans. Younglings were allowed to become Padawans quite early. On the other hand, the Padawans were called to serve together with their masters during the Clone Wars.
So, in that regard, the Jedi Order was replenishing their numbers because the Jedi Council decided to speed the training process up to ensure that there would always be Jedi Knights available to replace those who fell in battle. That is why, even though a lot of Jedi died during the Clone Wars and before Order 66, the younger Jedi replaced them when they were elevated to the status of Jedi Knight.
Order 66 was around 99% effective
Of course, the events of Order 66 changed everything. After Palpatine had secured Anakin’s allegiance to the dark side of the Force when he helped him kill Jedi Master Mace Windu, the then-Supreme Chancellor of the Republic contacted the clone commanders and ordered them to execute Order 66, which was a hidden clone protocol that mandated the clones to kill any Jedi on sight.
This was a command that they couldn’t disobey because they were born with inhibitor chips that were placed in their heads to compel them to obey Order 66.
As such, the clones immediately shot any Jedi without hesitation at all. The fact that the Jedi were scattered all over the galaxy and led entire battalions and armies of clones against the Separatists made them vulnerable to Order 66. One Jedi had to lead an entire platoon of more than enough clones to kill a single Jedi Knight, or Master caught off-guard.
On top of that, Anakin Skywalker and a host of clones stormed the Jedi Temple and killed all of the Jedi there, including the younglings. As such, the Jedi Order was destroyed almost instantly, with most of the Jedi dying on the field when their clone troopers turned on them and shot them on sight.
Of course, there were around 100 survivors that were able to find a way to escape the clones during Order 66 and were able to live through the Jedi purge that happened after that. So, if that was the case, then that would mean that Order 66 was 99% effective in killing all of the Jedi. And the remaining 1% was up to Darth Vader and the Inquisitors to deal with.
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