The man named Sheev Palpatine, who is also known by his Sith Lord name Darth Sidious, is the character that has his fingerprints all over the storyline of Star Wars’ Skywalker Saga as he has always been the man working behind the scenes to manipulate the events of the Republic in preparation for the fall of the Jedi Order and the rise of the Galactic Empire. In that regard, he operated secretly for decades until he was ready to reveal himself to the Jedi as the enemy that had been eluding them the entire time. But how did he even become a Sith Lord?
It was never revealed how or when Palpatine became as Sith Lord. The only thing we know is that Darth Plagueis discovered him quite early in his life and started training and grooming him, all while Palpatine ascended through the political ranks of Naboo.
Secrecy, deception, and manipulation were the specialties of Palpatine as a Sith Lord because no one could tell what his true nature was. He was an evil, conniving, and cunning man that knew how to make things work in his favor. Of course, he learned a great deal from his master, Darth Plagueis, before he killed him and became the new master. And that is why we are here to look at how Palpatine rose to become a Sith Lord himself.
Darth Plagueis indoctrinated Palpatine early
One of the things that we know about the world of Star Wars is that the Jedi Order tends to sense children who are strong in the Force. They then asked their parents if they could take the kids back to Coruscant, where they would be trained in the ways of the Force at a very early age.
This was common in planets and systems that were closer to Coruscant. But for some reason, the Sith Lords were seemingly capable of hiding their presence from the Jedi, who cannot sense them using the Force.
For years, Darth Plagueis worked as a Sith Lord that tried to uncover the secrets of immortality through the dark side of the Force. And it was during this time that he came across a young Force-sensitive boy named Sheev Palpatine.
The truth is that the origins of Palpatine as a Sith Lord were guarded secrets that he never told anyone, even Darth Vader. In fact, according to the canon storyline, no one knew how he became a Sith Lord or when Plagueis started training him. The only thing that we know is that Plagueis would have been able to sense him quite early because the Jedi Order would have sensed Palpatine’s sensitivity to the Force because he lived on the Mid Rim planet called Naboo and was a member of a political and noble family on that planet.
Palpatine was born 84 years before the Battle of Yavin and came from a prominent family on Naboo. As such, he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. But somewhere along the way, while he was growing up in the cultured city of Theed, he became Darth Plagueis’ secret apprentice. And while training as the Sith Lord’s apprentice, Palpatine continued his life on Naboo and was able to form political connections with some of the most prominent people on that planet.
While the secrets behind how he became a Sith are still unknown and will probably be revealed in a future storyline, Palpatine became a Sith apprentice when he rose as a politician on Naboo. He eventually became a Sith Lord called Darth Sidious, as he and Plagueis continued their secret mission of rising up through the ranks of the galaxy’s political world while learning how to become immortal.
As a young man, Palpatine traveled all over the galaxy in search of doctrines and artworks related to the dark side. This allowed him and Plagueis to bolster their knowledge of the dark side without the Jedi Order sensing what they were doing. And throughout his travels, he formed political relationships with different people while also spreading his power in secret through the connections that he formed. At the same time, he was still the Sith apprentice to Plagueis.
Plagueis taught Palpatine everything he knew about the dark side of the Force. That was why Palpatine knew about the fact that his master could use the Midi-chlorians to create life. And this was the power that Plagueis used to prevent people from dying, although this could have been an embellished story that Palpatine created to convince Anakin Skywalker to dive into the dark side of the Force.
Nevertheless, both Palpatine and Plagueis believed that the secrets of immortality were a combination of the Force and advanced science. That was why they conducted unnatural experiments that allowed them to learn more about the secrets of immortality. Of course, Palpatine eventually learned that the secret his master uncovered was related to the ability to transfer one’s essence into another living vessel, thus allowing the person to live on indefinitely through different bodies that were younger and stronger.
Of course, after Palpatine had already grown strong enough in the dark side of the Force and no longer had any use for his master, he murdered him, as this was the mandate of the Rule of Two, which required the apprentice to betray the master and take over his position.
When did Palpatine kill Darth Plagueis?
We know that the Sith Lords operated for hundreds of years due to the mandates of the Rule of Two. In that regard, no one suspected that Palpatine and Plagueis were both Sith Lords, as they were able to operate in secret for decades. And it was during that time that they worked together to uncover the secrets of immortality while Palpatine was ordered by his master to rise up through the political ranks in preparation for the downfall of the Jedi Order.
Of course, by the time Palpatine had been named Supreme Chancellor of the Republic during the events of ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,’ he was already the Sith master. That means he had already killed Darth Plagueis before he rose up in power and took Darth Maul as an apprentice.
In the Legends side of Star Wars, Palpatine was still the apprentice when he took Maul as his apprentice. But he was already preparing for his impending rise as the Sith master. After he became the Supreme Chancellor, he and Plagueis celebrated. Palpatine eventually killed his own master while Plagueis was sleeping, and that was how he was able to rise up as the new Sith master.
But, the canon storyline of how Palpatine became the master is quite confusing. In ‘Star Wars: Secret of the Sith,’ a canon novel, Palpatine’s rise to power is detailed from his perspective. Nevertheless, it was never clear when he killed Plagueis. An excerpt from the book reads:
“After centuries in the shadows, the Sith were poised to emerge once more. As a dark apprentice, I sensed that the Galactic Republic was in disarray. Its delegates held no interest in the common good. They would be easy targets for my influence. Serving as a senator, I manipulated their greed in my favor. With each new act of legislation, I rose through their ranks. Total control of the galaxy’s governing body drew ever closer. But ascension in the Senate would not be enough. My master, Darth Plagueis, had served his purpose. I struck him down, claiming his place as the one true master of the Sith.”‘Star Wars: Secret of the Sith’
In that regard, it was clear that Palpatine killed his master even before he became the Supreme Chancellor. The excerpt implies that he killed Plagueis while rising to power as a senator. As such, it is possible that he decided to get rid of Plagueis and become the new master after he became a senator.
After all, this should be consistent with the fact that Darth Maul was an apprentice that he indoctrinated into the Sith Order when he was already the master, as the Rule of Two would have prevented him from taking an apprentice before he became the master.
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