The embodiment of evil in the Star Wars world has always been Sheev Palpatine, the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic before he transitioned into the emperor that ruled the Empire with an iron fist for more than two decades. Of course, we know that Palpatine was Darth Sidious, the Sith Lord who orchestrated the entire plot to destroy the Jedi Order. Because he kept himself hidden for decades, Palpatine could fool the strongest Jedi Masters in the galaxy. But was Palpatine ever a Jedi?
It is unlikely that Palpatine was ever a Jedi at any point in his life. We know that he was Darth Plagueis’s apprentice before becoming the Sith master. However, his life before he became a Sith Lord is still shrouded in mystery. That means that it is unlikely that he was a Jedi in the past.
One of the things that the canon part of Star Wars has been keeping a secret for a while is Palpatine’s backstory. In the Legends, his backstory is told in great detail. But the same can’t be said about his canon counterpart because not even the closest people to Palpatine knew his past and origins. So, with that said, let’s look at the theory of Palpatine starting as a Jedi before becoming a Sith Lord.
Palpatine’s knowledge of the Jedi is deep
If there’s one thing we know about the Star Wars world, it’s that one man orchestrated the events of all of the nine mainline movies. We are talking about the very embodiment of the dark side of the Force throughout the mainline movies. He was Sheev Palpatine, or the Sith Lord called Darth Sidious.
Throughout the nine Star Wars movies, Sidious had his hands on the different things that happened in the vast galaxy. He was a master manipulator with deception skills that allowed him to hide from the Jedi Order for decades before he finally revealed himself as a Sith Lord when things were already too late for the Jedi to do something. As such, he could destroy the Jedi Order through his schemes and machinations while obtaining ultimate power as the emperor of the entire galaxy.
But while we do know that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, some fans theorized that he may have been a Jedi at one point in the past. Sure enough, this doesn’t make sense to the most avid fan of Star Wars because some Jedi Order members would have recognized him if he was a Jedi in the past. For instance, Yoda handled Younglings’ training for 800 years, which means that all of the Jedi that started their journey in the Jedi Temple were familiar to him.
Still, the theory about Palpatine possibly being a Jedi before he became a Sith Lord may make sense to some people once we start explaining the logic behind this theory. And please bear with us while we try to make sense of it.
One of the things that we know is that Palpatine was very knowledgeable about the Jedi and the different things that were only known by the Jedi Masters. When Anakin and Palpatine were having a private conversation during the events of ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,’ the Supreme Chancellor shared his knowledge about the Force as the young Skywalker was baffled by the fact that this old man knew a lot about the Force.
At one point during the conversation, Palpatine spoke about the teachings of the Jedi to Anakin as he was implying that he knew what the Jedi taught to the different younglings and Padawans that ended up becoming Jedi Knights. And this led to Palpatine talking about the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Sith legend that the Jedi Order didn’t know anything about.
In that regard, Palpatine had already shared with Anakin that he knew the things that only the Jedi should know. He even made Anakin see that his knowledge of the Force was beyond what the Jedi were known to have. As such, he might have learned about the teachings of the Jedi from a Jedi in the past before he became a Sith Lord.
One of the things that we know about the Sith is that they often try to corrupt powerful Jedi and lead them to the dark side of the Force so that they could be their new Sith apprentices. That was what Palpatine did to Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker. Of course, this makes sense because he didn’t have to train them in the basics of using the Force and lightsaber training fundamentals. Instead, the only thing that he needed to teach them was the nature of the dark side of the Force and how to harness this power.
So, if Palpatine was a Jedi in the past, Darth Plagueis might have found him and corrupted him, similar to how Palpatine ended up corrupting other Jedi to the dark side of the Force. This probably explains why Palpatine was so knowledgeable about the Jedi.
But what also needs to be considered here is that the Rule of Two was purposely put in place to ensure that the Sith Lords could study and learn more about their enemies, the Jedi Order, for a thousand years while plotting and scheming against them. During that period, it may have been possible that the Sith Lords could gain as much knowledge about the Jedi as needed.
And that means that such knowledge was passed on from one generation to another until Plagueis passed his knowledge on to Palpatine, who claimed that his master taught everything he knew to him.
That would mean that Palpatine’s knowledge of the Jedi could be something that he learned from the 1,000 years of plotting of the Sith Lords. And because Plagueis was known to be more of a scholar than a true dark lord, it wouldn’t be too impossible for someone like him to know everything the Jedi taught their younglings and Padawans.
The Jedi were known to have secret Padawans
Another reason some fans theorized that Palpatine may have been a Sith Lord in the past is that some Jedi were known to keep secret Padawans that never went through the normal training that most Padawans go through in the Jedi Temple. After all, Anakin was the product of an unconventional training method that bypassed the usual training that most Jedi received in the Jedi Temple when they were still young.
In ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars,’ it was shown that Asajj Ventress wasn’t always evil. She started as a Padawan to a Jedi named Ky Narec, who sensed her strength in the Force. Narec eventually took Ventress in as his apprentice as she was set to become a Jedi. However, no one in the Jedi Order knew that Narec had an apprentice because not even the Jedi Council was aware that Ventress used to be a Padawan. And Narec’s death made it impossible for any of the Jedi to learn that he used to have Ventress as his apprentice.
It is likely that Ky Narec wasn’t an outlier in terms of taking in secret apprentices that were trained to be a Jedi. Someone in the past might have discovered Palpatine’s strength in the Force and actually trained him in the ways of the Jedi from an early age so that he may eventually become a Jedi Knight himself. And Plagueis must have been the one who turned Palpatine to the dark side and killed his former Jedi Master.
Palpatine’s backstory is still shrouded in mystery
Whatever the case may be, the thing that we know about Palpatine is that we don’t know anything about his past except for the fact that he was born to an affluent and influential family in Naboo, where he steadily rose to power as a senator, all while keeping his status as a Sith Lord a secret.
Sometime before he became a senator, it is possible that he was an apprentice to a Jedi and was trained in the ways of the Force by this very same Jedi. But we can’t say whether that is the case because Palpatine’s backstory is still shrouded in mystery.
But one thing that needs to be said here is that he was a public figure from an affluent family in Naboo. So, if a Jedi trained him quite early, this would have become public knowledge to the people of Naboo and the Jedi Order. That’s why we are leaning toward the possibility that he was never a Jedi at all, as only the Sith can keep themselves hidden in plain sight when training their apprentices in the ways of the dark side of the Force.
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