Star Wars Timeline Before The Phantom Menace Explained

Summary

  • Two new Star Wars projects, The Acolyte and Dawn of the Jedi, will explore eras predating The Phantom Menace.
  • As Star Wars begins to move further back in the timeline, understanding the galaxy’s history is becoming more and more important.
  • There are countless compelling stories to be told in the time before The Phantom Menace, so Star Wars’ renewed exploration of those times is truly exciting.



Though the Skywalker saga chronologically began with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, there were countless major events that affected the galaxy before the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The Star Wars timeline largely centers around the Star Wars movies, as even the calendar is divided by the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope. While the Skywalker saga may be the focus, there’s a wealth of rich lore that occurred before the first film. Understanding the current state of the Star Wars timeline before The Phantom Menace can shed light on upcoming Star Wars shows and movies.

Two new Star Wars projects, The Acolyte and Dawn of the Jedi, will be heading further into the timeline’s past than anything the franchise has depicted on-screen to date. The Acolyte will be set during the High Republic era, a time when the Jedi Order was at its absolute best, over 100 years before The Phantom Menace. Meanwhile, Dawn of the Jedi is set to depict the origins of the entire Jedi Order, about 25,000 years before the prequel trilogy. Since the franchise is heading into uncharted live-action territory, understanding the events that shaped those eras will be crucial to the future of Star Wars.


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8 Dawn Of The Jedi

c. 25,000 BBY

James Mangold and the Prime Jedi.

Dawn of the Jedi is the oldest era of the Star Wars canon timeline, confirmed to take place over 25,000 years in the past. This time jump is taken directly from Ben Kenobi in A New Hope, who told Luke Skywalker that “For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic.Many legendary events took place during this time period, including the birth of the Mortis gods: the Father, the Son, and the Daughter, each Force wielder representing the balance, the dark, and the light respectively.


After the discovery of hyperspace travel around 30,000 BBY, the galaxy was open to travelers like never before, eventually leading to the formation of the Galactic Republic around 25,000 BBY. The Jedi Order also began on Ahch-To around this time, with the Prime Jedi acting as its first member. At that time, the Order was dedicated more to preserving the balance between light and dark, and to preserving peace and justice. The Jedi then ventured out into the wider galaxy, eventually becoming the guardians of the Galactic Republic. This was an era of great expansion and discovery that shaped the galaxy’s future.

7 The Old Republic

c. 25,000 – c. 1,000 BBY


The Old Republic would continue to exist for approximately 24,000 years, with the Jedi Order defending its people during that time. Many planets continued to join the growing Republic, and the Jedi faced many new enemies. Their most dangerous enemy arose during a schism called the Hundred-Year Darkness, when a rogue Jedi broke away from the Order and taught his followers to use the dark side. These dark Jedi became known as the Sith, and after being defeated and exiled into unknown space, the Sith established their homeworld on Moraband. They became the sworn enemy of the Jedi, taking many forms throughout the ages.

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6 The Rise Of The Sith

c. 5,000 BBY

The Sith would continue to grow and evolve over time, becoming an Empire that waged war against the Jedi, including the Great Hyperspace War around 5,000 BBY. The Republic capital of Coruscant fell during this time, allowing the Sith to build a dark side shrine on the planet, though the Jedi eventually reclaimed the world. Around 3966 BBY, the Jedi attacked the Sith on Malachor, who were attempting to build a massive battle station, and every Force wielder ended up being petrified in the process. This became known as the Great Scourge of Malachor, and all Jedi were forbidden from returning.

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5 The Fall Of The Old Republic

c. 1,000 BBY

The climactic battle between the Jedi and Sith of old came to a head during the Jedi-Sith War, leading to the period known as the Dark Age, which saw the collapse of the old Galactic Republic. The war devastated the Jedi, as well as much of the known galaxy, and the Mandalorians took advantage of the chaos to sneak inside the Jedi Temple and steal the Darksaber. However, the war also saw the Sith reduced to a single survivor, the Sith Lord Darth Bane. Rather than rebuild the Sith as they were, Bane decided to implement the Rule of Two, and the Sith went into hiding.


4 An Era Of Peace In The Reorganized Galactic Republic

1,032 – 32 BBY

Star Wars New Republic Senate chamber room

With the end of the Jedi-Sith War around 1032 BBY, the galaxy was reorganized into a new Galactic Republic, entering an era of long-lasting peace. Unknown to the Jedi, Darth Bane had set the Grand Plan in motion, with the Sith working behind the scenes to one day conquer the Republic from within. The Jedi Temple on Coruscant, built over the old Sith shrine, began serving as the new headquarters for the entire Jedi Order. Around 1014 BBY, the Jedi Temple on Ilum was built, where Jedi younglings would venture to gain their kyber crystals to build their own lightsabers.

3 The High Republic

c. 500 – c. 100 BBY


The High Republic is currently separated into two phases, with Phase II taking place in 382 BBY. After centuries of rebuilding, the galaxy entered a golden age during the High Republic era, where the Jedi and the Republic were in their absolute prime. This era saw the Jedi aid explorers in expanding the hyperspace routes, making travel and communication more efficient and unlocking the previously isolated Outer Rim. The main antagonists to the Jedi at this time were the Path of the Open Hand, a cult that stood firmly against any use of the Force, by both dark and light side users.

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Phase I was then set in 232 BBY, after the Jedi and Pathfinders’ efforts to map the hyperspace lanes came to fruition. To celebrate the prosperity the Republic enjoyed, the Starlight Beacon, a mobile outpost in space, was created. Upon completion of the Starlight Beacon, the Nihil, a notorious group of marauders, instigated the Great Hyperspace Disaster and became one of the Jedi Order’s greatest threats. Though the Nihil were eventually driven into the unknown, they left a lasting mark on the galaxy, and the Republic’s golden age would later come to an end.

Now, the end of the High Republic era is set to be depicted in The Acolyte. One of the reasons the High Republic era was a time of such peace and prosperity is because the Jedi believed the Sith to be extinct after the Jedi-Sith War. That was a false belief, though, as the Sith had simply been in hiding the entire time, secretly building their strength and working towards their ultimate goal: the destruction of the Jedi. The Acolyte will seemingly fit into the Sith’s plans at that time, as it promises to follow mysterious dark side users and a rash of Jedi killings.


Star Wars the Acolyte Poster Showing a Sith Standing Atop a Cliff Looking at the Sunrise

The Acolyte

The Acolyte is a television series set in the Star Wars universe at the end of the High Republic Era, where both the Jedi and the Galactic Empire were at the height of their influence. This sci-fi thriller sees a former Padawan reunite with her former Jedi Master as they investigate several crimes – all leading to darkness erupting from beneath the surface and preparing to bring about the end of the High Republic.

Cast
Dafne Keen , Lee Jung-jae , Amandla Stenberg , Jodie Turner-Smith , Joonas Suotamo , Carrie-Anne Moss , Margarita Levieva , Charlie Barnett , Dean-Charles Chapman

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Showrunner
Leslye Headland

2 Decline Of The Republic And The Jedi Order

c. 100 – 32 BBY

The end of the High Republic era saw the beginning of a gradual decline for both the Republic and the Jedi Order. The Jedi then became complacent, unflexible, and more detached from the people of the galaxy, causing many to view them as blind servants of a corrupt Senate. As this corruption festered, the Sith saw that their chance had come and set their plan to defeat the Jedi and overthrow the Republic into motion. It was at this time that Count Dooku, after being manipulated by Darth Sidious, left the Order and began aiding the Sith Lord in secret to bring a new order to the galaxy.


Star Wars Timeline Before The Phantom Menace

Era

Year

Dawn of the Jedi

c. 25,000 BBY

The Old Republic

c. 25,000 – c. 1,000 BBY

Rise of the Sith

c. 5,000 BBY

Fall of the Old Republic

c. 1,000 BBY

Peace in the Republic

1,032 – 32 BBY

High Republic

c. 500 – c. 100 BBY

Decline of the Republic and Jedi Order

c. 100 – 32 BBY


The events of John Jackson Miller’s novel, “Star Wars: The Living Force,” also took place during this time, just one year prior to The Phantom Menace. The novel follows the Jedi Council on a visit to the Kwenn outpost, which was established during the High Republic era and was set to be decommissioned. During their visit, the Council was attacked by a group of local pirates that had taken over in the Jedi’s absence. While The Living Force does redeem the Jedi Council, it also highlighted many of the issues that would later lead to its destruction.

Buy John Jackson Miller’s Star Wars: The Living Force on Amazon

1 The Phantom Menace

32 BBY


In 32 BBY, after 1,000 years in hiding, the Sith fully revealed themselves to the Jedi. Darth Sidious, publicly known as Senator Sheev Palpatine, and his apprentice, Darth Maul, orchestrated the invasion of his home planet Naboo by the Trade Federation. Though Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi attempted to thwart these plans, Palpatine used the crisis to manipulate the senate into electing him Supreme Chancellor. Now secure in office, Palpatine could begin his plans to destroy the Jedi and reorganize the Republic into the Galactic Empire that would later rise in Star Wars.

Though The Phantom Menace was originally created as the start of the Skywalker saga it has since become the culmination of thousands of years of rich history. The timeline prior to the movie stands as a testament of how impressive and expansive Star Wars is as a franchise. Every single era of those 25,000 years is filled with compelling stories and characters. The fact that Star Wars is now exploring the time before The Phantom Menace in greater detail, and in live-action, is one of the most exciting aspects of the entire galaxy.


Star_Wars_Episode_I_The_Phantom_menace movie poster

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Release Date
May 19, 1999

Cast
Ewan McGregor , Liam Neeson , Natalie Portman , Jake Lloyd , Ahmed Best , Ian McDiarmid , Anthony Daniels , Kenny Baker , Pernilla August , Frank Oz , Ray Park , Samuel L. Jackson

Runtime
133 minutes

Budget
$115 Million