If you watched Revenge of the Sith, odds are, you probably want to know everything about Sheev Palpatine and when his training days as a Sith Lord began. If that’s the case, prepare to be mind-boggled by what this article reveals.
There is no true timetable as to when Palpatine became a Sith. But we know he was still young enough for his parents to influence his career choices when he joined the Sith Order under the tutelage of a master he initially had no interest in.
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What Year Did Palpatine Become a Sith?
While we can’t pinpoint the exact year Sheev Palpatine became a Sith, we can at least provide an educated guess. Born in 84 BBY, Palpatine developed Sith-like thoughts in his childhood, believing himself superior to everyone, including his family.
He sought influence. And being born to the noble House Palpatine on the Planet Naboo, he knew his father had the means to advance the family name into political spheres. However, Consinga Palpatine was too complacent to carry out Sheev’s wishes.
This led to Palpatine plotting to kill his father and his mother. His father for his lack of ambition and ignorance and his mother for enabling Consinga’s behavior.
Palpatine’s desire to kill his parents came when he was still a boy, around the same time he discovered the Sith Doctrine.
Here is where things get murky: Palpatine grew obsessed with the Sith and its teachings, even purchasing ancient Sith artifacts with his parents’ income.
He believed he would encounter a Sith Lord, but he reportedly “waited for years” for that Sith Lord to arrive.
We know that a prominent businessman came to Naboo, hoping to meet a young nobleman that once helped bail him out of trouble. Palpatine was that nobleman.
And while he initially didn’t care for this man known as Hego Damask, Palpatine’s interest piqued when Damask started talking about power. Consinga didn’t approve of this, and forbade his son from interacting with Damask.
When Palpatine was sent off-world with his university, the tension between the father and son reached its breaking point. Consinga went out with the family to collect Palpatine, seeking to force his son into studying on a distant planet, for a career he saw fit.
This incident served as the breaking point, prompting Palpatine to kill his entire family. Palpatine’s actions impressed Damask, who revealed his true identity as the Sith Lord Palpatine sought.
Despite the lack of an actual date, we know Palpatine, given the available information about him, became a Sith and started training during his university days.
Who Was Sith Master Before Palpatine?
Darth Bane instituted the Rule of Two a millennium before Palpatine brought about the fall of the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic. As the generations passed, the Sith grew stronger while operating in secret.
In 67 BBY, Darth Tenebrous served as the master of Darth Plagueis. And as the Rule of Two’s tradition goes, the apprentice must either kill their master or die trying. Star Wars Legends gives us insight into an incident that led to Darth Tenebrous’ demise.
While on planet Bal’demnic, Plagueis and Tenebrous investigated cortisone when an explosion occurred. Tenebrous contained the damage, but Plagueis, craving his master’s power, crushed Tenebrous with the cavern ceiling, becoming the galaxy’s only Dark Lord of the Sith.
Darth Plagueis continued the Rule of Two cycle, seeking out an apprentice he deemed worthy. He found Sheev Palpatine on Naboo.
And while Darth Plagueis did not sense the Force in Palpatine, he recalled one of Tenebrous’ prophecies that a future Sith Lord surrounded in a dark shadow would give the Sith control of the galaxy.
Despite Plagueis continuing the Rule of Two, he secretly did not condone all of Darth Bane’s master plan.
Uncomfortable with training his own potential killer, Plagueis sought immortality, which would end the Rule of Two, and then he would be free to rule the galaxy with Palpatine as his right-hand man.
Unfortunately for Plagueis, Palpatine had other ideas. Palpatine had his own apprentice he sought to christen a Sith Lord named Darth Maul. And for that reason, Plagueis had to go, prompting Palpatine to kill the master that taught him so much.
The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis
Palpatine recalled the story of Darth Plagueis’ downfall to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. Trying to sway Anakin to the dark side, Palpatine recalled Plagueis’ quest to achieve immortality via manipulation of midi-chlorians.
Palpatine stressed that Plagueis went so far with his midi-chlorian manipulation he used it to create life. After Anakin pressed Palpatine for more information, the Chancellor stated his famous line:
“The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.”
Through his experimentation, Plagueis became so powerful that he only feared losing the power he acquired. Plagueis shared his secrets with Palpatine, allowing the apprentice to grow stronger in his own dark side abilities before the inevitable occurred.
“Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew. Then his apprentice killed him in his sleep.”
Just as Plagueis saw his opportunity to kill Darth Tenebrous, Palpatine, once strong enough, killed Plagueis. When Palpatine’s story came to a close, he stated the irony that Plagueis could not save himself from death, even if he could save others.
With his interest piqued, Anakin asked Palpatine whether it was possible to learn such a power. To which the undercover Sith Lord replied: “Not from a Jedi.”
How Did Yoda Not Know Palpatine Was a Sith?
Neither Yoda nor the Jedi Order knew Palpatine was a Sith. Some fans may find this ironic, as Force-sensitives, especially Jedi Masters like Yoda, could easily sense one another’s presence.
Yoda could further sense whether a Jedi was in danger of falling to the dark side. It’s why he and the Jedi High Council initially denied Qui-Gon Jinn the right to train Anakin Skywalker.
Palpatine, who became so well-versed in the dark side, used a neutral technique called Force stealth to conceal his sensitivity from the Jedi. This allowed him to operate in secrecy while he advanced his political career from Senator to eventually, Supreme Chancellor.
During this time, Palpatine continued to hone his connection to the dark side, obsessively meditating at the Sith shrine located under the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
While the Force stealth successfully concealed Palpatine from Yoda, the Jedi Grand Master did not look further into the issue and it allowed the Sith Lord to continue operating in secret.
The Jedi built their temple on Coruscant over the Sith shrine to symbolize victory over the Order they believed extinct. This proved to be a fatal error in 19 BBY when Palpatine revealed his true identity as Darth Sidious, the Sith Lord controlling both sides of the Clone Wars.
There was one instance where Yoda sensed a disturbance in the Force before the events of The Phantom Menace during a meditation session. Here, he found himself surrounded in the light side while the dark side hung in the background.
However, there was a void concealed in this shadow that we later learned to be Palpatine. So while Yoda technically sensed something, he never sought to investigate the disturbance further.
Did the Galaxy Know Palpatine Was a Sith?
Palpatine proved at a young age that he was a cunning figure. Adored by civilians and senators, his agenda for bringing about the fall of the Republic became a reality in 19 BBY when he fooled the galaxy into believing the Jedi Order attempted to overthrow the current government.
With the Senate’s support, he proclaimed himself Emperor and transitioned the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire. Now that Palpatine achieved Darth Bane’s millennium-long dream of seeing the Sith rule, did the galaxy ever see through the Sith Lord?
In the Original Trilogy, we first met Darth Sidious as The Emperor. Following Palpatine’s transformation, he ceased his former identity and became Darth Sidious full-time. Despite this, few in the galaxy knew of Palpatine’s true identity.
We know that Anakin Skywalker saw through Palpatine as the Sith Lord who was controlling the Clone Wars. Besides Skywalker, who had since become Darth Vader, the royal guards also knew the Galactic Emperor was Darth Sidious.
Palpatine went to great lengths to hide his Sith identity. And since his new empire enforced his legislation, he simultaneously did not need to portray himself as the kind and somewhat clumsy old man that we saw in The Prequel Trilogy.
Sidious further made his home at the former Jedi Temple on Coruscant, now dubbed the Imperial Palace. He disappeared from the public eye, instead of seeking to further hone his connection to the dark side and seek the immortality his master could not.
Sion Fawkes has been covering Star Wars since January 2022, expanding his expertise in both Star Wars Canon and Legends. When not writing, you can find Sion in the gym or running trails. He also likes watching sports and listening to audiobooks.