Wednesday, May 28, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 15: House Palpatine vs. House Amidala

Who knows how it began?  Suffice to say, it did.  It was by far the ugliest political rivalry in Naboo history, and it mired the whole galaxy, eventually, in its snare.

It was the feud between the houses of Palpatine and Amidala.  As with any feud, lies and truths intermingled freely.  In this instance, the lies got wildly out of control.  The task of historian rarely has such a challenge as this one, but as always, I've got to try.

Both were privileged members of the elite for generations, well before and after anyone really cared about either one.  Each had a long tradition of selection to serve in the Senate of the Old Republic.  It's said things became really nasty when one of them finally came into contention for the role of chancellor.  This was in the final days of the Old Republic, you'll understand, before the days of the Galactic Empire, before the rise of the New Republic and its many reforms.

The only piece of the record I'm willing to concede is that outgoing chancellor Valorum had lost all support from his colleagues.  There was a vote of no confidence held against him, and thusly he found himself forcibly removed from the highest political office in that body.  The matter of his successor was one of the most hotly-debated matters ever remarked upon in the annals.

That is where the dispute between the houses truly warmed up.  Naturally, both wanted their current representatives to be considered for nomination.  Neither, it seems, felt particularly constrained as to what they would say during the campaign, words that would echo throughout history, distortions that came to define them both and who really knows what else.

I have found no proof that Padme Amidala ever served as queen of Naboo, but that's one of the clearest parts of the tradition.  The other is that the Palpatine of that time (this house never seemed to bother with individual names, or they were all lost to time) was also a dark lord of the Sith.  Let me explain that one a little more.  There was once a thriving religion dedicated to what it called the Force.  Many of its key figures we still remember today, though we no longer believe any of it was true.  A foundation myth like any other.  That Palpatine became famous enough to have been included in the old stories is certainly proof that the feud had incredible permeating power.  It's likely that House Amidala first put forth that Palpatine was a Sith, which was the devious flipside of the more altruistic Jedi adherents, holy warriors who helped pave the way for a unifying savior known as Darth Vader ("dark father") who is still regarded as the founder of our world.

It's also possible that House Palpatine itself first offered its representative as a member of the Force religion.  The link to Darth Vader was always strong one way or another.  Depending on the interpretation it's either a positive or negative one.

What's certainly not positive is that Palpatine's link to the Sith became traditionally associated with the anonymous emperor of the Empire, who secretly brought about the destruction of the Old Republic and held the galaxy in a tyrannical grip for two decades.  Various attempts have been made over the years to describe the transitions between Republic and Empire and back again differently, but none of them has ever stuck.

Such is the clinging power of slander.  The feud between these houses serves as a famous cautionary tale, or should, or will, once I help set the record straight.  That's exactly what I intend to do.  I've only scratched the surface, and I intend to continue my research.  I will continue to report my findings.

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