A History Of The Darksaber And Why It Matters To The Future Of 'Star Wars'

Without spoiling where it appears, there's been a recent resurgence of interest in the black lightsaber known as the Darksaber in the Star Wars lore. So we're here to break down the Darksaber's significance and give you some a deep dive into everything you need to understand about why this weapon is important, why its recent appearance was nothing short of jaw-dropping, and how it could factor in to future Star Wars projects.Spoilers for The Mandalorian season one finale ahead.The Mandalorian Darksaber

If you're wondering what the heck that weapon is that Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon wields in the final shots of the first season of The Mandalorian, we've got you covered.

Storied History

The Darksaber is one of a kind and it has a long history, stretching back millennia. Before the formation of the Republic, Mandalorians were a society of warriors that were obsessed with conquest. Since Mandalore is in the Outer Rim, it was quite a while before their conquering took them into the confines of the Republic. Naturally, the Jedi stepped in to stop this. During these conflicts with the Jedi, Mandalorians developed their way of life and their armor and weapons were built specifically to counter the abilities of a Jedi.The conflict between Mandos and the Jedi waxed and waned over the years and during one of the stretches of relative peace, a Mandalorian was taken to the Jedi temple to train as a Jedi. Tarre Vizsla was his name, and he was the first Mandalorian to become a Jedi. He built the infamous Darksaber during his training. During his time as a Jedi, Vizsla found time to take control of Mandalore and rule it, making the Darksaber a symbol of power to the Mandalorian people.When he passed away, the Jedi took possession of his black saber and kept it in the Jedi temple for safekeeping. That didn't sit well with the Mandalorians of Clan Vizsla, who had come to revere it, and they led a raiding party to steal it. Here is Journeyman Protector Fenn Rau telling the story in Star Wars Rebels:

Symbol of Power

The Darksaber remained a symbol of power for those who would unite the houses and clans of Mandalore for ages. It was a coveted blade that could only transfer ownership in trials of combat. Over the millennia, it changed hands as the rulers of Mandalore changed until we catch up with it during the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. A descendent of the Jedi Mandalorian, Pre Vizsla (voiced by Jon Favreau), found himself in possession of the Darksaber. In the years prior to the Clone Wars, Mandalore underwent upheaval and a pacifist government, led by the Duchess Satine of House Kryze, prevailed in the conflict. Pre Vizsla was the head of Death Watch, a splinter group of violent Mandalorians who wanted to revert the government of Mandalore back to its warrior roots. He tried allying with Count Dooku and the Separatists for a time, but his efforts were stymied by the Jedi. Then, Pre Vizsla teamed with the former Sith Lord Maul to wrest control of the planet back. Vizsla thought it would be a good idea to double-cross Maul and found himself quickly without a head. 

It's at this point that Maul took control of Death Watch and Mandalore itself. He kept control for a time, though there's a missing part of the story that we'll have to wait until February to see. Star Wars: The Clone Wars promises to offer us the siege of Mandalore when it returns on Disney+.

Maul’s Prize

Maul kept possession of the fabled blade until it was taken by Sabine Wren on the show Star Wars Rebels. Sabine was a young Mandalorian who grew up on Mandalore during the Imperial occupation of the planet and later joined up with Phoenix Squadron, a rebel cell led by Hera Syndulla and the Jedi Kannan Jarrus.For her part, Sabine used the Darksaber to strike back at the Imperial-backed Mandalorians who controlled the planet and freed it from the Empire in the months leading up to the battle of Yavin. Since the Darksaber was a symbol of the right to rule the Mandalorian people and Sabine was not capable of uniting the clans on her own, she sought the help of Bo Katan. Our first introduction to Bo Katan was on The Clone Wars. She was a member of Pre Vizsla's Death Watch, but left that group after Maul took control of it. For the rest of the war, she fought against Maul and was able to become leader of Mandalore for a short time after. Unfortunately, she was not sympathetic to the Empire and they installed an Imperial loyalist as the leader of Mandalore and Bo Katan spent many years in exile and even on the run. As the last rightful leader of Mandalore, she was the perfect person to unite the clans and strike back against the Empire.

This was the last time we saw the Darksaber on the timeline. This scene takes place in the months before the Battle of Yavin. The clans were united under Bo Katan and they joined the fight against the Empire, but what happened next has been a mystery until The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian

Seeing the Darksaber at the end of the final episode of season one was a shock for fans that follow the lore of Star Wars. It being in the hands of Moff Gideon raises so many questions and implications. He talks earlier in the episode about the purge and the "Night of a Thousand Tears." Is this where he gained it? Is Bo Katan dead? Or can she enter the world of live action and work to take the saber back? Or does this represent Din Djarrin's destiny to fulfill in future seasons of The Mandalorian? Will he take up the Darksaber and unite what's left of the Mandalorian warriors?Presumably, season two will give us more answers, both about how Moff Gideon took possession of the saber and who might be coming back to take it as the rightful leader of Mandalore. Season two of The Mandalorian debuts on Disney+ in Fall 2020.