History of the Darksaber

By Mitchell Lakin

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By DarthThemoc

Many fans consider the Darksaber as one of the most interesting weapons in Star Wars Canon but the latest episode of The Mandalorian makes it clear that this black blade is much more than that. “Whoever wields this sword has the right to lay claim to the Mandalorian throne”, explains Moff Gideon in Chapter 16, right before Din Djarin finds the Darksaber in his hands.

This, of course, led to some interesting tension between The Mandalorian and the sword’s seeker, Bo-Katan Kryze, as it was no longer Gideon who stood between her and the throne but Djarin, himself. Many of us are expecting some civil conflict in the coming season, thanks to the blade’s ancient rule of trial through combat. However, messy ownership of the revered sword has had a huge effect on the mindset of Bo-Katan and instead of leading to a rivalry between the two warriors, it reveals something much bigger. Before we can predict the future of the Darksaber, we must first look at its past.

Origins: Vizsla

The Legend of the Mandalorian Jedi breaks down how the hissing blade was constructed by the first and – we’re led to believe – only Mandalorian Jedi, Tarre Vizsla, who existed around a thousand years before the Battle of Yavin. If Disney’s Canon continues to take chunks from the vast pool of Legends content, this lines up with the tail end of the military war between the Jedi and Sith and just before Bane’s Rule of Two.

At some point between then and The Clone Wars, House Vizsla snatched the blade from the Jedi after breaking into their temple on Coruscant, putting into the hands of Tarre’s descendants. It was then that the Darksaber’s symbolic power could be won in combat against its wielder. With a culture built upon conflict and preserving strength, it makes sense that one of their greatest icons can only be claimed in this way.

However, during The Clone Wars, Mandalore had come out of many civil conflicts. In the end, almost all of the Mandalore system was controlled by a pacifist government led by Bo-Katan’s sister, Duchess Satine Kryze. If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like the Mandalorians at all, this is why Bo-Katan was allied with Pre Vizsla (the Darksaber’s current owner) as leader of the terrorist splinter group, Death Watch. The Duchess was not a warrior and the young Bo-Katan thought her sister had no place in governing their people. They believed Mandalore had become weak.

Sith Tyranny: Maul

Although their reasons may have been justifiable, Death Watch were still terrorists and their methods grew more and more questionable. One of these methods involved Maul. Anyone who’s aware of the former Sith assassin would know he’s not the best team player. Unfortunately for Death Watch, their leader did not know the cunning savagery of the old Nightbrother and went to form an alliance.

“I claim this sword and my rightful place as leader of Death Watch,” were the words of Maul as he fought and killed the Darksaber’s former owner, Pre Vizsla, soon after their agreement. This was the breaking point for Bo-Katan, who – seconds after the change in leadership – deemed all of Maul’s Mandalorians traitors for letting an outsider take the throne. Soon after, she fled to eventually take back Mandalore in The Clone Wars’ final season.

However, all of this was under the yellow eyes of Darth Sidious who fought and beat Maul on both Mandalore and Dathomir. The two Sith couldn’t care less for Mandalorian tradition so the blade sat in the Zabrak’s home world during the fall of The Republic and rise of The Empire. It wasn’t until the age of the Rebellion that Bo-Katan would see the Darksaber once more.

Atonement: Taking the Mantle

Over 15 years later, Maul brings Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren to his haunted home of Dathomir, where the Darksaber lay on a dusted pedestal. After recovering the blade, Sabine – former member of the Mandalorian House Wren – was reluctant to even discuss its origin. Doing so would mean confronting her House and family under the Empire’s grasp with the rest of Mandalore.

After learning of Tarre Vizsla, Sabine agreed to use the blade as a symbol to join the oppressed warriors with the forming Rebellion. Eventually, when returning to her home world, Sabine met Bo-Katan and attempted to give her the blade. Kryze turned down the offer, not for the reason suggested in The Mandalorian, but because she felt unworthy to lead after the events of Maul and The Clone Wars. However, as the fight against the Empire continued on Mandalore, Sabine showed Bo-Katan how many of the Houses were willing to follow her leadership. The former terrorist accepted the blade and led her people in what we think is up to the mysterious Great Purge, as detailed in The Mandalorian.

Predictions: A Coming Conflict

After taking a look at the Darksaber’s history, it’s clear that Bo-Katan’s character has gone through a big change. Her vow to lead the planet against the Empire, her fight against Maul, even her misguided ideals in Death Watch, all show that she is one of the most dedicated of her people. After Maul’s conquest and tyranny, she had realised her failure as a warrior and reluctantly took the Darksaber’s mantle as her own kind of redemption.

However, the two seasons of The Mandalorian have told us that didn’t quite go to plan. The fact that Moff Gideon had the Darksaber across both seasons proves that she, yet again, lost against the Empire. So, when Din Djarin offers her the blade at the end of Season 2, she refuses even though, under similar circumstances, she accepted it from Sabine. Unlike what the handcuffed Gideon suggests, this isn’t because of the ancient rule of trial by combat, I think it’s deeper than that. In the eyes of Bo-Katan, she had failed her people one too many times. Din Djarin’s victory against Gideon didn’t take the Darksaber away from her. Instead, it’s clear proof of what she feared all along, that she’s just not fit to lead. As such an avid follower of tradition, I believe this scene is her realising that – with or without the blade – she is not the strongest Mandalorian. Din Djarin is. My prediction is Bo-Katan won’t want to fight him for the throne but encourage him to travel back to Mandalore and take it for himself.

Quote References

Star Wars: The Mandalorian (2020) Disney+, 18th December. Available at: Disney+.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2013) Cartoon Network, 26th January. Available at: Disney+.

Image: Sabine Wren – Darksaber, by DarthTemoc, Deviant Art

https://www.deviantart.com/darthtemoc/art/Sabine-Wren-Darksaber-674525503