- "I want you to go to the Jedi Temple. We will catch them off balance. Do what must be done, Lord Vader. Do not hesitate, show no mercy."
- ―Darth Sidious[src]
Operation: Knightfall, which took place in 19 BBY immediately before the end of the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, was one of the first conflicts of the Great Jedi Purge. After assisting in the death of Jedi Master Mace Windu and submitting to Dark Lord of the Sith and Supreme Chancellor of the Republic Palpatine's teachings, the newly anointed Darth Vader—formerly a Jedi Knight—and the clone troopers of the 501st Legion stormed the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, initiating a massacre concurrent with the activation of Order 66, a galaxy-wide hunt of the Jedi by their former clone comrades. During this attack, most of the Jedi within the Temple were killed and the building itself was set ablaze.
At the conclusion of the fighting, Vader altered a beacon that alerted Jedi across the galaxy—the ones that had not already fallen to the clones in their ranks—that the Clone Wars were over and ordered them back to the Temple, into the trap. All of the Jedi who complied with the beacon's mandate were killed by squads of clones, some of whom were disguised as Jedi themselves, left as a garrison by Vader. To prevent more deaths, two surviving Jedi Masters, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, infiltrated the Temple and altered the beacon, changing the message to warn any surviving Jedi to flee and go into hiding. After this battle, the bodies of the slain Jedi were publicly burned in a massive pyre in front of the Jedi Temple Public Entrance. �
- Windu: "In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you're under arrest, Chancellor."
- Palpatine: "Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?"
- Windu: "The Senate will decide your fate."
- Palpatine: "I am the Senate."
- Windu: "Not yet."
- —Mace Windu and Palpatine[src]
Since their first encounter, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (secretly Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious) had an interest in Anakin Skywalker, a boy intent on learning the Jedi ways. He positioned himself as a mentor and father figure to the boy in order to influence his decisions. Skywalker trusted Palpatine absolutely, confiding in him his greatest secrets, such as his slaughtering Tusken Raiders on Tatooine, his relationship with Senator Padmé Amidala, her pregnancy with his child, and his visions of her dying in childbirth. Near the end of the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems in 19 BBY, Palpatine invited Skywalker to a performance of Squid Lake by the Mon Calamari Ballet in the Galaxies Opera House. There he recited to Skywalker the The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, telling him that there were Sith techniques that he could learn to save Amidala. Later, Palpatine admitted to Skywalker that he knew how to utilize the dark side of the Force and Skywalker realized that he was actually a Sith Lord. The Jedi Knight was shocked by this revelation and he fled to the Jedi Temple to inform Jedi Master Mace Windu, who immediately took a squad of Masters to apprehend him.
In his Office on Coruscant, Sidious was confronted by Windu's group and all but Windu were quickly killed by the Sith. Sidious and Windu continued fighting until Skywalker arrived, deciding that Amidala's life was more important to him than his commitment to the Jedi. Skywalker cut off Windu's sword arm to save the Sith Lord, and Sidious threw Windu out of a window to his death. Skywalker then pledged himself to Sidious's Sith teachings, being dubbed Darth Vader. Sidious then declared the Jedi Order a threat to the Republic and Darth Vader was assigned the task of marching through the halls of the Jedi Temple and eliminating this growing "menace." The troopers of the 501st Legion were transferred to Coruscant from the war theater of Utapau to serve Lord Vader during the mission.
At the same time, Sidious enacted Order 66, a mandate that was drilled into every Republic clone trooper across the galaxy since before the Clone Wars had broken out. It commanded them to attack and kill their Jedi commanders in the name of the Republic. Within minutes, many Jedi were killed by their formerly loyal subordinates, though some survived the order.
- "You have done well, my new apprentice. Your skills are unmatched by any Sith before you. Now, Lord Vader, go and bring peace to the Empire."
- ―Emperor Palpatine to Darth Vader[src]
Marching silently to the gates of the Temple with the 501st, Darth Vader was met by Gate Master Jurokk. Vader asked him about the whereabouts of Jedi Master Shaak Ti, as she was the current leader and commander of the Temple; the gate master replied that she was in the Temple meditating. Jurokk then noticed the mass of troopers just outside the gate and asked Vader if something was wrong. Vader responded by igniting his lightsaber into Jurokk's head before entering the building.
As the troopers dispersed throughout the Temple's vaulted halls, Vader began to eliminate the Jedi within. He took a small group of clones to capture the communication center via the Jedi Archives. Upon entering the Temple's library with the clones, he ordered Jocasta Nu, the Chief librarian of the Archives, to grant him access to the communication room. Nu, already sensing something suspicious, had earlier dispatched her Padawan, Jin-Lo Rayce, to the lower levels of Coruscant with detailed maps of the planet's underbelly as a means of keeping him alive. When she ignited her lightsaber to confront the Sith, Vader used the Force to impale her with his own saber. � The 501st Legion marches on the Jedi Temple.
- "What I remember about the rise of the Empire is… is how quiet it was. During the waning hours of the Clone Wars, the 501st Legion was discreetly transferred back to Coruscant. It was a silent trip. We all knew what was about to happen, what we were about to do. Did we have any doubts? Any private traitorous thoughts? Perhaps, but no one said a word. Not on the flight back to Coruscant, not when Order 66 came down, and not when we marched into the Jedi Temple. Not a word."
- ―Extract from the Journal of the 501st[src]
The clones charged into the temple foyer and met heavy resistance from Jedi and Temple Security Force personnel. Their first objective was to clear the High Council Chamber of resistance. After that succeeded, they moved to the library, where the Jedi were attempting to destroy holobooks to prevent the 501st troopers from stealing any confidential Jedi information or Sith secrets. However, the troopers managed to save a few bookcases from destruction by the Jedi long enough for a download of their contents to take place. In the ensuing carnage, one of the Jedi activated a ray shield system and hid in a shield protected room. Vader disabled the shield system and killed the Jedi before proceeding into one of the surrounding halls. As he moved into the hall, Jedi snipers ambushed the clone attackers. Vader, at a clone's advice, toppled a large statue, crushing many of the Jedi. Using a piece of that statue, he broke down the door into a study hall and the group proceeded to kill many students, snipers, and Jedi Brutes. After battling his way across an outdoor catwalk, the raid continued into the hangar bay, where Vader shot down fleeing Jedi interceptors with an anti-aircraft gun erected by the clones.
When Darth Vader reached the top of the High Council quarter, he moved to the communication center and activated a beacon that notified all Jedi to return to the Jedi Temple because the war was over. A clone private then informed him that a Jedi, later identified as Cin Drallig, had managed to penetrate upper-level defenses. Vader told him that he would deal with Drallig and ordered the nearby clone assassins to guard the beacon with their lives.
Hunting the Masters and childrenEdit
- "Master Skywalker, there are too many of them. What are we going to do?"
- ―Sors Bandeam just before he and his clan were killed by Darth Vader[src]
� Darth Vader duels with Cin Drallig while strangling Bene.Before tracking down Drallig, Vader took the ancient elevator in the High Council Tower to the Council Chamber and slaughtered a group of younglings upon his entrance when they mistook him for the Jedi Knight he had once been. Vader then made his way through the First Knowledge quarter to one of the many briefing rooms, where Drallig's former apprentice, Serra Keto, confronted Vader and engaged him in a duel. Jumping on a balcony that looked over a training veranda in the Tower of First Knowledge, she cut into a pillar and Vader toppled it, using it to crush her. Drallig, sensing Keto's death, hoped to avenge her in a duel with the Sith Lord.
As the remaining Jedi Masters realized that the Temple was lost, they began to send Knights and Padawans out through the Temple Precinct. Vader made his way to the base of the Temple where he found Drallig guarding a group of fleeing younglings in the Room of a Thousand Fountains. After murdering two of Drallig's trainees, Bene and Whie Malreaux, the Sith slashed Drallig in the shoulder, leaving him to die. The squad of clones accompanying Vader then blasted at the other Padawans Drallig was protecting, killing most of them. A Zabrak Jedi had also been assigned to protect a group of younglings. He was caught by Vader and, after a brief duel, struck down.
As the clones continued the attack, Darth Vader discovered Shaak Ti within her chambers. After dueling and disorienting the Sith Lord, she managed to lead a band of Padawans and their Masters out of the Temple and later secured a small number of her charges passage through the Undercity of Coruscant. Along with Master Ti, Council Member Even Piell fled into the depths of Coruscant. Leader of the Special Operations Brigade, a special forces division of the clone army, Arligan Zey had gone to the Temple upon hearing of General Grievous's death, only to be caught in the battle within the halls of his sanctuary. He made it out of the Temple and found his way back to his offices in Arca Barracks, where his aide, the Advanced Recon Commando Captain Maze, helped him flee the planet. Among the other survivors were Jedi Kazdan Paratus, who ran away in fear;Jax Pavan, a Jedi Knight; and the last Curator of Records.
The raid continuesEdit
- "I saw thousands of troops attack the Jedi Temple. That's why I went looking for Yoda."
- ―Bail Organa[src]
� Members of the 501st Legion wipe out the Jedi in the Jedi Temple.Meanwhile, the 501st Legion secured all four Jedi Council chambers and engaged the Temple Security Force in the main hall. Darth Vader then returned from his duel with Cin Drallig and collected several holocrons containing Jedi and Sith information while eliminating most of the remaining Temple Security guards and Jedi Knights. However, three Jedi Masters, who had taken somewhat of a military command over the remaining Jedi, led the last of the Jedi Knights into the main hall in an attempt to repel the 501st one last time. The Jedi came out in a sudden charge against the clones, although the three were eventually killed along with their allies by the insurgents.
As the Temple burned, Bail Organa, the Senator from Alderaan and a Jedi sympathizer, landed on the landing platform of one of the Council Tower hangars to investigate the fire. After being turned away by the clones guarding the hangar, the retreating Senator witnessed the execution of Zett Jukassa, a young Padawan. The clones started to fire on Bail Organa until Sergeant Fox told them to let him go.
The Jedi missionEdit
The Jedi Temple in flames.:"Have we had any contact from the Temple?"
"Received a coded retreat message, we have."
"It requests all Jedi to return to the Temple. It says the war is over."
"Well, then we must go back. If there are any stragglers, they will fall into the trap and be killed."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Bail Organa[src]
Two survivors of Order 66, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, received the message ordering all Jedi to return to the temple, but immediately recognized it for the trap that it was. The two Jedi Masters returned to the Temple during the emergency Senate session and, after fighting through many clone troopers, including a group of clones disguised as Jedi, successfully reconfigured the beacon to warn Jedi to stay away instead.
Public and non-clone military responseEdit
As the fires burned through the night, the citizens of Galactic City watched in shock as the symbol of the Jedi was engulfed in flames. Skylanes were shut down around the Temple Precinct, with all traffic being directed away from the district. Coruscant Rescue Ops were forbidden from extinguishing the fires cremating the Temple and any ship attempting to approach the Temple was assumed to be doing so with treasonous intent. The Coruscant Security Force joined the clones in tracking down fleeing Jedi and CSF officers assisted when the 501st engaged a group of Jedi trying to escape the Temple via the Shinarcan Bridge Extension.
- "Not even the younglings survived."
"Killed not by clones, this Padawan, but by a lightsaber, he was."
"Who? Who could have done this?"
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda upon finding a group of murdered Jedi hopefuls in the Temple[src]
As the Temple was secured, the clones began to count the dead. Piling Jedi bodies and checking them off from the Archives rosters, the clones burned the majority of the bodies on the steps of the public entrance. Among the dead were Jedi Master Cin Drallig, killed by Lord Vader himself, along with Drallig's apprentices Padawan Bene, Padawan Whie Malreaux and Jedi Knight Serra Keto. Vader also personally executed Jedi librarian Jocasta Nu, Gate Master Jurokk, as well as younglings Sors Bandeam, Shia Letap, Jeswi Ele and the rest of their clan. Padawan Zett Jukassa and Jedi Knight Yoland Fee were killed by clone troopers. Jedi Master Ali-Alann was also killed. Jedi Knight Olana Chion was presumed dead, though her body was never properly identified. In addition to the Jedi casualties, the entire security force of Jedi Brutes and Jedi snipers was killed, as well as most of the Temple Security Force and Temple Caretakers. � The burnt shell of the Temple.
- "With the fall of Coruscant and the elimination of the traitorous Jedi, Palpatine's rise to power was complete."
- ―Anonymous 501st trooper, after the conflict[src]
Following the battle, every official recording of the battle was erased and the Temple remained virtually untouched after the battle. No battle damage was repaired, and the only addition was a landing platform, made to replace the destroyed hangar, which jutted out of the side of the structure. Many pathways in the Temple were permanently sealed by debris and the building was used to store lightsabers taken from many slain Jedi, among them Tru Veld's. Rumors about the Temple being used as a Jedi prison were spread by the Empire to lure any curious Jedi to the area so they could be captured; Jedi Fy-Tor-Ana and former Padawan Ferus Olin both fell for this ruse.
Anakin Skywalker's personal astromech droid, R2-D2, stole a brief clip of Vader and a group of clones killing Drallig and his Padawan charges. He would show it toshowed it to Anakin's son, Luke, in 55 years later. During 40 ABY, in the rebuilt Jedi Temple, Jacen Solo flow-walked back to the time of the raid on the Temple to understand the motive for the actions of Anakin Skywalker, his grandfather. Solo watched Vader murder many Jedi, but was interrupted by a clone trooper who raised his blaster rifle toward the time traveler and forced him to return to his own time.[