Once Upon a Time... In Space
“A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct.”
―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Luke Skywalker
The Jedi Purge was the period in which the Jedi Order was destroyed by the Sith and the Jedi were hunted by the Galactic Empire to near-extinction. Darth Sidious, using his public persona of Senator and then Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, manipulated the galaxy into the Clone Wars as a pretext for gaining emergency executive power over the Galactic Republic. He used the war to manipulate the Senate into giving his office virtually unchecked executive power in the name of security.
The Jedi Purge began at the end of the Clone Wars. Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight believed to be the Chosen One destined to destroy the Sith, discovered that Palpatine was Darth Sidious and informed Jedi Master Mace Windu. In what Sidious would publicly label as the “Jedi Rebellion”, Windu and three other Masters confronted the Chancellor, who killed the three Masters and engaged Windu in a lightsaber duel. Skywalker intervened and incapacitated Windu before the Jedi Master could kill the Dark Lord. Sidious then killed Windu, and Skywalker became the Sith Lord Darth Vader and led an attack on the Jedi Temple, killing everyone inside it.
While Vader carried out the assault on the Temple, Sidious initiated Order 66 and clone troopers across the galaxy killed their Jedi commanders. The order was a resounding success, and nearly all the Jedi in the field were killed. With the Jedi branded as traitors and the Clone Wars at an end, Sidious declared himself Emperor and restored the Sith Empire which he transformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire. However, a small number of Jedi who were either not involved with the clones or who managed to escape the trap survived and would continue to vex the Sith in years after.
The Age of the Empire saw the continued hunting of the Jedi survivors by the Empire. Vader commanded a number of Inquisitors whose job was to hunt any Jedi survivors.
Although Order 66 greatly depleted the Jedi Order’s ranks, with an estimated less than 100 Jedi surviving it, it was only the beginning of the Great Jedi Purge, which stretched on for years and would claim the lives of many of the survivors of the initial onslaught. Nearly all of the surviving Jedi Knights were hunted down and killed by Darth Vader, while Order 66 itself remained in effect indefinitely among the ranks of the Galactic Empire’s newly-christened stormtroopers. Masters Kenobi and Yoda, like many others, chose to go into exile, on Tatooine and Dagobah respectively. There they managed to elude Imperial forces for many years, a feat few of their contemporaries could claim.