When it comes to writing for this blog, we're always delving into the internet for ideas and topics related to duelling sabers. We try our best to resolve fan questions, dig into storylines and highlight our favourite characters. So when we found that people often ask Google 'does emperor Palpatine have a lightsaber?' we knew we had to answer it with a bit of background on Sheev Palpatine -- the Sith who would forever change the Star Wars timeline.
Who is Emperor Palpatine?
Emperor Palpatine is a figure whose shadow is cast across the entirety of the Star Wars franchise. Originally appearing in A New Hope as a shadowy hologrammatic figure, we first see him in the flesh in The Empire Strikes Back. The old, almost decrepit looking man is nonetheless a powerful Sith Lord who controls Darth Vader and the empire with an iron fist. In all of these early appearances, he was only ever referred to as 'the Emperor'.
How did he get to his position? Well - that's something that was only fully explored once the prequel series dropped. In it, we see a younger Sheev Palpatine in a politician's role. He is originally an advisor for Padmé Amidala, queen of Naboo, but through clever planning eventually navigates his way to senator. From there, he invokes emergency powers and refuses to relinquish them...hello playbook of every single dictator in history.
Darth Sidious is Palpatine's Sith name, a fact only revealed in the prequels. Sidious was the apprentice of Darth Plagueis, a Sith lord so powerful he had control over life and death. But as Palpatine's now infamous speech to Anakin reveals, even he was powerless to prevent his student from murdering him and usurping his role as Lord.
What's really interesting about Palpatine is that he was portrayed by the same actor, despite the years between each batch of films. Ian McDiarmid, now aged 77, was the original Palpatine even back in The Empire Strikes Back and has played the character in every film.
Did Emperor Palpatine Have a Lightsaber?
Once we realise that Palpatine is Sidious, the answer to this question is obvious. Yes, Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine had a lightsaber...in fact, he had two! While only one saber was revealed when the Jedi council came to arrest him, Palpatine's sabers are seen in the animated series and were nearly identical.
Their blades were the classic Sith red and were wielded with deft skill, overcoming Savage Oppress and Darth Maul alike in the animated franchise. For mainstream fans who have only seen the movies, Palpatine at first appears to only have a single saber -- but after losing it during his duel with Mace Windu, he has it again for his battle with Yoda...so unless he's been hunting the endless streets of Coruscant, it's obvious he is using his second blade.
Palpatine's saber is a sleek affair, a compact hilt and stylish metallic finish make it look the part in the High Republic era. He rarely ever wielded it, as it would have given away his master plan and revealed his role as a Sith Lord. When he did reveal it, however, he was far more deadly than his aged appearance would lead you to believ.
Emperor Palpatine's Lightsaber Style
Palpatine's real power was Force Lightning, but he was nonetheless an excellent saber duellist. He almost immediately dispatches the other Jedi accompanying Windu on their arrest mission. He is overmatched by Windu, who was considered one of the greatest lightsaber fighters of all time -- but theories still say that this was intentional so that Anakin Skywalker would have to intervene to defend him.
As for Emperor Palpatine's lightsaber form, he favoured Juyo (Form VII) in the Legends canon. This style is the most aggressive of all lightsaber fighting forms and was designed to harness the chaos and energy of the Force. While some Jedi did practice Juyo, it was generally seen as a Sith form. However, Mace Windu created a more balanced Vaapad variant that sought to balance Juyo's ferocity with Jedi focus.
Darth Sidious was so good at Juyo that he was able to teach Darth Maul the style, who himself became an exceptional duellist. Sidious, whilst preferring to use the Force and remain in the shadows, was still one of the most powerful saber duellists in the galaxy.
If you'd like a saber of your own in Sidious' style, you'll need something that evokes the Republic era of design. Our Grand Master Duellist saber is a good choice, with a refined hilt and minimal ornamentation. Ideal to allow you to select the red blade colour and focus your training on the Ferocity form.