The Mandalorian: the Siege of Mandalore and the Great Purge, explained

The Mandalorian season 2 release schedule
(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

The Star Wars timeline can be pretty confusing, considering a lot of the background action in the galaxy far, far away is only found in tie-in comics, novels, and animated TV shows. Something that’s clearly very important to the latest Star Wars offering, The Mandalorian, is the Siege of Mandalore and the Great Purge – but if you’re not well versed in your Star Wars lore, you might not know what exactly these events are.

As The Mandalorian continues, we can expect to see Ahsoka Tano soon – and we’ve already been introduced to Bo-Katan Kryze. Both these characters played an important role in the Siege of Mandalore – and Moff Gideon, The Mandalorian’s chilling big bad, apparently has a history with Bo-Katan. Here’s everything you need to know about Mandalore’s war torn history.

The Siege of Mandalore

Star Wars Trilogy George Lucas

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

The Siege of Mandalore is the name of a massive battle that took place on the planet of Mandalore during the Clone Wars, mostly thanks to Darth Maul –  who you probably remember from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Despite getting cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Maul survived his ordeal and went on to cause a lot of trouble for the Jedi.

Mandalore was a neutral planet during the Clone Wars. This stance led to the formation of a group called the Death Watch who weren’t so keen on their leaders’ peaceful outlook. Maul took over the group – which included Bo-Katan – and worked his way up through Mandalore’s government before the Jedi intervened toward the end of the Clone Wars. The Sith knight’s actions also lead to Bo-Katan forming her own rebel group, and she managed to get Ahsoka onside to fight against Maul.

The spikey, devil-looking Maul wanted to use the battle against the Jedi to capture Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan, having had a vision in which Palpatine established the Empire with Anakin as his apprentice (Maul also wanted revenge against Obi-Wan after cutting him in half). However, the two Jedi were both busy at the Battle of Coruscant – aka the opening of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith – so Ahsoka (who had left the Jedi Order) and Commander Rex lead the clone troopers instead.

The pair managed to defeat the villain in what came to be known as The Night of a Thousand Tears, but the victory was short-lived. The infamous Order 66, which turned the Clone Troopers on the Jedi, prevented them from properly capturing Maul – and the Empire took control of Mandalore.

All of this happened in 19 BBY, which means 19 years before the Battle of Yavin – better known as when Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope. Fun fact: At the end of The Mandalorian season 1, Moff Gideon referred to The Night of a Thousand Tears, where “fields” of Mandalorians were killed during the Siege.

The Great Purge – Imperial Era

The Mandalorian

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Sometime later, the Mandalorians and the Empire came into conflict, and the Great Purge occurred. This is how the Mandalorians lost their Beskar, and how the majority of them ended up dead – with the rest forced into hiding.

Apart from that, this event is shrouded in mystery, and we’ll probably learn more about it as The Mandalorian season 2 goes on. What we do know is that the traumatic event depicted in Mando’s past, when his parents were killed, isn’t the Great Purge – this attack involved droids from the Separatist side of the Clone Wars, which happened before the Great Purge, and before the Empire existed.

Moff Gideon and the Darksaber

The Mandalorian Bo-Katan

(Image credit: Disney)

Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon wielded the Darksaber at the end of The Mandalorian season 1. What you might not know, though, is that the Darksaber is deeply important to Mandalorian culture. Created by the first Jedi Mandalorian, the saber eventually became a symbol of leadership – it’s believed that whoever wields the weapon is the rightful ruler of Mandalore. To become the owner of the Darksaber, it has to be won from its current owner in combat. We’ve got a complete history of the Darksaber.

Maul came to possess this ancestral Mandalorian weapon before the Siege, but soon discarded it once he’d attained power. Eventually, a Mandalorian called Sabine Wren found the weapon on Maul’s home planet of Dathomir – and then handed it to Bo-Katan in 1 BBY (so somewhere between A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back).

In The Mandalorian, Moff Gideon owns the Darksaber, and, as revealed in Chapter 11, Bo-Katan wants it back so she can reclaim her place as ruler of Mandalore. The warrior most likely lost control of the Darksaber in a fight with Gideon, but how and why is still unknown. Expect the two to clash again in the coming episodes – especially with Bo-Katan on the hunt for Gideon.

For more, we’ve got a roundup of all The Clone Wars and Rebels episodes to watch to fully understand The Mandalorian.

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.