The Mandalorian Wars erupted after two decades of relative peace following the Great Sith War. The conflict was set in motion by the ambitious Mandalore the Ultimate, who reconsolidated the Mandalorian clans under the Neo-Crusader banner.
Due to contradictory historical accounts from the period, the exact date of the war's beginning would remain a point of contention among historians. The wars could be said to have begun in the year 3,976 BBY, as it marked the start of Mandalorian aggression along the Outer Rim.
The first skirmishes between the Mandalorian and Republic fleets occurred as early as 3,965 BBY, but many published histories tend to emphasize the time period after the Mandalorians invaded the Galactic Republic proper, circa 3,963 BBY. After the invasion, the Republic Military and a faction of the Jedi Order entered the war. The war concluded in 3,960 BBY with the Republic victory at Malachor V.
The roots of the Mandalorian Wars lay buried deep in the turmoil of the Great Sith War. At the outbreak of that conflict, the Mandalorian clans had roamed far from their homeworld as they scouted the known galaxy for worthy foes. The nomadic warriors revered combat, and for centuries they had dedicated themselves to waging holy wars of conquest—known as crusades—against their celestial neighbors. In the year 3,996 BBY, the Mandalorian Crusaders sought a new adversary to test themselves against and thus they voyaged to the Empress Teta system which was, at that time, ruled by a Sith sect known as the Krath.
Mandalore the Indomitable, the Lord of the Mandalorians clans, had heard rumors of the military exploits of a young Krath commander named Ulic Qel-Droma. On the world of Kuar, Mandalore challenged Ulic to single combat, and he was defeated by the Sith Lord. After the duel, he pledged his loyalty to Qel-Droma and thus allied the Mandalorian clans with the Sith. Under orders from Ulic Qel-Droma and his Sith Master, Exar Kun, the Crusaders laid waste to numerous worlds and earned the enmity of the Republic and its Jedi defenders.
In the waning days of the Great Sith War, as the Brotherhood of the Sith hovered on the brink of defeat, the Mandalorians took part in a disastrous campaign known as the Third Battle of Onderon. Mandalore staged a surprise assault against the city dwellers of Iziz, but just as the tide of battle turned in the Crusaders' favor, Republic reinforcements arrived in the system. The Republic commander, Orley Vanicus, informed Mandalore that Ulic Qel-Droma had been captured, and he demanded the Mandalorians' immediate surrender, but Mandalore refused to concede the battle. Trapped between the incoming Republic fleet and the native Beast Riders, the Mandalorian warriors were devastated.
Mandalore ordered a rapid retreat to Onderon's nearby moon, Dxun, believing that he could lose the Republic pursuit in its dense jungles, but that was not to be the case. While withdrawing, a Republic frigate fired upon his Basilisk droid mount, and he crashed into the canopy far from friendly aid. Rising from the wreckage, Lord Mandalore was immediately attacked and eaten by a pack of Devourers. Meanwhile, the remaining Mandalorian Crusaders braved the dangers of Dxun's predators as they scoured the landscape for any sign of their lost leader. In a fateful moment, one Crusader stumbled across Mandalore's mask, hanging in a patch of foliage. In accordance with the laws of his people, he claimed the mask and became the new Mandalore.
The Mandalorian Crusaders suffered a crushing defeat in the Onderon system, and their Sith allies met a similar fate at the hands of the Galactic Republic soon thereafter. Once they had captured Ulic Qel-Droma on Ossus, the Jedi rallied to defeat Exar Kun at Yavin IV. Bereft of leadership, the Sith were vanquished and the Great Sith War swiftly came to a close. During the next twenty years, an uneasy peace prevailed and the galaxy slowly began to recover from the damage inflicted by warfare. The Mandalorians, the Galactic Republic, and the Jedi Order each entered an era of rebuilding and renewal known as the Restoration period.
In the years following the Sith War, an ambitious new Mandalorian leader rose to power—a Mandalore whose legacy would shape the galaxy for years to come. Known to history as Mandalore the Ultimate, it was he who undertook the arduous task of rebuilding the greatly diminished Mandalorian clans. Upon assuming leadership, Lord Mandalore recalled his scattered warriors, but few remained to heed his summons. Undeterred, he aggressively expanded his recruiting efforts beyond the original Mandalorian species—known as the Taung—and welcomed members of alien descent into the Mandalorian fold. As a result of his efforts, the Mandalorian ranks swelled with warriors from countless worlds, and Mandalore was able to swiftly form a powerful new generation of warriors known as the Neo-Crusaders.
In the decades following the Sith War, many Mandalorians reflected upon their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Republic, and became convinced that their prophesied "Great Last Battle" was at hand. Anticipating—and perhaps precipitating—this apocalyptic conflict, Mandalore the Ultimate began marshalling his clans for war. Conspiring with the Sith, he devised an ambitious scheme aimed at conquering their common foe. In the year 3,976 BBY, Mandalore launched a new military crusade against the weakened and vulnerable Galactic Republic. Knowing that his people were not yet strong enough to challenge the Republic directly, Mandalore began his crusade by leading his renewed clans in a brutal campaign of conquest along the Outer Rim Territories, on the edge of Republic Space. Sacking independent planets such as Althir, the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders were able to carve out a clan territory larger than that ruled by the Hutts in the short span of a decade.
During this period of rampant imperialism, the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders conquered the planet Cathar. The operation was masterminded by Mandalore the Ultimate's chief strategist, Cassus Fett, who wished to exact vengeance on the native Cathar species for opposing the Mandalorians in past conflicts. In 3,973 BBY, Fett's forces viciously massacred the Cathar, driving the species to the brink of extinction. Years later, tidings of the event would bring about a major turning point in the Mandalorians' war with the Republic.
The Republic Senate initially chose not to intervene in the Mandalorians' campaign of conquest. The senators were wary of allowing the Republic to become embroiled in another galaxy spanning conflict; they still remembered the devastation wrought during the Great Sith War, and they did not wish to risk open warfare in the defense of planets located beyond their government's borders. They refused to take part in the ongoing war unless the Mandalorians threatened to invade the Republic itself. Meanwhile, Mandalore prepared to do just that. He plundered resources from his conquered provinces and stockpiled them in order to fuel his war machine. With each military victory, the Mandalorian clans grew more powerful; they assembled a massive slave labor force and conscripted conquered species into their ranks. As planet after planet fell before their advancing fleet, refugees began to pour into Republic space, flocking to border worlds such as Taris in the hopes of escaping the Mandalorians' wrath.
The Galactic Senate allowed the Mandalorians' expansionist crusade to continue—unchecked—for a decade before the legislative body finally took action. As the Mandalorians began to converge on Taris's resource worlds of Vanquo, Tarnith, Suurja and Jebble, the Republic Senators chose to make a stand and defend their government's extensive commercial investments in the region. In 3,966 BBY, the Taris system was granted Republic membership at the behest of Lhosan Industries, an influential corporate interest based on Taris. In following months, the Republic deployed its Outer Rim fleets in a lengthy defensive formation which was intended to protect Taris and its dependent worlds from the Mandalorian's predations; however, the Jebble-Vanquo-Tarnith line, as it came to be called, was more of a show of force than a practical military deterrent. The Republic Navy was spread too thin over a vast area and it lacked the ships to truly defend the entire front.
In 3,965 BBY, Mandalorian and Republic forces fought the first of many sporadic skirmishes along the Republic border between the annexed world of Taris and the Mandalorian homeworld. A series of four minor battles took place on the agrarian world of Suurja, but the contest eventually ended in a stalemate. By 3,964 BBY, the Mandalorians' crusade appeared to have ground to a halt; apart from taking possession of a stellar research station on the remote planet Flashpoint, the Mandalorians had failed to conquer a populated system in the Outer Rim for more than a year. Appearances, however, were deceiving. The Republic's chief military minds were ignorant of the scope of Mandalore's ambitions, the scale of his war machine, and the subtlety of his battle plans; they were largely oblivious to the fact that the "war" they were fighting along their border was nothing more than an elaborate ruse.
Mandalore the Ultimate and Cassus Fett had engineered this False War, as it would later be termed, in order to gauge the potency of the Republic's defenses. Withholding the majority of his forces and feigning weakness, Mandalore initiated a deceptive campaign designed to mobilize the Republic while simultaneously lulling it into a false sense of security. He began by drawing the Republic into a series of minor border skirmishes, police actions, and proxy wars. He then escalated hostilities by interrupting trade routes and harrying worlds that maintained close political ties to the Republic. After the annexation of Taris, Mandalore finally managed to goad the Republic into a state of undeclared warfare, and as the two galactic powers sparred indecisively along the neutral Outer Rim frontier, the Mandalorians systematically probed the strength and resolve of the Republic military in preparation for a full-scale attack.
Amid such uncertain times, radical new factions began to coalesce within the Jedi Order. An outspoken Jedi Knight, who would become known in the popular media as "The Revanchist," warned of the danger posed by the Mandalorian clans. He lobbied for the Jedi Order to take an active role in the Republic's war effort, but the Jedi High Council was hesitant to be drawn into another armed conflict. Only thirty years earlier, the fallen Knights Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma had successfully led a host of Jedi to the dark side and thence to war with the Republic. The resulting struggle with the Sith took a very heavy toll on the Jedi Order and it had yet to fully recover. In the face of a looming Mandalorian threat, the Jedi Masters grew cautious lest they repeat the mistakes of the past; they were wary of the dark side and they sensed that an unknown hand was at work behind the new war.
The Jedi Council seemed content to watch and wait as the border war escalated along the Outer Rim, but a growing movement within the Jedi Order refused to stand idly by. The young and charismatic Revanchist began to recruit Jedi followers to combat the Mandalorians, and his friend Alek was the first to join his cause. Well known and admired within the Order, the two Knights were able to quickly enlist a number of like-minded volunteers and form them into a faction that would come to be known as the Revanchists. Anticipating a Mandalorian invasion, they scouted the battlefront without the knowledge or consent of the Jedi Council.
While the Revanchist concerned himself with the Mandalorians, the famed Jedi seer Krynda Draay focused her attention on the Sith. Draay was embittered by her failure to predict the reemergence of the Sith, and by the loss of her husband, sister, and former Jedi Master during the resulting Great Sith War. She lived in self-imposed solitude for four years following the death of her spouse, but the needs of the Jedi Order eventually drew her out of isolation. The war with the Sith had gravely depleted the Jedi ranks and there were few remaining Masters who were capable of training the next generation in the ways of the Force. In 3,993 BBY, the Jedi convinced Krynda Draay to train a new class of seers for the Order, but she had greater ambitions. With the aid of Haazen, a failed Padawan who had served her husband, she quietly founded a Jedi splinter group known as the Covenant. In the following decades, she and her students developed the organization into a vast, clandestine operation dedicated to preventing the Sith from ever rising to power again.
In the year 3,964 BBY, the Covenant's first WatchCircle, stationed on Taris, received a disturbing vision that foretold the return of the Sith. Their brief glimpse of the future seemed to predict that one of their own Padawans was to become a Sith Lord—one who would be responsible for the collapse of the Jedi Order. Having dedicated their lives to the sole mission of safeguarding the Republic from the Sith, the WatchCircle decided that their students had to be sacrificed for the greater good. They massacred their apprentices within the halls of the Jedi Tower in an attempt to forestall the future that they had foreseen, but their plan was not entirely successful; one of their Padawans managed to escape the scene of the crime.
The Covenant members framed the lone survivor, Zayne Carrick, for the murders that they had committed, but Carrick repeatedly escaped capture and fled the system. As a result, the Tarisian citizenry lost faith in their Jedi protectors and civil order began to deteriorate. Prominent business interests, such as Lhosan Industries, announced their intentions of pulling off the planet, citing security risks. Three weeks after the Padawan Massacre, the embarrassed Jedi Order also decided to cut its losses. Taris slowly descended into anarchy and the Jedi chose to abandon it to its fate.
In 3,963 BBY, Mandalore the Ultimate received word of the chaos that had consumed Taris. Understanding that the planet was the key to the entire sector, Cassus Fett designed a three-pronged assault designed to take advantage of the situation. With his battle plans drawn, Mandalore signaled his long-prepared forces to attack en masse. The invasion of the Republic began with a rapid conquest of Onderon which was staged from nearby Dxun. Soon afterwards, the Mandalorian fleets in the Outer Rim began to pour into Republic space through three invasion corridors in adjacent sectors.
The Republic was caught completely off-guard by the sudden Mandalorian break out—an event that the popular media would refer to as "The Onslaught." Overwhelmed, the deployed battle groups of the Republic Navy did their level best to counter the massive Mandalorian assault while the Galactic Senate prepared to retaliate with the entire Republic fleet. Meanwhile, the primary Mandalorian invasion force, commanded by Mandalore himself, began a major push towards the Republic security cordon surrounding the Taris system. Splitting his command, Mandalore simultaneously attacked Taris and the nearby planet Vanquo, thereby forcing the Republic defenders to divide their efforts.
While Captain Saul Karath of the Courageous oversaw the defense of Vanquo, the Admirals Jimas Veltraa and Noma Sommos commanded the defense of the Jebble-Vanquo-Tarnith line surrounding Taris. When the line became indefensible, Admiral Veltraa reformed the remnants of the Outer Rim fleets into a new defensive line around the planet Taris itself, but that formation also fell before the massed Mandalorian assault. During the battle, Admiral Sommos was gravely injured and Admiral Veltraa was killed when his flagship, Reliance, was destroyed. Once the dust had finally settled, Taris found itself under siege and the remnants of the Republic fleets in the region were in full retreat.
As the Mandalorian Onslaught was being unleashed across the Outer Rim Territories, the Jedi High Council faced a crisis closer to home. Over the course of the False War with the Mandalorians, the Revanchist faction had grown increasingly rebellious. Now, having learned that a number of Jedi were captured on Suurja, the Council called the Revanchist leader before them to answer for his actions. Upon his arrival, the Council members lectured the wayward Jedi for leading Padawans and fellow Knights to a war zone without permission, and for leaving his followers to fend for themselves on Suurja while he investigating a vision that led events on Dxun and Onderon. Master Vrook Lamar ordered the Revanchist to recover the captured Jedi and return them safely to Coruscant.
Ultimately, however, it would be the fugitive Zayne Carrick who would accomplish that feat. Implementing a plan concocted by his con-artist employer, Marn Hierogryph, Carrick and a renegade Mandalorian named Rohlan Dyre infiltrated the Flashpoint Research Station and liberated the prisoners held within from the clutches of Demagol—a Mandalorian scientist who conducted torturous, and often fatal, experiments on his Jedi subjects in an effort to divine the nature of their Force abilities. Among the prisoners at Flashpoint was Alek of Quelii, a prominent Revanchist who would prove crucial to the Republic war effort in the following years.
The war was going very poorly for the Galactic Republic; during their initial assault, the Mandalorian invaders managed to overwhelm much of the Outer Rim, and the Republic fleets retreating from Taris were forced to fall back to the Core World of Ralltir. Under the command of Admiral Saul Karath, promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral following the Battle of Vanquo, the Courageous battle group was resupplied and reinforced on Ralltir before shipping out to a forward staging area on the backwater world of Serroco.
The Mandalorian veteran Canderous Ordo would later reminisce that the Republic initially utilized "shameful" defensive tactics such as placing military installations adjacent to major civilian population centers. He believed that the Republic felt that his people would not use "appropriate force" against their bases in major cities. The Mandalorians quickly disabused them of such notions. On the planet Serroco, the Republic military made the mistake of placing its defensive fortifications within the cities of the native Stereb. Disgusted by what he called a "defense without honor," Mandalore had the cities completely annihilated with nuclear devices. The Mandalorian war machine proved to be ruthless, tenacious, and largely unscrupulous—willing to achieve victory regardless of the cost. In the battles of Serroco, Duro, and Eres III, they shocked the galaxy with the sheer carnage they were willing to inflict upon any worlds that dared to fight back.
In a play for power, Lord Arkoh Adasca, head of Adascorp set up a bid between the two sides, offering them gigantic space creatures called exogorths, which he considered to be the ultimate bioweapons that can multiply faster than ships can be built. The representatives of the bidding factions were Saul Karath for the Republic, Mandalore himself for the Mandalorians and Alek of the Revanchists. Though all sides despised the use of such creatures, they could not let one party get away with them. But Adasca was rooting for the winning side, which is the Mandalorians, promised to spare Arkania and that Adascorp would be the main weapons forge for the war effort. But his insanity made him think that he could control the Mandalorians. However, Carrick, temporarily allied with his former master Lucien Draay and Carth Onasi made a plan to stop it. Zayne disguised himself in Rohlan's new armor and had a fight with Carth and then unmasked himself, saying that Adasca planned a trap for Mandalore, resulting in a fight between the two sides. Gorman Vandrayk, an Arkanian offshoot who was forced to finish work on the exogorths, drove them onto the Arkanian Legacy, killing Adasca and then took them out into Wild Space where he could remove their cybernetic implants and make sure no one uses them.
The Mandalorians soon began conscripting recruits to prepare for the attack on Alderaan. As they massed their forces on Jebble, the unexplained Rakghoul Plague began spreading throughout the base. To prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of the galaxy, Cassus Fett had no choice but to obliterate the base. Soon after, reports from Republic Intelligence say that the Mandalorians suffered an insurrection, convincing the Jedi High Council that the Revanchist's path was wrong.
In the opening stages of the war, the Republic military proved to be outmatched by the sheer ferocity of the Mandalorians' attacks. Time and again, the Republic navy was soundly beaten. In desperation, the Republic petitioned the Jedi Council for aid, but the Council urged patience as they assessed the Mandalorian threat.
The revelation of exactly what had occurred during the Battle of Cathar, years earlier, would change the course of the war. In 3,963 BBY, even as the Mandalorians Neo-Crusaders were attacking Serroco, the Revanchist—now better known as Revan—led an expedition to Cathar. While there, he and his followers were confronted by a team of Council-loyal Jedi who demanded they disband forever. However, both sides, through a vision, learned of the Mandalorians' brutal genocide of the Cathar species. When the greater galaxy was made aware of the tragic event, the Jedi Council sanctioned the Revanchists' actions and many more Jedi joined them. In the following days, the Battle of Cathar became a rallying cry which gave Revan and his friend Alek the leverage they needed to lead their faction to war. The Jedi Crusaders joined the Republic fleets battling the Mandalorians and they quickly became vital to the Republic's war effort.
Revan and Alek (who had assumed the alias "Malak") proved to be extremely capable commanders in the field of battle and they rose swiftly through the ranks of the Republic Military. After masterminding a string of military victories, the Republic ceded control of its military assets to the young Knights and they soon found themselves in direct command of one-third of the Republic fleet. Revan used his new-found authority to spearhead the Republic war effort and under his enterprising leadership, the all-but-defeated Republic Navy began to push the Mandalorians back. The Jedi Masters, however, were not pleased. Even though the Council had sanctioned their actions, they believed that Revan and Malak were only offering easy solutions to the galaxy's problems and they feared that much woe would result from their recklessness.
Revan's keen tactical abilities completely turned the Republic's war effort around, but he did not achieve such success without paying a heavy price. As the war dragged on, Revan began to take certain moral shortcuts—committing several "unsavory" acts, such as leaving "non-strategic" planets completely undefended in order to accomplish the "greater goal" of speedily winning the war. Revan and Malak adapted to their enemies' merciless tactics by simply co-opting them—fighting fire with fire. In time, they developed a cold and calculating disposition uncharacteristic of Jedi; they grew to despise weakness and indecisiveness in all its forms. Though Revan's tactics were flawless and Malak's righteous fury was unmatched, the pair slowly began to mirror the callous Mandalorians they were fighting.
Revan and Malak led the Republic to victory after victory. They pushed the Mandalorians back to Taris, off Dxun and Onderon, and back into Mandalorian space. Even Cassus Fett's impressive victory at the Battle of Jaga's Cluster could not turn the momentum back in the Mandalorians' favor. Pursuing the roving Mandalorian fleets, Revan and Malak ventured into the Unknown Regions beyond the Republic's borders. In an effort to draw their enemies out, their forces assaulted the Mandalorian regime on Althir, and in the resulting battle, much of the remaining Mandalorian ground forces were decimated. The Revanchists also attacked a slave colony on the moon Lorrd II, where they freed some slaves and looted some Lorrdian gemstones, a type of crystal that could be used in lightsabers. Yet for all their success, the Republic took enormous casualties while the two young Jedi were in command. Mandalorians would later claim that during the assault on the Mandalorian Outpost on Dxun alone, as many as ten Republic soldiers died for every Mandalorian slain.
Early in the war, at some point in the year 3,963 BBY, Revan visited the ancient Sith world of Malachor V while scouting for new outposts along the embattled Outer Rim. Word had reached him that Malachor was anathema to the Mandalorians and he wished to know the reason why. Upon landing on the planet's surface, he was nearly destroyed by the resonance of dark side power and he only managed to survive the encounter through sheer force of will. He fed upon Malachor's dark side power, and in so doing, avoided being utterly consumed by it, yet he did not escape unscathed. The dark side beckoned and Revan fell under its influence.
A year later in 3,960 BBY, Revan forced a final confrontation with the Mandalorians above Malachor V. He deployed a massive fleet to the planet consisting mostly of those whose loyalties to himself remained in doubt. In utter secrecy, he had prepared a superweapon, known as the "Mass Shadow Generator," which had been designed by the Zabrak engineer Bao-Dur. The weapon was the centerpiece of a trap with which he hoped to bring about a conclusive end to the destructive conflict. Commanding the fleet and overseeing the device's use was a capable and jaded Jedi General (later known as the Jedi Exile) who had taken part in the recent bloody campaign on Dxun. Revan lured the Mandalorians to the planet and a massive fleet battle ensued in orbit.
Revan himself was delayed outside the system by a Mandalorian scouting party. He eventually arrived at Malachor and entered the fray, but he was late and the Mandalorian fleets were far from defeated. In that moment, he drew upon the Sith energies haunting the surface below to augment his power. Soon thereafter, Revan pressed Mandalore into a direct confrontation and the fallen Jedi struck the great Mandalorian leader down in single combat. Meanwhile, more and more of the Jedi fighting in orbit found themselves unable to resist the call of the power emanating from the planet below and were thus drawn to the dark side. With renewed vigor, Revan's forces pressed the attack. They soon achieved a stalemate and then slowly began to push the Mandalorian fleet back towards Malachor V.
Finally, as the fighting grew intense, Revan's Jedi general observed that the Mandalorians had taken the bait and that her trap was set to spring. With a nod of her head, she commanded Bao-Dur to activate the secret weapon. Moments later, she watched in horror as much of the Mandalorian fleet, and a significant number of Republic vessels, were drawn into a vast gravity vortex. In the ensuing cataclysm, the countless ship were pulled from orbit and crushed into Malachor V's crust, and the planet itself was fractured to its very core. The event wreaked havoc on both sides of the battle lines, but the Mandalorians sustained the greatest damage and the highest casualties. In the aftermath of the destruction caused by the Mass Shadow Generator, the Mandalorian survivors transmitted their unconditional surrender.
After winning the war with a sweeping victory at Malachor V, Revan and Malak were hailed as heroes and saviors of the Republic, but at that time, Sith teachings were already circulating throughout the ranks of their command. Not long after the events at Malachor, they led the remainder of their forces into the Unknown Regions under the pretense of tracking down the remnants of the Mandalorian fleet, but they did not return and they sent no word of their whereabouts. In time, the Republic feared that the Revanchist Jedi and their followers were lost in a tragic, unknown disaster in the depths of unexplored space.
The Mandalorians' "Great Last Battle", known as Ani'la Akaan in Mando'a, was devastating for them; it was a loss from which they would never fully recover. The Mass Shadow Generator destroyed almost the entire Mandalorian fleet, and it virtually wiped out the Taung species. After executing Mandalore the Ultimate before the eyes of his people, Revan took possession of the famed helm traditionally worn by the lord of the Mandalorian clans. In so doing, he denied the Mandalorians the ability to choose a new leader. Afterwards, he disarmed and disbanded the clans, allowing them to splinter into disheartened groups which scattered across the Outer Rim. There, devoid of leadership and honor, they degenerated. A few Mandalorian survivors returned to the Mandalore system, but many humbled their pride and became mercenaries for hire. Other groups became outright bandits in a futile effort to relive their glory days.
In 3,959 BBY, one year after their disappearance, the lost heroes Revan and Malak suddenly returned to the Galactic Republic at the head of a massive invasion fleet which consisted of commandeered Republic vessels as well as numerous vessels of unknown design. The armada was crewed by a host of experienced veterans and commanded by defectors such as Admiral Saul Karath, General Derred, and Mon Halan—some of the finest officers that the Republic had produced during the Mandalorian Wars. Calling themselves Darth Revan and Darth Malak, they declared war on the Republic.
In the aftermath of the Great Sith War, the Mandalorians were left scattered, shamed, and leaderless, but they were not yet defeated. During the quiet years following the war, a new Mandalorian Lord came to power with plans to strike back at the Republic. This Mandalore, known as "the Ultimate," rapidly set about reforging the Mandalorian clans with the goal of creating a fighting force capable of conquering the Republic and defeating its Jedi. Once he had united his dispersed people, Mandalore began to heavily recruit warriors of all races into the Mandalorian clans. Before long, a variety of species, including Humans, Twi'leks, Togorians, and Rodians, gradually became well represented in the Mandalorian ranks. And as a result, the meaning of the term "Mandalorian" gradually began to change. In addition to describing the dwindling Mandalorian species, it also began to describe the inheritors of their legacy; it now referred to a diverse sect of warriors who defined themselves by their devotion to the Mandalorian ideal of earning honor and glory through combat.
Prior to the reign of Mandalore the Ultimate, the Mandalorians were a disorganized, nomadic horde, but the new Lord of the clans enacted regulatory reforms which were aimed at correcting their perceived deficiencies. When a radical fringe movement known as the "Neo-Crusaders" vocally advocated the reestablishment of the ancient Crusader tradition, Mandalore listened. At the urging of Cassus Fett, one of his chief lieutenants, Mandalore plucked the sect from obscurity and used it as a template for an entirely new generation of holy warriors. Under Mandalore's direction, the Neo-Crusaders became a favored elite within Mandalorian society; they were deployed to indoctrinate new recruits, and with time, more and more warriors chose to join their esteemed ranks. In so doing, they took up the standardized Neo-Crusader armor and adopted a more regimented military structure. Thus, Mandalore was able to improve the discipline and cohesion of his warrior clans, and maintain control over his rapidly expanding armed forces.
The first skirmishes between the Mandalorian and Republic fleets occurred as early as 3,965 BBY, but many published histories tend to emphasize the time period after the Mandalorians invaded the Galactic Republic proper, circa 3,963 BBY. After the invasion, the Republic Military and a faction of the Jedi Order entered the war. The wars concluded in 3,960 BBY with the Republic victory at Malachor V.
The Revanchists are what turned the war. Without the help of Revan and his Jedi followers, the war effort would have been in vain.
Mandalore the Ultimate's unorthodox methods inspired suspicions concerning his identity and motivations. Contemporary observers noted that, for a Mandalorian Lord, his plans were uncharacteristically subtle and calculating.He regrouped the Mandalorian forces into the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders and slowly began to conquer fringe worlds that had been left defenseless in the wake of the Great Sith War. Mandalore took full advantage of the Galactic Republic's halfhearted efforts to oppose his aggression and personally led his forces as they invaded Republic territory. Under his command, the Neo-Crusaders nearly defeated the Republic during the Mandalorian Wars, and it was only through the leadership of the Jedi Knights Revan and Malak that the tide of the war was ultimately turned against Mandalore. Revan killed Mandalore in hand-to-hand combat near the end of the war. Years later, such concerns gained credence when a Mandalorian veteran named Canderous Ordo had a chance encounter with an ailing Taung who claimed to be the true Mandalore. Before dying, he informed Ordo that Mandalore the Ultimate was an usurper who had ties to the Sith.
Cassus Fett was a Mandalorian Field Marshal who lived during the time of the Mandalorian Wars. Fett was an aide-de-camp to Mandalore the Ultimate, leader of the Mandalorians, and he was highly influential in areas throughout Mandalorian society. Fett spearheaded the promotion of the Neo-Crusader movement, a sect of Mandalorian society with a more regimented structure and standardized armor than the hitherto dominant Mandalorian Crusaders. By exerting control over the clans and providing a means of converting conquered cultures into Neo-Crusaders, Fett turned the Mandalorians into a war machine intent on galactic conquest.Fett was presumed dead by the time of the Jedi Civil War.
Doctor Demagol was a Mandalorian Neo-Crusader scientist, who served under the banner of Mandalore the Ultimate during the Mandalorian Wars. After the capture of Flashpoint Station by the Mandalorians, all Jedi prisoners were sent there to be studied by Demagol, in hopes of finding the secret of their powers to negate and/or replicate them, not understanding the complexity of the Force. Demagol's prisoners included Alek Squinquargesimus and Jarael, who was mistaken for a Jedi. Demagol was surprised when he looked at Jarael though. He knew that she was a Human/Arkanian hybrid but something else about her shocked him and he immediately wanted to test her next. He never got the opportunity, however. As he was about to take her in, Rohlan Dyre brought another Jedi to him and demanded he be tested next. The Jedi was Zayne Carrick. After being put in his lab, far from the eyes of the other Mandalorians, Rohlan attacked Demagol and released Zayne. Rohlan locked Demagol inside a storage cabinet as Zayne stole his armor and left the building. After the Mandalorians had escaped (due to their belief that the Republic was attacking), Demagol was taken back to Coruscant by the formerly captured Jedi. However, en route to Coruscant, Demagol fell into a drug induced coma and could not be awakened for trial.
The individual known in the media as "the Jedi's own crusader" and later as "the Revanchist," was an enigmatic Jedi Knight who was well known and respected throughout the Jedi Order. Powerful and charismatic, he anticipated the Mandalorian invasion, and when his warnings were ignored, he led a group of like-minded Jedi followers, known as the Revanchists, to war in an act of rebellion against the cautious Jedi Council. Fighting alongside the Republic Military, he proved himself to be a brilliant military strategist, and he was eventually given direct command over a third of the Republic fleet. Spearheading the Republic's war effort, the Revanchist—now known simply as Revan—halted the Mandalorians' invasion and began to push the Neo-Crusaders back out of Republic space.
Revan masterminded the cataclysmic Battle of Malachor V. During that final clash of the war, he slew Mandalore the Ultimate in single combat, and the forces under his command defeated the Neo-Crusaders and forced them to surrender unconditionally. However, the conflict with the Mandalorians had greatly changed Revan. Intrigued by Sith teachings even before the outbreak of open warfare, his privileged position during the war allowed him ample opportunity to experience the dark side and experiment with heretical Sith doctrines. By the year 3,961 BBY, Revan and his friend Alek had begun seeking Star Maps which would eventually lead them to an ancient, dark side-permeated space station known as the Star Forge. During that same fateful year, the two Jedi Knights fully abandoned the teachings of the Jedi. Inspired by Sith teachings they had found on Malachor V, they quietly assumed the role of Dark Lords of the Sith. 
As he led the Republic military to victory against the Mandalorian invaders, Revan quietly spread Sith teachings throughout the ranks of his followers and thus corrupted almost all of the Jedi who followed him to war. In 3,959 BBY, a year after the conclusion of the Mandalorian Wars, Revan and his apprentice Darth Malak declared war on the Galactic Republic and brought about a second Sith War which would become known as the Jedi Civil War. Once again, Revan revealed his tactical prowess as he led his nascent Sith Empire to victory after victory against the Republic, but Darth Revan's reign would ultimately be cut short by the ambitions of his apprentice.
The woman who would come to be known as the Jedi Exile was a Padawan at the time of the Mandalorian Onslaught. Against the orders of the Jedi High Council, she joined the Revanchist faction and went to war in order to aid the Galactic Republic in its struggle against the invading Mandalorians. Rising to the rank of Jedi Knight during the war, she served with distinction under the command of Revan and Alek "Malak" Squinquargesimus. The Exile was eventually commissioned as a General in the Republic Military, and by the end of the war, she had become Revan's most trusted military officer besides Malak. She played a vital role in defeating the Mandalorians during the latter stages of the conflict—especially during the pivotal Second Battle of Dxun and the cataclysmic final battle at Malachor V.
A natural leader, the Jedi Exile possessed an innate ability to easily form powerful Force Bonds with those around her. Although she was largely unaware of it, her unique talent allowed her to greatly influence her comrades. Able to easily impose her will upon those under her command, she was a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. At Malachor V, however, her gift became a terrible liability. When the Exile ordered Bao-Dur to activate the Mass Shadow Generator, thousands of military personnel that she had befriended and led into battle were killed almost instantly. Incapable of enduring the psychic backlash of the deaths caused by the destructive energies that she had unleashed, she was only able to survive the ordeal by instinctively severing her connection to the Force.
The Exile was the only Jedi, out of all those who had served with Revan, to reject the dark side and abandon the Revanchist cause after the war. Stricken with grief yet obstinate, she alone returned to the Jedi High Council on Coruscant to accept judgment for her actions. Before the Council, she was charged with following Revan to war in an act of rebellion and the Masters informed her that she was to be exiled from the Jedi Order for that crime. Upon hearing her sentence, the Exile defiantly stabbed her lightsaber into the center stone of the Council Chamber. Her sentence was harsh and it was not a judgment that the council could truly enforce, but she chose to accept it nonetheless. Turning her back on the Jedi, she wandered the periphery of known space for almost a decade before returning to the Republic during the Dark Wars, at the height of the First Jedi Purge.
Saul Karath climbed from humble, working-class beginnings on Corellia to become a famed Republic Navy officer. He was forced to work double shifts during his early years in order to help provide for his four siblings, but when the Great Sith War interrupted his life, he fled his troubles by joining the Navy. Although he was officially too young to enter the service, he managed to catch the eye of Fleet Captian Orley Vanicus. Vanicus, a hero of the Sith War, allowed Karath to serve as his steward. Saul Karath thus began a turbulent thirty-year naval career. He gradually rose through the enlisted ranks, trying virtually every duty aboard ship, before joining the officer corps. Having grown into a skilled pilot and tactician, he was given his first command: Reciprocity.
When the Mandalorians' crusade of conquest threatened to engulf Taris in 3,965 BBY, Captain Saul Karath was sent to the Outer Rim Territories to assist Admirals Veltraa and Sumos in their efforts to protect the newly annexed world. Aware that the Republic's defensive line was too weak to withstand a full-scale Mandalorian assault, Karath was not overly surprised when the Mandalorians invaded and rapidly overwhelmed the Republic naval forces in the sector. After successfully extracting his forces from the resulting confrontation, Captain Karath was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral. In the following months, Admiral Karath led the defense of the Republic, taking part in early encounters with the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders at Serrecco and Omonoth.
Admiral Karath played a pivotal role in bringing about the defeat of the Mandalorians. After the war, he was considered a hero of the Republic. In the year following the Battle of Malachor V, however, Karath's loyalty was sorely tested when the Revanchist Jedi that he had served with during the Mandalorian Wars suddenly returned to Republic space as conquering Sith. Foreseeing the destruction of his beloved Navy, Admiral Karath took action to save it; he declared the Republic unworthy of his allegiance and he defected to the Sith. He brought with him a number of military vessels, a large contingent of troops, his flagship Leviathan, and intimate knowledge of the Republic's defense codes and tactics. As he was the first officer of significant rank to defect, his betrayal demoralized many of his peers, and it convinced many to join him in taking up the Sith cause. During the Jedi Civil War, Admiral Karath proved his loyalty to his Sith masters by overseeing the devastating orbital bombardment of key Republic worlds such as Telos IV and Taris.
The Mandalorian Wars concept was concieved by BioWare for use as a backstory for events that occur in their video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The war was fleshed out in the game's sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and by various reference books that were published in the following years. The Knights of the Old Republic comic series takes place during the war, and it describes the conflict with greater detail than any prior source.
The date of the war's beginning has been the subject of much debate. Knights of the Old Republic provides two distinct dates for the beginning of the war: 3,976 BBY from the Mandalorian perspective and 3,963 BBY from the perspective of the Republic. The New Essential Chronology, however, places the date at 3,995 BBY. The Knights of the Old Republic comic series complicated matters by adding a period, known as the False War, prior to the Mandalorian invasion of the Republic. As a result, later reference books such as the The Essential Guide to the Force and the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide, provide dates that range between 3,966 and 3,964 BBY.
The date that Revan and his followers joined the war has also become something of a moving target. Bastila Shan's dialogue from Knights of the Old Republic, and Malak's biography from the game's website, establish this date to be roughly five years prior to the events of the game—which would place it at or around 3,961 BBY. The Chronicles of the Old Republic and the Knights of the Old Republic comic series, however, both date the event at 3,963 BBY.
The Mandalorian Wars could mean:
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