A Moff was a sector governor rank in the Old Republic, Sith Empire during the Cold War, and under the Galactic Empire. Under the Fel Empire and Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire, the title was also a worn by the topmost officials of institutions such as the Navy, Army and Intelligence.
Imperial Moffs traced their origins to the Old Republic, which used Moffs as de jure governors of Allied Regions. The position was resurrected in the last years of the clone Wars when the Sector Governance Decree was promulgated by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine using his emergency powers, establishing both planetary as well as regional governors throughout the galaxy.
Though they were also referred to by the more generic style of Sector Governor, the title of Moff was specifically chosen by Palpatine as a tribute to the satraps of the small space empires that had grown together to become the Old Republic, and the decree thus pointed the way toward Palpatine's subsequent assumption of Imperial power, which was explicitly presented as a revival of the glories and grandeur of ancient monarchies like Atrisia. Each Moff reported to an Imperial Advisor, sending copies of his reports both to the Advisor and directly to Palpatine.
The initial Sector Governance Decree, however, was issued under the Republic, and caused immediate alarm in the Galactic Senate, serving as the major catalyst for the Petition of 2000. Palpatine simply used this show of Senatorial opposition as a means to identify and remove his most dangerous opponents in the political elite, but the Senate's short-lived defiance, along with the magnitude of the tasks involved in ending the Clone Wars and initiating the Great Jedi Purge, may nonetheless have contributed to the delay in the appointment of the first Moffs, who did not take up office until several weeks after the Declaration of the New Order and the establishment of the Galactic Empire.
The concept of assigning Moffs to sectors obviously related to the ancient division of the Republic into a thousand sectors, each with a Senator and a local congress; but the first Moffs seem to have been appointed to control rather larger territories than those for which the Senators were answerable: for instance, the Moff of Sector 3 was headquartered on Bimmisaari in Halla Sector, but his territory extended as far as Kashyyyk in Mytaranor Sector: these vast volumes of space may have corresponded to the theatres of operations of the twenty Sector Armies within the Grand Army of the Republic. It appears that at this time, the newly reformed Imperial Fleet was also placed under the authority of a Moff, one of the few senior officials to whom the command program of the dreadnought Eye of Palpatine was answerable.
By the time that the Senate was dissolved in 0 BBY, Moffs had been assigned to most of the thousand historic sectors of known space, tightening the Empire's grip on the galaxy. However, a number of further modifications had been made to the system, most notably the creation of a cadre of higher-ranking Grand Moffs, governors-general of a new class of Priority Sectors, also known as Oversectors. Proposed by Moff Wilhuff Tarkin of Sesswenna Sector, these were areas of the galaxy in which Rebel activity and unrest were proving more than the local Moff could handle, and within which the apparatus of control was strengthened by the diversion of vastly increased military, paramilitary and judicial resources. The best-known Priority Sectors were vast reaches of space, rather similar to the large sectors of early Imperial Moffs, in which a number of existing sectors with their local Moffs were now subordinated to a new Oversector command: Imperial Center Oversector incorporated most of the Core, while Tarkin's own Oversector Outer essentially incorporated the whole of the former Outland Regions, and the Bright Jewel Oversector embraced another vast tract of the Rim.
However, not all Oversectors were created in this way. Sometimes, a Moff was simply promoted to Grand Moff and given additional resources to deal with the threats within his existing sector, and sometimes, a rash of troublesome areas across several adjacent sectors were removed from their Moffs' control and grouped in a new Priority Sector under a new Grand Moff. Occasionally, a single existing sector might be converted into an Oversector and subdivided into new sectors, as with the planned transformation of the Tapani Sector that was interrupted by the Battle of Endor.
As well as the stratification introduced by the creation of Grand Moffs, further complexity was added to the organization of regional governors by the appointment of Moffs to control areas smaller than the historic sectors of the Old Republic: fortress worlds like Prakith had their own Moffs, and on Imperial Center, even ministries of the planetary administration were incorporated as sectors in their own right, such as Planetary Security, commanded by Moff Kadir.
Following the Battle of Endor, few individual Moffs or Grand Moffs were sufficiently powerful to serve as major players in the civil war for control of the Empire. Control of the single most powerful Sector Fleet, that of the Quelii Oversector, was seized by its Navy commander, Admiral Zsinj. Meanwhile, Tarkin's successor, Grand Moff Ardus Kaine, held aloof from the conflict and concentrated on securing his control of his stronghold territory on the Outer Rim. The first major move by the Moffs was the belated formation of a coalition of Priority Sector governors led by Grand Moff Hissa, calling themselves the Central Committee of Grand Moffs; while they controlled the combined might of several Oversectors, they were conscious that to successfully win over other areas of the Empire, they required leadership and legitimacy outside of their own ranks.
Nevertheless, as the power of the central authorities diminished, the Moffs did gradually assume more prominence and more capacity for collective action. Late in 8 ABY, a number of Moffs joined the remnants of the Imperial Ruling Council in endorsing Grand Admiral Thrawn as the new commander-in-chief of the Starfleet, and in 10 ABY, the Moffs and Grand Moffs collectively demanded the right to join the Ruling Council in electing a new Emperor. By 12 ABY, following the final implosion of what remained of the Ruling Council, a Council of Moffs had emerged as the primary executive power in what remained of the Empire.
Against this background, a number of individual Moffs declared their independence, beginning soon after Endor with events like the secession of Grand Moff Kaine, and Leonia Tavira's seizure of her husband's powers on Eiattu. Some were simply cut off from potential allies by Rebel advances, while some no doubt saw themselves as heroic saviors of their beloved subjects amid a general collapse of Galactic civilization. Others were loyal Imperials unwilling to become embroiled in the running conflict between the senior commanders and courtiers who claimed to lead the New Order, and in counterpoint, the Admirals and Advisors competing for control of the Empire were themselves unwilling to alienate the Moffs—or reveal the weak foundations of their own authority—by asking too much of them. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that personal ambition played a part in the fragmentation of the Empire. Men like governor Foga Brill on Prakith in the Deep Core and Moff Getelles of Antemeridian Sector on the Outer Rim were not be able to conquer the galaxy, but they remained entrenched for many years behind the guns of Sector Fleets and the defenses of fortress worlds, as the lords of local despots. While most of these men maintained the fiction that they were merely local viceroys of a nebulous Imperial regime, and some even attempted to keep their sectors ignorant of the general collapse of the New Order, many indulged in displays of shameless self-aggrandizement, adopting grandiloquent new titles such as High Moff, and most probably saw that in practice, their power depended on rewarding their beholden followers: Getelles, for instance, promoted his loyal Sector Fleet commander to Grand Admiral, while Foga Brill consolidated his grip on Prakith by building a new system of patronage, clientage and control from the ruins of his planet's economy.
Over the years after Endor, the number of Moffs steadily declined, as the Empire was reduced by New Republic advances and driven by internal conflicts. At the time of Endor, there were significantly more than a thousand Moffs, but barely three or four hundred can have remained five years later and in spite of brief periods of resurgence, by 19 ABY the area of territory in what remained of unified Imperial Space was reduced to a mere eight sectors, while the last of the rogue Moffs were being steadily conquered and deposed by the New Republic.
In this situation, Admiral Gilad Pellaeon was able to persuade the remaining Moffs that the survival of the New Order in the fragment of territory that remained to them was best secured by peace with the now-dominant Rebels, and subsequently, the eight remaining Moffs, along with the Supreme Commander, became the leaders of the Imperial Remnant. By now, the Moffs were the Empire; the central authorities and the paramilitary apparatus of COMPNOR and Imperial Intelligence had essentially disappeared, leaving only a strategic military command charged primarily with frontier defense; what remained of the Empire was thus a federation of autonomous sectors, in which the Moffs controlled their own star systems with minimal outside interference; and such a situation was obviously highly amenable to the Moffs themselves.
In spite of devastating attacks on Bastion and Muunilinst, the Moffs of the Remnant survived the Yuuzhan Vong invasion with their power largely intact, and the Imperial military played a significant role in the eventual defeat of the invaders. In the last phases of the war and the first years of the peace, the Moffs laid claim to many of the "liberated" star systems in former New Republic space.
Apart from these hints at the expansion of their territory, there is little available evidence to show how the Moffs were affected by the attempts to integrate Imperial Space into the new Galactic Alliance. At some point after 40 ABY, however a new Galactic Emperor was appointed, and under the Fel dynasty, the Moffs retained their role as the leaders of a resurgent and independent Empire—a position they retained at the time of the Sith-Imperial War in 127-130 ABY.
By this time, however, it appears that the title of Moff had become at least partially separated from the office of regional governor, and if the leading Moffs of this era controlled any sort of "sectors", these would seem to have been major components of the Imperial state, rather than territorial provinces. The High Moff was the Grand Admiral in charge of the military, and the Council also included the Director of Imperial Intelligence and the heads of the Imperial Mission, Imperial Navy, Imperial Army and the Imperial Diplomatic Corps. These six formed a quorum of the Council—indeed, the six may have been the entire compliment of the Moff Council at this time. All in all, the situation may have been closest to that which prevailed in the years immediately after the Clone Wars, when a handful of Moffs had controlled vast sectors.
Also of note is the fact that one of the Moffs at this time, Fehlaaur, was an alien, albeit a near-Human Chiss, a member of one of the species most closely associated with the New Order over the decades.
Under the Sector Governance Decree, each Moff was armed with little more than a broad mandate to monitor sector government, and a force of Stormtroopers that might be sufficient to secure their residence, maintain control in the surrounding streets, and provide protection to a few administrative personnel on detached duty. This was enough to provoke the Petition of Two Thousand and precipitate the revolution that overthrew the Old Republic.
By the time that the re-named Imperial Senate was swept away nineteen years later, the machinery of power that the Moffs directed had increased almost beyond recognition. Within the civil chain of command, they were now the formal superiors of all Planetary Governors, while the paramilitary apparatus of COMPNOR and the intelligence networks now amalgamated as Imperial Intelligence were both supposed to be channeled through the Moff's office at sector level. Most imposingly of all, they held authority over the immense military resources of a Sector Group: as regional governor, every Moff had ultimate authority over the deployment of all military forces within his sector, but the additional naval and military dignities of High Admiral and Surface Marshal of the sector were normally also held by the Moff himself, and only rarely delegated to subordinates.
According to sources produced by the Rebel Alliance, the Navy forces in a typical sector included twenty-four Star Destroyers, 1,600 other warships, and 800 support ships, while the field forces of a typical Sector Army numbered 774,576 front-line troops, and a little over 400,000 support personnel, to say nothing of the dozens or hundreds of planetary garrisons—usually small Stormtrooper brigades commanded by Major Generals. However, a note of caution must be sounded as to these figures, since it is known that in many sectors, the actual deployments were much smaller: in Minos Cluster, the Sector Group comprised a single ageing Victory-class Star Destroyer and a few small capital ships, while in the Tapani Sector, on the eve of its planned transformation into an Oversector, the primary Army presence consisted of a single Battlegroup based at the Tallaan shipyards. Nevertheless, in terms of both manpower and firepower, the strength of the Imperial Service was truly unprecedented across the galaxy: it was a rare Moff who found himself outnumbered or outgunned by any organized enemy force that he might face.
However, when it is asked what the Moffs were expected to do with all these resources, we find little more than vague ideals: they were expected to maintain order, prevent corruption, enforce the law, and not otherwise interfere with the operation of the local bureaucracy or sector government. It is possible that their authority was never defined in any more precise terms than this, and with this in mind, it can certainly be noted that the most important enhancement of their powers came through the removal of the Senate and the associated administrative bureaucracy, not an enhancement of their own authority per se, but the elimination of the procedural channels and public political platforms that had until them been the main means of challenging or circumventing their authority.
Of course, such a loose commission can lead to gross infringements of civil liberty and arbitrary tyranny; Moffs might, in the name of restoring order, have their soldiers fire on peaceful demonstration, or bombard a planet into submission for purely political defiance. However, it must also be remembered that the Moffs took power in a Galaxy ravaged by war and racked by political corruption: their powers were intended to allow them to do what was necessary, to prevent the system unraveling into anarchy under the pressure of Separatist terrorism or radical agitation. Without downplaying the crimes committed by the Imperial regime, we must in short, consider the nature of their authority against the backdrop of the Clone Wars and the subsequent insurgency, and endeavor to separate the reality of the situation from the rhetoric and propaganda produced by Senate radicals like Mon Mothma, and later canonized in official histories overseen by her political secretary and speechwriter, Major Arhul Hextrophon. While Imperial tyranny undoubtedly fuelled the fires of rebellion, it must also be asked how much the actions of the Rebel Alliance were themselves responsible for creating, or at the very least legitimizing, the very tyranny that they claimed to be revolting against.
It is not clear whether any Moffs were assigned to commands that were not formally constituted as sectors, but some Moff's domains were certainly not interstellar fiefdoms. The Moffs of fortress worlds have been referred to already, as has the role of Moff Kadir as commander of Coruscant Security, while Moff Giiedt was liaison to the planetary government of Tiss'sharl. Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod, previously in charge of Quanta Sector, was at one point slated to be made Director of Imperial Energy Systems, but it is not clear whether there was any real separation between his later role as governor of Moddell Sector and his position as commander of Death Star II; his apparent presence aboard the Executor while she was in Anoat Sector, shortly after the Battle of Hoth, can in turn be linked to his role in charge of the Death Star project.
By 130 ABY, as noted above, the role of the Moff appears to have evolved somewhat. The title was held by the governors of Imperial sectors, such as Nieve Gromia of the Arkanis sector, as well as the heads of Imperial institutions such as the Navy, Army Intelligence, Diplomatic Corps and Mission.
The first Moffs, appointed in 19 BBY, wore Imperial military uniforms with four code cylinders, and rank badges carrying five blue tabs above a varying combination of red and two gold: Wilhuff Tarkin had three red and two gold pips, while Marcellin Wessel wore one red and four gold. Later Moffs usually retained four code cylinders, but various Moffs are seen with a variety of different patterns of pips on their badges. Although it may be impossible to explain the exact symbolism of every Moff's insignia from current records, it can be observed that Grand Moffs typically wore six red squares above three blue and three gold, while several Moffs are seen with six red squares over six blue, the insignia of an Admiral.
There is, it ought to be stressed, no evidence that these insignia were specific to the position of Moff, as opposed to the military dignities of High Admiral and Surface Marshal of the sector, which most Moffs held ex officio. Moffs could also wear civilian robes, as they did for meetings of the Moff Council in later years, while Ephin Saretti, appointed as Moff of Braxant Sector after the Peace of Bastion, wore a uniform without military insignia to stress the fact that, although he remained an officer in the military reserve, his office as regional governor was fundamentally a civilian one.
The reasons why Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod of Moddell Sector wore the insignia of a Commander at the Battle of Endor are unclear. It is possible that he had reached this rank in a military career before becoming Moff, and preferred to display the rank he had earned rather than wearing the insignia of high office. It should also be noted at this juncture that commanding "Admirals" within some Sector Fleets, men such as Michael Unther, may in fact have been Captains and Commanders with brevet appointments, rather than holding substantive flag ranks.
By 130 ABY, Moffs still typically wore the modified version of the Imperial uniform then in use, with a rank plaque placed centrally beneath the Imperial insignia at the throat of the tunic, and additional rows of tabs on either side of the collar. At present, the sample of evidence is small, and the exact meaning of the known details is unclear, not least because some Moffs now held positions of Empire-wide significant that had historically been independent of regional governorships. Nevertheless, it can be noted that while most Moffs wore two red rank-tabs in the small rows either side of their collar, Morlish Veed, who was a Grand Admiral as well as the senior member of the Council, wore three red tabs instead. Konrad Rus, head of the Imperial Mission wore a distinctive white uniform with gold wings instead of collar tabs.
A Moff was a commanding officer of a sector in the Fifth Galactic Empire.