The Alliance to Restore the Republic, or Rebel Alliance for short, was the spunky little group that took down the Death Star and the Empire. Though was it really as small as the Star Wars Original Trilogy made it out to be? That a ragtag group came together to take down a great evil?
As Star Wars heroes, there are many things to learn about the group. Here are 13 facts about the Rebel Alliance.
1. The Founders of Rebellion
The groundwork for the Rebel Alliance began before there was an Empire. During the Clone Wars, then Chancellor Palpatine called for emergency powers which drastically took away the strength of the Senate. In careful moves, Palpatine continued to use the power for his gain, such as seizing control of the banks.
Padmé Amidala, Bail Organa, and Mon Mothma called together a group of senators to draft the Petition of 2,000, a bill for the Senate to immediately strip Palpatine of his power to give back to the Senate. This meeting is in one of the deleted scenes in Revenge of the Sith and is one of the deleted scenes that is considered canon.
While the group didn’t get a chance to bring forth the bill thanks to Order 66 and Palpatine claiming control as emperor, Bail and Mon carried the torch of rebellion for Padmé, who was killed. They became two of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance.
2. The Irony
It’s no secret in Star Wars that Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. Ironically, he helped create the very rebellion that would take down the Empire. During the Clone Wars, he helped train a group of fighters on the planet of Onderon. One of these fighters was a young Saw Gerrera, who would not only lead one of the first Rebel cells but was a prominent member in the fight against the Empire.
It would also be Anakin’s influence that pushed his ex-padawan Ahsoka Tano to create a network of spies. During the Clone Wars, Anakin used a subspace communications frequency to send and receive secret messages. He called this code “Fulcrum,” the same moniker that Ahsoka would take on. Her spy network was called Fulcrum agents, consisting of members like Cassian Andor and Alexsandr Kallus.
Good job, Anakin! You helped destroy the government you were a Darth for.
3. Enemies to Allies
Many of the earliest fighters in the Rebel Alliance were once enemies of the Republic. The bad guys of the Clone Wars were the Separatists. When the Republic became the Empire, the Separatists still saw it as the same government body and didn’t recognize their sovereignty in their space. One example was in the season two episode of The Bad Batch, “The Solitary Clone.” The planet of Desix continued to fight back as the Empire arrived to take over their government.
This point was one of many factors for in-fighting within the Rebel Alliance. There was deep pain from both the side of the Republic and the Separatists. People like Saw Gerrera vehemently hated the Separatists, as they had killed his sister, Steela.
4. The Starbird
The crest of the Rebel Alliance is called the Starbird. The symbol was based on a melding of artwork between two prominent groups. The first was the mark of Mandalorian Sabine Wren, who would tag Imperial property with the symbol for her group, the Spectres. It was called the Wren Phoenix Crest, which became the base of the Rebel symbol. The rest of the Alliance’s Starbird came from the three-pronged sign of Saw Gerrera’s partisans.
A version of Sabine’s phoenix symbol was on a poster in Torra Doza’s bedroom in Star Wars Resistance, set in the Sequel Trilogy era. It showed the power of the emblem still held weight among the Resistance.
One issue the Rebel Alliance faced was being formed from separate groups with their own agendas and ideologies. The Empire was a unified force versus scattered cells. For example, Twi’lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla only cared about freeing his planet of Ryloth and was not interested in saving the rest of the galaxy. One focus of the Rebel network leader, Luthen Rael, was to find a way to make the groups put their differences aside and work together.
To name some of the many rebel cells early on, there were the Amidalans, the Partisans, the Spectres, Phoenix Squadron, the Free Ryloth Movement, Liberators, the Separatists, Neo-Republicans, Sectorists, the Massassi Group, the Hidden Path, and the Human Cultists. There were even more cells than this, but these were some of the bigger groups.
6. Early Victories
Even though the rebel cells were scattered, it didn’t mean they weren’t effective. Several battles took place before the official start of a unified Rebel Alliance. It was a mix of victories and defeats, certain failures resulting in the destruction of entire cells like Anto Kreegyr’s cell.
Some of the early significant battles were the Invasion of Mon Cala, the Aldhani Heist, the Raada Uprising, the Rix Road riot, the assassination attempt on Palpatine with the destruction of his flagship Perilous, the rebellion on Desix, the destruction of Grand Moff Tarkin’s flagship Sovereign which resulted in the death of the Grand Inquisitor, and the Liberation of Lothal.
7. A Cold Profession
The Rebel Alliance Intelligence Service, often called Rebel Intelligence, was created in the early days of the Rebellion. This is the group that Ahsoka Tano took over to make the Fulcrum agents, though not all Intelligence agents were Fulcrums.
The Intelligence group was often considered cold and pragmatic, as their most important job was deciding whether a rebel cell was worth helping. A poorly run amateur cell could threaten the safety of the greater good, something that Bail Organa and Luthen Rael believed in their respected networks. Mon Mothma wasn’t always fond of Rebel Intelligence agents as they had chilly morals and didn’t always put saving life first.
8. The Declaration
In 2 BBY, or two years before the start of A New Hope, the Ghorman Massacre occurred. Mon Mothma had been vocal for years about the suffering of the Ghorman people as early as 5 BBY, as seen in Andor. The Massacre was the final straw for her as Imperial forces opened fire on a group of peaceful protestors. It was then that Mon Mothma officially defected from the Empire as she realized the Senate held no more power.
She openly criticized the Emperor, personally condemning his reign and the effect on the galaxy. Fleeing into hiding, she was taken to safety by the Spectres and Phoenix Cell. Once she was out of danger, Mothma made a formal declaration broadcast across the galaxy for the rebel cells to come together and form the Rebel Alliance.
This was the official start of the war.
9. The First United Battle
Despite the declaration of war against the Empire, the Battle of Atollon worried Mon Mothma that the Rebel Alliance wasn’t ready for the fight. Atollon was a horrific defeat, despite the aid provided by Mandalorian rebel cells. Over the next two years, many back-and-forth smaller skirmishes and battles took place among individual cells.
The first time the Rebel Alliance would fight as a unified front was the Battle of Scarif in the movie Rogue One. It was their first significant victory in the fight.
10. New Leadership
While the early leaders of the Rebel Alliance High Council were people like Bail Organa and Jan Dodonna, a series of losses made way for new leadership. Bail Organa died during the destruction of Alderaan, while Jan Dodonna sacrificed his life so the rest of the High Council could escape an attack.
These losses opened up spaces for others to step up like Leia Organa taking her father’s place. Dodonna’s passing and losing some of his officers opened the door for people like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian to rise quickly through the military ranks, many getting battlefield promotions.
11. Imperials Not Always Welcomed
There were often mixed feelings about Imperials defecting to join the Rebellion. Ex-imperials like Jan Dodonna, who defected very early into the Empire years, were seen as far more favorable and usually welcomed into the ranks quicker. Other Imperials like Alexsandr Kallus had to work harder to prove their loyalty.
The destruction of Alderaan led to a mass defection among Imperials, as many did not sign up for planet genocide. Thane Kyrell was one pilot who left the Empire after witnessing Alderaan’s demise. Though, as millions of Imperials died on the Death Star, it led to radicalization for the Empire too.
Imperials who stayed long after Alderaan’s destruction before defecting faced much more scrutiny. They were considered zealots by the Rebellion, making it harder for defectors to join in the later years. Yrica Quell faced this kind of criticism as she didn’t leave the Empire until after the events of Operation: Cinder. She and 12,000 other Imperial defectors were held in an internment camp with horrific conditions as the New Republic processed them on how best to use these people.
12. The New Republic
Despite the victory at Endor and the emperor's death, it would still take another year of fighting to defeat the Empire. The final skirmish was at the Battle of Jakku. During this period, the Rebel Alliance reformed itself into the New Republic, though they didn’t have true government powers until the signing of the Galactic Concordance.
13. The Resistance
With the threat of the First Order looming, Leia Organa formed the Resistance to combat them. She called upon her Rebellion allies like Admiral Ackbar to help. The Resistance was similar to the Rebel Alliance, even using the same symbol. She would recruit the next generation of fighters to her cause, like a pilot Poe Dameron, a senator’s son Kazuda Xiono, an ex-stormtrooper Finn, a maintenance worker Rose Tico and a junker named Rey to carry on her legacy and be the spark that defeated the First Order.
Hope Mullinax is a freelance writer with over ten years of experience working for various publications. She’s the Site Expert at Dork Side of the Force, a Freelance News Writer for Collider, and the Animation Staff Writer at The Geeky Waffle. When she’s not writing, she loves on her cats, collects Pokémon cards, and rolls dice on For Light and Dice, a Star Wars TTRPG podcast.