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The Galactic Empire, colloquially known as the Empire, is a fictional autocracy portrayed in the Star Wars franchise. Created by George Lucas as the primary antagonist in the original 1977 film, the Empire is depicted as being led by Emperor Sheev Palpatine, who consolidated power after replacing the Galactic Republic. Inspired by historical empires and fascist regimes, the Galactic Empire symbolizes the struggle against tyranny and oppression in the Star Wars universe.

The Galactic Empire was formed at the end of The Clone Wars in the movie Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Emperor Palpatine, a Sith Lord, manipulated the war to amass power and bring about the fall of the Jedi Order. He then transformed the Galactic Republic into the authoritarian Galactic Empire, taking on the role of Emperor. The Empire ruled through fear and maintained control through the use of the military and the Tarkin Doctrine, a strategy that emphasized the display of overwhelming power to keep planets in line.

The Empire's military forces included the Imperial Army, Navy, and the infamous stormtroopers. The stormtroopers served as the face of the Imperial military, being both the symbol of Imperial power and the enforcers of their rule. The Empire invested heavily in the development of advanced weaponry and military technology. Iconic examples include the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station with the power to destroy entire planets, and the AT-AT Walker, a massive quadrupedal war machine.

Under the rule of the Galactic Empire, the economy was centralized, and infrastructure was heavily militarized. Emphasis was placed on the extraction and production of resources to fuel their vast military might. Exploitation of planets and their resources often led to decay and pollution, with little regard for the welfare of citizens, especially those from non-human species as the Empire favored human supremacy. The Empire also used forced labor, including the use of Wookiee slaves to construct key installations like the Death Star.

The reign of the Galactic Empire was characterized by widespread oppression, enslavement, and the destruction of entire cultures. Some of the most notable actions include the genocide of the Lasat species and the destruction of the planet Alderaan. Many who were disenfranchised by the Empire's tyranny sought to fight back, eventually forming the Rebel Alliance. Led by prominent figures such as Princess Leia Organa, Mon Mothma, and Admiral Ackbar, the Rebels opposed the Empire in a series of battles starting with the theft of the Death Star plans.

The Empire's downfall began with the destruction of the first Death Star at the Battle of Yavin, which dealt a severe blow to their perceived invincibility. The Rebel Alliance continued to score critical victories, culminating in the Battle of Endor, where the second Death Star and Emperor Palpatine were destroyed. Following these events, the Empire suffered from internal conflict and dwindling support, ultimately leading to its collapse and the formation of the New Republic.

Though the Galactic Empire ultimately fell, its remnants and ideals persisted in the form of the First Order, the main antagonist in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Led by Supreme Leader Snoke, later revealed to be a puppet of a resurrected Emperor Palpatine, the First Order sought to reclaim the power of the Empire and establish a new era of authoritarian rule in the galaxy.

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