Separatists Star Wars Guide

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The Confederacy of Independent Systems was a government founded by Count Dooku. It was born out of frustration with the Galactic Republic’s corruption and neglect of systems outside the Core Worlds. The separatist movement started peacefully but quickly became militarized as tensions with Coruscant grew.

After a bloody confrontation in Geonosis, the Clone Wars between the CIS and the Republic began. This conflict lasted three years and saw many worlds destroyed by fighting, while both warring parties ceased to exist officially.

Bottom Line Up Front

The separatists were the opponents of the Republic during the end of the High Republic era and the Clone Wars. Led by Count Dooku, their droid armies clashed with clone troopers to control the galaxy’s systems and hyperspace lanes. After early successes, it suffered a series of defeats on the battlefield before its destruction on Darth Sidious’ orders.


Clone Wars

The Confederacy of Independent Systems (CIS) was a government-created as an alternative system to the Galactic Republic. Under the leadership of Count Dooku, a former Jedi Master, this organization united thousands of star systems in the Inner, Mid, and Outer Rim Territories of the galaxy.

It attracted support from its populations and leaders by offering a decentralized government that tended to the needs of systems neglected by the Republic and the Core Worlds.

The CIS enjoyed the support of organizations, namely the Trade Federation, the Banking Clan, the Techno Union, the Commerce Guild, and the Corporate Alliance.

While initially not militarized, the Confederacy of Independent Systems eventually developed its droid army using designs inherited from the Trade Federation. The droids were the backbone of the Confederate military.

Two years into its founding, the CIS and the Galactic Republic’s clone army clashed in Geonosis. The confrontation, which led to a tactical Republican victory, marked the start of the Clone Wars.

Fierce battles raged over the galaxy for three years before bringing an end to the Separatists and the Republic. The First Galactic Empire unified systems under one administration.

Key Figures

As an alternative to the Galactic Republic, the Confederacy of Independent Systems was proud of its decentralized approach to power. Minor or remote systems had an equal say in their dealings and could finally address some of their grievances ignored by their former masters at Coruscant.

Despite this, the CIS still had a core leadership to handle certain matters, particularly those of military importance.

Count Dooku

Count Dooku

The leader of Serenno and once a highly esteemed member of the Jedi Council was the father of the separatist movement. Charismatic and charming, Dooku renounced his title of Jedi Master after ideological differences with the Galactic Republic’s path.

Darth Sidious

Mysterious and persuasive, most separatist leaders knew little about Darth Sidious until the fall of the Galactic Republic. Despite not being an official member of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, he had a crucial role in its control due to the influence he exerted on his members.

Nute Gunray

As the Viceroy of the Trade Federation, Nute Gunray was an old political adversary of the Galactic Republic. The Neimoidian politician was the executor behind the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo because of taxation disputes with the Coruscant government.

Viceroy Gunray was ruthless and opportunistic. He cooperated with Darth Sidious despite having reservations.


After the Clone Wars escalated, Count Dooku appointed the towering Kaleesh male as the commander of the separatist droid army. The galaxy feared his brutal tactics, hostility towards the Jedi Order, and cybernetic appearance. General Grievous was a skilled duelist and armed himself with the lightsabers of Jedi Knights defeated in combat.

Poggle the Lesser

Poggle the Lesser

The Stalgasin hive of Geonosis officially obeyed Queen Karina the Great, but Archduke Poggle the Lesser ruled in her name. He was a brutal warlord who applied his expertise in the production of custom-made advanced military technology. Poggle the Lesser was an avid believer in the separatist cause.

He became the lynchpin of the Confederacy of Independent Systems’ war machine when Count Dooku sought the Geonosian military-industrial complex to produce the bulk of the separatist battle-droid army.


Contextualizing Galactic Separatism

The Confederacy of Independent Systems was the centerpiece of the Galactic Republic’s last war, but ironically its genesis had roots in a long-lasting peace.

During the so-called High Republic period, the galaxy spent a thousand years without conflict. It was an extensive period of prosperity and peace where the Republic, governing from its seat in Coruscant, projected its power far and wide.

Republican scouts and diplomats set out to expand the government’s influence on territories previously out of reach. The romance of galactic exploration and the prospect of integration into a grand structure with an established economy was enough to rope most systems into the Galactic Republic.

The honeymoon phase between the newly incorporated worlds and the Republic felt deceptively eternal.

The arrival of new systems meant near-infinite opportunities for businesses and government institutions alike. Large deals involving influence, resources, and money happened regularly.

These negotiations replaced military power as Coruscant’s means of power projection. The Republic’s armed forces saw a drastic drawdown, with the Jedi Order serving as the guardians of stability in the galaxy.

Once the Republic consolidated its grasp on the galaxy, Coruscant gradually became a breeding ground for corruption. The Galactic Senate lost much of its influence to career bureaucrats, who exerted it silently while most delegates used their limited power for electioneering and personal gain.

The powerplay in Coruscant created a hierarchy of systems and issues worth addressing. The Galactic Republic’s response to problems varied wildly based on the perceived worth of the star systems affected by them.

Political play at the Galactic Senate affected the Jedi Order as well. The Jedi Council was an independent body, but it still required authorization from the Republic’s delegates to take any decisive action outside its nominal peacekeeping mandate. The inertia driven by prolonged peace affected its decisions too.

Inaction by the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order culminated in a loss of life. Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas had a Force vision of a catastrophic solar storm affecting a planet. With the support of Dooku, he proposed warning the population so they could take preventive measures.

The Jedi Council refused to act on a vision alone. The delegate representing the system in question was more concerned over the natural resources and wealth on the planet than its people.

The Republic ultimately refused to take decisive action beyond sending a delegation of Jedi to investigate. The solar storm happened as predicted by Sifo-Dyas, wiping much of its population in the process.

While Dooku stayed in the Jedi Order and rose to the rank of Master, the event had a profound effect on his perception of the organization. As a profound idealist, he had become disillusioned with the Jedi and the governmental structure. In Dooku’s eyes, the Galactic Republic had crossed the point of no return.

It was hopelessly corrupt, and the rot had settled on a level requiring rebuilding the establishment from the ground up. As for the Jedi Order, while Dooku still held many of the Council members in high esteem, he believed the government had too much influence over it.

He did not see the Jedi as inherently morally bankrupt, but the Galactic Republic and its officials limited the Jedi Order’s actions.

After completing the training of his Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn, Dooku had to answer his homeworld’s call when a power dispute broke out in his native planet of Serenno. His brother, Count Ramil, brought upon an invasion of Abyssin mercenaries.

Dooku defeated him and became the leader of Serenno. His disappointment with the Galactic Republic prompted him to renounce his place in the Jedi Order.

Setting the Stage


The Naboo crisis broke the seemingly eternal peace across the galaxy. Chancellor Finis Vallorum introduced a controversial taxation act across the Republic which affected the revenue of hundreds of major corporations and star systems. Overnight, the Galactic Senate had a large swathe of delegates who were factually opposed to the Republic and its policies.

While the fight remained confined to the walls of the Galactic Senate, the Trade Federation escalated its opposition at the behest of Darth Sidious. With the aid of a custom-built secret droid army, forces led by Viceroy Nute Gunray besieged then invaded the planet of Naboo.

The Trade Federation hoped to hold the world hostage to force the Galactic Republic to repeal Chancellor Vallorum’s taxation act. Despite the gravity of the situation, the Senate failed to approve decisive action. Locals aided by two Jedi Knights incidentally caught in the fight helped save the planet.

In response to the Republic’s failure to assist Naboo, Queen Padmé Amidala tabled a successful motion of no confidence in Chancellor Finis Vallorum. Senator for the Naboo system Sheev Palpatine assumed his place, but the political landscape deteriorated all the same.

The Separatist Movement

Political will in the Galactic Senate remained tightly focused on the Core Worlds, with other systems seen as accessories. Delegates and star systems loyal to the Republic felt alienated when Coruscant ignored their proposals and pleas for assistance in favor of policies benefitting the pockets and political intention of those with influence and power in Coruscant.

Count Dooku of Serenno, a wealthy Outer Rim planet also in the shadow of the Core Worlds, used his resources to speak out against this. A political idealist at heart, he started a series of guest lectures about the so-called “Independent Movement for Self-Determination.”

Dooku visited universities and academies across the galaxy to ignite the debate over the feasibility and potential benefits of star systems choosing a political path away from the Galactic Republic. The popularity of his movement soared. The former Jedi became the face of galactic separatism.

The separatist seed had taken root in the hearts and minds of the population across thousands of star systems that had grown weary of the Galactic Republic’s neglect.

With momentum on his side, Count Dooku decided to establish an official body to consolidate his cause. The new organization was the Confederacy of Independent Systems, or CIS for short. Its headquarters were in Dooku’s home planet of Serenno.

With a full-fledged alternative government set up, thousands of star systems submitted articles of secession through their delegates in the Galactic Senate. They immediately joined the newly established Confederacy of Independent Systems.

The move hit the Core Worlds unexpectedly hard as the Republic relied heavily on seceding systems. This unprecedented and ongoing exodus in the Republic became the so-called Separatist Crisis.

Count Dooku hoped to deal a crushing blow to the Republic by choking one of its main trade routes. The Eriadu system was essential to this plan.

Dooku intended to use the old friend he had with its governor, Wilhuff Tarkin, to drag him under the Confederacy of Independent Systems’ sphere of influence. Without Eriadu, the Republic would have to negotiate trade deals favorable to the Confederacy.

The plan was not to be, however. Tarkin welcomed his old friend’s visit and listened to his proposal. The governor ultimately decided that he and Eriadu had more to gain from staying loyal to the Galactic Republic instead of gambling it all on Count Dooku’s separatist cause.

Without enough leverage to strongarm the Core Worlds into a deal, Dooku had to find other ways to strengthen his cause.

While continuing his appearances promoting the separatist cause across different worlds, he covertly reached out to several large corporations and conglomerates that were at odds with the Galactic Republic.

These were glad to put their wealth and influence behind the separatist cause. The Core Worlds were introducing regulations that protected only their interests. These harmed businesses’ abilities to thrive across the galaxy.

One of the largest groups approached by Count Dooku was the Trade Federation. Their long-standing feud with the Republic made them naturally drawn to the Confederacy of Independent Systems.

However, the Trade Federation’s leadership proved harder to sway than others due to its leadership. Viceroy Nute Gunray was proud and refused to come to terms with his army’s defeat at the hand of the people of Naboo.

In exchange for backing the separatist cause, the leader demanded the assassination of Padmé Amidala, who by then had been serving as Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate.

Count Dooku complied and hired Mandalorian bounty hunter Jango Fett to murder her. The assassination attempts failed because of a security detail assigned by the Jedi Order. The CIS leader assured Viceroy Gunray that he would uphold his end of the deal, which secured the Trade Federation’s support.

Geonosian Flashpoint

 Confederacy of Independent Systems

Short of political leverage to negotiate with the Galactic Republic, Count Dooku understood the Confederacy of Independent Systems required means to impose its will by force.

The lack of a significant Republican military was its weakest spot. The Jedi Order was powerful but extremely limited in numbers, which hindered its ability to project power on many fronts.

As a response to the Separatist Crisis, the Galactic Senate had initiated talks over building an army to combat the Confederacy if need be. However, the motion had stalled due to delegates who believed in a strictly diplomatic solution to the situation.

The Trade Federation had pledged the largest army to the CIS. Despite its defeat at Naboo, Viceroy Nute Gunray replenished their losses.

Count Dooku orchestrated a surge in production by combining the forces available to him. Using designs from the Trade Federation’s droid army, the separatist leader enlisted the help of Geonosian warlord Poggle the Lesser.

The de facto leader of the Stalgasin hive used his experienced military engineers to improve the droid designs and quickly started mass production in Geonosis‘ multiple underground foundries. Count Dooku had wanted to keep the build-up a secret, but an unintended visitor spoiled his plans.

Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi arrived at Geonosis while following bounty hunter Jango Fett. While the Republic’s peacekeeper had failed in his pursuit, Kenobi spotted a delegation of separatist leaders heading into a meeting.

He followed them to gather information and ran back to his starfighter to relay the message to the Jedi Council. During his transmission, however, Kenobi was ambushed by Geonosian warriors.

Although the capture of a spy is often a minor development in a crisis, the imprisoning of Obi-Wan Kenobi was the unintended catalyst for the war between the Confederacy of Independent Systems and the Galactic Republic.

His Padawan Anakin Skywalker and Senator Padmé Amidala witnessed the ambush during a holographic transmission and relayed this information to the Jedi Order. The two attempted an unauthorized rescue mission but fell captive too.

The Jedi Council ordered a rapid response team to assault the Petranaki Arena in Geonosis to rescue the prisoners before their executions. The rescuers successfully infiltrated the area, but Count Dooku ambushed them with the newly built battle-droid army. When the Jedi refused to surrender, the separatist leader ordered his troops to fire on them.

An epic battle raged in the arena. Despite valiant efforts by the Jedi Knights, it seemed as if the Confederacy of Independent Systems’ droids would claim a victory through attrition.

The tides of the battle changed when the Galactic Republic arrived with a surprising force. Jedi Master Yoda led the newly formed Grand Army of the Republic for the first time, conducting an assault landing on Geonosis.

The well-trained army of clone troopers enjoyed air support and heavy weapons. The amount of firepower brought to bear proved overwhelming for the separatist forces on Geonosis.

Count Dooku ordered other CIS council leaders to leave the planet immediately to avoid capture. Surviving separatist troops organized a hasty retreat. The battle of Geonosis inflicted heavy casualties on both sides, but it was just the beginning.

The Clone Wars

Separatist Alliance

The clashes on Geonosis marked the beginning of the Clone Wars between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Despite the defeat in their first confrontation, the separatists held control over the planet as the clone army did not occupy it. This allowed droid manufacturing to continue unmolested.

Early in the war, the separatist forces played into their geographic advantages. Unlike the Galactic Republic, which concentrated its military and logistical power in the Core Worlds, the Confederacy of Independent Systems spread itself around the galaxy. This structure allowed its forces to operate more independently in individual systems.

The separatists moved to control hyperspace lanes to cut off the clone army from the Core Worlds. Despite early successes in capturing worlds and transport lanes, the Confederacy of Independent Systems began to suffer setbacks in its campaigns.

The first major one came again at Geonosis. A second Republic invasion descended upon the rocky planet. This time it had a goal to occupy it and remove all separatist infrastructure. The attack succeeded in its primary objectives: the invading army destroyed the droid foundries of Geonosis and captured Poggle the Lesser alive.

Hoping to offset this loss, the Confederacy of Independent Systems launched a daring invasion of Kamino. This water planet housed the entirety of the Galactic Republic’s cloning facilities. If successful, the separatists would deny reinforcements to the clone army. General Grievous and Asajj Ventress led the operation.

The droid army briefly succeeded in establishing a beachhead. A counterattack led by Jedi General Anakin Skywalker destroyed the separatist troops on the planet before they could stop the Kamino cloning operation.

While the separatist and republican armies clashed across the galaxy, envoys from both sides participated in several rounds of negotiations to find a diplomatic solution to the war.

The envoys involved often attempted to reach common ground, but the talks were fruitless due to external influence from those who stood to benefit from the war.

As the Clone Wars entered their third year, the Confederacy of Independent Systems was in a dire military situation. The separatist army had retreated to the Outer Rim territories, with the clone army in tow. The CIS forces dug in on its last remaining holdouts. This campaign came to be the Outer Rim Sieges.

With the war tides firmly against them, the separatists launched a daring operation against the heart of the Galactic Republic. Acting under Darth Sidious’ orders, General Grievous and Count Dooku brought the CIS fleet to orbit of Coruscant.

Most of the clone army and its Jedi Generals had been deployed to the Outer Rim Sieges, leaving the planet at the hands of the planet’s Home Defense Fleet. General Grievous infiltrated Coruscant and succeeded in kidnapping Chancellor Palpatine, who became a hostage aboard the Separatist flagship.

Grievous wished to retreat with the Chancellor aboard and force the Republic to negotiate using its leader as leverage. However, Count Dooku ordered him to stay and fight the enemy fleet. This maneuver turned out to be a tactical mistake. It allowed the Republic to recall several of its starships to defend Coruscant.

As a fierce space battle raged over the republican capital, Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi successfully infiltrated the separatist flagship and rescued Chancellor Palpatine, killing Count Dooku in the process.

General Grievous assumed the leadership of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. He ordered troops engaged at Coruscant to exit the system and rendezvous at the sinkhole planet of Utapau, together with remaining members of the separatist executive council.

Most surviving CIS forces managed to flee Coruscant and reach Utapau, but Republic intelligence tracked their movements. On orders of the Jedi Council, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi moved to investigate while the Grand Army of the Republic positioned itself for an assault.

General Grievous briefed other separatist leaders on the situation. He ordered them to move to the volcanic world of Mustafar, where they would be safe from the republican reach.

At the surface of Utapau, General Kenobi confirmed the separatist presence and gave the green light for a full-scale invasion. While clone troops landed on the planet, the Jedi ambushed General Grievous and had a protracted lightsaber duel with him. The acting separatist leader attempted to escape but died of blaster wounds from Kenobi.

Rise of the Empire

Nute Gunray

As the battle of Utapau raged on, the Confederacy of Independent Systems’ chief opponent transformed itself. After narrowly surviving a clash with members of the Jedi Council, Chancellor Palpatine used the emergency powers bestowed upon him to reorganize the Galactic Republic as the First Galactic Empire. He stayed as its leader but under the title of Emperor Palpatine.

The Empire’s head secretly dispatched his apprentice to Mustafar, where the separatist executive council had been hiding. Despite previous security assurances by Darth Sidious, the mission was to eliminate them.

Darth Vader slaughtered all the leaders before deactivating the separatist droid control ships. The Clone Wars were officially over. The Grand Army of the Republic became part of the Empire’s military, and it swept through the defenseless remaining separatist holdouts. The Confederacy of Independent Systems was over.


Question: What is the Confederacy of Independent Systems?

Answer: The CIS was a group of corporate conglomerates and star systems that broke away from the Galactic Republic. Tensions from the separatist movement culminated in the Clone Wars.

Question: What Happened to the Confederacy of Independent Systems?

Answer: The CIS continuously lost ground to the Grand Army of the Republic in the third year of the Clone Wars. After reorganizing the Galactic Republic into the First Galactic Empire, Darth Sidious dispatched his apprentice Darth Vader on a mission to Mustafar, where the separatist leaders were hiding. The Sith killed them and destroyed the droid control infrastructure, factually ending the Confederacy.

Question: Did Any Jedi Join the Separatists?

Answer: Yes. Several former Jedi Knights who had taken up positions in their homeworlds joined the Confederacy of Independent Systems. The most famous of these was Count Dooku of Sereno, who founded the separatist cause.

Question: Why did the Confederacy of Independent Systems Leave the Galactic Republic?

Answer: There were many reasons. Primarily, the separatists had grown weary of the hopeless level of corruption normalized within the Galactic Republic and the neglect shown towards the populace outside the Core Worlds.

Question: What was the Capital of the Confederacy of Independent Systems?

Answer: Despite Count Dooku hailing from Sereno, the planet of Raxus was the capital of the CIS. This beautiful world with a temperate climate hosted the Separatist Senate, which Dooku presided over remotely for the most part.

Final Thoughts

The Confederacy of Independent Systems ultimately failed in its goal to establish a government rival to the Galactic Republic. The separatists damaged republican integrity to a point where discontent allowed Palpatine to dissolve the government in Coruscant and reorganize it into an Empire.

Despite being defeated, Count Dooku’s vision for self-determination left a mark in the galaxy. The disdain for both corruption and the marginalization of remote systems stayed.

It helped fuel anti-imperial sentiment, eventually consolidating under the Rebel Alliance. For the Empire, the main contribution of the separatists was the designs of the so-called Ultimate Weapon.

The project would eventually become the Death Star deep space battle station and the site of perhaps the most critical battle in the galaxy’s history.

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