Palpatine was the supreme ruler of the most powerful tyrannical regime the galaxy had ever witnessed, yet his roots are extremely humble, traced back to the peaceful world of Naboo.
Before his rise to power, Palpatine was an unassuming yet ambitious Senator in the Galactic Republic. Palpatine saw the Republic crumbling about him, torn apart by partisan bickering and corruption. All too common were those unscrupulous Senators taking advantage of the system, growing fat and wealthy on a bureaucracy too slow to catch them.
Palpatine's moment of opportunity came as a result of a trade embargo. The Trade Federation, in protest of government measures that would tax their outlying trade routes, blockaded and invaded Naboo. Naboo's planetary leader, Queen Amidala, rushed to Coruscant for Palpatine's aid. Together, the two pleaded to the Senate for intervention, only to see their request stalemated by Trade Federation filibustering. Frustrated by the government's inability to do anything, Queen Amidala acted upon Palpatine's suggestion, and called for a Vote of No Confidence in the Republic's leadership.
Chancellor Valorum was voted out of office, and Palpatine was soon nominated to succeed him. The crisis on Naboo prompted a strong sympathy vote, and Palpatine became Chancellor. He promised to reunite the disaffected, and bring order and justice to the government.
Despite his promises, the Republic continued to be mired in strife and chaos. A decade after his nomination, Palpatine's Chancellery was faced with the challenge of a popular Separatist movement led by the charismatic leader, Count Dooku. Many in the galaxy feared that the conflict would escalate to full-scale warfare, but Palpatine was adamant that the crisis could be resolved by negotiation.
The Separatists didn't agree. Upon the discovery of a secret army of droids, it became apparent that the Separatists were on the verge of declaring war against the Republic. To counter this, the Republic needed a military, and Palpatine required the authority to activate the Republic's newly forged army of clones. To that end, Senators loyal to Palpatine motioned that the Chancellor be given emergency powers to deal with the Separatist threat.
With spoken regrets, Palpatine accepted the new mantle of power. He promised to return his absolute authority to the Senate after emergency subsided. What no one realized was that the galaxy would undergo further upheaval, and that a state of crisis would ensure Palpatine's authority for decades.
The indications of his future regime were subtle at first. Palpatine's term as Chancellor ended during the rise of the Separatists, but that crisis allowed him to extend his stay in office. Once the Clone Wars erupted, the Senate's inability to efficiently wage war on scattered fronts forced him to enact executive decree after executive decree. He added amendments to the constitution funneling more power to him, effectively circumventing the bureaucracy of the Senate.
The public and the Senate willingly gave up their rights and freedoms in the name of security. Under Palpatine's guidance, the war would be won, and the Republic would be safe. The monstrous specter of General Grievous leading an assault ensured that few questioned Palpatine's growing authority.
The Jedi Council was among the wary. As an instrument of the Senate and the people, the Jedi order resisted Palpatine's direct control. This tension grew as the war escalated. Some in the Senate also quietly whispered their misgiving. Palpatine knew of a delegation of concerned Senators, and he would deal with them in time.
Palpatine instituted a military build-up unprecedented in galactic history. He created the New Order, a Galactic Empire that ruled by tyranny. The Jedi Knights, his biggest threat, were extinguished by his greatest dark side pupil: Anakin Skywalker, who had become Darth Vader.
During the Galactic Civil War, Palpatine ruled with an iron fist. He disbanded the Imperial Senate, and passed control down to the regional governors and the military. During the Hoth campaign, Palpatine expressed to Vader his concerns over Luke Skywalker, a young Rebel powerful in the Force. Vader suggested that the two convert the youth to the dark side of the Force, an idea the Emperor seconded.
The Emperor was a scheming ruler, planning events far in the future, using the Force to foresee the results. Palpatine allowed Rebel spies to learn of the location of the second Death Star, and foresaw their strike team and fleet assault. Palpatine crafted an elaborate trap that was to be the end of the Rebellion. He also concentrated on converting Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the Force, even at the expense of sacrificing Vader. In the Death Star, high above the Battle of Endor, Luke refused the Emperor's newfound dark side power, and so Palpatine used his deadly Force lightning to attack the young Jedi. Luke almost died in the assault, but his father, Darth Vader, returned to the light side of the Force, and hurled the Emperor into the Death Star's reactor core, killing him.
Palpatine was a gnarled, old man. An ancient-looking human, he had pale skin, and searing, sickly yellow eyes. He wore a heavy dark cloak, and carried a glossy black cane.