- "The Sith must be ruled by a single leader, the very embodiment of the strength and power of the dark side. If the leader grows weak, another must rise to seize the mantle."
- ―Darth Revan's Sith Holocron
The title of Dark Lord of the Sith, or Jen'ari in the Sith language, originally referred to the ruler of the Sith Empire, and later was taken by the recognized leader of the Order of the Sith Lords. Before Skere Kaan, there was usually only one Dark Lord of the Sith at a time, who was the head of the Order. The major exception to this trend was the Dark Council of Vitiate's Sith Empire: all twelve Dark Councillors held the title of Dark Lord at the same time. In more recent periods, it was a title shared by multiple individuals simultaneously. The term referred to individuals of both sexes, though Lumiya claimed the title of Dark Lady of the Sith.
The title Dark Lord of the Sith is often thought to be synonymous with the title Darth. Contrary to this, however, is the fact that Sith apprentices have been known to carry the title as well. Two examples would be Darth Malak as Darth Revan's apprentice, and Darth Vader as Darth Sidious's. Many Sith Lords have used the Darth title, but there is no evidence as to the synonymic relationship of these two appellations.
History of the title
- "I now complete your initiation to the power of the dark side...so that you may bring to pass the great destiny foretold...Exar Kun, because of you, the Sith will never die...you have rightly earned the title of...Dark Lord of the Sith!"
- ―Marka Ragnos bestows upon Exar Kun the title of Dark Lord of the Sith
The first Dark Lord of the Sith was Ajunta Pall, the leader of the exiled Dark Jedi who, after their defeat in the Hundred-Year Darkness conquered the Sith species and ruled over them as gods. The title was subsequently passed down from Dark Lord to Dark Lord until the time of Marka Ragnos, who presided over the selection of the next Dark Lord of the Sith at his own funeral.
Xendor, believed to be the first Dark Jedi, is possibly the predecessor of the Dark Lords of the Sith, though he himself was never a Sith Lord (although he may have returned from the dead to take the position as the Dark Underlord many millennia later).
After the fall of the Sith Empire, Naga Sadow gave the title to his apprentice, Freedon Nadd. Some time later, the spirit of Marka Ragnos declared Nadd's apprentice, Exar Kun, Dark Lord of the Sith. At the same time, though unbeknownst to Sadow, Nadd or Kun, members of the Dark Council of the Sith Emperor Vitiate's Sith Empire also held the title of Dark Lord, a first in Sith history. After discovering the long lost Star Forge, Revan broke free of Vitiate's mental control and declared himself the Dark Lord of the Sith of his new empire. Malak succeeded Darth Revan as the Dark Lord after overthrowing him, until he was defeated by his former Sith Master – and again, all twelve Dark Councillors held the title in secret from the rest of the galaxy.
More than two thousand years later, Lord Kaan also granted the title to all members of the Brotherhood of Darkness, thus making it a title shared by many Sith for the second time. After the institution of the Rule of Two, the title was naturally held by only two members at a time, one being the Sith Master and the other being the Sith apprentice. It remained so until the rise of the Rule of One, which like the original Sith Empire recognized only a single Dark Lord of the Sith, bringing the title full circle.
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