How did the Jedi fit on the political structure of the Old Republic?

The movies portray Jedi as an independent organization which seems to be governed by the Jedi council and follows some higher ground ethics. It also does recruiting and training.

However, regarding its fitting in the overall political structure as described in the movies, is there any canon description about:

  • Funding: Does the Jedi order obtain funding from the republic itself or is it a private organization?
  • Political relationship: Is the Jedi order independent (like say Justice or Press) with relation to the Senate or is it controlled or sanctioned by the Senate?
  • If independent and assuming there's a law system in place, is the Jedi order subject to ruling or sanction by the other political structures (i.e. Justice system) or is it its own small state (like the Vatican)?
  • How widely known / accepted are the Jedi within society in general? (This is based on this line in A NEW HOPE: "Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes." Given that happens roughly 20 years after the fall of the Jedi.
  • I believe I read it in a Wookiepedia article but I'm not sure, that the Jedi function financially very similarly to a church. Most of their funding is donated by planets/organizations they have helped.
    – kylieCatt
    Sep 1, 2015 at 15:37
  • 1
  • How did the Jedi fit on the political structure of the Old Republic? Very well, thank you. Sep 1, 2015 at 16:13
  • 3
    @PaulD.Waite - if by "very well" you mean "got hunted down and all killed except 2" Sep 1, 2015 at 22:51
  • I am confused... Are you asking about the Old Republic, as in 2ish thousand years ago? Or the movie era structure?
    – user45549
    Sep 2, 2015 at 3:26

3 Answers 3


Before the Clone Wars the Jedi were essentially hired by the Republic to serve as peacekeepers, and were supplemented in this role by the Judicials. When the Clone Wars started the Jedi served less as "peacekeepers" (since there was no peace) and instead as commanders of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Republic Navy.

Presumably, the Jedi were paid by the Republic for their peacekeeping and war-fighting services (and the Republic raised funds to pay the Jedi via taxation).

The Jedi Order appears to be (mostly) independent of the Senate according to this quote from Episode III:

PALPATINE: Anakin ... I'm appointing you to be my personal representative on the Jedi Council.

ANAKIN: Me? A Master? I am overwhelmed, sir, but the Council elects its own members. They will never accept this.

That said, the Jedi are likely subject to the Republic's laws just as any other Republic citizen. It is difficult to find examples of Jedi put on trial, but Ahsoka Tano was tried by the Republic for sedition (this is not conclusive, however, because she was expelled from the Jedi Order just before the trial). The Jedi are, of course, additionally subject to the rulings of the Jedi Council.

The Jedi are probably fairly well known, as even people on distant Tatooine are aware of them and their abilities. For example, from Episode I:

WATTO: What you think you're some kinda Jedi, waving your hand around like that?


ANAKIN: Well, ahhh...you're a Jedi Knight, aren't you?

QUI-GON: What makes you think that?

ANAKIN : I saw your laser sword. Only Jedi carry that kind of weapon.

If minor individuals (such as a junk dealer and his slave on an Outer Rim planet like Tatooine) are aware of the Jedi then it's likely that the Jedi were fairly well known in the last years of the Republic. The Jedi gained even more publicity during the Clone Wars. The galaxy's apparent amnesia about the Jedi and the Force in Episode IV is mainly due to out-of-universe reasons (the Clone Wars were initially going to occur further in the past), but can be explained in-universe in part due to the fact that the Jedi were discredited and nearly eliminated at the end of the Clone Wars -- there were virtually no Force users left in the galaxy during Episode IV, and people apparently forgot about them pretty quickly (probably with some help from the Empire).


What do the Jedi Council want anyway? The Anakin critique of the Jedi Council rings somewhat true. Aren’t they a kind of out-of-control Supreme Court, not even requiring Senate approval (with or without filibuster), and heavily armed at that? As I understand it, they vote each other into the office, have license to kill, and seek to control galactic affairs. Talk about unaccountable power used toward secret and mysterious ends.

-- Tyler Cowen, The public choice economics of Star Wars: A Straussian reading


It depends on your definition of 'old' in old republic, and if we want to include the legends canon.

If we assume that we want to look at the older republic (>=1000 years BBY), then you can find that there were a few Jedi who were the chancellors of the Republic, such as Jedi Master Gennara. During the Mandalorian wars they did the same thing that they did during the Clone wars, they were military strategists, and generals (some were used for specific abilities that could turn the tide of battle, known as battle meditation).

Often the Jedi Order maintained an army to go after the Sith in it's various incarnations, be it the Sith Empire, the Brotherhood of Darkness, or anything inbetween. However these armies were disbanded, and the Jedi Order was stripped of it's military ranks as part of the Ruusan Reformation.

Source: Darth Bane trilogy novels

  • Could you provide some actual evidence for these assertions?
    – Valorum
    Jul 6, 2016 at 16:57
  • @Valorum Done, I could say it was your username's ancestor's idea to remove the jedi army.
    – CBredlow
    Jul 6, 2016 at 17:08

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