I recently re-watched parts of the Phantom Menace and it doesn't seem clear to me whether or not Palpatine planned for the counter-insurgency to be successful on Naboo. Darth Maul's unsuccessful attempt to counter the Jedi on Naboo and elsewhere, allowed the Jedi to learn of the return of the Sith and to be alert for danger from them.


Obviously it wasn't a big set back for Palpatine since he really only needed to create the threat of the Trade Federation to justify the creation of the clone army.

Is there any mention in the script or novelization of Palpatine's original plan, or did he foresee Darth Maul's death anyway?

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    Note that Darth Maul already revealed himself (on purpose) on Tatooine. Also, what I understood from episode two, is that the clone army was already being created prior to episode one.
    – Mixxiphoid
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 7:55
  • I think that it would have been great for him if it had worked, and he probably anticipated it's success, but he obviously wasn't relying on it too heavily.
    – user57282
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 8:53
  • Restored image - I think it works better with the image than without. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 20:20

3 Answers 3


Palpatine was absolutely expecting his plan to work. He wanted the Trade Federation to "wipe out" the Gungan army and capture Amidala. He was expecting the Queen to be near the army, but obviously Maul learned of her plan to attack the palace and went to confront them there.

Palpatine had total confidence in Maul's ability to fight and defeat the Jedi and the Trade Federation's ability to re-capture Amidala. As he tells Nute Gunray...

“The Jedi cannot become involved,” Sidious said dismissively. “They can only protect the Queen. Even Qui-Gon Jinn will not break that covenant.” He paused, considering. “This will work to our advantage.”
“I have your approval to proceed then, my lord?” Nute Gunray asked nervously. “Proceed,” said Darth Sidious. His mouth curled into a small smile below his dark hood. “Wipe them out. All of them.” Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: Junior Novelisation


“Good,” Darth Sidious said. “I will see to it that things in the Senate stay as they are. I am sending Darth Maul to join you. He will deal with the Jedi.” - Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: Junior Novelisation

and most tellingly...

Years of training had gone into the preparation of Darth Maul as a Sith Lord. He had been more than the equal of the Jedi Knights he had faced and should have been able to defeat them easily. It was bad luck and chance that had led to his death, a combination that even the power of the dark side could not always overcome.

To answer the wider question about the invasion, it's worth noting that although Maul learned of the deceptive nature of the attack (through his network of eavesdropping drones) he didn't actually do anything about it, trusting that both sides would slaughter themselves.

Whatever the reasons, Maul’s task remained as before: to kill two Jedi. The rest of it—the blockade, the invasion, the counteroffensive—was nothing more than theater. So what if the Trade Federation lost its army and ten thousand Gungans died? Who cared, after all, about Naboo or its young Queen? The real war was, as ever, between the Sith and the Jedi. - Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: Official Novelisation

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    @dvk - 1) The dark side clouds force visions, so sayeth Yoda. 2) Palpatine might have considered Maul largely expendable but he seems pretty confident that he'll kill the Jedi. 3) Palpatine explictly states that the Jedi can't fight the Federation army. If they and Padmé get captured, the Knights will have no choice but to surrender, in which case he'll order the Federation to execute them. 4) Palpatine seems to have no issue with having multiple apprentice candidates knocking about.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 15:03
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    @DVK - He was hoping that having his homeworld under TF occupation would gain him a substantial sympathy vote toward becoming Chancellor.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 15:33
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    Sidious did not need to have Naboo taken over buy the Trade Federation or have Darth Maul live. With the attack of Naboo he was able to gain sympathy in the senate which, with the vote of no confidence that he tricked Padme into putting forth in the senate, lead to his election as Supreme Chancellor. With the death of Darth Maul, he was able to use Tyranus, who was much better at negotiation, to bring together systems that were very unhappy about the power shift under the banner of the separatists and thus started the Clone Wars. Naboo, Maul and the Trade Federation were just means to an end.
    – USFBS
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 12:50
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    @USFBS - All fine points, alas none of them are backed up in the film, script or novels. It would have gained him even more sympathy if Naboo had been subjected to a brutal occupation and don't forget that he had a big secret army at disposal with which to "liberate" them whenever it suited him. As far as Tyrannus was concerned, the Emperor seems to have had no qualms about having multiple apprentices on the go, as evidenced by the new SW comics where he literally has a dozen candidates at various training facilities.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 12:55
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    @DVK - I've found a better quote from the PM novelisation; "Years of training had gone into the preparation of Darth Maul as a Sith Lord. He had been more than the equal of the Jedi Knights he had faced and should have been able to defeat them easily. It was bad luck and chance that had led to his death, a combination that even the power of the dark side could not always overcome.".
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 1:00

OK, I don't have canon quotes to prove my answer (on the other hand, as I noted in comments, I think Richard's answer's quotes don't prove anything since Palpatine/Sidious could have simply be lying. I know, shocking for a Sith Master to lie to people, amirite?).


  1. If Trade Federation succeeded, then it would control Naboo.

    If it controlled Naboo, there would no longer be a Naboo Senator in the Republic Senate (since TF had its own representative in the Senate). Which if your recall, was Palpatine's day job, about to be eliminated.

    So,... no more way for him to keep rising to power as Chancellor if TF won.

  2. If Trade Federation succeeded, then it would have won, and would have no need to join an outright CIS rebellion.

    Since Sidious's goal was to forment that rebellion to drive creation of Clone Army, that would be counterproductive to his goals.

  3. Less of an evidence, but Sidious is justifiably proud of his Force prophetic powers. Well, he missed that small point with Vader turning back into Anakin and offing him. And with a whiney farmboy blowing up Tarkin's new shiny toy. And with the whiney farmboy fiendishly incestuously attractive sister existing. And with Obi-Wan "I'm keeping my old last name" Kenobi and Luke "He is keeping Vader's old last name" Skywalker hiding out on Vader's origin planet for 17 years.

    But OTHER than that, he had pretty good foresight. So it's not unlikely he could foresee Maul's demise - which is why he rounded up Maul's replacement before then (Darth Tyranus, AKA Dooku, was working for Sidious before Naboo crisis, as we see in novel Tarkin)

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    1) If the TF had occupied Naboo, then Palpatine would lead the govt in exile, arguably a more powerful position than being a mere senator.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 15:34
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    2) If the TF had occupied Naboo, that would hardly have been the end of the conflict. Naboo was the first step on the road to war, not the ultimate goal.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 15:35
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    3) Palpatine seems to be collecting Sith candidates left right and centre. He doesn't seem to have much truck with the whole "there can only be two" nonsense.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 15:36
  • Wasn't #1 the entire point of the invasion? Naboo was blocking the TF's attempts to remove taxation on their Free Trade Zones. The TF invaded Naboo so they could take over that seat in the Senate and remove the source of the taxation. That leads into #2, as a successful invasion wouldn't necessitate any more action from the TF, having achieved their taxation policy goals. In turn they wouldn't join the CIS as they don't need more war materiel. That is, Palpatine needed the invasion to fail to give the TF reason to build a large droid army, which forces the Republic to employ the clone army.
    – Fatbird3
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:32
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    Re 1) Palpatine’s plan was to become chancellor, which he succeeded in while the invasion was still ongoing. Whether or not the invasion ultimately succeeded is irrelevant: Palpatine was already chancellor. Unless we know enough about the Senate’s rules to know that a chancellor would be fired if he did not represent a member of the Senate itself, of course. A successful invasion might also have led to a Taiwan-like state of affairs for Naboo (recognise the TF’s forced regime, or the exiled government?), in which case Palpatine might have kept his representative day job. Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 4:48

It was a false attack, red herring, misdirection. Militaries have been sacrificing grunts for the sake of a greater goal ever since there was a chain of command. To find out the answer to your question, you'd have to ask...

What would the Trade Federation winning have done to improve Darth Sidious' position? What would the Trade Federation losing have done to improve Darth Sidious' position?

Both had the same goal. To gain the power of Supreme Chancellor. He becomes this while the fighting is going on. Who wins now no longer matters, because now he has access to new resources to further cement control.

If the Trade F wins on Naboo now, Palpatine can call them traitors. Go to war now or otherwise delay and later go to war with a clone army.

If the Trade F loses, help rebuild Naboo. Gain confidence of good senators and others who he doesn't control. Eventually lead it to the clone wars.

In both cases, Sidious avoids detection, gains absolute control, and systematically destroys the Jedi. It was pretty much set in stone the moment he became a senator. Everyone is so wrapped up in the peaceful life they didn't even think there was a problem til it was way too late.

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    One of the things that I think Lucas definitely got right about the prequel movies is the nature of the wars involved. The conflicts are completely manufactured, and Sidious does not even particularly care which faction wins, because he controls both sides, and the wars are just an excuse for him to take and consolidate power.
    – Buzz
    Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 15:22

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