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In episodes three, four, five and six of Star Wars Darth Vader is sometimes called Lord Vader. What does this title, "Lord", represent?

At this point in the Star Wars history knowledge of the Jedi is supposedly quite scarce so I doubt that hardly anyone would know of the Sith, or to call a Sith master a Dark Lord (of the Sith), so this being an indicator of nobility seems a stretch. Even if one were to say that Anakin was married to Padme, very few people in the universe knew who Darth Vader actually was to consider using that link.

Then was the title "Lord" supposed to represent a position in a hierarchy? Something akin to calling one under a King a Duke? If that is the case, shouldn't he have been called King Vader, assuming that he held the next logical position of rank beneath the Emperor?

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    I don't think kings and emperors usually exist at the same time – The Fallen Jul 18 '12 at 21:12
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    Kings and Emperors frequently exist at the same time. An Emperor is often a King with lesser Kings under him. – DJClayworth Jul 18 '12 at 21:31
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    You already have a couple of Princesses, and a Queen or two. You think some guy is going to rise to be second-in-command of an empire and call himself "Mr Vader"? – DJClayworth Jul 18 '12 at 21:34
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    @DVK See the Holy Roman Empire. It was ruled by an Emperor who was over various individual entities governed by kings, dukes, counts, bishops, abbots and other rulers, collectively known as princes. – Xantec Jul 19 '12 at 0:08
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    It might be a bit before your time, but in 1987 Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom granted Darth Vader peerage, making him an actual Lord. In the House of Lords, Vader has been known to be a thoughtful legislator and a supporter of environmental conservation. – John O Jul 19 '12 at 1:22
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As per Wikipedia,

Lord is a deferential appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler.

As such, in the original, it was merely purposed to designate Vader (or for that matter other Lords of the Sith) as authority figures.

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    I agree. And “Sir Vader” doesn't sound too good, so “Lord Vader” is probably the easiest way to address him with a name. – b_jonas Jul 19 '12 at 10:14
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    @b_jonas Maybe not "Sir" Vader, but why not another title? Might I suggest "In?" Or perhaps "Ele?" – Chase Sandmann Oct 9 '14 at 20:02
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    @ChaseSandmann, I personally prefer "Master" – Broots Waymb Nov 12 '15 at 22:57
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He is addressed as Lord because he is a Dark Lord. Darth Vader is a Dark Lord of the Sith.

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dark_Lord_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'. Many Sith Lords have used the Darth title, but there is no evidence as to the synonymic relationship of these two appellations.

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    So then everyone knew he was a Sith? – Xantec Jul 19 '12 at 1:39
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    @Xantec He was a known Force user, and I believe the Jedi were presumed extinct at the time. Plus, light-side players tend not to just kill their underlings at whim. So... yeah, probably. – Iszi Jul 19 '12 at 2:54
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    @Xantec - Yes not that the average person understood what that meant at all. Only those who bothered to study the portions of galactic history would even have an idea. And only those closest to the sith understood what it really means. – Chad Jul 19 '12 at 20:01
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From the Wookieepedia page on the word "Darth":

From the "Canon" page:

Darth was a title given to the Dark Lords of the Sith Order, which preceded a moniker different from the birth name. The Sith names of Sheev Palpatine, Dooku and Anakin Skywalker were Darth Sidious, Darth Tyranus and Darth Vader. The title was already in use about one millennium before the Clone Wars, when Darth Bane created the Rule of Two. In at least one known case, that of Anakin Skywalker, the Darth title and the accompanying moniker were bestowed onto the Sith apprentice by the master. The Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi once used "Darth" as a form of address when talking to Darth Vader. It was traditional that only the current Sith Master and his or her apprentice were allowed to use the Darth title.

From the "Legends" page:

Many Sith Lords chose to add "Darth" to their name, so much so that the word is considered synonymous with the dark side of the Force in some circles. It was also taken to signify giving up one's old life. Such examples are Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader, or Jacen Solo becoming Darth Caedus. But the origins of the word are uncertain. It is often thought that "Darth" is merely a contraction of the title "Dark Lord of the Sith", but there are theories that suggest a deeper interpretation.

From the "Behind the Scenes" section:

Darth is often thought to be a combination of letters from the title Dark Lord of the Sith, a theory which is alluded to in Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force. Darth may also be a portmanteau of dark and death.

Prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, the only known Sith Lord to bear the title Darth was Darth Vader. When Darth Sidious and Darth Maul were revealed in The Phantom Menace, the title took on its distinct association with the Sith, and it has appeared throughout of all eras of the Star Wars saga. As a result of the popularity of Star Wars, the term "Darth" has entered the popular lexicon as a term for evil. Most references are still associated with the Star Wars universe.

In A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi addresses Darth Vader simply as Darth, which is the only instance in the films where the word is used isolated. It is possible that at this point in the development of the saga "Darth" was intended to be the character's name, not a title; in-universe, possibly Obi-Wan was deliberately emphasizing the title as a way of taunting Vader and driving home what he had become.

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Also, do not forget that Vader is being called "Lord" by Imperial sergeants and other similar officers probably to define his rank, higher than "Admiral" or even "Commander". Also, probably Vader is the only one to have this kind of rank in all the Empire, so it should be another way to raise his status above the other commanders.

  • It's not really a rank, just like 'Emperor' is not a rank. And technically he doesn't command military, although if they didn't do what he said there would probably be reprecussions (Grand Moff Tarkin had command of the DS 1, while Vader was technically senior to everyone there) – The Fallen Jul 19 '12 at 14:57
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    Well yes, "Lord" is not a rank in the Imperial Army, but still Vader has his own personal super star destroyer and he also lead the attack to the Hoth Rebel base. – Stefano O. Jul 19 '12 at 15:41
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Because Vader is literally the Evil Warlock Emperor's right-hand man and next in line for the seat of power, and seems to be in charge of the Empire's equivalent of the SS. It would take someone with some real brass to go up to him and tell him that he does not have the right to the title. That person would likely be force choked and be an object lesson to the next person.

And given how freely our society allows the "Doctor" title to folks who haven't earned it (Dre, Seuss, Pepper) we aren't exactly in a position to judge.

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Not a lot of people knew that Vader was a Sith Lord. Only senior officials, like Tarkin for instance, knew of that little detail. As the right hand of the Emperor he would naturally have authority. Many assumed that Vader had been granted the title of Imperial Lord.

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I thought that Darth Vader was only given the title Lord after the destruction of the Death Star in A New Hope as this marked a new position that he held after Grand Moff Tarkin, the character played by Peter Cushing, had been destroyed in the Death Star

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