Are they the new Dark Lords of the Sith?
A ton of story and character details have leaked today, including lots of information about Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker. However, one detail that’s seeped out is so interesting we had to devote an entire article to it. According to Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, Kylo Ren belongs to an organization called “The Knights of Ren” that bestows titles on their followers like the Sith use the moniker “Darth.”
So, who are the Knights of Ren?
To answer that question, we need to take a closer look at the setting of the film. As we discussed in a previous article, we’re very certain The Force Awakens will portray something of a post-apocalyptic Star Wars universe, torn apart by decades of unending conflict between the New Republic and the Empire/First Order. If that’s the case, the galaxy will be very much like Europe in the wake of the Roman Empire… otherwise known as the Dark Ages or Medieval times.
Knights were around during the Medieval times, yeah?
Yup. That’s when they got started. Rome was Christian during the time of its falling, and in its wake several nations arose including the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. However, Europe as a whole was consumed with religious fervor, which was the glue that held society together during such a dark time in history.
One group of knights in particular became very famous: the Knights Templar. As the crusades became a recurring event, the Knights Templar became important figures in those religiously fueled battles. In fact, one of the group’s most famous roles was as combatants that charged in on armored warhorses and broke enemy lines. One of their notable victories was the Battle of Montgisard, where only 500 Templar Knights assisted a few thousand infantrymen in defeating Saladin’s army of 26,000.
So, what do the Knights Templar have to do with the Knights of Ren?
Just take another look at Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. Doesn’t it remind you of the Knights Templar’s red cross? That is no doubt very deliberate. Medieval knights were the rock stars of their time and were often associated with religious values and great skill in combat. If the First Order is really an insular fundamentalist version of the Galactic Empire, then it makes perfect sense for them to have their own version of the Knights Templar for dangerous missions and inspiration for the main military force.
That means Kylo Ren is one of many knights in The First Order, though we have no idea how many there would be in total. Furthermore, who would they find initiates? Do they have to be force sensitive?
We know Captain Phasma is a Vader fan and a First Order zealot. Perhaps she’s up to join the Knights of Ren?
Why not simply make them Sith? Why create a new organization?
Well, some people in the galaxy are aware of the Jedi (at least in legend, there being a purge and all), but not many know about the Sith. After the establishment of Darth Bane’s rule of two, the Sith kept a very incognito approach to their machinations.
After all, the saying goes that the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist, so why not the Sith?
With that in mind, the deaths of Palpatine and Vader effectively ended the Sith line. There was no one left to pass on their legacy. All people have is hearsay and some artifacts scattered across the galaxy. So, something new was created to carry on the spirit of the dark side by people who were doing the best they can to uphold it. Like Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, the Knight of Ren are an approximation of what came before… but also something new entirely.