What did the wider Galaxy know of the Jedi and Sith?
In A New Hope, Han Solo scoffs at the idea of The Force. At that time, many knew of the Jedi, but only in an abstract way – in a Galaxy of billions and billions, there were only a handful of Jedi and the vast majority of people would go their whole lives without seeing a Jedi – they only knew of them through stories, and unless you actually see a Force user move objects with their mind, it’d be hard to believe such a thing existed.
The Sith were even less known. Palpatine kept his identity as a Sith a total secret, right up until the end. The Galaxy didn’t know that the Sith even still existed, as far as anyone knew the Sith had been gone for 1000 years – but at least 2 Sith had existed for that whole time, slowly growing in power, each new Apprentice killing his Master and taking a new Apprentice in secret. Until finally Palpatine could seize power during the Clone Wars.
The Jedi Council knew that the Sith had resurfaced around the time of the Clone Wars, but they kept their investigations secret.
The rest of the Galaxy believed the story that the Jedi attacked the Chancellor leaving him scarred and disfigured. He used the sympathy after the alleged attack to help him become Emperor. As far as everyone knew, he was just a humble bureaucrat.
After he became Emperor, he used his influence to convince the wider Galaxy that The Jedi with their Force powers had been a myth. 30 years later, during The Force Awakens, Rey thought Luke Skywalker was just a legend. Han, who doubted the Force even existed a few decades before, now had to be the one to tell Rey and Finn that the Jedi and Force actually exist.
There are a few windows into how the rest of the Galaxy sees the Force in the new Canon books. In Lost Stars, the rank and file of the Rebel Alliance are sceptical about Skywalkers powers, and in Twilight Company they’re unsure what to believe about Vader. In the Lando comics, Lando and Lobot discover some Sith artifacts linked to the Emperor and they can’t quite believe it.
What do you guys think? What did the wider Galexy know of the Jedi and Sith?