The Darksaber was an ancient and unique black-bladed lightsaber created by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi Order, prior to 1032 BBY. The weapon was kept in the Jedi Temple after Vizsla’s passing, but members of House Vizsla stole the saber in a conflict with the Jedi during the fall of the Old Republic. The Darksaber was passed down, generation to generation, by the ancestors of Pre Vizsla, who held onto the weapon even after the pacifist ideals of the New Mandalorians replaced the warrior ways of Mandalore.
By 21 BBY, the Darksaber was in the possession of Pre Vizsla, the leader of Death Watch and House Vizsla during the Clone Wars. He used the blade during his conflicts with the New Mandalorians, including his successful takeover of Mandalore. After the coup, renegade Sith Lord Maul killed Vizsla in a duel and took the Darksaber as his own, becoming the leader of Death Watch. However, Maul’s old master, Darth Sidious, soon arrived on Mandalore to confront his former apprentice. Maul used the Darksaber to fight him but was ultimately bested in combat, taken prisoner and held at a Separatist prison, the Spire, on Stygeon Prime.
Maul was soon rescued from the Spire at the behest of Prime Minister Almec, whom Maul had chosen as the public leader of Mandalore. After being freed, Maul returned to Zanbar, the location of a Death Watch camp, and was given back the Darksaber, which had been recovered from the Sundari Royal Palace, the site of Maul’s duel with Sidious. Shortly after his return, Zanbar was attacked by the Separatist Droid Army, led by General Grievous, and Maul made use of the Darksaber against the cyborg general, although he was forced to retreat. Maul continued to use the Darksaber in several subsequent battles, such as the battle on Ord Mantell, the assault on Vizsla Keep 09, and the Second Battle of Dathomir.
During the Imperial Era, the Mandalorian weapons expert and rebel Sabine Wren retrieved the Darksaber from the Nightsister lair on Dathomir. At the urging of Mandalorian Protector Fenn Rau and her fellow Spectres, Sabine agreed to undergo training with the Darksaber under the tutelage of Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus. Later, Sabine brought the Darksaber with her and her rebel companions during a mission to Krownest to seek her family’s support for the rebellion. Sabine became the rightful wielder of the Darksaber after defeating Imperial Viceroy Gar Saxon in a duel.
After rescuing her father from Imperial custody and destroying the superweapon she had built while an Imperial cadet, Sabine offered the Darksaber over to Lady Bo-Katan Kryze, the sister of the former Duchess, whom she deemed to be the rightful person to lead the Mandalorians against the Empire. Bo-Katan was reluctant to accept the mantle of leader, but with the support of the other clans, agreed and accepted the Darksaber.
After the Great Purge of Mandalore, the Empire desecrated Mandalore and Bo-Katan lost possession of the Darksaber. She fled the planet, but continued to lead the Nite Owls and was intent on eventually reclaiming the Darksaber and Mandalore. By circa 9 ABY, the weapon had fallen into the hands of Moff Gideon, the leader of an Imperial remnant on the planet of Nevarro. During his rescue of the Force-sensitive foundling Grogu from Gideon, the Mandalorian Din Djarin won the Darksaber from Gideon in combat. Din Djarin offered Bo-Katan Kryze the Darksaber but she did not accept it as she believed if she hadn’t won the Darksaber in combat it would not truly be hers to keep and would be viewed as a pretender to the throne of Mandalore being considered illegitimate.
Did you know the Darksaber was originally going to be a simple vibro-blade type weapon? Pre Vizsla was always meant to have a bladed weapon, but George Lucas was adamant that a blade couldn’t go up against a lightsaber, and so the animators had to completely change its appearance. Some design concepts were similar to Praetorian Guard weapons, with energy running along a physical blade, but George liked the alternate take on a classic lightsaber, and so the Darksaber was created late in the episode’s production. The weapon is now widely recognized and important to Mandalorian mythology, but it almost never existed!