Chancellor Valorum is one of the lesser known Star Wars characters, but his fall from grace at the hands of then-Senator Palpatine would have huge ramifications for the entire galaxy. Valorum was a do-gooder who eventually became embroiled in the bureaucratic entanglements of high-stakes politics, and everyone suffered as a result.
What most Star Wars fans don’t realize is just how rich Valorum’s history is as a character. His family’s legacy reaches back a thousand years into Republic history, which is what made his spectacular fall such a watershed moment in Star Wars lore. The connections are hard to spot unless they’re pointed out.
He Was A Native Of Coruscant
Finis Valorum was born in the year 82 BBY (before the Battle of Yavin) on Coruscant, to great affluence. His family had been involved in galactic politics for generations, and Valorum was brought up to appreciate the finer things in life, including expensive possessions.
As a native of the Galactic Republic capital of Coruscant, Valorum had to rely heavily on counsel when it came to addressing the various issues plaguing the rest of the galaxy. Despite this, he still held a Coruscant mentality when it came to things like the slavery that was taking place in the Outer Rim.
His Family Legacy
Valorum’s family had a rich Senatorial history, with his ancestor Tarsus Valorum having achieved the most during his tenure as Supreme Chancellor. Born over 1,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, Tarsus was elected to office in the middle of the New Sith Wars, which brought a supposed end to the Sith Order.
This victory allowed Valorum to decentralize military power within the Republic while disbanding the Jedi Army of Light. The result was one thousand generations of relative peace, even as the Sith went into hiding and began secretly plotting their revenge.
He Has A History With The Tarkins
During his time in politics, Valorum butted heads with his rival Ranulph Tarkin, the cousin of future Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin during the rise of the Galactic Empire. The relationship became especially tense when Tarkin pushed for increased militarism within the Republic, which Valorum staunchly objected to.
Later, a conflict known as the Stark Hyperspace War broke out, during which time Tarkin attempted to push for a large Republic military to protect its worlds. When the war came to an end, Valorum was elected Supreme Chancellor with the support of the Tarkin family, provided they posthumously name Ranulph a hero of that war.
He Relied Too Much On Diplomacy
In contrast to the power-hungry Palpatine, Chancellor Valorum believed that the pathway to conflict resolution was entirely through diplomacy. As such, he remained an ardent opponent of a Republic army, citing the lack of need in the absence of the galactic conflicts of old.
However, this secretly caused his support to plummet, which left an opening for Naboo Senator Palpatine to begin constructing a conflict that would necessitate the creation of a Republic Grand Army. Once events were set in motion, they were practically impossible to stop.
He Was Rumored To Be A Womanizer
Philandering and womanizing are nothing new to corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, and it was suspected that Valorum took part in it as well. Though not explicitly confirmed, Valorum was known for having close relations with multiple women, including his own aid, and a Jedi Master known as Adi Gallia.
After he was ousted from politics, Valorum was reported to keep company with a young blond woman, suggesting that he was up to his old tricks. This remains speculative, but not unheard of for a person in his position.
His Relationship With Palpatine
According to the reference book Star Wars: The New Essential Guide To Characters, Senator Palpatine of Naboo was considered one of Valorum’s closest political friends, and a member of his trusted circle. It must have come as a surprise, then, that Palpatine betrayed him in the manner that he did.
In reality, this was not surprising. By feigning loyalty and friendship, Palpatine was able to manipulate Valorum while keeping an eye on his political moves. From there, he could counter as needed, set himself up as a replacement, and remove one of his last few obstacles to complete power.
Joining The Refugee Relief Movement
Following his Vote of No Confidence and subsequent removal from office, Valorum essentially gave up his entire political career and called it quits. He decided to dedicate his retirement years to joining the Refugee Relief Movement, a nonprofit with the original intention of helping the poor underclass on Coruscant.
Later, the movement would grow in both scope and operation during the Separatist Crisis, with Valorum heading up the migration of refugees to Alderaan, which would later be obliterated by the Empire’s first Death Star.
A Betrayal Centuries In The Making
Valorum’s removal from office wasn’t simply an act of 4D chess, but rather, a one-thousand-year-long betrayal in the making. It was Finis Valorum’s ancestor Tarsus who helped bring down the Sith Order, leading to centuries of freedom and galactic prosperity. Meanwhile, the Sith were forced underground, where Darth Bane adopted the Rule of Two amendment to their code.
When the time came to unveil his plot, Palpatine took great delight in watching the entire Republic turn on Valorum. He had been secretly weakening the Chancellor’s political influence for years, before driving him out in humiliation. This was a symbolic win for the Sith, and the first indicator that things were beginning to turn in their favor.
He Was Modeled On Bill Clinton
According to George Lucas, the character of Chancellor Valorum was modeled on U.S. President Bill Clinton, a man who he thought was good-natured, but “beleaguered.” This was confirmed in a 1998 Star Was Insider interview with veteran character actor Terence Stamp, the actor who portrayed Chancellor Valorum in The Phantom Menace.
Stamp noted that Lucas’s comments about Bill Clinton came before his now-infamous scandal which led to his impeachment. Though his proclivities were never referenced in The Phantom Menace, hints would be dropped in subsequent ancillary Star Wars material.
The ‘Valorum’ Character In The Original Screenplay
There are many fascinating differences between the original Star Wars screenplay and the final draft, to the point where it almost feels like a different story altogether. Ironically, Valorum’s name pops up in this rough draft as a completely different character.
In the original draft, Prince Valorum was actually a Knight of the Sith who took on the role of the Darth Vader character. Valorum is depicted as a pragmatic gray-area character who is not necessarily good nor evil. Conversely, the character of Vader was a military general who lacked Force powers and was more of a stand-in for Grand Moff Tarkin.