The Romulans are a humanoid race, sharing a distant ancestry with the Vulcans. From the twin homeworlds of Romulus and Remus, the Romulan Star Empire expands into both the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, making them a major power on par with the Federation and Klingon governments.
Like Vulcans, Romulans have pointed ears, eyebrows that are arched and upswept, and copper-based blood that is green when oxygenated in the arteries, or copper or rust-colored when deoxygenated in the veins. Most Romulans have two brow ridges above the bridge of their nose, forming a V-shape on the forehead. However, a minority of Romulans lack these ridges, making them outwardly indistinguishable from Vulcans.
Despite their common ancestry there are also many subtle internal physiological differences between Vulcans and Romulans. This is evidenced in Dr. Beverly Crusher's failed attempt to treat a Romulan, Patahk, who had suffered advanced synaptic breakdown, with the methods used to treat Vulcans.
Romulans lack the rigorous mental disciplines developed by the followers of Surak. They are a passionate people, easily moved to extreme emotions. This lack of mental discipline would seem to explain why Romulans lack the telepathic abilities that Vulcans possess. Like Vulcans, Romulans are capable of mating with other species.
In Romulan society, military/political rank influences social standing. Because Romulans are members of a militant civilization, who consider defending the Romulan Empire and their own personal honor of foremost importance, military service and its accompanying rank are decisive factors in determining social eminence. However, while the military plays an important role in Romulan society, it is the Romulan Senate that controls the government.
The current highest Romulan rank is that of the Praetor, who presides over the Romulan Senate and acts as chief of the executive branch. The Praetor heads the Continuing Committee, which acts as a type of executive body.
By the 24th century, the government of Romulus is dependent upon the Tal Shiar, the Romulan Secret Police, to maintain order and stability among both civilians and the military. The Tal Shiar is known for its brutal tactics, which include routine kidnapping, torture, and assassination. Many Romulans fear even expressing dissenting opinions as not to spark the interest of the Tal Shiar. There also seems to be some degree of tension between the military and the Tal Shiar.
Romulan society is based upon a highly structured caste system. Unlike most of the highly evolved species in the Alpha and Beta quadrants, Romulans still practice slavery, and frequently use conquered races for forced slave labor and shock troops.
Romulans tend to be highly xenophobic, engaging in extended periods of isolationism, and can be perceived as outright racist to other species, believing themselves to be superior. At least some Romulans believe that one day the Romulan Empire will rule the entire galaxy.
Romulan society does not appear to be gender biased. Both males and females command warships, can obtain high political positions and can be members of the Tal Shiar.
Culture and Traditions
The Romulans lack the rigorous mental disciplines developed by the followers of Surak. Like the Vulcans, the Romulans have given up unrestrained violence as a way of life. However, in the case of the Romulans this has been replaced with a controlled deviousness: As a species the Romulans are generally thought of as duplicitous, a reputation the actions of their government over the last decade has reinforced.
During the 23rd century, Romulans practiced the execution of state criminals, by means both painful and unpleasant. Prior to the presenting of the charges, the Romulans allow the accused a Right of Statement.
Reluctance to rely on overt hostility generally leads the Romulans to play a waiting game with their opponents, attempting to manipulate an adversary into breaking – or appearing to break – an agreement so as to give them a solid justification for striking.
They are also well known for fearing disgrace over death. With this frame of mind, Romulan parents dispose of any newborn carrying birth defects as the alternative would mean a waste of resources.
The totalitarian nature of Romulan society, in which dissent is often a crime and Romulan security officers masquerade as citizens, has led many Romulans to be extremely paranoid.
A common Romulan greeting/polite phrase is "Jolan Tru", although what exactly this means is unclear, as it is used both in context of greeting and goodbye, similar to the Hawaiian "Aloha".
In the 24th century, a dissident movement began to gain momentum, based on the desire to learn about Vulcan and Vulcan ideals. Their ultimate goal was the reunification of Romulus and Vulcan. Ambassador Spock was deeply involved in this movement. It is unclear what has become of this movement in the aftermath of Shinzon's failed uprising on Romulus.
While many arguably belligerent and militaristic species, such as Nausicaans, Breen, and even Klingons often sell their fighting skills to the highest bidder, Romulans are rarely, if ever, seen involved in such activities. This is possibly due to the apparent superiority complex of most Romulans, many of whom would likely find such work beneath them, and would prefer to serve the Romulan empire in some capacity. However, Miles O'Brien once played a game of Tongo with a Romulan mercenary. Romulans also seem to be somewhat indifferent to simple financial and material gain, and tend to find the idea of serving the Empire more appealing. They are, however, known for commonly using hired assassins, such as the Flaxians to conduct their off-world "justice."
The Time of Awakening
Though the exact time and nature of the beginning of the Romulan race remains unclear, many Romulan and Vulcan scientist point to a time the Vulcan's call The Time of Awakening. Prior to this, Vulcans were a distinctly savage and warlike race, with conflicts constantly raging throughout their society. It wasn't until around 370 AD that the ancient Vulcan Philosopher Surak led his people in a great reformation to reject their emotions in favor of a philosophy that embraced pure logic.
Not all Vulcans were satisfied by Surak's teachings. S'Task, one of his students, split from Surak and eventually led a sect in keeping with the older traditions. Sometime later, the dissidents had left Vulcan. Upon their travels, a second group splintered from the main group of dissidents and became known as the Debrune. Little is known about the Debrune, as their culture appears to no longer exist by the 24th century.
The original dissidents named their race the Romulans and eventually settled on the twin planets later named Romulus and Remus. Shortly thereafter, they founded the aggressive Romulan Star Empire.
The Empire's first recorded contact with Humans occurred in 2152. The Earth Starfleet vessel Enterprise NX-01, discovered a planet recently annexed by the Romulans, and was damaged by a cloaked spatial mine, part of a minefield surrounding the planet. A Bird-of-Prey warned the Enterprise off without a further exchange of fire.
Romulans found advantage in the fractious relationships of Vulcan, Andoria and Tellar existing before 2154. Earth, rising as a regional power in the early 2150s, practiced a mediating, even unifying, influence on its neighbors. The prospect of an alliance contrary to Romulan interests led to their covert attempts to destabilize the region and the fragile peace.
A collaboration with V'Las of the Vulcan High Command was part of decades-long effort to "reunify" the cousins, presumably under Romulan rule. However, a group of Vulcans named Syrranites followed the logical teachings of Surak and were a threat to the Romulan plans of reunification.
Secretly working with a Romulan deep-cover agent within the Vulcan High Command known as Major Talok, V'Las framed the Syrranites for the destruction of the United Earth Embassy on Vulcan. The conspiracy ultimately led to the nearly-disastrous Battle of Andoria between Vulcan and the Andorian Empire in 2154.
After V'Las was deposed, Romulans precipitated the "Babel Crisis" by deploying telepresence-operated drone-ships equipped with chameleon-like camouflage systems. Though briefly wreaking havoc on regional shipping and diplomacy, the Romulan effort ultimately failed.
A temporary alliance of Human, Vulcan, Andorian and Tellarite starships thwarted the drone-ship threat, prompting closer diplomatic relations that eventually led to the Coalition of Planets.
Relations between Humans and Romulans deteriorated into open war in the following years. The Earth-Romulan War was fought without any kind of personal or visual interaction between the two sides, preventing Humans or allies from fully understanding the nature of their opponent.
With the discovery of the Kir'Shara and the founding of the United Federation of Planets, the Romulans attempt to reunify their people will never be achieved.
Following a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Cheron, the Romulans agreed to a treaty establishing a Neutral Zone between the Star Empire's sphere of influence and territory that would fall under the jurisdiction of the newly-formed United Federation of Planets. For the next century, Romulans isolated themselves from Human and Federation affairs.
In 2266, the Empire emerged from seclusion to test the strength of its old enemy. The Romulan Praetor ordered his finest flagship, a Bird-of-Prey led by an experienced Commander, to violate the Neutral Zone and attack the Federation's observation outposts that lined the border in Sector Z-6.
Equipped with a cloak and a powerful new plasma torpedo system, the Bird-of-Prey easily annihilated its targets. A victorious homecoming, revealing Federation weaknesses, would have aroused the Empire to another war, but the marauding Romulan vessel was intercepted and defeated by the USS Enterprise before success could be reported.
The incident marked the Federation's first confirmed visual observation of the Romulan Vulcan-like appearance.
In the face of Federation strength, the Empire vigilantly patrolled their side of the zone. Further encounters with Starfleet's Constitution-class starships were countered by squadrons of up to ten Birds-of-Prey to better the odds.
After a technology exchange with the Klingon Empire, the first Romulan D7 class design battle cruisers began appearing along the zone in 2268.
The new security arrangement with the Klingons was short-lived. The two Empires were at war by the early 2270s, when Romulans suffered a significant defeat at the Battle of Klach D'Kel Brakt (the "Briar Patch") at the hands of Klingon forces led by Kor.
By the mid-2280s, Romulans had lost their virtual monopoly as the region's best stealth technologists when cloaking devices began seeing service on Klingon vessels.
As the Klingons and Federation began détente in 2293, the Romulans attempted diplomatic subterfuge through Ambassador Nanclus' role in the Khitomer Conspiracy – yet another failing effort.
The Tomed Incident of 2311, an encounter between the Romulan Star Empire and the Federation that cost thousands of lives, led to the Treaty of Algeron, which forbade the Federation from developing cloaking technology. Subsequent to the incident, the Empire returned to a policy of isolation from the Federation.
Though periodic, titular allies, the relationship between the Romulan and Klingon Empires was effectively a decades-long, 'hot' and 'cold' war of bitterly antagonistic cultures. In 2344, four Romulan warbirds attacked a Klingon outpost on Narendra III and destroyed the Federation starship that answered the distress call, the USS Enterprise-C.
Another outpost attack, the Khitomer Massacre of 2346, was facilitated by a secret Romulan alliance with the Klingon House of Duras. Whatever the intention of the offensives of the 2340s, Klingons came to regard the Romulans as "blood enemies", and the Federation-Klingon alliance strengthened.
The mysterious destruction of border outposts on either side of the Federation/Romulan Neutral Zone caused the Empire to take notice, resuming an active, oppositional interest in their neighbor's affairs through the 2360s.
Upon reemerging from their isolationist state, the Empire returned to their attempts to destabilize the peace of the quadrant, through efforts to sever the Federation-Klingon Alliance. In 2367, the Romulans abducted Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise-D. They brainwashed him in an attempt to use him to assassinate the Klingon Vagh, governor of Krios. The assassination was foiled by Enterprise personnel.
Shortly thereafter, as part of the Empire's ongoing relations with the House of Duras, the Romulans became involved in the Klingon Civil War of 2367-2368. They provided supplies to the Duras family to use against the forces of Chancellor Gowron. Their intervention was discovered by the Federation, and a Federation task force of twenty starships blockaded the Klingon-Romulan border, allowing Gowron's forces to prevail.
The failure to end the Federation-Klingon Alliance did not stop the Empire from continuing their opposition to the Federation. In 2368, the Romulans attempted to gain a foothold within the Federation by using the underground Romulan-Vulcan reunification movement as a cover. Through Senator Pardek, a man trusted by the unificationists, Procounsul Neral captured Ambassador Spock, Captain Picard, and Lt. Commander Data. As Romulan forces moved into Federation space under a guise of peace, the three prisoners subdued their captures, and warned Starfleet of the Romulan invasion.
The underground unification movement continued even after this blow. In 2369, a prominent government official, Vice Pro-counsel M'ret, successfully escaped across the Federation border through the help of the unificationists.
The Dominion War
The emergence of the Dominion threat in 2370 led to first thaw in the Empire's relations with the Federation. In 2371, an amendment to the Treaty of Algeron permitted the Federation use of a cloaking device for Gamma Quadrant operations, in exchange for intelligence gathered regarding the Dominion.
As the Dominion War began in earnest, the Romulan Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Obsidian Order intelligence services launched a joint attack on the Dominion. The Battle of the Omarion Nebula was a catastrophic failure, devastating both Romulan and Cardassian forces.
As the Dominion finally gained a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant through the alliance with the Cardassian Union, the Romulan's initially sent a fleet of vessels to Deep Space 9 to join the Klingons and Federation in anticipation of the imminent war.
When war did not initially break out, however, the Empire signed a nonaggression pact with the Dominion, and planned to watch their neighboring rivals take the heavy losses, but a successful intelligence operation conducted by Captain Sisko led the Empire to believe the Dominion posed an imminent threat, leading the Romulans to join forces with their erstwhile enemies in the war.
Though bound by necessity, the new alliance was less than amicable. The mutual antipathy between Romulans and Klingons forced the Federation to serve as mediator, and all sides knew a battle for influence in the Alpha Quadrant would follow once the war ended.
As a result, espionage and counter-intelligence were rampant, and at one point a crisis involving Bajor nearly shattered the alliance.
The Reman Uprising
In 2379, Shinzon, a Human clone of Starfleet captain Jean-Luc Picard, gained support from the Romulan military and eventually planned to take over the Romulan Star Empire by assuming himself a new Praetor and assassinating the entire Romulan Senate, except Senator Tal'aura, who had been later allied with Shinzon along with Commanders Suran and Donatra.
When the Federation starship USS Enterprise-E arrived at the Romulan system for peace talks between the Federation and the Romulans, Shinzon delayed. This delay was part of a ruse, taken due to his accelerating deterioration, so that he could capture Captain Picard and use him to return to health.
Unfortunately for Shinzon, Picard successfully escaped, and Shinzon pursued him to the Bassen Rift where Picard again eluded capture with the assistance of Romulan reinforcements. Commander Donatra had realized that Shinzon didn't just plan to attack the Federation, but actually planned total annihilation for Humanity and other species. Ultimately, Shinzon was killed in hand-to-hand combat with Picard aboard his starship, the Scimitar, just before the ship's thalaron radiation generator was overloaded by Commander Data, who sacrificed his life to save the Enterprise.
In the aftermath of the Battle of the Bassen Rift, the newly-minted Captain William T. Riker of the USS Titan, led a task force to the Federation-Romulan border to engage direct negotiations for a final peace between the two sides, which would hopefully lead to a greater understanding and a new era of peace in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.
The Romulans are marked by long periods of isolation and a xenophobic distrust of other races and powers. When they do emerge from their veil of secrecy, their reasoning is often difficult to interpret. Rarely has the Romulans ever engaged in warfare to expand their territory, their objectives are usually carefully designed strategic moves to expand the power, influence, and position of the Empire. As such, they are characterized as cunning and opportunistic.
The Romulan Senate was the main governing body of the Romulan Star Empire, seated in the Senate chamber located in the capital city on the planet Romulus. The Senate was headed by the Praetor, followed by the Proconsul, the Vice-proconsul, and finally the senators. The Senate did not sit on the third day of the Romulan week. It worked on a timetable that was difficult to predict.
The Continuing Committee is another powerful government body the praetor presides over. It is one of the highest governing bodies of the Romulan Star Empire, it is comprised of members of the Romulan Senate as well as other high-ranking officials such as the chairman of the Tal Shiar (usually a given, but not guaranteed). One of the Committee's duties is the confirmation of a new praetor. The Committee also serves as a court when criminal charges are brought against members of the Senate.
In the past, the Romulan Star Empire was headed by an emperor, and at least once by an empress.
The Senate represents an oligarchy; like an authoritarian system, an oligarchy is controlled by a small group of individuals, who govern mainly in their own interest. In contrast with authoritarians, however, the Romulans do not seem to oppress individual freedoms to a great degree; however, relatively little is known about the Romulan civil legal system.
The political structure of the Romulan Star Empire is unknown, but it seems to be an unitary, since the central governments holds all power.
The Romulan Senate has dispatched ambassadors from time to time, including Caithlin Dar to the Planet of Galactic Peace and Nanclus to the United Federation of Planets.
The Romulan military is a powerful force in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Despite being defeated by Earth in the Earth-Romulan War of the 2150s, the Romulan Star Empire continued to be a powerful presence, not afraid to tempt Starfleet by entering the Neutral Zone. Romulan forces were a deciding factor in the Dominion War, whose entry in 2374 turned the tide of war in favor of the Allies. Romulan military operations are supported and planned by the War Plans Council, a high-level government agency.
The Romulan military is credited with developing the cloaking device, technology they have guarded with single-minded determination. During a brief alliance with the Klingons, the Romulans traded the technology in exchange for a fleet of D7 Battlecruisers.
The elite Romulan intelligence agency, the Tal Shiar, is a highly-respected and feared force in the Romulan Star Empire and Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Its purpose is guarding the security of the Empire, both from the Romulans' interstellar enemies (most notably the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire) and from traitors within the Romulan population itself. The covert, often invisible presence of the Tal Shiar keeps the general populace in a constant state of paranoia, that any signs of dissent or dissatisfaction with the status quo will result in their "disappearance."
It was common practice for the Chairman of the Tal Shiar to be a member of the Continuing Committee. This was not the case for Chairman Koval, who was kept off the Committee, as he had often displayed anti-Federation sentiment and was opposed to the Federation Alliance against the Dominion.
The Tal Shiar reports only to the highest levels of the Romulan government, and even so they undertake many missions without the direct knowledge of the Romulan Senate, conducting operations with virtual impunity throughout the Empire. Their authority supersedes that of most Romulan military commanders, resulting in a mutual distrust and hatred between the two organizations. The Tal Shiar operates their own fleet, often to their own aims.
(2385):Star Fleet command ordered the USS Athena to help the Romulan Empire, but the Tal'Shiar stopped them and framed the Federation for crimes against the Empire. Blaming then Captain Ordonis for these crimes, they arrested and abducted the CO who has not yet been found and is considered MIA. While returning to Federation space, the USS Athena was instrumental in finding a concealed Tal'Shiar secret base. The Romulan secret police destroyed their base rather than let the Romulan government learn their secrets.