- Warning: The following content contains spoilers for Star Trek Beyond.
- For the mirror universe counterpart, see Romulan Star Empire (mirror).
- "Misdirection is the key to survival. Never attack what your enemy defends. Never behave as your enemy expects and never reveal your true strength. If knowledge is power, then to be unknown is to be unconquerable." - Narrator of Romulan Intro in Birth of the Federation, Romulan maxim (DS9 novel: Rough Beasts of Empire)
The Romulan Star Empire, also known in some Romulan languages as the Rihannsu Star Empire and as the Latasam Stelai Rom'lnz which when translated meant Star Road of the People, was the primary Romulan state. Located in the Beta Quadrant, the Romulan Star Empire was founded through the unification and conquest of the planet Romulus and of dozens of star systems over many sectors of space. The Romulan Star Empire is known to have existed as long ago as 2152, when it made first contact with United Earth, and is infamous for its ethnocentric, xenophobic, and expansionist foreign policy.
- See main article: Romulan history.
In the 22nd century the Empire made attempts to destabilize local space eventually leading to the Earth-Romulan War. The Romulans saw defeat in the war and retreated behind the newly established Romulan Neutral Zone for the next century.
The Romulans re-emerged in the mid-23rd century, had several minor aggressive encounters with the Federation and entered a short lived alliance with the Klingon Empire before retreated back behind their borders early in the 24th century following the Tomed Incident.
The Empire re-emerged once more in the mid-24th century following attacks by the Borg and later participated in the Dominion War. After the war the Empire suffered a coup by the Human clone Shinzon which while short lived left the Empire divided and led to the creation of second independent Romulan state, the Imperial Romulan State. (DS9 episodes: "In the Pale Moonlight", "Tears of the Prophets", "What You Leave Behind"; TNG movie & novelization: Nemesis; STO website: The Path to 2409)
In 2387, the Hobus star went supernova. The shockwave breached subspace and destroyed the Romulan system, killing billions. (TOS movie, novelization & comic adaptation: Star Trek; STO website: The Path to 2409)
The Empire was devastated for many years, however by 2408, the Romulans had established a new homeworld on Rator III and had restored their monarchy with Sela as the new Empress. (STO website: The Path to 2409)
A short while later, after a series of conflicts between the Reman Resistance and the Tal Shiar, a group of Romulans and Remans led by D'Tan and Obisek settled on the planet they named Mol'Rihan, or New Romulus. Both the Federation and the Klingon Empire lent their assistance to the colonization process in the interests of fostering peace in the region. (STO mission: "New Romulus Aid")
The empire, on the other hand, fell into disaster as the Empire had fallen into disarray when Sela was kidnapped by Iconians. By 2410, the Romulan Star Empire lost all political clout as more and more of its people began defecting towards the Romulan Republic. This lead to the dissolution of the Treaty of Algeron as the Empire was now reduced to a handful of hold out colonies.
The head of state of the Romulan Star Empire was said to be the Emperor who was aided by a special Legate but in reality the power rested with the head of government who was the Praetor who presided over the Imperial Romulan Senate. The Senate served as the legislature of the Romulan empire where numerous Senators represented their respective territories. Senators ascended into power through either inherited station, riches or elevation by the Senate itself. Romulan aristocracy held a great deal of sway over the Senate, and many of the nobility's richest and most powerful noblemen are members of the government. Beneath the position of Praetor was the Proconsul, Vice-Proconsul and the First Consul. Numerous coalitions dominated the Senate with Consul's serving as leaders of their respective factions whilst the Proconsul managed the Senate.
Though the Senate was an important chamber within the Romulan Star Empire, another powerful body was that of the Continuing Committee who regulated elevation to the various levels of governments. It was the members of the Committee who were responsible for confirming the ascent of an individual to the post of Praetor and had the authority to expel senators. The Committee was typically presided over by the praetor and composed of senators as well as high ranking Romulan officials which at times included the Chairman of the Tal Shiar. (DS9 episode: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")
Ultimately, it was the Senate who represent the people of the Star Empire and are responsible for the appointment of a Praetor. The Praetor themselves serve as the head of the government as well as the supreme military commander. They are also responsible in setting the policy in foreign relations. A monarchy stills exists in the form of the Emperor and the Empress; these positions are nothing more then figureheads with little political power. (TOS video game: Starfleet Command II)
The only other two authorities left that manage the Star Empire include the Romulan Guard and the Imperial Romulan Fleet, which handle the military, and Romulan Civil Administration, who's governors administrate Romulan worlds. (TOS video game: Starfleet Command)
The Tal Shiar was the secret police agency of the Star Empire, ruthlessly enforcing the law upon the Romulan populace. Even the members of the Imperial Fleet and the Senate often lived in fear of the Tal Shiar, with its carte blanche to deal with threats to the state as it sees fit. Very little in the way of free speech or sentient rights exists within the Empire because of the Tal Shiar's actions, as dissent was not tolerated. (TNG episode: "Face of the Enemy")
- Romulan Senate
- Senate Intelligence Committee
- War Plans Council
- Romulan High Council
- Tal Diann
- Tal Shiar
- Tal Prai'ex
- Romulan Guard
- Romulan Ministry of Science
- Compliance Division
- Cheron Accords
- Narendra Agreement
- Neutral Zone Treaty
- Polaric Test Ban Treaty
- Treaty of Algeron
- Treaty of Ectair
- Treaty of Trianguli
In external application, Romulan political agendas appeared largely unified over the centuries. Their goals focused on maintaining Imperial security through vigilance, and negating the perceived advantages of their rivals. Both goals were accompanied by a near-paranoid reticence to reveal information, even facts as basic as their racial identity, that might illuminate other Romulan ambitions or motivations. Short of war, the means to those ends have generally varied between favored methods:
- Surreptitious political disruption of rivals – as in the secret relationship with V'Las of the Vulcan High Command in the 2150s, participation in the Khitomer Conspiracy of 2293, the alliance with the Klingon House of Duras from the 2340s, or the aborted attempt to replace key Starfleet officers with clones in the late 24th century. (ENT episode: "Kir'Shara"; TOS movie: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG episode: "Sins of the Father"; TNG movie & novelization: Nemesis)
- Limited, surprise or covert military action – as in the use of telepresence-operated drone-ships to spark the "Babel Crisis" among neighboring powers in 2154, a single Bird-of-Prey used to attack the Federation border and gauge its weaknesses in the Neutral Zone incursion of 2266, or the attack on the Klingon outpost at Narendra III in 2344. (ENT episodes: "Babel One", "United"; TOS episode: "Balance of Terror"; TNG episode: "Yesterday's Enterprise")
The Empire did resort to open warfare when it was deemed necessary, but in typical fashion, their reasons for war were less than candidly expressed, as in the Earth-Romulan War and the enigmatic Tomed Incident of 2311. Unlike the Klingon objectives of the Federation-Klingon War (2267), Romulans do not appear to have gone to war with neighboring powers under a flag of "expansion", and no competition existed for the development of Class M worlds along the Romulan Neutral Zone. Romulans expressed little resentment for the negotiated Zone they zealously guarded, and following their conflicts, the Empire withdrew behind the safety of the buffer for many decades of self-imposed isolation from Federation affairs . (TOS episodes: "Balance of Terror", "Errand of Mercy", "The Trouble with Tribbles"; TNG episode: "The Neutral Zone")
After a clone intended to replace decorated Starfleet Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Shinzon, turned on the Romulans and committed a coup in 2379, the Federation (including Picard himself) helped stop Shinzon's plans of interstellar domination. The Romulans at that point suggested that an era of warm relations may be beginning with the Federation (TNG movie & novelization: Nemesis)
The military wing of the Romulan Empire consists of both a naval branch and one dedicated to the protection of the colonial assets on planets. The former function is fulfilled by the Romulan Guard's Star Navy while the latter is conducted by the Colonial Battalions. A civilian police force known as the Compliance Division also exists which fights criminal activity on Romulan worlds.
- Vulcan Schism
- Vulcan-Romulan War
- Babel Crisis
- Earth-Romulan War
- Battle of Okardo
- Battle of Icarus IV
- Romulan Civil War
- Tomed Incident
- Norkan Campaign
- Romulan-Klingon War
- Taurhai Offensive
- Dominion War
- Watraii Conflict
- Celesian campaign
The emblem of the Romulan Star Empire is known as "the Eagle". It is a symbol of military might and honor, displayed on the bridge of every Romulan warship, yet also symbolizes civilian pride in the Romulan state, and is found at public facilities throughout the Empire. Romulan officers, and sometimes civilians, swear oaths upon the Eagle, and defacing the symbol is a serious offense. The original inspiration for the design came when the family emblem of S'task was crossed with an artistic representation of an avian life-form native to Romulus. The first scout parties to chart the Rihannsu's new homeworld encountered huge eagles carrying their eggs in their talons; today the Eagle grasps Romulus and Remus in its claws. (TOS - Vulcan's Soul novel: Exiles) The former is gripped protectively, indeed as a mother cradles an egg, the latter, held in thinner, sharper claws, appears instead as a prey item. The bird itself is spread in an aggressive posture of display, representing the glory and majesty of the Star Empire. Its head is positioned with the beak pointing down, mirroring the triangle on which it is mounted. This triangle recalls the Vulcan Kol-ut-shan, the symbol of Surak's philosophies, which were without end, but began at a single point, Mount Seleya. (ENT episode: "The Forge") The Romulans have used the same design, representative of the (one sided) noble hatred and honorable feud between S'task's followers and Surak's. On the Romulan banner, however, the point of beginning is missing, as the triangle's point is detached from any anchoring symbol. This, of course, is because Mount Seleya has been left far behind. Vulcan philosophies, here taken to mean the passionate warrior culture Surak destroyed, are still presented as being without end, widening out and leading the entire galaxy into the glory of the Romulan Empire, whose perfect strength and honor is announced by the slogan always displayed at the inverted triangle's top. It should also be noted that the triangle resembles a dagger, especially as it is colored in a dull metallic silver. The fact that the Eagle's beak mirrors the triangle, pointing with the dagger and looking back towards the sundered beginning, serves to make the symbol an aggressive attack on Surak's Vulcan, which, while clearly out of sight, can never be out of mind. The emblem as a whole is split into two halves, the Romulus side, on the left, colored in blood-green to symbolize aggressive strength and passion; the right-hand side, featuring Remus, rendered an icy blue.
The image of the Eagle is mirrored in the design of Romulan warships, which are known as "Birds-of-Prey" or "Warbirds". Subordinate warriors within the military, especially young cadets, are also frequently referred to as "Eaglets". (ST novel: Vulcan's Heart)
The Star Empire is driven by a martial philosophy which preaches the dictates of duty, glory and obedience. The members of the military are filled with well trained and disciplined warriors who believe that serving the Star Empire is one of the highest honors available. Certain Romulans are known to believe in the concept of the strong controlling the weak. As such, should weakness be perceived by the Romulans, then it can very well lead to an act of war on the part of the Star Empire. (TOS video game: Starfleet Command II)
The primary information service within the Star Empire is the Romulan Central Information Net. Access is highly restricted and it was protected by a progressive encryption lock which featured a forty-three part cypher key. The Klingons spent many years attempting to crack the database but failed to do so, however with assistance from Ambassador Spock, Lieutenant Commander Data was able to break into the system. (TNG episode: "Unification II")
Within Romulan society, condemned criminals are allowed a Right of Statement which allows the accused to state fully the reasons they committed their actions. There is no regulation on the content of the material provided. (TOS episode: "The Enterprise Incident") Legal intercessors may be involved in legal matters. (TNG episode: "Unification I")
- Abraxas IX
- Algeron III (destroyed)
- Carraya IV (prison colony)
- Chaltok IV
- Chetzia III
- Devoras planet
- Khazara planet
- Nequencia colony
- Terix II
- Unroth III
In a number of alternate realities, including variations of the parallel reality mirror universe, there are alternate Romulan states. The mirror version of the Romulan Star Empire is alternately called the "Romulan Empire" or the "Romulan Republic". (ST video game: Shattered Universe)
In an alternate timeline created by the death of Gabriel Bell prior to the Bell Riots in 2024, Earth remained a pre-warp civilization, which never expanded beyond the Sol System, in the 24th century. Consequently, the United Federation of Planets nor Starfleet ever existed. The USS Defiant, having been protected from the changes in the timeline by a subspace bubble, detected Romulan transmissions emanating from Alpha Centauri. This would indicate that the Romulan Star Empire was able to expand considerably further in this timeline due to the lack of Federation interference. (DS9 episode: "Past Tense, Part I")
- Last Unicorn RPG module: The Way of D'era: The Romulan Star Empire