WHO ARE THE ROMULANS? – A STAR TREK SPECIES OVERVIEW
Romulans were a humanoid species from the planet Romulus, which was the inhabited second planet of the Romulan system in Sector Z-6 of the Beta Quadrant. It was the adopted homeworld following their departure and exile from Vulcan. It was the capital planet of the Romulan Star Empire.
Romulans are descended from those who rejected Surak's reforms during the Time of Awakening during the 4th century. Those who would become Vulcan rejected emotion and embraced logic. The minority who rejected Surak's ideals were later described as "those who march beneath the Raptor's wings". This symbol would later be used in the Romulan Star Empire. They departed Vulcan after losing the war and after the use of nuclear weapons.
This group settled on twin planets that became known as Romulus and Remus, setting the foundation of the Romulan Star Empire.
Romulus society was once a monocracy, as Q noted once. He said that at one point an Empress had ruled the planet.
Romulans and Vulcans have a shared ancestry and so in many respects, they have similar physiology. Like Vulcans, they have the same pointed ears, arched eyebrows, and copper-based blood that appears green when exposed to oxygen, coppery when not. Romulan heart tissue is gray in color.
Some Romulans have two brow ridges above the bridge of their nose, forming a V-shape on their forehead, while others do not, which makes them hard to differentiate between Vulcans and Romulans.
They do have enough dissimilarities between them that life signs between the two races can be identified. When Spock was on a Romulan starship, Pavel Chekov of the Enterprise was able to find his signal, still with some difficulty.
Dr. Crusher, aboard the Enterprise-D, attempted to treat Patahk, a Romulan who had suffered an advanced synaptic breakdown and failed to do so because there were "subtle differences… too many of them."
Interestingly enough, there are enough genetic similarities between Klingons and Romulans that there was a ribosome treatment that worked between the two.
Society and Culture
Romulan society is a militaristic one. The core of the passionate Romulans is to protect the Empire. A rank in the military was also rank in society although the true leaders were the Romulan Senate. The chamber was led by the Praetor, who leads the Senate.
The mentality of the species is highly xenophobic and enjoyed keeping their race in isolation. They were generally seen as racist as they believed themselves to be superior to all other races. There were more than a few that believed that the Empire would rule the entire galaxy and that humankind would not be there to impede them.
Men and Women in society were equals, being able to hold all positions in leadership and on starships.
With the split with Vulcans and their rejection of the teaching of Surak, Romulans do not have the emotional control and suppression that Vulcans do. They instead developed a highly devious nature that leaves the race hard to trust.
Disliking weakness, the culture developed a tolerance to allow weaker, defective infants to perish, keeping them from being a burden on their society.
Romulans have three names; one for outsiders, one for family, and a true name for the one they gave their hearts to.
A traditional home had a false front door and the home’s true entrance was located in the back. Romulan sensibilities tell that one should never enter through the main door - victims enter the front door, the back door is for co-conspirators. So, all Romulan homes have a fake "main" door that everyone can enter through. The the back door is just as grand and ornate as any main door.
The Tal Shiar was the ruthless intelligence arm of the government. The Federation described them as the Romulan secret police. Their purpose was to ensure loyalty and to imprison or kill those who defied them. This totalitarian nature for the society, along with hidden security officers even mingling in crowds (to weed out any dissent) made the general populace paranoid.
By the 24th century, the unification movement had gained more mainstream acceptance, with Ambassador Spock being at the center of driving it. Unification would be achieved after the destruction of Romulus.
Interactions with the Galaxy
Romulan spies infiltrated the highest levels of the Vulcan High Command, keeping tabs on their enemy. In the 22nd century, the Romulans studied the Humans that the Vulcans had interacted with. They were impressed but confused by Human behavior.
Captain Archer’s work of diplomacy ended many of the conflicts between other races, upsetting the Romulans. They then started to sow seeds to destabilize the quadrant.
An attempt to blame a group of Vulcans for this destabilization led to the exposure of the Romulans and their agents.
When the truth was discovered, war broke and lasted from 2156 until 2160. The Battle of Cheron in 2160 was the decisive battle that marked the end of the war. With the combination of the allies of Humans, Andorians, Vulcans, and Tellerites, the coalition was able to deal a humiliating defeat to the Romulan military. This defeat haunted the Romulan Empire well into the 24th century.
The negotiations to end the war were done via subspace radio and it would be another century before Humans would actually see what Romulans looked like.
When the Treaty of Algeron went into effect, Romulans isolated themselves socially and politically from the Federation. A neutral zone was established with eight outposts along each side to monitor the border.
In late 2364, An unprovoked attack on a Romulan outpost occurred near the Federation Neutral Zone. While the Romulans suspected it was the Federation, further investigation showed that the species that would later be known as the Borg was most likely responsible. After this discovery, the years of Romulan isolation came to an end.
The Romulans soon established several embassies on Federation planets, with two of them on Earth. They also had an alliance with the Klingons until a series of incidents including the Khitomer Massacre.. A Romulan attack on the Khitomer Colony that out of 4,000 settlers left only two survivors, one of them being Worf of the Enterprise-D. Klingons passionately hated the Romulans and considered them their nemesis.
The Romulans allowed Cardassia to establish an embassy on Romulus. Their diplomatic relations were good until Cardassia entered the Dominion War.
Despite the Klingon hatred for them, Romulans still hated Vulcans more than any other species. They fought for over 100 years in a war that was the result of a Q and their attempt to kill themselves. After the war, the distrust and hate continued to fester and each time it was attempted, unification would fail.
In 2387, the Romulan sun went supernova. Ambassador Spock attempted to save the sun from exploding using red matter and failed. A Romulan mining vessel nearby followed the Ambassador's ship into the gravitational anomaly created by the failure and affected an alternative reality.
Romulans reached out for help as their sun went supernova. Admiral Jean-Luc Picard was selected to lead a fleet of ships to rescue them. However, before launch, the ships were destroyed by a group of rogue androids on Mars. Starfleet withdrew the mission and betrayed the Romulans, leaving many to die. Picard resigned from Starfleet in protest.
After the destruction of their planet, some surviving Romulans became political and organized as the Romulan Free State.
Spock’s dream of reunification did eventually happen though. Vulcan was renamed Ni’Var. Instrumental in creating the trust needed to bridge their misunderstandings was the Qowat Milat, an order of Romulan warrior nuns.
After the Burn, the Romulans on Ni'Var passionately pleaded with their Vulcan counterparts to stay with the Federation but were overruled.
What is known is that the two very different species can once again co-exist on the planet of their birth once more.