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Cardassian history is perhaps one of the most histories of the species inhabiting the Alpha Quadrant. Originally, the Cardassian homeworld was that of a deeply spiritual and artistic people, which soon fell into decay when famine and plague struck their civilization. Over the years, Cardassian society evolved to adopt a philosophy that sacrificed their individual freedoms for the greater good of the state and their society. For over five centuries, the iron fisted Cardassian military sought to solve Cardassia's problems through the conquest of numerous worlds and species throughout the galaxy, leading to an era of expansion and conflict. This ultimately left Cardassian civilization in ruins once again after suffering the staggering losses of two major wars.

Cardassia Prime in 2375.

Early History

The ancient Hebitians were a spiritual and peaceful civilization which thrived on Cardassia Prime centuries prior to the formation of the Cardassian Union. The Hebitian burial vaults were said to be magnificent and filled with many jeweled artifacts made of jevonite. Due to the planet's scarcity in natural resources, the impoverished society suffered from famine and disease, leading to millions of deaths. The frail population then turned to a militaristic ideology thus ending the Hebitian way of life. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II")

First Contact

The Cardassians welcome the Siskos to Cardassian space

First contact between the Cardassians and Bajorans occurred as early as the 16th century. Using their lightships Bajoran explorers traversed the space around Bajor and stumbled upon tachyon eddies, which took them all the way to Cardassia Prime. Centuries later any proof of such contact was lost and the Cardassian government would officially deny the story's plausibility. Benjamin Sisko and his son Jake proved the Cardassians wrong in late 2371 when Sisko constructed a lightship and stumbled upon the same eddies the ancient Bajorans had. Coincidentally, around this time evidence had been discovered on Cardassia corroborating the Bajorans' story. The military welcomed the Siskos to Cardassian space with open arms, describing the journey as "a testament to the spirit of the ancient Bajorans who first ventured out into space". (DS9: "Explorers")

Cardassian Union

The Detapa Council, Cardassian Central Command and Obsidian Order were jointly established in the 19th century together forming what would be known as the Cardassian Union. Tret Akleen was said to be the "father" of the Union. (DS9: "Defiant", "Tears of the Prophets")

See: Cardassian Union

First Republic

The First Republic was established in the late-21st century and featured an era of excellent literature such as the works of Iloja of Prim. (DS9: "Destiny") By the mid-22nd century Cardassians began to explore space. (ENT: "Observer Effect")

Modern Empire

Cardassian Union logo.png

Having assumed a militaristic philosophy after the Hebitian society perished, Cardassians relied heavily on the military's expansion into the galaxy to obtain the natural resources which were scarce on their homeworld. The military colonized numerous worlds to obtain the resources for their population and in return had almost complete power over the people. This arrangement satisfied both the military and the people for many years. However, as the Cardassian Union continued to expand over the decades, so did the military's requirements. Eventually the military was taking in the majority of the obtained resources and providing the remains to the rest of the Cardassian citizens. This lead to a period of social discontent, as famine and disease once again struck Cardassia, as it had with its ancient civilization. To compensate, the military conquered neighboring planets and forced their native people to work as forced laborers. The most well known of these occupations was that of Bajor in 2328. The Occupation effectively ended in 2369 due to political pressure from the Federation on top of the constant terrorism and guerrilla warfare from the Bajoran Resistance. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II", "Ensign Ro", DS9: "Duet", "Cardassians", etc)

See: Occupation of Bajor

The Reklar and Enterprise-D meet in the DMZ over the dispute of Minos Korva

Eventually their expansion brought them into conflict with the Klingon Empire causing the Betreka Nebula Incident. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior") Their expansion also caused them to clash with the Federation, resulting in the Cardassian Wars, eventually ending with the signing of a peace treaty in 2368 and the creation of a Demilitarized Zone two years later. This was a perturbed peace and minor conflicts continued between both sides from time to time, including the Cardassians attempt to take Minos Korva by negotiating the release of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The layout of the DMZ also contributed to the tensions. Due to the change in borders some Federation worlds became Cardassian territories and vice versa. Many of the people, whose worlds were turned over to the Cardassians, did not wish to leave and were granted permission to remain on their worlds. Disgruntled by the treatment they received from the Cardassians some of the citizens decided to revolt. This gave birth to the Maquis. (TNG: "The Wounded", "Chain of Command, Part I", "Chain of Command, Part II", DS9: "The Maquis, Part I", "The Maquis, Part II")



Maquis terrorists attack a Cardassian vessel

After exhausting much of their resources during the Federation-Cardassian War the Cardassian Union was in no shape for renewed conflict with the Federation, so soon after the peace treaty. To make matters worse the Maquis were located in the Demilitarized Zone, preventing the Cardassian Guard from launching a full-scale invasion to wipe them out. This enabled the Maquis to carry out numerous acts of sabotage and small military engagements against the Union. As the Maquis grew in size and strength tensions grew higher between the Federation and the Cardassian Union with neither side having a concrete solution to the problem. Instead, the Central Command secretly armed their citizens in the DMZ to combat the Maquis while the Maquis procured weapons by raiding various vessels as well as receiving materials from the Klingon Empire in later years. (DS9: "The Maquis, Part I, "The Maquis, Part II", "Defiant", "For the Uniform", "Blaze of Glory")

Attempting to reestablish relations with Bajor after the end of the occupation the Cardassians secretly worked out a treaty with the Bajorans. With Legate Turrel representing the Cardassian Union and Vedek Bareil initiating the talks and working out the details. Five months of secret discussions began between the two, from war reparations to an official apology from the Cardassians. However, Bareil was injured on his way to Deep Space 9 to finalize the treaty so Kai Winn completed the negotiations, thus creating the Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty. (DS9: "Life Support")

The discovery of a large, hostile empire in the Gamma Quadrant in 2370 would prove to be one of the most devastating events for the Cardassian Empire. By 2371, no major Alpha Quadrant power was willing to commit to a firm solution to the threat of a Dominion invasion. Thus, the retired leader of the Obsidian Order took it upon himself to see Cardassia's involvement in preventing a major war. With the help of the Tal Shiar Enabran Tain was able to develop his own small fleet in the Orias system which he would use later that year in an attempt to wipe out the Dominion's rulers; the Founders. His plan was ultimately foiled by a changeling infiltrator, resulting in the disastrous Battle of the Omarion Nebula. The battle caused the Obsidian Order to completely collapse, allowing for the Cardassian dissident movement to overthrow the Central Command's authority the following year. The movement saw the restoration of the Detapa Council and civilian rule. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Improbable Cause", "The Die is Cast", "The Way of the Warrior")


The wreckage of the Cardassian fleet after the overwhelming Klingon forces invaded

Having been suppressed for so long, the civilian population's ability to restore the Detapa Council was believed to be influenced by the Founders in the eyes of the Klingon Empire. Because of this, as well as Chancellor Gowron being influenced by an actual changeling, the Klingon Empire launched an unprovoked and abrupt invasion of the Cardassian Union, thus beginning the Klingon-Cardassian War. The war devastated Cardassian infrastructure and crippled a large portion of their fleets. The Detapa Council, with the help of Gul Dukat and the Federation, was able to obtain asylum aboard Deep Space 9. After the Klingons were successfully driven away the war became a stalemate, with Klingon ships able to roam freely throughout Cardassian territory. Later that year, Dukat was able to procure a Klingon vessel with the help of Major Kira Nerys. Despite the substantial information he obtained from the ship's computer logs and status reports, the Detapa Council wished to find a diplomatic solution to the war as opposed to using the information for launching a new offensive. Dukat then began a one-ship war against the Klingons with his captured Bird of Prey. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior", "Return to Grace", "Rules of Engagement")

With the Cardassian Obsidian Order no longer existing, to keep the population in line, a fanatical separatist group known as the "True Way" began to unleash their frustration on the Federation and Bajor through terrorism and sabotage. Blaming the Federation for Cardassia's economical and political problems, and strongly opposed to the Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty made the year prior, the True Way was responsible for destroying the runabout USS Orinoco as well as a failed attempt at the life of Shakaar Edon. (DS9: "Our Man Bashir", "Crossfire")


Dukat announces Cardassia has joined the Dominion

In 2373, the Dominion suddenly invaded the Alpha Quadrant with dozens of ships coming through the Bajoran wormhole. The Federation was preparing for the worst assuming the fleet was going to begin an interstellar war by attacking Deep Space 9. However, the fleet immediately changed course and headed directly for Cardassian space. Shortly thereafter, Dukat revealed that he had secretly negotiated an alliance with the Dominion over the past few months and made Cardassia an official member, only weeks prior to the Dominion's entry of the Alpha Quadrant. The Detapa Council became completely powerless with Cardassia formally annexed and Dukat as the designated leader of the Cardassian people. Dukat later "justified" his actions by saying the alliance with the Dominion would restore Cardassia to its former glory, promising to push every Klingon ship from Cardassian territory and wipe out every Maquis colony in the DMZ. Dukat made good in his promise, for within 3 days every Maquis colony was destroyed with only a few members able to evade capture or death, and the entire Klingon invasion force was in full retreat. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light", "Blaze of Glory")

Membership in the Dominion

Early Success

With the Cardassian Union's borders returned to their pre-war state Dukat had successfully raised the Union to be a first-rate power in the Alpha Quadrant. However, Dukat's personal ambitions, combined with the Founders desire to bring order to the galaxy, meant that an interstellar war was inevitable. Requiring constant reinforcements of ships, supplies, troops and Ketracel-white from the Gamma Quadrant to be able to conquer the entire Alpha Quadrant, the Federation decided to mine the entrance of the wormhole to prevent the strength of the Dominion from growing. This move was the provocation the Dominion needed to start a full-scale war against the Federation without coming across as the aggressors. The Dominion then sent a fleet of ships to capture Deep Space Nine and prevent the minefield from completion which resulted in Dukat retaking the station. Thus, the Dominion War began. (DS9: "Call to Arms")

File:Second fleet2.jpg

The Second Fleet retreating

For the first few months of the war Cardassia and the Dominion were unmatched on all fronts, constantly forcing the Federation and Klingon Empire to retreat. The utter failure of the Federation's Seventh Fleet at Tyra was one of the many engagements resulting in complete success for the Dominion. At the current rate of success it was only a matter of time before Earth and the rest of the Federation became completely conquered by the Dominion. However, a bold attack lead by Captain Benjamin Sisko saw the first engagement of the war where the allies were successful. Conversely, this was only due to the help of the Bajoran Prophets which destroyed all 2,800 Dominion ships inside the wormhole before they could enter the Alpha Quadrant. The sudden turn of events, toppled with the death of his daughter Tora Ziyal, caused Dukat to have a mental breakdown. It was after this that Cardassians would begin to loose their status as equals with the Vorta and Jem'Hadar in the Dominion. (DS9: "A Time to Stand", "Sacrifice of Angels")

Puppet Government & Rebellion

Damar rallying support on Cardassia against the Dominion

After Dukat's subsequent capture earlier that year Damar was placed as the new leader of the Cardassian people. However, Damar's leadership would gradually become nothing more than de facto government, with the Female Changeling holding all of the actual authority. Shortly after Deep Space 9 was lost to the Federation, Damar was forced to call for peace by Weyoun, despite his personal objections. Over time Damar was forced to obey Weyoun on almost all political and military decisions, including the order to reinforce the Son'a outpost on Devos II as opposed to perusing the Defiant, as Damar had initially ordered. (DS9: "Statistical Probabilities", "Penumbra")

Damar gradually realized that he was simply running a puppet government under Dominion regime and that Cardassians were becoming second-class citizens within their own territory. When the Founder negotiated with the Breen to join the Dominion in 2375 she made territorial concessions on behalf of Cardassia. Damar, forced to sign the negotiations as the designated leader of Cardassia, realized his power had been completely usurped. It was then that Damar began his rebellion against the Dominion oppressors. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil", "When It Rains...", "Tacking Into the Wind")

His military rebellion was destroyed when Gul Revok betrayed it and provided the Dominion with the information necessary to locate their bases. However, Damar learned upon arriving back on Cardassia Prime that he had more of an impact on all Cardassians than he thought. The entire civilian population eventually joined Damar's rebellion and was able to cause a planet-wide blackout during the Battle of Cardassia. The confusion and lack of communication with their main headquarters enabled the allies to defeat the Dominion forces, forcing them to retreat to Cardassia Prime for one final stand. When the Dominion destroyed Lakarian City in retaliation for the blackout, the remaining military forces switched sides, helping the Federation Alliance defeat the Dominion once and for all. (DS9: "The Dogs of War", "What You Leave Behind")

By the end of the Dominion War, Cardassia Prime was devastated by orbital bombardment and Jem'Hadar raids by the Dominion, who wished to wipe out the Cardassian species for their betrayal. Over 800 million men, women and children were slaughtered in the planet-wide genocide. The Cardassian military was reduced greatly from two years of total war with the Federation Alliance, an entire Order was wiped out from a single engagement, and their economy was crippled. Cardassia Prime had once again become a planet plagued with famine, death, disease and destruction, leaving the remaining Cardassians to rebuild. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")

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