The First Republic was established in the late-21st century and was known for an era of excellent literature. By the mid-22nd century, Cardassian space travellers had been observed by the Organians. Also during that century, the burial vaults of the First Hebitian civilization were unearthed for the first time. They were plundered by the impoverished Cardassian population, and most of the artifacts stolen.
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. In order to "feed" the population, the military colonised numerous worlds to obtain the resources and in return had almost complete power over the people. This arrangement satisfied both the military and the civilian population for many years. However, as the Cardassian Union continued to expand over the decades, so did the military's requirements. Eventually the military was consuming the majority of the obtained resources and leaving only scant remnants to Cardassian citizenry. This led 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 neighbouring planets and forced their native people to work as forced labourers. 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.
- See: Occupation of Bajor
Eventually their expansion brought them into conflict with the Klingon Empire causing the Betreka Nebula Incident. Their expansion also caused them to clash with the Federation, resulting in the Federation-Cardassian War, eventually ending with the signing of a peace treaty in 2367 and the creation of a Demilitarized Zone three 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.
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 military 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.
The Central Command attempted to deal with the situation in the DMZ by discrediting the Federation and providing evidence that they not only sanctioned the Maquis' actions, but were providing them with weapons to combat the Cardassians. Their undercover operative secretly developed evidence that Miles O'Brien was shipping photon torpedoes to the Maquis from Deep Space 9. The plan was foiled when Central Command's agent was discovered by the station's senior staff, and the evidence against O'Brien was proved to be fabricated.
Another failed attempt by Central Command was to wipe out the Maquis' munitions base in the Badlands with the creation of their ATR-4107 missile (which was later renamed Dreadnought). While the ATR-4107 effectively acted as a missile, it was also a fully autonomous warship capable of warp speeds and carried a wide range of defensive weaponry. The Dreadnought had successfully made it to the Maquis munitions depot after fighting its way through every Maquis defence. However, due to the Cardassians' use of an outdated kinetic detonator, the Dreadnought did not detonate as planned, but instead drifted in orbit of the planetoid. There, the Maquis reprogrammed the superweapon to attack a Cardassian fuel depot on Aschelan V. Dreadnought inexplicably disappeared in the Badlands while on the way to its new destination, only to be found by the USS Voyager two years later in the Delta Quadrant.
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.
The discovery of a large, hostile empire in the Gamma Quadrant in 2370 proved to be one of the most devastating events for the Cardassian Empire, as this so called "Dominion" would soon start to destabilize the Alpha Quadrant. By 2371, no major Alpha Quadrant power was willing to commit to a firm solution to the threat of a Dominion invasion. Enabran Tain, 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, 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.
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.
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 economic and political problems, and strongly opposed to the Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty made the year prior, the True Way was responsible for destroying the runabout Orinoco as well as a failed attempt at the life of Shakaar Edon.
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 on his promise, for within three 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.
Membership in the Dominion
- See also: Dominion War
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. Since the Dominion required 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 9 and prevent the minefield from completion which resulted in Dukat retaking the station. Thus, the Dominion War began.
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 Bajoran wormhole before they could enter the Alpha Quadrant. The sudden turn of events, combined with the death of his daughter Tora Ziyal, caused Dukat to have a mental breakdown. It was after this that Cardassians began to lose their status as equals with the Vorta and Jem'Hadar in the Dominion.
Puppet government, occupation and rebellion
After Dukat's subsequent capture earlier that year, Damar was placed as the new leader of the Cardassian people. However, Damar's position gradually became nothing more than a simple formality, with the Female Changeling and Weyoun running a de facto government. 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 pursuing the USS Defiant, as Damar had initially ordered.
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 Female Changeling 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.
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 Cardassian military forces switched sides, helping the Federation Alliance defeat the Dominion once and for all.
But a change of heart that came too late: by the end of the Dominion War, Cardassia Prime was in ashes, devastated by orbital bombardment and Jem'Hadar raids by the Dominion, who were ordered to wipe out the Cardassian species for their betrayal. Over eight hundred million men, women and children were slaughtered in the planet-wide genocide. The Cardassian military was reduced greatly from two years of total war and casualties with the Federation Alliance, an entire Order was wiped out from a single engagement, and their economy was crippled. With Damar, the inspirational leader of the Rebellion dead, Cardassia took a big blow that further deteriorated the situation and lead to an even deeper fall into the inevitable demise. Cardassia, a once proud, powerful and unrelenting force in the Alpha quadrant, had once again become a planet plagued with famine, death, disease and destruction, leaving the remaining Cardassians to rebuild it and pick up the pieces amongst the ruins. A tragic ending for a once mighty peoples, and a fate General Martok believed most Bajorans would call "poetic justice".
Restoration and Recovery
In the year following the end of the war, Cardassia relied heavily upon the Federation for assistance; the Klingons and Romulans being more interested in captured territories and the Breen retreating back behind their own pre-war borders, laying claim to a few outlying Cardassian worlds as they did so. It took almost a full year before any cohesive form of government could rise again from the ashes of the destruction wrought upon the populace by the Jem'Hadar. The new Cardassian government revived the prospect of civilian rule under the Detapa Council, this time led by a Castellan; a senior councillor designated as head of state. The inaugural Castellan was a former military officer who turned towards the rebellion after Legate Damar's return to Cardassia Prime; Gul Gerim Ertal. Castellan Ertal was able to re-form the government and begin to bring together a new Central Command and reform the various bureaus and agencies which were required to run the former governments. Due to the usurpation of power and subsequent attempt at genocide by the Dominion occupying forces, this process was a lengthy one, and the Cardassian government was only just beginning to show the level of coordination and confidence that its previous institutions had ten years later. In 2386, Castellan Ertal sent former Obsidian Order agent Elim Garak to Earth to act as Cardassian ambassador to the Federation under the newly reformed Cardassian Foreign Ministry.