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Romulan history begins with Vulcan history, as they were the same species 2000 years ago.

Ancient Vulcans were mothing like the Vulcans that StarTrek now knows.   They used to be violent and war like.  The provinces were always at war, constantly fighting for land, and water, for water was a scarce thing on the desert planet. At least 90 percent of the planet was at war at all times. 

Around 80 BC, terran dating, a Vulcan philosipher named Surak, began to practice the control of emotions, and publicly stating that logic was the way to peace.   His ideals were very slow to spread and it took many years before people began to take him very seriously.  But, he did recieve some followers.  One of which was a young man named S'Task and he was Suraks finest pupil.

Around 20 BC, the first signles from an alien race were recieved on Vulcan.  However, the aliens did not come in peace.  They were Orion slave pirates, and they wanted the Vulcans for their slaves.  The Orions captures many of Vulcan's leaders, including S'Task, who had gone to greet the aliens, because Surak had transportion trouble. 

This began the greatest of Vulcan's wars.  They fought with their more primitive space ships, but they were not enough to beet teh Orions.  They used their mind talents to manipulate the Orions into attacking each other and or to drive their ships into the sun.

S'Task had escaped captivity, and began to form a rebbelion against the Orions.  He and his followers over-powered the pirates and eventually crashe his ship into the Orion mother ship.  He escaped in an escape pod, and was found weeks later, almost dead, but kept alive by his own anger.

This began the split between Surak and his student S'Task. After his experience with the Orions, S'Task renounced the pacifism of Surak, saying that pacifism was inappropriate in the hostile universe waiting in interstellar space. However, S'Task was not willing to promote his philosophies actively against Surak, for fear of prodding Vulcan back into a state of war and anarchy. Surak had long preached that "The structure of spacetime is more concerned with means than ends: beginnings must be clean to be of profit", and S'Task agreed with his old master. It was with this in mind that S'Task proposed an alternate solution.

S'Task and his followers decided to leave Vulcan, using the technology that they had stolen from the Orions.  They would find a new planet to live on, with the laws that they wanted, so that Surak and his followers, now many of them, could live their own way. 

50 years later the first far travel Vulcan ship left.  With it went 15 other ships, each carrying 5000 of the 'Declared' to a new planet.  The people decided to avoid all areas located on the Orions star maps, so that they would be sure not to run into them. 

They predicted that it would take only 30 or so years to find anew planet, so they would be safe with the 50 years of supplies that they could take on each ship.  

Of the 16 ships, only 4 made it to a sutible planet.  The other 12 were destroyed in many ways, black holes, or just disapeared.

The survivors who reached their new planet, called themselves the Rihannsu, or the Declared.  The planets that they found were a twin set, like their former homeworld of Vulcan.  They named the planets ch'Rihan and ch'Havran.

Of the 18 000 people settled on these planets, 6000 had died within 10 years.  They did not die of disease, famine or something like that, but of war.   The people had started right where they had left off on Vulcan, with violent wars for land and resources.  In such an atmosphere it was only a matter of time before a warlord emerged to impose a central structure on the factions and clans by force, and such a warlord was T'Rehu, the Ruling Queen.

T'Rehu built up an army in about 67 AS (After Settlement) and within 10 years had more might than any in the Two Worlds. When her power was sufficient, she brought her armies to the Grand Council and there demanded recognition. Only S'Task stood before her, and turned and left when the Council granted her demands. A few years later when famine struck the South Continent she called the Council, including S'Task, together. She derided the Council for incompetence, and when S'Task turned his back on her dishonorable display she had him killed, setting herself up as Ruling Queen. As head of the Grand Council and later as Ruling Queen, T'Rehu dabbled in tyranny and beneficence, taking lives and saving them at her whims for some 18 years.

After 20 years T'Rehu's armies were defeated, and and a new ruling party was set up.  A Praetorate and Senate was set up which was sufficiently resilient to have survived to this day. 

The Rihannsu lived like this for many centuries after, enjoying arts, music, painting, and war.  ANd unlike their counterparts the Vulcans, they lived with passion. 

In approximately 1600 AS, the Federation vessel USS Carrizal came out of warp at the far edge of the 128 Trianguli system and began surveying the area. They found, to their surprise, two worlds there with an apparently highly developed agrarian civilization on each. The crew dubbed the worlds "Romulus" and "Remus" in reference to an ancient Terran legend. In standard first contact procedures they beamed in messages of peace and good will. They received no response. After surveying the system for a time, they returned to the Federation with the news of their discovery.

Memories of the Orion pirates still lived on, in legends, and this placed mistrust towards the Federation.  By the time the next Federation ship arrived, the Rihannsu had constructed some 7,000 crude, cylindrical vessels -- impulse powered with particle beam weapons. When the USS Balboa coasted into the Trianguli system, it was blown to bits by the massed particle beams of 50 spacecraft. Shortly thereafter, the Rihannsu captured the USS Stone Mountain, took her apart, studied the design, and added warp drive to their primitive craft. Thus began what was known to the Federation as the "First Romulan War".

The Federation's StarFleet was stymied and confused by their inability to defeat the Rihannsu, who were flying craft that were little more than tin cans with warp power drives. Time and again, larger and larger task forces were sent into Rihannsu space and were systematically obliterated by the Rihannsu. At about this time, the Federation made first contact with the Vulcans, and asked them if they knew anything about this seemly maniacal race. The Vulcans responded with characteristic caution, that they knew of some who might match the description, but that they had left Vulcan long ago. As StarFleet continued to send task forces into Rihannsu space the Vulcans suggested that, if these were indeed the ones who had left long ago, it would be best to make peace. It took StarFleet several more years to realize that they were never going to prevail, and a treaty was eventually negotiated -- the only treaty in Federation history to be negotiated entirely by data upload, as the Rihannsu refused to meet the aliens in person.

Now, the Romulans have a slightly more steady treaty with the Federation.   At Deep Space Nine, an exchange was made between the two cultures, a cloaking device for an update on all Dominion activity in the Gamma quadrant.  The Federation warship Defiant now is equiped with this cloaking device.