The Colonial Wars were a long-running series of conflicts in the Terran sphere of influence which lasted for a thousand years from the mid-23rd century to the end of the 33rd century. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the Thousand Years' War, though it is not one singular conflict. The UN, Terran Federation, Terran Dominion, and Terran Empire, successively, claimed and asserted sovereign authority over the Earth, the Solar System, and all colonies and inhabited worlds under Earth's political control. This sovereignty was contested by various groups with a wide array of ideological underpinnings and methods, some of which were violent insurrections. These rebellions were a major source of internal conflict within the Terran state, and occasionally instigated external wars.
Early colonial period
Colonisation and first conflicts
Following a series of conflicts in the 21st century, a series of interplanetary revolutions in the 22nd century, and the Interplanetary War, the UN committed itself to extrasolar colonisation. Humanity first expanded to extrasolar regions in the 23rd century, first with slow travel methods to the nearest planet in Proxima Centauri. In the 2240s, jump-gate technologies were developed with the intent to 'tunnel' between space in the Sol System and Proxima Centauri, and were tested with an intrasystem network. The United Nations were reorganised as the Terran Federation in 2248. The early 2260s saw the development of the first jump gates between Earth and its extrasolar colonies, including new start-up colonies in Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. The next few decades saw an explosion in settlement and space development in increasingly far-flung worlds and habitable moons.
The first conflicts began in 2303, with the Epsilon Uprising, a violent protest of repressive taxation and brutal militarised policing by the Terran colonial administration; and with the Tau Ceti Conflicts, an internecine struggle between colonies in the Tau Ceti system. Though these conflicts were put down within a couple years, it stirred unrest in other colonies as social media and news coverage displayed the brutality of the Terran Marines and of mercenary groups contracted to fight the protracted guerilla wars. A wave of low-level insurrections and terrorist attacks continued from 2305 to 2345. The bombing of the UN Building on Earth in 2345 contributed to the consolidation of Earth's nations into a single member state of the Federation, and an expansion in Federal action in the colonies. The second phase of 2345 to 2370 saw a lull in active resistance, but a spike in terrorist activity. The terrorist bombing of the Federal colonial office headquarters in Nairobi led to passage of restrictive taxation designed to 'punish' colonials for the actions of violent terrorists and insurrectionists, on the principle that their lack of action to police themselves carried an implicit approval of the terror attacks. The lack of representation of colonial worlds in the Terran Parliament was decried as unfair by colonial civil action groups, especially in the face of the new tax regime.
Orionese War of Independence
The oppressive policies designed to control the financial activity and freedom of the colonial population led to widespread civil unrest and clandestine insurrectionist planning. For the first time, businessmen and local political leaders in the Orion Arm colonies banded together with ideological revolutionaries and militants to form committees of correspondence and public safety. These militia groups opposed the forces of the Terran military, policing their own communities and organising their own governance. The gradual rise in unrest and political conflict culminated in the assembly of representatives from the colonies to coordinate a plan of action. The first unified motion was a petition of grievances to the Terran Parliament, requesting the establishment of parliamentary seats for the colonists in proportion to their population, in April 2374. The petition was rebuffed by the Terran government and the Colonial Assembly submitted a second petition in May, requesting a small delegation of seats for the colonists. This too was rejected, and the final proposal was the establishment of a single parliamentary representative, with the ultimatum that the colonies would commit to a unilateral declaration of independence if it was not accepted. Rejection once again came, and the Colonial Assembly debated fiercely the issue of independence. In January 2375, they declared their independence as the Federation of Orion Arm Colonies. The state changed its name several times during the ensuing rebellion, finally settling on the Republic of Orion on 1 August 2376.
The Orionese rebels first moved to secure their arms, and seized several military depots and armories during the first six months of the insurrection. The Terran garrisons were tasked to put down rebellion on a planet-by-planet basis, a severe underestimation of the colonists' unity and their resolve. By 2376, the Orion colonies held the upper hand in supply and coordination. A small expeditionary fleet was dispatched by the Terran Federation, which turned the tables from early 2377 to mid-2379, harassing Orion spacecraft squadrons and besieging several key worlds. The pressure of various pro-colonial groups in Parliament, the support of non-governmental organisations for the colonial rebels, and the defeat of the Terran fleet in 2379 in a decisive battle led to a political shift in favour of peace. The war more or less drew to a close in 2380 and peace was established in January 2381 with the Eridanus Accords. The Republic of Orion was recognised as independent, and all worlds pledging allegiance to it at the time of the accords were allowed separation. Further separatism was disavowed, and diplomatic relations were established between Terra and Orion. A later treaty in 2389 established strong trade relations and a military alliance.
The postwar period saw victory of the pro-peace party in the Terran parliament. Dominated by both aristocrats and industrialists, and by populist social progressives, the Peace Coalition pressed forwards the reform of the Terran state with the addition of an upper house to the parliament composed of legislators appointed by the member states, with a more collegiate and aristocratic bearing, called the Senate. This new house, called the Senate, held dominant power over foreign affairs while the House of Delegates held dominant power over financial matters, and both held power to originate legislation. This split legislature greatly empowered those who had pushed for the new order, primarily the Terran 'Old Nobility'. A series of reforms to the federal constitution reorganised the state as the Terran Dominion in 2399 and renamed the Senate as the House of Lords. The new Dominion appealed to colonials by appointing notable colonists to the House of Lords and establishing a small delegation of colonial seats in the House of Delegates.
For a time, these balancing acts worked. But over time, as local nobles came to dominate the colonies along with industrialists, colonial citizens questioned the connection between their leaders and the Terran aristocracy. Many protested the appearance of their nobles being "in bed with" the Terran power elite, and yet others saw the political arrangement as trading "one tyrant a thousand light years away for a thousand tyrants one light year away". The increased political power and latitude of these local magnates was nearly unchecked; the Terran military was not large enough to wage a war of attrition in the colonies to maintain control, and so delegated this authority to local nobles, landowners, and the colonial governments, which were increasingly seen as being out-of-touch with the people.
Significant colonial violence occurred in the Perseus Arm colonies, dominated by piracy and rebel terror attacks. The Terran military committed a great deal of forces against them, but were unable to suppress the rebels. Forming the provisional Perseid Republic in the early 2400s, these forces later allied themselves with the Soviet Republic, achieving foreign recognition, aid, and arms. The communist faction in the Perseid rebel army seized power from other factions and transformed the Perseid Republic into a communist authoritarian state. The Terran Dominion refused to recognise the independence of the Perseid Republic, but settled into an uneasy armistice after 2470. The armistice was broken a century later during the Forty Year's War, but resumed as part of the peace treaty in 2602, which included the recognition of the Perseid Republic.
A political atmosphere of neo-feudalism dominated this period. However, some colonies were able to achieve their goals peaceably. The local aristocracy of the Cygnus colonies successfully achieved a separation from the Terran Dominion in 2504, forming the Federation of Cygnus. This new nation was founded on similar principles as the Terran Dominion, and became close allies and trade partners with Terra. But this event was to have severe consequences. What was a peaceful, lawful separation by the instigation of bourgeois and aristocratic elements became seen by many working class and yeomen citizens of the Terran Colonies as a successful struggle of colonial autonomy and independence against the Earth government. Political agitation at the local level spiralled into political violence and eventually terrorism in the 2510s. More power was delegated to local nobles as the Terran Dominion Armed Forces were deployed to combat the Soviet Republic in the Forty Year's War starting in the 2560s. An unprecedented age of feudal warfare consumed large parts of the Terran Dominion, even as Soviet and Orionese incursions reached deep into Terran space. The neglectful attitude of the Terran parliament, the constant bloodshed by feudal lords, and the devastation of the colonies led to mass revolts throughout the late 2500s. Only in the 2590s would a leader emerge that promised to put down the feudal order and institute a strong, central government to administer and vouchsafe the colonies from warlike barons and princes: First Lord William Daniel Francis Compton.
Middle Colonial Period
Early Imperial era
The first two centuries of the Terran Empire, inaugurated by First Lord William's coronation in January 2600 as Terran Emperor, were little different from the late Dominion. While Emperor William I did end the war with the Soviet bloc in 2602, the Terran Imperial military was still too weak to directly confront the feudal lords without resorting to a large-scale nuclear civil war. Colonial rebels emerged that nominally were on the side of the Crown, opposing the feudal tyranny and using the Empire as a rallying point for popular loyalty. Some feudal lords "bent the knee" and swore allegiance to the Crown, becoming true vassals and subjects of the Terran Crown. Others, however, continued to fight each other as well as the Imperial military. The Colonial Wars in this phase became a multi-polar asymmetric conflict wherein feudal lords waged war upon other feudal lords; some nobles directly opposed the Empire and used colonial autonomy as a façade for increasing their own power; and colonial rebels fought on multiple sides, against each other just as often as they faced off against the nobles and the Crown. It was not until the Imperial Reform of the 2800s that the crisis abated and the nobility was finally made subject to the Imperial government. The Imperial Constitution's mandate of universal suffrage was able to be put into place; it was this promise that drew many colonials to the Imperial cause in the 2600s and 2700s. The Imperial parliamentary constituencies were composed of groups of planets, with Crown Colonies having a third of representation as well as Imperial provinces and Earth itself each having a third. This became unwieldy as the number of constituencies grew with the expansion of the Empire.
Middle Empire era
The majority of colonial discontent in the Middle Empire stemmed from the rigidly constrained voice of the colonial constituencies, which outnumbered and outpopulated the provincial districts three-to-one, yet were fixed into only having a third of the parliamentary seats. Violent groups arose to combat the perceived undemocratic nature of this, including and especially communist guerillas. The Terran Communist Party became a potent coalition of colonial communist parties on the left, and was commonly believed to have ties to the Terran National People's Front and the Terran People's Liberation Army. Such groups, as well as many local armed militias, instigated a great deal of political violence and terrorism. With the feudal crisis put down, and the expansion of the Terran Imperial military, government forces were deployed directly to put down revolt and hunt down terror cells. The colonial conflict became greatly intensified as the Terran central government became more capable of power-projection.
A coalition of colonial advocacy groups formed in opposition to the political violence, advocating for a "dominion" status for colonies to grant them self-rule and responsible government even if they were not directly provinces of the Empire. It was a successful group for peaceful political advocacy for a time, but it failed to achieve its goals; many of its political platforms were adopted by the larger political parties, like the Tories and the Social Democrats and the Empire of Man Party. It dwindled in influence in the Parliament, and sought violence to achieve its ends. The group then began calling itself the Colonial Alliance and engaged in terrorism and insurrection. It was suppressed by the 2990s after an intensive hunter-killer campaign by the Terran Imperial Army and the Imperial Space Navy.
The same period saw political violence conducted by far-right paramilitary groups such as the Human Republican Army, a group of radical nationalist and anti-monarchist militants that came to be associated with the Empire of Man Party. After the banning of the EMP, the HRA was defeated in a strategic assault campaign conducted by the Imperial Marines and it was effectively disbanded in the 2980s.
Late Colonial Period
Late Empire era
These defeats did not last very long. The Colonial Alliance was resurrected in 3004 as the Colonial Liberation Organisation. The CLO was a coalition of various paramilitary and political factions engaged in the colonial autonomy struggle, and was banned in 3012 as a subversive organisation. After that, it came to be dominated by revolutionary socialist factions, advocating for social revolution as well as the separation of the colonies from the Empire. It engaged in violent action to achieve these goals, not just terrorism, but raising militias and capturing cities, space habitats, and industrial centres with the intent of creating a quasi-state of "liberated colonies".
The Empire of Man Party and its successors, on the other hand, was reborn as the National Humanist Imperial Labor Party. The NHILP did not engage in terrorism, but sought to achieve political power through legal means. Its leadership came to describe this strategy as the "soft revolution". The NHILP would come to bring many colonists and provincials of all social classes together through its message of human unity and integralism, an opposition to both capitalism and communism, and its goal of purging the human nation of alien influence.
During this period, the Empire sought a policy of rapid industrialisation of existing colonies and crash colonial expansion. This was sought in order to strengthen the Empire against opposing states, especially the Soviet Republic, by exploiting more resources and expanding the Imperial population. The ISTO alliance coordinated campaigns against internal rebellion and violence while also making a strong show of force against the Soviets, the Freyan Federation, the Republic of Cassiopeia, and the United Suns.