The Minbari Federation
The Minbari Federation is the most advanced of the younger races in the Babylon 5 universe.
The Minbari appear superficially similar to Humans with a slightly different bone structure, no hair, and a bone crest on the head. The crest grows throughout a Minbari's life, and individuals often carve their crests to suit their personalities. Members of the Warrior Caste often opt for sharp points on their crests while members of the Religious Caste prefer smoother curves. Minbari ears are smaller than Human ears and located lower on the head behind the jaw.
Minbari have greater strength and stamina than Humans.
As with most other alien species, a small proportion of the Minbari population is telepathic. These telepaths devote their gifts to the common good.
There are two known cases of aberrant Minbari. Valen, the great Minbari leader from the 13th Century, is known as the Minbari not born of Minbari. This is because he is actually the Human, Jeffrey Sinclair, who traveled back in time and used a chrysalis device to transform himself into a Human-Minbari hybrid. Minbari Ambassador Delenn repeated the procedure 1000 years later to transform herself from a Minbari into a Minbari-Human hybrid. In both cases, the transformations were complete enough to allow the hybrids to have children with members of their new species. In Valen's case, this resulted in a contamination of his Minbari descendents with traces of Human DNA.
The Minbari are organized by clans and castes. The clans represent ties among extended families. The castes represent professions. The Religious Caste members are responsible for the spiritual and intellectual well-being of the Minbari people. They interpret the prophets and also serve as teachers. The Warrior Caste is charged with protecting the Minbari Federation. The Worker Caste maintains the infrastructure of the society.
Minbari are free to choose their castes when they are old enough, but the members of certain clans are often predisposed to joining a certain caste. For example, the Wind Swords clan is very militant, so most of its members end up joining the Warrior Caste. Minbari continue to hold allegiance to both their clan and their caste.
The Minbari are very service-oriented. They hold the concept of self-sacrifice as an ideal.
Minbari society is centered on rituals. They have a ritual for everything from choosing a mate to preparing dinner.
One of the many traditions that Valen began is that Minbari do not kill Minbari. This code was followed until the Minbari Civil War in 2261.
The Minbari believe that the universe is sentient and that life is the universe's way of trying to understand itself.
The Minbari strongly believe that they have souls that are reincarnated. They do not expect a one-to-one correlation between individuals in the act of reincarnation. Instead, there is a pool of Minbari souls, and each new birth draws from this pool some amount that determines the individual's quality. At the end of a Minbari's life, the soul essence returns to the pool. The Minbari have been known to relate the current size of their population or the perceived quality of their people to the availability of this soul pool.
The Vorlons influenced the Minbari to be predisposed to their angelic image. The Minbari refer to this revered being of light as Valaria.
The Minbari have a great deal of respect for their prophets. Their most holy prophet is Valen, the Minbari who rallied them during the Shadow War of the 13th Century. He was a political and military leader as well as a religious leader. He brought the Minbari Castes together, and Minbar owes much of its current religion, culture, and politics to Valen. The Minbari way of life would likely be devastated if the general population ever learned that Valen was in fact a transformed Human, Jeffrey Sinclair.
The Minbari are the most technologically advanced of the younger races. Their starships use a gravimetric drive rather than the reaction drives of the more primitive races. Their ships are also equipped with artificial gravity and advanced stealth technology.
The Vorlon Empire provided the Minbari with limited Vorlon technology for the construction of the White Star fleet. The White Stars are surprisingly fast and powerful for their small size. They are one of the smallest ships of their time with the ability to form their own jump points. Many of the systems on the White Stars use Vorlon technology to repair themselves when damaged in combat.
Another interesting piece of Minbari technology is not Minbari at all. The triluminaries are mysterious devices that were brought by Valen and Zathras from Epsilon 3 in the future. They have some capability to analyze DNA patterns, and a triluminary is the key component in the chrysalis device.
Valen set up the current Minbari government in the 13th Century. He codified the laws and set up the Grey Council, which rules the Minbari Federation.
The nine members of the Grey Council were made up of three representatives each from the Religious, Warrior, and Worker Castes. These leaders are known by the honorific, Satai. During some periods of Minbari history all members operate as equals while at other times a single member is elevated to the position of leader of the Grey Council. The members of the Grey Council vote to admit a new member when a position is open.
When the Religious Caste terminated the Earth-Minbari War, a schism formed between their caste and the Warrior Caste, which desired to finish the war. Neroon of the Warrior Caste replaced Delenn when she was expelled from the Grey Council in 2259. This upset the balance of the leadership. The political instability increased when Delenn broke the Council in 2260. The increasing tensions between the Religious and Warrior Castes led to a bloody civil war. At the conclusion of the civil war Delenn formed a new Grey Council, this time with five representatives from the Worker Caste and only two representatives each from the Religious and Warrior Castes.
The members of the Grey Council often oversee important missions from a private cruiser.
Relations with Other Species
The Minbari have been endlessly manipulated by the Vorlons. The interference began millennia ago by appearances that led to the belief in Valaria, the angelic Vorlon image. They also genetically engineered telepaths among the Minbari. When Valen arrived in the 13th Century, two Vorlons accompanied him and revealed their angelic appearance to ensure cooperation. The Minbari fought against the Shadows for the Vorlon's cause. After the Shadows were driven away, Valen continued to lead the Minbari. Many of his prophecies and laws were likely engineered to further Vorlon goals. In the 23rd Century, Vorlons appeared to Minbari leader Dukhat, Satai Delenn, and Anla'shok Na Lenonn. They encouraged contact with the Humans. The Vorlons became bolder in their interactions with the Minbari and eventually granted them some technology to use in the White Star fleet.
Since the Minbari are historic allies of the Vorlons, they are historic enemies of the Shadows. The Minbari fought against the Shadows in both the 13th and 23rd Centuries. They know more about the Shadows than any other species, but were unwilling to share their information as the second Shadow War ramped up for fear of forcing the Shadows into action too soon.
The Centauri Republic views the Minbari Federation with respect. They minimize their contact for fear of angering the Minbari.
When the Narn Regime ventured out into space, they had some minimal contact with the Minbari. During the Earth-Minbari War, Narn Ambassador G'Kar brokered a failed peace conference between the Humans and Minbari. He later tried to form an alliance with the Minbari, but the Minbari did not wish to deal with the immature Narn. After the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, the Minbari wanted to atone for their inaction during the early days of the Shadow War. They provided Narn with advanced technology to repair the damage done to its climate by the Centauri mass drivers.
Human history had a fundamental impact on Minbari history. The majority of Minbari culture, religion, politics, and philosophy revolve around Valen who is in fact Jeffrey Sinclair, a Human. Valen's prophecies guided the Minbari to make contact with the Humans and led Ambassador Delenn to transform herself into one. Their disastrous first contact led to a bitter war that lasted three years and nearly wiped out the Humans. With a Human, John Sheridan, in the presidency of the Interstellar Alliance and married to Delenn relations became more cordial, and Minbar began sharing technology with the Humans to build a new White Star destroyer class.
The relations between the Minbari Federation and the League of Non-Aligned Worlds are as cordial as can be expected considering the disharmony within the Non-Aligned Worlds. Delenn successfully convinced the member species to dissolve their League and join the Interstellar Alliance in 2261.