|This article does not cite any sources. (December 2009)|
||This television-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|Babylon 5 character|
|First appearance||The Hour of the Wolf|
|Last appearance||The Long Night|
|Portrayed by||Wortham Krimmer|
|Home planet||Centauri Prime|
|Affiliated with||Emperor of the Centauri Republic|
Emperor Cartagia is a fictional character from the universe of the science fiction television series Babylon 5, played by Wortham Krimmer. He is mentioned by name early in the series but his first on-screen appearance was in the fourth season episode The Hour of the Wolf.
When installed as emperor in 2259 by a group of Centauri politicians led by Lord Refa and Londo Mollari, he acted as, essentially, a powerless figurehead; however, he gradually amassed near absolute power. The scale of his self-aggrandizement and madness were exposed in early 2261, near the end of the Shadow War, when he willingly brought Centauri Prime to the brink of annihilation by the Vorlons in an effort to secure his place among the gods.
Cartagia was the nephew of Emperor Turhan; when Turhan died while on a visit to Babylon 5, he left no direct heirs (as his son had also died recently in an "accident"). It was expected that his Prime Minister, Malachi, would be the next Emperor but he was assassinated by forces loyal to Lord Refa. Several Centauri houses then vied for the throne but were unable to secure a binding claim, enabling Cartagia, with the backing of Refa's agents, to accede. Serving largely as a figurehead for Refa and his agents, Cartagia was in favor of the military expansion of the Centauri, including the conquest of the Narn, and this quickly translated into the Narn-Centauri conflict of 2259.
Cartagia's Reign and the Shadow War
In early 2261, Cartagia had Babylon 5 Ambassador Mollari recalled to Centauri Prime and appointed him as Minister of Internal Security. At first, Cartagia merely seemed flamboyant and self-indulgent, with his shocking lower-class hairstyle and numerous hangers-on. It did not take long for Mollari to realize that Cartagia was dangerously insane, especially after he learned from Morden that Cartagia had allowed the Shadows, reeling from the events on Z'ha'dum, to establish a base on the Centauri homeworld. Mollari expressed his concerns to a member of the royal court, who explained that though the Centarum had tried to oppose Cartagia, all of his opposition had since disappeared, with the rumor being that Cartagia had hidden their heads in a secret room, where he spoke with them on a regular basis. Mollari later discovered this rumor to be true; it was also around this time that Londo learned that the Vorlons were destroying any planet with even the slightest taint of Shadow influence. When Londo informed Cartagia of this, he explained that the Shadows had agreed to reward his assistance by turning him into a deity. Cartagia then explained that the Vorlons would help his plans for deification by turning Centauri Prime into a massive inauguration pyre. Londo knew that, in order to protect his planet and its people, he would have to kill Cartagia.
During these events, G'Kar was captured and brought to Centauri Prime, initially presented by the Emperor as a gift to Londo. Cartagia proceeded to have G'Kar tortured prior to being executed, having him lashed with an electro-whip and even having an eye removed because he didn't like the way the Narn looked at him. Londo secretly visited G'Kar in his cell during all this and came to an agreement: in return for G'Kar's assistance in his plot to assassinate Cartagia, Londo would end the Centauri occupation of Narn. As part of this plot, Mollari convinced Cartagia to take G'Kar to Narn and execute him there, thus allowing Mollari to draw the Emperor away from the royal court, leaving him more vulnerable.
Overthrow and Assassination
When they arrived on Narn, Cartagia planned to have G'Kar killed in front of local Narns to break their spirit. Mollari had arranged for the chains on G'Kar's restraints to be weakened, to distract Cartagia long enough for Londo to act. They would then secretly inject a poison into the Emperor which would cause his cardiovascular system to shut down nearly instantly.
The plan came close to failure when Cartagia had G'Kar's chains replaced after noting that they looked "weak." Despite this, G'Kar managed to break free and began fighting with the guards. In the commotion Mollari escorted Cartagia away from the fight and prepared to inject the poison into him. Cartagia went into a fit of rage about how this was not part of his destiny and reacting to being told to quiet down by Mollari, turned and punched him, knocking the device away. Cartagia grabbed Mollari in a stranglehold, ranting about how Mollari deserved to burn with the rest of the Centauri for failing to see his greatness. As Cartagia turned to walk away, he was injected with the poison by Vir Cotto, who had picked up the device while Londo and Cartagia struggled. Cartagia grabs Vir by the throat, but is immediately overcome, falling insensible as he moans that his dream of becoming a god would never be realized.
Shortly after this, the Imperial guards found Cartagia, supported by Mollari and Vir. Mollari explained that the Emperor had collapsed and that he believed the Emperor's hearts had failed. Mollari kept his promise to G'Kar, by explaining to the court that Centauri dealings with the Narn have resulted in the deaths of two Emperors and that Cartagia would interpret this as a sign from the gods to leave.
In the following days, as the Army of Light planned for its final assault upon the Vorlons and the Shadows, Mollari systematically removed the Shadow influence from Centauri Prime. He dealt first with the Shadow vessels on Centauri Prime by destroying the island they were on and then had Mr. Morden beheaded.
Following the death of Emperor Cartagia, the Centauri government decided not to name a new Emperor right away, hoping to prevent the possibility of another Cartagia assuming the throne. Indeed, a long-serving minister, Virini, remarked the royal bloodline was not what it once was due to inbreeding, commenting that, "...when you reduce a family tree to a family bush, you can't hide as much underneath". The Centarum selected Virini as their Regent, until such time as a new Emperor was selected.
The Lost Tales
In 2271, John Sheridan met Cartagia's son Dius Vintari, third in line for the throne behind Vir. The technomage Galen had warned Sheridan that in thirty years, Dius would follow in his father's footsteps, destroying Earth and beginning a new reign of terror. Sheridan was told to kill him as the only sure way to prevent this future but agonized over taking the life of someone who was still young and had not done anything to deserve it. Eventually he realized that there was another way to prevent the future and decided to introduce Dius to the concept of kindness, something lacking in the Centauri royal court. He allowed him to pilot a Starfury as he had always dreamed, then invited him to stay in the Alliance headquarters on Minbar, safe from any assassins sent by the people in line for the throne after him. Galen apparently disapproved, saying that killing Dius was the only sure way to prevent Earth's destruction but Sheridan was confident that he could help Dius become a better man than his father and forced Galen to all but admit that was his true objective in this affair.