History Main / DeadlyDecadentCourt

23rd Apr '14 6:56:20 AM FastEddie
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[[quoteright:300:[[ComicBook/GaspardOfTheNight http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/court_7477.jpg]]]]

->''"A complex web of intrigue, in which death comes as poison, or a dagger in the night. That kind of murder is like a fine wine."''
-->--'''Corkus''', ''WebVideo/BerserkAbridged''
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%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.

The court here is that group of not-so noble Nobles who hang around a king's corridors of power. They are dissolute, dissipated, degenerate, depraved--let's just sum it up as 'decadent'--to such an extent that every thing they touch becomes corrupted. The country they are ruling is heading for doom while they play their spiteful little courtly games.

How the court got that way differs from story to story. More often than not, the source is at the top. They caught it from the monarch.

You see this court in a lot of stories. Maybe even the majority of stories about courts. It is the go-to source for intrigue, backstabbing, and illicit affairs. And, face it, you'll need those things if there is going to be any fun at all.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''{{Berserk}}'', it seems like all the major nobles in Midland are out to get Griffith, who ends up as the target of two assassination plots by the jealous nobility. Griffith, however, is no slouch himself, and all of the nobles who take part in the assassinations end up dead.
* In ''TheBrideOfTheWaterGod'', both the Emperor's Court and the Court of the Water Kingdom are filled with intrigue and characters at cross-purposes. Of course, many of the characters are in both courts...
* In ''VinlandSaga'', the court of King Sweyn Forkbeard is said to be so opulent it is populated with beautiful slave women taken from every corner of the world, filled with conniving politicians, and the arena of many a bloody duel to the death.
* In ''LegendOfGalacticHeroes'', bombs, poisons, abductions, gunfire and [[MakeItLookLikeAnAccident suicides]] are not unheard of in Imperial politics.
* ''{{Ooku}}'' is set in the Shogun's [[RoyalHarem harem]], which develops into a place of backstabbing maneuvers.
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', the Britannian Royal Court comes off as this, given the scheming nobles and TheSocialDarwinist [[TheEmperor Emperor]]. The Chinese court has this as well, with the scheming Eunuchs being the Chinese counterpart to the Britannian nobles.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* The Russian noble houses in ''NikolaiDante'' especially the ruling Makarovs and the Romanovs.
* Most, if not all incarnations of the Hellfire Club in the ComicBook/{{X-Men}} Comics. While they are not technically royality, they try their best to invoke this.
* ComicBook/LutherArkwright: Queen Anne presides over a court of deadly intrigue and decadent orgies in ''Heart of Empire''. Her closest servants view her absorbing the vitality of her enemies as their "favourite bit".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Louis XVI's court as portrayed in the French movie ''{{Ridicule}}'' exemplifies this trope, showcasing how nobles' political power and status was highly dependent on their wit. One victim of a mocking jest saw his request to the King rejected, got ostracised and ended up killing himself as a result.
* Spoofed (among many other tropes) in ''Film/TheCourtJester''.
* Speaking of our good friend Louis XVI, this is played for laughs in ''History of the World Part I''. "It's good to be the king!"
* ''TheDarkCrystal'' has the Skeksis, who act like this, even though there are a few of them left.
* Par for the course in ''Hamlet'' adaptation ''Film/LegendOfTheBlackScorpion''. Pretty much everyone is trying to kill everyone else.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' has the deadliest court in modern American fantasy. In a CrapsackWorld where seven powers duke it out to gain control of the realm, [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bastards]], [[SmugSnake Smug Snakes]] and [[ByronicHero Byronic Heroes]] trade [[ThePlan gambits]] like they're in a pillow fight. And ''GodSaveUsFromTheQueen''...
** And they're so busy fighting each other that they don't notice the army of zombies and god knows what else from beyond the Wall.
** Eddard Stark had the opportunity to become King of Westeros in the backstory, but he let Robert take the Iron Throne. Partly out of a sense of honor, and mostly because he didn't want to deal with the court. Years later, Robert made him Hand of the King and dragged him back to the court, and it all went downhill from there.
* The nobles from the ''{{Bitterbynde}}'' books. The heroine, being a borderline MarySue, makes a few faux pas and has to run away when her pretense gets discovered -- but of course till then she's been the most graceful and beautiful of women at court as well as a thousand times ''purer'' than these cruel, superficial twits.
* In Discworld/InterestingTimes, the Agatean Empire has definitely fallen into this, with murder via poisoning or assassination being an acceptable way of promotion (as long as it is discreetly done), powerful noble families, a rather insane Emperor, and rigid class stratification. Of course, Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde make things, well, interesting.
* The royal court from ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfAmber'', basically a BigScrewedUpFamily and their lackeys. So much backstabbery your brain will give up.
* The nobles from the first novel of ''TheFinalEmpire'' when their society is still intact. They indulge their extravagances while the rest of the population is nearly starving and there's the extra fun of some of them secretly being ''Mistborn'' which means powerful sorcerers and born assassins.
* In the second ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' book, Rand al'Thor comes into Cairhien, a big city with such a court. At least the intrigue bit is definitely fitting - everyone tries to pull him to their side by sending him invitations. Rand tries to avoid this by burning all the invitations... which they, of course, take as a cunning political move. Ultimately, his actions indirectly lead to [[spoiler:the assassination of the king and the entire country falling into a civil war]].
** The Seanchan also seem to operate under these rules. Tuon, the Empress's daughter and heir, notes that her position was attained partly by eliminating the competition, permanently. She also forgives [[spoiler: Beslan]]'s acts of treachery during a crisis because he was unaware of the crisis. Her tone suggests that if it were not during a crisis, there would be little to forgive.
*** Seanchan nobles routinely make assassination plans for anyone they deal with, even if they don't really intend to go through with them. Tuon finds it incredible that she and her new husband [[spoiler:Mat]] won't have to scheme against each other.
* ''Literature/{{Gormenghast}}''.
* The court of Governor and Sole Autocrat Barholm Clerett in ''TheGeneral'', where intrigue is an artform, treachery a given AND on top of everything else the Governor is borderline insane. As the saying goes, 'A simpleton from the Governor's Court could give lessons in intrigue to [any other royal court on the planet, save possibly the Colony's]."
* The goblin court in John Barnes's ''Literature/OneForTheMorningGlory''. Explicitly described as a parody of [[StandardRoyalCourt King Boniface's]].
* The high council of Menzoberranzan, in the ''ForgottenRealms'' books. Usually, the backstabbing comes from a lower-ranking House that ''wants'' to be on the high council, but frankly the entire city is afflicted with a pernicious case of ChronicBackstabbingDisorder.
* David Eddings is very fond of this trope: it shows up in the Imperial Courts of both ''[[TheBelgariad The Malloreon]]'' and ''The Tamuli'', and the main characters are very enthusiastic participants: [[spoiler:in ''The Malloreon'', they foment discord to the point that they engineer a civil war inside the walls of the palace as cover for their escape, while in ''The Tamuli'' they help the figurehead emperor overthrow his own government and seize control by throwing a party, getting the assorted aristocrats drunk, and imprisoning the lot of them.]]
** [[spoiler: The civil war doesn't work out quite as planned, since a plague breaks out in the city, trapping them in the midst of war.]]
* In the [[FurryFandom furry fantasy novel]] ''FangsOfKaath'', the royal court of Osra is a den of decadence and coldblooded political calculation that could consider genocide as well as accommodation as solutions with equal ease. While the heroes, Prince Raschid and his love Sandhri are the first to note it's a fun place for a party with food and sexy serving girls (who are openly eager to hop into bed when asked) galore when it is in a peaceful mood, they are otherwise repelled by its venal side and it suffers a KarmicDeath at being nearly totally destroyed in the climactic battle in the end with nearly the entire villainous Royal family dead except for the straight arrow heroes who find themselves unquestionably on top and in charge of things to run their way.
* The Imperial Court of Golgotha, homeworld of TheEmpire, in ''Literature/{{Deathstalker}}'' series by SimonRGreen is this writ large [[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE]].
** His Forest Kingdom Series and Hawk and Fisher books also feature a wide variety of these. Special mention has to go to the court in ''Blood and Honour'', where they recklessly dally with {{eldritch abomination}}s.
* In William King's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} SpaceWolf novel ''Wolfblade'', Ragnor is warned in advance that Terra is this.
* In JamesSwallow's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} novel ''Faith & Fire'', the Battle Sisters find the aristocrats like this: hopelessly languid, using fans that could double as weapons if they were capable of fighting, and so heavily perfumed that one Sister says they obviously used a crop duster.
** The crop duster comment was actually because a particular set of noblewomen insulted Hospitaller Verity because she was the smallest and plainest person for kilometres around.
* The Japanese Imperial Court in the ''Literature/TaleOfGenji'' - and Real Life - was an epitome of this trope. If its members weren't plotting against each other they were having illicit sex with somebody else's wife or mistress.
** The Heian Court started out much more benign--see literature like the ''Man'youshuu'' for examples of [[MarySuetopia what Japan was (supposedly) like]] about two hundred years prior to the ''Genji''. The ''Genji'' is set in Heian Japan, about a century before it fell apart and was replaced by the [[AWorldHalfFull Kamakura bakufu]], which in turn led to the [[FeudalJapan Muramachi]] [[CrapsackWorld period]].
* The entire first "book" in ''{{Dune}}'' is practically one long convoluted case of court intrigue. The Emperor, who was secretly in league with the Baron, was trying to off the Duke by giving him a deathtrap "promotion" to take control of a flailing production operation that he surely had no hope of turning around, while the Illuminati-like women's convent neared its ultimate goal and began pulling the political strings in new and dangerous directions, all ending in the collapse of the Corrino Imperium and another Jihad.
** Special Mention to House Harkonnen, who are revoltingly decadent and incredibly dangerous - the Baron is a fat, revolting, gluttonous, implied paederast, as well as being a sadist, his nephews are 'just' maniacal sadists, torture is something of an after-dinner entertainment (a passage shows Harkonnen workers cleaning up the remains of one of these in one of Brian Herbert's books, a favourite pastime of Caligula), and the whole affair generally resembles Ancient Rome at its worst (gladiatorial arenas, paedophilia and all.) The aesthetic is pretty bizarre, with sweeping robes and gold combined with stinking oil and huge pollution, smoke and filth - the Harkonnen are clothed and live in finery, but completely filthy both morally and physically.
** In a chapter header quote from her extensive historical works Princess Irulan casually mentions her suspicion that her father had a hand in some of the attempts to assassinate her mother, sisters and self. She is in fact devoted to her father Shaddam IV, and he to her, but she also knows that her mother's refusal to bear him a male heir has put him in a terrible position making her death and her mother's and siblings politically convenient.
---> "Royal families are not like other families."
* In JimButcher's ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' novels, the White Court. It helps that those involved are all [[HornyDevils White Court vampires]] that make {{plan}}s as way of life; at one point Lara says something to the effect that no one will respect her if she attempts to seize power by straightforward means. The Raiths are [[RoyallyScrewedUp a bit dysfunctional]], to say the least.
** The [[TheFairFolk Winter Court]] as well. When attending a party in Arctis Tor, Harry tries to keep an eye on anyone suspicious. He soon realizes that's impossible, and instead resolves to keep an eye out for anyone charging at him with a knife and screaming.
* In Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs's ''[[JohnCarterOfMars The Gods of Mars]]'', the court of Issus.
-->''The First Born do no work. The men fight--that is a sacred privilege and duty; to fight and die for Issus. The women do nothing, absolutely nothing. Slaves wash them, slaves dress them, slaves feed them. There are some, even, who have slaves that talk for them, and I saw one who sat during the rites with closed eyes while a slave narrated to her the events that were transpiring within the arena.''
* All four fey courts in ''WickedLovely'' have elements of this, but the worst would have to be the dark court, and the winter court.
* The court of Herod Antipas, under the pen of romantic writers (e.g. in OscarWilde's play ''Theatre/{{Salome}}''). King Herod is depicted as an incestuous womaniser; Queen Herodias a murderous schemer. The princess Salome, of course, has a famously pathological infatuation with John the Baptist.
* The royal court of Terre d'Ange, in Jacqueline Carey's ''Literature/KushielsLegacy'' series. Everyone sleeps around, there is much scheming and backstabbing, and there are [[MasqueradeBall Masquerade Balls.]]
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's "Literature/TheDevilInIron" what Octavia is willing to flee from even when she's frightened of ConanTheBarbarian.
** In "Literature/RoguesInTheHouse" -- just about everyone is in this.
** In "Literature/AWitchShallBeBorn" Salome turns her country into this.
* In ''Literature/SanoIchiro'', the entire court, save Sano himself is caught up in a web of political scheming and sexual depravity right under the hilariously stupid shogun's nose.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's ''Literature/{{Kull}}'' story "The Shadow Kingdom",
-->''Strange to him were the intrigues of court and palace, army and people. All was like a masquerade, where men and women hid their real thoughts with a smooth mask.''
* Aluwna in ''StarTrekTheGenesisWave'' has aspects of this, as noted by Regimol (a Romulan agent):
-->''Regimol'': “A quite delightful planet it was. They weren't without their political intrigue, of course, and their class structure wasn't fair by Federation standards. Still it reminded me a lot of Romulus, if you could turn the Romulans into a peaceful, insular people”.
-->''Captain Picard'': “Their overseer was recently murdered.”
-->''Regimol'': “See, reminds me of Romulus”.
* ''Literature/TheEgyptian'': The palace has a higher child mortality rate than the poor quarter of the capital city.
* ''Literature/{{Maledicte}}'' stars a god-touched murderer dropped into a shark tank of limp-wristed sociopaths. In other words, a DeadlyDecadentCourt.
* Lord Iron from "Literature/TheCambistAndLordIron" is a member of such a court.
* The emperor's court in ''Literature/ChroniclesOfMagravandias'' is famous for its rare imported pleasures and exotic slaves. And the death and disappearance of inconvenient people.
* The French court in ''Literature/LaReineMargot'' certainly falls into this as you're almost guaranteed to die the second you're not useful to the Valois, or specifically to Catherine.
* In Creator/JackVance's ''Literature/PlanetOfAdventure'': the Yao people of the Kingdom of Cath. Adam Reith rescues Ylin Ylan, the Flower of Cath, from barbarians, which ends up complicating his life more than it should.
* Anything and everything by the Creator/MarquisDeSade basically involves this trope turned UpToEleven. This is maybe not totally without any base in reality, as Sade himself was certainly part of this court, although large numbers of readers have missed the fact that Sade was also a moralist who was condemning society in his writings.
* Most of the action of ''The Curse of Literature/{{Chalion}}'' happens in one of these, with the main character as tutor to the inexperienced but quickly-learning [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses royesse]]. As her eyes begin to open to the court's true nature, she says to him "We're under siege here, aren't we?"
* ''Literature/GulliversTravels'' parodied this with the miniature land of Liliput.
* British statesman Lord Chesterfield mentioned this trope in his ''Literature/LettersToHisSon''. (letter 78/79)
** "In my next I will send you a general map of courts; a region yet unexplored by you, but which you are one day to inhabit. The ways are generally crooked and full of turnings, sometimes strewed with flowers, sometimes choked up with briars; rotten ground and deep pits frequently lie concealed under a smooth and pleasing surface; all the paths are slippery, and every slip is dangerous."
** "Those who now smile upon and embrace, would affront and stab each other, if manners did not interpose; but ambition and avarice, the two prevailing passions at courts, found dissimulation more effectual than violence; and dissimulation introduced that habit of politeness, which distinguishes the courtier from the country gentleman."
* In ''ItCantHappenHere'', Buzz Windrip's fascist administration is characterized by ruthless internal politics and jostling for power. Doubly so near the end of the book, when [[spoiler: Saranson forced Windrip into exile in France, and Haik later assassinates Saranson]].
** When they're not jostling for power, Windrip's advisors engage in depraved parties where alcohol and sex are plentiful. Macgoblin once hosted talks with business leaders during a lavish party in a Roman-era boat, served by naken hostesses. [[spoiler: After exiling Windrip and assuming power]], Saranson has debauched parties with [[AllGaysArePromiscuous plenty of handsome young men]].
* Basically the entire [[AncientRome Roman]] [[AristocratsAreEvil aristocracy]] in Francine Rivers’ ''Literature/TheMarkOfTheLion''.
* The Psi Lords of Takis in the ''Literature/WildCards'' series. One character from Earth observes that skullduggery is "like a fifth classical element" on Takis.
* In the ''Videssos Cycle'', the royal court has this bad. How bad? In only two of the four novels do the main characters even ''try'' to face the BigBad. In the other two books (And the first half of the books in which they do fight him) they spend all their time suppressing insurrections so that they can send the army out of the capital without worrying that there will be ''another'' coup attempt while they're gone.
* The city of ''Literature/{{Theatrica}}'' and its citizens. The society considers itself classless and entirely noble, relegating peasant status to all non-Theatricans (thereby keeping the elite/pleb contrast intact).
* The Kitan court in Guy Gavriel Kay's ''UnderHeaven''. About as TruthInTelevision as a fantasy novel can get, as it is closely based on Tang Dynasty China, where the court was plenty deadly and decadent. (The events of the novel pattern the intrigues that led up to the An Shi Rebellion, which some historians consider to be, in terms of percentage of casualties, the deadliest conflict in ''human history''.)
* Every Government in ''Literature/AgeOfBloodChronicles'' is pretty much one of these.
* VorkosiganSaga is a ZigZag. By Mile's time it is simply a StandardRoyalCourt and most of the politics looks like fairly normal parliamentering with mundane tricks like exchanging support for each others favorite project. However once in awhile a Vor will stoop to thuggery. There are a number of Vor that are useless and vice-obsessed, or pretend to be like Ivan and By. These seem to be a minority. When Miles was a child however the Barrayaran system was much more violent and assassinations and attempted coups were an expected feature of politics.
* The King's Court is this in Literature/SirDerekAndTheFaeries, although it isn't helped by the fact that the King is [[TheCaligula something of an idiot]], as he sleeps with the Queen's Ladies-In-Waiting despite knowing what a terrible idea that is then banishes the only person who could get him out of his bind
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The court in ''TheTudors'' might be even more corrupt than its real-life counterpart, and that's not easy to do...
* Queen Elizabeth's court in ''BlackAdder II'' tends towards this trope. She beheads someone if she's bored. Or if they don't tell her that her nose looks pretty.
* The Centaurum (the [[strike:Imperial Court]] Senate of the Centauri [[strike:Empire]] Republic) on ''Series/BabylonFive'' are a textbook example of this trope. See the [[Quotes/DeadlyDecadentCourt quotes page]].
* [[{{Kings}} The court of Gilboa]] is a polished, modern-day bureaucracy where the king wears suits and rules from a conference table. That doesn't make any difference to the murderous, treacherous and utterly corrupt proceedings that go on behind closed doors, though...
* Mark Antony's and Cleopatra's Court in ''Series/{{Rome}}'' is so decadent it turns former MagnificentBastard Mark Antony into a fat whiny crybaby.
* The non-renegade Time Lords in ''Series/DoctorWho'' often got depicted like this, especially in Robert Holmes TV stories and the DarkerAndEdgier spin-offs. Now that they're officially dead the Doctor likes to imply that they were [[NostalgiaFilter dedicated and unselfish defenders of the universe]]. At least, until it became a question of "us or the rest of the universe", and they settled on "us."
** ExpandedUniverse tells us just how much the Doctor's lying-even before the Time War there was a specialized branch of Time Lord bureaucracy ''specifically'' to act as a DeadlyDecadentCourt, the Celestial Intervention Agency. At first, they were nothing more than a darkly intrusive Internal Affairs sort of organization. When the Time War came, they started taking ''measures'' to enforce Time Lord dominance across the timelines. [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence They]] [[AGodAmI succeeded]].
* ''Series/IClaudius'', starring Creator/DerekJacobi and numerous other high-profile British actors. This series, based on a series of novels, recounts the life of Claudius, the awkward fool who would be emperor... and the drama, treachery, and intrigue that happened in the royal household. It's even more intense when you consider that it is based on historical events. But then, truth is stranger than fiction. (Historians, however, reject the idea of Livia as poisoner.)
** Another BBC Production, ''Series/TheCleopatras'', takes place in a court where, if you weren't [[BrotherSisterIncest marrying your sibling]] (or your parent, or uncle, or niece), you were [[OffingTheOffspring having them killed]] to keep them from becoming a threat to you. (Sometimes you married them, and THEN killed them when you fell in love with someone else.)
* King's Landing in ''Series/GameOfThrones''. Don't trust anyone, and watch what they're putting in your wine...
* The Hamptons in ''Series/{{Revenge}}'' serves as a good contemporary example.
* Though not monarchial, Washington DC resembles this in {{NCIS}}.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology]]
[[JerkAssGods The major Olympians]] of ClassicalMythology (and some of the minor ones) are often portrayed as a decadent court in myth and popular culture. With no opposing force, they spend their days pursuing [[DoubleStandardRapeDivineOnMortal mortal women]], engaging in hedonism, [[TheIliad figuring out how to back stab each other]], or terrorizing mortals for slights real and imaginary. They only survive since they are all immortal. The only saving grace is they all have moments of benevolence toward mortals and not all of them are as decadent.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* In Music/KingCrimson's debut album, ''In the Court of the Crimson King'', most of the lyrics (for songs like "21st century Schizoid Man", "Epitaph", and the title track) described a corrupt, falling-apart world of medieval/futuristic kingdoms. The lyrics were written by Peter Sinfield.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Poetry]]
* Creator/WilliamShakespeare's Sonnet 25:
-->''Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread\\
But as the marigold at the sun's eye,\\
And in themselves their pride lies buried,\\
For at a frown they in their glory die.''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Pick an Elysium (or court) with Fae or Vampires in any ''TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness'' game, and this is what they're like. Granted, you'll have biker lords and harlot duchesses along with your typical "proper" lords though, oddly on an equal footing.
** Mage caucuses and consilii can veer into this as well.
** The article picture from ''[[http://www.weregeek.com/ Weregeek]]'' features a perfectly typical Elysium. Medieval decor, biker vampires, Victorian vampires, and Creator/BelaLugosi ripoffs.
* The Seelie and Unseelie Courts of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' are the epitome of what happens when the Deadly Decadent Court is run by TheFairFolk. The Unseelie Court is noted as downright lethal runless you are very, very carefully prepared.
* ''Invoked'' by Azalin, ruler of Darkon, in the {{Ravenloft}} setting. Although personally above such self-indulgence, he actively encourages Darkonian nobles to debase themselves at wild court parties, the better to expose their vices and collect dirt his secret police can use to control them.
* The Various Courts of [[TheFairFolk Raksha]] in ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' are like the above, and everyone's a RealityWarper to boot. The Realm's various social organizations come close to this as The Empress valued competition among her underlings and descendants. Heaven is a cross of this and the CorruptCorporateExecutive as its a deadly decadent ''bureaucracy''.
** Pretty much all Exalted types have charms that can encourage or discourage this type of behavior. Abyssals take the cake, however, as they possess a Socialize charm that causes any social group they use it on to devolve into infighting and backstabbing. In other words, they can ''create' a DeadlyDecadentCourt at will.
* ''TabletopGame/ArsMagica'' covenants are prone to becoming like this when they fall into their Winter phase, with larger, more powerful covenants and Domus Magni being major antagonists because of it. Coeris, the House Tremere home covenant (yes, [[TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade ''that'' Tremere]]) is especially ripe for it because of their extremely competitive and cutthroat political policies and general impenetrability by anyone who can't beat them at Certamen.
* The Dark Eldar in in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' fit this trope to a t. The Dark City basically started out as a composition of trade hubs and private realms of noble houses that were outside the jurisdiction of the rulers of the old Eldar empire. It was there the spread of decadence that would eventually lead to the Fall of Eldar started, and many of those same noble houses continue to exist 10 000 years later (although many have reinvented themselves as Kabals), still continuing the behavious that lead to the Fall.
* The courts of ''[[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} Warhammer Fantasy's]]'' Dark Elves are essentially based on control, cruelty and the dominion of the powerful to exercise utter obedience in those underneath them. The ''Hanil Khar'' is an annual pledge of allegiance to the ruler of a city that regularly features the ''cold-blooded torture'' of any who dare to bring insufficient tribute, with outright execution common to those who ''really'' fail to produce. Keep in mind, this is their ''awards ceremony'' here. Another indicator of the murderous nature of Druchii court life is the rigid etiquette of social space that evolved because the Dark Elves are ''so damn paranoid'' about being straight-up assassinated. Very tellingly, it is measured in sword-lengths. Lowborn Dark Elves may not approach a lord closer than three sword-lengths without being summoned, retainers may remain within two lengths, and lieutenants, trusted retainers and lower-ranking highborn may approach to a single sword-length. Within a sword-length is the most intimate space, and is reserved for lovers, playthings and, very characteristic of the Druchii, ''mortal enemies''. You have to really think about the parties that these guys attended that forced ''this'' sort of system to be adopted.
** On a similar note, the various political scenes in Imperial provinces tend to feature this sort of thing. With both the nastiness and decadence of political squabbling getting worst the further south you go. People in the northern Empire generally tend to look down on flowery speech and deceit and would much rather settle disputes with simple legal proceedings often concluding in non-fatal trial by combat. This is a necessity, because the northern Empire is regularly harassed by Chaos-worshiping Norse raiders and Dark Elf corsairs, so it usually pays to settle disputes quickly so the Burgomeisters and Elector Count can ready their forces to keep the berserking Vikings and sadistic SM Elves at bay.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* ''CyranoDeBergerac'':
** [[AristocratsAreEvil Count]] De Guiche pays a court of FalseFriend s who speak of him behind his back, uses ([[AristocratsAreEvil Viscount]] De Valvert to abuse lesser nobles [[TheBeard bullying Roxane]] and [[BullyingADragon Cyrano]], [[DisproportionateRetribution sends one hundred men to punish a poet]] and this trope is constantly conversed by all the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Gascons]] as a proof that De Guiche is [[NoTrueScotsman No True]] [[strike:Scotsman]] [[NoTrueScotsman Gascon]]. Oh, and remember, [[SeriousBusiness you will not go anywhere in this court unless you have wit!]]. Subverted In RealLife: De Guiche was one of [[MagnificentBastard Cardinal]] [[ManBehindTheMan Richieleu’s]] collaborators and they transformed France from a poor backward country into [[TheEmpire a continental power]].
** Parodied with Ragueneau’s situation: At Act II, Raguenau is called ''"King of the Bakers"'' but is clear that his court of poets [[FalseFriend friends are only flattening him to eat at his expense]], that his neglected queen, Lisa, [[YourCheatingHeart is cheating him with the Musketeer]], that his own employees are abusing his ConspicuousConsumption, CrackIsCheaper attitudes, that all those things will lead him to ruin, and when his only real friend, Cyrano, lampshades this, the ''"King"'' cannot accept the truth. At the beginning of Act III, the Kingdom (the bakery) is lost.
* Arguably, Judge Turpin's MasqueradeBall in ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'' (though since it only features in one scene it might be more of a FeteWorseThanDeath). All of them stand there and laugh while the judge rapes Lucy.
* ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt:'' The court is a treacherous place where everyone is miserable until they head to {{Arcadia}}.
* Pretty much ALL of Shakespeare's histories, with ''Theatre/RichardIII'' being the most extreme example. Even in ''Theatre/HenryV'', Act II opens with three nobles being exposed as plotting the King's assassination; he tricks them into arguing against mercy for a minor offender, reveals that he knows what they've been up to, and has them all executed without trial, then carries on with his war plans as if nothing's happened.
* In Creator/JohnMilton's ''Theatre/{{Comus}}'', the Lady observes that SacredHospitality is found more often among the poor, even though its courtesy was named for courts.
* A very small, but sufficiently treacherous, instance in ''TheLionInWinter'', where King Henry II of England, his queen Eleanor, their three surviving sons - Richard, Geoffrey, and John - and King Philip II of France are all plotting something. Lots of backstabbing and temporary alliances of formed.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'', the royal court of Ivalice, inspired in part by the War of the Roses, who [[GambitPileup manipulate]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder backstab]], [[FalseFlagOperation frame each other]], and ally themselves with the LegionsOfHell (wittingly or not) to achieve succession and absolute rule.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'''s House Solidor and the Archadian Council are no better. Including the "join forces with {{Eldritch Abomination}}s" part.
* The Iron Council of [[TheEmpire Magnagora]] in ''{{Lusternia}}''. They're monstrous even by the standards of a city twisted by TheCorruption and populated by [[FantasticRacism racist mutants]]: backstabbing, murder and ''cannibalism'' are all actively encouraged means of advancement, and their PhysicalGod chief advisor is the resident [[ManipulativeBastard manipulative]] [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]].
* The court of Orlais in ''Franchise/DragonAge'' is, according to Leliana's stories, totally this trope. The Orlesian [[AristocratsAreEvil aristocracy]] is perpetually involved in [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder "The Game"]], constantly vying for increased influence in the court through pretty much any means possible.
** And it's not just Orlais, the Dwarves of Orzammar are very similar. Hell, just in the Dwarf Noble beginning [[spoiler:Bhelen tells you that Trian wants to kill you, as you are more likely to inherit the throne than him, trying to coax you into wanting Trian dead first. Later, Bhelen sets up false witnesses to party with you, eliminating your alibi, while HE kills Trian while framing you, essentially removing both of his competitors to the throne by having the supposed killer of Trian, the PC, exiled/left for dead.]] Not to mention the smear campaigns by both Bhelen and Harrowmont during the quest [[ItMakesSenseInContext to get themselves elected as king. However, if elected King, Bhelen will eventually dissolve the Noble class for this trope and rule as a benevolent dictator]].
** Don't forget that if you play a noble dwarf PC, five minutes into the game you can ''order someone assassinated''. And Gorim, your second, treats it as an everyday occurence. And if you do choose to have him killed, the assassination happens ''within the hour.'' Apparently, the noble dwarves of Orzammar have an express assassination service.
-->'''Gorim''': ''That fool doesn't know how weak his house is, or how low he sits in it. Shall I have him killed?''
** This is so common in Zevran's home country, Antiva, that assassin's guild the Crows of Antiva practically run the place from behind the scenes. Nobles can hire Crows for assassination without anyone batting an eye.
** This is the rule rather than the exception in Dragon Age. According to Sebastian (whose family was murdered by [[spoiler: people they considered allies]]), Starkhaven aristocracy is as cutthroat as the dwarf merchant's guild.
* The InteractiveFiction game ''Varicella'' plops you in the middle of such a court; the first time you play through you'll spend a while exploring then run out of time and get killed. The next time you'll solve a few more puzzles, until in the end you know exactly how to make every move count.
* Similarly, your first playthroughs in ''VisualNovel/LongLiveTheQueen'' are [[TrialAndErrorGameplay going to get you killed.]] Wearing a crown means having a big shiny target on your head.
* The Italian Nobles in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' are all about killing one another in order to advance their own goals (especially in the case of the Templars). TruthInTelevision actually.
* The Aristocrat Club in ''RuleOfRose'' consists of a bunch of orphaned children playing rich and powerful nobility, complete with constant intrigue and rivalries, accompanied by complex rituals which often involve torture and/or hazing of one another, as well as cruelty against animals.
* In ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings 2'', your court is filled with people conspiring against you, and vice versa. There's an entire game mechanic for hatching EvilPlans and conspiracies, a second one for attempting to spark civil wars and rebellions and a third option to just pay large stacks of gold to send assassins after people you don't like. The CrusaderKings series could even be seen as DeadlyDecadentCourt: THE GAME. The decadent part is especially evident with the DLC that allows people to play as Islamic dynasties: non-landed family members get more and more decadent, which is a very bad thing.
** Merchant Republics are no picnic either: a feudal realm has one ruler and his associated court. Republics have five great families, each with their own ambitious younger members and ungrateful vassals, all nominally subject to the Doge but scheming madly to steal each other's trade posts and ensure that their patrician succeeds the Doge should he meet an untimely end.
* In the ''Dawnguard'' DLC for ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', joining the Volkihar Vampire Clan makes you the target of ''two'' different backstabbing plots during your very first quest with them. According to Garan Marethi afterwards, this is considered standard Volkihar politics. However, when ''you'' become the Lord of Volkihar, no one tries anything funny on you, because everyone knows [[KlingonPromotion what]] you did to the previous Lord who did try.
* In all five galaxies of ''ImperiumNova'' the roleplaying forum features at least one. Though the mechanical side of the game only covers the more overt actions of the players (wars, duels, dynastic marriages, etc, the worst they can do is assassination).
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* As the page quote says, the Elven court in ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' is all assholes. The Elven DesignatedHero Thief isn't much better, though.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* A bit of a TruthInTelevision trope, since nations with absolute rulers and a wealthy aristocracy have tended to breed Deadly Decadent Courts like flies. Imperial Rome, it's medieval continuation the Byzantine/ Eastern Roman Empire, Imperial China, and pre-Revolutionary France are the archetypal examples that most writers seem to crib from.
** Non-royal "courts" often work too, such as the Soviet Union.
** In Stalinist Soviet Union, the somewhat "puritanical" version of this trope was in effect. There was officially not supposed to be any decadence, luxuries or other stuff of the sort, but there were plenty of luxuries for Stalin and his close comrades, though how much they enjoyed them is a different matter. [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas Stalin gave his mother a palace]], for example, but she refused to make a use of it, sleeping in the servants' quarters and cooking her own meals. In post-Stalinist times, the decadence finally came to the town, though it was still discreet and subtle, never fully shown to outsiders. Though one of the causes of the fall of the USSR was exposure of this corruption and decadence, it survived the fall unscathed and continued in TheNewRussia, now stripped clean of any and all Communist puritanism and reveling in their new status as the officially unequal upper class.
** Hell, Simon Sebag Montefiore called his excellent book on Stalin ''The Court of the Red Czar''.
** The Byzantine Empire was so infamous for this that another term for this trope is "Byzantine politics." Case in point, Byzantine Empress Irene [[BlackWidow and her gender swaped version of]] King Henry the eighth's spouse killing spree. [[EyeScream cutting out the eyes of former Emperors and current Emperors]] (the Emperor was supposed to be an image of divine perfection, so mutilating somebody made him ineligible). Plus the court was subject to other influences. The Church, the Vikings hired for the Varangian Guard, (famously resulting in Harald Hadrada, Viking, Varangian Guardsman, soon to be King of Norway, and would be conquerer of England, castrating and ripping out the eyes of Byzantine emperor Michael V Kalaphates in 1042.)
*** Irene specifically had her own son and successor blinded, in a way calculated to cause his death, in the chamber where she had given birth to him.
** Even if it sounds strange, The Hittites. The royal court of Hattusa was truly a deadly place- full of relatives ready to betray the king at the first opportunity.
** The Ottoman Empire was likely the defining post-renaissance example; that it was ''intentionally'' set up so that every Sultan's death resulted in a frantic power-grab by every potential heir, with the winner having the legal right to have '''ALL''' surviving losers strangled to death was just the tip of the iceberg.
* The court of UsefulNotes/SaudiArabia approaches this, although exile, shaming, and [[ReassignedToAntarctica reassignment to Antarctica]] are preferred to outright killing; after all, almost all members of the court are (half)-brothers or cousins (being descendants of King AbdulAzizIbnSaud), and the public image of family unity must be maintained. However, by all accounts, the internal politics of the Al Saud are quite dangerous--particularly now that there's a SuccessionCrisis due in a decade or so that everyone can see coming from a mile away--and the decadence of the Saudi court is so legendary, [[ArabOilSheikh it has a trope]].
* Probably apocryphal, but worth repeating. The astrologer at the court of [[UsefulNotes/LEtatCEstMoi Louis XI of France]] (known as "the Universal Spider" for his intricate and devious plots) had (quite by accident) accurately foretold the death of someone close to the king. Louis decided to have the unfortunate astrologer executed, but had a last question: "When do you foresee your own death?" The astrologer replied: "That I cannot divine, but it will be three days before Your Majesty's death." After that, the (in real life) superstitious Louis gave the astrologer all possible protection.
* [[ThePrince Machiavelli]] himself strongly recommended that rulers avoid these, as aside from the [[AristocratsAreEvil obvious risks]] there's the fact that the high taxes required to support it tend to encourage rebellions.
* AdolfHitler's inner circle was full of people vying to outdo the other - they called it the ''Obersalzburg Kamarilla''.
* Depending on who you ask, the US President's staff, Joint Chiefs, and various executive underlings qualify. Although the person you ask may say it was worse under one president and not so bad under another.
* Office politics can be this sometimes, if you replace killing with firing.
%%The following example has been commented out for being a ZeroContextExample. Do not uncomment it without explaining it properly.
%%* The Borgias. And most of Florence at that time, really.
[[/folder]]

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[[quoteright:300:[[ComicBook/GaspardOfTheNight http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/court_7477.jpg]]]]

->''"A complex web of intrigue, in which death comes as poison, or a dagger in the night. That kind of murder is like a fine wine."''
-->--'''Corkus''', ''WebVideo/BerserkAbridged''
%%
%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.

The court here is that group of not-so noble Nobles who hang around a king's corridors of power. They are dissolute, dissipated, degenerate, depraved--let's just sum it up as 'decadent'--to such an extent that every thing they touch becomes corrupted. The country they are ruling is heading for doom while they play their spiteful little courtly games.

How the court got that way differs from story to story. More often than not, the source is at the top. They caught it from the monarch.

You see this court in a lot of stories. Maybe even the majority of stories about courts. It is the go-to source for intrigue, backstabbing, and illicit affairs. And, face it, you'll need those things if there is going to be any fun at all.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''{{Berserk}}'', it seems like all the major nobles in Midland are out to get Griffith, who ends up as the target of two assassination plots by the jealous nobility. Griffith, however, is no slouch himself, and all of the nobles who take part in the assassinations end up dead.
* In ''TheBrideOfTheWaterGod'', both the Emperor's Court and the Court of the Water Kingdom are filled with intrigue and characters at cross-purposes. Of course, many of the characters are in both courts...
* In ''VinlandSaga'', the court of King Sweyn Forkbeard is said to be so opulent it is populated with beautiful slave women taken from every corner of the world, filled with conniving politicians, and the arena of many a bloody duel to the death.
* In ''LegendOfGalacticHeroes'', bombs, poisons, abductions, gunfire and [[MakeItLookLikeAnAccident suicides]] are not unheard of in Imperial politics.
* ''{{Ooku}}'' is set in the Shogun's [[RoyalHarem harem]], which develops into a place of backstabbing maneuvers.
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', the Britannian Royal Court comes off as this, given the scheming nobles and TheSocialDarwinist [[TheEmperor Emperor]]. The Chinese court has this as well, with the scheming Eunuchs being the Chinese counterpart to the Britannian nobles.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* The Russian noble houses in ''NikolaiDante'' especially the ruling Makarovs and the Romanovs.
* Most, if not all incarnations of the Hellfire Club in the ComicBook/{{X-Men}} Comics. While they are not technically royality, they try their best to invoke this.
* ComicBook/LutherArkwright: Queen Anne presides over a court of deadly intrigue and decadent orgies in ''Heart of Empire''. Her closest servants view her absorbing the vitality of her enemies as their "favourite bit".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Louis XVI's court as portrayed in the French movie ''{{Ridicule}}'' exemplifies this trope, showcasing how nobles' political power and status was highly dependent on their wit. One victim of a mocking jest saw his request to the King rejected, got ostracised and ended up killing himself as a result.
* Spoofed (among many other tropes) in ''Film/TheCourtJester''.
* Speaking of our good friend Louis XVI, this is played for laughs in ''History of the World Part I''. "It's good to be the king!"
* ''TheDarkCrystal'' has the Skeksis, who act like this, even though there are a few of them left.
* Par for the course in ''Hamlet'' adaptation ''Film/LegendOfTheBlackScorpion''. Pretty much everyone is trying to kill everyone else.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' has the deadliest court in modern American fantasy. In a CrapsackWorld where seven powers duke it out to gain control of the realm, [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bastards]], [[SmugSnake Smug Snakes]] and [[ByronicHero Byronic Heroes]] trade [[ThePlan gambits]] like they're in a pillow fight. And ''GodSaveUsFromTheQueen''...
** And they're so busy fighting each other that they don't notice the army of zombies and god knows what else from beyond the Wall.
** Eddard Stark had the opportunity to become King of Westeros in the backstory, but he let Robert take the Iron Throne. Partly out of a sense of honor, and mostly because he didn't want to deal with the court. Years later, Robert made him Hand of the King and dragged him back to the court, and it all went downhill from there.
* The nobles from the ''{{Bitterbynde}}'' books. The heroine, being a borderline MarySue, makes a few faux pas and has to run away when her pretense gets discovered -- but of course till then she's been the most graceful and beautiful of women at court as well as a thousand times ''purer'' than these cruel, superficial twits.
* In Discworld/InterestingTimes, the Agatean Empire has definitely fallen into this, with murder via poisoning or assassination being an acceptable way of promotion (as long as it is discreetly done), powerful noble families, a rather insane Emperor, and rigid class stratification. Of course, Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde make things, well, interesting.
* The royal court from ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfAmber'', basically a BigScrewedUpFamily and their lackeys. So much backstabbery your brain will give up.
* The nobles from the first novel of ''TheFinalEmpire'' when their society is still intact. They indulge their extravagances while the rest of the population is nearly starving and there's the extra fun of some of them secretly being ''Mistborn'' which means powerful sorcerers and born assassins.
* In the second ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' book, Rand al'Thor comes into Cairhien, a big city with such a court. At least the intrigue bit is definitely fitting - everyone tries to pull him to their side by sending him invitations. Rand tries to avoid this by burning all the invitations... which they, of course, take as a cunning political move. Ultimately, his actions indirectly lead to [[spoiler:the assassination of the king and the entire country falling into a civil war]].
** The Seanchan also seem to operate under these rules. Tuon, the Empress's daughter and heir, notes that her position was attained partly by eliminating the competition, permanently. She also forgives [[spoiler: Beslan]]'s acts of treachery during a crisis because he was unaware of the crisis. Her tone suggests that if it were not during a crisis, there would be little to forgive.
*** Seanchan nobles routinely make assassination plans for anyone they deal with, even if they don't really intend to go through with them. Tuon finds it incredible that she and her new husband [[spoiler:Mat]] won't have to scheme against each other.
* ''Literature/{{Gormenghast}}''.
* The court of Governor and Sole Autocrat Barholm Clerett in ''TheGeneral'', where intrigue is an artform, treachery a given AND on top of everything else the Governor is borderline insane. As the saying goes, 'A simpleton from the Governor's Court could give lessons in intrigue to [any other royal court on the planet, save possibly the Colony's]."
* The goblin court in John Barnes's ''Literature/OneForTheMorningGlory''. Explicitly described as a parody of [[StandardRoyalCourt King Boniface's]].
* The high council of Menzoberranzan, in the ''ForgottenRealms'' books. Usually, the backstabbing comes from a lower-ranking House that ''wants'' to be on the high council, but frankly the entire city is afflicted with a pernicious case of ChronicBackstabbingDisorder.
* David Eddings is very fond of this trope: it shows up in the Imperial Courts of both ''[[TheBelgariad The Malloreon]]'' and ''The Tamuli'', and the main characters are very enthusiastic participants: [[spoiler:in ''The Malloreon'', they foment discord to the point that they engineer a civil war inside the walls of the palace as cover for their escape, while in ''The Tamuli'' they help the figurehead emperor overthrow his own government and seize control by throwing a party, getting the assorted aristocrats drunk, and imprisoning the lot of them.]]
** [[spoiler: The civil war doesn't work out quite as planned, since a plague breaks out in the city, trapping them in the midst of war.]]
* In the [[FurryFandom furry fantasy novel]] ''FangsOfKaath'', the royal court of Osra is a den of decadence and coldblooded political calculation that could consider genocide as well as accommodation as solutions with equal ease. While the heroes, Prince Raschid and his love Sandhri are the first to note it's a fun place for a party with food and sexy serving girls (who are openly eager to hop into bed when asked) galore when it is in a peaceful mood, they are otherwise repelled by its venal side and it suffers a KarmicDeath at being nearly totally destroyed in the climactic battle in the end with nearly the entire villainous Royal family dead except for the straight arrow heroes who find themselves unquestionably on top and in charge of things to run their way.
* The Imperial Court of Golgotha, homeworld of TheEmpire, in ''Literature/{{Deathstalker}}'' series by SimonRGreen is this writ large [[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE]].
** His Forest Kingdom Series and Hawk and Fisher books also feature a wide variety of these. Special mention has to go to the court in ''Blood and Honour'', where they recklessly dally with {{eldritch abomination}}s.
* In William King's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} SpaceWolf novel ''Wolfblade'', Ragnor is warned in advance that Terra is this.
* In JamesSwallow's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} novel ''Faith & Fire'', the Battle Sisters find the aristocrats like this: hopelessly languid, using fans that could double as weapons if they were capable of fighting, and so heavily perfumed that one Sister says they obviously used a crop duster.
** The crop duster comment was actually because a particular set of noblewomen insulted Hospitaller Verity because she was the smallest and plainest person for kilometres around.
* The Japanese Imperial Court in the ''Literature/TaleOfGenji'' - and Real Life - was an epitome of this trope. If its members weren't plotting against each other they were having illicit sex with somebody else's wife or mistress.
** The Heian Court started out much more benign--see literature like the ''Man'youshuu'' for examples of [[MarySuetopia what Japan was (supposedly) like]] about two hundred years prior to the ''Genji''. The ''Genji'' is set in Heian Japan, about a century before it fell apart and was replaced by the [[AWorldHalfFull Kamakura bakufu]], which in turn led to the [[FeudalJapan Muramachi]] [[CrapsackWorld period]].
* The entire first "book" in ''{{Dune}}'' is practically one long convoluted case of court intrigue. The Emperor, who was secretly in league with the Baron, was trying to off the Duke by giving him a deathtrap "promotion" to take control of a flailing production operation that he surely had no hope of turning around, while the Illuminati-like women's convent neared its ultimate goal and began pulling the political strings in new and dangerous directions, all ending in the collapse of the Corrino Imperium and another Jihad.
** Special Mention to House Harkonnen, who are revoltingly decadent and incredibly dangerous - the Baron is a fat, revolting, gluttonous, implied paederast, as well as being a sadist, his nephews are 'just' maniacal sadists, torture is something of an after-dinner entertainment (a passage shows Harkonnen workers cleaning up the remains of one of these in one of Brian Herbert's books, a favourite pastime of Caligula), and the whole affair generally resembles Ancient Rome at its worst (gladiatorial arenas, paedophilia and all.) The aesthetic is pretty bizarre, with sweeping robes and gold combined with stinking oil and huge pollution, smoke and filth - the Harkonnen are clothed and live in finery, but completely filthy both morally and physically.
** In a chapter header quote from her extensive historical works Princess Irulan casually mentions her suspicion that her father had a hand in some of the attempts to assassinate her mother, sisters and self. She is in fact devoted to her father Shaddam IV, and he to her, but she also knows that her mother's refusal to bear him a male heir has put him in a terrible position making her death and her mother's and siblings politically convenient.
---> "Royal families are not like other families."
* In JimButcher's ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' novels, the White Court. It helps that those involved are all [[HornyDevils White Court vampires]] that make {{plan}}s as way of life; at one point Lara says something to the effect that no one will respect her if she attempts to seize power by straightforward means. The Raiths are [[RoyallyScrewedUp a bit dysfunctional]], to say the least.
** The [[TheFairFolk Winter Court]] as well. When attending a party in Arctis Tor, Harry tries to keep an eye on anyone suspicious. He soon realizes that's impossible, and instead resolves to keep an eye out for anyone charging at him with a knife and screaming.
* In Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs's ''[[JohnCarterOfMars The Gods of Mars]]'', the court of Issus.
-->''The First Born do no work. The men fight--that is a sacred privilege and duty; to fight and die for Issus. The women do nothing, absolutely nothing. Slaves wash them, slaves dress them, slaves feed them. There are some, even, who have slaves that talk for them, and I saw one who sat during the rites with closed eyes while a slave narrated to her the events that were transpiring within the arena.''
* All four fey courts in ''WickedLovely'' have elements of this, but the worst would have to be the dark court, and the winter court.
* The court of Herod Antipas, under the pen of romantic writers (e.g. in OscarWilde's play ''Theatre/{{Salome}}''). King Herod is depicted as an incestuous womaniser; Queen Herodias a murderous schemer. The princess Salome, of course, has a famously pathological infatuation with John the Baptist.
* The royal court of Terre d'Ange, in Jacqueline Carey's ''Literature/KushielsLegacy'' series. Everyone sleeps around, there is much scheming and backstabbing, and there are [[MasqueradeBall Masquerade Balls.]]
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's "Literature/TheDevilInIron" what Octavia is willing to flee from even when she's frightened of ConanTheBarbarian.
** In "Literature/RoguesInTheHouse" -- just about everyone is in this.
** In "Literature/AWitchShallBeBorn" Salome turns her country into this.
* In ''Literature/SanoIchiro'', the entire court, save Sano himself is caught up in a web of political scheming and sexual depravity right under the hilariously stupid shogun's nose.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's ''Literature/{{Kull}}'' story "The Shadow Kingdom",
-->''Strange to him were the intrigues of court and palace, army and people. All was like a masquerade, where men and women hid their real thoughts with a smooth mask.''
* Aluwna in ''StarTrekTheGenesisWave'' has aspects of this, as noted by Regimol (a Romulan agent):
-->''Regimol'': “A quite delightful planet it was. They weren't without their political intrigue, of course, and their class structure wasn't fair by Federation standards. Still it reminded me a lot of Romulus, if you could turn the Romulans into a peaceful, insular people”.
-->''Captain Picard'': “Their overseer was recently murdered.”
-->''Regimol'': “See, reminds me of Romulus”.
* ''Literature/TheEgyptian'': The palace has a higher child mortality rate than the poor quarter of the capital city.
* ''Literature/{{Maledicte}}'' stars a god-touched murderer dropped into a shark tank of limp-wristed sociopaths. In other words, a DeadlyDecadentCourt.
* Lord Iron from "Literature/TheCambistAndLordIron" is a member of such a court.
* The emperor's court in ''Literature/ChroniclesOfMagravandias'' is famous for its rare imported pleasures and exotic slaves. And the death and disappearance of inconvenient people.
* The French court in ''Literature/LaReineMargot'' certainly falls into this as you're almost guaranteed to die the second you're not useful to the Valois, or specifically to Catherine.
* In Creator/JackVance's ''Literature/PlanetOfAdventure'': the Yao people of the Kingdom of Cath. Adam Reith rescues Ylin Ylan, the Flower of Cath, from barbarians, which ends up complicating his life more than it should.
* Anything and everything by the Creator/MarquisDeSade basically involves this trope turned UpToEleven. This is maybe not totally without any base in reality, as Sade himself was certainly part of this court, although large numbers of readers have missed the fact that Sade was also a moralist who was condemning society in his writings.
* Most of the action of ''The Curse of Literature/{{Chalion}}'' happens in one of these, with the main character as tutor to the inexperienced but quickly-learning [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses royesse]]. As her eyes begin to open to the court's true nature, she says to him "We're under siege here, aren't we?"
* ''Literature/GulliversTravels'' parodied this with the miniature land of Liliput.
* British statesman Lord Chesterfield mentioned this trope in his ''Literature/LettersToHisSon''. (letter 78/79)
** "In my next I will send you a general map of courts; a region yet unexplored by you, but which you are one day to inhabit. The ways are generally crooked and full of turnings, sometimes strewed with flowers, sometimes choked up with briars; rotten ground and deep pits frequently lie concealed under a smooth and pleasing surface; all the paths are slippery, and every slip is dangerous."
** "Those who now smile upon and embrace, would affront and stab each other, if manners did not interpose; but ambition and avarice, the two prevailing passions at courts, found dissimulation more effectual than violence; and dissimulation introduced that habit of politeness, which distinguishes the courtier from the country gentleman."
* In ''ItCantHappenHere'', Buzz Windrip's fascist administration is characterized by ruthless internal politics and jostling for power. Doubly so near the end of the book, when [[spoiler: Saranson forced Windrip into exile in France, and Haik later assassinates Saranson]].
** When they're not jostling for power, Windrip's advisors engage in depraved parties where alcohol and sex are plentiful. Macgoblin once hosted talks with business leaders during a lavish party in a Roman-era boat, served by naken hostesses. [[spoiler: After exiling Windrip and assuming power]], Saranson has debauched parties with [[AllGaysArePromiscuous plenty of handsome young men]].
* Basically the entire [[AncientRome Roman]] [[AristocratsAreEvil aristocracy]] in Francine Rivers’ ''Literature/TheMarkOfTheLion''.
* The Psi Lords of Takis in the ''Literature/WildCards'' series. One character from Earth observes that skullduggery is "like a fifth classical element" on Takis.
* In the ''Videssos Cycle'', the royal court has this bad. How bad? In only two of the four novels do the main characters even ''try'' to face the BigBad. In the other two books (And the first half of the books in which they do fight him) they spend all their time suppressing insurrections so that they can send the army out of the capital without worrying that there will be ''another'' coup attempt while they're gone.
* The city of ''Literature/{{Theatrica}}'' and its citizens. The society considers itself classless and entirely noble, relegating peasant status to all non-Theatricans (thereby keeping the elite/pleb contrast intact).
* The Kitan court in Guy Gavriel Kay's ''UnderHeaven''. About as TruthInTelevision as a fantasy novel can get, as it is closely based on Tang Dynasty China, where the court was plenty deadly and decadent. (The events of the novel pattern the intrigues that led up to the An Shi Rebellion, which some historians consider to be, in terms of percentage of casualties, the deadliest conflict in ''human history''.)
* Every Government in ''Literature/AgeOfBloodChronicles'' is pretty much one of these.
* VorkosiganSaga is a ZigZag. By Mile's time it is simply a StandardRoyalCourt and most of the politics looks like fairly normal parliamentering with mundane tricks like exchanging support for each others favorite project. However once in awhile a Vor will stoop to thuggery. There are a number of Vor that are useless and vice-obsessed, or pretend to be like Ivan and By. These seem to be a minority. When Miles was a child however the Barrayaran system was much more violent and assassinations and attempted coups were an expected feature of politics.
* The King's Court is this in Literature/SirDerekAndTheFaeries, although it isn't helped by the fact that the King is [[TheCaligula something of an idiot]], as he sleeps with the Queen's Ladies-In-Waiting despite knowing what a terrible idea that is then banishes the only person who could get him out of his bind
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The court in ''TheTudors'' might be even more corrupt than its real-life counterpart, and that's not easy to do...
* Queen Elizabeth's court in ''BlackAdder II'' tends towards this trope. She beheads someone if she's bored. Or if they don't tell her that her nose looks pretty.
* The Centaurum (the [[strike:Imperial Court]] Senate of the Centauri [[strike:Empire]] Republic) on ''Series/BabylonFive'' are a textbook example of this trope. See the [[Quotes/DeadlyDecadentCourt quotes page]].
* [[{{Kings}} The court of Gilboa]] is a polished, modern-day bureaucracy where the king wears suits and rules from a conference table. That doesn't make any difference to the murderous, treacherous and utterly corrupt proceedings that go on behind closed doors, though...
* Mark Antony's and Cleopatra's Court in ''Series/{{Rome}}'' is so decadent it turns former MagnificentBastard Mark Antony into a fat whiny crybaby.
* The non-renegade Time Lords in ''Series/DoctorWho'' often got depicted like this, especially in Robert Holmes TV stories and the DarkerAndEdgier spin-offs. Now that they're officially dead the Doctor likes to imply that they were [[NostalgiaFilter dedicated and unselfish defenders of the universe]]. At least, until it became a question of "us or the rest of the universe", and they settled on "us."
** ExpandedUniverse tells us just how much the Doctor's lying-even before the Time War there was a specialized branch of Time Lord bureaucracy ''specifically'' to act as a DeadlyDecadentCourt, the Celestial Intervention Agency. At first, they were nothing more than a darkly intrusive Internal Affairs sort of organization. When the Time War came, they started taking ''measures'' to enforce Time Lord dominance across the timelines. [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence They]] [[AGodAmI succeeded]].
* ''Series/IClaudius'', starring Creator/DerekJacobi and numerous other high-profile British actors. This series, based on a series of novels, recounts the life of Claudius, the awkward fool who would be emperor... and the drama, treachery, and intrigue that happened in the royal household. It's even more intense when you consider that it is based on historical events. But then, truth is stranger than fiction. (Historians, however, reject the idea of Livia as poisoner.)
** Another BBC Production, ''Series/TheCleopatras'', takes place in a court where, if you weren't [[BrotherSisterIncest marrying your sibling]] (or your parent, or uncle, or niece), you were [[OffingTheOffspring having them killed]] to keep them from becoming a threat to you. (Sometimes you married them, and THEN killed them when you fell in love with someone else.)
* King's Landing in ''Series/GameOfThrones''. Don't trust anyone, and watch what they're putting in your wine...
* The Hamptons in ''Series/{{Revenge}}'' serves as a good contemporary example.
* Though not monarchial, Washington DC resembles this in {{NCIS}}.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology]]
[[JerkAssGods The major Olympians]] of ClassicalMythology (and some of the minor ones) are often portrayed as a decadent court in myth and popular culture. With no opposing force, they spend their days pursuing [[DoubleStandardRapeDivineOnMortal mortal women]], engaging in hedonism, [[TheIliad figuring out how to back stab each other]], or terrorizing mortals for slights real and imaginary. They only survive since they are all immortal. The only saving grace is they all have moments of benevolence toward mortals and not all of them are as decadent.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* In Music/KingCrimson's debut album, ''In the Court of the Crimson King'', most of the lyrics (for songs like "21st century Schizoid Man", "Epitaph", and the title track) described a corrupt, falling-apart world of medieval/futuristic kingdoms. The lyrics were written by Peter Sinfield.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Poetry]]
* Creator/WilliamShakespeare's Sonnet 25:
-->''Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread\\
But as the marigold at the sun's eye,\\
And in themselves their pride lies buried,\\
For at a frown they in their glory die.''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Pick an Elysium (or court) with Fae or Vampires in any ''TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness'' game, and this is what they're like. Granted, you'll have biker lords and harlot duchesses along with your typical "proper" lords though, oddly on an equal footing.
** Mage caucuses and consilii can veer into this as well.
** The article picture from ''[[http://www.weregeek.com/ Weregeek]]'' features a perfectly typical Elysium. Medieval decor, biker vampires, Victorian vampires, and Creator/BelaLugosi ripoffs.
* The Seelie and Unseelie Courts of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' are the epitome of what happens when the Deadly Decadent Court is run by TheFairFolk. The Unseelie Court is noted as downright lethal runless you are very, very carefully prepared.
* ''Invoked'' by Azalin, ruler of Darkon, in the {{Ravenloft}} setting. Although personally above such self-indulgence, he actively encourages Darkonian nobles to debase themselves at wild court parties, the better to expose their vices and collect dirt his secret police can use to control them.
* The Various Courts of [[TheFairFolk Raksha]] in ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' are like the above, and everyone's a RealityWarper to boot. The Realm's various social organizations come close to this as The Empress valued competition among her underlings and descendants. Heaven is a cross of this and the CorruptCorporateExecutive as its a deadly decadent ''bureaucracy''.
** Pretty much all Exalted types have charms that can encourage or discourage this type of behavior. Abyssals take the cake, however, as they possess a Socialize charm that causes any social group they use it on to devolve into infighting and backstabbing. In other words, they can ''create' a DeadlyDecadentCourt at will.
* ''TabletopGame/ArsMagica'' covenants are prone to becoming like this when they fall into their Winter phase, with larger, more powerful covenants and Domus Magni being major antagonists because of it. Coeris, the House Tremere home covenant (yes, [[TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade ''that'' Tremere]]) is especially ripe for it because of their extremely competitive and cutthroat political policies and general impenetrability by anyone who can't beat them at Certamen.
* The Dark Eldar in in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' fit this trope to a t. The Dark City basically started out as a composition of trade hubs and private realms of noble houses that were outside the jurisdiction of the rulers of the old Eldar empire. It was there the spread of decadence that would eventually lead to the Fall of Eldar started, and many of those same noble houses continue to exist 10 000 years later (although many have reinvented themselves as Kabals), still continuing the behavious that lead to the Fall.
* The courts of ''[[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} Warhammer Fantasy's]]'' Dark Elves are essentially based on control, cruelty and the dominion of the powerful to exercise utter obedience in those underneath them. The ''Hanil Khar'' is an annual pledge of allegiance to the ruler of a city that regularly features the ''cold-blooded torture'' of any who dare to bring insufficient tribute, with outright execution common to those who ''really'' fail to produce. Keep in mind, this is their ''awards ceremony'' here. Another indicator of the murderous nature of Druchii court life is the rigid etiquette of social space that evolved because the Dark Elves are ''so damn paranoid'' about being straight-up assassinated. Very tellingly, it is measured in sword-lengths. Lowborn Dark Elves may not approach a lord closer than three sword-lengths without being summoned, retainers may remain within two lengths, and lieutenants, trusted retainers and lower-ranking highborn may approach to a single sword-length. Within a sword-length is the most intimate space, and is reserved for lovers, playthings and, very characteristic of the Druchii, ''mortal enemies''. You have to really think about the parties that these guys attended that forced ''this'' sort of system to be adopted.
** On a similar note, the various political scenes in Imperial provinces tend to feature this sort of thing. With both the nastiness and decadence of political squabbling getting worst the further south you go. People in the northern Empire generally tend to look down on flowery speech and deceit and would much rather settle disputes with simple legal proceedings often concluding in non-fatal trial by combat. This is a necessity, because the northern Empire is regularly harassed by Chaos-worshiping Norse raiders and Dark Elf corsairs, so it usually pays to settle disputes quickly so the Burgomeisters and Elector Count can ready their forces to keep the berserking Vikings and sadistic SM Elves at bay.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* ''CyranoDeBergerac'':
** [[AristocratsAreEvil Count]] De Guiche pays a court of FalseFriend s who speak of him behind his back, uses ([[AristocratsAreEvil Viscount]] De Valvert to abuse lesser nobles [[TheBeard bullying Roxane]] and [[BullyingADragon Cyrano]], [[DisproportionateRetribution sends one hundred men to punish a poet]] and this trope is constantly conversed by all the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Gascons]] as a proof that De Guiche is [[NoTrueScotsman No True]] [[strike:Scotsman]] [[NoTrueScotsman Gascon]]. Oh, and remember, [[SeriousBusiness you will not go anywhere in this court unless you have wit!]]. Subverted In RealLife: De Guiche was one of [[MagnificentBastard Cardinal]] [[ManBehindTheMan Richieleu’s]] collaborators and they transformed France from a poor backward country into [[TheEmpire a continental power]].
** Parodied with Ragueneau’s situation: At Act II, Raguenau is called ''"King of the Bakers"'' but is clear that his court of poets [[FalseFriend friends are only flattening him to eat at his expense]], that his neglected queen, Lisa, [[YourCheatingHeart is cheating him with the Musketeer]], that his own employees are abusing his ConspicuousConsumption, CrackIsCheaper attitudes, that all those things will lead him to ruin, and when his only real friend, Cyrano, lampshades this, the ''"King"'' cannot accept the truth. At the beginning of Act III, the Kingdom (the bakery) is lost.
* Arguably, Judge Turpin's MasqueradeBall in ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'' (though since it only features in one scene it might be more of a FeteWorseThanDeath). All of them stand there and laugh while the judge rapes Lucy.
* ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt:'' The court is a treacherous place where everyone is miserable until they head to {{Arcadia}}.
* Pretty much ALL of Shakespeare's histories, with ''Theatre/RichardIII'' being the most extreme example. Even in ''Theatre/HenryV'', Act II opens with three nobles being exposed as plotting the King's assassination; he tricks them into arguing against mercy for a minor offender, reveals that he knows what they've been up to, and has them all executed without trial, then carries on with his war plans as if nothing's happened.
* In Creator/JohnMilton's ''Theatre/{{Comus}}'', the Lady observes that SacredHospitality is found more often among the poor, even though its courtesy was named for courts.
* A very small, but sufficiently treacherous, instance in ''TheLionInWinter'', where King Henry II of England, his queen Eleanor, their three surviving sons - Richard, Geoffrey, and John - and King Philip II of France are all plotting something. Lots of backstabbing and temporary alliances of formed.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'', the royal court of Ivalice, inspired in part by the War of the Roses, who [[GambitPileup manipulate]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder backstab]], [[FalseFlagOperation frame each other]], and ally themselves with the LegionsOfHell (wittingly or not) to achieve succession and absolute rule.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'''s House Solidor and the Archadian Council are no better. Including the "join forces with {{Eldritch Abomination}}s" part.
* The Iron Council of [[TheEmpire Magnagora]] in ''{{Lusternia}}''. They're monstrous even by the standards of a city twisted by TheCorruption and populated by [[FantasticRacism racist mutants]]: backstabbing, murder and ''cannibalism'' are all actively encouraged means of advancement, and their PhysicalGod chief advisor is the resident [[ManipulativeBastard manipulative]] [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]].
* The court of Orlais in ''Franchise/DragonAge'' is, according to Leliana's stories, totally this trope. The Orlesian [[AristocratsAreEvil aristocracy]] is perpetually involved in [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder "The Game"]], constantly vying for increased influence in the court through pretty much any means possible.
** And it's not just Orlais, the Dwarves of Orzammar are very similar. Hell, just in the Dwarf Noble beginning [[spoiler:Bhelen tells you that Trian wants to kill you, as you are more likely to inherit the throne than him, trying to coax you into wanting Trian dead first. Later, Bhelen sets up false witnesses to party with you, eliminating your alibi, while HE kills Trian while framing you, essentially removing both of his competitors to the throne by having the supposed killer of Trian, the PC, exiled/left for dead.]] Not to mention the smear campaigns by both Bhelen and Harrowmont during the quest [[ItMakesSenseInContext to get themselves elected as king. However, if elected King, Bhelen will eventually dissolve the Noble class for this trope and rule as a benevolent dictator]].
** Don't forget that if you play a noble dwarf PC, five minutes into the game you can ''order someone assassinated''. And Gorim, your second, treats it as an everyday occurence. And if you do choose to have him killed, the assassination happens ''within the hour.'' Apparently, the noble dwarves of Orzammar have an express assassination service.
-->'''Gorim''': ''That fool doesn't know how weak his house is, or how low he sits in it. Shall I have him killed?''
** This is so common in Zevran's home country, Antiva, that assassin's guild the Crows of Antiva practically run the place from behind the scenes. Nobles can hire Crows for assassination without anyone batting an eye.
** This is the rule rather than the exception in Dragon Age. According to Sebastian (whose family was murdered by [[spoiler: people they considered allies]]), Starkhaven aristocracy is as cutthroat as the dwarf merchant's guild.
* The InteractiveFiction game ''Varicella'' plops you in the middle of such a court; the first time you play through you'll spend a while exploring then run out of time and get killed. The next time you'll solve a few more puzzles, until in the end you know exactly how to make every move count.
* Similarly, your first playthroughs in ''VisualNovel/LongLiveTheQueen'' are [[TrialAndErrorGameplay going to get you killed.]] Wearing a crown means having a big shiny target on your head.
* The Italian Nobles in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' are all about killing one another in order to advance their own goals (especially in the case of the Templars). TruthInTelevision actually.
* The Aristocrat Club in ''RuleOfRose'' consists of a bunch of orphaned children playing rich and powerful nobility, complete with constant intrigue and rivalries, accompanied by complex rituals which often involve torture and/or hazing of one another, as well as cruelty against animals.
* In ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings 2'', your court is filled with people conspiring against you, and vice versa. There's an entire game mechanic for hatching EvilPlans and conspiracies, a second one for attempting to spark civil wars and rebellions and a third option to just pay large stacks of gold to send assassins after people you don't like. The CrusaderKings series could even be seen as DeadlyDecadentCourt: THE GAME. The decadent part is especially evident with the DLC that allows people to play as Islamic dynasties: non-landed family members get more and more decadent, which is a very bad thing.
** Merchant Republics are no picnic either: a feudal realm has one ruler and his associated court. Republics have five great families, each with their own ambitious younger members and ungrateful vassals, all nominally subject to the Doge but scheming madly to steal each other's trade posts and ensure that their patrician succeeds the Doge should he meet an untimely end.
* In the ''Dawnguard'' DLC for ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', joining the Volkihar Vampire Clan makes you the target of ''two'' different backstabbing plots during your very first quest with them. According to Garan Marethi afterwards, this is considered standard Volkihar politics. However, when ''you'' become the Lord of Volkihar, no one tries anything funny on you, because everyone knows [[KlingonPromotion what]] you did to the previous Lord who did try.
* In all five galaxies of ''ImperiumNova'' the roleplaying forum features at least one. Though the mechanical side of the game only covers the more overt actions of the players (wars, duels, dynastic marriages, etc, the worst they can do is assassination).
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* As the page quote says, the Elven court in ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' is all assholes. The Elven DesignatedHero Thief isn't much better, though.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* A bit of a TruthInTelevision trope, since nations with absolute rulers and a wealthy aristocracy have tended to breed Deadly Decadent Courts like flies. Imperial Rome, it's medieval continuation the Byzantine/ Eastern Roman Empire, Imperial China, and pre-Revolutionary France are the archetypal examples that most writers seem to crib from.
** Non-royal "courts" often work too, such as the Soviet Union.
** In Stalinist Soviet Union, the somewhat "puritanical" version of this trope was in effect. There was officially not supposed to be any decadence, luxuries or other stuff of the sort, but there were plenty of luxuries for Stalin and his close comrades, though how much they enjoyed them is a different matter. [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas Stalin gave his mother a palace]], for example, but she refused to make a use of it, sleeping in the servants' quarters and cooking her own meals. In post-Stalinist times, the decadence finally came to the town, though it was still discreet and subtle, never fully shown to outsiders. Though one of the causes of the fall of the USSR was exposure of this corruption and decadence, it survived the fall unscathed and continued in TheNewRussia, now stripped clean of any and all Communist puritanism and reveling in their new status as the officially unequal upper class.
** Hell, Simon Sebag Montefiore called his excellent book on Stalin ''The Court of the Red Czar''.
** The Byzantine Empire was so infamous for this that another term for this trope is "Byzantine politics." Case in point, Byzantine Empress Irene [[BlackWidow and her gender swaped version of]] King Henry the eighth's spouse killing spree. [[EyeScream cutting out the eyes of former Emperors and current Emperors]] (the Emperor was supposed to be an image of divine perfection, so mutilating somebody made him ineligible). Plus the court was subject to other influences. The Church, the Vikings hired for the Varangian Guard, (famously resulting in Harald Hadrada, Viking, Varangian Guardsman, soon to be King of Norway, and would be conquerer of England, castrating and ripping out the eyes of Byzantine emperor Michael V Kalaphates in 1042.)
*** Irene specifically had her own son and successor blinded, in a way calculated to cause his death, in the chamber where she had given birth to him.
** Even if it sounds strange, The Hittites. The royal court of Hattusa was truly a deadly place- full of relatives ready to betray the king at the first opportunity.
** The Ottoman Empire was likely the defining post-renaissance example; that it was ''intentionally'' set up so that every Sultan's death resulted in a frantic power-grab by every potential heir, with the winner having the legal right to have '''ALL''' surviving losers strangled to death was just the tip of the iceberg.
* The court of UsefulNotes/SaudiArabia approaches this, although exile, shaming, and [[ReassignedToAntarctica reassignment to Antarctica]] are preferred to outright killing; after all, almost all members of the court are (half)-brothers or cousins (being descendants of King AbdulAzizIbnSaud), and the public image of family unity must be maintained. However, by all accounts, the internal politics of the Al Saud are quite dangerous--particularly now that there's a SuccessionCrisis due in a decade or so that everyone can see coming from a mile away--and the decadence of the Saudi court is so legendary, [[ArabOilSheikh it has a trope]].
* Probably apocryphal, but worth repeating. The astrologer at the court of [[UsefulNotes/LEtatCEstMoi Louis XI of France]] (known as "the Universal Spider" for his intricate and devious plots) had (quite by accident) accurately foretold the death of someone close to the king. Louis decided to have the unfortunate astrologer executed, but had a last question: "When do you foresee your own death?" The astrologer replied: "That I cannot divine, but it will be three days before Your Majesty's death." After that, the (in real life) superstitious Louis gave the astrologer all possible protection.
* [[ThePrince Machiavelli]] himself strongly recommended that rulers avoid these, as aside from the [[AristocratsAreEvil obvious risks]] there's the fact that the high taxes required to support it tend to encourage rebellions.
* AdolfHitler's inner circle was full of people vying to outdo the other - they called it the ''Obersalzburg Kamarilla''.
* Depending on who you ask, the US President's staff, Joint Chiefs, and various executive underlings qualify. Although the person you ask may say it was worse under one president and not so bad under another.
* Office politics can be this sometimes, if you replace killing with firing.
%%The following example has been commented out for being a ZeroContextExample. Do not uncomment it without explaining it properly.
%%* The Borgias. And most of Florence at that time, really.
[[/folder]]

----
[[redirect:DecadentCourt]]
22nd Apr '14 1:48:24 PM FastEddie
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The history of the Deadly Decadent Court is proud and [[BlatantLies completely true]], [[TVNeverLies you can certainly believe everything this article says at face value]] without bothering to check the {{Pot Hole}}s.

It is a monarch's court where the [[{{Pride}} powerful, yet humble]] [[BlueBlood nobles]] [[AristocratsAreEvil gather to make decisions for the common good.]] Unlike the StandardRoyalCourt where the [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething "royals" spend their time idly]], the Deadly Decadent Court is quite serious about its work; [[EvilTastesGood taking no pleasure]] in ensuring [[TheHedonist decadence]] is outside of the judicial courts, hence the name.

They stem from [[BigScrewedUpFamily esteemed houses]] with [[RoyallyScrewedUp an ancient and deserving history]] who [[FeudingFamilies work together]] in their effort [[ObstructiveBureaucrat to best serve]] [[TheCaligula their beloved king]], [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen his gentle consort]], his [[EvilChancellor wise ministers]], and [[TheDungAges beautiful country]] -- doing [[ColdBloodedTorture whatever is needed]] to quell [[LaResistance threats to it]], [[RichBoredom however wearisome it is]]. They're all [[BrotherSisterIncest like brothers and sisters]], though they must [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder resolve]] [[DividedWeFall occasional conflicts]]. Their work is made all the easier since they [[ConsummateLiar never lie]], much less {{betray|alTropes}} each other. (There is [[DefectorFromDecadence an occasional odd-ball though.]] Plus some who [[HomeSweetHome sulk]] in [[{{Arcadia}} their ramshackle country homes]] -- but they're [[GoodIsOldFashioned old fogeys]] -- and [[FolkHero perverse outlaws]], [[JustLikeRobinHood outlawed for good reason]], who prefer to [[GhibliHills live in howling wilderness]].)

Of course, a certain [[ErmineCapeEffect sense of decorum]], [[MakeUpIsEvil beauty]], [[TheDandy elegance]], and [[PimpedOutDress style]] is [[DressCode expected]] of all [[FishOutOfWater newcomers]] who want to [[PropagandaMachine uphold this proud tradition]], and if one isn't able to, they know it's their duty to [[StealthInsult discreetly but clearly explain customs to them.]] After all, even their [[MaliciousSlander casual conversation]] is often [[FeedTheMole about matters of import]], and they must [[ArrangedMarriage consider their children's future]]. They do [[ComplimentBackfire expect manners]], though their [[TheBeautifulElite artless dignity]] is often hard to imitate. And their [[ReligionOfEvil piety]] is [[CorruptChurch unquestionable]].

But it's not all just work here. With their [[WickedCultured exquisite taste]], the court is quite charming. An occasional MasqueradeBall, [[AFeteWorseThanDeath feast]], or [[GladiatorGames other]] [[APartyAlsoKnownAsAnOrgy festivity]] help them relax after a hard day of fulfilling their duty to their [[GullibleLemmings loyal citizens]] is done.

TheFairFolk, when they aren't out tormenting us norms, are like this.

[[SubTrope One type]] of StandardRoyalCourt and subtrope of AristocratsAreEvil. Sometimes only portions of a court are like this, such as when the decadence congregates about an evil [[EvilChancellor chancellor]] or [[EvilPrince prince]].

to:

The history of the Deadly Decadent Court is proud and [[BlatantLies completely true]], [[TVNeverLies you can certainly believe everything this article says at face value]] without bothering to check the {{Pot Hole}}s.

It is a monarch's
court where the [[{{Pride}} powerful, yet humble]] [[BlueBlood nobles]] [[AristocratsAreEvil gather to make decisions for the common good.]] Unlike the StandardRoyalCourt where the [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething "royals" spend their time idly]], the Deadly Decadent Court here is quite serious about its work; [[EvilTastesGood taking no pleasure]] in ensuring [[TheHedonist decadence]] is outside that group of the judicial courts, hence the name.

not-so noble Nobles who hang around a king's corridors of power. They stem from [[BigScrewedUpFamily esteemed houses]] with [[RoyallyScrewedUp are dissolute, dissipated, degenerate, depraved--let's just sum it up as 'decadent'--to such an ancient and deserving history]] who [[FeudingFamilies work together]] in their effort [[ObstructiveBureaucrat to best serve]] [[TheCaligula their beloved king]], [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen his gentle consort]], his [[EvilChancellor wise ministers]], and [[TheDungAges beautiful country]] -- doing [[ColdBloodedTorture whatever is needed]] to quell [[LaResistance threats to it]], [[RichBoredom however wearisome it is]]. They're all [[BrotherSisterIncest like brothers and sisters]], though extent that every thing they must [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder resolve]] [[DividedWeFall occasional conflicts]]. Their work is made all the easier since they [[ConsummateLiar never lie]], much less {{betray|alTropes}} each other. (There is [[DefectorFromDecadence an occasional odd-ball though.]] Plus some who [[HomeSweetHome sulk]] in [[{{Arcadia}} their ramshackle touch becomes corrupted. The country homes]] -- but they're [[GoodIsOldFashioned old fogeys]] -- and [[FolkHero perverse outlaws]], [[JustLikeRobinHood outlawed for good reason]], who prefer to [[GhibliHills live in howling wilderness]].)

Of course, a certain [[ErmineCapeEffect sense of decorum]], [[MakeUpIsEvil beauty]], [[TheDandy elegance]], and [[PimpedOutDress style]] is [[DressCode expected]] of all [[FishOutOfWater newcomers]] who want to [[PropagandaMachine uphold this proud tradition]], and if one isn't able to,
they know it's are ruling is heading for doom while they play their duty to [[StealthInsult discreetly but clearly explain customs to them.]] After all, even their [[MaliciousSlander casual conversation]] is often [[FeedTheMole about matters of import]], and they must [[ArrangedMarriage consider their children's future]]. They do [[ComplimentBackfire expect manners]], though their [[TheBeautifulElite artless dignity]] is often hard to imitate. And their [[ReligionOfEvil piety]] is [[CorruptChurch unquestionable]].

But it's not all just work here. With their [[WickedCultured exquisite taste]],
spiteful little courtly games.

How
the court got that way differs from story to story. More often than not, the source is quite charming. An occasional MasqueradeBall, [[AFeteWorseThanDeath feast]], or [[GladiatorGames other]] [[APartyAlsoKnownAsAnOrgy festivity]] help them relax after a hard day of fulfilling their duty to their [[GullibleLemmings loyal citizens]] is done.

TheFairFolk, when they aren't out tormenting us norms, are like this.

[[SubTrope One type]] of StandardRoyalCourt and subtrope of AristocratsAreEvil. Sometimes only portions of a
at the top. They caught it from the monarch.

You see this
court are like this, such as when in a lot of stories. Maybe even the decadence congregates majority of stories about an evil [[EvilChancellor chancellor]] or [[EvilPrince prince]].
courts. It is the go-to source for intrigue, backstabbing, and illicit affairs. And, face it, you'll need those things if there is going to be any fun at all.
17th Apr '14 4:28:57 AM aurora369
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* In the ''Dawnguard'' DLC for ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', joining the Volkihar Vampire Clan makes you the target of ''two'' different backstabbing plots during your very first quest with them. According to Garan Marethi afterwards, this is considered standard Volkihar politics.

to:

* In the ''Dawnguard'' DLC for ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', joining the Volkihar Vampire Clan makes you the target of ''two'' different backstabbing plots during your very first quest with them. According to Garan Marethi afterwards, this is considered standard Volkihar politics. However, when ''you'' become the Lord of Volkihar, no one tries anything funny on you, because everyone knows [[KlingonPromotion what]] you did to the previous Lord who did try.
28th Mar '14 8:59:01 PM IdentityUnkown
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* A bit of a TruthInTelevision trope, since nations with absolute rulers and a wealthy aristocracy have tended to breed Deadly Decadent Courts like flies. Imperial Rome, Imperial China, the Byzantine Empire, and pre-Revolutionary France are the archetypal examples that most writers seem to crib from.

to:

* A bit of a TruthInTelevision trope, since nations with absolute rulers and a wealthy aristocracy have tended to breed Deadly Decadent Courts like flies. Imperial Rome, it's medieval continuation the Byzantine/ Eastern Roman Empire, Imperial China, the Byzantine Empire, and pre-Revolutionary France are the archetypal examples that most writers seem to crib from.
28th Mar '14 7:30:22 PM mlsmithca
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* Depending on who you ask, the US President's staff, Joint Chiefs, and various executive underlings qualify. Although YMMV as the person you ask may say it was worse under one president and not so bad under another.

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* Depending on who you ask, the US President's staff, Joint Chiefs, and various executive underlings qualify. Although YMMV as the person you ask may say it was worse under one president and not so bad under another.



* The Borgias. [[XJustX Ye gods, the Borgias.]] And most of Florence at that time, really.

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* %%The following example has been commented out for being a ZeroContextExample. Do not uncomment it without explaining it properly.
%%*
The Borgias. [[XJustX Ye gods, the Borgias.]] And most of Florence at that time, really.
22nd Mar '14 1:10:01 PM ParanoidAndroid
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* In ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings 2'', your court is filled with people conspiring against you, and vice versa. The EvilPlan is a major game mechanic. The CrusaderKings series could even be seen as DeadlyDecadentCourt: THE GAME. The decadent part is especially evident with the DLC that allows people to play as Islamic dynasties: non-landed family members get more and more decadent, which is a very bad thing.

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* In ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings 2'', your court is filled with people conspiring against you, and vice versa. The EvilPlan is a major There's an entire game mechanic.mechanic for hatching EvilPlans and conspiracies, a second one for attempting to spark civil wars and rebellions and a third option to just pay large stacks of gold to send assassins after people you don't like. The CrusaderKings series could even be seen as DeadlyDecadentCourt: THE GAME. The decadent part is especially evident with the DLC that allows people to play as Islamic dynasties: non-landed family members get more and more decadent, which is a very bad thing.thing.
** Merchant Republics are no picnic either: a feudal realm has one ruler and his associated court. Republics have five great families, each with their own ambitious younger members and ungrateful vassals, all nominally subject to the Doge but scheming madly to steal each other's trade posts and ensure that their patrician succeeds the Doge should he meet an untimely end.
20th Mar '14 7:55:56 AM Paireon
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** The Ottoman Empire was likely the defining post-renaissance example; that it was ''intentionally'' set up so that every Sultan's death resulted in a frantic power-grab by every potential heir, with the winner having the legal right to have '''ALL''' surviving losers strangled to death was just the tip of the iceberg.
20th Mar '14 6:08:28 AM Paireon
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Of course, a certain [[ErmineCapeEffect sense of decorum]], [[MakeUpIsEvil beauty]], [[TheDandy elegance]], and [[PimpedOutDress style]] is [[DressCode expected]] of all [[FishOutOfWater newcomers]] who want to [[PropagandaMachine uphold this proud tradition]], and if one isn't able to, they know it's their duty to [[StealthInsult discreetly but clearly explain customs to them.]] After all, even their [[MaliciousSlander casual conversation]] is often [[FeedTheMole about matters of import]], and they must [[ArrangedMarriage consider their children's future]]. They do [[ComplimentBackfire expect manners]], though their [[TheBeautifulElite artless dignity]] is often hard to imitate. And their [[ReligionOfEvil piety]] is unquestionable.

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Of course, a certain [[ErmineCapeEffect sense of decorum]], [[MakeUpIsEvil beauty]], [[TheDandy elegance]], and [[PimpedOutDress style]] is [[DressCode expected]] of all [[FishOutOfWater newcomers]] who want to [[PropagandaMachine uphold this proud tradition]], and if one isn't able to, they know it's their duty to [[StealthInsult discreetly but clearly explain customs to them.]] After all, even their [[MaliciousSlander casual conversation]] is often [[FeedTheMole about matters of import]], and they must [[ArrangedMarriage consider their children's future]]. They do [[ComplimentBackfire expect manners]], though their [[TheBeautifulElite artless dignity]] is often hard to imitate. And their [[ReligionOfEvil piety]] is unquestionable.
[[CorruptChurch unquestionable]].
12th Mar '14 2:06:42 AM fdsa1234567890
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* The Hamptons in ''Series/Revenge'' serves as a good contemporary example.

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* The Hamptons in ''Series/Revenge'' ''Series/{{Revenge}}'' serves as a good contemporary example.
8th Mar '14 12:46:26 PM LFCreds
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Added DiffLines:

* The Hamptons in ''Series/Revenge'' serves as a good contemporary example.
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