NobilityMarriesMoney Nobility Marries Money YKTTW Discussion

Nobility Marries Money
A wealthy family and poor upper class family have a marriage of convenience.
(permanent link) added: 2012-06-15 18:44:09 sponsor: jatay3 edited by: morenohijazo (last reply: 2013-03-18 05:27:01)

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Should this allow Real Life examples, or be No Real Life Examples, Please!?
"This wasn't a marriage. This was a merger."
--Abbie Carmichael, Law & Order

A marriage between a Nouveau Riche family who want respect from the upper class and an Impoverished Patrician family. The tradeoff is obvious. The rich family climbs a few steps up the social ladder, and the impoverished family climbs out of the financial hole.

This can set up a number of plots. For one, it's likely to be an Arranged Marriage, and either the bride and/or groom is none too happy about this. Often we get a Runaway Bride, and all the subsequent adventures she has. Or the wedding goes through, and we see the drama that can ensue from such a pairing.

This has been Truth in Television for centuries, but it became especially notorious during The Gilded Age, when many British noble families were running out of money and then scooping up brides from families of industrialists and businessmen (such as Consuelo Vanderbilt and the Duke of Marlboro).

Compare Gold Digger, Meal Ticket, Trophy Wife.

Contrast Marry for Love, Unable to Support a Wife.


  • Found in Stepping on Roses: Nozomu, the heir to a banking fortune has a arranged marriage to an impoverished aristocrat Miu. When she asks about divorcing Nozumu, her father says that they need his money.

Film - animated
  • In Corpse Bride, Victor's parents have money and are extremely excited to get a chance to be part of the nobility. Victoria's parents are noble and are absolutely disgusted that marrying her off to the Nouveau Riche is the only way to get out of their perpetual poverty -- they even acknowledge that the only thing that would be worse would be marrying someone else poor. However, once Victor and Victoria meet, they like each other for other reasons.
  • In the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, Prince Naveen comes to New Orleans to marry little rich girl Lottie because his parents cut him off.

  • In Titanic: Rose gets engaged to Cal. Rose's father got her family into debt, and their family name is their only real asset now.
  • Shakespeare in Love: Viola, a daughter of a wealthy merchant, marries Lord Wessex, who needs money.
  • Gosford Park:
    • Sir William McCordle was a wealthy industrialist who married Lady Sylvia, the daughter of an Earl whose family was impoverished. Sir William pays an allowance to his wife's aunt, Constance, Countess of Trentham; he expresses his intention to stop paying this money before he is murdered.
    • The Honourable Freddie Nesbitt married his wife, Mabel, who was the daughter of a glove manufacturer. Their marriage isn't happy.

  • The novel The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton (and the BBC mini-series based on it) revolves around five wealthy and ambitious American girls, their guardians and the titled, landed but impoverished Englishmen who marry them as the girls participate in the London Season in search of a titled English gentleman for matrimonial purposes.
  • The Alloy of Law: The protagonist Wax who is the current Lord of an old but currently broke house, arranges a marriage contract with a woman from a young and well off house.
  • In Persuasion by Jane Austen, Anne Elliot fell for Captain Wentworth before the start of the plot. Her friends and aristocratic family tell her to reject him because he's poor. A few years on, he's risen up through the ranks of the navy and made quite a lot of money, while Sir Walter Elliot is deep in debts. However, the marriage of Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot relies on their love, and he doesn't care much for her coming from Blue Blood and she doesn't really care about his great wealth beyond being happy that they can afford to get married and have a comfortable income.
  • In Arcia Chronicles, everyone thinks that this is the reason why Alexander (the king's youngest brother) marries Jacqueline re Flo (daughter and sole heir of the wealthy late King Maker). However, in reality, he does it mainly to protect his Unlucky Childhood Friend from other, less scrupulous suitors.
  • Subverted in Discworld, where Sam Vimes (then poor and a common copper) is marrying Sybil Ramkin (the richest and highest-titled lady in Ankh-Morpork). Only in later books is it revealed (or Ret-Conned) that the Vimes family was nobility before being stripped of their titles and money for killing the last king of Ankh-Morpork, and Vimes becomes a Duke only some time after he's married.

Live-Action TV
  • The Blackadder III's episode "Amy and Amiability" was headed in this direction. Prince George, who was bankrupted by Parliament at the beginning of the season, attempted to marry the daughter of a wealthy industrialist for her money.
  • One episode of Law & Order featured a case made more complicated by the fact that the murder involved neighboring families with engaged children with a very complex relationship. It turns out the engagement was a merger between impoverished patricians on the one hand and nouveau riche on the other.
  • This forms the backstory of Downton Abbey
    • Lord Grantham went to New York to find his bride. A significant fraction of the first season's drama comes from the fact that her money can't be separated from the land and title, 30 years later, as they only had daughters.
    • In later episodes, their money is gone and the money Matthew has he won't give to the estate, so the impoverished posh people need to find some more new money.

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