Created By: jatay3 on June 15, 2012 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on March 18, 2013
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Nobility Marries Money

A wealthy family and poor upper class family have a marriage of convenience.

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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.


Examples

Anime
  • 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.

Film
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • June 15, 2012
    jatay3
    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.

    Anime

    • 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

    Literature

    • 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.

    • Found in The Alloy Of Law when 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, but a few years on he's risen up through the ranks of the navy and made quite a lot of money and the Elliots' fortunes and good name are fading.
  • June 15, 2012
    randomsurfer
    This was attempted by Prince George in Blackadder the Third, but the money family didn't really have any money so they called off the wedding.
  • June 16, 2012
    Damr1990
    also a common plot, where the ancstral family is near bankrupt and desperatly tries to get her (and it's usually her in the ancestral family) daugther married as soon as possible, but probably she is in love with another(and poorer/with no important family line)man
    • Rose from titanic fits this
  • June 16, 2012
    foxley
    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.
  • June 16, 2012
    Andygal
    Found in The Alloy Of Law when 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.
  • June 16, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    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, but a few years on he's risen up through the ranks of the navy and made quite a lot of money and the Elliots' fortunes and good name are fading.
  • June 18, 2012
    Synchronicity
    Often happens to Impoverished Patricians and the Nouveau Riche.

    Victor and Victoria's Arranged Marriage in The Corpse Bride plays out like this.
  • August 18, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Bumping this, since I made a duplicate ykttw, but this is already here, and even has a better name.

    • An episode of Law And Order dealt with a murder that involved two families preparing to have such a marriage, and they cover up the real murderer to keep the marriage going smoothly.
      Abbie Carmichael: "This wasn't a marriage. This was a merger.
  • August 18, 2012
    Sackett
    I think we should call it Nobility Marries Money, since that is one of the more common scenarios, and is a clearer name at identifying the concept.
  • August 18, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    • It's mentioned in The Last Story that a Duke's family had fallen on hard times, which is why the wealthy Count Arganan wants his niece, Calista, to marry the Duke's son, Jirall, so Arganan can gain a voice in the imperial family.
  • August 18, 2012
    XFllo
    I have two examples:
    • Literature:
    • The Forsyte Saga: Fleur Forsyte and Michael Mont. Fleur is from a respectable wealthy family and Michael is an aristocrat. I think there is even comment on the thing that the Forsyte were worthy of the connection as they had become old money and they are distinquished from new money made in WWI. I'm not sure whether the Mont family needed to "enrich" themselves.

    • Film
    • Shakespeare In Love - Viola (daughter of a wealthy merchant) and Lord Wessex, who needs money.
  • August 18, 2012
    jatay3
    Real Life:
    • A number of American women ended up in British noble families for that reason.

    Tabletop Games:

    • Happens in the Third Imperium as described, unsurprisingly in the volume Gurps Traveller : Nobles.
  • August 19, 2012
    XFllo
    This occurred to me: It does not have to be Arranged Marriage. Persuasion by Jane Austen was definitely not arranged.

    Michael Mont met Fleur and fell in love with her, but I think later it involved some kind of meddling from his family.
  • August 19, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ On that note, ^^ feel free to lift the description I used here.
  • August 19, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Theater- In Fiddler On The Roof, Tevye wants Tzeitel to marry Lazar Wulf for his money and class.

    Almost painfully spelled out at the start of Corpse Bride, with the Nouveau Riche Van Dorts cooing over their impending entrance into "society" and the Impoverished Patrician Everglots bemoaning the low status of their daughter's husband-to-be while admitting the necessity of marrying some money back into the family.

    • In a Gibson Girl cartoon, a rich papa was advising his beautiful daughter to hold out until she found a king in reduced circumstances.
  • August 19, 2012
    HugoLuman
    There was an entire period of history where this was the vogue, so why not have real life examples?
  • August 19, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Zig Zagged in Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince where we discover Voldemort's backstory. His mother, a member of a noble but piss-poor Wizarding family, loved a rich non-noble Muggle and used a Love Potion to make him fall in love with her. Both of their families are against the match. Then she realized/decided that it didn't feel real because it wasn't genuine, so she neutralized the potion, hoping that he'd really be in love with her after it wore off. Unfortunately for her, he dumped her like a hot potato--but by then Voldemort had already been conceived. [NOTE: description partially cribbed from the ykttw No Free Will Means No Satisfaction.]
  • August 19, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Well there is the potential for accusations of Gold Digging, so we should determine if that would be more trouble than we need.
  • August 20, 2012
    StarSword
    Live Action TV
    • The Blackadder III episode "Amy and Amiability" was headed in this direction, with Prince George, who was bankrupted by Parliament at the beginning of the season, attempting to marry the daughter of a wealthy industrialist for her money.
  • August 20, 2012
    morenohijazo
    I don't think that Harry Potter counts. I don't think the girl was looking for the money (or, at least, not only that).
  • August 20, 2012
    surgoshan
    Two more tv examples.

    • One episode of Law And 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.
  • August 20, 2012
    jatay3
    Shouldn't the laconic be changed to reflect clearly that each family desires the other's specific advantage?
  • August 21, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ The term "marriage of convenience" means both parties get something they want out of it.
  • September 3, 2012
    Freud
    Also on Downton Abbey: in the second season, Mary courts Sir Richard Carlyle, a wealthy self-made "hawker of newspapers." It doesn't end well.
  • September 3, 2012
    jatay3
    bump
  • September 4, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Not to be pedantic, but Consuelo Vanderbilt became the Duchess of Marlborough.
  • September 4, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Film Gosford Park had a couple of these marriages:
    • 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.

  • September 4, 2012
    Xtifr
    PG Wodehouse loved this trope. I'll see if I can find some specific examples.
  • September 28, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    If Lord Julian Fellowes wrote and directed it, you may see several examples. Gosford Park, Downton Abbey, From Time To Time, oh - many things with Dame Maggie Smith in, also.
  • September 29, 2012
    Koveras
    Would this count?

    • 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.
  • September 29, 2012
    kiapet
    In the Disney movie The Princess And The Frog, Princee Naveen comes to New Orleans to marry little rich girl Lottie because his parents cut him off.
  • September 29, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    You could now add to Downton Abbey but now all the 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.
  • October 1, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^scrap that
  • December 12, 2012
    etewis
    another film example would be Victor and Victoria in Corpse Bride
  • December 12, 2012
    PPPSSC
    ^ That example with more context:

    • 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.
  • March 15, 2013
    XFllo
    I did Rolling Updates and fixed formatting. I took one hat away because it was in no way ready to be published, though it's very close.

    Some examples need more context so I didn't add those.

    Also, I wouldn't mind Real Life examples. I don't see this as potential Flame Bait.
  • March 17, 2013
    Chabal2
    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.
  • March 18, 2013
    Koveras
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=jr4d9k2lmz7cy66lrg89ll3s&trope=NobilityMarriesMoney