Page Type: trope
A Foreign Ruling Class is a ruling class whose culture, language and/or religion are different from those of the populations they rule. Simply put, it is the other end of Ethnic Menial Labor. Different from a military occupation since this situation lasts in peacetime too.
This situation can rise as a result of the conquest of a population by another; a protagonist might be moved to overthrow this oppression. Another cause might be the acculturation of the local ruling class by another culture, perceived as more prestigious.
This can be a characteristic of the society in which the story takes place, and can explain conflicts between the rulers and the ruled.
Please apply the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment.
- The premise behind Code Geass is an Alternate History where the British empire abandoned England in order to reestablish itself in North America after quelling the American uprising. They went on to take over most of the world, including Japan. The main story takes place in Japan, while the native citizens are still ruled over the Britanian Empire. Most members of the Royal Britanian Family appropriately look and act the part— fancy European inspired outfits, powdered wigs, etc.
- In The Authority, Sliding Albion is part of an alternate reality in which an alien race called the Blue conquered Italy prior to its formal unification, intermarried with the various ruling families, and then used the resulting mix of political, military, and technological might to take over the rest of the world. Consequently, Albion has a twofold foreign ruling class, as they are taking orders from Italians who are in turn taking orders from the Blue.
- The Adventures of Robin Hood involves Robin Hood and his band, standing up for the Saxon peasants versus their Norman rulers.
- Discussed in Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. As in real life, there is a fair amount of resentment towards the Soviet Union's mostly Russian ruling class from natives of the other SSRs. This is compounded in the series by ethnic Russians being evacuated to Alaska with the Government in Exile, while conscripts from the other republics are stuck fighting to hold the Kamchatka Peninsula against the Alien Invasion.
- Ivanhoe features Norman lords oppressing Saxon peasants, and Ivanhoe protecting the latter while gathering funds to pay the ransom of Richard Lionheart.
- The Draka features a society where a small elite of Citizens, of British Loyalist, Icelandic and Dixie stock, rules over an underclass of Serfs. Later this overclass turns into another species.
- Kris Longknife: Planets in the Greenfeld Confederacy/Empire (One Nation Under Copyright with aspirations to feudal monarchy) tend to have a mostly white Germanic-descended ruling class and a browner general populace. It's mentioned in Audacious that Kris's browner Wardhavenites (she has mixed European and Native American ancestry and her primary Love Interest is Latino) can blend in on Greenfeld worlds better than the Greenfeld military forces they're working with.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- House Targaryen. They were originally a noble family of Valyria, who fled to Dragonstone before the Doom of Valyria and went on to conquer all of Westeros using three dragons, unifying the Seven Kingdoms under their rule. They ruled for around three centuries and brought with them some Valyrian customs, such as the Valyrian language, dragons, Valyrian steel and a habit of marrying brother to sister to keep their bloodlines pure. Incest is outlawed throughout Westeros and generally considered a huge taboo, but the Targaryens were the exception. They were eventually ousted around thirteen years before the start of the series during Robert's Rebellion and the few survivors fled in exile to Essos, vowing to one day reclaim the throne.
- One of those survivors, Daenerys Targaryen, later conquers Slaver's Bay in Essos in order to eradicate slavery there; she decides to rule as queen to ensure the slave masters don't reclaim power and to keep the peace until the new order stabilises itself. Although she is welcomed with open arms by the freed slaves and a few other citizens, others chafe at being ruled by a foreigner, especially one who generally holds many aspects of their Ghiscari culture (such as slavery and the fighting pits) in contempt. Daenerys struggles to keep both factions happy and ward off attacks by an insurgent group known as the Sons of the Harpy, while not compromising too much on her own values.
- Don A. Stuart's "Cloak Of Aesir": The alien Sarns conquered Earth thousands of years ago and effectively turned humanity into a Slave Race.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: In between The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, Narnia is conquered by pirate-descended Telmarines from a mysterious land in the West, who force the local Talking Animals and supernatural entities into hiding. Prince Caspian himself is a Telmarine Defector from Decadence who sides with the native Narnians, but his descendants remain Narnian kings for the rest of the world's lifespan.
- The Tripods: Earth is conquered by alien invaders who order all humans to be implanted with Hypno Trinket "caps" that force them to remain loyal. The series focuses on La Résistance, the last few un-capped people trying to free the world from a vastly more powerful enemy.
- Belgian TV thriller Salamander uses this motif to make a point about Belgian society and government. While the "good guys" fighting to get to the heart of the quasi-governmental conspiracy that threatens to rip Belgium apart are all Flemish, the highly placed people at the heart of the scandal are all French-speaking Belgians. When the conspirators are seen, they speak French together: the only time they use Flemish is to instruct employees and servants. The implication is clear (Salamander was made by Flemish TV, so this might not be an objective point). Flemish is the language of the serfs and peasants; French is that of a ruling class who do not have the best interests of the Belgian people at heart.
- Also applies to the TV adaptation Game of Thrones. In fact, in Season Seven, Randyll Tarly says he'd rather be ruled by Cersei Lannister than Daenerys Targaryen, because at least Cersei was born and raised in Westeros, rather than a "foreign invader; one with no ties to this land" (although Daenerys was technically born on Dragonstone and forced to flee as an infant). Also in the series, Daenerys ends up becoming ruler of all the Dothraki, which they accept pretty readily because they believe in Asskicking Equals Authority; Daenerys killed all the other khals (Dothraki lords), leaving her few rivals and has a sizable army and three dragons at her back, so she is quite easily the strongest among them. She incorporates their warriors in her conquest of Westeros, which in Randyll's opinion, is just another point against her.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Tau Empire has annexed several planets inhabited by other species, including humans, who are usually treated well though still ruled by Tau Ethereals.
- While the Imperium of Man tend to be portrayed as Absolute Xenophobes some writers mention minor Xeno races who are just enslaved by the Imperium.
- The Kingdom of Calebria is ruled by the foxes of House Rinaldi, de jure, after they vassalized the island's other kingdoms of boars, horses, and wolves. Though at the time of the game the Rinaldi's actual power is waning and their vassals are getting ambitious.
- The otters of the Anatolian Empire replaced the cobra Pharaoh of the Delta with a Sultan of their own species, but heavy resistance from Deltan crown loyalists has convinced them to co-opt existing power structures in their later conquests.
- Can happens in Stellaris as a result of the main species having Full Citizenship and xenos being classified as Residents or Slaves.
- Simulated in Crusader Kings II, which makes a distinction between a province's culture and religion, and that of the character holding the title (who will spawn courtiers, minor nobles, of his own culture). The province will tend to shift to match that of its ruler over time, or the ruler can change cultures to that of their capital province, but in the meantime there's a small increase in revolt risk. Additionally, some cultures, such as English and Russian, are programmed to be created by having a province of one culture be controlled by a ruler of a different culture.
- The Fire Nation outposts/colonies on the Earth Kingdom continent in Avatar: The Last Airbender are mostly this trope, with Fire Nation citizens forming the ruling class and Earth Kingdom citizens mostly working as laborers. Partially averted with the older colonies, as there have been numerous intermarriages between Fire and Earth residents (most notably, the Fire Nation mayor of Yu Dao has an Earth Kingdom wife).
- Diglossia is the case where two languages are used in a society and when one language is mainly used by upper classes and the other by lower ones.
- After the conquest of Finland by Sweden, Finnish society was divided in four Estates (nobility, clergy, burghers and peasants) and was dominated by Swedes, with a totally Swedish nobility, along with most of the burghers. Clergy tended to speak both Finnish and Swedish, since they could be sent to ministry to both populations. Lastly, Swedish was also widespread among peasants on the coast.
- After Alexander the Great's conquests across Asia and the Middle East, Greek generals were named as satraps and governors. After his death, most of the local ruling classes were either Greeks or Hellenisized.
- The Ptolemaic Dynasty, to which belonged Cleopatra VII, was hellenisized, and ruled Egypt through a class of Greek administrators and merchants.
- Across Poland-Lithuania, most of the szlacha were either Poles or Polonized Lithuanians and Ruthenians and was mostly Latin Catholic. Their peasants were Ruthenians and their religion was either Orthodox or Eastern Catholic (basically Orthodox liturgy and rituals while being faithful to The Pope).
- Likewise, in the Baltics lands conquered by The Teutonic Knights, even though all the society was Lutheran, the landowners were German while the peasantry was Baltic.
- After the Cromwellian Settlement, which saw Catholics being deprived of their lands, Ireland was under the Ascendancy, with Englishmen members of the established Church of Ireland (the local Anglican denomination), owning much of the land, lording over Irish Catholics and Dissenters.
- The Aryan Invasion Theory is a controversial hypothesis postulating the Indian subcontinent, then mostly populated of Dravidians, was invaded by an Aryan peuplade, who set themselves as Brahmins, Ksatriyas and Vaishyas and set the locals to be Sudras.
- According to popular legend, which may or may not be true, depending on your interpretation of the ancient chronicles and political leanings, the Novgorod Duchy — now Northwestern Russia — invited a group of Scandinavian Vikings (or "varyags", as they called them) to rule over it in 862, which is traditionally considered the starting date of the Russian statehood. Whether Rurik (the leader of the invited Vikings) has ever actually reigned as Prince or just provided armed security to the land and arbitrated between feuding nobles as a neutral third party is still hotly debated by historians, however.
- British history is made of this trope, though the rulers usually end up assimilating after a few generations or centuries.
- England and Wales were ruled by Romans from the first century to the fourth or fifth century.
- For first couple of centuries after the Romans left large parts of Britain were ruled by barbarian invaders (Angles, Saxons, Jutes from Germany ruled England, whilst the Picts were ruled by the Scots - originally from Ireland) before they became the natives.
- The Vikings ruled much of England and Wales in the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries.
- In 1066 the Normans, led by William the Conqueror, invaded and remained a foreign ruling class until at least the period of the Hundred Years War. The traces can still be felt in the English language: while the words for cattle, pigs and sheep are of Saxon origin, the word for their meat, beef, pork and mutton are of French origin.
- The Scottish Stewart dynasty ruled England from 1603 till 1649 and again from 1661 till 1689.
- The main line of Stuarts were replaced by a Dutch king (William of Orange) from 1689 to 1702.
- The House of Hanover were German monarchs who ruled Britain from 1714 to 1901 when Queen Victoria died.
- And, of course, the British Empire was ruled this way. As you'd expect given that it was the largest empire in history.
- Happened several times in China:
- The Yuan dynasty was of Mongol origin, and set up Mongol nobmes to rule over China.
- The Qing dynasty was Manchu, and the Manchu leadership actually started to oppress the Han populace until the noble class assimilated.
- European colonies in Asia and Africa were ruled by an overclass of White administrators, businessmen and planters. Sometimes a native chief was allowed to join this class.
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