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Altar Diplomacy
aka: Political Marriage

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This isn't Henry marrying Gabriella. This is France marrying Spain.

Misaki: As you know, your father has been working on a peace agreement with that brutish Wataro clan. Well, I heard the treaty has been finalized.
Ina: That's nice.
Misaki: You're going to wed the Wataro daimyo's eldest son!
Ina: I'm being forced to marry some guy I don't even know from a clan DESPISED throughout Japan!?
Misaki: Oh, you'll make such a cute couple!
Ina: Just so my father can ratify some stupid little treaty?
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This is essentially marriage as a negotiation tactic—or more precisely, as the final step which seals a contract they already negotiated.

The common setup is a political marriage to seal a peace or reinforce an alliance between nations or Feuding Families, but in modern fiction it's becoming more common for the spouses in question to be representatives of family-owned companies or other business interests, and instead of a treaty it becomes a merger. Both parties will typically go into a political marriage with their eyes open, and both parties (or the factions they represent) will typically benefit, though the spouses may not be happy in their married life. This isn't always necessarily mutual; one side may be marrying for politics while the other is marrying for money, for instance.

This has been Truth in Television for much of human history. Marrying for love was uncommon for those with status, and a good match was often one that benefited both families politically or in business.

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A Rebellious Princess (and occasionally Rebel Prince) is often found running away from or fighting against an expectation that she will marry for her kingdom. The Dutiful Son is likely to go through with such a marriage, regardless of his own wishes. This may be a bone of contention between carefree and responsible siblings, one of whom does what's good for their family while the other can't give up their freedom to make this match. The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask, the Evil Prince, or even the Wise Prince may arrange such marriages for themselves out of either responsibility or ambition. Corporate executives (Honest or Corrupt) may see the good business sense in it.

A darker variant sometimes seen is for a conqueror to forcibly marry a surviving member of the royal family in order to legitimize his conquest.

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Can often overlap with Arranged Marriage, if one spouse is a princess being married off for instance, but a political marriage doesn't necessarily have to be arranged by anyone other than the spouses themselves. If they truly are faceless pawns in this game, it may be a Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage. If they grow to love each other despite the pragmatic start to their marriage, it can become a Perfectly Arranged Marriage. Often involves Homosocial Heterosexuality. On the other hand, too much or the wrong kind of this can leave a royal family Royally Screwed Up.

See also Mail-Order Bride, which is literally a business transaction, and Nobility Marries Money, where one side gets status and one side gets money.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Aldnoah.Zero:
    • Slaine Troyard personally arranges a marriage to Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia except it was her Ill Girl sister Lemrina Vers Envers masquerading as her at the start of the second season.
    • At the end of the show, Princess Asseylum announces that she would take Count Klanclain Cruhteo as her husband in marriage in order to secure a lasting peace between the Earth and the Vers Empire.
  • Code Geass has several, being That Kind Of Show.
    • In season 2, after the Black Knights escape to China, Schneizel sets one up between his older brother, Crown Prince Odysseus, and the (very young) Empress of China, Tianzi Jiang Lihua. If that were to go through, Britannia would be able to get to the Black Knights again).
    • In the audio-drama backstory scenes, Emperor Charles tried to arrange this between a Britannian royal and someone from one of Japan's important houses, Kururugi or Sumeragi. Unfortunately, it ended up being the six-year-old Princess Nunnally, and Suzaku's father. So, of course, Nunnally's older brother Lelouch found a way to stop it from happening. Now, if it had been Suzaku and not his father, it might have prevented the war... Of course, Charles's plans required conquering the sakuradite rich land of Japan so this was likely on purpose.
  • One Piece: Don Chinjao has planned to have his grandson Sai, the leader of the Happo Navy, to marry the daughter of the general of the Nippo Navy as a bridge for the two navies to merge and become stronger. Sai in the end decides not to, though, and his grandfather says he's proud of him.
    • This is the dirving force behind the Arranged Marriage between Vinsmoke Sanji and Charlotte Pudding. The groom's dad is the Emperor Scientist Vinsmoke Judge, the bride's mother Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin is the Queen of Whole Cake Island and one of the Four Emperors. Too bad Big Momn was using Pudding as a Honey Trap and planning to kill all the Vinsmokes during the wedding itself.
  • In the backstory of The Vision of Escaflowne, Millerna's big sister Marlene Aston, eldest daughter of the royal family of Asturia, entered into an Arranged Marriage with the ruling duke of the nearby country of Freid to seal a de facto non-aggression pact, but dies a few years later. During the course of the series, her father King Aston allies with the Zaibach Empire and allows them to use Asturia as a staging ground for an invasion of Freid, and it's mentioned that he never would have allowed such a thing if Marlene were still alive. Considering that Marlene's son/Aston's grandson Chid is the heir-apparent to Freid, it's still a pretty cold move.
  • Aside for the historical one between Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, Rose of Versailles has the one between the Duchesse de Polignac and the one she tries to set up between her daughter Charlotte (and later Rosalie) and the Duke of Guiche. According to Polignac, this is actually the norm among nobility, and why pretty much everyone has at least one lover.
  • In the one-shot Sengoku no Mikazuki ("Crescent Moon in the Warring States"), Nobuhiro Watsuki's debut work, the Lord of Kitakata married his daughter Natsu to another lord in hopes of securing a peace treaty, despite her being in love with his top samurai Hiko Seijuro. However the enemy ruler broke the treaty and invaded anyway, killing the Lord of Kitakata and taking poor Natsu away, forcing Hiko to be on the run. After Hiko's bond with a boy named Isshinta gives him his strength back, he decides to fight back: he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, kills the treacherous Lord, rescues Natsu and, in the epilogue, they marry and become the new rulers of Kitakata.
  • Anatolia Story features one in the backstory, where Kail's Retired Badass father King Suppilinnuma arranged one between himself and a much younger Babylonian princess. Said princess? Nakia, who would grow angry and bitter... and become the Big Bad.

     Comic Books 
  • In Runaways, this was the Skrull royal Xavin's hope for their Arranged Marriage with Karolina. While the marriage was originally just a bargaining chip used by Karolina's war criminal parents to stop Xavin's family from invading Earth, Xavin hoped that their wedding could end the Skrull-Majesdane war that had been raging ever since. They got as far as the actual ceremony before one of the guests made a snide remark. Five minutes later, both sides were firing anti-matter missiles and the unlucky couple had to flee back to Earth.
  • Monstress: The Baroness of the Last Dusk (Tuya) arranges to marry the Sword of the East (Maika's aunt) on the grounds that she doesn't trust her further than she can throw her, and she needs an actual guarantee in order to secure the alliance between the Dusk and Dawn courts.

    Fan Works 
  • Played with in The Gift of Premonition, a fanfic of The Hobbit, where Thorin and company are at war with the Iron Mountain dwarves, who have a nonaggression pact with Mirkwood. Thranduil wants to help Thorin and company, but doesn't want to break the treaty. Fortunately, his son Legolas has taken an interest in the son of a member of Thorin's company ... and marriage makes them extended family, which means that the Iron Mountain dwarves attacked his kin first.
  • Heis'he Ri'nanovai mentions that marriages among the Romulan nobility are almost invariably political, such as to cement alliances between House-clans or mend blood feuds. Merken tr'Vreenak was in such a marriage to a distant cousin when he had an affair with his then-chief of staff. Protagonist Morgan t'Thavrau was the result.
  • In I Am Skantarios, a Medieval II: Total War AAR story, the Byzantines strengthen their alliance with their Hungarian allies via marriage, one general becoming Bash Brothers with Skantarios.
  • This forms the background premise of the Dragon Age: Inquisition Alternate Universe Fic The Lady and the Lion. Ferelden and Ostwick, in the Free Marches, have a long-standing peace treaty which is renewed every twenty-five years through a noble alliance. But King Alistair doesn't have any appropriate noblemen to offer Bann Trevelyan's youngest daughter, so he has to quickly create a new noble house and pin its title on one of his generals in order to make him a suitable candidate.
  • In Lords Among The Ashes, Cinder is so impressed by what she sees in Normandy that she manipulates events so that she and Jaune marry. This proves to be a mutually beneficial relationship as it gives Wintershroud access to the Lost Technology that Normandy had rediscovered and Normandy access to Wintershroud's rich mineral resources.
  • In the Code Geass Alternate Universe Fic Mosaic, Emperor Suzaku of Japan marries Princess Euphemia of Britannia to repay the latter nation for saving the former from a Chinese invasion. The Britannia of the world the fic is set in generally tries to expand its power and influence through marriage rather than conquest, much like House Habsburg.
  • In the Pandoraverse, this is the reason behind Princess Celestia and Queen Chrysalis’ union—Chrysalis proposed the marriage to Celestia to forge an alliance between changelings and ponies.
  • In The Vow, Lianne's parents were married this way. Lord Chang was having hostility with western people who wandered in the borders of his province, but a peace was worked out. He met Lady Amelia while visiting the western king's court and since they seemed to like each other, she was offered to him in order to settle the peace. It's later revealed that Amelia had to choose between Chang and his brother Hong, both being strangers to her. Taking pity in her, Chang gave her the option of backing away (and possibly jeopardize the treaty). That little act of mercy caused Amelia to choose him.
  • Wearing Robert's Crown: Subverted and played straight. Renly's marriage has the potential to reconcile House Martell and House Baratheon but it's at the worst possible moment and Drakebert negotiates another political marriage to keep the peace.
  • Becoming Lífþrasir: Since Astrid and her family do not like the idea of her being adopted by Stoick to make her his heir, they instead went for a form of engagement between her and Hiccup (in absentia). This way, she would still be a Hofferson, she gets to remain a shield-maiden as she wanted and she would gain the chiefdom when Stoick retires or dies.
  • The Berserkers Bride: Dagur and Hiccup's marriage was strictly political, or at least that was how it started…
  • A Thing of Vikings: Ruffnut agrees to marry Magnus the Good of Norway as part of alliance between Norway and Berk. This quickly proves to be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage as the two are absolutely devoted to each other.
  • Prodigal Son: After Fishlegs convinces the village that Astrid was in a secret relationship with Hiccup, Astrid is more or less forced to use that to her advantage to inherit the role of future chieftess to prevent a potential civil war on Berk, knowing fully well that Snotlout's incompetence (having just been responsible for the death of a child during a training exercise) has soured over half of the village on the idea and will lead to conflict. She does this by agreeing to marry Hiccup post-mortem, becoming a member of the Haddock family under Berk's laws and thus next-in-line for the throne. A particular shock to Hiccup when he decides to return.
    • After Astrid is announced as Stoick's heir, Spitelout and Snotlout offer an ultimatum; she marries Snotlout and makes him Chief or they will use the economic power their clan has over the rest of the island to force her out of her position. She manages to haggle her way into having the marriage held off for three years.
  • The premise of the Transformers Animated fic "The Brat Prince of Vos". Basically, in order to gain the alliance of the city of Vos, Megatron has to agree to bond with Starscream, the youngest prince. When he keeps putting it off (originally because Star is too young, then because if they bond during the war there'll be no-one to lead the Decepticons if they both get killed, and finally because Megatron's too busy searching for the All Spark), Starscream snaps and becomes the traitor he's usually known as.
  • In the Transformers fic "Promised", Starscream is forced to enter into a sparkbond with Megatron as part of a political alliance between Vos and Kaon. He's not very happy about it at first, but it quickly becomes a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.

    Film — Animated 
  • Mulan II: Three princesses are married off to cement an alliance against the Mongols. Despite this being very much the norm at the time and, y'know, vital to national security, Mulan objects to this and the princesses end up marrying the three goofballs from the first movie. The Inferred Holocaust is one of several reasons the movie is disliked.
  • To Princess Fiona in Shrek: Farquaad sends Shrek to rescue her so he can marry her and officially call himself king. It is later revealed in Shrek 2: Fiona had been betrothed to Prince Charming so that he might one day become king of Far Far Away. This was for her father to repay the Fairy Godmother for turning him human so he could be with Fiona's mother. Neither of these marriages took place as Fiona ends up falling in love with and marrying Shrek.
  • It happens in Corpse Bride, albeit between a Nouveau Riche family and a noble but bankrupt Old Money family rather than between countries. The fiances Victor and Victoria are dreading it as they want to Marry for Love... until they see each other and it's Love at First Sight. They would have been happily married right then and there had Victor not messed up the marriage proposal and decided to rehearse by placing the ring on a stick that was actually the finger of a murdered bride. Cue the titular Corpse Bride trying to keep him for herself.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Spanish film Los Borgia shows that Lucrezia was only used as a way for the family to ally with powerful families, and then canceling those marriages when they weren't useful anymore.
  • Ever After:
    • Pictured above: Prince Henry of France is supposed to marry Princess Gabriella of Spain, and it's implied that it'll be a diplomatic nightmare for his father King Francis if Henry sidesteps the match. Henry, who especially at the beginning of the movie is kind of a brat, doesn't care. It turns out Gabriella REALLY doesn't want to marry Henry (plus is in love with a Spanish butler), and is very relieved when the marriage doesn't go through.
    • There's also an allusion to the fact that Henry's parents married for diplomatic reasons as well. note 
      Queen Marie: Sweetheart... you were born to privilege, and with that comes specific obligations.
      Henry: Forgive me, Mother, but marriage to a complete stranger never made anyone in this room very happy.
      Queen Marie: [glances awkwardly at King Francis]
  • The biographic film Marie Antoinette has Marie of Austria delivered to Louis XVI of France at the age of 15 to cement a treaty between the two nations. Neither is really prepared for marriage, and Marie is despised at the French court as "that Austrian whore." Nevertheless, Marie and Louis grow to love each other during their short reign.
  • In The Princess Bride, Prince Humperdinck chooses beautiful peasant Buttercup to be his wife, knowing she will capture the hearts of the populace; he will get a popularity boost and she will get the stable life of royalty. However, what he truly wants is to kill her and start a war.
  • Ebullient Squire Will Danaher from The Quiet Man has been itching to woo the widow Sarah Tillane, not for love, but because their land holdings combined would make theirs the largest arable tract in the county. Up until Sean Thornton from America comes along, Widow Tillane will have nothing to do with Grumpy Bear Danaher.
  • The film Dangerous Beauty revolves around a courtesan in Renaissance era Venice, who took up the profession because social custom dictated that she, a commoner, could not marry her beloved, a powerful nobleman. Later, he lets her know that he is getting married to someone else, the daughter of another powerful nobleman, whose influence would be very helpful to the city-state. They still manage to be together because he is her favorite client.

    Literature 
  • Angel in the Whirlwind: Among Commonwealth nobles, the first few children can expect to be married off for political reasons (the "heir and a spare" phrase is used), but as the youngest of ten children of Duke Lucas Falcone, protagonist Captain Kat Falcone is essentially free to date whomever and do whatever she likes (respectively Major Pat Davidson and joining the Navy).
  • In Apparatus Infernum, this is the explanation for how some humans have magical abilities. A long time before the main story, war between humans and the magical Ferishers ended in a treaty that saw mass intermarriage between the ruling families of each side. Over the years, the magical heritage so gained has gradually filtered into the general population, so it's not uncommon for people with no apparent connection to the nobility to have a bit of Ferisher ancestry (and therefore a bit of magic). One of the protagonists, Mikani, is such a person.
  • The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga: Subverted in Ice Forged: the concept is mentioned and it's a Medieval European Fantasy setting where you'd expect this, but the network of alliances between the Ascendant Kingdoms were apparently created with pure ambassadorial diplomacy and actually defy the familial connections. King Merrill of Donderath is married to a princess of Meroven but is at war with her father King Edgar, while Merrill's ally the King of Tarrant married his daughter to the King of Vellanaj, who is allied to Meroven and using his navy to blockade Donderath. Lesser nobles seem to have a mix of both political or economic Arranged Marriages and love matches.
  • Garion and Ce'Nedra in The Belgariad are betrothed by a five-hundred-year-old treaty between their countries, not to mention that prophecy thing. True to the trope, they engage in quite a bit of Slap-Slap-Kiss, but also played with in that neither knew about the arrangementnote  until after they'd gotten acquainted and fallen in love anyway. This also happens for some background characters like Barak and his wife, but that's what you get when most of the characters belong to the aristocratic class in a medieval fantasy book.
  • In the Belisarius Series:
    • The marriage of Photius and Tahmina, to cement an alliance between Rome and Persia.
    • The marriage of Eon and Rukaiya, to strengthen the political ties between Ethiopia and Arabia.
  • In Birthright (2017), Taurau is in Vikaasthan, officially, to negotiate a trade agreement between Vikaasthan and Kainga-o-Whenua. Unofficially, it's implied that both he and Sabrina are being pushed together in the hopes they'll begin courting one another. There's no indication of an officially arranged marriage yet, but it's clear that neither Taurau nor Sabrina are against the notion.
  • In The Bridge Kingdom Archives the marriage of king Aren of Ithicana and princess Lara of Maridrina is part of the peace treaty between their two nations. At least that's what people are led to believe, since Lara's father, king Silas, has other plans.
  • The villain family in A Brother's Price tries this in two stages. Legally, they're sisters-in-law to the princesses, whose late husband was brother to the villains and married the princesses to gain that connection for his family. Under their country's inheritance laws, if all the princesses were to die without any having had a child to inherit the crown, the villains have claim to the thrones as heirs to their sisters-in-law. When the princesses find a new husband, the villains decide to kidnap and forcibly marry him, since his royal blood would strengthen his wives' claim to the thrones.
  • Governor Dragna in Caraval is a wealthy rum merchant, but feels as though he doesn't get as much respect as other aristocrats because he rules over one of the Conquered Isles. He arranges for his daughter Scarlett to marry a count from one of the more well-known parts of the Meridian Empire to bring him more status.
  • In The Curse of Chalion, Royesse (Princess) Iselle arranges her own marriage—for rather urgent political reasons—to the crown prince of a neighboring kingdom whom she's never seen, pausing briefly to collect the rumor that he is "well-favored" (which she cynically says people will say about any prince who isn't a perfect fright), before returning to more important practical considerations. When she finally meets him, they've practically already bonded over their shared love and admiration for the main character, Iselle's heroic secretary, and by the morning after the wedding, he observes that they look like a couple madly in love.
  • As a series of books set in countries run by monarchies in a feudalistic society, this recurs frequently in the Deryni works. Among the many examples:
    • The last independent Prince of Meara negotiated a marriage between his eldest daughter and the Haldane king of Gwynedd, in hopes that his principality would be protected from rivals. Others among his nobility (including his wife) valued Meara's independence more than any hoped-for security, and decades of intermittent rebellion followed. Kelson attempted to solve this problem by his "marrying Meara" with disastrous results; he later arranged two other marriages with descendants of the old Mearan royal line with better success.
    • Kelson is also said to have arranged a pair of marriages between members of his family and those of the Torenthi royal family. The Codex notes that Liam-Lajos and his sister marry a couple of Kelson's near relatives. This seems to be part of his long-term plan to resolve the long-standing conflict between Gwynedd and Torenth.
    • King Donal Haldane himself twice married princesses from neighbouring kingdoms, and he arranged the marriage of Alyce de Corwyn with Kenneth Morgan. Kenneth was loyal to Donal and "a safe pair of hands" to protect the wealthy and strategically-placed Duchy of Corwyn. Alyce herself knew and understood the king would decide her choice of husband, especially after deaths in the ducal family line left her the only heir. That said, the marriage did become a love match.
  • The YA historical dramatization The Edge On The Sword deals with Æthelflæd, the daughter of King Alfred the Great of Wessex, journeying to Mercia for an alliance marriage with King Aethelred at the age of fifteen. In the book a Danish warlord who refused to lay down arms and convert to Christianity after Alfred's coalition defeated them tries to kill her to foil the match.
  • In The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, the protagonist decides to marry Csethiro Ceredin because his father insulted her family by divorcing a relative of hers, and it is diplomatically desirable to make amends for that.
  • The Guardian by Angus Wells goes five for five here: all the marriages existing or spoken of in the novel are at least partly political in nature.
    • Gailard, one of the Power Trio of protagonists, is a Rebel Prince of a Highlander tribe who ran away to join Chaldor's army rather than marry Rytha, a princess of another clan. He didn't hate her, but he didn't love her either. His father retaliated by exiling him on pain of death, and Gailard's brother took Rytha in Unholy Matrimony instead (which had the same result politically).
    • King Andur of Chaldor is married to Ryadne, the daughter of the chief of the Dur, another Highlander clan. Their marriage appears to be partially a love match (at the least, Ryadne respects Andur), but the fact that it gained Chaldor the loyalty of the Dur isn't lost on anyone.
    • Talan Kedassian, the Evil Overlord of Danant, spends most of the book hunting Gailard and his ward Princess Ellyn of Chaldor (Andur and Ryadne's daughter) in hopes of either marrying her to legitimize his conquest of Chaldor, or killing her to end the royal line, a source of rebellion.
    • For her part, Ellyn falls in love with and marries Roark, the prince of yet another Highlander clan. It's mentioned in the epilogue that this more or less makes the Highlanders part of Chaldor for good, and that they were always part of Ellyn's royal guard.
    • Meanwhile in a variant, Kerid, a Chaldorian riverboat captain, starts sleeping with the Mother of Hel's Town in order to gain her support for his campaign of piracy against Danant's shipping. They appear to have fallen in love by the end of the book.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • Queen Selenay's first marriage is to Prince Karathanelan of Rethwellen, cementing Valdemar's longstanding alliance with its southern neighbor. Unfortunately, Thanel turns out to be The Evil Prince who shortly attempts to usurp the throne for himself and is killed by Selenay's bodyguards. Their daughter Elspeth grows up with her father's crimes hanging over her head. Later, however, Selenay falls in Love at First Sight with Prince Darenthallis of Rethwellen, Thanel's brother, so that works out.
    • Princess Elspeth herself is resigned to a political marriage as part of her duties as Heir... until she thinks about the neighboring kingdoms and realizes that all are either in stable alliances or are Valdemar's enemies, and none really have good candidates for her anyway. Her eventual love-match with Darkwind does help establish a new alliance with the Hawkbrothers, but only informally, as she abdicates as Heir to focus on combat magic, and the Hawkbrothers don't have a hereditary authority anyway.
    • Runs all the way through the Last Herald-Mage trilogy, especially in the last book where an elopement between the Heir and his lovebond causes political turmoil. The Heir has to explain that, yes, he's thought this through and there aren't likely to be any good candidates for an alliance marriage for a while. Further, Vanyel fathers a Secret Legacy with the consort of King Randale because no one will make an alliance marriage with a king who appears to be impotent (as Randale was).
    • The reasons and political maneuvering behind the various forms of Arranged Marriage among the nobility are a theme of Closer to Home. Near the end of the book, two Feuding Families are ordered by the Crown to resolve their differences with a marriage of their heirs, only son to oldest daughter. When the son seduces the youngest daughter and dies in an attempt to murder everyone else, the survivors put aside their fighting and pledge to attempt to find other, better matches for marriage.
  • The Kharkanas Trilogy: Although both Arranged Marriages and love marriages occur among the nobility of Kurald Galain, the entire plot of the trilogy basically hinges on the nobility's wish for one particular Arranged Marriage to happen, namely one between the reigning queen and living goddess known as Mother Dark and the commoner's war hero Vatha Urusander. The latter, however, just wants his peace and Mother Dark has other amorous ambitions. This riles the nobility up so badly they split into two factions (each centered around one of the unwilling spouses-to-be) and start a civil war, creating a situation where the marriage is not only desirable but necessary to bring back peace. To add insult to injury, all of this happens before the backdrop of a culture where it's perfectly normal for nobles to marry for love.
  • In the Kushiel's Legacy series, Ysandre de la Courcel, then the Crown Princess of Terre d'Ange, was betrothed to the Cruarch of Alba as a teenager on political grounds, though it turned into a Perfectly Arranged Marriage when the two actually met. Notably, d'Angelines generally disapprove of this trope as a violation of Blessed Elua's commandment to "Love as thou wilt" (though they recognize its occasional necessity), and d'Angeline law requires the consent of those taking part in the marriage in order for a non-love match to go forward. (For context, this is a country that considers rape a form of heresy.)
  • In the Nantucket Trilogy, the Republic of Nantucket reluctantly allows Kathryn Hollard to marry King Kashtiliash of Babylonia and her brother Kyle to marry Princess Raupasha of Mitanni, in order to create ties between their republic and those two nations.
  • In The Princess Bride, the ailing King and Queen of Florin want to marry Prince Humperdinck to the Princess of Guilder to forge an alliance between the two rival countries. Humperdinck breaks off the engagement when it turns out during a banquet that his fiancée is congenitally bald, and comments that he'd always planned to just conquer Guilder instead. He then arranges his own match with the beautiful commoner Buttercup to curry favor with the citizenry so that he can then frame Guilder for assassinating her to create a Pretext for War. (It's implied that murdering Buttercup isn't originally his intention - he wants to be married to the World's Most Beautiful Woman, which is what she is, and the offer of marriage is initially genuine. However, sometime during the three years she spends attending royalty school to become a princess, he conceives of the plot to frame Guilder.)
  • Occurs twice in the Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobb; in both cases a Farseer prince was engaged to a foreign princess to secure an alliance and the couple ended up falling in love. The second one ended quite well, the first one less so.
  • Safehold, By Schism Rent Asunder:
    • King Cayleb of Charis marries Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm in what was originally a cold-blooded political move to unite their kingdoms. When they finally meet, it is Love at First Sight.
    • Prince Nahrmahn of Emerald and his wife Princess Ohlyvya were betrothed at a young age, and eventually ended up falling in love, much to their mutual surprise. (And benefit, as the practically-minded Ohlyvya tempers some of Nahrmahn's... more volatile characteristics.)
    • Done deliberately with Irys and Hektor. They clearly like each other, but both are unwilling to make a move due to the circumstances. Sharleyan decides to deal with it by making their arranged marriage a condition of the peace treaty between Charis and Corisande.
    • Subverted for Cayleb and Sharleyan's daughter, Alahnah. By the time she's of age to consider marriage, the Empire of Charis is well established and most of its member nations are already bound by marriages or oaths of fealty. As a result, she has a lot more freedom to choose who she marries and ultimately chooses Lywys Whytmyn, a Dohlaran and grandson of the Earl of Thirsk, though they initially need to keep their relationship a secret.
    • Like Alahnah, Daivyn Daikyn, Prince of Corisande, doesn't have any special need to marry for diplomacy's sake, as his sister is already married to Cayleb and Sharleyan's stepson. However he ends up making such a match anyway when he enters into a Childhood Friend Romance with Francheska Chermyn, daughter of the Grand Duke of Zebediah. Zebediah as a nation hated Daivyn's father and, by association, Daivyn himself, so a proper courtship between the two eases a lot of ruffled feathers on the Zebediahan side.
  • Sing the Four Quarters:
    • In the backstory, then-Crown Prince Theron wanted to marry off his younger sister Princess Annice to the heir of neighboring Cemandia, but she managed to get their father King Maric to let her join the Magic Music bards on his deathbed instead. Theron reacted by ordering Annice to relinquish any claim to the succession and banning her on pain of death from having children. This is the source of their current estrangement. We learn later that Annice's gift for bardic Singing would have been fatal in Cemandia, which considers the kigh to be unholy.
    • One of Annice's sisters is in a Perfectly Arranged Marriage with a Shkoder duc. Their nuptials were intended to bind the duc's line closer to the royal family, but it ended up as a love match.
  • This is the default expectation for marriages among the nobility in A Song of Ice and Fire, to the point where it's considered an oddity that King Aegon "Egg" Targaryen in the backstory allowed all of his children to marry for love (with both short-term and long-term consequences). Specific examples from the main story:
    • Catelyn Tully of Riverrun was betrothed to Brandon, the heir-apparent of House Stark. Brandon was killed when Robert's Rebellion erupted, making the alliance all the more necessary, so Catelyn had to Settle for Sibling with Brandon's younger brother (and new Lord of Winterfell) Eddard, which luckily turned out to be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
    • At the same time, Catelyn's younger sister Lysa was married to Eddard's foster father, Jon Arryn of the Vale. This was mutually very politically beneficial: Arryn was already elderly and badly needed a young and fertile wife to provide an heir; Lysa was known to be fertile, having already been pregnant with stepbrother Petyr Baelish's bastard before being forced to induce a miscarriage, so the Tullys got to marry off a "soiled" daughter for whom it otherwise would have been difficult to arrange a match. Unfortunately, their marriage wound up less perfectly arranged.
    • At around the same time, Robert Baratheon, heir-apparent to Storm's End and House Baratheon, was betrothed to Eddard's sister Lyanna so as to ally the Stormlands with the North, Riverrun, and the Vale. Lyanna died before the match could be consummated and left no other female Stark of a proper age for Robert to marry, but the alliance continued.
    • After the war that put him on the throne, now-King Robert Baratheon married Cersei Lannister, the daughter of a rich and powerful family, on the advice of his foster father Jon Arryn. The Lannisters were a late addition to the alliance that put Robert on the throne, and the hope was that this would cement their loyalty. The Lannisters, for their part, are only too willing to milk the match for political influence. The only person who is truly happy with this marriage is Cersei's father, and neither Cersei nor Robert have ever forgiven the other for not being someone else (Rhaegar and Lyanna, respectively.)
    • Much later, Robert attempts once again to formally ally Baratheon with Stark by formally betrothing his eldest "son" Joffrey to Eddard's eldest daughter Sansa, and informally implying that younger siblings Tommen "Baratheon" and Arya Stark and Myrcella "Baratheon" and Bran Stark might someday be betrothed as well. This is largely to sweeten his offer to name Eddard Stark Hand of the King and have him do the hard work of ruling the realm.
    • Across the Narrow Sea, the exiled Viserys Tagaryen marries his sister Daenarys to Khal Drogo in exchange for the use of Drogo's barbarian horde in retaking the Seven Kingdoms. His reward is to be assistance in securing a golden crown, but when his constant demands that Drogo hold up his end of the bargain become insults at the Dothraki way of life, the Khal gives him a molten crown instead.
    • Danaerys tries again later with Hizdahr zo Loraq in Meereen. He fares better than his show counterpart in survival if not romance, but he's implied to be involved with the Sons of the Harpy and it isn't likely to end well for him.
    • In the early days of the War of the Five Kings, King Robert's younger brother Renly, Lord of Storm's End, marries Margaery Tyrell to secure the wealthy and powerful Tyrell family's support in pressing his claim to the throne. Margaery is only The Beard; it is an Open Secret that Renly is already quite literally in bed with the Tyrells in the person of Margaery's brother Loras.
    • Renly's well-known proclivities mean that after his death, Margaery could be remarried to Joffrey and, later, Tommen "Baratheon" as part of the Tyrells' shift of allegiance to the Lannisters.
    • Around this same time, Myrcella "Baratheon" is engaged to Trystane Martell in order to keep Dorne allied with the crown. Although they are both quite young, both appear to enjoy the match.
    • Subverted by Stannis Baratheon; it's never mentioned what the original political advantage of his marriage to Selyse Florent was, but during the War of the Five Kings it doesn't even get him the support of her entire House, many of whom stay loyal to their liege lords the Tyrells.
    • Stannis' Hand of the King, Alester Florent, plots to betroth Stannis' daughter and heir Shireen Baratheon to her "cousin" Tommen in exchange for peace with the Lannisters. Stannis executes him for treason instead.
    • Walder Frey, lord of the Twins, a strategic river crossing, agrees to join King in the North Robb Stark's rebellion against the Iron Throne in exchange for betrothing Robb to a daughter or granddaughter (Frey has plenty) of Robb's choosing and Robb's sister Arya to a son or grandson of hers, among other concessions. The alliance is broken when Robb breaks his betrothal in order to Marry for Love, or honor as the case may be (he has a one-night stand and is unwilling to stain the girl's honor by setting her aside). It is renewed when Robb's bannerman and uncle Edmure Tully agrees to marry Frey's daughter Roslin ...except not really; the wedding is a pretext to lure Robb and his followers to the Twins, where they are slaughtered.
    • Tyrion Lannister is arranged to marry Sansa so that he will produce a Lannister heir who would have a claim to the North. Tyrion, to his credit, sees that the teenage Sansa is not ready, and refuses to consummate the marriage.
    • Arianne Martell is afraid her father is trying to force her into this with someone old and abhorrent, since he has yet to present her with a match she approves. He reveals only once she has plotted to rebel against his interests that he giving her poor choices as a stalling tactic—he actually wanted to marry her to Viserys Targaryen and support the return of the old regime, and after Viserys' death sent her brother to Essos to attempt the same alliance with Daenerys instead. Unfortunately that doesn't work out so well for them either.
    • The Boltons attempt this without even having the right person—they tell everyone the poor girl Ramsay is marrying is Arya Stark, when in fact it's Jeyne Poole. By this point, everyone in Winterfell who would have known the difference is dead or brainwashed.
  • The StarCraft Expanded Universe novel StarCraft Ghost: Nova establishes that members of upper-class families on Tarsonis invariably marry for political reasons, and often only have children with each other by artificial insemination. It's an accepted fact that the husband will have a long-term mistress and the wife a jig, both of whom are viewed as essential to the harmony of the household.
  • The Star Wars Legends novel The Courtship of Princess Leia has the New Republic trying to convince the Hapes Consortium, a mid-tier power that managed to remain independent of Palpatine's Empire, to form an alliance with them against the remaining Imperial Remnant forces. The Hapans try to seal the deal by marrying Crown Prince Isolder to Princess Leia, who of course has been in a relationship with Han Solo since Return of the Jedi. This conflict drives the A-plot, though the outcome is a Foregone Conclusion since the earlier-published Thrawn Trilogy showed Han and Leia married and expecting twins. As for Isolder, he marries a Force adept from Dathomir and forces the Hapan Queen Mother to abdicate so he can unilaterally have Hapes join the Republic.
  • In Tamora Pierce's medieval fantasy Tortall Universe:
    • Song of the Lioness: Prince Jonathan is slated to marry a princess from the Copper Isles in whom he has little interest. Fortunately for him, she goes (literally) Axe-Crazy and takes herself out of the running, freeing him up to make a love match with the newly arrived Princess Thayet.
    • The Immortals: Part of the negotiations between the Carthaki Empire and the Tortallan delegation in Emperor Mage go sour because Emperor Ozorne tries to secure a marriage between his nephew Prince Kaddar and the Tortallan Princess Kalasin, who's only ten years old at the time. King Jonathan and Queen Thayet do expect her to marry for the benefit of Tortall, but are averse to arranging such a match before their daughter could be reasonably expected to have any marital preferences. Kaddar and Kalasin actually do get married eventually, but only after Ozorne is dead and Kaddar is running the country on his own terms.
    • Protector of the Small: Kalasin's brother Roald, the Crown Prince, is engaged to a minor Yamani princess in the first book, a marriage negotiated by protagonist Kel's diplomat parents. In the second book, Princess Chisakami dies in an earthquake before even meeting her intended, and the marriage has to be renegotiated from scratch. Much of the third book deals with the arrival of the new Yamani princess and her delegation. Kel notes that Princess Shinkokami is of a much higher rank than Princess Chisakami was, which means that the Yamanis must be placing a lot of importance on their alliance with the Tortallans.
    • Trickster's Duet: This duology about a carefully orchestrated rebellion spends quite a bit more time on alliances among the nobility than Pierce's other books. Sarai Balitang carries the blood of the old raka monarchs as well as the white conquerors currently ruling the country, and is believed to be the prophesied "Twice-Royal" queen who will restore the raka to glory. Reacting to her growing popularity with the public, the iron-fisted regents begin pressuring her into a marriage with the five-year-old boy-king (who is also her cousin). Sarai, completely unaware of the rebellion brewing on her behalf, doesn't see any way out of the marriage and decides to elope to Carthak. The conspiracy is suddenly without a figurehead. Lucky thing she has a little sister, isn't it?
  • The Witcher:
    • In "A Question of Price", the fifth Short Story in The Last Wish, Queen Calanthe of Cintra wants to ensure a good political marriage for her daughter Princess Pavetta, and entertains suitors at Pavetta's fifteenth birthday celebration. She specifically wants Pavetta to marry into the royal house of the Viking-like Skellige Islands to make Cintra a less-attractive target for Skellige pirates, and contracts Geralt of Rivia to help ensure Pavetta a good marriage. In the end Pavetta is in a Perfectly Arranged Marriage with Duny, a lord formerly under Baleful Polymorph to whom Calanthe's deceased husband had promised Pavetta in exchange for saving his life, while Calanthe herself ends up in a love match with Eist Tuirseach, a knight of Skellige with whom it's implied she was having a covert affair offscreen.
    • In Blood of Elves Emhyr var Emreis, the Emperor of Nilfgaard, is hunting Pavetta's daughter and Geralt's ward Ciri in hopes of taking her as a wife to legitimize his conquest of Cintra. At least, that's what the rulers of the Northern Kingdoms think, and they plan to have her assassinated or married off in order to foil it. In Lady of the Lake Geralt discovers that Duny was an alias: Ciri is Emhyr's daughter, after he ended up on the wrong side of a power struggle in Nilfgaard's court, got cursed, and fled for his life.
  • In the Tales of the Otori sequel The Harsh Cry of the Heron, after Takeo's death, General Saga offers Takeo's daughter Shigeko a marriage proposal to forge peace between their respective nations, which she counters with the stipulation that they be equals as a Ruling Couple. He accepts, not least because she already shot out his eye from across a battlefield and routed his army.
  • In Dune, this trope is the reason that Duke Leto has not married the Lady Jessica (she is technically his concubine), even though they have a son and have been exclusively with each other for over 15 years. Leto has to stay unmarried so that other houses will cozy up to House Atreides, hoping for a marriage pact. Slightly played with, as all the other houses are perfectly aware that Leto has no intention of marrying anyone else, but as long as he is technically single, they have to behave as if he were available.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Centauri, with their system of noble houses, often use marriage as a political tool. Londo has three wives (at first) all arranged for him. This has lead to some rather cynical views on marriage, with weddings being solemn affairs rather than joyous ones. It's also mentioned that Londo was forced by his father to divorce his first wife, a lower-class dancer he took a fancy to.
    • Outright defied in one episode where a pair of Centauri youth run away after their families arrange marriages for them, one to the ugliest woman on Centauri Prime, and the other to a man old enough to be her grandfather, but they would much rather marry each other. Londo at first encourages them to go through with it for the good of the Centauri Republic, but eventually realizes that doing so would cause them to become like him, after which he arranges a way to get them out of it without disgracing their houses.
    • Minbari have a custom dating back to the days when they actually made war on each other where the winning side would offer a daughter in marriage to the losing side as a symbol of life. Delenn's family decides to pass off her marriage to Sheridan as this rather than have her go public about the fact that she's descended from Valen (i.e. Jeffrey Sinclair) and has been partially human the whole time.
  • Blackadder: In "The Queen of Spain's Beard" Edmund is first betrothed to the Spanish Infanta and later is married off to a princess of Hungarynote  because of his father King Richard IV's political machinations. Edmund is chosen to go through with this as his older brother Harry is already engaged to about half a dozen princesses (and one prince) from across Europe, almost certainly also arranged for political reasons.
  • Game of Thrones: Many marriages are political in nature among the noble families, which is unsurprising given the intricate politics in the series, with every side making plans within plans within plans. Of course, we know what they say about the best-laid plans... Features most of the same examples as the book series, in addition to several new ones.
    • Walder Frey's common price for allowing important people to cross his bridge in times of need is a husband for one of his daughters or granddaughters. Robb Stark is promised to marry a Frey girl for use of the bridge; when he abandons the promise to Marry for Love (rather than for honor as in the books), things don't end well.
    • Danaerys declares she will marry Hizdahr zo Loraq in an attempt to bring peace to Meereen, as in the book, but things go a little differently from there. There are hints it might have worked—and Danaerys may even have grown to like him—but the Sons of the Harpy kill him during his first major public appearance as consort.
    • In a large diversion from the book canon, Sansa's marriage to Ramsay Bolton is political on both sides - to give the Boltons' rule in Winterfell legitimacy and to allow her to go home to the North. He's still as much of a monster as in the novels, so she ends up killing him.
    • Myrcella Baratheon (Cersei's daughter and the king's sister) is sent to Dorne to marry Prince Trystane Martell and cement an alliance with that house; they end up genuinely falling in love. Too bad a substantial faction in Dorne don't care for the marriage...
    • Catelyn Tully of Riverrun was betrothed to Brandon Stark of Winterfell, but Brandon's death at the outset of Robert's Rebellion only made the alliance more necessary so Catelyn had to Settle for Sibling with Brandon's brother Ned, which luckily turned out to be an almost Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
    • At the same time, Catelyn's sister Lysa was married to Ned's foster father Jon Arryn of the Vale, which turned out much less happy given her involvement in poisoning her husband.
    • Robert Baratheon of Storm's End was betrothed to Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, whose abduction by Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen helped spark Robert's Rebellion, but after Lyanna's death Robert married Cersei Lannister, the daughter of the wealthy and powerful Lord Tywin, whose support was essential in maintaining control of the realm.
    • Sansa Stark is formally betrothed to Crown Prince Joffrey Baratheon to formalize the Baratheon-Stark alliance founded on their fathers' boyhood friendship.
    • The exiled "King" Viserys III Targaryen marries his sister Daenerys to the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo in exchange for the assistance of Drogo's horde in retaking the Seven Kingdoms. Conflict arises because the Dothraki don't have quite the same understanding of this trope as the Westerosi. Drogo views his new bride as a gift, and he plans to give his brother-in-law a gift in return... eventually. Viserys views the horde as already rightfully his, but his demands are a breach of the Dothraki's culture of reciprocity, and Drogo eventually kills him for the insult.
    • Renly Baratheon of the Stormlands marries Margaery Tyrell of the Reach to secure her wealthy and powerful family's support for his claim to the throne. However, Margaery is only The Beard since Renly is already literally in bed with the Tyrells via Margaery's brother Loras. Later, Margaery is remarried to King Joffrey Baratheon and later to his brother Tommen to formalize and reward the Tyrells' shift of allegiance. But when Margaery and Tommen's marriage turns out to be too good and she proves to have an influence on him, Tommen's mother Cersei has her killed.
  • The early Stargate SG-1 episode "Emancipation" has Abu attempt to trade Samantha Carter to a rival Space Mongol chieftain, Turghan, in exchange for being able to marry Turghan's daughter Nya. Turghan refuses, as he plans to marry her to another chieftain to secure that chieftain's allegiance. Carter is not amused at any aspect of the situation.
  • The host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver summed up this trope as, "We shall now commemorate the signing of this treaty by having our children fuck."
  • Star Trek:
    • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Elaan of Troyius" is about an attempt to make peace between two feuding Federation member planets by marrying the dohlman (princess) of one planet to the ruler of the other. The Enterprise is given the mission of transporting her, which is complicated by her arrogant and demanding manner. And her stabbing the ambassador sent to teach her civilized manners.
    • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Perfect Mate" has the Enterprise hosting a reconciliation between two planets that have been at war for generations. As part of the pact, one side offers an empathic metamorph whose personality changes to suit the desires of whomever she bonds with. She decides to bond with Picard because she "likes who [she] is when she's around him" but her empathic abilities will still allow her to play the role of Trophy Wife perfectly. On the other hand, the person she was intended for is more interested in trade and other concessions than traditional ceremonies or a wife, even an exceedingly rare metamorph.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • The series indicates in one of the Ferengi episodes that marriages among Ferengi are primarily business deals (ones in which the female has no input).
      • "The House of Quark": Klingon noblewoman Grilka forces Quark, who accidentally killed her husband in a Bar Brawl, into marrying her in order to prevent her House's dissolution by the death of its patriarch without an heir. Eventually the High Council grants special permission for Grilka to become head of house in her own right, and she quickly divorces Quark.
  • Napoléon: Napoleon marries an Austrian princess, Marie-Louise of Habsburg, after forcing their Emperor to sue for peace. This is played for humor during their first in-person meeting when Napoleon watches a plain-looking girl exiting a horse carriage, much to his disappointment, before a much prettier-looking young woman (Marie-Louise) exits after her handmaid.
  • In one second-season episode of Andromeda, the Andromeda Ascendant crew gets a job to ferry a princess of one Nietzschean pride to her wedding to the king of another, which will ally the two prides. Dylan Hunt discovers her real job is to kill her bridegroom, but manipulates the situation to pit both prides against one of his enemies, the much larger Drago-Kazof pride, forcing the alliance to go through. Oh, and he bangs her on the way there, too.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • A variation of this trope occurs in 2nd Samuel chapter 3, where Abner son of Ner makes a treaty with King David to transfer rulership of all the other tribes of Israel to David on the agreement that David's first wife Michal (who was given over to another man when David was on the run and presumed to be dead or a deserter) would be returned to him. Michal was then brought to David with her second husband following behind crying, until he was told to return home.
    • Most of King Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines were given to him under these circumstances. He allowed them to worship their own gods and goddesses, rather than forcing them to convert to Judaism. This was very generous of him, but it did eventually lead to the fracturing of the kingdom.
    • Probably the most prominent example is Queen Jezebel, who was a Phoenician princess given to King Ahab to seal a political alliance between their two nations. Ahab also allowed her to practice her own faith, and even built shrines to Baal and Asherah for her. She assumed a role as a high priestess and promoted the worship of her gods, while also being hostile to Jewish believers and prophets, leading to political instability.
    • Exploited by Jacob's sons, who were angry that the prince of Shechem a) raped their little sister Dinah and b) then had the nerve to ask for her hand in marriage. They accept the marriage, on the grounds that an alliance between their burgeoning tribe and the city-state of Shechem would be advantageous to both... On One Condition: namely, that every male be circumcised like them. The Shechemites do this, and while the men and boys of the city are recovering, Jacob's sons go in and slaughter them, take the women and children as plunder, and rescue Dinah from the prince's tent. Jacob is not happy that they did this, however; he was worried they would start a Cycle of Revenge.
    • Inverted in the Book of Esther, though. A very beautiful and very clever Jewish young woman named Esther was taken as a harem concubine by King Ahasuerus of Persia, eventually becoming his favorite, and used her connection to the king to protect the Jews from a genocide instigated by his Evil Chancellor Haman.
  • Legend has it that one of King Nebuchadnezzar's wives was given to him under these circumstances (as princesses and noblewomen of that time and place usually were), and she was homesick. She came from an unspecified kingdom in an unspecified mountainous region, and apparently quite loved the nature scenery there. Because King Nebuchadnezzar actually loved and cared about this wife, he commissioned The Hanging Gardens of Babylon to cheer her up.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Fief: France 1429 two players can formalize an alliance by having a Lord controlled by one player marry a Lady controlled by the other player. While the alliance lasts the two players have a special joint victory condition. The alliance will be broken if one of the players successfully petitions the Pope for an annulment or one of the spouses is killed.
  • In The Way of D'era: The Romulan Star Empire, a Romulan supplement for Star Trek The Next Generation Role Playing Game by Last Unicorn Games, it is stated that marriages among the Romulan political classes are often arranged this way. The participants are expected to remain faithful to each other regardless of happiness, as those who commit adultery are considered capable of treason.
  • In the game lore of BattleTech, the marriage of Hanse "The Fox" Davion, First Prince of the Federated Suns, and Melissa Steiner, daughter and heir-designate of Archon Katrina Steiner of the Lyran Commonwealth, were married to cement a political alliance between their realms. Their wedding was where the Fourth Succession War was declared, which was largely a war perpetrated to widen the spacelane bridge between the two realms by blasting their way through the holdings of other realms. Katrina was already ordering deployments before the wedding. Thankfully, Hanse and his new hot young nordic consort made it work and had five children together.

    Theatre 
  • In Anne of the Thousand Days, King Henry VIII feels free to pursue Anne Boleyn because his marriage to Katherine of Aragon was made to cement a treaty. As he put it so succinctly: "I do not love that woman. I did not marry her. That was a marriage of state: England married Spain."
  • Many of Molière's comedies have the children of the main character be engaged to a much older, better-connected and richer person, much to their chagrin, but it all works out in the end.
  • Naturally, the Bard used this a few times.

    Video Games 
  • In Crusader Kings, political marriages are the only way to forge a non-aggression pact or formal alliance with another ruler. Independent rulers with whom you have a marriage pact with may come to your aid in war, and vassals with marriage ties to their liege cannot act against them no matter how much they hate them. Spouses with desirable traits also have a chance to pass them on to any children, requiring the player to balance sometimes conflicting priorities. (Polygamous Muslims have an advantage here, since they can marry four women and get alliances through all of their wives.) Depending on random events and Player Character focus this can also go in a couple of interesting directions, with you and your wife potentially falling in love for real, or you getting permanently branded as an adulterer for cheating on her despite the fact you hate each other's guts and only ever touched her to produce legitimate heirs.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • A possible resolution to the Ferelden succession crisis subplot is to have the party member Alistair, the Heroic Bastard son of King Maric, marry Queen Anora, the daughter of Maric's army commander Loghain mac Tir and widow of Alistair's half-brother King Cailan who died in battle early in the main plot. Fair warning, though: if a female Warden has been romancing Alistair as a female Player Character he'll break it off.note  Alternatively, a male human noble can marry Anora and become her Prince-Consort, while a female human noble who has romanced Alistair and played her cards right may marry Alistair instead, thus becoming the queen. (In the long run, this last option is likely a bad thing for national stability, as two Wardens together are all but infertile. In the short run, however, it's considered an extremely good thing because the people love them.)
      • Notes found in the Return to Ostagar DLC, supported by Word of God, indicate King Cailan was planning to divorce Anora in favor of a political marriage to the Empress of Orlais. This fed into Loghain mac Tir's Cavalry Betrayal of Cailan at Ostagar: in the backstory Loghain and King Maric had fought for years to eject Orlais' occupation forces from Ferelden.
    • In Dragon Age II, a female Hawke who romances Sebastian on the rivalry path while supporting the Templars can encourage him to take back his throne as Prince of Starkhaven; by supporting the Templars she gets herself named Viscountess of Kirkwall, and he'll propose this as forging an alliance the likes of which the Free Marches can only imagine.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, several war table operations involve forging or breaking such marriages or betrothals to achieve the player's desired ends.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Salarians, being amphibians who reproduce externally, don't have any real sex drive and with that no concept of such things as romantic love (except for the ones that hook up with asari). Reproduction rights are determined by negotiation to continue certain dynasties or alliances, for which family history is very important. A family that loses their history can become a non-entity in such negotiations, as evidenced if Shepard returns one family's history.
    • To illustrate how deeply ingrained this mode of thinking is, Shepard manages to broker a turian-krogan alliance in Mass Effect 3 and turian teammate Garrus jokingly says he hopes no one thinks of sealing the deal with a political marriage. Over in the med bay, you can find salarian scientist Mordin making the pitch to a very uninterested krogan female.
  • It's mentioned in Warcraft III's backstory that Arthas Menethil (crown prince of Lordaeron) and Jaina Proudmoore (the daughter of Kul Tiras' admiral and high up in the Magocracy of Dalaran)'s relationship was seen with a favorable eye by all, as this would surely bring about good relations between all nations involved. However, they drifted apart due to their duties, even before Arthas became the Lich King.
  • Final Fantasy XV begins with Player Character Noctis, the Crown Prince of Lucis, traveling to Altissa to marry Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae. They're childhood friends and do have feelings for each other, but the match is primarily a political one as part of the peace treaty between Lucis and the Niflheim Empire.
  • Guenevere starts with the title character preparing for her marriage to King Arthur, arranged to provide him with an army and her father with greater power and status. The marriage happens regardless, but it's up to the player whether it's a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • This can be potentially done in Fire Emblem Fates, if a Prince/Princess of Hoshido marries a Prince/Princess of Nohr, or viceversa, during the Golden Path. Even more if said Prince happens to be the Crown Prince, whether it's Ryoma (for Hoshido) or Xander (for Nohr). Ryoma himself lampshades it if he marries Xander's sister Camilla.
  • This shows up in Civilization 5 as a special ability for Austria.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius:
    • Agatha's confirmed status as the long-lost heir to the house of Heterodyne means that not only do Gil (the heir to the Wulfenbach empire) and Tarvek (a direct descendant of the legendary Storm King) have romantic reasons to want to marry her, they have pretty compelling political motivations as well, as do other power players like Tarvek's cousin Martellus, who goes so far as to kidnap Agatha as part of his master plan to join their houses and ascend to power in Europa.
    • Hoffmann, a student at the University of Paris, proposed one for two underground kingdoms, only to subsequently learn that as an adopted son of the Talpini Moligarchy he was the one who would marry the princess of the Arguron kingdom (after all, the Talpini themselves aren't even human). The Arguron princess, meanwhile, is attracted to Hoffman, but thinks it's doomed because she's agreed to this political marriage...
    • In the backstory, this was partially the reason for the marriage between "The Storm King" Andronicus Valois and Euphrosynia Heterodyne, as it would end the war between Valois' Coalition of the West and the Heterodynes' conquering army. It helped that Andronicus and Euphrosynia genuinely liked each other. Though he finds out the day of the wedding that he'd been manipulated and it was all a scheme, probably to erode Valois' empire from within.
  • No Need for Bushido has this as its main plot device, and the first few pages are devoted to breaking the news to Ina, the girl (see page quote). Both Ina and Yuri (the boy) run away upon learning this, and end up getting to know and like each other without (immediately) knowing who they are to each other.
  • The very first storyline of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is about Ahem and Princess Voluptua trying to get out of an arranged political marriage.

    Western Animation 
  • Disenchantment:
    • In the first two episodes, Princess Bean of Dreamland is being forced by her father King Zog to have an arranged wedding with Prince Guysbert of Bentwood, in order to seal a political/economic alliance between Dreamland and Bentwood (the former kingdom isn't as wealthy as the latter). Bean's refusal to actually marry Guysbert (or his more annoying brother Merkimer, who replaced him as the groom after Guybsert accidentally stabbed himself on a sword) sets off the first main storyline in the show.
    • This is also mentioned in the backstory, as an explanation for the (loveless) arranged marriage of King Zog of Dreamland to his second wife Queen Oona, who was originally a princess from Dankmire. Dreamland and Dankmire had been at war for decades, until Zog married Oona as part of a peace agreement; which resulted in the construction of a canal to link the two kingdoms together, along with Oona giving Zog a male heir to Dreamland's throne, Prince Derek.

    Real Life 
  • For royals and other powerful people, this was the rule rather than the exception throughout human history.
  • The earliest documented cases come from Ancient Egyptian History: the Amarna Letters of the 14th century BCE strongly suggest that the pharaohs of the Egyptian Eighteenth Dynasty exchanged princesses with the Kings of Assyria as assurances of goodwill respecting the two Great Powers' intentions in Canaan, and it is undisputed that Ramses II (of the Nineteenth Dynasty, during the 13th century BCE) married a Hittite princess to cement/shore up a peace treaty/alliance with Hatti.
  • The Habsburgs deserve special note: they managed to expand to a dominant position within Europe during a period over several hundred years almost entirely using dynastic marriages.
    "Leave the waging of wars to others! But you, merry Austria, marry; for the realms which Mars awards to others, Venus transfers to you."
    Habsburg Dynastic Motto
    • And the supreme champion within the dynasty is Karl V von Habsburg, who through his own marriages and those of his parents inherited Austria, the Habsburg Netherlands, the crown of the Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of Spain (which included roughly half of Italy and a third of America). In fact, he inherited so many realms that he couldn't manage them all, so he finally abdicated and split his possessions in two, giving the Spanish crown to his son Philip II and the Austrian (and by extension Holy Roman) crown to his brother Ferdinand (and thence to his nephew Maximilian and his wife, Karl's daughter Maria). And thanks to Karl's marriage to the daughter to the King of Portugal, Isabella, Philip II got to inherit that kingdom too along with Spain. He tried to add England (and Ireland and Wales) as well, through marriage to Mary Tudor, but failed to produce a heir. Eventually, the Spanish Habsburgs decided not to allow another family to take their holdings through the same means, and started marrying among themselves (and occasionally their Austrian cousins) only. Within a few generations, this inbreeding drove them extinct.
  • Eight years of peace had occurred between the Powhatan tribe and the English settlers, when The Chief's Daughter, Pocahontas and a settler named John Rolfe got married. All hell broke loose when her father died a few years after she died.


Alternative Title(s): Political Marriage

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