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Foreign Ruling Class

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A typical scene in a Fire Nation colony established on Earth Kingdom land, with rulers and subjects Color-Coded for Your Convenience.

Captain Kevin Darling: I'm as British as Queen Victoria!
Captain Edmund Blackadder: So your father's German, you're half-German and you married a German?

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.

Over time, this class can go native, or their local subjects can assimilate into their masters' culture. It is very similar to, and can be considered a subtrope of Led by the Outsider, but shares some differences in how the leader behaves.

Compare Evil Colonialist, Tribe of Priests, Master Race, Blue Blood, and Noble Tongue. Contrast Servant Race, Slave Race, and Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 Britannian Empire, with the local culture (allegedly) surpressed. Most members of the Royal Britannian Family appropriately look and act the part, though — fancy European inspired outfits, powdered wigs, etc.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, the Atlanteans fled their homeland to come on Earth and, as they weren't numerous enough, they created to themselves Slave Races, first trying with whales, who were too big. They then moved to primates, modifying them to move them to the Atlantean form to create human beings. However, the Atlanteans destroyed themselves in several internecine wars, and Neo Atlantis aims to make Atlantis great again.
  • Voltes V: The Boazanians invade Earth with this mindset. Though they are ultimately unsuccessful, they manage to capture a large amount of humans and turn them into slaves, fulfilling this trope.

    Comic Books 
  • 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 Walking Dead: Rick's group is seen as this when they start taking over leadership positions in Alexandria. Some welcome them being in charge as they are far more competent in the roles due to their experiences before arriving. Others resent them as outsiders showing up, taking control, and telling them what to do. This comes to a head when Rick becomes the leader of Alexandria and a conspiracy to oust them is formed. It doesn't get far before being discovered. After hearing their concerns, Rick then forms a larger council to rule Alexandria with more of the earlier residents on it, including a few of the conspirators.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood involves Robin Hood and his band, standing up for the Saxon peasants versus their Norman rulers.
  • Robin Hood (1991) features Robin as one of the last Saxon earls amid a Norman aristocracy, who all speak in French accents of varying degrees of intensity. At one point, Robin meets a Welsh bowyer who points out that, from his perspective, the Saxons are also foreign invaders - just ones who have been in Britain a bit longer.
  • Le Capitan: As in Real Life, Concino Concini and Leonora Galigai are Italian nobles who ingratiated themselves with Queen Regent Marie de' Medici (the Italian consort of the late King of France Henry IV) and gained much power at the French royal court.
  • A common feature of 1970s kung fu movies is to make the villain an agent of the Qing Dynasty, who came to power in China in 1636 after leading an invasion from Manchuria. A few such films include:
    • The 36th Chamber of Shaolin - A young man travels to the Shaolin Monastery to learn kung fu, so that he can teach the techniques to anti-Qing rebels.
    • Executioners from Shaolin - The Manchurians destroy the Shaolin Monastery, and a fugitive monk plans his revenge against the treasonous priest responsible.
    • Master of the Flying Guillotine - The title character is a servant of the Qings, hunting for heroic rebels who hope to restore the now-defunct Ming Dynasty (who were ethnically Chinese, and are presented in a much more positive light).
    • Ten Tigers From Kwangtung - A band of martial artists (one of whom is a refugee from Shaolin) take revenge on a Manchurian general for his crimes. Years later, their disciples must fight off an attempt at a Cycle of Revenge from the brother of the general.

  • 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.
  • The Draka features a society where a small elite of Citizens of British Loyalist, Icelandic and Dixie stock, rules over an underclass of African native Serfs. Later this overclass turns into another species.
  • In the historical short story Limes Northern Italy of The Dark Ages, much like Anglo-Saxon England, is ruled by a class of lordlings of Germanic origin - the Lombards. The Roman patricians like the protagonists are getting less and less relevant in the new order, with most of them losing lands or seeking refuge in the Eastern Empire.
  • 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 in Essos, who fled to Dragonstone four centuries ago, before the Doom of Valyria, and went on to conquer most of Westeros using three dragons, unifying six of the Seven Kingdoms under their rule (the last holdout, Dorne, joined through Altar Diplomacy decades later). 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. Notably, the Targaryens' closest supporters, who often intermarried with them, were House Velaryon, who also descends from Valyrian exiles.
    • 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 stabilizes 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.
    • Technically, most Westerosi are descended from people who came from Essos, a much larger continent with much more complicated politics. The original inhabitants of Westeros were the Children of the Forest, who were forced to settle north of the Wall after Essosi migrants arrived. The first arrivals were the First Men, who came from what is now the Dothraki Sea eight to twelve millennia ago. People of the North, the Wildlings, and some scattered tribes elsewhere are considered their direct descendants, with them still worshiping their gods. The second arrivals were the Andals, who came from the Axe peninsula in northern Essos two to six millennia ago, spreading the Faith of the Seven, which became the dominant religion in Westeros. The third arrivals were the Rhoynar, who fled the Valyrians a millennia ago and mixed with the Andals to form the current inhabitants of Dorne. The Targaryens (and the Velaryons, the other major Valyrian house who left Essos) were simply the latest Essosi to settle at Westeros. Much like the others, they nativized pretty quickly.
  • 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 the Narnian royal family 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.
  • The Man in the High Castle features two examples on one continent: America is split between the Japanese-controlled West Coast, the Nazi-occupied East Coast, and the Neutral Zone along the Rocky Mountains. In both occupied areas, Japanese and Germans call the shots. Naturally, most all of the administration is done by sympathetic or indoctrinated Americans, but the attitudes held by German and Japanese in their mutual colonies is just that: like the imperialist colonizers of the past two centuries, who regard the "natives" as lower class (often subhuman, in the Nazis' case).
  • A Study in Emerald is a crossover between Sherlock Holmes and the Cthulhu Mythos, where Europe's Blue Blood (well, Green) are the Lovecraftian monsters that overthrew Earth in centuries past, as well as their hybrid descendants.
    Narrator: She was called Victoria, because she had beaten us in battle, seven hundred years before, and she was called Gloriana, because she was glorious, and she was called the Queen, because the human mouth was not shaped to say her true name.
  • Born A Crime: Deconstructed by Robert, Trevor’s dad, who points out the absurdity of moving to a foreign land while prejudiced against the native population.
    "‘Africa is full of black people,’ he would say. ‘So why would you come to Africa if you hate black people? If you hate black people, why did you come into their house?’ To him it was insane."
  • The Silerian Trilogy: The Valdani were this for Sileria over centuries before the events of the books. Before that, it was the Kents, which they replaced. The Kents in turn displaced the Moorlanders, the first foreign rulers on the island of Sileria.
  • Star Wars Legends: Various sources on the origins of the Sith explain that a group of dark Jedi led by Ajunta Pall were banished from the Jedi Order in the 7th millennium BBY, and discovered and conquered a race of humanoids called the Sith on the remote planet Korriban, who viewed them as Physical Gods. They came to call themselves the Lords of the Sith and appear to have appropriated the title "Darth" from their subjects. Over time, they interbred with the Sith species to the point that by Star Wars: The Old Republic, approximately 97% of the Sith Empire's population other than foreign slaves has at least some Sith ancestry.
  • Split Heirs: The Gorgarians, a foreign Barbarian Tribe, conquered Hydrangea, with their king Gudge killing Hydrangea's king before forcibly marrying and impregnating his daughter to secure his rule. Ever since, he and his people rule, though Hydrangean nobles are allowed to advise him (but Gudge kills anyone who gives advice he'd rather not hear).
  • The Beast Player: The Yojeh's family is descended from a golden-eyed woman named Jeh who gathered survivors of an indigenous kingdom when she crossed the Afon Noah after the war against the Toga mi Lyo caused the fall of Ofahlon.
  • Toliver's Secret: Because the American Revolution is still ongoing, the British are still in control of the colonies and the redcoats are free to order around the colonists. Several British soldiers live upstairs in the barbershop Ellen's grandfather owns, and constantly order her and her mother to serve them tea and biscuits.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 7, 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 Leads to Leadership; 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.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Both puppet states established in the former US are dominated by their foreign overlords. In both cases, simply proving you're one of the ruling class is enough to get cops to leave you alone for most transgressions.
    • The Americans in the Pacific Coast States are essentially second-class citizens, compared to the Japanese that seem more directly in control of the government. In fact, the Japanese are contemptuous towards even Japanese-Americans who settled there before the war, basically considering them traitors to the homeland. Due to this, we see at least one Japanese-American is part of the Resistance.
    • The Germans are initially less hands on, with (depressingly) plenty of Americans willing to work with them, but by Season 3, the Greater German Reich is actively and spectacularly obliterating American history and replacing it with a "pure Aryan future".
  • Blackadder:
  • The Magicians (2016) deconstructs this. For some reason, Fillorian laws only allow Earth natives to become rulers of Fillory,note  so naturally the plucky twenty-something protagonists wind up being crowned kings and queens of the magical realm. However, they are thoroughly unfamiliar with the geography and customs of the country and tend to cause more harm than good with their flaws and less-than-stellar decision making.
  • Robin of Sherwood makes much of the fact that the ruling classes are Normans, and the peasantry, including Robin of Locksley, are Saxon.

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • A notable aversion (if only because it's so common in modern works) is the original tales of Robin Hood. By the 13th or 14th century, the Norman/Saxon divide wasn't really a thing; everyone was English, and even if a nobleman was more likely to have ancestors that arrived in the country in 1066, that was hundreds of years ago. The peasantry may well have resented the nobility, but their origins weren't a factor.
  • In the Primary Chronicle (also known as the Chronicle of Nestor or The Tale of Bygone Years), a medieval chronicle from the 1110s Kievan Rus', the Slavic tribes of what is now northwestern Russia are dissatisfied with the fact that there is constant warfare among them, and therefore invite three princes of a "Varangian" (i.e. Scandinavian) tribe called the Rus to rule over them. The princes, who are three brothers called Rurik, Sineus, and Truvor, cross the Baltic with "all the Rus" and set themselves up as rulers of the Slavic cities, with Rurik residing in Novgorod as supreme ruler.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • Ironclaw:
    • 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.
  • Traveller: Humanity's first two interstellar Imperiums were fairly straightforward examples, ruled by Vilani and Solomani respectively. The Third Imperium's nobility however, come from many different human and non-human cultures assimilated by the Imperium.
  • Extremely common in Battletech, where planets often shift hands multiple times during a single period of wartime. And this is before we even get into the subject of the Clans, who conquered a good fifth of the Inner Sphere and replaced the native Feudal Overlords with their own administration.
    • The main emphasis on this trope belonged to Draconis Combine. In contrast to the relatively secular and multicultural facade maintained by the Successor States despite their cultural mainstream (Anglo-American based Federated Suns, Germanic Lyran Commonwealth, and Chinese-Russian Capellan Confederation), Draconis Combine's demographics tend to have Japanese-dominated nobility being outnumbered by non-Japanese who made up the large majority of commoners with the former pursuing Japanization policies with a few compromises towards religious tolerance (such as Azami's Islam and Rasalhague's Christianity).
  • Eberron:
    • Valenar's rulers are Tairnadal elves from Aerenal, with a hired administrative class of House Lyrandar half-elves and the mostly human lower classes mostly just left to their own devices while the elves are off fighting. The Lyrandar half-elves have noticed that the Tairnadal seem largely uninterested in the actual kingdom and are wondering about the prospect of making it a nation for half-elves once the Tairnadal move on.
    • The ruling class of Riedra isn't even from the Prime Material Plane; the entire nation is firmly under the control of nightmare creatures from the Plane of Dreams. Of course, since quori can't manifest physically in Eberron, even most Riedrans don't know this.
  • Played with in the Mystara D&D setting, where the land of Traladara was annexed by the Thyatian Empire, then bequeathed to Grand Duke Stephen by the Emperor in exchange for his family's homeland estates. Currently, its ruling class is mostly of Thyatian ancestry, but Stephen encourages rapid integration of the two cultures in his renamed and autonomous Kingdom of Karameikos, the better to forge an independent and unified identity for his realm.

    Video Games 
  • Can happens in Stellaris as a result of the main species having Full Citizenship and xenos being classified as Residents or Slaves.
  • Crusader Kings
    • Crusader Kings II
      • Simulated by making 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.
      • Hilariously enough, players managed to combine a random event where a crazy ruler names his horse to his council with this mechanic, spawning actual horses as courtiers which can then be married off to humans to produce a ruling class of, yes, horses.
    • In Crusader Kings III, the tradition Ruling Caste allows more easily rulers to suppress populations of a different culture.
  • Gehn from Riven is a dictator who forces the people of Riven to worship him as a God and learn his language, D'ni, or else they get fed to a whale-shark hybrid called a wahrk.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • After the death of Reman Cyrodiil III, the last in the Reman dynasty, at the end of the 1st Era, his Akaviri advisor, Versidue-Shaie, took over the Empire. Following his death, his son Savirien-Chorak, would continue to rule. The Akaviri Potentates were members of the Tsaesci race, supposedly Snake People right down to having scales and serpentine lower bodies (though other accounts state they were men little different than those from Tamriel with some East Asian features). Ultimately Savirien-Chorak and his heirs would die under mysterious circumstances, leading to the 400+ year Interregnum before Tiber Septim's rise to power. There was an attempt during the Interregnum by the most firmly Akaviri-descended faction (the Rimmen, founded as a result of a pogrom against Akaviri by one of the many, many short-lived warlord emperors) to team up with the remnants of another Akaviri invasion (by the Kamal rather than the Tsaesci) to take over the throne, although historians going on to describe it as an attempt to rebuild the Empire suggests Going Native was strong by then.
    • The Septim dynasty, ruling family of the Third Tamriellic Empire during the first four games in the main series and a Vestigial Empire by the fifth, actively took steps to Downplay this trope in order to better pacify the provinces under their control. While their empire expanded to include all of Tamriel, they had a habit of appointing Puppet Rulers in the provinces drawn from Imperial loyalists of the native races. One prominent example is Queen Barenziah of Morrowind. At the onset of Tiber Septim's invasion of Morrowind, his forces sacked the major, capital-potential Morrowind city of Ebonheartnote  and killed all but the young Barenziah of her noble Dunmeri family (or possibly Barenziah was saved from some other disaster that befell Ebonheart. Sources disagree on whether Tiber ever actually invaded Morrowind or if things didn't progress beyond skirmishes and armies massing before Vivec brokered the Armistice that brought Morrowind into the Empire but extended Dunmeri autonomy). Convinced by his Dunmeri General Symmachus to spare her as a useful pawn, she would be later appointed as the Imperial-supporting Queen of Morrowind in order to make the Dunmer more supportive of the Empire. (Barenziah is considered a very successful Queen who would outlive Tiber Septim by centuries, but the ultimate result of Imperial rule in Morrowind is very mixed.) Another prominent example are the Nords of Skyrim. Dating back to the Pact of Chieftains (which was agreed to following a Succession Crisis where the last in Ysgramor's line died without an heir), the Jarls of Skyrim hold a "Moot" where a new High King of Skyrim is elected whenever the previous one dies. The High King is subservient to the Empire, with Skyrim having been one of the founding nations of the Septim Empire: Tiber Septim himself began his career as a Nord warlord named Talos, though he adopted Cyrodiilic, "Imperial", culture after taking the central province. (Of course, Ulfric Stormloak in the eponymous game seeks to change that...)

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • 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, and their daughter is an earthbender who is loyal to the Fire Nation).
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • By the time of the sequel, the capital of the former Fire Nation colonies (now called the United Republic) has a ruling council with representatives from each of the four nations (two from both the north and South Water tribes and one from the rather severely depleted Air Nomads). When Avatar Korra arrives in Republic City at the start of the series the council is now composed entirely of benders which has widened the gulf between them and non-benders (flashbacks show that Sokka was the Southern Tribe's representative in the past), making them kind of "foreign" to their non-bender constituents, something which the Equalists use as part of their rhetoric to bring down the current system. By season two, the council has been abolished and a resident non-bender was elected as president.
    • During the same time period, the Water Tribes are ruled by the Northern Tribe's chief Unalaq, who isn't thrilled with what he perceives as the spiritual laxness of the Southern Tribe, his decision to effectively put the Southern Tribe under martial law after Korra unlocks the southern spirit portal increases the tensions between the two tribes. Which may have been Unalaq's intention, as his patron Vaatu feeds on negative emotions. At the end of season two, the tribes decide to formally separate and Korra's father Tonraq is named as Chief of the Southern Water Tribe, who used to be Crown Prince of the Northern Tribe before he was banished, but has married into the tribe and adapted so much that he doesn't really count for this.

    Real Life 
  • This trope is, of course Older Than Dirt:
    • In Ancient Egyptian History, several ancient Egyptian dynasties were foreign, starting the 14th and 15th Dynasties (Semiticnote ) of the Second Intermediate Period (18th-16th centuries BCE), the 22nd and 23rd Dynasties (Libyan) and the 25th Dynasty (Nubian) of the Third Intermediate Period (11th-7th centuries BCE), and the 27th and 31st Dynasties (Persian) of the Late Period (7th-4th centuries BCE). In fact, since Egypt was conquered by the Greeks afterwards (followed by the Romans, Arabs, Turks, Tunisians, Circassians, Albanians, etc.), the 30th dynasty, which ended in 343 BC, would mark the last time Egypt was ruled by an Egyptian until Mohamed Naguib became President in 1953.
    • Roughly contemporaneously with the Egyptian Second Intermediate Period, a group of tribal charioteers from the east established themselves as overlords of the Hurrian civilization in the upper reaches of the valley of the Euphrates (an area roughly corresponding to the region inhabited today by the Kurds), establishing the kingdom of Mitanni. What's particularly interesting about Mitanni is that what few traces of their language survive show that it was Indo-Aryan — no, not Indo-European or Indo-Iranian, but specifically Indo-Aryan — 3,000 kilometers from India.
  • 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.
  • The Aryan Invasion Theory is a hypothesis postulating that the Indian subcontinent, then mostly populated of Dravidians, was invaded by an Aryan people, who formed themselves into the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas and set the locals to be Sudras (however, this theory is controversial — nowadays it's mostly called the Indo-Aryan migration theory, without claims of conquest). Aryans also became the overclass of the Mitanni people in modern Syria, as evidenced by numerous loanwords in the Mitanni language that came from a language very closely related to Vedic Sanskrit, including recognizable names of gods like Indra. This strongly suggests that the Indo-Aryan languages had begun to take recognizable form long before appearing in India proper.
  • 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 Hellenized. For example, the Ptolemaic Dynasty, to which belonged Cleopatra VII, was of Macedonian origin, and ruled Egypt through a class of Greek administrators and merchants.
  • From Antiquity to the Middle Ages, the lands of Hispania met an uninterrupted successive list of foreign ruling classes, first of them Carthaginians, then Romans, then Visigoths, and then Arabians and North Africans, making some Spaniards joke that Spain is one of the most conquered lands in history. However, while the degree of isolation from the native population varied heavily depending on the people and the period, intermarrying generally happened with all of them — Hannibal Barca and his relatives all took Iberian wives, and Abd al-Rahman III was half-Arabian, half-Navarran.
    • After the death of The Catholic Monarchs, Castile and Aragon were inherited from Charles V, from the Austrian House of Habsburg. Charles was viewed as a foreign ruler when he first took the throne there, having brought over a contingent of Flemish courtiers with him to administer his new holdings (this led to the Castilian burghers revolting against his rule, though rising was crushed within about a year). Even although he was eventually accepted, the Spanish Habsburg dynasty never ceased being nominally a foreign ruling class, with their members being called Austrias (which extended to their personal names, as every one of them was officially named "[first name] of Austria") and keeping most of their connections and cultural codes from their home country.
    • As a result of centuries of marriage alliances, the Netherlands had become a part of the many Habsburg properties under Charles V, who was still liked partially because of his personal ties to the area (having been born in Ghent). However, after his abdication, the Low Countries passed on to his son Philip II and the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. The schism between the Spanish's centralist-style rule and Catholicism and the Dutch's provincialist-style rule and Protestant elites ran deep enough that the Spanish were expelled from most of the land after an 80-year long civil war (they did hold on to the Southern Netherlands, now Belgium).
  • The Spanish and Portuguese Empires involved peninsulares (people originally born in the Iberian Peninsula) or criollos (people of pure Iberian descent born in the New World) serving as governors over the natives, although the frequency and intensity of mestizaje/mestiçagem meant that the boundaries were blurred. The highest jobs were occupied by Old World nobility, but mestizos and natives themselves could still be found almost anywhere in the rest of the hierarchy depending on the place. This was especially true in lands like the former Aztec and Inca Empires, where Altar Diplomacy had been vital to secure the assimilation of the realms and produced at least one generation of children that were at the same time part of the old and the new elites.
    • All historical viceroys in the Spanish America ended up being either peninsulares or criollos, but race or nationality weren't official requisites for the job, only having the king's trust was (for instance, a long list of Italian viceroys were ruling over the very Spanish realm of Aragon back in the Old World), hence a native or mestizo viceroy was theoretically possible, and in fact almost happened by chance on a couple occasions. The closest case might be Countess Jerónima de Moctezuma, who descended from Emperor Moctezuma himself and died just a year before her peninsular husband became Viceroy of New Spain, which would have made her a mestiza Vicereine over the lands of her ancestors.
    • Turning the situation on its head, another mestizo who descended from the emperor, Jerónimo Girón y Moctezuma, ended up later as Viceroy of Navarre, in Spain itself. The Moctezuma clan was consistently influential enough within the empire to be loosely considered a native faction who had come to rule the whites. The work of Girón's grandson Francisco Javier is still felt today, having founded the current Spanish Civil Guard.
    • Allied tribes also served as a middle step between the Iberians and other tribes, being effectively foreign ruling classes who ruled in the name of other foreign ruling classes. This became a problem when Francisco Pizarro appointed governors from the allied Cañari tribe over certain lands of the Inca Empire, as Cañaris had previously been subjected to the Inca, and turning the thing upside down caused a bit of turmoil to say the least. The Inca had already used Cañari forces to help conquer lesser tribes, so this trope was somewhat already in play, although they had always held the Cañaris down as a military Servant Race and had never given them the kind of direct authority Pizarro did.
    • Spain' and Portugal's participation in the Atlantic slave trade extended to their respective Amerindian populations, meaning that wealthy natives could acquire black slaves, therefore reversing the trope: aside from a foreign ruling class, the natives had gained a foreign ruled class. But let's not stop yet. The Spanish system of slavery, and to a lesser degree the Portuguese, were based on ancient Roman law, where slaves retained certain rights and could easily buy their own freedom. Combined with the fact that natives could be enslaved too (virtually always in Portugal, only in some periods and limited to war captives in Spain), this meant that black freedmen could acquire native slaves too, thus creating a foreign ruled class that could also be a foreign ruling class. Dizzy?
    • No case would be weirder than the Spanish Philippines, though, as the expeditioners who carried on their conquest were mostly Hispanicized Tlaxcaltecs. It probably took a while for Filipinos to realize they had been assimilated by people from the other side of the world who had been assimilated by people from another side of the world — who were ruled by a partially foreign family to boot.
  • In the Baltic lands conquered by The Teutonic Knights after the Livonian Crusade, the nobility were German while the peasantry was Baltic. It lasted until the interwar period, when land reforms redistributed farmland to the peasantry.
  • Various examples from British history:
    • The Celtic Britons of England and Wales were ruled by Romans from the first century to the fourth or fifth century.
    • For the first few centuries after the Romans left, large parts of Britain were ruled by invaders who eventually went native. Angles, Saxons, and Jutes from Germany and Denmark ruled England, while Gaels from Ireland ruled Scotland.
    • The Norse Vikings ruled large chunks of Britain between the ninth and eleventh centuries. Meanwhile, similar situations arose overseas in parts of Francenote , Ireland, and the Kievan Rus'. The Norse elites in those countries ended up Going Native too.
    • In 1066 the Normans under William the Conqueror invaded and conquered England. They established a ruling class that conducted its affairs in French until The Late Middle Ages, by which point their descendants had long considered themselves English and linguistically diverged from the French dialects spoken in France. Speaking of language, French influenced English tremendously, and one peculiar example of this influence reflects the disparity between Norman elites and Anglo-Saxon commoners. The words cow, pig, and sheep are of Saxon origin, but the words beef, pork and mutton are of French origin. So the Anglo-Saxon word is used for livestock while the peasants raise it, and the French word is used for meat while the nobles and royals eat it.
    • The Normans would conquer Sicily and southern Italy as well, and most of the Crusader States were ruled by nobles of mixed Norman, Flemish, and Frankish origin.note 
    • After the Plantagenets, the succeeding royal houses who would rule England, and eventually Britain, are of Welsh, Scottish, and German stock.
    • And, of course, The British Empire was ruled this way—as you'd expect, given that it was the largest empire in history.
      • Within the British Empire, the Raj of Sarawak provides an unusual nested example: while it was directly ruled by the "White Rajahs" of the Brooke dynasty, the Brookes had been granted Sarawak as a palatinate by the Sultan of Brunei, whose sultanate would ultimately become a protectorate of the British Empire a generation after giving Sarawak to the Brookes. End result: a foreigner was a nominal tributary of a native ruler, who himself was a tributary of the foreign tributary's people.
  • After the Cromwellian Settlement, which saw Catholics being deprived of their lands, Ireland was under the Ascendancy, with English male members of the established Church of Ireland (the local Anglican denomination), owning much of the land, lording over Irish Catholics and Dissenters. Naturally, this causes lots of rebellion by the Irish Catholic majority.
  • 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 minister for both populations. Lastly, Swedish was also widespread among peasants on the coast. When Russia took over Finland in the early 19th century until 1917, they kept the system, yet had sprinkled Russian administrators to it. Due to this history, there's still a population of Swedish-speaking and a hint of Russian-speaking people in Finland.
  • Russia is no stranger to this either, even beyond the centuries of paying tribute to the Mongol hordes:
    • According to the Russian Primary Chronicle (also known as the Chronicle of Nestor or The Tale of Bygone Years), a medieval Russian chronicle from the 1110s, the Slavic tribes of what is now northwestern Russia were dissatisfied with the constant warfare among them, and therefore invite three princes of a "Varangian" (i.e. Scandinavian) tribe called the Rus' to rule over them. The princes, three brothers named Rurik, Sineus, and Truvor, cross the Baltic with "all the Rus'" and set themselves up as rulers of the Slavic cities, with Rurik residing in Ladoga, and later Novgorod, as supreme ruler. Until the Mongol Conquest, the princes of Kiev (the then-recently conquered Kiev being where Rurik's successor Oleg moved the Slavo-Rus' capital to from Novgorod) traced their descent to Rurik; after feudal fragmentation resulted in the decline of Kiev's influence over the Russian lands in the latter half of the 1000s, over the 1100s the Russian center of gravity shifted to Vladimir-Suzdal, which also had a ruling dynasty of Rurikid descent. Male line Rurikid rule ultimately only ended after Feodor I, last living son of Ivan the Terrible, died without issue.
    • Centuries later, Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, also died without issue. The Russian throne therefore went to her nephew Peter of Holstein-Gottorp. Unfortunately for Russia, and very fortunately for Brandenburg-Prussia, Peter immediately forefeited any Russian gains at the expense of his idol Frederick the Great after years of bitter war between the two realms. For this and many other reasons, he was overthrown by his wife Catherine the Great, who was a native German — though unlike her husband, the former Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst was much more inclined to Russify.
  • Happened several times in China, during the Dynasties from Shang to Qing:
    • The Sixteen Kingdoms period saw the establishment of numerous foreign-ruled dominions in northern China. The most successful were the Xianbei, who consolidated the region into a single state in 439 as the Northern Wei dynasty, but others, including the Xiongnu, Jie, Di, Qiang, and Dingling, also took part. Since the Han Chinese were very big on Sinicization, however, these people were assimilated in just a few centuries and we have no way to identify what languages they spoke initially, though there are theories.note 
    • During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, the Shatuo Turks ruled three of the eponymous dynasties and one kingdom. They had previously served as allies of the preceding Tang dynasty until it collapsed in the early 10th century. Concurrent with them was the Liao dynasty, ruled by ethnic Khitans, which existed in northern China for two centuries. The Khitans were related to the Mongols but not part of them.
    • The Western Xia dynasty, infamously annihilated completely by Genghis Khan early in his campaign, was founded by ethnic Tanguts (a Tibeto-Burman people related to the modern Qiang) ruling over a mixed Tangut, Tibetan, and Chinese population.
    • The medieval Jin dynasty (not to be confused with the ancient Jin, an ethnic Han state), created by a Tungusic people called Jurchens from northeastern China. These same Jurchens changed their ethnonym to Manchu in 1635 and founded a second Chinese state, the Qing dynasty, in the early modern period. They actually attempted to oppress the Han populace until the noble class assimilated. Today, the Manchu are virtually Sinicized.
    • The Yuan dynasty was of Mongol origin, founded by the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, and set up Mongol nobles to rule over China. More specifically, the people of the Yuan dynasty were divided into the four classes—the Mongols at the top, the "Semu" after them, the "Han" in third-class, and finally the "Southerners" at the bottom. The lowest two classes of "Han" and "Southerner" were oppressed greatly by the ruling class, and by the time they revolted to form the succeeding Ming dynasty, one of their mottos was to rid China of the "Barbarian" ruling class and to restore the country to be ruled by Han Chinese, i.e. non-foreigners. (For the record, many revolutionaries said the same when overthrowing the Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty as mentioned above, though many other factors were also involved for that.)
  • Speaking of the Mongols, they also ruled Russia, the Middle East, Korea, and the rest of the Asian Steppe. Some of their rulers adopted the religion and culture of their subjects, while other Mongols retained their culture up until the native population threw them out. Their descendants also conquered India as the Mughals.
  • Iran shared China's situation in being ruled for a long time by foreign rulers who quickly assimilated to its native culture.
    • Following Alexander the Great's campaign, the Greeks ruled the land from the 4th century to 2nd century BC. While their culture flourished, the Greeks never succeeded in Hellenizing Iran (or any of their eastern dominions) completely as they did Anatolia.
    • After the Arab conquest of the 7th century, Iran was seldom ruled by a native dynasty until the era of the Safavids eight centuries later. For most of the interim, the land was variously ruled by Arabs (Rashiduns, Umayyads, Abbasids), Turks (Ghaznavids, Seljuks, Khwarezmians, Kara Koyunlu, Aq Qoyunlu), and Mongols (Ilkhanate, Jalayirids, Chobanids, Timurids). There were several exceptions (notably during the Iranian Intermezzo) but they did not have dominion over all of Iran. In fact, the Safavids, although of Kurdish origin, had moved to Iranian Azerbaijan and become Turkicized long before rising to power, and were supported by a Turkic ruling class. But they were the first to declare a sole Iranian identity. The same applies to their successors, the Afsharids and Qajars; the first unambiguously native Iranian dynasty to rule the entirety of Iran since the Sassanids were the Pahlavis.
  • The Borgias originated in Spain and were heavily involved in Italian politics of The Renaissance/City State Era and during the Italian Wars, especially after Rodrigo became Pope Alexander VI.
  • European colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Americas were ruled by an overclass of European administrators, businessmen and planters. Sometimes, local leaders were allowed to join this class.
  • From 1763 onwards up to relatively recently, with the British conquest of French possessions in North America, the history of Canada becomes this from the perspective of French-Canadians, to a degree that heavily depends on the political beliefs of those concerned. From the very first days of the conquest, a Governor General appointed by the British crown was charged with overseeing Canada alongside an occupation force, though out of pragmatism most of the day-to-day business was handled by Canadiansnote  as there was simply not enough British immigrants to fill all these roles. As time went on Crown loyalists from the USA (who, for obvious reasons, were no longer welcome after 1783) and immigrants from the British Isles poured into the colony and began assuming political and economical roles, though the (largely rubber-stamp and for-show) parliament had a fair representation of French-speakers.note  To make a long-story short, English-speaking Canadians were a minority in Quebec specifically (with most of them settling in what is now modern-day Ontario) but had disproportional economic power and acted as merchants or factory owners, while actual political power was much more evenly distributed.
    • Complicating matters is that the upper echelons of the (virtually French-Canadian only) Catholic clergy (which held disproportionate influence throughout Quebec history up until relatively recently, to the point were the argument could be made that Quebec was The Theocracy) was in cahoots with the British authorities as part of an agreement to preserve the power of the Church (and the freedom to practice Catholicism) in return for keeping French-Canadians docile and unambitious. The last remnants of this trope arguably began to die out in the 60's and 70's, as wealthy, English-speaking business owners began abandoning Montreal, then Canada's economical powerhouse, for Toronto, leaving French-Canadian Quebecers to fill in the gaps. At the federal, political level, French-Canadians have very good representation (5 of Canada's Prime Ministers have been French-Canadian including the current PM as of 2022, and another was a French-speaking Quebecer of Irish ancestry), and as tradition the (now largely ceremonial) Crown-appointed governor generally alternates between a French and English Canadian out of respect for Canadian history.
  • The Balkan countries have many cases of this, especially in their modern history, having their rulers installed by the Great Powers in the wake of national revivals and freeing themselves from the dominion of the Ottoman and Russian empires:
    • Romania was ruled by a branch of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from 1866 to 1947.
    • The Third Bulgarian State had Alexander of the House of Battenberg placed as Prince in 1878 and then replaced in 1887 by Ferdinand of the House of Sax-Coburg-Gotha, whose descendants ruled until 1946.
    • Greece was ruled by the House of Glücksburg from 1845 to 1973.
    • And of course, they were all ruled by the Ottoman Sultans for centuries beforehand.
  • After The Migration Period, the former Western Empire would be divided among Germanic tribes who were a minority compared to their Latin subjects: Franks in modern-day Northern France, Visigoths in Spain, Portugal and Southern France, Ostrogoths and then the Lombards in Italy, Anglo-Saxons in Britain. Save for Anglo-Saxons, all the above people's languages would be abandoned in favor of vulgar Latin (and the modern languages that would derive from it).
  • This also happened when Hordes from the East invaded and replaced local dynasties, consolidating a nation's leadership and assimilating into the culture in exchange for the throne:
    • The Bulgar Dulo clan and their successors ruled over a state of mixed Slavic, Vlach and Bulgar population until eventually, they coalesced into one common national identity.
    • The Cumans in the 11-13th century were notorious for this. It is suggested that dynasties in medieval Bulgaria, Serbia, Wallachia, Moldova and Hungary are of Cuman origin.
  • Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg was a White Russian of Baltic German descent with great interest in Buddhism and Mongolian culture, who de facto ruled Mongolia for a few months at the time of the Russian Civil War.
  • In Belgium, nationalists from the Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and Walloon (French-speaking) communities both see the other side as this trope.
  • The Reichkomissants of Nazi Germany were intended to establish their rule over the predominantly Slavic Poland and USSR. This was also inspired by the above example of German nobility in the Baltics and the rest of Eastern Europe.
  • A common trope in conspiracy theory literature, directed against ethnic and religious minorities with any level of economic status (especially those that have wound up filling a merchant niche in society), is that they are secretly this, functioning as a clique that's out to bleed the majority group dry. The classic example, of course, is the varieties of antisemitism that see the Jewish people as this, which have led to pogroms, expulsions, and genocides throughout history. Similar accusations are thrown at the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, which led to race riots in Malaysia in 1969 and Indonesia in 1998 as well as genocide in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge period; a big reason why Singapore is independent is because Malaysia effectively expelled the multicultural, heavily Chinese city from their nation. In Rwanda, accusations that the Tutsi tribe were this also led to that country's 1994 genocide.
  • Happened twice in modern Taiwan. The Qing were not too concerned about Taiwan, so they were not too averse to handing it over to Japan in 1895 due to internal conflicts brewing within the Forbidden Palace. The Japanese imposed their language and culture on Taiwan; then in 1945 it was handed back to the mainland Chinese, who imposed Mandarin Chinese and government on the Taiwanese Hokkien-speaking and Hakka-speaking local population.
  • The most powerful man in France between 1643 and 1661? The Cardinal Jules Mazarin, born Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino in Italy. Nobles who were part of the Fronde Civil War factions against the Regency that followed the death of King Louis XIII depised him and played up his non-French origins in their propaganda. Nonetheless, he was pretty much as cunning and brilliant at his chief minister job as his predecessor and mentor, Cardinal Richelieu, and ended the Fronde. When Louis XIV eventually assumed power upon Mazarin's death in 1661, he inherited a pacified kingdom and solidified royal authority, allowing him to consolidate his absolute monarchical powers.
  • During his reign, Napoléon Bonaparte would leave his relatives as the new monarchs of conquered countries, which probably didn't help his popularity there. Though even Napoleon's own brothers weren't immune to Going Native, as seen with Louis Bonaparte (King Lodewijk I of the Netherlands, who was actually well liked there).
  • The state of Nanyue was a Chinese kingdom comprised of conquered tribes in Southern China and Northern Vietnam. Unlike the Han after them, the Nanyue did not assimilate the native population, making it so that only the elites were of Han descent. Unlike most examples of this trope, the locals actually liked the elites, to the point that modern Vietnam named itself after this kingdom.note 
  • Liberia was originally founded as a place for Afro-Americans to colonize in the belief that they would have better luck there than in the antebellum U.S. Unfortunately, all that did was create a situation of Afro-Americans ruling over Africans.