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Voluntary Vassal

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The King who Kneltnote .

The standard mode of territorial expansion of The Empire is steamrolling all opposition in the targeted neighbor land and claiming it as its new vassal state-slash-province. However, some places and people prove too troublesome to conquer and the empire leaves them alone. And then some of them decide to swear allegiance to The Emperor, anyway, for the benefits that a large centralized state brings with it — minus all the inconveniences of being forcefully subjugated by a foreign invader.

Characters coming from such a region commonly enjoy privileges and personal freedoms that the rest of The Empire's citizens (except the metropolitans) no longer have.

Compare/contrast Hegemonic Empire, where The Empire doesn't expand through conquest, but instead incites other states to voluntarily become its vassals by peaceful means (in effect, making this trope a norm instead of exception). Compare also Puppet State, Les Collaborateurs, and The Quisling. Vichy Earth may or may not be an example as well.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Crest of the Stars: Happened in the backstory to planet Midgrat. The planet was independent and among the more powerful independent nations, but they saw that the various galactic superpowers were making such a position untenable, so they opted to join with one. Each superpower sent delegates to entice them, and in the end they chose to join the Abh Empire, mainly because the Abh don't tend to interfere with local cultures.
  • The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?):
    • Wein's goal is for his country, Natra, to become a vassal state for the Earthworld Empire so he can finally retire, but he has to make sure public opinion is in favor of this so that his own people don't launch a coup.
    • The kingdom of Antgadull was originally part of an anti-imperial alliance, but their king surrendered to the empire when he realized that his kingdom wouldn't survive future conflicts between the alliance's other countries and that his people would be better off under the empire.
    • Princess Zenovia of Marden makes her country a vassal state to Natra rather than an ally, since in the former case, Natra would be obligated to protect them while in the latter case, Natra would use them as a buffer against invasion.
  • Overlord (2012): After Ainz (accidentally) proves he can't be beaten by magical or physical means, the Baharut Empire (up to then an ally in constant fear of outliving its usefulness) willingly submits to him. After Ainz looks up what exactly "vassal" means, the Emperor can finally enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having a limitless undead army guarding his borders, the threat of instant zombification gone, and the fact that if anyone complains he only has to say "take it up with the boss" to see the complainers disappear. Demiurge, of course, thinks this was Ainz' intention all along.

    Fan Works 
  • The Equestrian province of Latigo in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse. Unlike most of the regions that Equestria has annexed over the years, it came in more or less voluntarily and under two major conditions. Firstly, its ruling line married into House Starlight, the unicorn viceroyalty (there are three viceroyalties, one from each of the three pony tribes. Only Princess Luna herself ranks higher in Equestria's nobility). Secondly, it was annexed as a unit, becoming one of Equestria's largest and most prosperous provinces.
  • In Earth's Alien History, both the Gamilans and the Orions become client states of the Romulans after they save them from the Reapers.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, Hiccup goes to pay a diplomatic visit to the petty king of Veisafjord (modern day Wexford, Ireland). The residents of the city promptly overthrow the king and offer the city to Hiccup, who is flabbergasted. Later on, Conchobar ua Mael Sechlainn, the rí ruírech of Mide, approaches Stoick to petition for annexation, as his kingdom had a poor harvest, prompting Conchobar, after consulting his vassals, to swallow his pride and ask Stoick for help.

  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Dorne was never permanently conquered (although it was briefly occupied) by the Targaryens, despite numerous attempts. The Dornish countryside makes a prolongued guerilla resistance almost inevitable, so even when the Targaryens took the main cities, the Dornish could just bleed them until they gave up. Instead, they joined the Targaryen realm via dynastic marriage, conferring on them a special standing ever since. The family motto of their ruling house reflects this: "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken".
    • Torrhen Stark, called "the King Who Knelt," surrendered to Aegon the Conqueror and joined the North to his new united kingdom after calling his banners and marching south only to meet an army half again as large as his, with three dragons besides. Aegon conferred the title of Warden of the North to House Stark for their voluntary submission.
    • The Vale wasn't formally conquered either. Since facing off with their armies would have been too costly even with dragons (the Vale is a mountainous region with numerous choke points that strongly favor the defenders), Queen Visenya flew directly to the Eyrie with her dragon Vhagar on Aegon's orders. House Arryn was under a regency at the time since the current head, Ronnell Arryn, was not old enough to rule. When his mother found him sitting on Visenya's lap and the boy demanded a ride on her dragon, she submitted to the new overlords immediately.
    • The Lord of Oldtown also voluntarily surrendered and pledged fealty to the Targaryens after the High Septon (think fantasy Pope) claimed to have seen a vision from the Crone (goddess of wisdom) that the city would burn otherwise. The High Septon then anointed and crowned Aegon as King of the Seven Kingdoms, although the Iron Islands were technically not yet conquered and Dorne wouldn't join for another hundred years.
  • In Tribesmen of Gor, two powerful desert tribes, the Aretai and Kavars, have made virtually all the other tribes of the desert into vassals—except the Tajuks, who are independent. Because generations ago an Aretai warrior had saved a Tajuk's life, the Tajuks always ride into battle with the Aretai.
    "The Tajuks are not actually a vassal tribe of the Aretai, though they ride with them. More than two hundred years ago a wandering Tajuk had been rescued in the desert by Aretai riders, who had treated him well, and had given him water and a [camel]. The man had found his way back to his own tents. Since that time the Tajuks had, whenever they heard the Aretai were gathering, and summoning tribes, come to ride with them. They had never been summoned by the Aretai, who had no right to do this, but they had never failed to come."
  • In Reflections of Eterna, Kenalloa (the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Spain) has a long history of independence and special status: its dukes joined the old Taligoya voluntarily, formally bowing to the Rakans, but never fully submitting to them (e.g. rejecting the Esperatian state religion). When the Rakans were overthrown by the Ollars, Duke Alva of Kenalloa sided with the latter, and his son basically became co-monarch later, cementing Kenalloa's special status within the new kingdom of Talig. Meanwhile, Duke Neumar was the last Rakan loyalist who wasn't re-subjugated by the Ollars: instead, Neumarinen was brought into Talig via dynastic marriage. Both it and Kenalloa have the legal right to secede from Talig at any time.
  • In The Witchlands it's mentioned that the nations of Svoden and Portolla have allied with the Cartorran Empire to maintain some level of independence.
  • In the Tamuli sequel series to The Elenium, the Atan Proud Warrior Race nation voluntarily joined the Tamul Empire and became nominal "slaves" of the Emperor because their code of honor was so uncompromising that they feared driving themselves into extinction. They serve as the Empire's elite troops, but still have a lot of autonomy within their own kingdom.
  • The Wheel of Time has numerous examples:
    • The Seanchan are interested in pragmatic imperialism on a long-term basis, so they don't mind leaving original rulers intact if it'll mean greater regional stability. Explaining this to the people in question, combined with making a show of force that makes it clear that resisting would go very badly, means most of the countries that make initial contact with them fold almost immediately. In a way, this tendency backfires somewhat: the oaths they make vassals swear are worded in such a way that the vassals consider them invalid, and thus feel no moral compunctions against breaking those oaths if it ever becomes convenient.
    • Rand becomes ruler of several countries in the course of the story, but he's not interested in rule or building an empire; he just wants a unified military force that can win the Last Battle. To this end, he's happy to leave original rulers in place if they swear to him and provide soldiers when he asks. After he establishes himself as The Chosen One and commands a nigh-unstoppable strike force of magic-users, most are willing to entertain this offer.
    • Rand's friend, Perrin, ends up gainig the service of several monarchs because fate has arranged for him to be the only person capable of fending off specific threats to their rule. Since he himself only became a leader out of necessity and isn't interested in their domains, he takes it all in a sense of wry bemusement.
    • This is part of Tear's Backstory. The ruling council meets in the Stone of Tear, a fortress which is prophesied never to fall until the Dragon Reborn arrives. However, their predecessors were a part of Artur Hawkwing's empire once upon a time, because they saw which way the wind was blowing and voted to join the empire rather than fight a grinding war.
  • Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius Falco series novel Last Act in Palmyra is set in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Nabatea, an independent state sandwiched uncomfortably between Roman Egypt and Roman Palestine. The Nabateans are aware their days as an independent country are running low, and the hero Marcus Didius Falco is unceremonially exiled when his spying mission for Rome is exposed. He does get to advise the Nabatean head of government that his country had better start thinking now about how and under what terms it should accept becoming part of the Empire note .
  • In Honor Harrington, the Talbot Cluster votes to join the Star Empire of Manticore as a cluster, maintaining their own regional government in addition to joining the Empire as a whole. In contrast, San Marco joins completely after liberation.
    • There is also the Maya sector. After seeing the way the Solarian League was expanding outwards, annexing the Verge worlds and strip-mining their economies to line the pockets of the transstellar corporations, the Mayan worlds got together and built up a block of worlds with a functional sector government and a prosperous economy, then reached out to some of the transtellars that were smart enough to take a long-term profit rather than kill the golden goose. Maya was still annexed, but it managed to retain far more liberties for its citizens than most protectorate worlds, and its businesses pay proportionately less tribute to the transstellars than almost anywhere else in the Verge.
  • The Hands of the Emperor: The province of Vangaye-ve did not get subjugated by the empire of Astandalas, as many other regions and eventually worlds did, but instead voluntarily allied itself with the empire in the days of Aurelius Magnus.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season 5 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Cardassia agrees to become part of the Dominion, voluntarily at first.
  • Game of Thrones: Jon Snow is crowned King in the North at the end of season 6, but in season 7 he relinquishes his crown so he can become Warden of the North to Queen Daenerys Targaryen (whose dynasty claims kingship over all of Westeros), since there are far bigger problems they have to face than dynastic squabbles. Once said problems are over and he's killed the power-mad Danaerys, Jon is exiled to the North, his (adoptive)-sister Sansa becomes Queen in the North and their brother Bran (now King of the Seven Kingdoms) grants the North its independence.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer, the halflings were never conquered militarily by the Empire, instead choosing to join in return for military aid against undead incursions. In the setting's present day, the Halfling homeland known as The Moot is de jure a part of Stirland, but in practice self-governing, and the Elder of the Moot, while technically a vassal of Stirland, is also an Elector of the Empire and as such nominally the equal of their de jure liege lord.
  • The halflings in Grim Hollow voluntarily became a Slave Race to the humans when they went about conquering the continent.

    Video Games 
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Chiss Ascendancy is unique among the subjects of the Sith Empire in that the Imperial military failed to capture its homeworld and gave up, but then the Chiss decided to join the Empire, anyway. This causes a lot of awkwardness, as the Empire is openly xenophobic, yet the non-human Chiss enjoy a lot of privileges that even the human residents of Sith-conquered planets don't.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The province of Morrowind joined Tiber Septim's Third Tamrielic Empire voluntarily. Vivec (having recently lost two of the Tools of Kagrenac to Dagoth Ur and thus, the ability for the Tribunal to recharge their divinity) negotiated this status with Tiber Septim when Septim's forces threatened to invade. Vivec also offered the Numidium in trade, allowing Morrowind to keep many of its pre-Imperial privileges such as slavery (which was illegal elsewhere in the Empire), continued Great House rule (though with Imperial-styled ranks, titles, and conventions like a Puppet King added), and the freedom to worship within Tribunal Temple (though Morrowind had to allow free worship of other religions as well).
    • The Kingdom of Argonia is another such example: Tiber Septim realized that a military conquest of Black Marsh would be impossible, and the Septim Empire instead dominated the Argonians in trade and got them to join the Empire through negotiations. Naturally, since the Septims only controlled them indirectly, Black Marsh was the first province to peace out after the Oblivion Crisis, and did so without a struggle whatsoever.
    • Hammerfell re-joined the Septim Empire voluntarily — Hammerfell was originally conquered by Tiber Septim after the losing side of a civil war invited the Empire in, but after the Imperial provincial administration was overthrown by Redguard rebels, the new government elected to open negotiations with Septim to become vassals on fairer terms. (Much of this plays out during the series' Action-Adventure spinoff game, Redguard.)
    • The 4th Era iteration of the Aldmeri Dominion (led by the facistic Thalmor) convinced the Khajiit of Elsweyr to join peacefully as vassals. It helped that the Dominion claimed credit for resolving a crisis with Nirn's two moons, which are sacred to the Khajiiti people.
  • In Mount & Blade Warband, this is an alternative (faster, but more risky) way to become a landed vassal. Normally, you sign up to one of the kingdoms as a mercenary, then swear fealty as a landless vassal, then get a burned-down village, and generally wait a LONG time until you can receive a castle or a city on some conquered territory. With this method, you conquer a castle or a city as an unaligned warlord, proclaim your own kingdom and immediately ask one of the kings to accept you as their new subject. You will be accepted and keep the castle or city you conquered.
  • In Crusader Kings and its sequel, it's possible for a holder of a lower-tier title (i.e. Count or Dukenote ) to swear fealty to a holder of a higher-tier title (i.e. Duke or King, respectively) without outside prompting. It's rare for it to happen outside of player control, however. Of course, higher ranked rulers can offer vassalization to any lower ranked independent ruler. They're more likely to accept if they're part of the higher ruler's de jure territory, because they feel a sense of proto-nationalism about it. (In other words, an independent Duke of York is fairly willing to voluntarily join a unified England, but would likely tell the King of Ireland to go pound sand, regardless of military strength.) This is one of the reasons why Ireland 1066 is favored as the "tutorial island" start by the fanbase. It's comprised solely of petty kings (independent Counts and Dukes). Once you conquer half the realm through the usual combination of fabricated claims, arranged marriages, and other casus belli, you can create the kingdom of Eire, and the remaining petty kings are usually pretty willing to join up without a fight, assuming you haven't wronged them somehow.
  • Europa Universalis has a parallel mechanic, where a large nation allied to a much smaller one can turn the latter into a "vassal," granting the overlord nation a portion of its income, preventing either from opting out of wars which involve one, and allowing the large nation to diplomatically annex the small one after some time has passednote . Not all vassals are voluntary, however—it's not uncommon to force a small nation defeated in war to be the victor's vassal.
  • In Sword of the Stars II: The Lords of Winter the "Protectorate" tech allows player empires to peacefully absorb independent worlds by treaty. But the Zuul instead intimidate worlds into offering them tribute, mostly slaves.
  • The Civilization series introduces this in later installments:
    • IV: The Beyond The Sword expansion introduced vassal states to the game, and in most cases a civilization will only become another faction's vassal as part of a peace treaty to avoid being wiped out. But if you're strong enough, other leaders may occasionally ask to become your vassals if they're afraid of being conquered by another rival. This can make accepting them as vassals problematic - said rival may declare war on your vassal anyway and drag you into a conflict you don't want or aren't ready for, and of course if you wanted to do some conquering of your own, you're not allowed to declare war on your vassals.
    • V retains this mechanic for NPC city-states, as you can curry favor with them to get them to ally with you (granting bonuses and any connected resources in their lands) by completing quests they offer. More benign ways include giving gifts, opening a trade route, building a road connecting them to your empire, spreading your religion, clearing out a nearby barbarian camp, and bullying their rivals (hey, no one said you had to be nice to all of them). The introduction of ideologies in the Brave New World expansion give new ways to passively gain influence with city-states for civilizations pursuing Freedom or Autocracy; Freedom probably has the closest to this trope, giving bonus influence per turn just by having an active trade route with the "Treaty Organization" social policy (Autocracy's equivalent "Gunboat Diplomacy" grants bonus influence on city-states you can demand tribute from, so the "voluntary" part of this trope becomes...suspect).
    • City-states in VI operate much the same way as V in that major powers can become suzerains of them which grants that empire a unique ability depending on what city-state it is — for example, being the suzerain of Mogadishu means all of your trade routes are immune from being pillaged at sea. Allied city-states will also share line-of-sight information, go to war with the same empires as its suzerain, and can even have their units directly taken control of by their suzerain for a set number of turns in exchange for gold. Empires become a city-state's suzerain by having more diplomatic envoys in that city-state than any other power (minimum three). Envoys are normally generated at given intervals depending on the empire's civics; empires can also accomplish tasks given by the city-state such as building a particular district or sending a trade route to them which reward additional envoys to that city-state when completed.
  • Stellaris has a variety of ways to render other species subjects of your empire, for instance technologically uplifted species automatically become protectorates when they obtain FTL and vassals once their tech is on par with their patron.
    • As of version 2.0 gaining a Casus Belli to subjugate another empire requires giving them the opportunity to peacefully become a vassal first. And on occasion a weaker empire will request to become a vassal of a stronger empire that might offer them protection.
  • Mass Effect has the volus, who voluntarily became a client race of the Turian Hierarchy, offering their mercantile expertise in exchange for turian protection.
  • Terra Invicta: This is very much what happens in the Servants' ending. Realizing that the Hydras' destruction of their homeworld made them callous and cruel towards other lifeforms and left them with an extant culture, Superior Judith Howell successfully negotiates favorable terms for humanity as respected members of the alien empire, not as slaves or Battle Thralls but as artists, negotiators and advisors.
  • Age of Wonders 4: In addition to player-led empires the map is also populated by NPC free cities. A player can send a Whispering Stone note  to the city to slowly influence them. Quests and event choices can sway a city's opinion towards or against a ruler, and once the city's Alliance Meter is raised high enough they become a vassal and tithe some of their resource income to their overlord.

    Real Life 
  • In the 13th century, a few of Iceland's chiefs became vassals of the King of Norway, then they started a 44-year civil war that ended with the entire island becoming vassal to Norway.
  • Contrary to popular belief, this was actually the predominant way Spain accomplished the conquest of America and Philippines, to the point that part of a modern Hispanic idiom says outright "la conquista la hicieron los indios" ("the conquest was carried on by the Indians themselves").note  Indigenous states that voluntarily let themselves be assimilated generally outnumbered those who were forcefully conquered, and the former were often the key to submit the latter, gifting the Spaniards large amounts of troops, info, supplies, guides and all they needed, usually in exchange for massive geopolitical benefits. A true conquistador was essentially as much of a diplomat as a military leader, as the Spaniards deployed in America and Philippines at any point of history were actually so few and so thinly supported that they depended on their native allies for basically everything.
    • The Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire established the pattern the Spanish would use for the rest of their conquests. Although the Aztecs were a regional power no number of Spanish explorers could hope to subject by force, they had the huge problem that their terrible treatment of their subjects had created many regional enemies and turned their own tributaries into potential rebels at the first sign a new player entered the game. Therefore, when Hernán Cortés arrived in the lands of the Aztec Empire, he was greeted by the Totonacs, Aztec tributaries who were eager to see if the iron-clad foreigners and their four-legged monsters could help them avoid getting hundreds of their citizens taken to Tenochtitlan to be enslaved and sacrificed every year. With their help, Cortés allied himself with the Tlaxcaltecs, enemies to the Aztec Empire who were happy to lend him all their power, and the Texcocans of the prince Ixtlilxóchitl, former Aztec vassals in a cold war against the empire. However, when Cortés' attempt to take over Tenochtitlan from inside failed, he gathered his allies and started a campaign to attract all the Aztec vassals to his side, ultimately leaving the Aztec state completely alone. The alliances would remain after the conquest, with the Tlaxcaltecs in particular being still touted as strong Spanish loyalists centuries later.
    • The Purépechanote  Empire was the second regional power in Mesoamerica after the Aztec Empire, but they accepted to become part of the Spanish Empire in exchange for autonomy at the moment Cortés' envoy Cristóbal de Olid visited them. That the Spaniards had recently defeated their greatest enemies had much to do with the decision, as it allowed Cortés and company to present themselves as natural allies to the Purépechas, and at the same time made them fearsome enough for the Purépechas to believe it would be infinitely better to be all in the same team. Apparently, the Aztecs had previously sent their own envoys to the Purépechas informing them of the war and urging an alliance against the Cortesians, only for the Purépechas to be delighted by the news and execute the messengers.
    • The Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire transpired the same exact way. The Inca Empire had been recently shaken by a bloody civil war between its emperor Huáscar and his pretender brother Atahualpa, who ultimately won and took the throne for himself. However, even although the Incas were usually nowhere near as destructive as the Aztecs, Atahualpa decided to inaugurate his reign by exerting disproportionate campaigns of punishment against all those tribes who had supported Huáscar, remained neutral, or merely looked at him funny. Francisco Pizarro came with only around 150 soldiers, but when he managed to out-gambit Atahualpa in midst of their negotiations and capture him, he became the hero of all the punished tribes (and indeed, some sources claimed he had been secretly in contact with them since the very beginning). Their loyalty to the Spaniards reached the point that, when a Huascarist nobleman of all people, Manco Inca, revolted against the Spanish Empire for personal affronts, the tribes still supported the Iberians and became an instrumental factor to kick Manco out of the empire's domains.
    • The Spanish Conquest of the Maya was a different affair because Mayans were small states that had to be conquered one by one, but still, they could divided in two types: those who allied with the Spaniards against some neighbor, and those who warred against the Spaniards because they were said neighbors to begin with.
  • Prior to the Thirty Years' War, which established the "Westphalian theory of sovereignty", most rulers were at least de jure in some sort of vassal–overlord relationship to other rulers, and preeminence in such relationships was immensely important; on the other hand, those relations usually included at least nominal "protection," and for some smaller territories, it was highly desirable to become the vassal of a powerful faraway lord in order to be left alone by less powerful local lords with designs on conquering them. The mess this created is one of the reasons why the Holy Roman Empire had the name it did, as it was basically the medieval equivalent of calling your People's Republic of Tyranny the Democratic People's Democratic Shiny Happy People's Republic of the People today.
  • Much of The Raj consisted of "princely states" led by native rulers (with titles like nawab, nizam, sultan, raja, maharaja, etc.) who joined The British Empire in exchange for protection and cementation of their local authority.
  • Several small island nations in the Pacific have entered into such associations with other countries, mostly the US (e.g. Micronesia), Australia (e.g. Nauru), and New Zealand (e.g. the Cook Islands). While the precise details are usually sui generis, they often entail a common defense taken care of by the large nation and somewhat laxer immigration rules.
  • The Falkland Islands are a voluntary colony, even though this term is now not applied any more. In several referenda, overwhelming majorities of the islands' inhabitants have voted to keep the status quo (being governed by the United Kingdom with some limited home rule) over any other alternative, including both independence and being annexed by Argentina. The fact that the islands have no economic activity besides tourism, sheep, and fisheriesnote  and Argentina tried to conquer the islands — while governed by a brutal military dictatorship — may help in keeping the Kelpers loyal to the Crown.
  • Some US states were (or at least claimed to be) sovereign nations before becoming another star on the American flag.
    • The most well-known example is Texas, which broke away from Mexico and ultimately joined the US.
    • Vermont also spent a short time as a self-proclaimed independent republic.
    • Hawaii was an independent kingdom until a coup installed a government representing the major fruit and sugar companies and promptly sought annexation by the US.
    • California and Oregon both had short-lived republics or provisional governments which requested joining the US.
    • Whether or not the weird limbo state of the current US territories, Puerto Rico being the most widely known of them, is entirely voluntary on their part is an interesting question best discussed elsewhere, but the fact of the matter is that some votes have been held on this, at least in Puerto Rico. There being more than two options, it is not all that easy to say what "the people" want. That being said, none of the referenda have been so conclusive as to provide a definitive basis for changing the status quo. They also show that of the various options, outright independence has for decades been one of the less-favored options (never getting more than about 10–15% in the polls, and its popularity has continued to decline over time) even though the federal government is unlikely to deny PR its independence if its people express a clear intent to take it. The vast majority of Puerto Ricans support either becoming the 51st US state, or maintaining the current Commonwealth status. This means that for the foreseeable future, whatever situation the Puerto Rican people choose for themselves, it more or less falls into this trope for lack of any other classification.
    • After World War II, the US took control of Japanese territorial claims known as the "Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands". The majority of the islands opted for a "compact of free association" where they are independent but maintain ties to the US for trade and defense. The Northern Mariana Islands, on the other hand, voted to join the US and is now the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
    • Subverted with Guam and American Samoa, where Commonwealth status has not been worked out.
  • The Commonwealth realms are the closest major 21st-century countries come to feudalism. Basically Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and a couple of others have a monarch an ocean away as their head of state who comes to visit only once every couple of years, and they are apparently quite happy with that. Some countries have even tried joining the Commonwealth (though not the Commonwealth realms, a country can be member of the Commonwealth without having the British monarch as head of state) despite never having been a British/English/Scottish colony. The "protection" thing mentioned above may play a role in this, as may "soft power" and development aid.
  • The Costa Rican province of Guanacaste invokes this trope in its coat of arms where the official motto reads "De la patria por nuestra voluntad" — of the fatherland by our [own] will. This is due to Guanacaste being disputed in the 19th century between the emerging nations of Costa Rica and Nicaragua that arose from the rubble of the United Provinces of Central America. Ultimately, Guanacaste ended up with Costa Rica and the Rio San Juan, which separates the two countries in the East was awarded to Nicaragua in its entirety. This of course solved all border disputes between the two countries... Nah, just kidding. Since 2000 alone, the two countries have clashed over a road, a few cut down trees, an unpopulated island that google maps claimed to be Nicaraguan before claiming it was Costa Rican and Nicaraguan President Ortega even questioned whether Guanacaste should belong to Costa Rica. Given that Costa Rica is the wealthiest nation in Central America and has dramatically less crime than its neighbors, the people of Guanacaste unsurprisingly prefer their current status.
  • Before World War II, Nazi Germany invaded and annexed Austria in a process known as Anschluss (German for "joining"). In a subsequent plebiscite, the vast majority of Austrians voted in favor of Anschluss. This was undoubtedly due in large part to pressure on the populace by Those Wacky Nazis, but many Austrians did genuinely support union with Germany, if not necessarily under a National Socialist government (though how many is still a matter of debate).
    • After the collapse and breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I, the population of German-speaking Austria was almost overwhelmingly in favor of union with Germany. Of course, the Entente had no intention of allowing this to happen, and the final peace settlements explicitly forbade it. The hypocrisy of this in the face of the Western Allies' advocacy for popular self-determination did not go unnoticed at the time, in either Austria or Germany.
  • Quite used during the unification of Italy, both during the Wars of Italian Independence and later: and have this kind of relationship with Italy, though for vastly different reasons:
    • After the Second War, the Expedition of the Thousands, the Third War (actually the southern front of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866) and the capture of Rome, the various territories occupied first by the Kingdom of Sardinia and then the Kingdom of Italy voted for unification.
    • San Marino was not occupied by the Kingdom of Sardinia during the Expedition of the Thousands, partly because it was out of way and partly due offering sanctuary to the leaders of the unification movement. After most of the rest of the peninsula became the Kingdom of Italy, San Marino signed a treaty of friendship that guaranteed its independence and established important commercial relationship but also put San Marino in a situation of effective subordination (most notably, the adoption of EU-related legislation in the wake of Italy doing the same and the use of currencies that are effectively the same of Italy (first the Lira Sammarinese, that was minted in Italy, pegged to the Italian Lira and was legal tender in Italy and Vatican too just as the Italian and Vatican Lira were in San Marino, and then the Euro).
    • Vatican City's relation to Italy is complicated, but the treaties between the nations, Vatican City being effectively a largish neighbourhood of Rome and Italy needing an independent state for The Pope makes it this. Both countries would prefer a different situation, but this is the best they can hope for and are in no hurry to change things.
  • Among the Overseas Departments of France:
    • Mayotte. Unlike France's other African colonies, it rejected independence from France twice, the first time (1974) defying Comoros' unanimous decision to secede from France, and the second (1976) affirming France's question whether it was really sure with its decision.
    • New Caledonia has a long history of independence activism among the Overseas Departments, but the movement apparently isn't strong enough; like Mayotte, it has rejected the chance to secede twice.
  • During the presidency of Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal, Mongolia requested to join the USSR, only to be rejected by the latter. Its northern neighbor, Tuva, was more successful, joining the USSR by choice in 1944.
  • The Crimean Crisis is such a political headache because it involves this. During the early USSR, Crimea was already a part of the RSFSR before Krushchev essentially transferred the peninsula to the Ukrainian SSR for administrative convenience, which then of course became an independent republic with the end of the Cold War. It was militarily re-annexed by Russia, mind you, but even surveys conducted by Western observers noted that the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population of Crimea supported joining Russia, and didn't see the annexation as unlawful. Ukrainians who opposed the decision were either Crimean Tatars (who only formed 11% of the population) or came from outside the region (so their opinion didn't really count). The general consensus is that the annexation referendum conducted by Russia was rigged, but that Russia would probably have still won in a fair vote. Just not by the eye-popping 97% that the rigged referendum produced.