In my book series, there is a group of people on the Planet Awal called the Tifinagh that are the source of quite a bit of tension between the Haxamanians (the dominant empire on Awal) and the Aureans (a nearby planet-empire less than a parsec away). Over the course of millennia of on-and-off wars between Aurea and the Haxamanian Empire, the Aureans' longest-lasting possession on the planet was Tifinaghia (home of the Tifinagh people), a region of pleasant coasts and islands, a mid-sized mountain range, and the northern fringes of the Great Awalian Desert.

As a result of centuries of Aurean rule, the Tifinagh are a sort of fusion of Aureans and the Inumideni (a Haxamanian subject people bordering the Tifinagh lands). Genetically and in most of their worldview and material culture, they are nearly identical to the Inumideni, but the Tifinagh speak an Aurean-based language completely unintelligble from the Inumnideni or Haxamanian tongues and follow the domiant Aurean religion (the Cult of Sahul Invictus), while the Inumideni and most other Awalians are staunch Anandists (A religion I made up mostly inspired by Buddhism and Islam).

In the time period my book series is set, tensions between the Haxamanian and Aurean Empires need to be relaxed, so the question of who should govern Tifinaghia needs to be solved. Since both sides claim the territory and the Aureans are unwilling to give the region independence out of fear that the Haxamanians will simply annex it or turn it into a tributary state later on anyway, and splitting the territory won't work with my worldbuilding for other reasons, is it possible for both the Haxamanian and Aurean Empires to rule Tifinaghia together, jointly administering the region despite having radically different governments?

Note: the Aurean Government is pretty much a federated version of the Roman Republic, while the Haxamanian Government is an absolute monarchy with Satrapies in charge of local affairs.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Joint administration is not really possible unless two empires are very willing to cooperate with each other. However, joint monitoring (when both sizes are checking that the other size is not breaking rules in the region) is very possible. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jun 26, 2021 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ What does "jointly administering" a region mean? Who gets the taxes? For customs purposes, where are the exported goods considered to be manufactured? In whose budget does the infrastructure go? Whose public prosectors get to investigate crimes and bring them to trial? What law applies? I really don't think that two even very friendly countries can jointly administer even a large-ish city, let alone a province. But if instead of "administering" you settle for "controlling", that's a different story; largely autonomous joint protectorates are much easier to set up. See e.g. Bosnia-Herzegovina. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 26, 2021 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP my thinking is something like splitting the tax revenue from the region equally between both powers, control of the region is shared between both empires, and they are otherwise autonomous regarding other internal affairs because neither power cares enough about Tifinagh's legal or criminal justice systems enough to intervene. Regarding infrastructure, I guess both empires could split the bill? $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2021 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ Sure they can. See how well it worked out for Korea, after WW2 $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Jun 26, 2021 at 22:26

8 Answers 8


There is an example from modern history. The British and French Governments for instance established a ConDominium in the early twentieth century to administer islands of the New Hebrides Group in the South pacific. It was created by treaty as a means of resolving territorial disputes resulting from the fact that different islands in the chain had been colonized or claimed by one side or the other. Apart from a joint court system I believe every other arm of government was doubled. i.e. 2 school systems 2 health systems ect etc. So it was well, 'messy' is, I guess probably the best word to describe it. European locals often referred to it as the Pandemonium.

To the extent it worked it did so because;

  1. Britain and France hadn't fought a war against one another in almost a century and had developed long term economic, diplomatic and social ties and of course both had far bigger diplomatic and political issues to deal with.
  2. The territories concerned were distant from both capitals and of little economic or strategic value. So neither side really saw anything to be gained from arguing about it for too long or otherwise damaging their relationship. (They'd just signed a series of important treaties called the Entente Cordial.)

So to the extent such an idea would work in your setting it comes down to how important economically and politically 'Tifinaghia' is in the grand scheme of things as a % of both Empires economies and populations. If both your Empires occupy hundreds of worlds quibbling over one in particular (no matter how nice the climate) probably isn't worth the effort. If it is of major importance then?

Best suggestion: Some sort of joint guardianship. Give the planet a local government which is independent in terms of domestic affairs but reliant on both sides for defense and foreign affairs policy. The local government in turn reports to a Governor General or some such, his deputy and administration on an agreed set of key issues. Then you rotate whose in what position every 4 or 5 years. Both sides maintain consular offices and provide an agreed (small) number of ships for system defense and split any tax surplus 50/50.

  • Keep in mind that the Roman republicanism was for Romans. They were happy to send proconsuls to the provinces to govern them in the name of Rome. How does that differ from a satrapy?
  • They both agree on a relatively weak, third party to rule the area. Think of the history of Andorra.
  • The province is garrisoned by forces which are limited by treaty. A treaty with interesting possibilities and loopholes. "One combat division each, without technobabble weapons, and as many police as necessary."

There is at least an example on Earth: the Pheasant island

Pheasant Island (French: Île des Faisans/Île de la Conférence, Spanish: Isla de los Faisanes, Basque: Konpantzia) is an uninhabited river island in the Bidasoa river, located between France and Spain, whose administration alternates between both nations.

The island is a condominium established by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, under joint sovereignty of Spain and France, and for alternating periods of six months is officially under the governance of the naval commanders of San Sebastián, Spain (1 February – 31 July) and of Bayonne, France (1 August – 31 January); in effect it is administered respectively by Irun (in Gipuzkoa, Spain) and Hendaye (in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France).

Maybe the differences between the French kingdom and the Spanish Empire are not as extreme as you have in your story, and the fact that the island is not occupied by settlements makes it surely easier to administer it, nevertheless it's possible for two powers to reach an agreement for a joint sovereignty.

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    $\begingroup$ Given that it's uninhabited and access is largely prohibited, it's not a particularly useful example $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Jun 26, 2021 at 9:16

There is also the condominium of the island of Cyprus.

Cyprus was part of the Roman Empire for centuries and in the year 600 belonged to the eastern section of the Roman Empire, the so-called "Byzantine" Empire.

In 649 AD the Arabs made the first attack on the island under the leadership of Muawiyah I. They conquered the capital Salamis - Constantia after a brief siege, but drafted a treaty with the local rulers. In the course of this expedition a relative of Muhammad, Umm-Haram, fell from her mule near the Salt Lake at Larnaca and was killed. She was buried at that spot and the Hala Sultan Tekke was built there in Ottoman times.1 Under Abu'l-Awar, the Arabs returned in 650 and installed a garrison of 12,000 on part of the island, where they remained until 680.

In 688, the emperor Justinian II and the caliph Abd al-Malik reached an unprecedented agreement. The Arabs evacuated the island, and for the next 300 years, Cyprus was ruled jointly by both the Caliphate and the Byzantines as a condominium, despite the nearly constant warfare between the two parties on the mainland. The collected taxes were divided among the Arabs and the emperor.2

Under Basil I the Macedonian (r. 867–886) Byzantine troops recaptured Cyprus, which was established as a theme, but after seven years the island reverted to the previous status quo. Once again, in 911, the Cypriots helped a Byzantine fleet under admiral Himerios, and in retaliation the Arabs under Damian of Tarsus ravaged the island for four months and carried off many captives. The isolation of Cyprus from the rest of the Greek-speaking world assisted the formation of a separate Cypriot dialect. This period of Arab influence lasted until the 10th century.


In the year 965 or slightly earlier, the Byzantines reconquered the island and installed theme. The general Niketas Chalkoutzes led the reconquest, of which no details are known, and was probably the first governor of Cyprus after that.3


So the condominium of Cyprus lasted, with some interruptions, for about 277 years, which is quite impressive.

IN the 13th century the Count of Foix and the Bishop of Urgel quarrelled over the lands that later became Andorra.

In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a pareage (pariatges), which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop of La Seu d'Urgell (Catalonia). The pareage, a feudal institution recognizing the principle of equality of rights shared by two rulers, gave the small state its territory and political form.2 In return, Andorra pays an annual tribute or questia to the co-rulers consisting of four hams, forty loaves of bread, and some wine. Andorra's borders have remained unchanged since 1278.4

Andorra was briefly annexed to the Crown of Aragon twice, in 1396 and 1512.citation needed

In 1505, Germaine of Foix married Ferdinand V of Castile, thereby bringing the lordship of Andorra under Spanish rule. On taking over the kingdom in 1519, Emperor Charles V granted the lordship of Les Valls, as it was then known, to Germaine of Foix's line in perpetuity. Calvinist king Henry III of Navarre, who was also count of Foix, in 1589 ascended the French throne as Henry IV, and by an edict of 1607 transferred his role as co-prince of Andorra to the head of the French state.

In 1793, the French revolutionary government refused the traditional Andorran tribute as smacking of feudalism and renounced its suzerainty, despite the wish of the Andorrans to enjoy French protection and avoid being under exclusively Spanish influence.


At the present time the Bishop of Urgell and the President of France are co princes of Andorra. Thus one could say that Andorra is a condominium of the Bishopric of Urgell and France. But the co princes have little to no power in Andorra which is mostly self governing.

Several other condominiums are mentioned in this article:



There are examples of multi-power joint rule in the aftermath of WWII. Before Austrian independence and the creation of East and West Germany, the four-power joint commissions acted as legislature and senior executive, and the control commission retained (and exercised) powers over both parts of Berlin throughout the Cold War.


Mon has already mentioned the New Hebrides (now independent as Vanuatu), but there is one extra tidbit of information. British and French subjects were, of course, subject to the British or French authorities, respectively, while vising the New Hebrides. Everyone else had a choice on arrival, to enter the Condominium via British or French Immigration, and this choice determined the code of laws that they were subject to during their stay. I was informed by someone who should have known, that conditions in the British jail were better (overall), except for the food where the French (naturally) had the edge. Sorry, no references, but I used to live in the neighboring Solomon Islands, and sometimes visited Vanuatu.


Opening: "In the time period my book series is set, tensions between the Haxamanian and Aurean Empires need to be relaxed (..) is it possible for both the Haxamanian and Aurean Empires to rule Tifinaghia together, jointly administering the region despite having radically different governments?"

My scenario before the joint rule

I haven't read your part 1, so I'll need to reconstruct a version..

Haxamanians and Aureans are both humans. They shared the planet. Aureans are the descendants of an earlier civilization elite, that colonized several near planets. They left Awal, because it was going to be hit by in a meteor storm that would last for centuries. The Haxamanians stayed, they survived and developed a technology level similar to ours.

When the meteor storms eventually set, after some 1200 years, the Aureans returned. At first, their technology was superiour, many Haxamanians died. However, during the storms, Haxamanians had developed very good shielding. The Aurean attempted to recolonize the planet, but they failed. In the long time the war lasted, Haxamanians developed sufficient technology to prevent the Aureans from conquering their planet. After a 120 year fight, the parties decided to start negotiations. A flood that hit Tifinaghia and the subsequent help that came from the (Haxamanian) Inumideni neigbours was the primary incentive to end the war.

How joint rule ideals landed in federalism

Many Aurean civilians realized they longed to return back home to Awal. There were Aurean colonizers and other civilians who bought land. They built factories, resorts.. and economic activity rose, with Tifinaghia remaining the Aurean center of activity. At first, it was a military base, now there is peace and Tifinaghia has become a tourist attraction: the beaches, the famous star ship museum, and its good wine, of course.

After war and negotiations, modern diplomacy and politics kicked in, and despite the fact Tifinaghia is a colony, the parties don't agree on giving it independence, and instead attempt a joint rule. It worked at first, Haxamanians do not have an authoritarian rule. There are Aureans in parliament, who defend the Aurean interest. In daily practice, the arrangement resulted in a weak federal rule, and a strong local rule, like American states e.g. Alaska have. The Tifinaghians would mind their own business, speak their own language, but with a strong trade union and open borders. Also, there are Haxamanian courts located in Tifinaghia, that maintain Haxamanian federal law. These courts are mainly symbolizing the peace: it turns out to be very difficult to bridge the language barrier in law and governing. The Tifinaghia flag has joint Haxamanian/Aurean colors, but Tifinaghians generally don't leave their region and most Haxamanians still regard Tifinaghia as "abroad" or "actually ours".

Comparison case on Earth: Hong Kong

I think reaching a lasting peace over Tifinaghia would be complicated, because of the past war and the cultural and language differences. To maintain piece, I divide power, I don't actually share or alternate power. Compare the situation in Puerto Rico, or Alaska. So my pessimism about joint rule results from Earthly perspective.. is there e.g. a racist bias, that may further complicate affairs.. I did not read your book (yet)

As for "empires": the most obvious historic analogy to the Awal joint Imperial rule attempt was not mentioned yet: imho that analogy is the status of the city of Hong Kong, as recently negotiated between the Chinese and British empire.

At first being a British colony, Hong Kong was imposed British language and British rule. A century later, Hong Kong has had a 25 year transition going toward Chinese rule. During this transition, at least in the first 10 years of it, Brits and Chinese agreed to have a joint rule arrangement. Now, Hong Kong has become Chinese, primarily.

On the long term, there could be little difference between the Chinese and Haxamanian position. Eventually, the surrounding "main land Haxamania" will attempt to integrate the region again. Like the Chinese, Haxamanians regard Tifinaghia as part of Haxamania. Portuguese Macao in South China also became Chinese again.. Joint rule is a great ideal, but it requires overseeable cultural differences. Like Hong Kong, the region of Tifinaghia is very rich, but the difference is: Tifinaghia has a very strong cultural identity. Eventually, it will seek to gain independence, and a new war could arise.


A compendium between France and Britain as established in the administration of the former New Hebrides between 1906 and 1980, now independent and known was Vanuatu.


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