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In history, there were multiple theories like the Divine Right of Kings or Mandate of Heaven that stated that royalty weren't normal human beings but blessed by the Almighty himself. In my fantasy world, that claim is verifiably true.

The nobility exclusively consist of superhuman beings that are 10 times stronger, faster, and more durable than the average man. In addition, the nobility are immune to disease and poison, have an average life expectancy of 250 years, and can control the weather with their minds. As a result, serfs generally do whatever their masters say or otherwise face the wrath of droughts and floods. If royalty has children with a commoner, the offspring will be a regular human.

Because the royalty are obviously superior to non-royalty, the royals are very pompous and love to show off. They frequently abuse medieval peasants and treat non-royalty as little more than farm animals. The peasants would love to stage a revolt but what can they do? Riots or assassination won't work due to how powerful the royalty are. Disease and poison won't work either. The peasants could wait for better rulers but the royalty live long and most of them are mean. I guess the peasants could try running away and become nomads in the forest, but it ain't easy for farmers to become hunter-gatherers.

The one move that peasants still have at their disposal is civil disobedience. Kings and queens still keep peasants around because they want them to grow food and build things. If all the peasants went on strike, that would royally piss off the nobles (pun intended). The peasants would of course suffer because of this since if nobody is growing food, they aren't eating either, but a huge nonviolent protest could get the royals to stop being jerks for once.

So are there any ways for regular commoners to deal with actual god-kings or will the Noblesse Oblige be completely ignored?

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    $\begingroup$ why won't riots work, being super human wont stop you from simply being mobbed. also riots rarely overthrew the royalty by force they did so by simply destroying and disrupting commerce. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ "How can by godlike character be defeated?" questions are, if you'll excuse my bluntness, boring. They're defeated because they're relatable, meaning they have weaknesses. You mentioned immunity to poison and disease. How about hunger? If the peasants hold out against a king-inspired drought, does he starve and die? To what distance can the weather be controlled? Far enough that the peasants can't run? How about burning? If the castle is set on fire, will the king die? Tell me your king's weaknesses and I'll tell you how he can be defeated. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ The bigger question is how the godlike royal race can remain in the minority. They are clearly more evolutionarily fit than regular humans, and there is no obvious reason they shouldn't want a lot of godlike offspring. It seems after a hundred years or so, there would be so many godlike royals that they can't all be in charge. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is about a group of thieves starting a rebellion against an immortal god-king; while not exactly the same as your premise, I highly recommend it. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ Kings are already superhuman – they are unfathomably wealthier than you, more powerful than you, better-fed than you (from birth, and therefore taller, stronger and better-looking), trained in fighting and well-equipped, able to communicate across long distances and speak strange tongues... $\endgroup$
    – dbmag9
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 20:29

15 Answers 15

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Burn everything down

The nobility can't be everywhere at once. So if the peasants are sufficiently well organised, then they can loot and burn down everything that belongs to the nobility. If they go hunting for the day, burn down the palace. When they come back, burn down the hunting lodge too. Burn the courts, burn the nobles' grain stores, everything.

And burn down the homes of the collaborators, too. The tax collectors and magistrates.

The nobles may be able to bring down floods and plagues and the like, but they will end up being rulers of a completely trashed country.

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    $\begingroup$ and once the peasants have burned off all the grain storage, what will they eat? Croissants? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Whatever they can find. But while they are scratching around for roots and berries, they will know that their hated rulers have lost everything. People are like that. $\endgroup$
    – Simon B
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Are you implying croissants are inedible? $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Whatever they have squirreled away for themselves. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ People who have nothing to lose are very dangerous. Take them lightly at your peril. Put another way: If the peasants have already destroyed everything the royals' weather powers can threaten, that power doesn't matter anymore. Does it? $\endgroup$
    – Ton Day
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 16:55
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First there is some problems here. Question really needs improvement I say.

Power and size of nobility

10 times stronger is really good. But how big are they? We talking about several thousands people? Couple hundred? 30 members of a royal family?

Because even with the increased power you can still just throw 10 times more people to get them. The problem is usually logistical as how to support those more people. But war is not just won by pure numbers or strength. I'm certain an army of a 100 nobles can be defeated. But an army of a 100 nobles also supported by thousands of other normal soldiers is a lot more dangerous. So. Your people can still be killed, they can still be captured, just much harder.

Basically why won't 10000 people overpower just a royal family of 5? If you answer because the royal family has their systems of government including spies and soldiers, then them being super has little to do with it. It's just an advantage, but not the only tool.

We really need this question to be more specific.

Medieval Europe was not one place, nor did it just have slaves and masters.

Big continent with a lot of kingdoms and loyalties and alliances and all that. This means that this idea of: Bad nobility poor peasant is very unlikely. Unless in your story all nobility are naturally inclined towards evil. Unless that. Then it's sure as heck you gonna have some good kingdoms and good nobility.

Also actual nobility did not just exist in a vacuum. They had a structure to society. And unlike what the movies say a lot of it was good and functioned. Anyway by that I mean you gonna have a lot of classes. Merchants who made money by trading, you gonna have soldiers. And of course a minor nobility, clerks, religious workers, knights...etc.

All those classes were part of society and worked with both sides.

Say a knight is given a small piece of land, he has tenants. He also needs to provide for his lord, but also for his people. He can't simply murder and rape and pillage as a valid way of life. So. He has to satisfy both sides. Even without courts. If you ask too much people will simply fail to provide. And a knight is a link in the chain.

His lord has much more lands. But those lands are not some NPC populated areas. They have people. Work the people too hard and your mines, farms, towns...etc are deserted. So. Again. In order to continue ruling in peace you have to satisfy both your superiors, king in this case, and those under you. I recommend The Prince by Machiavelli as an excellent read.

Nothing changes...much

As absurd as it seems to tell you: Having magical people rule won't change things. I actually stand by it.

Think of what we had in actual history. Aside from security kings should remain largely the same. You still have to convince the people to fight, you still have to rally the nobility and promise them stuff, you still have to claim to be in the right. The increased power is amazing, but not enough to God-Emperor the world.

And you are opposed by other nobility with the same power.

So. What really happens is that things don't change much. Sure. Abuse peasant only to have them flock to another king. Also it does not take a genius to figure out what you can use internal strife as a way to undermine a kingdom. Or a son rallying the people to take over the throne from the father under the pretense of justice.

Even nobility with power is not stupid. You can't go full psycho mode without some serious issues and opposition, from inside and outside. The most likely scenario is a family member taking over because they know that achieving a 100% despised rating with every single thing outside the royal palace is really bad for the whole family.

What do you do with the kids?

250 years is a long time. I mean Queen Elizabeth II notwithstanding. With 250 years of age the amount of kids a king and queen can produce is a lot... a lot lot. Sure. Human concubines are not producing anything magical. And even with just 1 wife. You still having a lot of kids. So. What do you do with them?

This is the biggest issue. Even if the ruling king decides to have less children, fine. But what about another branch. His brother might just think: If I just take it seriously I can literally produce a 1000 super soldiers in my life time. With some minimal planning he can just take over. He is still royalty. And his brother king only got 3 kids.

Kinda like Targaryen civil wars, except with humans instead of dragons.

Same with other branches working together. This I think is when things are interesting. When the individuals have power and marry it with political savvy. Then you can have good stories.

Just tune it down

You can still have interesting stories with that. But don't fall into the trap of: Evil kings wakes up and murders 100 peasants for fun.

Having actually powerful nobility and living to that age can be really good. From obviously noble family A which is good to noble family B which is bad. To the effects of long age on humans. To armies of noble people fighting and so on.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for te QE II age reference. 😂 $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 2:56
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    $\begingroup$ The 'breeding a super army' strategy will lead to the super genes making their way down the social ladder before too long too. $\endgroup$
    – user86462
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ @SeanOConnor It's not genes: it's divine blessing. It completely goes away with out-breeding, so it might not work that way. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @wizzwizz4 Then the kings had best bear in mind the duties of a Christian ruler and/or will be in for some collisions with the church. $\endgroup$
    – user86462
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ @wizzwizz4 and God Himself! $\endgroup$
    – user86462
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 19:12
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Leave for a new life in the most awesome Kingdom there is!

source

source

The people leave for the territory of a different god king. This particular god king takes pride in the fact that his kingdom is the best and most desirable for people. In fact God King Willk (no relation) brags insufferably about the fact that everything is the best, sweetest, most humane and most awesome under his benevolent rule. No-one contradicts him because #1: it is verifiably true and #2: he is the God King. God King Willk has in fact invented a dance called Kingdom Willk #1 which is easy to do and everyone is doing it - even in other kingdoms, but surreptitiously there. Out in the streets in Kingdom Willk! It helps that Kingdom Willk started out somewhat underpopulated and there is lots of room. Lots of room for immigrants but also for street dancing!

Yes those jerk kings will have to wipe their smug smiles right off of their smug smiling jerk king faces when they visit their abandoned hamlets, now populated only by feral pygmy goats (that bite) and decorated with graffiti cartoons of anatomically correct peasants doing the Kingdom Willk #1.

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    $\begingroup$ God bless our good King Willk! Long may he reign! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ Do note however that in our own history 'free movement' was not a thing for the majority of the population during the middle ages (and after often as well). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 5:35
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidMulder Even today. Ever heard of anyone emigrating from North Korea? A modern day country with basically a god king. Not only do you have to get away from the place you're in, you have to be able to get into the place you're going to. And if it's there's no one to stop you from getting into the place you're going to, then there's also nothing to stop the place you're trying to leave from following you there. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidMulder not being allowed to leave and not being able to leave are different things, a serf who left was essentially an outlaw... in the place he just left and nowhere else. these were not modern nations but individual fiefdoms. Most often peasants would leave on a a pilgrimage (which was allowed) and just never return. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 2:21
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    $\begingroup$ Oh no! Not feral pygmy goats that bite! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 9:08
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With steel swords, longbows, or crossbows.

Human skin is pretty tough. It has a tensile strength of 20MPA. 10 times that is about the strength of cast iron or bronze. which is decently tough. That said, a big longbow or crossbow, or weapon wielded by a strong man could smash through iron or bronze. Have a group of such people and ambush the royalty person from all sides. This works even better if you have a member of the royalty to restrain or delay them. You can then kill then.

Nobles and royalty who work with peasants will have a massive advantage.

Nobles with steel armor and horses were already vastly tougher and stronger than peasants- more than ten times tougher, since steel is much tougher than bronze or cast iron, and horses are better shaped to move very quickly. Nobles who work with their peasants to conquer the land will have much more ease becoming supreme. They can also get peasants to craft them heavy steel armor, so they can be even tougher than 10 times tougher than a human.

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Support a better candidate for king as soon as one's available

There were periods under various English kings where the king's power outweighed everyone else combined. The first parts of the reigns of John and Edward II, the end of Richard II's reign, Richard III, and a few others.

Those rulers all came to sticky ends because they got into the habit of tyranny, and eventually had well armed relatives supplant them.

Near immortal + populace still beats near immortal.

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  • $\begingroup$ this most of the times peasant overthrew royalty it was it install different royalty. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 2:14
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Many of the previous answers (... I upvoted some of them) come down to the Dragonslayer Question.

"What do dragons fear most? Knights? Enchanted swords? Other dragons?"
"Human armies."

Royalty can probably run 20 kph or more, even in plate armor. One on one, with a sword in hand, they are unbeatable. But wars are not usually fought one on one, even medieval ones. And you don't want whole armies of them, or some would be ordinary soldiers instead of kings and queens.

I'm wondering just how visibly different your royalty are from ordinary humans. You assume that they are still interfertile, or the issue of halfbreeds would not come up. If they have a distinctive look, if they are obviously different from normals (i.e. better than normals, they'll insist), and if there are very few of them, what is the likelihood that they will end up like the Emperor in the late Qing dynasty, or the Tenno during the Shogun era?

Pampered, isolated, ignored on any substantial issues.

The normals in the palace bureaucracy will filter what their royalty gets to hear. The longevity of the royalty, more so than strength and low vulnerability, will ensure that the normals will not think of their kings and queens as their equals, so those quasi-divine beings should not be bothered with municipal garbage disposal. Or the export tax on wool, as long as the hunting parks are well stocked and there is plenty lamb for the dinner table. Or even the diplomatic missives from other royalty -- it might upset them, and upset royalty are bad for the tranquility of the court and the kingdom.

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The church

I am a nobleman. I live for 250 years, and am adult and fertile for 200 of them.

I have many, many children, of all different ages. Only a handful can inherit the estate. The rest are sent to monasteries, convents, and other church institutions.

I am actually not much different to noblemen in real life.

Now the church is full of noblemen, has international support, and is considered to be the arbiter of morality. I support it myself.

Go ahead and ask your knights to rid you of a meddlesome priest, your majesty. We will end up paddling your bottom.

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"In addition, the nobility are immune to disease and poison" Wait a minute, so you tell me that they have super immune system? But this can be exploited! Sure, it's cool to have immune system that will be able to destroy any bacteria, virus or poison ... but once autoimmune reaction will happen, their own immune system will just annihilate their own body.

More details in this answer: https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/234014/10910

Basically your peasants can kill such noble by triggering allergic reaction. Like by spreading pollens of certain plant/tree in the air.

Also, peasants can be spreading something like Spanish Flu with its special ability to cause Cytokine storm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine_storm), which turns immune system against its own body. Of course they wouldn't know science behind it, but they can notice that superhuman nobles easily die from such infection, while other infections have no effect on them at all.

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They don't. There no point as the superiority of the god king is self evident because of his powers. Any revolt would only bring the anger of the gods. The tyranny of the god king because just another natural disaster like lightning strikes or floods. It unfortunate but it happens so people just accept and move on without getting angry.

If you can't beat them join them. Everyone what's a god king child and one with daughters is throwing them at the god kings after all even if I can't have a better life maybe my descendants can. This forms a hybrid class of noble peasants hybrid who can rebel against the god king.

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Petition their boss - The Almighty himself

When it is a proven fact in your world that The Almighty actually exists as a sentient and sapient being, then it can be reasoned with. The peasants could unite and pray to the Almighty to rid them of that awful lord and send them a more worthy leader. And the Almighty, who has chosen the kings for their leadership capabilities and not for being pompous jerks might actually agree with them and strip the king of his powers.

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The best answer to such a question was rooted in the circumstances of the beings in control. I’m referring to a Gordon R Dickson’s “The Way of The Pilgrim”. Spoiler alert. Go read the book before reading below

THe earth is conquered by an unbeatable, by us, race. The pilgrim works with their system where they treat us as the equivalent of stupid children. They are highly logical and extremely courteous. And require the same. The rebellion tasks him with finding a solution and he eventually does.

SPOILER BELOW

Humans attack all alien structures and die. Over and over. The aliens cannot understand the pointless suicidal actions and decide we are mad, insane and they will not remain among insanity and leave. It was clever, brutal and very much exhibited the capacity for humans to say “f u” to certain death. It celebrated our irrationality put to rational purpose.

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I'd suggest watching this video by Linfamy regarding how Japanese peasants dealt with oppressive samurai. But since an answer must be more than just a link, I'll summarize the highlights here.

What you're describing is not too different from what actual peasants had to deal with historically when the nobles decided to throw their weight around. In the age of guns and gunpowder this is easy to forget, but prior to guns typically only the wealthiest and most powerful people could own full plate mail and have the time and money to care for a dedicated arsenal. Suits of armor, as long as the user doesn't get overconfident or goes up against an army with weaponry that specifically invalidates them (hello longbow), make the user pretty much invincible, especially if we're talking about a heavily-armed knight or samurai against a bunch of peasants without armor, weapons, or training. As someone once said...

"most warrior societies had a code of honor and considered certain tactics 'dishonorable'. Said code of honor almost always consisted of the nobility, who were the only ones wealthy enough to afford arms, suits of armor, and dedicated training, being angry that the less-well-offs wouldn't fight them in head-on combat where the nobility had the advantage".

So that's what you do. Don't fight the nobility in direct combat where they'll excel. Like Linfamy's video describes, tell the nobles your grievances and then sod off to the mountains or forests where they can't retaliate. If they keep coming after you use traps and guerrilla warfare to wear them down. The Inca kind of figured this out, when they realized the only thing they needed to do to kill a heavily armored Spanish conquistador on horseback is to bola his horse at a gallop and the conquistador and his horse will end up looking like hamburger. The fact is, ultimately, the nobility are dependent on the peasantry, and if the peasants decide to stop working en masse the nobility will eventually starve. It actually does work, as the peasants in Japan showed against the samurai.

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There could also be superhuman beings elsewhere but in the kingdom. For example in the woods or mountains or in other kingdoms.

If the nobility or royalty behaves too oppressively then maybe parts of the population will slowly emigrate / rally around those superhumans.

Or there could be other races where oppressed humans could seek refuge. Like dwarves or elves.

Also the nobility or royalty could have conflicts within themselves. Or are they above that? If they aren't then collective efforts could be made to stage conflicts between them and make them weaken or destroy each other.

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A sporadic revolt would not be recommended - they would need to plan ahead.

It sounds like these gods suffer from the character traits as humans (pompous, vain, and abusive jerks), so perhaps the peasants could exploit that weakness by provoking a civil war between the royal family(s). Also, if the peasants serve as caretakers for the royal children, then perhaps they could stage a kidnapping, raising the infant god(s) and training them to be assassins for use in a forthcoming revolt.

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Other than "control the weather", age and poison/disease, this isn't much of an upgrade over existing nobles in our history.

Steel skin (a knight) is easily 10x tougher than human skin, and a horse-mounted soldier using the right weapons is already dealing blows that are 10x deadlier.

Horses produce 15 horsepower briefly; humans produce about 1.3. So again, a knight on a horse is pretty much this superhuman. This royalty just doesn't need armor or a horse to do it (and probably, the horse and armor aren't all that useful).

The long life, well, that is more of a noble problem than a peasant problem; it does make politics a bit more stable.

A king, even with those powers, would be stupid to engage in combat. One more armored knight is not all that important.

The real kicker is weather control. Peasants can easily produce an uprising that kills these 10x power humans and even replace them; the problem is the cousin next door causing a famine or flood then marching in to replace the old noble. That only applies in a full on peasant revolt replacing the nobles; that was pretty rare in our history.

Usually peasant revolts killed off some nobles, and then new ones moved in. I'd expect the same to happen here. Piss off our peasants enough, and you get killed, and a new noble moves in and the peasants either shape up or get slaughtered.

Doing less work, however, is always an option.

It was really, really hard to collect taxes without a working state, and a bunch of tax collectors on horses with swords (or super powers) can't be everywhere at once. So peasants do what they do every day. And the nobles set taxes and the like. And if they set the taxes too high, collecting the taxes is more trouble than it is worth.

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