# Is a political union the only union that allows one country to be another's guarantor?

Editing this question to word it better.

I don't know if it's a unique dilemma or a silly premise, but it looks like I need more guidance than I thought. I'm not a history buff and kingdom/state dynamics are all new to me, but I still wanted to have a go at it.

Although the setting takes place in the 19th century, the universe is quite fairy tale, so the reality is an alternate one with many liberties and laws that only apply to its fantasy kingdoms. It nonetheless mirrors much of the 1707 Act of Union for the creation of Great Britain:

Country A is on the brink of bankruptcy and, much like Scotland, hopes to be pulled up by the more powerful Country B on account of being plugged into Country B's economy, international trade, and the like. Country B is their only parachute; there are no other willing saviors. Country B is also quite kipper about having some dominance over Country A.

But it is possible for these economic aspects to be shared through a union that is NOT a political one that unites two kingdoms and their parliaments? Like an economic union (Benelex Union), some form of devolution, a dual monarchy, or a commonwealth?

Or is the best way to become economically stronger as part of Country B's economy a political union?

(Wince) I should add that there is a marriage involved between the two monarchs reigning in both fantasy countries, who reign under constitutional monarchies. Coregency/joint sovereignty were RL things depending on the countries https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coregency (rare situation, though), and in most cases the queen still wasn't equal to her hubby, except perhaps in the case of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon (?) or Mary I and Phillip II (their contract suggests joint reign that suppressed Phil), but I know a unitary state has never occurred unless a child inherited both crowns. However, since Country B wants control of Country A's bank management and government spending, I don't know what kind of Union could grant that power unless it's a political union.

For some background, monarch A and B, both childless and threatened by bloodline extinctions, (if neither have legit kids their enemies will seize power) are NOT heads of government, so with or without the marriage, the economic desires above still apply.

So there are two deals to be secured, but because I'm iffy about whether a full-fledged U.K. is reasonable (even if this is fantasy), I wondered if any other unions could guarantee the same equal privileges as a political union in regards to the economy boost, bank control, and sharing trade partners and treaties with foreign powers. If not, I guess I have to go with a political union if any of you would find that tolerable as a reader.

This scernario is still open for anyone to hop on. You guys have been brilliant so far!

• "Like an economic union? Economic and monetary union? Personal union? Dual/composite monarchy?" Yes, yes, yes, yes. It might help if you explained why you think any of these potential forms of unions are unfeasible. – AngelPray Mar 2 '17 at 1:47
• Well, it's not necessarily that I find them unfeasible, I suppose. I'm just not sure which is the absolute best form of union. For instance, I often wonder why Scotland couldn't have been helped by England in something other than a political union. I guess it mainly had to do with England's position on what it wanted? – Oracle Mar 2 '17 at 2:13
• The best way to get money is to have something people want. If that happens to be politics, you use politics. If it happens to be marriages, you use marriages. – Cort Ammon Mar 2 '17 at 2:20
• I think you are greatly mistaken about the Act of Union. It was simply the political recognition of the long English conquest of Scotland. – jamesqf Mar 4 '17 at 19:00
• @jamesqf But didn't Scotland's agreement to pass the Acts have a lot to do with near bankruptcy or something to that effect? I only know as much as I read, but all in all I'd like to find a resolution for the above. ;_; – Oracle Mar 4 '17 at 19:22

# It should be like the union of Castile and Aragon

The situation that might be closest to what you are talking about it the merger of Castile and Aragon with Isabella and Ferdinand. The two kingdoms were both among the largest in Europe. The only difference was that Isabella was not ruling when the marriage took place, so they had time to get accustomed to the idea that they were ruling together. Isabella was about a year older than Ferdinand and was 23 when she became queen. Ferdinand was already king of Sicily upon marriage and became king of Aragon five years after Isabella got her crown, in 1479.

Isabella's predecessor as monarch was Henry the Impotent, which says most of what needs to be said. When she came to the throne in a disputed succession, there was an immediate rebellion by her niece, Juana, who was daughter of the last King. She was conveniently married to the King of Portugal, so Castile was split down the middle in loyalties, with Aragon supporting Isabella and Portugal supporting Juana. Ferdinand, as Consort of Castile, led the Castillan armies and did a generally good job. His strong support for her probably cemented their marriage and political alliance, and they reigned very successfully for thirty-odd more years.

In general, Castile was the larger and more populous state, but had been ravaged by civil wars and rebellions for most of the past century. Aragon, on the other hand, was nearing then end of a century long Golden Age and at the height of its commercial prowess in the Mediterranean. It controlled southern Italy and Sicily (mostly), Corisca, Sardinia, and Malta. Barcelona and Valencia were large, rich cities, as were Naples and and Palermo in the Two Sicilies.

In short, Castile was large and populous, with lots of resources, but with no large cities and a surfeit of rebellious nobles, roving mercenary bands, and recalcitrant Moors. Aragon was probably just as populous, considering its overseas territories, and was one of if not the wealthiest Kingdoms in western Europe. It has lots of rich merchants, and close ties with the even richer merchants of Genoa, Milan, and Florence.

Incidentally, the Union worked out great, especially for Castile. The peace from Ferdinand's Aragonese army and stabilizing 40 year reign allowed population to boom, to the point that a generation later there were a surfeit of young adventurers ready to conquer the New World. Castillan manpower and military experience, plus Aragonese seafaring and monetary connections put the newly united Spain in the drivers seat for profiting off the New World, and made Spain the most powerful nation in Europe for the next 150 years.

• Yes, Isabella and Ferdinand are very close to this! I suppose the situation above is like a mixture of those two and the marriage between Mary I of England and Phillip II of Spain? But were Castile and Aragon in a personal union or a United Kingdom? Thank you so much for this answer, by the way! – Oracle Mar 2 '17 at 3:21
• I suppose, but Mary and Phillip never really got to rule together. Mary was unpopular and probably incompetent, and her marriage to a foreign ruler pretty much sealed her fate. The English wouldn't stand for it. The keys to success for Ferdinand and Isabella were a. they were of the same dynasty, and same grandparents back 4 generations b. the only other option was Juana and Portugal. The English had an option (Elizabeth) who was no only not attached to a foreign power, but also turned out to be vying with Isabella as best female European monarch. – kingledion Mar 2 '17 at 3:25
• Hmm, so would you say Aragon and Castile had a personal union during the co-reign of Isabella and Ferdinand? – Oracle Mar 2 '17 at 4:09
• @Oracle They most certainly did. That was the prototypical personal union, since Castile and Aragon maintained separate 'Kingdoms,' parliaments (Cortes as they were called), bureacracies, languages...pretty much everything except coins are armies. – kingledion Mar 2 '17 at 4:46
• @kingledion Aragon mantained separate courts, laws and taxation even after being merged into Spain. Until 1707 they weren't unified. – Faerindel Mar 2 '17 at 8:15

Well, this is a somewhat problematic situation. You see, if you want it to be based on real-world royalty and the like... then you are in for a shock.

Let's start with the trouble of royal lineage. To be considered a proper royal (and therefore a suitable partner), you had to be of royal blood--or at the very least of noble blood. That meant, either you marry your family, or you marry a foreigner.

In fact, in Europe and Tsarist Russia, it was quite common for royalty to marry the cousins, nieces, daughters, or granddaughters of other royals. This is why queens were expected to have so many children in those days--more sons to lead their country, more daughters to bargain off to other countries.

Note that it's far more common for a woman to be offered to another country. Some countries (England for example) would rather a reigning queen than a foreign king (Queen Elizabeth I is a prime example of this, though she'd refused to marry for a host of reasons, some of which were hinted at as being plausible sexual abuse. Check this video for background information on Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, and this one for how hereditary diseases spread through royal blood, which also shows how marriage often worked for royalty)

If this isn't enough information, you can always nose around in the BBC documentaries on the subject. There's always more going on behind the scenes, and two main players have always been the church and the politically snobbish. You may also wish to get into coming of age ceremonies of the time, and how this affects your two monarchs. I assure you, though, that a king marrying a queen is all but unheard of (unless I've missed something). They would be looking in the best interest of their kingdom, so unless the queen offers her hand in marriage to her would-be conqueror (Cleopatra to Marc-Anthony of Rome, for example, though I don't believe they'd wed), I don't see them joining quite in the way you imagine.

Trade partners, perhaps. Allies against a common threat, oh yeah. Unifying two kingdoms via marriage... not historically accurate as far as I am aware. Mary, Queen of Scots does offer a sort of halfway between, her son became king of Scotland, and also inherited the crown of England on Elizabeth's death, given she never married and had no heir. Beyond that? Beats me.

• Thank you for answering! Especially in such a kind fashion. The fact that the scenario is unheard of was one of my biggest issues, but I thought that maybe it could work in its own framework as a product of its universe because I know a lot of unions that were only unique to their particular situations were created in the real world. It still concerned me a bit, though, so I wondered if a union without unifying the actual kingdoms could achieve the same end game economically and etc. – Oracle Mar 2 '17 at 3:04
• Elizabeth I was a bit more complicated than that. Her primary suitor was Philip of Spain, backed by the Pope. The RCC was NOT amused by Henry VIII declaring himself the head of the Church of England an thus confiscating both the tithes and over a thousand years' worth of assets in the process. Had Philip married E.R.I, England would have become a Spanish colony, treated much the same as South America and Mexico. Plus, the English had just experienced Bloody Mary, and weren't especially keen on another Catholic ruler. The moment a wedding was announced, the English would likely revolt, – nzaman Mar 2 '17 at 17:33
• ...and the Spanish would invade "on behalf of their future queen and rightful ruler of the realm", backed by other kingdoms who were on good terms with the RCC, (e.g., the French, who had their own reasons for wanting the English humiliated) and wanted to stay that way. The end result would have been a genocide, especially after the colonies started getting involved to avenge their home countries. – nzaman Mar 2 '17 at 17:38
• @nzaman King Phillip was her primary suitor, wasn't he? That's such an awful outcome! Definitely a good reason to avoid that marriage. My history with Elizabeth was vague, but I always wondered what would become of things if she took a king in particular. I imagine his power would be limited to co-rule like Phillip's was in his marriage to Mary, which is still probably too much. Oh, Alternate History! – Oracle Mar 2 '17 at 17:53
• @nzaman I don't doubt there is so much more to this that I put into words. Nothing is ever black and white, after all. I'm far from a historian or a scholar, for me this is a subject I've had to delve into for research into my novel, so I know enough to understand there is more than what the 'popular version' of history likes to portray. – Fayth85 Mar 2 '17 at 19:14

If you're looking for something a little less radical than political union, you could have a go at an intermediary economic entity, roughly based on the East India Company. This company would be (very) large, able to hire its own security forces to keep the peace. Majority investment (and control) would be by B, with the goal of the company the development of A. With a large enough presence, the company could have a large impact on the functioning of A without overt political control by B.

Of course, this would need very careful political handling by both governments, and a certain amount of enrichment of B would certainly cause resentment in A. A very tricky balance (particularly in the PR field) would be necessary. And preventing the company from getting the bit between it teeth and actually supplanting the government of A would always be a problem. With economic power comes political power, and the temptation on the part of the company's directors would be intense. So you'd need considerable trust on the part of the government of A, while the government of B would need to have strong reasons to keep A healthy and independent.

This would clearly call for some creative writing on your part.

• Your idea is so meaty and unique that I might have to propose to you! It sounds very delicious. I'll be mulling hard over this and my initial look into political unions. In all honesty, if I could get away with a fictional political union that incorporates joint reign/diarchy (?), I would. I have another thought, too: the political union is really in the interests of the PMs, with the marriage merely being a bonus for succession, so perhaps a political union could also sound believable if the monarchs had entirely ceremonial roles in their own kingdoms, which wouldn't change via marriage? – Oracle Mar 3 '17 at 2:40

Leaving dynastic issues aside, the only way to have merged taxation is through political union. By definition, only the state may impose taxes. Anything else is a loan or grant from one state to another, e.g., after WWII, the Marshall Plan had the US give loans to rebuild (Western) Europe.

There are also things like the tithe system, in which the Roman Catholic Church collected taxes from officially independent kingdoms, as the successor of the Roman Empire, but without the title or responsibilities thereof. These are more legal fictions rather than anything you could legally repeat (normally).

• I see! Then I wonder if the Scottish independence questions swirling around Scotland and the U.K. could work as a model. There seemed to be some consideration for allowing Scotland independence while keeping a currency union/banking union between the two that would maintain the position of the U.K. as Scotland's bailers/Central Bank/controller of government spending without a political union involved. – Oracle Mar 2 '17 at 15:17
• From the White Paper published by the Scottish government: 3.25 On independence, Her Majesty The Queen would remain the Head of State in Scotland. The current parliamentary and political Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland would become a monarchical and social Union - United Kingdoms rather than a United Kingdom - maintaining a relationship first forged in 1603 by the Union of the Crowns. It would become a self-governing Dominion, like Canada or Australia, not fully independent. – nzaman Mar 2 '17 at 15:48
• It gives me an attractive thought! Even though it isn't full independence, it looks like a step down from a political union. Haha, I don't know where the attractive thought is headed, but I guess I might have to make a very fictional union with only a mishmash of familiar RL elements all in my efforts to avoid a political union after all since the fantasy king/queen regnant issue doesn't appear to sound feasible, I suppose. Boy.... – Oracle Mar 2 '17 at 17:13
• The Austro-Hungarian Bank via real union/dual monarchy could be a unique substitute maybe? :-D oenb.at/en/About-Us/History/1878-1922.html – Oracle Mar 6 '17 at 7:16